Orwell's review of Mein Kampf


#21

I think Orwell’s point about Hitler’s engaging people with an appeal to hard work and sacrifice is absolutely fascinating.

Was it an adaptation to the tenor of the times, coming on the heels of the Depression?

Or was it a more general appeal that would have resonance in our age? In other words, are people as desperate for finding meaning in their lives as they are of finding material success?


#22

I believe we are.


#23

It was partly that, but its origins were in the frustration of the “blood and iron” meme of the previous generation during WWI.


#24

Same-but-different arguments are really difficult. The names fuck us up, too. “Libertarian” being one of the biggies. But also Left and Right. Social nationalists are everywhere. True, the Bolsheviks were nothing like the Nazis, but in terms of branding they did share a few similarities. And it did take a number of decades before the true colors of Soviet totalitarianism showed through, which turned out to be a lot like what the Nazis were doing, with their pogroms and gulags, exterminations and stuff. And then the good old USA interring Japanese, and now becoming a police state oligarchy…

That’s why I say all these fucking names don’t matter. It is the subtlety of good vs. evil that is always at play. Plus greedy bastards everywhere. Why can’t we ALL have fun? Why do some people think fun has to be at the expense of someone else?


#25

Read Victor Frankl… he makes a great case for “man’s search for meaning.”


#26

For what it’s worth (I wouldn’t put him on the same plinth as Orwell), Phillip Kerr’s noir detective series set in the 30s through the 50s is an interesting rehash of the German experience. If you like your noir mysteries dark and rainy, your femmes utterly fatale, and your bad guys as bad as they get, the whole Bernie Gunther series is fascinating.


#27

While I agree with you on those points in the general, I think you have to be careful about confusing anti-Semitism with racism. It may seem like splitting hairs, but something you can convert to is not a race. Jews are somewhat more vociferous about talking about a “Jewish race”, but ultimately it’s a religion just list Islam or Catholicism. Like being black or being Anglo Saxon, you cannot change your race. But you can change your religion. That is why cries of racism in response to perfectly reasonable critiques of things like genital mutilation or the burka are unfounded.


#28

Well Hitler certainly thought Jews were a race, and so did many Americans. This was a widely accepted explanation for why Jews could supposedly never be assimilated even into American culture.

Hitler mingled the ideas of race, patriotism, religion, and genetics. Today we can see this same Nazi theme in the works of Dinesh D’Souza, who argues that Obama’s African father means that Obama can never really be part of American society and what seems to be a sort of new “American race.”

But notice how Goldberg turns the question of whether anti-Semitism is really “racist” into a general question of “Was Hitler racist?” He neatly goes from Aristotlean ontological hairsplitting about whether Jews are really a race (when Hitler clearly thought they were) to a larger question of whether Hitler was really such a bad guy and dismissing all the rabid racism of Mein Kampf with an effete wave of the hand.

His argument is a non sequitor - if Jews aren’t a race, Hitler wasn’t a racist, when really these are separate questions. But he uses that technique a lot, because if Hitler likes cupcakes and liberals like cupcakes, then liberals are Fascists. And if everyone is a Fascist, the nobody is a Fascist, especially not people who are basing their politics on Mein Kampf.


#29

Hitler had lots and lots of fans because he was the guy taking a bold stand against trade unions (a major theme of Mein Kampf). There is also about 30 pages in Mein Kampf about how England and Germany should be natural allies against the French. Hitler hated the French because of the Treaty of Versailles, but for many years he hoped for an alliance with the UK. I think there is no doubt that he would have declared the British royal family was an Aryan blood line.


#30

It’s an ethnicity, dude. Therefore, antisemitism is basically racism. Not that hating/trying to destroy the members of a group based on their religion is any better. I guess St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre was okay 'cause all those Huguenots could have converted.


#31

I just straight up ask people “Are you a Holocaust denier? Because the “Hitler was a leftist” thing is huge with Holocaust deniers. I’m just asking.”

Shockingly, a lot of the are Holocaust deniers.

And in those early days, the Nazis did have a bit of a socialist populism. Party members got better jobs, benefits etc. But it was whites only socialism while millions of Jews were being stripped of their citizenship. By the late 1930s everyone was feeling the squeeze and even the party members were becoming slave labor.

And there was a socialist wing of the Nazi party and a Socialist wing of the Nazi party, but the last of them were killed in the Night of the Long Knives in 1935. That was when Hitler killed the “socialists,” including the Strassers. None of the Nazi “socialism” had anything to do with the Nazi party that went into WW2, because that was over by 1936.

It would be far more accurate to call the Nazis a Christian nationalist party. Hitler pandered heavily to Protestant and Catholic clergy. He took power via The Enabling Acts in a deal he cut to get parliamentary votes from the (Catholic) Center Party. As soon as he took power, the Center Party leader (a priest) went to Rome to negotiate the notorious Concordance treaty between the Vatican and the Nazis… Note also that Fascist countries in WW2 (Spain, Italy, various balkan countries) were officially catholic. The common people wanted bans on pornography and the intermarriage of Jews and Christians. Intermarriage was outlawed by the Nuremberg Laws.

The Nazis took power with a Christian coalition that wanted to save the Fatherland from the chaos of immigration and sexual anarchy while preserving the sanctity of marriage.


#32

You make a powerful point. Mein Kampf should be required reading for everyone, to understand the fascist, totalitarian mindset. It never will be, due to the fact so much of Hitler’s rhetoric and beliefs are identical to that of the modern right-wing. Nazi anti-Semitism was identical in almost every way, except for the race angle, to modern Islamophia.

I read a book a while back called “The Black March” which was written by a member of the Waffen SS about his indoctrination, training and experiences fighting on the Russian front. I got the book out of the recycle bin at the local dump and my edition was printed in 1971 and was based on a translation from the '50s. Nevertheless I found it interesting how much of the rhetoric and propaganda the author talked about was identical to the propaganda of the “War on Terror” we have today.

Russian partisans were described as insane and fanatical “terrorists” with whom no negotiation was possible. Waffen SS soldiers were told they were fighting a “crusade” to protect Western Civilization against Bolshevism, similar to the “Clash of Civilizations” rhetoric we see today.


#33

Whether or not it’s justifiable to use the word racism to describe it is immaterial. It’s basically hating a whole group of people and treating them as less than human just because of this group they belong to, which is fucking abhorrent whatever name you give it.


#34

And because he was seen as a possible counterbalance to Russian power to the East (and to communism as a whole). It didn’t hurt his standing in being able to turn around Germany’s economy, even though he was basically gearing up to take over the world. Nevermind that he was brilliant at playing the politicians who came to speak to him–at the right moments he was gracious and charming and believable, and right after he secured any sort of check on the constraints to his power (or that of Germany’s), he’d turn around and fuck whoever he’d previously bargained with.
All of which is amazing, especially given that he seems to have enjoyed operating in a manner that kept everyone below him in a constant state of confusion and byzantine organization.


#35

To get any more specific about this, Hitler also did not care of someone whose parents were jewish were practicing or not. They should be atheists and it didn’t matter. He wanted them all gone and clearly understood Jewishness to be a racial thing. It was a racial state, to be sure - it all rested on the “science” of Eugenics that was in vogue pretty much until the end of world war 2 and it’s a view that plenty of people still believe in.

Whether Jews are a race or even an ethnicity, in actuality, is of course an entirely different matter. But Hitler and pretty much most Europeans at this time in history believed this to be a fact of life. I think not, but it’s a coherent culture based not solely on religion, but primarily, I’d argue. But it’s one that is global in nature, and tied to various cultural elements more so than racial or ethnic. But not everyone agrees with that. And I’m not Jewish, so, it’s not really for me to say, anyhow.


#36

I think the phrase “Better an end with horror than a horror without end” is relevant too, since Weimar Germany was an economic basket case due to the reparations they were paying from the First World War. Reminds me of the situation in Gaza today.

The contrast between Huxley’s Brave New World, in which the population are stupefied with hedonism, versus Orwell’s 1984 where the aim of the Party is to gain power over peoples minds is one that interests me. I wonder if Huxley wrote book reviews?


#37

“Jewish: It’s an ethnicity AND a religion. We are efficient.”


#38

That’s a good reading of it all. Note how religious fanaticism and political fanaticism attract each other so much; it’s always been a match made in hell and we are struggling against it still in the USA. The voice of reason gets drowned out by the multiple voices of fanaticism joining together in exhortation. YouTube some of Hitler’s speeches… then think about some of our favorite radio talk shows… what is the style of delivery? What is the content? It sends a chill…


#39

Hitler was influenced by Henry Ford. Ford’s antisemitic newsletter, the Dearborn Independent. was published in the early 1920s although he denied knowing its racist contents. A compilation of articles was translated into German in 1923 and published by the Nazi party as “The International Jew.” It is said that Hitler had a copy of “The International Jew” while writing “Mein Kampf” and plagiarized parts of it, and that he kept a copy at his bedside. Ford is mentioned in Mein Kampf. He was friend of Hitler, who used to send him Christmas cards.

Fords trip to Germany to get the civilian version of the Iron Cross was bad PR for Ford.

Notice how much “The International Jew” sounds just like modern accusations about how liberals are persecuting Christians:

No public man in America has ever given public evidence of his Christian faith without rebuke from the Jews… Not only do the Jews disagree with Christian teaching - which is their right and no one questions it - but they excise it on demand of the Jews,Everything that would remind the child in school that he is living in the midst of a Christian civilization, in a nation declared by its Supreme Court to be founded on the Christian principles, has been ordered out of the public schools on Jewish demand. In a nation and at a time when a minority of Jews can print every year a record of the apologies they have extorted from public officials for “having inadvertently used the term ‘Christian’,” it is desirable that this charge of “religious persecution” should be placed where it belongs.


#40

Orwell sure uses “one” as a pronoun a lot for a guy who spent so much time complaining about stuff like that.