Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1.: The German Youth Movement - Bureaucracy
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1.: The German Youth Movement - Ludwig von Mises, Bureaucracy 
Bureaucracy, edited and with a Foreword by Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007).
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The German Youth Movement
Highbrows turn up their noses at Horatio Alger’s philosophy. Yet Alger succeeded better than anybody else in stressing the most characteristic point of capitalist society. Capitalism is a system under which everybody has the chance of acquiring wealth; it gives everybody unlimited opportunity. Not everybody, of course, is favored by good luck. Very few become millionaires. But everybody knows that strenuous effort and nothing less than strenuous effort pays. All roads are open to the smart youngster. He is optimistic in the awareness of his own strength. He has self-confidence and is full of hope. And as he grows older and realizes that many of his plans have been frustrated, he has no cause for despair. His children will start the race again and he does not see any reason why they should not succeed where he himself failed. Life is worth living because it is full of promise.
All this was literally true of America. In old Europe there still survived many checks inherited from the ancien régime. Even in the prime of liberalism, aristocracy and officialdom were struggling for the maintenance of their privileges. But in America there were no such remnants of the Dark Ages. It was in this sense a young country, and it was a free country. Here were neither industrial codes nor guilds. Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford did not have to overcome any obstacles erected by shortsighted governments and a narrow-minded public opinion.
Under such conditions the rising generation are driven by the spirit of the pioneer. They are born into a progressing society, and they realize that it is their task to contribute something to the improvement of human affairs. They will change the world, shape it according to their own ideas. They have no time to waste; tomorrow is theirs and they must prepare for the great things that are waiting for them. They do not talk about their being young and about the rights of youth; they act as young people must act. They do not boast about their own “dynamism”; they are dynamic and there is no need for them to emphasize this quality. They do not challenge the older generation with arrogant talk. They want to beat it by their deeds.
But it is quite a different thing under the rising tide of bureaucratization. Government jobs offer no opportunity for the display of personal talents and gifts. Regimentation spells the doom of initiative. The young man has no illusions about his future. He knows what is in store for him. He will get a job with one of the innumerable bureaus, he will be but a cog in a huge machine the working of which is more or less mechanical. The routine of a bureaucratic technique will cripple his mind and tie his hands. He will enjoy security. But this security will be rather of the kind that the convict enjoys within the prison walls. He will never be free to make decisions and to shape his own fate. He will forever be a man taken care of by other people. He will never be a real man relying on his own strength. He shudders at the sight of the huge office buildings in which he will bury himself.
In the decade preceding the First World War Germany, the country most advanced on the path toward bureaucratic regimentation, witnessed the appearance of a phenomenon hitherto unheard of: the youth movement. Turbulent gangs of untidy boys and girls roamed the country, making much noise and shirking their school lessons. In bombastic words they announced the gospel of a golden age. All preceding generations, they emphasized, were simply idiotic; their incapacity has converted the earth into a hell. But the rising generation is no longer willing to endure gerontocracy, the supremacy of impotent and imbecile senility. Henceforth the brilliant youths will rule. They will destroy everything that is old and useless, they will reject all that was dear to their parents, they will substitute new real and substantial values and ideologies for the antiquated and false ones of capitalist and bourgeois civilization, and they will build a new society of giants and supermen.
The inflated verbiage of these adolescents was only a poor disguise for their lack of any ideas and of any definite program. They had nothing to say but this: We are young and therefore chosen; we are ingenious because we are young; we are the carriers of the future; we are the deadly foes of the rotten bourgeois and Philistines. And if somebody was not afraid to ask them what their plans were, they knew only one answer: Our leaders will solve all problems.
It has always been the task of the new generation to provoke changes. But the characteristic feature of the youth movement was that they had neither new ideas nor plans. They called their action the youth movement precisely because they lacked any program which they could use to give a name to their endeavors. In fact they espoused entirely the program of their parents. They did not oppose the trend toward government omnipotence and bureaucratization. Their revolutionary radicalism was nothing but the impudence of the years between boyhood and manhood; it was a phenomenon of a protracted puberty. It was void of any ideological content.
The chiefs of the youth movement were mentally unbalanced neurotics. Many of them were affected by a morbid sexuality, they were either profligate or homosexual. None of them excelled in any field of activity or contributed anything to human progress. Their names are long since forgotten; the only trace they left were some books and poems preaching sexual perversity. But the bulk of their followers were quite different. They had one aim only: to get a job as soon as possible with the government. Those who were not killed in the wars and revolutions are today pedantic and timid bureaucrats in the innumerable offices of the German Zwangswirtschaft. They are obedient and faithful slaves of Hitler. But they will be no less obedient and faithful handymen of Hitler’s successor, whether he is a German nationalist or a puppet of Stalin.
From Germany the youth movement spread to other countries. Italian Fascism masked itself as a youth movement. Its party song, “Giovinezza,” is a hymn of youth. Its buffoon Duce boasted still in his late fifties of his youthful vigor and was anxious to conceal his age like a coquettish lady. But the only concern of the rank-and-file Fascist was to get a government job. In the time of the Ethiopian war the present writer asked some graduate students of one of the great Italian universities for an explanation of their hostility to France and Great Britain. The answer was amazing: “Italy,” they said, “does not offer enough opportunity for its intelligentsia. We want to conquer British and French colonies in order to get in the administration of these territories the jobs which are now in the hands of British and French bureaucrats.”
The youth movement was an expression of the uneasiness that young people felt in face of the gloomy prospects that the general trend toward regimentation offered them. But it was a counterfeit rebellion doomed to failure because it did not dare to fight seriously against the growing menace of government all-round control and totalitarianism. The tumultuous would-be rioters were impotent because they were under the spell of the totalitarian superstitions. They indulged in seditious babble and chanted inflammatory songs, but they wanted first of all government jobs.
Today the youth movement is dead in the countries most advanced on the way toward totalitarianism. In Russia, in Germany, and in Italy the children and the adolescents are firmly integrated into the allembracing apparatus of state control. Children from the tenderest age are members of the political organizations. From the cradle to the grave all citizens are subject to the machine of the one-party system, bound to obey without asking questions. No “private” associations or gatherings are permitted. The official apparatus does not tolerate any competition. The official ideology does not tolerate any dissenters. Such is the reality of the bureaucratic utopia.