Orwell's review of Mein Kampf


#1

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#2

So, uuhhh, would you consider it a "bad review"? smile


#3

Really really interesting how people with something to gain saw only what they wanted to see. I wonder where the same thing is happening today? By definition, it would not be obvious, and lots of important people would be explaining away.


#4

Orwell doesn't actually have a lot to say about the book, although as he notes, a lot depends on what translation you've got. Various translation are quite different.

I really wish there were a way to force otherwise decent conservatives to read Main Kampf to see how much of the modern conservative movement seems to be lifted right from its pages. It literally seems like there is a boiler room operation where Mein Kampf is carefully written into conservative talking points.

The strategy is crafty yet simple - first they lie about what Hitler said, then they say what Hitler said. For instance, Glenn Beck says that "social justice" was promoted by the Nazis (which is a lie), but in Mein Kampf Hitler says it is a liberal Jewish conspiracy.

With infinite shrewdness he (the Jew) fans the need for social justice, somehow slumbering in every Aryan man, into hatred against those who have been better favored by fortune, ..... He establishes the Marxist doctrine. (Mein Kampf p349)

See? If you listen to Jonah Goldberg or Glenn Beck you end up embracing Mein Kamf and quoting Nazi propaganda, because they are quoting Hitler. Also notice how Hitler is accusing his opponents of envy? The Nazis often accused their opposition of "envy," and so did Romney. Of course the Nazis promised to save the nation from Socialist "class warfare," and that's another big selling point for the GOP. The average conservative is embracing "fascism disguised as antifascism."

Mein Kampf is an interesting read. The racism is quite thick at times, but after the last 8 years of attacks on Obama, Mein Kampf has lost much of its shock value,. The sections about propaganda are quite lucid, and I think that much of this was written by Goebbels and the rest of the gang when they were all under house arrest after the beer hall putsch.


#5

Better than Orwell's review. Would read again.

PS: Didn't we universally agree to call him "Mittens"?

PPS: Had to look up monomaniac. Having now read your analysis of similarities to GOP tactics I'd say McCain's obsession with getting Iran would also qualify.


#6

Climate change.
Income disparity.
...


#7

Damn, that was a lucid review.


#8

suddenly it turned out that Hitler was not respectable after all.

I take it this is an example of dry understated British humor? Never seen Orwell being funny before.


#9

Interesting to see the sentiment that people will work against their own needs to maintain strife.

Why is it that the issues like work hours, health care, income disparity and retirement aren't being discussed endlessly on CNN/FOX? I know that they affect me in a much more direct way than most of the things I see on those networks or in the news.


#10

It's worth noting that many saw Hitler as a monster and demagogue, but it was widely believed that he either:

A) Wasn't that bad
B) Was talking out of his ass, as politicians do
C) Would flame out and self-destruct
D) The German people wouldn't let him stay in power THAT long, right?

You can see a lot of this in Erik Larson's 'In the Garden of Beasts", about the US ambassador to Germany and his experiences with the rise of the Nazis. It's fascinating and horrifying to see the Nazis continue to gain power and William Dodd cry out like Casandra to deaf ears about HItler.


#11

It reads like a 7/10.


#12

"If you listen to Jonah Goldberg or Glenn Beck you end up embracing Mein Kamf and quoting Nazi propaganda"

Not that I have any time for either of those idiots, but it's completely facile to critique the ideas of modern figures as if Hitler invented their ideas. He wasn't original. Far from it. He was describing well-worn ideas about historical and sociological bull-crap that had been around for ages. And so are they.

Hitler was also religious as hell - clearly convinced, just as Bin Laden or David Koresh, that he was doing stuff in the name of god. Mein Kampf mentions "the living god" frequently. For that matter, was also a vegetarian (apparently) - so if you're religious, or a vegetarian, you're like Hitler?

Pffft.

(BTW I might buy the religious affiliation angle, given that we really do need to cure people of that if we're not going to exterminate ourselves)


#13

Indeed. His NSDAP movement of the late 20's early 30's was based on anti-semitism, anti-capitalism and anti-individualism, i.e. fascism in its many guises. It was also positioned as a strong reaction to the Bolsheviks, even though they were another form of social nationalism, because very early Hitler recognized that any real expansion of Germany's physical space would have to go east into Russia, since to the left of them was ocean. Therefore screw Russia.

Looking back in history, can we find examples of nationalism or proto-fascism that predate Hitler? Hrm. Does 18th century Britain ring a bell? How about Rome? I'm sure we could keep going back, back, back to find elements or threads of fascism.

The notion of national struggle and rise to power through self-sacrifice is nothing new. It's been around forever. Go watch the movie 300; we root for the underdogs who are doing just that. Like anything, it can be used for good or evil, because good and evil are subtler than isms.


#14

What's most impressive about this is the clarity with which Orwell explains both Hilter's rise to power and the appeal of fascism, in general. He even mentions the invasion of Russia, a year in advance.


#15

Hitler was seen as respectable by many, even at the time of this review. The atrocities of the concentration camps and holocaust had not come to light.
For many, in the 30s, he represented a salvation from Bolshevism and an upturning of the social order. Antisemitism and racism was acceptable for many and eugenics was fairly mainstream amongst progressives.

Some did see Hitler as a great threat, although whether that was just to peace and sovereignty in Europe I'm not sure.


#16

Every single word Orwell ever wrote should be required reading for anyone working in politics.


#17

There is also a small but dedicated cottage industry working to rehabilitate Hitler's image. Pat Buchanan is the most public mainstream example, but Jonah Goldberg is pretty big.

As Jonah said in his National review blog:

Dec 06, 2008
Was Hitler Racist? I'm not sold. Hitler was very inconsistent about lots of things, but he was certainly a consistent anti-Semite....I don't think anti-Semitism is necessarily racist..

Supposedly Churchill pushed Hitler into war, Hitler was really a lamb etc. These are usually Holocaust Deniers because if the Holocaust did not occur, then the Nazis were just another political movement. and the Nazi Party should be in Congress, right?

Sites where people spout Jonah's ideas about "liberal fascism" are usually thick with Holocaust deniers claiming "Hitler was a leftist" because if Hitler was a leftist, he probably didn't really kill all those Socialist Jews, did he?


#18

The deniers are a lot more than ideology-deniers. The bulk of Holocaust denial is in the form of attempting to debunk the physical evidence, such as the gas chambers. They try to prove that the gas chambers were used to disinfect people benignly and that there is no evidence they were killed and then incinerated. To the tiniest detail. I agree with you that in terms of philosophy, the deniers do loopty loops of logic about Nazi motivation, but I am saying that that activity is not the bulk of their denial - it mostly goes very deep into a confusing testimony about actual events.


#19

I've seen people say that because the name of the Nazi party was the "National Socialist Party" that Hitler was actually left wing and basically a communist.
It's at this point I usually withdraw from the conversation, there's no helping some people.


#20

Those people must be terribly disappointed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.