How Democracies End

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Anomaly UK has a theory about Weimar Germany and how democracies end:

The popular theory, which I’ve alluded to previously, is that the big event was this chap Hitler. He was some supernatural weirdo from Hell, who, like a false prophet, inspired the normal, liberal people of Germany to give up their democratic birthright and follow his dreams of securing lebensraum for the master race, etc, etc.

Then there’s that slightly odd bit where he didn’t actually win the election, but he did fairly well and it sort of counted as near enough, so he was declared Chancellor and allowed to take over everything in sight. It kind of seems like some sort of dodgy conspiracy, but it’s not obvious whose.

My theory, grounded on the above, is that by — what are we talking, 1933? — democracy had so completely, utterly, failed that nobody, least of all those actually running it, could stomach it carrying on one year longer. The only question was what to do instead? There were communists kicking around, but that wasn’t an attractive idea for the ruling class. And there was this Hitler dude, and while he had a bunch of somewhat fruitcake ideas, he seemed to have support, he was serious about changing things, and at least he wasn’t a commie. What else was there? Even the leading democratic politicians didn’t have any better idea than letting him have a go.


  1. Theophilus says:

    Not only was he not a commie, the Nazis were almost diametrically opposed to communism. Whenever we look at politics in the 30s, we must keep in mind just how scared many people were of Russian brand communism. They had every reason to be. The Russian revolution and the entire Lenin–Stalin age was extremely unpleasant.

  2. Faze says:


    Many people talk about Nazism and Soviet communism as opposite ends of a right-left spectrum. But keep in mind that the full name of Hitler’s party was the National Socialists and both favored a state controlled economy — differing mainly about the details.

  3. Isegoria says:

    Details such as who and whom

  4. etype says:

    It’s interesting how Anomaly UK’s theory is comprised of the same tropes as the gutter press of the time. I’ll leave it to you to ascertain whose gutter press, and who owned and directed the editorial, or propaganda policy of said gutter press.

    Anomaly UK ignores impertinent facts like the Versailles treaty, which sundered historic parts of the German nation and handed them, with their entire “German” populations and their 1000-year-old cities, wealth, art and culture to just-in-time newly created hostile nations.

    Who funded those hostile nations, so they could buy arms and engage in terrorism and armed frontier adventures against civilian populations, in the midst of a world-wide depression?

    Who levied unpayable reparations? For a war that (get out your fact checkers) Britain declared on Germany — for an argument between Austria and Russia — when Serbia was part of the Austrian Reich — thus a minor internal matter, and not a Russian or British province? An argument that would never have been made without British guaranties?

    What was the point? ‘Balance Of Power’ they say, as if a perfect excuse, rendering one speechless and mindless, when it says nothing.

    Whose power? Serbia was Austria’s bailiwick.

    Matters like these, like contemplating whether a Jaffa cake is a cake or a biscuit, are impertinent to Mr. Anomaly UK, when he queries “How Democracies End.”

    I also enjoyed very much where he finds it slightly odd how Hitler didn’t actually win the election.
    Is it because the people decided the election, and not the gutter press, where Mr. Anomaly UK gets his information, along with his properly elected leaders, along with so much more?

    I fail to find any method here, whatsoever.

  5. etype says:


    You seem uninformed of the basic facts. The Nazi regime did not have a state-directed economy, even during war, until the Allied bombing campaign and the Eastern reverses made state intervention necessary. Perhaps you and Anomaly UK share the same war-themed comic books. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Isegoria says:

    The Nazi regime did not have a state-directed economy in the same sense that the Soviets had a state-directed economy, but the Nazi state certainly directed the economy quite a bit — as did FDR, of course.

  7. Anomaly UK says:

    Etype’s “impertinent” facts are to my mind highly pertinent, and I willingly accept all of them. The linked article observes that Germany was deprived of its monarchy as well as its territory, perhaps a more direct cause of the whole disaster.

    I could quibble that Britain’s pretext of 1914 was in fact the invasion of Belgium rather than anything directly to do with Serbia, but I wouldn’t attempt to argue that that makes the British government’s stance markedly more just or more wise.

    The oddity was not that Hitler didn’t win a particular election, but rather that his not-quite-win somehow still landed him in power. That’s the point where my grasp of the facts is the most shaky, however.

    On the other hand, I thank Etype for his observation that my account more closely resembles contemporary reporting than modern historiography — I take it as a great compliment.

    My major, if tentative, point was that Hitler was neither a Great Leader or a Great Monster, but the predictable result of the position that Germany was put in, suffering under both an imposed and ineffective democracy, which motivated my article, and also the other, better-known injustices that Etype accurately draws attention to.

  8. etype says:

    Thank you for your reasoned reply, Anomaly UK. Yes, we could quibble Britain’s pretext, as Britain declared war before the invasion of Belgium in 1914 by Germany, although I understand popular apologetics helps us to overlook these facts and other quibbles such as dates, preceding guarantees of war made by Britain to France and Russia, which amount to a virtual declaration, and Britain’s tri-party agreement and guarantees for a declaration of war, on a matter within the sovereign borders of Austria… well before any commencement of mobilization.

    I think to any impartial observer the subject of who were the hostile parties is quite clear… except to the hostile parties, whose modus operandi has always been to raise a barrage of confusing moral platitudes, which do not hold up in the face of facts. However, time and again it has been proven if you raise them repeatedly, and from every angle, this alone is proof of something — facts don’t matter.

    I might have apologized for accusing you of what I would consider a grave slander — that your account closely resembles contemporary reporting — but you take it as a great compliment, so we can all be content and in agreement with this point.

    On your major, yet tentative point, that Hitler was etc., we can also agree. I’m somewhat prone to quibble with your dispute with the results of the election. My understanding was Hitler won 90% of the vote, but I will have to fact check this, and I’m late for other pressing matters now, and will have to check and quibble later.

Leave a Reply