Left Wing Proglodytes: Marching Boldly into the Future Toward an Imaginary Past
Can any general principles be derived from something that seems so uniquely evil, i.e., the Nazi phenomenon? And not just banalities such as "don't appease bullies," or "genocide is bad," or "get rid of that stupid little mustache."
[The first thing that occurs to me is that, not only was Nazism not unique, but if we are honest, we must admit that we actually required the assistance of forces that were every bit as evil as Nazism in order to defeat it.]
[In reading Armegeddon, it seems that Churchill was very much aware of the depth of Stalin's evil, whereas Roosevelt (to say nothing of the left in general) was quite naive about it -- which caused Churchill considerable grief. He didn't want to liberate Poland or Czechoslovakia from the Nazis, only to hand it over to monsters who were even worse! But by the time of Yalta, Churchill held little sway].
[Wikipedia: Churchill believed Stalin "to be a devil-like tyrant leading a vile system," whereas the clueless FDR said "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. ... I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace." Thus, Churchill was fighting a losing battle, not only against FDR and our communist-infiltrated state department, but in his own homeland, where many of the soldiers -- not to mention intellectuals -- were men of the left who believed themselves to be fighting for socialist principles.]
As mentioned yesterday, one of the important contexts of Nazism was romanticism, which was itself a reaction to the alienation that was felt as a result of the industrial revolution in particular and modernity in general. Veith writes that "people felt alienated from nature, from society, and -- because their identity had become such an enigma -- from themselves. The rationalism of the Enlightenment, which seemed responsible for this malaise, was answered in the 19th century by Romanticism."
Marxism is rooted in the myopic fallacy that things were getting worse for the average worker, when the reality was that, for the first time in 10,000 years, they were actually getting dramatically better.
In this regard, Marx was not just economically illiterate, but appallingly ahistorical, a malady that continues to afflict the left to this day. The free market will eventually solve most problems that leftist policies will only perpetuate or aggravate, which means that the left is the very disease it attempts to cure. In order to carry this off, the leftist relies upon people being riveted to the ahistorical moment, so they may implement a radical solution to redeem the future. But the former never works and the latter never arrives.
Let's consider the idea that sudden progress may evoke sudden regression -- or at least make certain people more vulnerable to it. Yesterday we mentioned the 1960s. Why would the most affluent and pampered generation in history suddenly revert to neo-paganism, earth-worship, deconstruction, moral relativism, polymorphous perversity, and a rejection of the very civilizational inheritance that allowed such unprecedented affluence to begin with?
It reminds me of an unfortunate incident that occurred last Sunday, when Mrs. G backed her car out of the garage, and in the process managed to amputate my driver's side view mirror. So for the last few days I've been rolling the Coonmobile without one, and it's more disorienting than you might think. You realize the extent to which successfully moving forward requires one to keep an eye riveted on the past. Without that view of the past, it can sneak up on you in surprising ways. Your every move risks colliding with someone else's unfolding line of spacetime. Furthermore, I found myself reflexively looking for the past in the usual place, but finding only a "hole" -- except that the hole was filled with the present.
In the 1960s, the boomer generation gleefully tore the rearview mirror off the vehicle of civilization, while simultaneously believing they could put the pedal to the metal on the engine of progress. Is it therefore surprising that so many fatal accidents occurred? The breakup of the family, soaring crime rates, subrealistic art that became a celebration of the primitive and infrahuman, a deteriorating educational system at all levels, a general recrudescence of neopaganism, with its cult of the body and exaltation of the instincts, women emulating men, men emulating women, the rejection of our own Judeo-Christian wisdom tradition, etc. All because a bunch adolescents went on a joyride and tore the rear view mirror off Dad's car.
Will makes the point that "Nazism was, in a sense, a stab at progress, and a spiritual progress, to be sure. Doomed to failure, of course, because it, like communism, attempted to transcend collectively, an impossibility. I think we should make no mistake, though -- there is a meta-power in the collective that can be harnassed, channeled. Thus Nazism was a mysticism gone bad, and when mysticism goes bad, it becomes evil."
Precisely. In Hitler and His God, we read of Aurobindo making a similar comment, 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. Hitler's "voice" was inconsistent with any garden variety psychosis, in which the individual has no control over his delusions and hallucinations. But in Hitler's case, he would court and call upon "the voice," in the same way 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 were only two real distinctions, 1) the Volk, and 2) the Führer -- who was truly a nothing and a 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 Führer 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 Armageddon, I couldn't help drawing an inverse parallel between them and the early Christian martyrs, in that they were absolutely ready and willing to die for their führer, even into May 1945.
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."
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 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.
Führermore, 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 Fürher 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).
Van Vrekhem relates story after story of how strong men -- generals, diplomats, artists, intellectuals and journalists -- were reduced to Jello in Hitler's presence. He clearly transmitted a kind of preternatural power to which many individuals attested. So the ultimate responsibility is not in the führer but in the volk from whom he draws his very substance.
Speaking of which, is there an "artist" in Hollywood, or a celebrity journalist, or a tenured mediocretin, who didn't fall under Obama's spiel? 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 usually 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 sacred cow manührer?
Michael Burleigh writes of how Germans marched "boldly into the future in search of an imaginary past." In so doing, they created a gilded mythology in which they were the superior ones the world was waiting for. So don't blame Obama. Blame the sick mythofolkers who fuel the fantasy.