I had always hated the parliament, yet not at all as an institution in itself. On the contrary, as a liberal thinking man I could not imagine any other possible form of government, for my attitude towards the House of Habsburg being what it was, I would have considered any kind of dictatorship a crime against all liberty and reason.
In consequence of my thorough reading of newspapers in my youth, I had been inoculated with a certain admiration for the English parliament, although I probably did not suspect it, and this fact, which I was not able to give up so easily, contributed not a little to my attitude. The dignity with which there the House of Commons devoted itself to its task our press know how to describe it so nicely made a great impression on me. Was there a more dignified form of self-government of a nation anywhere?
So far I had seen the misfortune of the Austrian parliament in the absence of a German majority, but now I saw its doom in the makeup and nature of this institution
Quite a number of questions occurred to me at that time.
I began to familiarize myself with the democratic principle of decision by a majority as the basis of this entire institution, but I paid no less attention to the spiritual and moral values of the gentlemen, who, chosen by the nation, were supposed to serve this purpose.
Here it was not so easy to fall from one mistake into another. If parliament was worth nothing, the Habsburgs were worth still less, certainly no more. Here the rejection of 4 parliamentarianism ‘ alone would not do ; for then the question, ‘What now?’ still remained. The rejection and abolition of the Reichsrat would have left the House of Habsburg as the sole governmental power, and this idea was especially unbearable to me.
The difficulty of this special case led me to a more thorough consideration of the problem as a whole than would otherwise have taken place at such an early age.
First and most of all that which gave me food for thought was the visible lack of responsibility on the part of any single individual.
Parliament makes a decision the consequences of which may be ever so devastating nobody is responsible for it, nobody can ever be called to account. For, does it mean assuming responsibility if, after an unheard-of collapse, the guilty government resigns? Or if the coalition changes, or even if parliament dissolves itself?
Is it at all possible to make a wavering majority of people ever responsible?
Is not the very idea of all responsibility closely connected with the individual?
Is it practically possible to make the leading person of a government liable for actions, the development and execution of which are to be laid exclusively to the account of the will and the inclination of a large number of men?
Or must not the task of the leading statesman be seen in the birth of a creative idea or plan in itself, rather than in the ability to make the ingenuity of his plans understand taken by the Conservatives and as a consequence never have seen that salvation can come only from a dictatorship.
Is the inability of a leader proved by the fact that he does not succeed in winning the majority of a crowd of people for a certain idea, dumped together by more or
less fine accidents?
Has this crowd ever been able to grasp an idea before its success was proclaimed by its greatness?
Is not every ingenious deed in this world the visible protest of genius against the inertia of the masses?
But what is the statesman to do who does not succeed in winning, by flattery, the favor of this crowd for his plans?
Is he to buy it?
Or is he now, considering the stupidity of his fellow citizens, to give up the carrying-out of the tasks he recognizes as of vital importance, or is he to retire, or should he still remain?
Does not, in such a case, a real character find himself in an inextricable dilemma between knowledge and decency, or rather honest conviction?
Where is the border that separates duty towards the community from the obligations of personal honor?
Must not every real leader refuse to be degraded in such a way to the level of a political profiteer?
And must not, on the other hand, every profiteer feel himself called on to ‘make 1 politics, as it is not he who bears the ultimate responsibility, but rather some incomprehensible crowd?
Must not our parliamentary principle of the majority lead to the demolition of the idea of leadership as a whole?
Or does one believe that the progress of the world has originated in the brains of majorities and not in the head of an individual?
Or are we of the opinion that in the future we can do without this preliminary presumption of human culture?
The parliamentary principle of decision by majority, by denying the authority of the person and placing in its stead the number of the crowd in question, sins against the aristocratic basic idea of Nature, whose opinion of aristocracy, however, need in no way be represented by the present-day decadence of our Upper Ten Thousand.
As soon as the leaders of a nation consist of such wretched fellows, vengeance will follow soon after. One will no longer be able to manifest the courage for decisive action; one would undergo any humiliating dishonor rather than make up one’s mind ; because there is nobody who is ready to risk his person and his head for the carrying-out of a ruthless decision.
The easier the responsibility of the individual leader is, the more will the number of those grow who, even with the most wretched dimensions, will feel called upon to put their immortal energies at the disposal of the nation. Yes, they can hardly await their turn; lined up in a long queue, they count the number of those waiting ahead of them with sorrowful regret, and they figure out the hour when in all human probability their turn will come. Therefore, they long for every change in the office they aspire to, and are grateful for every scandal that thins out the ranks ahead of them. But if one of them refuses to vacate the place he has taken, they almost consider it a breach of the sacred agreement of mutual solidarity. Then they become vindictive, and do not rest till the impudent fellow, finally overthrown, puts his warm place at the disposition of the community. He will not regain his place quite so soon.
For as soon as one of these creatures has been forced to give up his post, he will again try to push himself into the rows of the ‘waiting,’ provided he is not prevented from doing so by the outcry and the abuse of the others.
The result of all this is the terrifyingly rapid change in the most important positions and offices in such a State entity, a result which is unfavorable in any case, but which sometimes is even catastrophic. But now not only the stupid and inefficient will be victims to this custom, but even more so the true leader, provided Fate is able at all to place him in that position. Once this has been realized, a united front of defense will be formed, especially if such a head, not originating from the ranks, nevertheless tries to force his way into this sublime society. They want to be by themselves on general principles, and hate a head,
which could turn out to be number one among all these naughts, as a common enemy. In this direction the instinct is the sharper, no matter how much it may lack in other
Thus the consequence will be an ever-increasing intellectual impoverishment of the leading classes. Anyone can judge what the results will be for the nation and the State if he does not personally belong to this kind of ‘leaders.’
Old Austria already had parliamentary government in its purest breeding.
Just as confessional orientation is the result of education, and religious need, as such, slumbers in the mind of man, so the political opinion of the masses represents only the final result of a sometimes unbelievably tough and thorough belaboring of soul and mind.
By far the greatest bulk of the political ‘education,’ which in this case one may rightly define with the word propaganda,’ is the work of the press. It is the press above all else that carries out this ‘work of enlightenment,’ thus forming a sort of school for adults. This instruction, however, does not rest in the hand of the State, but partly in the claws of very inferior forces. As a very young man in Vienna, I had the very best opportunity of becoming really acquainted with the owners and spiritual producers of this machine for educating the masses. At the beginning I was astonished how short a time it took this most evil of all the great powers in the State to create a certain opinion, even if this involved complete falsification of the wishes or opinions in the minds of the public. In the course of a few days a ridiculous trifle was turned into an affair of State, whereas, at the same time, problems of vital importance were dropped into general oblivion, or rather were stolen from the minds and the memory of the masses.
So they succeeded, in the course of a few weeks, in conjuring up some names out of nothing and attaching incredible hopes to them on the part of the great public, in even giving them a popularity which the really important man may never attain during his whole lifetime; names which in addition, nobody had even heard of only a month before, whereas at the same time old and trustworthy representatives of public or political life, though in the bloom of health, simply died in the minds of their contemporaries, or they were showered with such wretched abuses that soon their names were in danger of becoming the symbol of villainy and rascality. It is necessary to study this infamous Jewish method with which they simultaneously and
from all directions, as at a given magic word, pour bucketfuls of the basest calumnies and defamation over the clean garb of honest people, in order to appreciate the entire danger of these rascals of the press.