Sunday, April 21, 2013
My Chronicles On Albert Einstein Part 1 : His View on Politics and Industry
All throughout his life, Einstein was a natural born pacifist. Even at a young age, Einstein grew a profound dislike for authority figures. As turmoil among European nations broke out leading up to The Great War, Einstein was an avid spokesperson against violence. Although Einstein’s mind was meant for scientific research, he was an avid reader and outspoken man in the world of politics. Einstein’s thoughts and experiences truly transformed his belief in a society where the government was a slave for the people, not merely society as a slave to the cruel self-interest of the few aristocrats who had political authority. In this section, I shall discuss Einstein’s views on politics and industrialism amongst European society and American society. Leading up to and following The Great War, as Einstein called it, was seen as a pessimistic society. “Compared to the American, the European is more critical, more self-conscious, less heartened and helpful, more isolated, more fastidious in his amusements and his readings, generally more or less of a pessimist.”(Einstein, 39) Because of the Great Depression, much of European society viewed life in a negative manner. As a result, the governments of this society used this ideology to their advantage. As a result of war and depression, much of European society seemed as though it would latch onto any government or political group that could rally minds to bring them together. Because European government and society believed in the concept of Socialism, it was very easy to persuade the masses to partake in anything they say. This type of government looks towards their own interests before that of the community since a Socialist government controls the media, they could easily control the media according to Einstein. Being the free and independent thinker that he was, he could easily see past the lies and false sense of nationalism that the Fascist governments were feeding the people of Europe. “War in the interest of the state is rationalized by the state to the people as a sense of nationalism or patriotism.” (Einstein, 59) Being the pacifist that the he saw, Einstein saw this psychological development deployed by the government on its people to be cruel, for the governments of Europe especially that of Germany and Italy, used a false sense of nationalism to rally the people of depressed Europe to go along with their selfish self-interest for control and war. He believed that the government should slaves to its citizens considering they were the people that voted them into office. “The State should be our servant not we its slaves. The State transgresses this commandment when it compels us by force to engage in military and war service, the more so since the object and the effect of this slavish service to kill people belonging to other countries or interfere with their freedom of development. We are only to make such sacrifices to the state as will promote the free development of individual human beings.”(Einstein, 57) The government should adhere to the thoughts and needs of the people they represent, but the socialist government of war torn and economically depressed nations of Europe knew that had the advantage over the impoverished citizens in which the leaders represented. “Democratic parliament regime which is based on independence has in many places been shaken up where dictators have sprung up and been tolerated. Sheep-like masses can be worked up by the newspapers and political rhetoric.”(Einstein, 10) As a result of their authoritarian rule, many of the intellectuals and oppressed members of society, like Einstein, tried speaking out against such rhetoric, but the masses who were now brainwashed by the government saw these individuals as traitors against their own country. Einstein knew it was not their fault for the human brain is much like a dog, you one can train it believe whatever one wants, even if the thoughts of the Fascist government were evil, cynical, and in the end went against society’s best interests. Einstein’s held on so dearly to his political beliefs that he eventually lost his job at the University in which he worked at taught Physics because of the fear and oppression his countries leaders inflicted upon the people of Germany. He even went as far as revoking his own citizenship to Germany as a result of the Fascist movement that was taking over the country. It is sad for to think that war and economic depression can be used by authoritarian governments to rally the people of Europe to believe in such cruel ideology as those of Germany and Italy did. In the end, Einstein stood by to his beliefs while the citizens of Europe became like wild beasts against those the government wished to blame for problems that they did not cause.
Einstein’s view on America was truly profound and quite optimistic in nature. He enjoyed the simply freedoms, and overall optimistic view of the American public. Democracy, in a sense, was the best and only true working political system in the entire world. Einstein also had great admiration for the economic principle of capitalism in America over the socialist approach in Europe. “Capitalism is better than Socialism because government can stifle cultural, intellectual, and economic progress.”(Einstein, 40) America was the true definition of just how great a society can be if it is free of government intervention because competition can truly lead to systematic progression of society as whole. A free and open society is what Einstein visualized as the most productive means of progression for man, and American economic and political structure allowed for such progress to occur. He also had great admiration for just how powerful the United States was in terms of technological advances and its overall international influence in the world. “The U.S. is the most powerful and technologically advances country on Earth, and its international influence is incalculable.”(Einstein, 41) He often pondered about how American’s viewed Europe, and how they enjoyed the safety and security in which is prevalent in American society as whole. In both World Wars, America played a small role in combat, and had a hands off approach to intervention until of course it was deemed necessary to intervene as a result of the attacks on American merchant and military ships by the Germans in World War I, and of course the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in World War II. “People in America no doubt think as follows: Let Europe go to the dogs, if it destroyed by the quarrelsomeness and wickedness of its inhabitant. The good seed of our Wilson has produced a mighty poor crop in the stony ground of Europe. We are strong and safe and in no hurry to mix ourselves up in other people’s affairs.”(Einstein, 65) This perception of America by Einstein was inherently true, but he felt that this view was short-sighted. In the eyes of Einstein, America was partly to blame for the catastrophe that was emanating in Europe during World War I. “By ruthlessly pressing her claims she is hastening the economic and therewith the moral collapse of Europe; she has helped to Balkanize Europe, therefore shares the responsibility for the breakdown of political morality and the growth of that spirit of revenge which feeds on despair. This spirit will not stop short of the gates of America—I had almost said, has not stopped short. Look around, and look forward.”(Einstein, 65) In the end, Einstein really cherished the charismatic nature of the United States as whole because of its political and economic structure, but believed that the U.S. had such a significant international influence that it could influence world events for the better or for the worse.
Following World War One, the League of Nations was created. Einstein believed in the concept of a one world government. Since he looked down upon the belief on nationalism or patriotism, he really admired the creation of the League of Nations. “Increasing nation’s relations will promote international security.”(Einstein, 49) By bringing together the beliefs, opinions, and security issues of all nations together will only help the world as a whole, for all nations should have the interest of the whole in mind when going about making changes to laws for the good of the entire system. If all countries share a common interest, he believed that all-out war could be suppressed by the simple fact that each nation’s security was intertwined with those of its neighbors. Einstein appealed to the creation of the Commission De Operation Intellectuelle, but in a letter to the German Secretary of the League of Nations Herr Dufour-Feronce, he wrote, “Experience has, unhappily, taught me that the Commission, taken as a whole, stands no serious determination to make real progress with the task of improving international relations. It looks to me far more like an embodiment of the principle ut aliquid fieri videatur. The Commission seems to me even worse in this respect than the League as a whole.”(Einstein, 54) Einstein believed that the League should look past the superiority of the state, to build an arbitrary body that looks to build foundation in society that strives to relieve oppression amongst societies minorities, but because the ability to combat chauvinistic and militaristic tendencies of national government by the Commission was deemed lukewarm at best, he believed that Commission had failed to prove change in which it was created to do. “The Commission has invariably failed to give moral support to those individuals and associations who have thrown themselves without reserve into the business of working for an international order against the military system.”(Einstein, 55) He believed that the League and the Commission should only appoint members who possess sound moral conviction to the problems of oppression that the world has faced especially in Europe. Einstein did not understand why the Commission would appoint individuals who views on the world blatantly contradicted the overall concepts for which it was created to do. “The Commission has never made any attempt to resist the appointment of members whom it knew to stand for tendencies the very reverse of those it is bound in duty for. The Commission had failed to give moral support to those individuals and associations who have thrown themselves without reserve into the business of working for international order and against the military system.”(Einstein, 55)
As a result of Einstein overall pacifism, he believed that the world should be led it the direction of disarmament. Following the Great War in Europe, he was known to be publicly adamant on his political views of militarism, and believed that the League of Nations and the Commission should strive for a world that is free of war and a military complex. Society progresses by slow and deliberate change, but on the subject of disarmament, it should be done by swift means to help save the world and the human race from destroying itself. Einstein believed war was only fought because of the cruel and cynical self-interest of governments and those who hold the means of production and significant wealth in society. By disarming the world of its means to kill, it would ultimately lead to an increase of security for all nations of the world. As long as the thought of war remains in this world, nations will always be prepared for military intervention. As a result, nations will in turn educate the youth of society on warlike traditions and a self of pride to fight for one’s country to feel as though war is justified as inevitable to maintain such a social, economic, and political stability amongst nations on Earth. “Disarmament and security are only to be had in combination. The one guarantee of security is an undertaking by all nations to give effect to the decisions of the international authority.”(Einstein, 56) According to Dr. Einstein, the 1932 Disarmament Conference would determine the fate of the world, and the coming generation. He believed that states should not intervene militarily in the overall peaceful development of nations, but only intervene when the overall development of human beings is being oppressed by their government. The problem of disarmament in the eyes of Einstein was simply this: man will not forgo his arms because of the vulnerability it causes him and the lack of security it invokes. Without a means of international security as a whole, the state(s) will inevitably refuse to disarm their nation. “It is true we have a League of Nations and a Court of Arbitration. But the League is not much more than a meeting-hall, and the Court has no means of enforcing its decisions. These institutions provide no security for any country in case of an attack on it.”(Einstein, 58) Being able to come together as a group of nations against an aggressor is the only way in which true progress as a whole can be made. War can only be eliminated if the complex of nationalism shall be forgone by the ability to come together as one world, but until then man will live in a world of terror. “Unless we can agree to limit the sovereignty of the individual State by all binding ourselves to take joint action against any country which openly or secretly resists the judgment of the Court of Arbitration, we shall never get out of a state of universal anarchy and terror.”(Einstein, 58) Einstein felt there were two concepts so engraved in our modern society that hinders the disarmament movement: spiritualism and materialism. Governments of the world have embedded the concept of nationalism and patriotism into the minds of its citizens leading to enormous state power. The gathering of the masses by a false sense of nationalism has allowed the self-interest of the few, to control the popular opinion of the entire populous. “They say further, and truly, that the greatest obstacle to international order is that monstrously exaggerated spirit of nationalism which also goes by the fair-sounding but misused name of patriotism. During the last century and a half this idol has acquired an uncanny and exceedingly pernicious power everywhere.”(Einstein, 59) Nationalism has been deeply intertwined with the role of military service. The state, and in turn, society has deemed military service to be the highest honorable duty one can do for one’s country. A country which wishes to increase its military service is almost notably going to create a spirit of nationalism or nationalistic pride within its people. The concept of nationalism that correlates with military service provides the psychological foundation of military efficiency. Einstein felt that as long as the state provides the means to stimulate the masses with a false sense of patriotism through the media, disarmament would essentially never happen regardless of the international plea circulating within the Conference of 1932. Military might of the state along with spiritual development is in the best interest of the state simply because they must gain the admiration of the youth at the schools. Einstein, at a young age was presented with this same regiment in his early years in German schooling, often recalling having to march and recite nationalistic songs and literature which he deemed very militaristic in nature. “The introduction to compulsory service is therefore, to my mind, the prime cause of the moral collapse of the white race, which seriously threatens not merely the survival of our civilization but our very existence.”(Einstein, 60) Einstein felt that those who wish to condemn military service must take a stand and hold their ground against militarism and primitive might held by the state. It was a sad reality to Einstein that simply because one refused compulsory service for one’s country, one was considered a disgrace to one’s state and community for their conscientious belief in pacifism and objection to war. Dr. Einstein felt that the Disarmament Conference should find a way to end such psychological issues through education, for individuals who wish not to serve their nation in the army. “This is my position in a nutshell: Mere agreements to limit armaments furnish no sort of security. Compulsory arbitration must be supported by executive force, guaranteed by all the participating countries, which is ready to proceed against the disturber of the peace with economic and military sanctions. Compulsory service, as the bulwark of unhealthy nationalism, must be combated; most important of all, conscientious objectors must be protected on an international basis.”(Einstein, 60) Einstein felt that the leaders of the international community desired to abolish war, but the resistance for such actions is deeply embedded in the traditions of nations from generation to generation much like a genetic disease that’s inherited. He felt that the educational system and the Press were to blame for this resistance to peaceful mannerisms toward war and disarmament simply because of the glorification of military training. It is time for the intellectual and responsible bodies of the world to come together to remind the world of the shear importance of the Disarmament Conference. It is no longer important or one’s duty to criticize barbaric actions and militarism, but to turn thought and words into action for the benefit of mankind. “The fate of the world will be such as the world deserves. Anybody who really wants to abolish war must resolutely declare himself in favour of his own country’s resigning a portion of its sovereignty in favour of international institutions: he must be ready to make his own country amenable, in case of a dispute, to the award of the international court. He must in the most uncompromising fashion support disarmament all round which is actually envisioned in the unfortunate Treaty of Versailles; unless military and aggressively patriotic education is abolished, we can hope for no progress.”(Einstein, 63-64) In the end, the Disarmament Conference of 1932 was the last chance at preserving peace amongst nations of the world, and the weight of the world lay on the shoulders of European leaders, and most significantly America for she was the strongest and comparatively sound amongst nations at the Conference, and all eyes and attention were focused on her.
Einstein believed that industry and the world economic collapsed of 1929 played a significant role in the political and military future of the world. “The individual can accomplish little here, nor can one wish to see the best among us devoted to destruction through the machinery behind which stand the three great powers of stupidity, fear, and greed.”(Einstein, 68) Einstein believed the industrialists of the world wish to pursue their own greed and self-interest before the good of the whole. Industrialists thrived off the concept of militarism and nationalistic pride to continue with its war machine. Einstein saw this to be prevalent in Germany during the first half of the 20th century, for the industrial complex was tied deeply with media and politics to bring the people to feel the need to defend with honor and pride their beloved nation. Einstein knew the motives behind such a deeply embedded sore in the flesh of society and even went on to say, “Industrialists don’t want peace, due to money.”(Einstein, 43) Einstein was deeply upset by such a world where mankind’s primitive and barbaric nature lies in the hands of those which control its fate. Those who control the means of production control the issues of the nation and subsequently the world, where is if it is a game the plutocratic society plays with the sheep-like masses as it pawns that they label replaceable. The war-like machine becomes that of perpetual motion in which is controlled by the industrialists of the world who seek their self-interest over the community interest. The armament industry is the biggest threat and greatest danger to mankind. Money and greed shall inevitably blind the moral path and compose of those who seek it in large amounts for it is never enough once one attains such monetary value. In a letter to an unknown person Einstein writes, “As regards to the munitions industry and the export of war material, the League of Nations has busied itself for years with efforts to get this horrible traffic controlled—with little success, we all know. Last year I asked a well- known American Diplomat why Japan was not forced by a commercial boycott to desist from her policy of force. He replied, “Our commercial interests are too strong.” How can one help people who rest satisfied with a statement like that?”(Einstein, 66) During such a time of economic crisis as that of the late 1920’s into the early 1930’s, te purchasing power of the world lay in the hands of the few in which controlled industry. As a result of the collapse, it subsequently led to the collapse of the moral and physical embodiment of society. Together with the increase of machinery and the decrease of purchasing power of the lower and middle class, society was now brought to an all-time low. Because of over-production and inflation, the money of Germany and subordinate nations was deemed almost worthless. In addition, the payment of reparations by debtor nations who’s monetary value was all, but non-existent, led to the overall collapse of German and European society. Einstein knew that if the purchasing power of the lower-to-middle class got below a certain point society would crumble, and would lead to a state that would look for the state to bring back the glory to the Fatherland.
In 1932, Einstein warned the world of what was to become of Germany. The Nationalist Socialist Party(Nazi) gained political power in the Prussian nation. Hitler used the degrading society of Germany to reach out to the working class to believe in his will. Being the free thinker Einstein knew of the evil which was to follow such a tyrannical state, but at the same time the government was gaining attention and provoking the citizens of thoughts for hatred of Jews. Einstein refused to live in a state where the individual does not enjoy equality before the law and the freedom to say and teach what he likes. Germany felt that Einstein was committing “atrocity mongering” by ending his Prussian citizenship, and ending his stay at the Prussian Academy of the Sciences. Unfortunately, he had no choice in the matter. Although he was man of German decent, he was still a German-Jew, a man who was looked down upon by those who considered themselves inferior to the vermin or rats of society. Einstein took pity in the sheep-like masses that were being dug from the depths of hell only to realize in time that, that they never really left the hell from which they came from. Einstein was quoted as saying, “I would rather not belong to any society which behaves in such a manner, even if it does so under external pressure,”(Einstein,88) in a letter in reply to the Bavarian Academy of Science. Einstein also received a letter from the Prussian Academy Secretary, Von Fricker, which he said that Albert made the correct choice in resigning from his position at the Academy due to his talks against the government have led to people thinking and acting in a way that goes against the government policy and ideology. The culmination of oppression, militarism, and the government having complete control of the media, it led to the sheep-like masses idolizing the Hitler whose words and actions gave them a false sense of nationalism. Albert Einstein free-thinking and constant questioning of the established belief system, was a complete contradiction from the status-quo of German society during the 1930’s, as a result he fled Germany to live in America. Although Einstein was first banished from his own family, and now was a man who was stateless, Einstein never gave up hope for mankind, and its true potential. As you will see, even though Einstein was loner and was shunned out, ridiculed, and oppressed by society his whole life, he never lost hope within himself, and because of his Jewish background, his personality reflected as such: One who never loses faith in oneself, never loses faith in mankind.
Einstein, Albert. The World As I See It. Translated By Alan Harris. Carol Publishing Group Edition. 1998. Secaucus, New Jersey. Copyright 1956
Einstein, Albert. Extracts From Dr. Einstein's Published Views: Einstein’s Archives Online. April 10 2013. “Einstein on Peace.” 13 November 1918. http://alberteinstein.info/vufind1/images/einstein/ear01/view/1/28-001.tr_000012858.pdf. Princeton University Press 2002.