The institution that is now erroneously called the State generally classifies people only into two groups: citizens and aliens. Citizens are all those who possess full civic rights, either by reason of their birth or by an act of naturalization. Aliens are those who enjoy the same rights in some other State. Between these two categories there are certain beings who resemble a sort of meteoric phenomena. They are people who have no citizenship in any State and consequently no civic rights anywhere.
In most cases nowadays a person acquires civic rights by being born within the frontiers of a State. The race or nationality to which he may belong plays no role whatsoever. The child of a Negro who once lived in one of the German protectorates and now takes up his residence in Germany automatically becomes a German Citizen in the eyes of the world. In the same way the child of any Jew, Pole, African or Asian may automatically become a German Citizen.
Besides naturalization that is acquired through the fact of having been born within the confines of a State there exists another kind of naturalization which can be acquired later. This process is subject to various preliminary requirements. For example one condition is that, if possible, the applicant must not be a burglar or a common street thug. It is required of him that his political attitude is not such as to give cause for uneasiness; in other words he must be a harmless simpleton in politics. It is required that he shall not be a burden to the State of which he wishes to become a citizen. In this realistic epoch of ours this last condition naturally only means that he must not be a financial burden. If the affairs of the candidate are such that it appears likely he will turn out to be a good taxpayer, that is a very important consideration and will help him to obtain civic rights all the more rapidly.
The question of race plays no part at all.
The whole process of acquiring civic rights is not very different from that of being admitted to membership of an automobile club, for instance. A person files his application. It is examined. It is sanctioned. And one day the man receives a card which informs him that he has become a citizen. The information is given in an amusing way. An applicant who has hitherto been a Zulu or Kaffir is told: "By these presents you are now become a German Citizen."
The President of the State can perform this piece of magic. What God Himself could not do is achieved by some Theophrastus Paracelsus 16) of a civil servant through a mere twirl of the hand. Nothing but a stroke of the pen, and a Mongolian slave is forthwith turned into a real German. Not only is no question asked regarding the race to which the new citizen belongs; even the matter of his physical health is not inquired into. His flesh may be corrupted with syphilis; but he will still be welcome in the State as it exists to-day so long as he may not become a financial burden or a political danger.
In this way, year after year, those organisms which we call States take up poisonous matter which they can hardly ever overcome.
Another point of distinction between a citizen and an alien is that the former is admitted to all public offices, that he may possibly have to do military service and that in return he is permitted to take a passive or active part at public elections. Those are his chief privileges. For in regard to personal rights and personal liberty the alien enjoys the same amount of protection as the citizen, and frequently even more. Anyhow that is how it happens in our present German Republic.
I realize fully that nobody likes to hear these things. But it would be difficult to find anything more illogical or more insane than our contemporary laws in regard to State citizenship.
At present there exists one State which manifests at least some modest attempts that show a better appreciation of how things ought to be done in this matter. It is not, however, in our model German Republic but in the U.S.A. that efforts are made to conform at least partly to the counsels of commonsense. By refusing immigrants to enter there if they are in a bad state of health, and by excluding certain races from the right to become naturalized as citizens, they have begun to introduce principles similar to those on which we wish to ground the Peoples State.
The Peoples State will classify its population in three groups: Citizens, subjects of the State, and aliens.
The principle is that birth within the confines of the State gives only the status of a subject. It does not carry with it the right to fill any position under the State or to participate in political life, such as taking an active or passive part in elections. Another principle is that the race and nationality of every subject of the State will have to be proved. A subject is at any time free to cease being a subject and to become a citizen of that country to which he belongs in virtue of his nationality. The only difference between an alien and a subject of the State is that the former is a citizen of another country.
The young boy or girl who is of German nationality and is a subject of the German State is bound to complete the period of school education which is obligatory for every German. Thereby he submits to the system of training which will make him conscious of his race and a member of the folk-community. Then he has to fulfil all those requirements laid down by the State in regard to physical training after he has left school; and finally he enters the army. The training in the army is of a general kind. It must be given to each individual German and will render him competent to fulfil the physical and mental requirements of military service. The rights of citizenship shall be conferred on every young man whose health and character have been certified as good, after having completed his period of military service. This act of inauguration in citizenship shall be a solemn ceremony. And the diploma conferring the rights of citizenship will be preserved by the young man as the most precious testimonial of his whole life. It entitles him to exercise all the rights of a citizen and to enjoy all the privileges attached thereto. For the State must draw a sharp line of distinction between those who, as members of the nation, are the foundation and the support of its existence and greatness, and those who are domiciled in the State simply as earners of their livelihood there.
On the occasion of conferring a diploma of citizenship the new citizen must take a solemn oath of loyalty to the national community and the State. This diploma must be a bond which unites together all the various classes and sections of the nation. It shall be a greater honour to be a citizen of this Reich, even as a street-sweeper, than to be the King of a foreign State.
The citizen has privileges which are not accorded to the alien. He is the master in the Reich. But this high honour has also its obligations. Those who show themselves without personal honour or character, or common criminals, or traitors to the fatherland, can at any time be deprived of the rights of citizenship. Therewith they become merely subjects of the State.
The German girl is a subject of the State but will become a citizen when she marries. At the same time those women who earn their livelihood independently have the right to acquire citizenship if they are German subjects.