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What does Naziism mean?

Why are people so much more fascinated by the Nazis than the commies? Jean Bethke Elshtain thinks that part of it is that Hitler was actually a rather good artist, and the Nazi state was a sort of a Gesamtkunstwerk that drew people in then and draws them in now. Mark Shea agrees that was part of it, and adds the importance of racial guilt in America.

I’m a bit dubious. Anything specifically American is obviously irrelevant, since the Europeans are no less obsessed than we are. And how is commie chic less stylish than Nazi chic? Russian posters and architectural proposals less striking than what the Nazis came up with? Ivan the Terrible less accomplished or less evil than Triumph des Willens?

To me it seems that people are fascinated by the Nazis because Naziism, like pornography, is the forbidden but infinitely attractive face of modernity. If you say that desire, technology and willed construction are the ultimate principles that determine social reality, as moderns do, then you’ve got some choices to make. You can be boring like the liberals, and say that (for some reason) everyone’s desires have to count equally, so the purpose of life is turning everything into a universal safe and egalitarian hedonic machine. Or you can stick some expressiveness and drama into the picture, and say that my desires are what count for me, that the constructions of my society are what determine the reality for which I’ll put everything on the line, and that I’ll vindicate those things by overcoming all others, demonstrating the superiority and supremacy of my constructions in the most undeniable way imaginable, through the defeat, enslavement, torture and extermination of all to whom I oppose myself.

On such a line of thought, who wouldn’t be fascinated as well as repelled by Naziism? The commies offer a sort of via media, with hog heaven as the summum bonum but the pleasures of smashing your enemies along the way. That’s pretty much been discredited at this point, though, so we’re left with Naziism, which presents the joy of the knife in a purer form. Unless, of course, we can bring ourselves to give up modernity, and so learn an ultimate transcendence other than violence.

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“Or you can stick some expressiveness and drama into the picture, and say that my desires are what count for me, that the constructions of my society are what determine the reality for which I’ll put everything on the line, and that I’ll vindicate those things by overcoming all others, demonstrating the superiority and supremacy of my constructions in the most undeniable way imaginable, through the defeat, enslavement, torture and extermination of all to whom I oppose myself.”

Adding a divinely deterministic rationalization to that more primitive Pelagian prescription for Naziism pretty well sums up Calvinism; although for my part I must admit that pointing out the similarity of Adolf Hitler to Oliver Cromwell is not all that original of an observation in that utopian heresies tend to have a similar practical expression. Roundhead atrocities foreshadowed those of the Third Reich.

Philosophy aside, one cannot divorce the allure of Naziism from the attraction of its innate German-ness. The Austrian peasant Hitler remained enthralled of his aristocratic Prussian betters and much of the stylistic aspect of the Nazi Party was a direct aping of Prussian ways. With snappy uniforms, concentration and co-ordination of armored forces with close air support, and the best light infantry the world has ever seen (apart from the United States Marine Corps) combined with Westphalian industriousness and Bavarian craftsmanship they almost won the God damn war despite being outnumbered by their opponents!

The Flak 18 88mm anti-aircraft gun adapted by the Afrika Korps to serve as the wars premier anti-tank weapon ultimately being fitted to the Tiger tank, Type VII U-boats sinking ships off the coast of New Jersey, the Focke-Wulf 190, the original assault rifle the Sturmgewehr 44, the MP40, the V-2, Me 262, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Erwin Rommel, the super-charged Mercedes-Benz 540k, etc, etc, etc…:

[img]http://surfpics.home.comcast.net/~surfpics/540k.jpg[/img]

For any adolescent male in touch with his inner reptile brain, what’s not to like? That the Nazis engender way, way more fascination in the popular imagination (not to mention Hollywood and the major publishing houses throughout the world) than the dumpy Russian and Chinese commies is of absolutely no surprise to me! It is nothing less than the promise of unrestricted pagan blood lust.