Saturday, December 06, 2008

Was Hitler a racist?

"John Ray has now gone too far. Pointing out that Nazism was simply an extreme version of prewar Leftism was fine but denying that Hitler was a racist is right off the planet". That is the sort of reaction I expect to the above heading. But as Eddington said, the universe is not only stranger than you imagine but it is stranger than you can imagine. And the truth is that Hitler's ideas about race were pretty similar to the thinking of Leftists today. We all know that Hitler used the Jews as a scapegoat but what have you ever read about what his conception of race was? You may be surprised.

Although in his speeches he undoubtedly appealed to the nationalism of the German people, Locke (2001) makes a strong case that Hitler was not in fact a very good nationalist in that he always emphasized that his primary loyalty was to what he called the Aryan race -- and Germany was only one part of that race. Locke then goes on to point out that Hitler was not even a very consistent racist in that the Dutch, the Danes etc. were clearly Aryan even by Hitler's own eccentric definition yet he attacked them whilst at the same time allying himself with the very non-Aryan Japanese. And the Russians and the Poles (whom Hitler also attacked) are rather more frequently blonde and blue-eyed (Hitler's ideal) than the Germans themselves are! So what DID Hitler believe in?

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.

So although Hitler made powerful USE of German nationalism, we see from both the considerations put forward by Locke and the intellectual history discussed by Gayre, that Hitler was not in fact much motivated by racial loyalty as we would normally conceive it. So what was he motivated by?

Locke suggests that Hitler's actions are best explained by saying that he simply had a love of war but offers no explanation of WHY Hitler would love war. Hitler's extreme Leftism does explain this however. Hitler shared with other Leftists a love of constant change and excitement --- and what could offer more of that than war (or, in the case of other Leftists, the civil war of "revolution")?

The idea that Nazism was motivated primarily by a typically Leftist hunger for change and excitement and hatred of the status quo is reinforced by the now famous account of life in Nazi Germany given by a young "Aryan" who lived through it. Originally written before World War II, Haffner's (2002) account of why Hitler rose to power stresses the boring nature of ordinary German life and observes that the appeal of the Nazis lay in their offering of relief from that:
"The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom ... The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for 'salvation': through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication."

So he too saw the primary appeal of Nazism as its offering of change, novelty and excitement. And how about another direct quote from Hitler himself?
"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions"

(Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by Toland, 1976, p. 306)

So Hitler WAS a racist -- but a very mixed-up one -- just as modern-day Leftists are -- who support racial preferences (affirmative action) but still say they are anti-racist! The big failure for both Hitler and the modern-day Left is an inability to treat people as individuals. They cannot even think about others except by lumping them into huge and simplistic categories.



Lies, damn lies and government lies - or do I repeat myself? : "All governments thrive on lies. We might even say that apart from weapons and men cruel enough to wield them on behalf of the rulers, lies are a government's most essential resource. Opponents of the state may be powerless in nearly every way, but so long as they are free to speak the truth, the rulers can never sleep soundly. It therefore behooves them to suppress the truth and to substitute the state's propaganda at every turn. Recently the government of Latvia has been illustrating these truths in an especially blatant manner."

The privileged Obama family: "The most telling appointment Barack Obama has made since becoming President-elect has nothing to do with his Cabinet or senior advisors. It was the appointment of Sidwell Friends School, a private grammar school in Washington D.C. to which the Obamas have reportedly decided to send their two daughters. I applaud Obama's commitment to the education of his daughters, choosing to send them to the best schools.It is just too bad that Obama opposes extending that choice to families whose children are relegated by geography and by income to schools he knows and everyone knows will fail them."

UK: The Big Brother state - by stealth: "Personal information detailing intimate aspects of the lives of every British citizen is to be handed over to government agencies under sweeping new powers. The measure, which will give ministers the right to allow all public bodies to exchange sensitive data with each other, is expected to be rushed through Parliament in a Bill to be published tomorrow. The new legislation would deny MPs a full vote on such data-sharing. Instead, ministers could authorise the swapping of information between councils, the police, NHS trusts, the Inland Revenue, education authorities, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, the Department for Work and Pensions and other ministries. Opponents of the move accused the Government of bringing in by stealth a data-sharing programme that exposed everyone to the dangers of a Big Brother state and one of the most intrusive personal databases in the world."

Corrupt British government "charity": "The boss of a Government-owned company which aims to reduce Third World poverty was paid nearly 1million pounds last year, it has emerged. Richard Laing, the chief executive of CDC, received a total of 970,000 pounds in pay and bonuses, while other senior executives at the company earned an average of 435,000. CDC, which is wholly owned by the Department for International Development, uses private equity funds to plough money into poorer countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. But MPs condemned the ' ridiculous' size of the pay packages enjoyed by its bosses. A damning report by the National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog, also found that the firm is sitting on 1.4billion in profits, more than it currently has invested in developing nations. Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said: 'It is ridiculous that the chief executive of a Government-owned body aimed at reducing poverty can earn 970,000 in a single year."

British government "bailout" hits savers: "Millions of savers are staring at a desperate future after the Bank of England slashed interest rates yesterday for the third time in three months. The biggest losers will be the elderly who rely on income from their savings to top up their measly pensions. Terrifyingly, they could get as little as $8 a year for every $10,000 they have put aside."


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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)



Anonymous said...

Funny stuff. Nice one.

Anonymous said...

John, have you been following the Walter Block controversy? I figured you would be interested in it: