TODAY -

88 : Decoding the mind of the 'Nazi'

Czadanda Saint *

Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf :: Pix - Wikipedia



"It's only perception.
Cut out everything
And only power remains
."

Look! The glass can be either half empty or half full. It's only about how we choose to look at it. But the world will generally side with the view of the powerful one than with the weaker one. For example, if God does a peek-a-boo from heaven and shouts that the glass is half-empty and can never be half full, we will all believe him. Because, he is the most powerful… the omniscient, omnipotent one. And who are we, to challenge his views?

We call Adolf Hitler as the biggest, bad-ass racist ever. But were the British faring any better at that time. 'No dogs and Indians allowed' should serve as an ample reminder of how 'un-racist' the British were during the Colonial India. Furthermore, as regards the Americans of that period, recalling a quote of Jesse Owens should suffice:
"When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in front of the bus. I had to go to the back door. I couldn't live where I wanted. I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either."

His quip reveals plainly how the African-American populace was subject to, during that time in the U.S. of A. And even closer home, in Manipur, we go all gung-ho about how the Japs came to 'rescue' us, 'save' us from the British during the WW II. But were they really? And in any case, we seem to have conveniently forgotten that the Japanese and the Nazis were allies. But we will keep on admonishing Adolf Hitler as a bloody racist!

Well, as said, it is only about perception, what we choose to believe. What we choose to remember. And history, as the saying goes, is written by the winners. But sometimes, fortunately or unfortunately, posterity, do tend to honour the heroes...

DECODING THE MIND OF THE 'NAZI'.

How much preposterous this may seem, it is and will never be without any argument to state that Hitler's Nazi Germany was completely devoid of morality and ideals. Of course, like any other grand idea of civilization, the 'Third Reich' was founded upon Hitler's ideal of Volkisher Staat (People's State). He recognized and emphasized the necessity of unity, the strengthening of the people's will, and the importance of the religion and the traditional values as the core constituents upon which his great empire is to be built upon.

Further, he considered the State as a means to an end, as a means to a higher and nobler ideal. Although, he gave it a racial tinge by stating that this 'end' is the conservation of the racial characteristics of mankind. And however twisted and perverted this may deem to be, Hitler even justified curtailing the rights of the personal freedom in the interest of the greater good of preserving the racial purity. To him, the right to personal freedom comes second in importance to the duty of maintaining the Race.

Perhaps, the only way to understand his ideology is by making this distinction- generally, we consider human rights as a part of that universal order governing all men and the inalienable rights of the individuals. Or to put it more crudely, we never question our right to live and accepted it as a basic part of that universal order. But for Hitler, it was only and always about our right to exist as a living being. Or to say so in those clichéd words- survival of the fittest. For him, this was the highest pedestal, the only true law of nature which governs the whole of universe, which makes no discrimination between mankind and other species, and which is fair and just to the last degree.

He further highlighted this point by saying that nature knows no political frontiers, and those shown the greatest courage and industry are the children nearest to her heart and they will be given the sovereign right to existence. To his credit, he understood precisely the fact that no man is above nature. And man-made laws as well as the 'universal order governing mankind and the inalienable rights of the individuals', however righteous and morally justified it may seem, have to submit to this higher law, no matter the circumstances.

Hitler's philosophy directly stems from the idea of competition, natural selection and the doctrine of the survival of the fittest, which in turn purports to explain the natural and the automatic process of evolution and development. He understood that development as a whole is an evolutionary process, governed by the single law of competition and natural selection. Throughout history, development of law was meant to sub-serve the development of the State. And the State was meant to provide the preliminary and the necessary condition on which a higher form of civilization can be developed, where human creativity can flourish. Where there is equal opportunity for all, where people can freely unfold their creative faculties in evolving a higher, better and nobler human being.

Further, Nazism or the Nationalist Socialist ideology was developed as an antithesis to Marxism. Thus, they put a whole lot substance upon the 'individual' rather than focusing on the 'equality of the masses'. To Hitler, such arbitrary and random proclamation of equality, without any sufficient base to sustain the equality was reducing the humanity to a nameless, faceless machine. Individualism was discouraged, leading to further degeneration of our species culturally, ethically and morally, after touching such heights as that of the Renaissance. The Marxist idea was to destroy the very concept of the unique individual personality of each human.

It failed to recognize the fact that the distinct personality of each human is the very edifice on which all great empires and civilizations were built upon. Because, without the development of individual character, there cannot be any development of sense of responsibility or strengthening of the will and the powers of decision. In contrast to this, the very foundation of the Marxist's 'equality for all' was a fair material wage, which they consider it as an appropriate expression of a man's value. For them, equality was dependent on the work a man does, thus downsizing man to a mere 'economical' animal. The higher manifestations of the human life, such as religion, philosophy, arts etc., are simply regarded as 'supplements of the material life processes, superstructure erected to disguise and promote the economic interests'.

Apart from the absurdity of this, it can be stated that the very establishment of their ideal of 'classless' materialistic society, like the society itself, was founded upon an illusion. As long as we value individuals according to their economic output, there will always be classes in the society. The basis for their 'equality for all' was not sustainable for it is improbable to value an individual only by the work he does. Humans, like any other species, are subject to change. And change is exactly what the Marxists despised by discouraging 'individualism' and classifying humans as mere 'economical' animals.

Hitler, on the other hand, continuously highlighted the need to use all possible means to cultivate respect for the individual personality. To quote his words:
"... Nothing can take the place of an individual, especially if the individual embodies in himself not the mechanical element but the element of cultural creativeness. No pupil can take the place of the master in completing a great picture which he has left unfinished; and just in the same way, no substitute can take the place of a great poet and thinker or the great statesman or military general... The failure to pay tribute to one of those great spirits signifies a neglect of that enormous source of power which lies in the remembrance of all great men and women."

In fairness, the finer aspects of Nazi philosophy were even in concurrence with the Gandhian philosophy. For starters, Hitler's Volkisher Staat was to be built upon on the same basis as Gandhi's Ram Rajya. The authority of the State is to be based on the general confidence which the management and the administration of a community established amongst the people. The confidence is in turn, nothing else than the result of an unshakeable inner conviction that the Government and administration of the country is inspired by disinterested and honest goodwill and on the feeling that the spirit of the law is in complete harmony with the moral convictions of the people (Mein Kamph).

Hitler also recognized the importance of religion in shaping his ideal of his People's State. And like Gandhi, he understood that our human world was inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief; because for the masses of the people, faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. And no matter the shortcomings of religious beliefs and faith, we should never underestimate the worth of religion in the foundation of the human society, or rather, the whole of humankind itself. Mahatma Gandhi, in the context of this, had often acknowledged that his love for Hinduism is like the love he have for his wife. He loved her unconditionally, with all her shortcomings.

Hitler was also against the practice of debasing religion as a means that can be exploited to serve political or commercial interests. The impudent and the loud-mouthed liars, who are forever ready to sell their faith for some commercial or political quid pro quo, were, in his eyes, the lowest form of human beings. He also underlined the necessity of maintaining a healthy peasant class as a basis of national community. According to him, many of their present evils have their origin exclusively in the disproportion between the urban and the rural portions of the population.

To quote him again, "A solid stock of small and medium farmers has at all times been the best protection which a nation could have had against the social diseases that are prevalent today. Moreover, that is the only solution which guarantees the daily bread of a nation within the framework of its national domestic economy. With this condition once guaranteed, industry and commerce would retire from the unhealthy position of foremost importance which they hold today and would take their due place in the general scheme of national economy, adjusting the balance between demand and supply." This was so in agreement with the views of Gandhi, who placed paramount importance on the development of the rural areas, self-sufficiency nature of the village economy, abolition of the zamindari system, decentralization of power through panchayati raj systems etc.

So, it follows that there are points of similarity between the ideals of Hitler's Volkisher Staat and Gandhi's Ram Rajya. In a way, it can be said that the ultimate goal of both of them was the conquest of mankind. One through non-violence. The other through violence. One through wars, hatred and fear. The other through peace, love, admiration and respect. It is certainly a no wonder that both failed in their quests.

Thus, the emergence of the Nazi juggernaut can be somewhat explained by Darwin's theory of competition, natural selection and the survival of the fittest. And it can definitely be said that Hitler's Nazi ideology was founded on reason and morality. But was the reason 'just'? That question, however, will forever remain...

(Written after reading Mein Kamph)


* Czadanda Saint is a regular contributor to e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at saddanskhaibam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on September 18, 2013.


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