Of Messiahs and Monsters (2.3.11)
Precisely. In Hitler and His God, we have to get to page 568 before we read Aurobindo saying the same thing, only in the 1930s: "Hitler is a new type, an infra-rational mystic, representing the dark counterpart of what we are striving to arrive at: a supra-rational mysticism.... He is a mystic, only a mystic of the wrong kind! He goes into solitude for his messages and waits till they come."
This was true. As a psychologist, I find the description of Hitler's "voice" to be very different from any typical psychosis, in which the individual has no control over his delusions and hallucination. But in Hitler's case, he would court and call upon "the voice," in the same way that an artist might call upon his muse or I might call upon my household gnome. So who or what was the voice? Whatever it was, it gave him a kind of absolute conviction, plus the complete fearlessness and unwavering faith to carry out its promptings. Now, who does this remind us of? Yes, the Islamists follow that same pattern, with their insane faith in the transcendently evil. Clearly, it is no coincidence that Mein Kampf is a perennial bestseller in the Muslim world, or that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was an ally of Hitler, or that Jew hatred is central to both ideologies.
Just as the Divine leaves its traces in time, Satan always leaves his scent, so to speak. It reminds me of one of the final scenes of Batman Begins, where the Lieutenant hands Batman the Joker's calling card. For what is the Joker card? It is simultaneously nothing and anything. In fact, it can be anything you want it to be, from the highest of the high (the king) to the lowest of the low, or anything in between. It can even be another gender (the queen). As such, it abolishes all distinction and hierarchy, except that in a perverse way, the nothing-anything of the Joker is the "top," as he stands completely outside -- he transcends and upends -- any established or meaningful order.
Now, this is surely a kind of mysticism, but it is again a mysticism "from below" rather than above. It abolishes distinctions before they even have a chance to become distinct, which was again one of the central features of Nazism. You might say that there are only two distinctions, 1) the Volk, and 2) the Fuhrer -- who was truly a "nothing" and nobody who became the German "all." There was also the SA and the SS, but in both cases, their admittance into the hierarchy very much depended upon the degree to which they had subordinated their own will and identity to the Fuhrer principle. The SS in particular was a sort of esoteric mystic body; in fact, they modeled themselves after the Jesuits, only absolutely committed to Hitler instead of Christ.
In his comment, Will also noted that "Personal responsibility arises from genuine individualism and self-awareness -- meaning the attempt to overcome one's self-love, one's own lower instincts. When the emphasis is on a collective responsibility -- meaning making sure you recycle and pay respects to Gaia, etc. -- and personal responsibility is distinctly de-emphasized, then we're veering close to a mysticism gone bad."
We'll discuss the nature-worship of Nazism in a later post. But as Will implies, the nationalism of Germany was a parody of the patriotism of the United States, the latter of which must first involve defense of the sacred principle of the individual. But in the case of German nationalism, it was in defense of the innate superiority of the German people in the collective sense. Again, this was conceived in terms of a mystical essence that emanated from the Volk, and only through the individual in a derivative way. There was a "German genius" that was in the blood, not on "paper," as it is in the case of America's founding documents.
Therefore, in the case of Nazi Germany, they needed to eliminate "foreign blood" in the same way Americans must constantly battle against "lies," or more precisely, "the lie." Hitler had no scruples whatsoever in lying, murdering, or backstabbing in order to further his "higher" truth, which was the racial purity of the German spirit. In fact, in that context, no degree of barbarism was off limits. Everything followed logically -- or infralogically -- from his first principles, which were written in the blood.
Van Vrekhem makes the interesting point that it is no coincidence that the Protestant revolt began in Germany with Luther. I have no idea whether this is generally accepted by other scholars, but Van Vrekhem notes that Christianity always had an uneasy relationship with the German psyche, and was very much superimposed on a much more primitive pagan mythology that was never forgotten among the "volk." Therefore, when Luther came along to declare independence from the central church, he was merely exploiting collective psychic energies that were already very near the surface.
In fact, it can easily be seen how Luther was a kind of proto-Hitler, in particular, with his appalling anti-Semitism. (I'm not trying to compare him to Hitler, as I just don't know enough; but I wonder if someone like Jakob Boehme -- or Meister Eckhart before him -- was the "bright side" to Luther's "dark side" of the German psyche?) Van Vrekhem notes that Luther exploited the same divide "that had opposed the Roman civilization against the barbarian world of the Germanic tribes," and that Germans "had been ready for a long time to recapture the fortress stolen by Christianity." "German utopianism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries almost always meant a return to pre-Christian, pagan spirituality in some form."
Furthermore, it seems that the longing for a "strong man from above" was a continuous feature of the German psyche. As Van Vrekhem notes, "This need for an all-powerful master was an important feature in the psychological make-up of the Germans long before the strong man became the paragon of Fascism in many European nations. The Furher was longed and prayed for; he was expected before he took the shape of Adolf Hitler. It was not the least of of Hitler's intuitions that he knew exactly how to take on the part and act in a way to which the German masses subconsciously responded with religious fervor." Another observer wrote that "The cry for a leader arose from the searing wish for somebody who would provide meaning in a secularized time, which apparently burdened the individual with an excess of individual responsibility and made him feel lonely" (emphases mine).
I want to emphasize that I am not trying to invoke Godwin's law in demonstrating the parallels between this and the Obamessiah hysteria, but parallels there are (not in the ends, but in the deeper structure of the infrarational mysticism). As we continue this series, I will be very curious to analyze the language and imagery of Obama's acceptance speech at his Nuremburg-like mass-hypnosis rally at Invesco Field before 75,000 adoring "fans" (which is the proper term, since this whole creepy exercise is "infra-poltical" and emotional, devoid of intellectual substance).
I just did a quick google search, and found this typical story, which says that "In a little more than a week, 75,000 lucky ticket-holders will head for Invesco Field, ready to usher in a new era of photos for their Facebook pages.... And eventually, upon the entrance of the Great Half-White Hope, they will be reduced to one giant goosebump.... But it won't just be the arrival of Barack Obama that will send chills down their spines. Obama, no doubt, will enter the stadium to the tune of some inspiring piece of pop music. Whose song will it be?.... Which song will electrify the crowd next Thursday?"
I don't know, WWLD? That is, what would Leni Riefenstahl recommend? A little Wagner? Interestingly, there is no question whatsoever that she was a gifted artist. But look at the mesmerizing effect Hitler had upon her will -- and she is hardly alone in this regard. Van Vrekhem relates story after story of how strong men -- generals, diplomats, artists, and journalists -- were reduced to Jello in his presence. He clearly transmitted a kind of supernatural power to which many individuals attested. Is there an "artist" in Hollywood, or a celebrity journalist, who hasn't fallen under Obama's spell? Yes, a few, but only a few. .
Obama clearly has a similar kind of power, at least over the susceptible -- for example, his vaunted ability to make Chris Matthews' pasty thigh tingle. Obviously it can't be Obama's ideas, which are so banal, nor his accomplishments, which are nil. As was very much true of Hitler, Obama's words often make no literal sense on paper, and yet, he personally has this undeniably potent persuasive power. And he especially has this power over people who are not inoculated by genuine religion. In other words, he has a "religious effect" on the secularized mind. Deepak could be speaking of Hitler when he writes of how the Annointed One will bring about a "quantum leap" in human consciousness. How could anyone believe such utter sacred cow manure?
In Riefenstahl's case, she writes of how she read a single page of Mein Kampf and was hooked: "The book made a tremendous impression on me. I became a confirmed National Socialist after reading the first page. I felt a man who could write such a book would undoubtedly lead Germany. I felt very happy that such a man had come."
Michael Burleigh writes of how Germany went "going boldly into the future in search of an imaginary past." In so doing, they created a gilded mythology in which they were the ones the world was waiting for.
Sri Aurobindo stressed the crucial importance of the individual, always of a higher consciousness than the group or the mass, and the center or 'dynamo' of the cosmic forces in humanity.... The message of Sri Aurobindo lay precisely in the possibility and necessity of an upward transformation of the human being, the only way of real progress. --Georges Van Vrekhem