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Matter of livelihood for Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf
I soon learned that there was always some kind of work to be had, but equally soon I found out how easy it was to lose it.
The uncertainty of earning my daily bread soon seemed to me one of the darkest sides of my new life.
The ' skilled' worker does not find himself out on the street as frequently as the unskilled; but he is not entirely immune to this fate either. And in his case the loss of livelihood owing to lack of work is replaced by the lock-out, or by going on strike himself.
In this respect the entire economy suffers bitterly from the individual's insecurity in earning his daily bread.
The peasant boy who goes to the big city, attracted by the easier nature of the work (real or imaginary), by shorter hours, but most of all by the dazzling light emanating from the metropolis, is accustomed to a certain security in the matter of livelihood. He leaves his old job only when there is at least some prospect of a new one. For there is a great lack of agricultural workers, hence the probability of any long period of unemployment is in itself small. It is a mistake to believe that the young fellow who goes to the big city is made of poorer stuff than his brother who continues to make an honest living from the peasant sod. No, on the contrary: experience shows that all those elements which emigrate consist of the healthiest and most energetic natures, rather than conversely. Yet among these 'emigrants' we must count, not only those who go to America, but to an equal degree the young farmhand who resolves to leave his native village for the strange city. He, too, is prepared to face an uncertain fate. As a rule he arrives in the big city with a certain amount of money; he has no need to lose heart on the very first day if he has the ill fortune to find no work for any length of time. But it is worse if, after finding a job, he soon loses it. To find a new one, especially in winter, is often difficult if not impossible. Even so, the first weeks are tolerable. He receives an unemployment benefit from his union funds and manages as well as possible. But when his last cent is gone and the union, due to the long duration of his unemployment, discontinues its payments, great hardships begin. Now he walks the streets, hungry; often he pawns and sells his last possessions; his clothing becomes more and more wretched; and thus he sinks into external surroundings which, on top of his physical misfortune, also poison his soul. If he is evicted and if (as is so often the case) this occurs in winter, his misery is very great. At length he finds some sort of job again. But the old story is repeated. The same thing happens a second time, the third time perhaps it is even worse, and little by little he learns to bear the eternal insecurity with greater and greater indifference. At last the repetition becomes a habit.
And so this man, who was formerly so hard-working, grows lax in his whole view of life and gradually becomes the instrument of those who use him only for their own base advantage. He has so often been unemployed through no fault of his own that one time more or less ceases to matter, even when the aim is no longer to fight for economic rights, but to destroy political, social, or cultural values in general. He may not be exactly enthusiastic about strikes, but at any rate he has become indifferent.
With open eyes I was able to follow this process in a thousand examples. The more I witnessed it, the greater grew my revulsion for the big city which first avidly sucked men in and then so cruelly crushed them.
When they arrived, they belonged to their people; after remaining for a few years, they were lost to it.
I, too, had been tossed around by life in the metropolis- in my own skin I could feel the effects of this fate and taste them with my soul. One more thing I saw: the rapid change from work to unemployment and vice versa, plus the resultant fluctuation of income, end by destroying in many all feeling for thrift, or any understanding for a prudent ordering of their lives. It would seem that the body gradually becomes accustomed to living on the fat of the land in good times and going hungry in bad times. Indeed, hunger destroys any resolution for reasonable budgeting in better times to come by holding up to the eyes of its tormented victim an eternal mirage of good living and raising this dream to such a pitch of longing that a pathological desire puts an end to all restraint as soon as wages and earnings make it at all possible. The consequence is that once the man obtains work he irresponsibly forgets all ideas of order and discipline, and begins to live luxuriously for the pleasures of the moment. This upsets even the small weekly budget, as even here any intelligent apportionment is lacking; in the beginning it suffices for five days instead of seven, later only for three, finally scarcely for one day, and in the end it is drunk up in the very first night.
Often he has a wife and children at home. Sometimes they, too, are infected by this life, especially when the man is good to them on the whole and actually loves them in his own way. Then the weekly wage is used up by the whole family in two or three days; they eat and drink as long as the money holds out and the last days they go hungry. Then the wife drags herself out into the neighbourhood, borrows a little, runs up little debts at the food store, and in this way strives to get through the hard last days of the week. At noon they all sit together before their meager and sometimes empty bowls, waiting for the next payday, speaking of it, making plans, and, in their hunger, dreaming of the happiness to come.
And so the little children, in their earliest beginnings, are made familiar with this misery.
It ends badly if the man goes his own way from the very beginning and the woman, for the children's sake, opposes him. Then there is fighting and quarreling, and, as the man grows estranged from his wife, he becomes more intimate with alcohol. He is drunk every Saturday, and, with her instinct of self preservation for herself and her children, the woman has to fight to get even a few pennies out of him; and, to make matters worse, this usually occurs on his way from the factory to the barroom. When at length he comes home on Sunday or even Monday night, drunk and brutal, but always parted from his last cent, such scenes often occur that God have mercy!
I have seen this in hundreds of instances. At first I was repelled or even outraged, but later I understood the whole tragedy of this misery and its deeper causes. These people are the unfortunate victims of bad conditions!
Even more dismal in those days were the housing conditions. The misery in which the Viennese day labourer lived was frightful to behold. Even today it fills me with horror when I think of these wretched caverns, the lodging houses and tenements, sordid scenes of garbage, repulsive filth, and worse.
What was-and still is-bound to happen some day, when the stream of unleashed slaves pours forth from these miserable dens to avenge themselves on their thoughtless fellow men. For thoughtless they are!
Thoughtlessly they let things slide along, and with their utter lack of intuition fail even to suspect that sooner or later Fate must bring retribution, unless men conciliate Fate while there is still time.
How thankful I am today to the Providence which sent me to that school! In it I could no longer sabotage the subjects I did not like. It educated me quickly and thoroughly.
If I did not wish to despair of the men who constituted my environment at that time, I had to learn to distinguish between their external characters and lives and the foundations of their development. Only then could all this be borne without losing heart. Then, from all the misery and despair, from all the filth and outward degeneration, it was no longer human beings that emerged, but the deplorable results of deplorable laws; and the hardship of my own life, no easier than the others, preserved me from capitulating in tearful sentimentality to the degenerate products of this process of development.
No, this is not the way to understand all these things!
Even then I saw that only a two fold road could lead to the goal of improving these conditions:
The deepest sense of social responsibility for the creation of better foundations for our development, coupled with brutal determination on breaking down incurable tenors.
Just as nature does not concentrate her greatest attention in preserving what exists, but in breeding offspring to carry on the species, likewise, in human life, it is less important artificially to alleviate existing evil, which, in view of human nature, is ninety-nine per cent impossible, than to ensure
from the start healthier channels for a future development.
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler: Chapters Below.
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