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Liberalism and Nazism

There’s a deep connection between PC liberalism and Nazism. A single movement of thought, the abolition of the transcendent, leads to them as its two ultimate possibilities. Nazism therefore clarifies to liberals their understanding of what the alternative to their view really is, within the world of thought they inhabit, by perfectly displaying that alternative.

Liberals are obsessed with Nazism because the abolition of the transcendent that is the basis of liberalism also makes the conquest, enslavement and extermination of whole populations a possible ground of renewed moral order.

Maistre’s emphasis on the central social role of the executioner somewhat foreshadows the situation, although Maistre unlike the Nazis didn’t try to make the executioner the sole sufficient basis of social order. As a Catholic reactionary he thought more important things were also involved—God, for example.

Anyway, the point of Nazism is that if there’s no transcendent good or evil then good and evil are a matter either of pure individual desire or pure social construction. Either I make them up for myself or society makes them up for me. Liberalism takes the former tack, so it glorifies individual choice and gives us the ideal of the universal technocratic state devoted to the maximum equal satisfaction of individual desire. That’s dull, and it can’t last because it can’t arouse conviction or loyalty. One might well ask, who needs it?

Nazism in contrast views good and evil as social constructions and tries to construct them as authoritative social realities. Unfortunately, it has to do that without any initial content for “good” or “evil.” So it asks what the general qualities of authoritative good and evil are and tries to recreate them within the limits of the modern scientific worldview.

What are those general qualities? If there is someone whom all must take into account and obey, then he is authority. If the authority can dispense at will that which all desire, then he is the authoritative source and possessor of all good. He is in fact God, or at least the modern equivalent of God.

So to construct a new moral order all you need do is construct such a God. The empirically effective way to create someone whom all must take into account and obey is to give someone the ability to inflict limitless suffering and death on anyone anywhere and let him use it frequently so people will be aware of it. By dealing out evil lavishly he can also become the source of all good, simply by not murdering some people.

Nazism is therefore the re-creation of God in the form of a this-worldly caricature Jehovah. That’s why there are those—not stupid or otherwise plainly crazy people—who consider Hitler an avatar of Vishnu.

Advanced liberalism, like Nazism, makes Hitler and the Holocaust fundamental to its understanding of reality. For both views H & H are a final unsurpassible revelation of the nature of things. Each therefore views the other as the alternative to itself—they inhabit the same world and accept the same revelation but one gives it a positive sign and the other a negative sign. So if the other didn’t exist each would have to create it to understand itself.

What would have happened if Hitler had never been born? After all, someone who rejects the Hitler-as-avatar-of-Vishnu theory has to reject the idea that the concrete existence of Hitler is a metaphysical necessity. And it’s true that the images of Hitler and the Holocaust are so uniquely compelling for liberalism that without them it might not have attained its perfection so easily.

Nonetheless, the power of the Hitler and Holocaust symbols seems to me a result rather than cause of the postwar liberation movements. It was several decades before they took on their present role, and then it was the civil rights movement that led to a setting in which the symbols became so compelling as to seem the key to all morality. So I can’t help but think that somehow or other liberalism would have ended up pretty much where it is now even without those images.