Come to the cabaret




Those of us who know anything of Weimar Germany know it from the play and movie, “Cabaret.” Some who know a bit about music know that the 1950s hit, “Mack the Knife” was originally German and from the Weimar period. Both are a pretty good look at the cultural nihilism the rest of the West perceived in Weimar Germany. But there is more to the story.

Early 20th century Germany was the most technologically and culturally advanced nation in the world. German was the language of science and technology.

In contrast, the British were crass merchants and we Americans were crude tradesmen and farmers. At least that is the way the Germans saw it, and you can’t say they were totally wrong.

Art Chance
Art Chance

Socialism wasn’t invented by Bernie Sanders supporters in the 2000s; it was alive and well in Europe and America in the late 19th Century. The Kaiser’s Germany had a social welfare system that much of the world would envy today.

After Germany’s surrender in WWI and the Kaiser’s abdication, a constitutional republic was established, which today we call the Weimar Republic, the Germany of the 1920s and early ’30s; the time of “Cabaret.”

Germany was not decisively militarily defeated in the First World War, but it was decisively economically defeated, primarily by the British blockade of Germany. After the war’s end, Germany turned sharply to socialism and it had a major communist presence that thought the socialism wasn’t enough.

The policies that the U.S. Left was orgasmic about in the early days of Obama quickly became the legal and social regime in Weimar Germany:

  • German industry was mandated to become unionized.
  • Labor disputes were decided by arbitration not by the economic combat of strikes and lockouts.
  • Medical care was state-funded and universal.
  • Education was compulsory and state-funded.
  • German law was positivist written law, not the common law judgment of often elected judges.

It was the “workers’ paradise” of which the Left dreamed.

But hanging over the head of the Weimar Republic was the immense burden of the war reparations imposed by the treaty ending WWI.

Germany resolved to inflate their way out of the reparations. Those of us old enough to have had a History course remember the pictures of Germans taking money to the market in a wheelbarrow. But, the Germans made it work for most of a decade. Their scheme of state-mandated interest arbitration of labor agreements made them able to keep labor rates equal to the inflation.

We saw this in much of the Alaska economy in the pipeline construction era; the cost of living skyrocketed, but the wages skyrocketed with it.

It all came crashing down in Germany with the Great Depression, and the end of that wasn’t happy for maybe 60 million people.

We aren’t there yet, and we should really try not to get there.

At the federal level we’re doing exactly what the Weimar Republic did; we’re inflating our way out of the defeat. Whether Red China did it by accident or design, they took the U.S. out of the lead in the competition for world economic leadership. Now we’re inflating our economy to try to win an economic war with the Chinese.

What we have to balance is the measures necessary to protect us from the virus or from the propaganda about the virus, and the measures that will produce serious civil unrest. After all, civil unrest is what brought on the collapse of the Weimar Republic.

In 1928, Germany could have remained a democratic republic, accepted the national socialism of the NSDAP, the Nazis, or become communist and allied with the newly formed USSR. The Nazis defeated the communists in the streets and the social democrats simply didn’t have it in them to resist; a lot of people died.

We are a lot more economically powerful in the world than was Germany in the early 20th Century, but it is an open question whether we can just muscle our way through this.

Right now, our civil unrest is peaceful, but as we get further into people having no livelihood, that peace isn’t assured. We have to get back to work.

I’m sorry if the Democrats can’t keep this going long enough to have a mail-in-only ballot election that they can steal, but I really don’t want a revolution. I have more than a few limbs chopped off my family tree over the last almost 400 years because of revolutions.

Western civilization survived the Bubonic Plague that killed as much as 50 percent of the European population. America survived cholera, smallpox, yellow fever and many other epidemics. People voted in person during the Spanish Flu. I remember the terror of polio before the Salk vaccine.

Life went on. We need to get on with it.

To respond to what is mostly a Democrat/media gaslighting operation, we have printed trillions of dollars and completely strangled the once-booming U.S. economy. The Democrats have accomplished their political objective of taking away President Trump’s economic accomplishments restoring the economy from the Obama malaise. Our great-grandchildren will be paying for the debt and all of us will suffer from the loss of purchasing power from the inflation. If gold reaches $2,000/oz. next year, it won’t be because gold got more valuable, it will be because the dollar became less valuable.

It may be necessary to continue the traditional practice of quarantining those afflicted and those most vulnerable, but the healthy need to be released from house arrest and America needs to go back to work or there won’t be any work to go back to for decades. The New Deal and federal spending didn’t end the Great Depression, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan did. There are people out there who would like another Pearl Harbor-like attack on the U.S.; China isn’t building assault carriers and Iran isn’t building ICBMs for no reason.

To the extent that federal deficit spending is a remedy at all, it is a very temporary remedy that must be paid for over generations.

Here in Alaska, we have the luxury of having substantial reserves. The State government has money in mattresses and coffee cans that they call “designated general funds.”

They also have all sorts of “trust’ funds and investments in unexpended Capital funds, though those may be dwindling. Our primary asset is the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund.

Some people who’ve been elected to represent us should turn their brains on and forget what their owners/contributors are demanding. Some of them should wear jackets like NASCAR drivers that have the logos of all their sponsors on them.

We have money to get Alaska through this, a luxury most states don’t have. Now all we need are elected and appointed officials with the IQ and the integrity to serve the people of Alaska rather than just serve their sponsors.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. 


  1. Germany and WWI was lengthened by Stalin selling. Remember he became neutral which let the Kaiser focus on only one front. The difference in your it is time model is, we are trying to save every last American that we can right now, and back then with the other diseases, we had no choice but to let them die. We aren’t on the gold standard anymore. To compare today’s economic decisions with the 1920-30s is not accurate. Today, we are only as strong as what power we have and world wide influence. Not how much gold is in Fort Knox.

    • Stalin was a minor communist functionary during WWI. The communists didn’t even have control of Russia until 1917, almost the end of the war, and didn’t really have control until well into the ’20s. IIRC, Lenin died in ’22 and various contenders tried to seize control of Soviet Russia; Stalin prevailed in ’24.

      It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to type and remove all doubt.

      • Obviously you knew I had misspoke with Lenin when the rest of the history was correct. You however decided to unzip and make this into something else. Kind of insecure at an old age aren’t we Art?

    • Wrong war. It was Lenin. Alaska can no longer afford to live beyond its means. It must have a sales and/or income tax to pay the bills like it was in the old days. Politicians stealing the peoples money won’t last forever. The well runneth dry. All the house majority and the nurse is doing is postponing the inevitable. Don’t blame President Trump for it either. We did this on out own before the virus. To start with, we elected those people who were loyal to their boards that they sit on rather than the people. Their version of save the people is more like a socialist state.

    • I wish I could agree with you Forkner, but that is not the objective of this affront to the Constitution that we call the pandemic response. The Left went for the President, then guns and continued to slaughter babies.
      Quit couching this exercise as saving lives, it is not, there is proof otherwise. Eight states did not quarantine or interrupt their economies. We did. With 9 dead, why?

  2. Just a small note: Although the Weimar Republic was originated in Weimar in Thüringen after World War One, the culture associated with Germany during the 1920s was manifested to the greatest degree in Berlin. The Weimar spirit, good and bad, remains very active in Berlin today. And another observation: Comparisons of historical and present day Germany with other times and places is tricky — and often useful. Auf Wiedersehen!

  3. Thanks for the history lesson Art. Very illuminating. With respect to the current COVID hysteria I will simply say, “I am not a child. I do not expect the government to protect me from a virus. I will take the precautions I deem necessary and seek medical attention if I need it. I don’t want to see the rights of anyone else infringed because I may be sick.”………….While I’m at it I have a few questions:
    1. By what authority may a public official deem some businesses “essential” and others “non-essential”?
    2. By what authority can a public official force anyone to wear a mask? Why not a HAZMAT suit?
    3. By what authority can a public official force a private business, having broken no laws, to close?

    Thanks again Art…….

    • I’m not a lawyer and certainly not a judge, so I can only tell you my personal opinion. Owning and operating a business invokes both a liberty interest and a property interest, neither of which can be alienated except by due process of law. Since both are fundamental Constitutional rights, said rights cannot be pierced except by a showing of a compelling state interest and a demonstration that the piercing of the right is the most narrowly tailored and least restrictive means to serve the compelling state interest.

      This isn’t my area of expertise but a cursory look at government’s emergency powers shows a mix of laws going back to the 19th and early 20th Centuries when epidemics were common and some going to the Cold War Era. The seminal federal authority seems to be a 1905 USSC case, which gives the US pretty broad emergency powers in an epidemic, but who knows if a modern court would see it the same way.

      The fact that such powers were duly enacted by a legislative body may satisfy the due process requirement but don’t necessarily satisfy the narrowly tailored test; lots of duly enacted laws have been declared unconstitutional. My belief is that courts would sanction very short term emergency powers that pierce Constitutional rights with something like the same doctrines they apply to injunctions; they’ll give a short time, say less than 30 days, for the parties at interest and the courts themselves to sort out their interests and positions. I think most of the determinations about “essential” and forced closings and procedures have been very random and arbitrary, and far from narrowly tailored. Finding out what the AKSC or USSC thinks is a long and expensive process.

      • Thank you Art. I’m not a lawyer either but having traveled broadly to many places with less than democratic ideals, I’m loath to see us cede ours so willingly. It’s a slippery slope.

    • Would that your comments could be as straightforward, understandable, and as to the point as Art’s. Mostly, after reading your comments, I find myself just going “huh, what did that mean?” I think you are too smart by half.
      As usual Art, well written and informative. I was taught the same history, math, and English language as you were…too bad they are not being taught anymore.

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