Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting Jonah out of the whale

Jonah Goldberg and I agree on most things. I particularly admire how effective he has been at making widely known the historical truth that Fascism is a Leftist phenomenon. Who was it who said: "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics"? It was Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the prewar British Union of Fascists, speaking in the 1960s.

I myself did the academic groundwork of showing how the myth that conservatives were responsible for Nazism was concocted but that research was seen only by social science academics and the social sciences are overwhelmingly Leftist so my findings were no sooner seen than forgotten.

But despite his brilliant emergence from the whale of misinformation that surrounds us all when Fascism is discussed, Jonah still is not completely out. He declared himself not convinced by my recent post about Hitler not being a racist in any conventional sense. Who can blame him? For those inside the whale, it must be a claim redolent of mental illness: A total departure from reality. And yet it is plain historical truth. Most of the countries Hitler attacked were heavily populated by people with blue eyes and fair skin and he allied himself with the non-European Japanese. A pretty strange white racist! But was he a GERMAN racist, then? Not at all. Hitler was quite clear about the group he favoured: Aryans. And Aryans are mostly brown (Indians). But I will return to that in a moment.

What keeps Jonah from escaping the whale entirely is Hitler's antisemitism. He says that Hitler was so clearly anti-Jewish that that alone makes him a racist. I sympathize with Jonah there. As a Jewish person it must be hard for him to think straight about the Holocaust. But I am one of those lucky WASPs who have no such horrors in their past. In fact it was a Conservative-dominated WASP parliament that made a Jew (the outspokenly Jewish Benjamin Disraeli) their Prime Minister just 15 years before Hitler was born. So I can mention freely here something that Jonah knows as well as I do: Jews are not a race. It is only your religious heritage that makes you a Jew. And Israel's Law of the Return is even more expansive than that. It says that you are a Jew if you think you are. And that would have been as clear to Hitler as it is to me. Most of the Jews I have met have blue eyes -- and blue eyes are a Northern European phenomenon, not a Mediterranean one. And there were plenty of blue-eyed Jews in Hitler's Germany. If Hitler was a racist, how come he missed such a stark racial marker as that???

So what WAS Hitler's thinking about race? Let me repeat briefly here what I said previously: In his book Der Fuehrer, prewar Leftist writer Konrad Heiden corrects the now almost universal assumption that Hitler's idea of race was biologically-based. The Nazi conception of race traces, as is well-known, to the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. But what did Chamberlain say about race? It should not by now be surprising that he said something that sounds thoroughly Leftist. Anthropologist Robert Gayre summarizes Chamberlain's ideas as follows:
"On the contrary he taught (like many "progressives" today) that racial mixture was desirable, for, according to him, it was only out of racial mixture that the gifted could be created. He considered that the evidence of this was provided by the Prussian, whom he saw as the superman, resulting from a cross between the German (or Anglo-Saxon "German") and the Slav. From this Chamberlain went on to argue that the sum of all these talented people would then form a "race," not of blood but of "affinity."

So the Nazi idea of race rejected biology just as thoroughly as modern Leftist ideas about race do! If that seems all too jarring to believe, Gayre goes on to discuss the matter at length.

And in accepting the notions of Chamberlain, Hitler was, as usual, simply accepting the wisdom of his day. Chamberlain was immensely influential in Germany long before Hitler came along. The Kaiser was so impressed by Chamberlain that he sent free copies of Chamberlain's book to people whom he thought needed it. But in case anybody questions the influence of Chamberlain on Hitler, let me give an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Chamberlain himself lived to see his ideas begin to bear fruit. Adolf Hitler, while still growing as a political figure in Germany, visited him several times (in 1923 and in 1926, together with Joseph Goebbels) at the Wagner family's property in Bayreuth. Chamberlain, paralyzed and despondent after Germany's losses in World War I, wrote to Hitler after his first visit in 1923:
" Most respected and dear Hitler, ... It is hardly surprising that a man like that can give peace to a poor suffering spirit! Especially when he is dedicated to the service of the fatherland. My faith in Germandom has not wavered for a moment, though my hopes were - I confess - at a low ebb. With one stroke you have transformed the state of my soul. That Germany, in the hour of her greatest need, brings forth a Hitler - that is proof of her vitality ... that the magnificent Ludendorff openly supports you and your movement: What wonderful confirmation! I can now go untroubled to sleep... May God protect you!"

Chamberlain joined the Nazi Party and contributed to its publications. Their journal Voelkischer Beobachter dedicated five columns to praising him on his 70th birthday, describing Foundations as the "gospel of the Nazi movement".

So why, then, did Hitler make such a scapegoat of the Jews? To understand that, you need to know that Nazism/Fascism belongs to the "One big happy family" version of Leftism ("All men are brothers", "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer", "We are the ones we have been waiting for"), which derives principally from Hegel. The other version is the class-war version principally promulgated by Karl Marx, who claimed to have stood Hegel on his head.

But immediately after WWI, Hitler's beloved Volk ("people", i.e. Germans. Note that there is a perfectly good word in German for race -- Rasse -- but Hitler did not use it for Germans) was bitterly divided between Communists and others. And that was the worst possible news for a "One big happy family" Leftist. So Hitler needed to find an explanation for that. And the explanation that suited best was to say that Germans were divided only because many of them were being misled by someone -- Jews. And in a sort of a way, he was right. Jews then were as generally Leftist as they are now and many of the class war-preachers in Vienna at the time were in fact Jews. And in Mein Kampf Hitler carefully sets out evidence of that. So Jews were, as ever, the convenient scapegoat. In its explanation for Middle-Eastern turmoil, the modern-day Left has Israel in that role to this day. The more things change ....

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ELSEWHERE

Another big British bureaucratic bungle: "A group of MPs has called on the Government to apologise to Equitable Life policyholders and to pay them compensation, thus turning up the heat on Gordon Brown before a formal decision early next year. The Public Administration Select Committee said that it "strongly supports" the findings of a report into the near-collapse of Europe's oldest mutual published by Ann Abraham, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, in July. Ms Abraham found three government departments guilty of ten counts of maladministration over Equitable, berating their failure to spot signs that it was in trouble. She said that the Government should say sorry and set up a compensation fund within six months."

North/South split over carmakers: "Almost 150 years after the American Civil War the struggle to save the country's carmaking industry is once again becoming a battle between the Union and the Confederacy. In this latter-day renewal of hostilities the union is the United Auto Workers (UAW) whose members are mostly employed in Northern states such as Michigan, the traditional heartland of US motor manufacturing. Union leaders have bitterly denounced Republican Senators from the South for scuppering a $14 billion bailout package for General Motors (GM) and Chrysler which, along with Ford, make up Detroit's "Big Three". Many of those who voted against it represent former Confederate states where foreign-owned car plants have sprung up in recent years and are proving to be more competitive than America's domestic manufacturers.... Yesterday Mr Corker said that Capitol Hill negotiations on the rescue deal had been wrecked by the UAW's refusal to accept the imposition of costcutting measures that would have forced the carmakers to operate on the same labour costs as the foreign-owned companies. He dismissed suggestions that self-interest had influenced his position, pointing out that he also had a GM plant in Tennessee which is "very important to my state"."

Better than a bailout: "US Representative Louie Gohmert has a better idea. The third-term Texas Republican proposes to strip Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson of his authority to spend the $350 billion remaining in the $700 billion bailout fund Congress created in October. Instead of being doled out to well-connected banks and Wall Street investment firms, the money would be used to finance a two-month federal tax holiday for every American taxpayer."

Social security: "A Wall Street crook by the name of Bernard Madoff was led away in handcuffs the other day for running a Ponzi scheme that bilked tens of billions from well-off adults who were seeking suspiciously high returns. The Wall Street Journal said it could prove to be history's largest financial scam. With all due respect to the Journal, it is not the largest financial scam -- not by a long shot. Another pyramid scheme that operates in the open is more than 1,000 times larger. It was set up to bilk defenseless children out of their money. Law enforcement authorities know about it. The media know about it. The comptroller general of the United States knows about it and has warned the public about it -- or at least the five percent of the public that isn't watching reruns of 'American Idol.'"

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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1 comment:

Robert said...

What keeps Jonah from escaping the whale entirely is Hitler's antisemitism. He says that Hitler was so clearly anti-Jewish that that alone makes him a racist.

I think the word Jonah was looking for is bigot. Hitler's antisemitism would make him a bigot, though not a racist.