There is no doubt that unmanageable debt was the trigger for their existential crisis, but I don’t think that alone would have been enough to cause the fall of the Weimar Republic.
Economic depression was experienced just about everywhere at the time, and many Western democracies (including our own) were able to overcome their hardships by transitioning into social democracies.
Social democracy was also being considered in the Weimar Republic. But it never took hold. Instead, their government was overthrown, their democracy replaced with totalitarianism, and they became Nazi Germany.
- Smashing the State from Within
I don’t think this would have happened, if the Nazis had not formed a large, uncompromising coalition of illiberal and anti-democracy politicians, who successfully worked to undermine, and to destroy their state from within.
- Turning Democracy Upon Itself
I don’t think the saboteurs could have gotten away with what they did without the support of the people… which they had… because the people had learned to distrust the state, and saw its destruction as the product of their own will.
But even with this distrust… I don’t think the people would have actually wanted to smash the state, if they held a strong belief in democracy. Unfortunately… they had grown to instead believe that liberalism and democracy was to blame for all of their problems.
- Leading and Following into Battle
These anti-liberal and anti-democracy perspectives would not have taken hold of their society without an actual shift in values… toward authoritarianism. People don’t just give up their values, if they have nothing to replace them with.
- Something to Fight For
For the Weimar Republic, this shift happened as their society grew more militant in response to both external threats and domestic culture war… which made them value, more than democratic freedoms, what kept them mobilized and battle-ready.
As I see it, this was the progression of the Weimar Republic’s downfall… This was how their society was conditioned, and prepared, to abandon the freedoms of democracy for totalitarianism. And all the while… the people thought they were fighting for something good… even for freedom itself.
Sadly… I see all of these things unfolding in our own country, on both sides of the political spectrum. And I worry… since political campaigns now engage in such fierce political warfare… that the upcoming presidential elections will make matters even worse.
What can we do about this?