The Clare Spark Blog

November 13, 2014

The Anatomy of Fascism: Robert Paxton’s analysis

Layout 1Columbia University Professor Emeritus Robert Paxton has had a controversial career. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Paxton. Although the Wikipedia profile is accurate in its summation of Paxton’s thesis on generic fascism (Knopf, 2004), I will blog about it anyway, for it serves to correct misconceptions about Italian Fascism and Nazism that I have found in my reading, and in random comments on Facebook. The Wiki summary is a mostly adequate description of Paxton’s book, so I will not repeat its bullet points. But I will fill in the gaps left by the brief Wikipedia summary.

First, it is important to understand what a leap forward Paxton’s work has achieved compared to the initial response in newspapers and other media following the end of World War 2 and through the 1950s. For instance, Hitler was initially portrayed as a madman, often with bulging eyes, whose cult of the Leader led the German masses (especially the lower middle class) astray as they fell for his bizarre propaganda. On Harvard New Deal social psychologists advancing the cult of the Leader (FDR, ostensibly the opposite of Hitler, but see Shirer’s footnoted transmission of a rumor that FDR admired what Hitler had accomplished in Germany) see https://clarespark.com/2014/12/29/the-leader-principle/.)

By focusing on a political history that takes in economic stressors and the total institutional picture, including continuities with prior regimes, Paxton punctures the Fuehrer myth, but also challenges the primacy of propaganda in contradiction to the “Frankfurt School” critical theorists (including George L. Mosse, specifically mentioned by Paxton) who emphasized the overwhelming influence of the new mass media in creating the fascist hordes, and who are now blamed for spreading communist ideas in America at the expense of Christianity (see https://clarespark.com/2011/10/21/did-frankfurters-kill-the-white-christian-west/).

marxiantalmud

Second, many pundits on the conservative Right continue to deploy the term “totalitarianism” to describe the policies of their enemies on “the Left,” including liberal anticommunists like Paxton. While citing the importance of Hannah Arendt’s much admired first big book The Origins of Totalitarianism, Paxton takes care to distinguish between fascist movements/regimes and communist ones; i.e., he historicizes the term “totalitarian” and rejects it by demonstrating that fascists were 1. entirely anticommunist, though there was some working class participation in both Nazism and Italian Fascism; and 2. fascists never achieved the total control that they desired, being balked by already existent institutions such as families, churches, and voluntary organizations, not to speak of the conflicting personalities and agencies that fought with each other instead of obeying Hitler’s will. [He falters a bit when he mentions Arendt’s notorious mass media-created “mob society” (a variant of Durkheim’s “anomie”) to explain the radicalization of Nazism and Italian Fascism after their attempts at expansion (Italy in the Ethiopian adventure and Germany in its attack on the Soviet Union and its declaration of war against the US).]

Those conservatives who are confident that fascists in Europe were leftist in orientation will be disappointed. Moreover Paxton makes careful distinctions between fascist dictatorships, military dictatorships, and authoritarian dictatorships, both during the interwar period and after 1945.

Third, he is adamant about identifying the necessity of coalitions with already existent elites as opposed to the “seizure of power” myth disseminated by many other historians. Not all historians and political scientists are so careful to identify the German conservatives who appointed Hitler Chancellor, imagining that the upstart would do their dirty work by destroying communism in Germany and the Soviet Union. (Note that European conservatives bear little resemblance to American conservatives, including the Tea Party and libertarians: European conservatives were not averse to Big Government. See https://clarespark.com/2011/07/16/disraelis-contribution-to-social-democracy/.)

In sum, Paxton lines up with other “functionalists” in history and political science, who have emphasized conflict between powerful persons and institutions that almost inadvertently radicalized their regimes (this applies not to Italy, but to Germany; Italy devolved into an authoritarian dictatorship in his typology, while Hitler’s underlings guessed at what Hitler really wanted, seizing upon his obsession with world Jewry as the agents of both finance capital and communism to perpetrate the Holocaust. For the views of the “intentionalists” see https://clarespark.com/2009/07/29/the-centrality-of-the-holocaust-to-nazi-war-aims/.)

In sum, Paxton’s is the voice of the liberal anticommunist establishment at its revisionist best. But the book also demonstrates the influence of what I have called the Conservative Enlightenment, in its effort to combat “essentialist” definitions of fascism, but still seeking a scientistic approach to defining “fascism.” There is no escape from the double bind, or is there?

Lipschitz, 1927 “Pierrot escaping”

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January 15, 2014

Was Nazism a symptom of bourgeois decadence?

Immanuel.Deviant Art

Immanuel.Deviant Art

Many cultural historians and social psychologists see Nazism as bourgeois decadence.  Popular among nativist radicals, this theory brings out the latent antisemitism in some New Leftists and in counter-culture anti-imperialism.  Both the Soviets and American crypto-Tories have made Hitler (the consummate anti-bourgeois, anti-sentimentalist!) into a product of disintegrating capitalism and sentimental bourgeois culture.  They and similar thinkers have conflated American puritans/bad Jews and Nazis, functionally equating “genocides,” in this case, the extermination of European Jews, the American Indians, American blacks, the Vietnamese, etc.

Harvard professor F.O. Matthiessen, “a Christian and a Socialist,”identified Melville’s Ahab, a prototypical American, with the alleged savagery of the Hebrew prophets (1941, 1948).[1]  Also centered at Harvard were the Walter Langer team, authors of The Mind of Adolf Hitler, originally a 1943 report for the OSS but revised for publication in 1972 to diagnose hippie-fascists.  Langer, aided anonymously by Henry A. Murray, Ernst Kris, and Bertram Lewin, attempted to account for his subject’s “ambitiousness” and “extraordinary political intuition” (atypical of a “basically illiterate peasant family”); Langer and Murray actually gave credence to rumors that Hitler carried Jewish blood: Langer reported that Hitler’s grandmother might have been a servant in the home of the Baron Rothschild; Murray was impressed by a Jewish godfather to Hitler;[2] what’s more Hitler’s brilliant (Jewish) insights into the minds and hearts of the little men (the class base of fascism for the CIA and other moderates during the 1950s) should be adapted by American mind-managers.  Here are more excerpts from the declassified Murray report to FDR, 1943:

[The following diagnosis of Hitler’s condition was prepared by W.H.D. Vernon, under the supervision of Henry A. Murray and Gordon Allport, all Harvard men:]  Now it is known that syphilophobia often has its roots in the childhood discovery of the nature of sexual congress between the parents.  With a father who was an illegitimate and possibly of Jewish origin, and a strong mother fixation, such a discovery by the child Adolf may well have laid the basis of the syphilophobia which some adventure with a Jewish prostitute in Vienna fanned to a full flame. [fn: “This is mere conjecture and must be treated as such. But it is the sort of explanation which fits known psychological facts”]…Hitler’s personality structure, though falling within the normal range, may now be described as of the paranoid type with delusions of persecution and of grandeur.  This stems from sado-masochistic splits in his personality…Just as the father is the cause of his mixed blood, the source of his domination and punishment, and of the restrictions of his own artistic development; just as in the childish interpretation of sexual congress, the father attacks, strangles, and infects the mother, so the Jew, international Jewish capital, etc., encircle and restrict Germany, threaten and attack her and infect her with impurities of blood…But the mother is not only loved but hated.  For she is weak, besides he is enslaved to her affections and she reminds him all too much, in his role as dominant father, of his own gentle sensitive nature.  So, though he depends on the German people for his position of dominance, he despises and hates them, he dominates them, and because he fears his very love of them, he leads them into the destructiveness of war where multitudes of them are destroyed.  Besides, the Jewish element in his father identification permits him to use all the so-called “Jewish” tricks of deceit, lying, violence, and sudden attack both to subject the German people as well as their foes (78-80).

[Henry Murray: Hitler’s “revengeful dominance” is “a counteraction to insulted narcism” presumably inflicted by his (possibly half-Jewish) father:] …Knowing something of the character of Alois Hitler, we can safely infer experiences of abasement and humiliation suffered by the son….(196)…Since many of the prominent positions in Vienna were held by Jews, some of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, as well as his hatred of Vienna, can be attributed to humiliations received from the upper classes during these years…(199)  [The “determinants” of Hitler’s antisemitism:]…3. The suitability of the Jew as an object on which to project his own repudiated background and traits: his Jewish god-father (and possibly his Jewish grandfather), his physical timidity and sensitiveness, his polymorphous sexual impulses…5. The realization, after having once embarked on the road to militarism, that the stirred-up aggression of his followers needed some outlet…7. In building his military machine the anti-militaristic Jewish people could not be of much help to him.  At bottom, Fascism is the advocacy of the aggressive drive over and above the acquisitive drive (with which the Jew has generally been identified), and, by the same token, it is the substitution of Power and Glory for Peace and Prosperity, a materialistic paradise on earth (with which Communism and the Jew have also been identified).  Finally, the Nazi doctrine of fanatical irrationality (thinking with the blood) is antipathetic to the intellectual relativism of the Jew.  Thus there are several fundamental points of opposition (as well as certain points of kinship) [where?!! C.S.] between Nazi ideology and Jewish ideology (207-209).

[Murray, cont.]  Hitler has a number of unusual abilities of which his opponents should not be ignorant.  Not only is it important to justly appraise the strength of an enemy but it is well to know whether or not he possesses capacities and techniques which can be appropriated to good advantage.  Hitler’s chief abilities, realizations, and principles of action as a political figure, all of which involve an uncanny knowledge of the psychology of the average man, are briefly these: [21 items follow, including:]…Heiden speaks of “Hitler’s frequently noted incapacity to impose his will in a small circle, and his consummate skill in winning over a crowd prepared by publicity and stage management, and then, with its aid, vanquishing the small circle, too” (211).

[Clare:]     So what is this “Jew”?  Brutal/humiliating/hypermasculine or timid and gay?  Or both, as in Jewish switching, a.k.a. “sudden attack”/”intellectual relativism”?  Not surprisingly, Hebraic types (for Murray, Melville as Ahab) were deplorable to the crypto-Tories/New Dealers, because, after instructing guileless WASPS in mind-control, they turn around to blast good non-humiliating father-figures, to decode the mythic narratives that alone  confer national unity or group solidarity in a pluralist society.[3]  The writing of George L. Mosse, distinguished mentor to a generation of New Left cultural historians at the University of Wisconsin, similarly transmits the ambivalence of the moderate conservatives.

Mossememoir

Mosse’s investigations into the sources of Nazi culture address modernization theory and develop a utopian, mass political lineage for Nazism.[4]  What were the Nazis: moderns, antimoderns, or a distinctive, confusing new blend of both?  In answer to my letter requesting a clarification of his influential formulations, Mosse replied that he once believed “National Socialism was largely a critique of modernity,” a view he has since revised: “…I think it was part of a protest of modernization…I would say that National Socialism masked modernity even as they were furthering it.” [5] Mosse seems to be saying that, on second thought, the Nazis were cunning and dishonest in their goals.  I wonder if Mosse’s “switch” overrelies on a definition of modernity as the advent of industrialization, not the institutionalization of civil liberties in the state; the unintended effect is to relativize Nazi brutality and level distinctions between autocratic and democratic bourgeois societies, a difference Mosse is elsewhere careful to maintain, cautioning me that I could “certainly compare völkisch movements to American conservatism,” but not “Nazi Germany to the United States.”  He does not say which American conservatives he thinks are völkisch; probably the right-wing populists, not the (élite) ethnopluralists!  Mosse went on to distance himself from analyses like my own that discern analogies between the world-views of ethnopluralism (identity politics) and national socialism.  He wrote, “I reject the current controversy over macho multiculturalism or postmodernism having anything whatever to do with Hitler’s psyche.  That seems to me totally unhistorical.”

The confusions of conservative Enlightenment permeate Mosse’s writing when he is not in his materialist mood.[6] In The Holy Pretence: A Study in Christianity and Reasons of State from William Perkins to John Winthrop (1968), a book about “emancipation of political action from moral restraint,” Mosse frets that “…the victory of the Dove can lead to unbridled idealism, and the ignoring of secular realities; while the victory of the Serpent means the total acceptance of what the sixteenth century called ‘Machiavellism’” (154).  Mosse lauds the Baroque synthesis that prudently balanced the Serpent and the Dove so that “neither obliterates the other.”  The realism of the secular world was not achieved through science and libertarian ideas, he argues, but through wise adjustments in religion itself (152) [cf. Dumont, 1977].

The leftward trajectory of the Reformation is an ongoing concern for anyone who analyzes propaganda and fascism.  Writing seven years later in The Nationalization of the Masses (1975), Mosse makes the crucial point that the modern intellectual constantly historicizes and demystifies symbolic discourses; this habit militates against the maintenance of a stable national identity expressed through symbols.[7]  When inside the anti-materialist Aristotelian civic humanist tradition, Mosse will not turn around and demystify “moderate” mind-managers in the West, the followers of Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons.  Given his reputation among New Leftists and other antifascists, Mosse has presented a disturbingly inaccurate synthesis for the intellectual origins of fascist brutality in his “General Theory of Fascism.”[8]  Arguing against the “stereotype” that fascism is a reaction to liberalism and socialism (1), Mosse claims throughout that fascism (Nazism more than Italian fascism) selectively appropriated and, through its control of mass media, put a corporatist spin on Western ideals (5, 14, 17-19).  Hitler and Mussolini are carefully separated; Hitler came out of the jacobin antipluralist, antiparliamentary tradition of mass politics and popular culture (the repulsive part of the West); the more pluralist Mussolini allowed new and old élites to co-exist because he respected aristocratic culture and tradition; this aristocratic culture embraced the German idealism that Mosse suggests was foreign to Nazis (3, 10, 28, 33, 35).  Fascist violence originated in the brutality and camaraderie of World War I (which Mosse blurs with youth and the mobs of the French Revolution, aka Napoleon, “Romantic Nationalism,” “popular sovereignty” and “workers movements,” even “middle-class virtues”), not the medievalism of the aristocracy (4, 6, 9, 10, 17-19, 21, 25, 31, 37, 38).  There was no counter-revolution and no civil war; weak bourgeois institutions simply collapsed, and Hitler and Mussolini presented themselves to fill the void.  Conservatives left the Nazi government after six months (19).

Mosse is politically allied to the pluralists and pragmatists of the moderate center (many of whom were intrigued with Italian Fascism during the 1930s) and who have abandoned the open-ended processes and unpredictable outcomes of liberal nationalism, instead redefining American nationality on the basis of a mosaic of rooted ethnic groups; i.e., they are ready to play ball inside the fences erected by élites.  With intellectuals like Talcott Parsons and Henry A. Murray, the moderate nationalists have recommended that the state rely on the manipulation of symbols to enforce “integration” and “national unity” while simultaneously denouncing the tyrannical animal called mass politics!

Of course, as Mosse also realized, one problem with the formulation of a clear-cut Nazi radical conservatism or reaction [9] was Hitler’s desire to bring railroads, improved tools, and “welcoming farms” to central Europe; and, like other eugenicists, Hitler believed he was scientific, critical, and independent, following the truth wherever it might lead.  No less than the Burkean conservatives (including “socialists” like Karl Pearson, then the Fabians), the weaving, quilting Hitler wanted modernity and progress without the loss of a stable national/ethnic identity: capitalism without tears, slavery without guilt.  Sentimental Christians and Jews were de trop.

[Hitler, Table-Talk, Oct. 15, 1941:]  Inflation is not caused by increasing the fiduciary circulation.  It begins on the day when the purchaser is obliged to pay, for the same goods, at higher sum than that asked the day before.  At that point, one must intervene.  Even to Schacht, I had to begin by explaining this elementary truth: that the essential cause of the stability of our currency was to be sought for in our concentration camps.  The currency remains stable when the speculators are put under lock and key.  I also had to make Schacht understand that excess profits must be removed from economic circulation….All these things are simple and natural.  The only thing is, one musn’t let the Jew stick his nose in.  The basis of Jewish commercial policy is to make matters incomprehensible for a normal brain.  People go into ecstasies of confidence before the science of the great economists.  Anyone who doesn’t understand is taxed with ignorance!  At bottom, the only object of all these notions is to throw everything into confusion (65-66).

[Hitler, Nov. 5, 1941:]  The Jew is the incarnation of egoism…The Jew has talent for bringing confusion into the simplest matters, for getting everything muddled up…The Jew makes use of words to stultify his neighbors. And that’s why people make them professors….

If the Jew weren’t kept presentable by the Aryan, he’d be so dirty he couldn’t open his eyes.  We can live without the Jews, but they couldn’t live without us.  When the European realizes that, they’ll all become simultaneously aware of the solidarity that binds them together.  The Jew prevents this solidarity.  The Jew owes his livelihood to the fact that this solidarity does not exist (119-120).

[Hitler, Feb. 3-4, 1942; Hitler identifies with heretics; Jews have instigated the “collective madness” of witch hunts carried out by organized Christianity:]  A Jew was discovered to whom it occurred that if one presented abstruse ideas to non-Jews, the more abstruse these ideas were, the more the non-Jews would rack their brains to try to understand them.  The fact of having their attention fixed on what does not exist must make them blind to what exists.  An excellent calculation on the Jew’s part.  So the Jew smacks his thighs to see how his diabolic strategem has succeeded.  He bears in mind that if his victims suddenly became aware of these things, all Jews would be exterminated.  But, this time, the Jews will disappear from Europe.

The world will breathe freely and recover its sense of joy, when this weight is no longer crushing its shoulders (288).

[Hitler, June 13, 1943:]  I cannot make up my mind to buy a picture by a French painter, because I am not sure of the dividing line between what I understand and what I do not understand.  I have the same feeling when I look at paintings by Corinth and Trbner–to mention only two of our German artists.  These men started by painting pictures of great merit, and then, urged on by pride, they started to produce the most startling and extraordinary works. [THE SWITCH] In literature the Jew has already blazed the same pernicious trail, and artists like Corinth and Trübner have followed them.  The result is the frightful daubs with which they now inflict us (703-704).

[Clare:] Less is more. Like many conservatives, Mosse has placed Nazi excess in the tradition of mass politics and youth revolt, i.e., Jacobin democracy and terror.  But Hitler’s own writings place him securely in the ranks of the reactionary romantic anticapitalists; he was a typically vulnerable petit-bourgeois, railing against fluctuating money markets, terrified of status loss, and choking off the intellectual curiosity and expression that will cast him into the abyss reserved for lapsed conservative Christians and blue-collars.  He wants an enduring structure, a familiar terrain.  How many of those who have attempted to analyze him and/or the appeal of national socialism pay attention to his panic in the face of naturalistic romantic art and poetry? As with other neoclassicists, the consequence for Hitler is a deficient vocabulary; he cannot define his situation in concrete, descriptively precise language—words, tones, and gestures that chart the rise and fall of feelings, their switches, subtle interpenetrations and metamorphoses.  How might the scientistic social critic (his vocabulary similarly limited insofar as he turns away from the living world to his non-interactive models, ideal types and abstractions) react with phobic intensity to the finely differentiated emotions of everyday life, emotions that he cannot grasp without the words and detail that match the distinctive qualities, nuances and motions of each?   Might his own person become the loathsome, super-demanding, ever elusive creature that Hitler disowned as Jewish, the muddling (female) body that even after repeated exterminations inevitably returned to terrorize him again?  Might the tasteful planner or architect taken with structural models that may be encompassed at a single glance feel the same? Are there not escapist, mystical, and submissive longings , underneath such “aesthetic” preferences;  postures or dreamy states that quiet the rage of seeing, mop up the blood on the floor?[10]

The blurred formulations of Nazi ideology crowding the field of cultural anthropology and cultural history sharply contrast with the clear view of the enemy available in the straightforward writing of Hitler and other National Socialists.  They explicitly and plainly oppose independent labor unions, the rootless cosmopolitanism associated with capital, liberalism and international socialism, and the universalist ethics and the too-attractive no-holds-barred intellectual procedures associated with science and democracy, all products of the radical Enlightenment and identified with “the International Jew.”[11] Because the idealist social theorists described above are corporatist liberals wedded to the calming closures of Christian eschatology (and unconditional surrender?) their explanations for Nazi antisemitism are marred by the abstractness and vagueness of ideal types and antitheses.[12]  Above all they must carve a clear channel between Hitler and themselves as supporters of FDR and other self-sacrificing good fathers; as bureaucratic collectivists supposed to be different from fascists they necessarily construct Hitler as a creative figure, the failed, unbalanced romantic artist concocting an original, eclectic, incoherent ideology that may not be construed as another case of corporatist liberalism.[13].

[Henry A. Murray to FDR, 1943:]  [Hitler] was a compound, say, of Lord Byron and Al Capone (143)…It was not Germany as it was or had been that Hitler represented but rather the ideal social pattern which he wished to impose on the country.  Not only during his days of rumination in Vienna but later it was necessary for him to construct an ideology from diverse sources in terms of which he could preach to the people.  None of the elements were original with him but some inventiveness was required in developing the precise combination of principles that became the creed of the Nazi Party.  Besides this, he was continually preoccupied with inventing means to his goals, which involved a considerable amount of creative thought; thus, to a certain extent, he functioned as a creative artist and certainly conceived of himself as such (178-179).

[Clare:] The only switch visible to the moderate men is the metamorphosis of extreme nationalism to antisemitism and xenophobia, a change that moderate nationalism resists after the social psychologists have cooled it out.  In the mass media that have interpreted the Third Reich to millions, the outsider Hitler’s own voice has been presented, perhaps invariably, as a rant in the German language, shadowed by domineering Jewish blood, lapped up by cheering fresh-scrubbed German Aryan women.

NOTES.


 

                [1] See F.O.Matthiessen, American Renaissance (Oxford U.P., 1941); From The Heart of Europe (Oxford U.P.,1948): 182-183.  See Lord James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Vol.II (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1891): 275-276, 278, 281-82, for a more ambivalent account of American [Chosen People]: “If you ask an intelligent citizen why he so holds [incorrect majorities will be persuaded of the right], he will answer that truth and justice are sure to make their way into the minds and consciences of the majority.  This is deemed an axiom, and the more readily so deemed, because truth is identified with common sense, the quality which the average citizen is most confidently proud of possessing.  This feeling shades off into another, externally like it, but at bottom distrust–the feeling not only that the majority, be it right or wrong, will and must prevail, but that its being the majority proves it to be right.  This feeling appears in the guise sometimes of piety and somtimes of fatalism.  Religious minds hold–you find the idea underlying many books and hear it in many pulpits–that Divine Providence has specially chosen and led the American people to work out a higher type of freedom and civilization than any other state has yet attained, and that this great work will surely be brought to a happy issue by the protecting hand which has so long guided it (276).”

 [2] Walter Langer, The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report (Basic Books, 1972): 102-103. Murray, op.cit.

  [3] The Zionist writer Alex Bein (cited above) relies on Alan Bullock and the Langer report in his presentation of Hitler’s personality.  The influence of the crypto-Tories in American Studies is the terrain of my doctoral dissertation on the Melville revival.  One of the central debates in American history surfaces in an essay by Barbara J. Fields, “Ideology and Race in American History,” Region, Race and Reconstruction, ed. J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson (N.Y.: Oxford U.P., 1982): 143-177.  This subtly argued essay challenged the New Left/American Studies interpretation of white supremacy (not class conflict) as the motor of American history.

[4] Compare to Sternhell, Zeev. Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, translated by David Meisel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. Pre-fascist ideology in France set the stage for the Vichy Revolution in 1940-41. Revolutionary syndicalism and radical nationalism of the late 19th century were fused in the 1920s and 1930s to create a novel, mass based, youth-inspired revolt against materialism and decadence blamed on liberalism, democracy and reformed Marxism (i.e. social democracy). For the prefascists, the enemy was finance capital and monopoly, seen as Jewish, American and British. The deracinated individual was the source of decadence, and the compensatory discourse was corporatist/communitarian and meant to integrate the proletariat into the nation through a strong planning state, coterminous with the nation. Emphasized family, work (in tradition of medieval guilds), and region. Did not eliminate profit or private property. Neither ideology nor economic crisis alone could have created this revolutionary departure from the principles of 1789; hence the implicit warning to other social democrats: don’t allow economic crisis to develop: this ideology is still extant. Sternhell somewhat plays down the antisemitic, Christian character of the sources of the ideology, though he does not deny it. France was “impregnated” by the ideology of fascism (a revolution of the spirit: modern, aesthetic, and moral, exalting blood and soil, instinct, force, violence, the healthy body, sacrifice, and monkish asceticism, futurism, modern architecture of Le Corbusier, and Freud). The nonconformist journalist politicos in the 1930s penetrated popular culture; only a few of them, however, explicitly embraced nazism and fascism, though they came very close. Henri De Man the principle theorist of an idealist Marxism. (Sternhell does not consider historical materialism to be idealist.)

This book is directed against Marxist interpretations of fascism as a reaction by monopoly capital to working class militancy in a period of economic crisis. Sternhell thanks A. James Gregor (a self-described fascist and biographer of Mussolini) in the acknowledgments.(vii) and places five of his books in the bibliography. Also Mosse’s General Theory of Fascism, and Masses and Man.

Sterhell does not explain how Freud could contribute to fascist ideology, given that Freud did not advocate unleashing the instincts, as did Jung, for whom the unconscious, home of the racial ancestry and spirits, was a source of creativity.

[5] Cf. Erik Levi, Music In The Third Reich (N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, 1994): 124, commenting on the paradoxical Nazi views of technological progress misted over with anti-industrial romanticism. , a conflict that was apparent in confused music policies.

 [6] See The Crisis of the German Ideology (1962), and Toward The Final Solution (1980).

  [7] George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany From the Napoleonic Wars Through the Third Reich (Howard Fertig, 1975).

  [8] See Mosse, “Introduction: A General Theory of Fascism,” International Fascism, ed. George L. Mosse (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979): 1-41.

  [9] Mosse’s Nazi Culture was criticized by readers as ignoring the role of technology in the Third Reich, he reports.  See also Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967).

[10]Cf. the Tory poet and editor J.C. Squire, quoted above.

 [11] Cf. Sander L. Gilman, Jewish Self-Hatred; Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1986).

 [12] See Erich Dinkler, “Earliest Christianity,” The Idea of History in the Ancient Near East, ed. Robert C. Dentan (New Haven: Yale U.P., 1955): 187-190 for the ways Christian eschatology (a world of cycles and repetitions, filled with “anticipations,” types and antitypes) is incompatible with history and critical thought but not anthropology (a view which I feel applies to anthropology as practiced by Carl Jung, Ruth Benedict, Geoffrey Gorer, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Henry Murray, etc.).

 [13] See Victor Serge’s suggestive comment of 1944, reminiscent of pre-Popular Front communist definitions of “social fascism”: “The Soviet regime, fascism, Nazism, and the New Deal undeniably share common traits determined in the last instance by the collectivist tendencies of the modern economy…As a consequence of the exhaustion of the working class, these tendencies take on the form of bureaucratic collectivism.” Quoted in Susan Weissman, doctoral diss., 459-460.

MosseCrisis

December 22, 2012

My “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” and Eric Hobsbawm

Oppositional_Defiant_Child_ODDToward the end of his autobiography (Interesting Times), the recently deceased ‘most important historian in the world’, Eric Hobsbawm, showed his contempt for the American Constitution, writing “Forced into the straitjacket of an eighteenth-century constitution reinforced by two centuries of talmudic exegesis by the lawyers, the theologians of the republic, the institutions of the USA are far more frozen into immobility than those of almost other states in 2002.” (p.409)

During the last month or so, I have read all of Hobsbawm’s famed tetralogy, his grand synthesis of world history from the French Revolution to the 1990s. As one exegete (Gregory Elliott) of Hobsbawm’s intellectual development claims, EH’s Marxism no longer lauds Marx as prophet of revolution, but rather as analyst of the disastrous globalization perpetrated by the bourgeoisie. To put it plainly, Hobsbawm adapted to the Leninist anti-imperialist moment approved by the younger Leninists. These avatars of “social justice” dominate the humanities today, including history, sociology, comparative literature, art history, etc. (For one blog on Hobsbawm related to this one, see https://clarespark.com/2012/12/08/hobsbawm-obama-israel/.)

As I have written previously, few would admit to being a Stalinist any longer, but Lenin’s anti-imperialism remains untarnished among not only the “hard left” but among Democratic Party activists. In other words, the Popular Front lives on, with the cooperation of George Soros (Interesting Times, p.310), Oliver Stone and his facilitators at Showtime or HBO, most movie and television celebrities, the professoriate at the better universities, and all progressive media. None of them, to my knowledge, has come out against anti-Zionism. Nor, I would guess, would any of them find anything objectionable about Hobsbawm’s depiction of the frigid American Constitution, deemed insane by the greatest historian ever, as numerous obituaries aver.

It is most curious that Hobsbawm the internationalist par excellence, not only remained a Communist all his life, but that he presents himself constantly as a “Jew”, but “anti-Zionist,” as anti-sectarian, as the avatar of Popular Front politics, as one for whom national loyalty and identification are out of date; rather, he divided the world up between fascists and anti-fascists. It is obvious from his writings that America, like Israel, like those Republicans (or a few centrist Democrats) who think that the Constitution was a good idea and still relevant and worth enforcing, are on the Wrong Side of History.

Some definitions are in order: Popular Front tactics were devised by the Comintern to trick New Dealers and other social democrats into supporting the Reds. The latter came out as “anti-fascists” in a broad oppositional front to Hitler and Franco around 1935. This tactic supplanted the “sectarianism” of the Third International, that defined New Dealers as “social fascists.” Hobsbawm wrote his books against “sectarianism” by which he meant not only the disastrous comrades from 1928-1934 (who allowed Hitler to prevail), but anything that smacked of Trotskyism or New Leftist go-it-alone operations. (Perhaps Pop Front politics are not relevant, for EH mentions Kondratiev waves to explain the weakness of capitalism, and such an economic theory would lead him to what he and others deem to be “democratic socialism.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Schumpeter.)

Hobsbawm’s position is puzzling, for during the halcyon Pop Front days, the Stalinist New Masses wrote favorably about the progressive bourgeoisie that had developed the progressive forces, empowering and presumably radicalizing the new working class. But the Leninist anti-imperialism line changed all that: no matter how regressive, any anti-Western movement in what used to be called the Third World was seen as a Good Thing, no matter how brutal and backward the society in question. Edward Said pushed this line and thousands of academics cheered. Even feminists who should have known better.

Perhaps I am suffering from “oppositional defiant disorder” for taking issue with the British Leftists who have, in my experience, invaded America, for they dominated UCLA and other top schools while I was in graduate school during the 1980s and early 1990s. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppositional_defiant_disorder.) Surely, my shrink at UCLA (once a forensic psychiatrist in Massachusetts) thought that I was irrationally defiant in not knuckling under to authority, for he told me that after I had received the doctorate, much to his relief (or surprise?). As I have confessed before, it was confided to me by one in the know that my numerous critics referred to me as that “hysterical feminist.” Which was odd, for I viewed myself during those years as an old-fashioned Marxist, annoyed by the right-wing social democrats on the faculty who were sponsoring separatist ethnic and gender studies, and who were patently oblivious to the conflicts engendered by class position. But they did focus on “inequality.” I was chastised and mocked in private and public for deviance, for thinking that white male professors should catch up on their reading and integrate the latest scholarship on women and minorities. (For a partial index to my research on mental health theories see https://clarespark.com/2012/12/18/blogs-on-mental-health/.)

oppositional-defiance-disorder-1

Since then, I have rejected any particular political alignment, favoring the stance of the independent scholar, faithful to archival research and criticizing other historians for departing from the objectivity once lauded by scholars writing in the humanist tradition.

Meanwhile, watch out for the British Leftists. They can impress an American reader, for they are highly acculturated, display their cultural capital promiscuously, and can mislead the unwary reader into thinking that they are other than a cult, a guild characterized by Eros und Bund, and speaking mostly to each other, their impressionable students, and apparently POTUS and his appointees. See https://clarespark.com/2012/07/19/communist-ideas-go-mainstream/. (I learned about Eros und Bund from the late George L. Mosse, the prolific historian of popular culture in the Third Reich and in pre-Nazi Germany. Almost all  his books are fascinating, though I deplore his debt to German Idealism.)

May 15, 2012

Progressive uplift vs. “New Left” nihilism

Bill Ayers, Weatherman

Several writers on the Right have been selling books with the premise that the Progressive movement in early 20th century America was protofascist, or fascist and racist. Their aim is to mobilize their constituencies to vote for organic conservatives like themselves in the hopes of halting “the nanny state.”  Similarly, they dwell on the President’s links to racist extremists in the period before he ran for office as a uniter, not a divider.

In this blog, I argue that it is an error to link in any way whatsoever the Progressive uplifters and more recent advocates of violence and anarchy. For uplift was an orderly process, an expression of the “moderate” strategies of the chief publicists of progressivism. It was also, at its core, defined against “revolutionary radicalism” as evidenced in the I.W.W. or anarchism in the labor movement. Here is a juicy example of their thought, taken from my book on Melville and from a previous blog. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/11/13/supermen-wanted-early-freudians-and-the-mob/, also https://clarespark.com/2010/03/10/jonah-goldbergs-liberal-fascism-part-one/.)

[Revolutionary Radicalism, “Epilogue”:] “In this rapid survey of a new and important educational idea we have carried Marja, the immigrant girl, from king and caste-ridden Europe to America, the land of hope and opportunity. We have seen her struggle with an unknown tongue and with ways of life unfamiliar to her. In the end we see her transformed, reborn–no longer foreign and illiterate, but educated and self-respecting. Later she will marry and her children, though they may have traditions of another land and another blood, will be Americans in education and ideals of life, government and progress. It was been worth while that one man has broken through this barrier and made the road clear for others to follow.

“All real education has the development of discipline as its basis. Poise, self-control and self-esteem are characteristic of the well-ordered mind, and the growth of these in the industrial worker makes for efficient service and better wages. Gradually there is an awakening of social consciousness–the awareness of one’s place in society and the obligations such membership entails upon the individual in respect to the group or racial mass, with a constantly developing sense of one’s personal responsibility in all human relationships.

“In conclusion, the higher significance of this work means that we must descend the shaft and share the lives of those that dwell in the lower strata–the teeming populations that never see the stars or the green grass, scent the flowers or hear the birds sing–the huddled, hopeless foreign folk of the tenements. We are living in the Age of Service, and are growing into a conviction that life is not a matter of favored races or small, exclusive social groups, but embraces all humanity and reaches back to God. To those of prophetic soul comes a vision of the day that haunted Tennyson when ‘The war-drum throbbed no longer and the battle flags were furled/ In the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the World.’ ” [From N.Y. State Legislature. Joint Committee Investigating Seditious Activities, Revolutionary radicalism: its history, purpose and tactics with an exposition and discussion of the steps being taken and required to curb it, being the report of the joint legislative committee investigating seditious activities filed April 24, 1920 in the Senate of the State of New York (Albany: J.B. Lyon, 1920), 2014, 2201, 3136-3137.]

Here we have a statement that is clearly ideological in favor of order and their version of Americanization; for a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2009/09/19/populism-progressivism-and-corporatist-liberalism-in-the-nation-1919/ .

Far different was the Prairie Fire contingent of Maoists (along with hippies and anarchists?): See /http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weather_Underground_Organization#Prairie_Fire_1974) who took over (replaced?) Students for A Democratic Society from the “Old Guard” in the late 1960s. First a bit of socialist history. In 19th century Marxist thought, it was the educated and urbanized working class that would comprise the vanguard of change. But after the stunning success of the Soviet coup in October 1917, Leninism (a branch of socialist thought that lauded bureaucratic centralism and the vanguard of intellectuals), the old Marxist anti-statist paradigm was discarded in favor of “Marxist-Leninism” with its attendant Trotskyist notion that the communist utopia could leapfrog over the bourgeois democratic phase, and stir the victims of imperialism to overthrow their European or American masters by any means necessary. (It was Stalin, not Trotsky, who insisted upon “socialism in one country.”) In China, a model for 1960s revolutionaries everywhere, the rural population was now the revolutionary vanguard, provided that they were taught by the correctly indoctrinated intellectual layer.

Such journalists as Theodore White and Edgar Snow transmitted the Maoist message to American radicals, where they received support from a communist-sympathetic faction in the U.S. Department of State.  (For details, see https://clarespark.com/2011/06/30/links-to-review-essay-on-hemingway-spy-mission-to-china/.)

To these developments in revolutionary theory, add the general brutalization caused by the slaughter of the Great War, much emphasized by George L. Mosse and his students at the U. of Wisconsin; while in the realm of culture, primitivism ruled the 1920s as a white response to the growing power or prestige of New Negroes, New Women, and working class radicalism. Indeed, Ernest Hemingway’s rise to cultural prominence as a manly prose stylist may be seen as a purification of the too-florid and feminized Victorian culture that had put white males on the defensive. Supermen were wanted, and supermen were provided by our leading writers in the Nietzsche fad that still finds adherents among ambitious students, for instance those who follow such decadent musicians as Jim Morrison and the Doors.

And what were the order-loving nativists of the Progressive movement doing after the war? They were certainly not manning the outposts of the grand innovations of mass media, including radio and the movies. Rather, that task fell to recent immigrants, who sought audiences among the masses whose instinctive populism was fully exploited, as I described here in my blog on Charles Murray (https://clarespark.com/2012/05/04/3957/):

“Early Hollywood had no illusions about mass taste, and provided adventure, sex and violence to a readymade audience that already was alienated from snooty and exclusive nativist old families. The Mayers or Goldwyns or Laemmles and their movie or television offspring still adhere to populist feeling and a hefty dose of primitivism. Social realism and didacticism do not sell, except as a warning to other “liberals” that the natives are restless and gun toting, or that criminals may be running everything. But Murray is worried that the white working class is obese and watches too much television, as if the skinnier upper classes do not enjoy the more sophisticated adventures, romance, soft porn, escapism, and even artiness provided by the younger writers and producers, affected as they have been by counter-culture naughtiness, identification with Marlon Brando or James Dean, clever parodies, and fun.”

When I first started my Pacifica radio programs on the art world in the early 1970s, I noticed that the Los Angeles hipster male artists were fans of Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X. Since I was relatively uneducated in the ways of black supremacy or nihilism* in general, I was not on guard. Not long ago, I checked out a copy of a manifesto titled Prairie Fire (1974), a production of the Weather Underground (authors William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and Celia Sojourn). It was so violent in its language and in its aims, that I had to put it down; it was simply unbearable in its stridency. For a fictional peek into the European nihilists who were their contemporaries, see William Herrick’s Love and Terror (1981), a brilliant and disturbing work that reveals the mindset of the Baader-Meinhof gang. The intellectual antecedents of such urban terrorists are not to be found in the utopian thought of Marx, but in the ravings of such radicals as Marx’s rivals: Proudhon and Bakunin, earlier Babeuf, later George Sorel. For all of them “property is theft” and no crime is too vicious, no product of human labor off limits to their fury and defiance.

I wrote this blog because I see the some of the same thuggery in some protest movements (the “Red-Greens”, the Occupy Wall Street troops, Chicano irredentism, or black liberationist tendencies–see photo of Michelle Obama associating with the Nation of Islam below). I worry that the Baby Boomer parents of the antiwar generation who raised their children to be spontaneous and creative, will only egg on the mindless acting out in which they, the sadder but un-wiser generation, frequently indulged as young women and men. These nouvelle enragées owe nothing to the progressives who led both American political parties to dominance in the 20thcentury. It is also true that Communists infiltrated the progressive movement, using the Popular Front as their entry. The writing of “cultural history” has been deformed accordingly.

*By nihilism, I do not refer to anthropology that argues for cultural relativism and historicism, but to the apparent promotion of “beast of prey” by Nietzsche in such works as Beyond Good and Evil or The Genealogy of Morals, both read and studied by Jim Morrison (see comment below that defends Nietzsche against such readings).

Michelle Obama and friends

October 21, 2011

Did Frankfurters kill the white, Christian West?

[For a more recent blog on this subject see https://clarespark.com/2013/07/31/the-nefarious-cultural-marxists/.]

This video linked below has recently been uploaded to Youtube.com, and is produced by a paleo-conservative outfit calling itself the Free Congress Foundation. It entirely misconceives the origins of “political correctness” and the establishment of separate academic departments for women’s studies, black studies, and ethnic studies or cultural studies in general. I suggest that my readers view both parts of this travesty of history. You also might want to google Willis Carto and Kevin MacDonald who peddle the same ultra-conservative, white supremacist, panicky line. Martin Jay, one participant in the video, recently denounced the entire right-wing for promoting the antisemitic anti-critical theory line, here: http://ecologicalheadstand.blogspot.com/2011/08/martin-jays-dialectic-of-counter.html.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4v6CVcHUXY&feature=player_embedded.

[Wikipedia entry on Free Congress Foundation, producers of the video claiming that Frankurt School critical theorists invented political correctness and were out to destroy the West:]

[Wiki:] FCF played a founding role in galvanizing religious conservative political activism. By the late 1990s, [Paul] Weyrich declared that social conservatives were no longer a majority having a liberal agenda forced on them by an elite but rather are a dwindling minority that have lost control over the culture; that traditional culture and the counterculture have traded places. He acknowledged the need for continued political involvement as a matter of self-defense but stated that politics could not restore traditional values, nor could what were in his views hopeless efforts to recapture institutions such as prestige media, academia and mainline churches that had been lost to the Left.

Instead he urged conservatives to invest their time and money in alternative institutions, which would, in his viewpoint, eventually become the norm due to the superior efficacy of traditional values. This sparked a firestorm of criticism from other conservatives who accused Weyrich of giving up.

FCF has also been willing to spark controversy on other fronts. It rejects what it calls Political Correctness, dubbing it “cultural Marxism” and blaming it on the Frankfurt School of left-wing thinkers. Accordingly, it has been more willing than many other conservative groups to endorse or entertain views that some, especially on the left, would consider offensive and evidence of bigotry. It is arguably hostile to Islam as a whole, rather than confining its criticism to extremist Islam or Islamism. With regard to Judaism, in his column of April 13, 2001 (Good Friday) titled Indeed, He is Risen!, Weyrich argued that “Christ was crucified by the Jews…. He was not what the Jews had expected so they considered Him a threat. Thus He was put to death.” [end: Wikipedia entry]

[My comment:]   It is true that critical theory has had a foothold in some universities. Martin Jay, for instance, is a famous and honored professor of history at UC Berkeley, and his major work has been in writing the history of the Frankfurt School (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Jay). But what the video neglects to mention is the meshing of “critical theory” (the Frankfurt School advocacy of “negative critique”) with long-term developments in 20th century American culture, for instance, the revolt against puritanism/laissez-faire capitalism, starting in the last third or quarter of the 19th century, then exacerbated after the Great War as “the lost generation” turned against the idea of progress, specifically the Providential Protestant mission to save the world.

To imagine that five or six immigrant (non-cohesive, unobservant) German Jews (T. W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse,Leo Lowenthal, maybe George L. Mosse) could have debauched a “traditionalist” American culture is simply paranoid, and reflects the hold that the racist myth of the omnipotent Jew has over some American imaginations. Moreover, the main message of “critical theory” was to blame Nazism on the revolt of the masses, i.e., the kitsch-loving, obedient masses who preferred Hitler-style demagogic tricks or Big Lies to Marxism as guides out of the Depression (https://clarespark.com/2011/06/19/index-to-links-on-hitler-and-the-big-lie/). The imbibing of high culture and the rejection of consumerism would have prevented such catastrophes that were blamed on “mass culture” (as if such a thing really existed as a coherent entity). True, Erich Fromm and, earlier, Lukács blamed “false consciousness” or working-class authoritarianism for the failure of communism to mobilize the Western working classes. And Wilhelm Reich, later echoed by Marcuse, argued that fascism was anchored in the puritanical psyche, so the flowering of Eros was recommended as antidote, but such 1960s faddishness was no more potent in corrupting the American young than the bohemianism of Greenwich Village before and after the Great War, and that was imitated by the upper-class misinterpreters of Freud, and by the Jungians who did throw off the genteel tradition in private carnivals of primitivism and paganism.

The other project of critical theory, especially in the writing of Adorno and Horkheimer, was to blame the Enlightenment for the Holocaust. Thus the high value placed on technology, science and empiricism could only lead to “bureaucratic rationality” that in turn enabled the automated killing of millions (Zygmunt Bauman). This counter-Enlightenment stance endeared critical theorists to reactionary critics of urbanization and modernity (catalysts to the preeminence of “the money power” or “Wall Street”), especially during the 1960s counter-culture.

But of most significance is the false notion, perpetuated by the FCF video, that PC was part of the program of “cultural Marxism.” Rather, the moves against hate speech and the promotion of muliculturalism were the progressive elites’ attempts at co-opting oppositional movements from below during the 20th century, and publicized throughout this website. That is, liberal elites micromanaged group conflict from the commanding heights. These were the efforts of “moderate conservatives” adhering to “the golden mean”, not to extremists of any stripe. (See https://clarespark.com/2009/08/25/t-w-adorno-and-his-funny-idea-of-genuine-liberalism/, also https://clarespark.com/2011/10/15/baltzell-on-the-good-jews/, Or, some documents and comment here: https://clarespark.com/2010/07/18/white-elite-enabling-of-black-power/. On Freud’s conservatism, see https://clarespark.com/2013/02/23/peter-gays-freud/.

November 10, 2009

White Walls and Shadows: Irrationalist explanations for Nazism, pro and con

Image (91)

A Pierrot painted in Sam Francis's Jungian phase

 ( This essay follows https://clarespark.com/2009/11/02/a-ride-through-the-culture-wars-in-academe/.)

[Untitled poem submitted to London Mercury by an Englishman, Lawrence Binyon (a William Blake reviver of the 1920s):] From the howl of the wind/ As I opened the door/ And entered, the firelight/ Was soft on the floor;/ And mute in their places/ Were table and chair/ The white wall, the shadows,/ Awaiting me there./ All was strange on a sudden!/ From the stillness a spell,/ A fear or a fancy,/ Across my heart fell./ Were they awaiting another/ To sit by the hearth?/ Was it I saw them newly/ A stranger on earth? 

 Here are some prestigious irrationalist accounts of Nazi antisemitism, a problem often linked to the scandal of Western immobility as the destruction of European Jewry proceeded apace.  The explanations I shall discuss have helped to shape postwar academic formulations of twentieth-century conflict and race relations, not only our understanding of the Holocaust.  There is much to recommend them, especially when we understand the great overarching, still disputed question: were the horrors of the Nazi period an aberration, perhaps exacerbated by propaganda and bad diplomacy? Indeed, were the horrors so singular, compared with the excesses of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and other brutal regimes?  How important was the presence of Hitler to the success of the Nazis, and to what degree were his racial beliefs common enough to explain his widespread support in all classes?  To the extent that the writers I discuss remind us both of Nazi uniqueness and of their continuities with other antidemocratic regimes of  past and present, I believe they are helpful to the vigilant libertarian.  But we must ask, how precise, comprehensive, and non-partisan is their cultural description of history; how scientific are their analytic categories?  A socially responsible historian may not mold events to fit a predetermined outcome.  I will continue my thesis (in numerous blogs on this website) that many antidemocrats view the Enlightenment itself as a Jewish plot–a shadow on the white wall of Authority, an uncanny innovation that estranged them from their families of origin; the aristocratic radicals, long entrenched in the humanities, are particularly energetic in promoting this interpretation. See https://clarespark.com/2009/11/22/on-literariness-and-the-ethical-state/ and https://clarespark.com/2009/11/19/the-scary-city-lamprecht-becker-lynd/.

 [From Alfred Rosenberg’s “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Jewish World Policy,” conspiratorial Rabbis are speaking:]  “We will adopt every liberal idea of all parties and persuasions and instruct our speakers to dilate upon them, until we have exhausted people with fine speeches and produced in them a disgust for speakers of all persuasions. In order to control public opinion, we must sow doubt and discord by allowing the different sides to express contradictory opinions for so long [that] the Gentiles get lost in the confusion: they will decide that it is best to have no opinion at all on constitutional questions, that the people lack the proper perspective on these things, and that only he who leads the people can really comprehend these things.” [1] 

[Hitler argues with Otto Wegener and Rudolph Hess regarding the possibility of a Jewish state in Palestine:] “The Jew notoriously likes to remain anonymous so long as he is not in our power. He takes off his mask only when he has gained domination—or at least when he believes he has. After the war, it seemed as if, thanks to the war, Jewry had won the upper hand throughout the white world.  So the time seemed ripe for the Jews to pose as the masters. In Germany that was, as it is now, indisputably evident.  Then, when he has succeeded in seizing the leadership in all the white nations, all that remains is the establishment of a headquarters to truly dominate the world.  And that would correspond to the Jewish state. Any sooner, such a state would make no sense, have no significance—it would even be a mistake.

   “The fact that now it is to be situated in Palestine, the Promised Land, the source, three or four thousand years ago, of the migration that would conquer the world—that is not only conceivable, but even proof that my train of thought is correct.

   “It also proves, however, that our struggle and our mission, which only we regard as the struggle and mission for Germany, is perceived by worldwide Jewry as if it were directed against its totality—against the Jews as such.  Therefore, wherever they wield power, they will use it to paralyze and prevent our work.

    “That is why no nation would take in the Jews as a whole if they were to be expelled from Germany, nor would the Jews agree to a Jewish state in the sense of a concentration of the entire Israelite tribe.  For in so doing, they would be betraying their faith in the promise; they would be giving up the struggle, at the very moment when they thought they had, in fact, won it.”

     “It is quite certain,” Hess said, “that we will have the entire Jew-dominated world against us if we simply throw the Jews out of Germany. This they cannot accept, because of the consequences. For in such a case, another nation will do the same, and others will follow in their turn.”

     “We have already reached that point,” Hitler resumed, “when we established the party program.  And to this day, I have been unable to find a better solution than the one we foresaw at that time.

     We must be very clear about the fact that we cannot remove the Jew as such.  Rather, we must make it impossible for parasites to exist; we must prevent them from continuing to gain a foothold on the body of our Volk, from infusing poison into that body or attempting to gain power over it.  At that point, the Jews will leave Germany of their own accord.  For when it becomes impossible for a parasite to live its parasitic existence in a certain place, it wanders off elsewhere, where conditions are more favorable to it, or it perishes.”

    “I truly believe,” I agreed, “that this is the only possible way to achieve our goal.” [“I” is Otto Wegener]

    “But it seems to me that the solution of the social question as we conceive it, and as I would like to bring to fruition and to success in my social economy, also contributes to the possibility of removing this parasitism.”

     “This is contradicted,” Hess interposed, “by the fact that the socialist movements all over the world are run precisely by Jews and were founded by them.”

     “No,” Hitler said.  “That is not a contradiction. The error of the economic order until now, and the error that exists in the general concept of the monetary system, has long been discovered by a few clever Jews, perhaps without their finding a solution.   And the industrialization of the economy and its world-wide expansion will bring it all the more into view—that, too, they have understood.  Therefore they could not help but fear that in time the world will come to the realization that the existing order must be changed—which will certainly also narrow their chances for parasitism, if it does not obliterate them.”

   “ …The Jew’s parasite brain works quickly with its sixth sense. It thinks: if I can no longer engage in my parasitism in its previous form, then I must simply look for some opportunity in the new, in the coming form.  Until now, it was my highest aim to gain power over the state in order to secure my domination and my way of life.  Now, if new forms of government develop, we must simply try to seize power in the newly formed state.  Since the new form will be brought about by revolution and the industrialization of the subjugated working masses, it will be simplest to start by assuming leadership during the revolution.  Then we will be able to use the revolution to bring about, by straightforward means, both the new state and our new domination: the state of the working masses, whom we command and which we rule!

    “It is hard for me to believe the Jew so purposeful and intellectually superior that he actually submitted these considerations so systematically in the councils of the Elders of Zion; that from the first he thought them through in the way just elaborated—that would be uncanny. But his sixth sense guides him instinctively and unconsciously along the correct path, where, admittedly, consciousness has long since come to him.”

   “But then you are dealing with two different methods of the Jews, which must oppose each other and are actually mutually exclusive,” I objected.

    “As long as the Jews use them,” Hitler explained, “they will not hamper each other.  A crow does not scratch out another crow’s eyes.  But if we, for example, wanted to implement such a social economy and establish a state along those lines, resembling the dictatorship of the proletariat, as they call it so splendidly, then you’d be surprised how both groups would pounce on us, the liberalist parasites who employ the methods of the past as well as the Marxist-Bolshevik parasites who practice the new method.  And since they have a firm grip on their populations, although they make up only two to five percent of their number, they will sic these people on us! For now we are dangerous to both: to the one group because we want to free ourselves from them, and to the other because our social economy once again cuts the ground from under them.

   “That is why I am still not at all clear about this social economy. Not that I think it wrong. On the contrary! I’ve already told you as much. But I ask myself whether it is expedient to burden oneself with two enemies at once.  And that is a political consideration.

    “Which is the more dangerous enemy—I mean, the one that threatens us most immediately? Without a doubt it is Bolshevism—we can safely call it Jewish Bolshevism. For if it were not Jewish, it could be given a different format.  In that case, we might even be able to come to terms with it at some later date. But we will never be able to come to terms with Jewish Bolshevism without signing our own death warrant.

“Once we have recognized it as the primary enemy, however, we must avoid rousing the remaining Jews in the world against us until the Bolshevik danger has been removed.  That is why we may not expel the Jews who live in Germany, we may not expropriate their goods, we may not harm a hair on their heads; and that is why we may not go public with our social economy and other problems and plans, with which we would rouse liberalistic world Jewry and the entire liberalistic world against us.  Rather, we must live peacefully with them!  We can keep liberalism in check—indeed we must do so—but it must be done very cautiously, sensibly, with economic expediency. And when we arrive at systematic economic control through the state, which is the problem everyone else is fiddling with, we must manage it in such a way that private property also survives for economic transactions and that private initiative is harnessed for our program.

    “This by no means signifies that we must relinquish or even betray our socialist aims.  The aims remain firm and unshaken.  But the means must be chosen and executed according to the dictates of reason and expediency.” [2]

      Christian antisemitism was conditional: Jews could overcome their badness by conversion to Christianity; whereas in the credo of scientific racism, Jews were genetically unconvertible: stiff-necks were a changeless feature of the national character.  According to Raul Hilberg, the Claude Lanzmann film Shoah, and the public television documentary The Longest Hatred, Christian antisemitism provided the chief precedent for scientific racism, Hitlerian scapegoating, and the toleration of the Holocaust by the Western powers.  The continuing salience of Christian antisemitism must not be ignored.  Whatever it says about complicity or indifference to the fact of the Holocaust on the part of millions of Europeans and Americans, however, this explanation does ignore the actual views of Hitler and his chosen antecedents.  Why should this be?  I would argue that Hitler’s economic response to the Depression may not resemble the carefully equilibrated welfare state created by American conservative reformers before and after the war. While denouncing racism, the leading writers have not relinquished a  pre-existent racialist discourse.

      Ruth Benedict’s Race and Racism (1942) was a warning meant for the upstart capitalists to the Right of the paternalistic New Dealers.  While at first the cultural anthropologist describes scientific racism in “the Third Reich…[as] following a long series of precedents in European anti-Semitism,” Benedict switches.  First she presents a materialist account of antisemitism as false consciousness diverting German workers from the source of their worsening condition: Hitler’s “armament program [which] cut consumer’s goods and increased hours of work and lowered real wages.”  But then she calls for more “social responsibility” with its corporatist, fascist-sounding solution:  “A democratic state, when it lives up to its minimum definition at all, is the one institution that represents all parts of the body politic.  It can propose for itself [sic] programmes which will eventually benefit the whole body.”  I.e., if the American Scrooge did not adopt the reformist tactics of the corporatist liberals, he could expect Nazi-type populist demagoguery directed against the stony-hearted, hyper-individualistic [Jewishly avaricious] bourgeoisie resisting “the regulation of industry,” hence intensifying “racial persecution.”

      Ironically, this type of historical explanation assigns responsibility for Hitler’s rise to power to his self-designated Other: brutal nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberalism.  Hitler’s völkisch populist politics and dreams of autarky, however, cannot be conflated with liberalism.  I am not saying that Benedict deliberately does that in her publication of 1942; later centrist or Popular Front ideologues  [3] have constantly likened fascists, however, to McCarthy-ite “fascist Republicans” or “big business” or “Wall Street” or “monopoly capital” or “heavy industry” or “Zionists” or the National Association of Manufacturers in order to distance Hitler from other bureaucratic collectivists (i.e., themselves) intervening in collapsing economies during the interwar period. [4]

      Nor was Hitler in any sense Christian, though many of his most ardent Protestant supporters were.  George Allen Morgan was a philosophy professor at Duke University; in the early 1950s a member of the Psychology Strategy Board of the National Security Council.  In a prestigious publication, What Nietzsche Means (Harvard U.P., 1941), Morgan clearly reformulated cultural conflict in the radical thought of Hitler’s immediate predecessors.  Which is not to say that Morgan made the connection; rather, Morgan and his admirers joyfully defended Nietzsche, and, probably like Jung in 1946, took Hitler for a materialist guttersnipe for whom Nietzsche was the antidote.  To nineteenth-century élite social theorists, Morgan wrote, the relevant antithesis was no longer Christian and Jew, but the sternly ascetic “moderate” pagan culture of aristocracy versus the sentimental bourgeois culture of Jews/Christians that ever incited slave rebellions and destroyed genius–the individuality of the displaced aristocrats.  Crucially, Heraclitean cultural relativism sought to delegitimate the universalist epistemology of science: “diversity” was deployed against Jewish-Christian notions of equality.  Indeed, in the Table Talk Hitler clearly specifies his pagan sentiments: Christ was good because he was an Aryan, not the good Jew he appeared to be; rather, he was destroyed by gold-worshipping Jewish materialists for his anti-capitalist revolutionary activity; Paul and his Christian successors were all levelling bad Jews.  Why?  Because they sentimentally defied the aristocratic principle in nature and protected the weak; for Hitler, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche were the world’s greatest philosophers.[5]  Morgan’s picture is consistent with the evidence I have seen; it does not jibe with the image of Hitler, the maven of sentimental mass culture, as both “Left” and “Right” factions in the American culture wars of the late 1980s and 90s would have it.[6]

      A second and related explanation holds that the Nazis were irrational because they attacked Good Jews (the assimilated German Jews) and/or confused capitalists with communists.[7]  If we could only get rid of such irrational antisemitism, these numerous social theorists may be saying, class envy would disappear.  According to Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, “A common mistake…is to attribute the existence of antisemitism to the antisemite’s jealousy of Jews’ economic success, instead of recognizing that the economic jealousy is a consequence of an already existing antipathy towards Jews.”[8] Here is the Harvard line: prejudice creates (correctable) class conflict. Similarly, cultural anthropologists like Gregory Bateson, Ruth Benedict, and Klaus Theweleit concentrate on “types” fruitfully quivering in bipolar allegiance/tension.[9]  As Parsonian functionalists they were responding to left-wing social democratic arguments:  that industrial capitalism creates the material conditions and class agency for democratic reform; thus capitalism and socialism are not Hegelian “opposites” or antitheses; rather the rationalist reform movements, led by the most educated and advanced members of the working class, could progressively realize the unfinished libertarian project of the radical bourgeoisie: privileges and pleasures hitherto reserved for the leisured class could be available to all in a context of material abundance or sufficiency.  This is of course was the socialist theory of the pre-Lenin European Left, the Second International, not the bleak ascetic vision promulgated by many Leninists, radical Catholic corporatists and deep ecologists.[10]  When fascists saw materialist capitalism and materialist communism as closely related, they were often merely following assumptions of other Europeans, from the Left and Right alike.  But there were popular conspiracy theories as well, theories that rely upon “the switch.”

      The refusal to examine class position and allegiance in ourselves and in our objects of critical inquiry has created the cuckoo-land of the postwar period.  Take the psychoanalytic theory of ambivalence, as we shall see, a central issue in Hitler’s psychobiography.  Although (as psychiatrists) functionalists will recognize “ambivalence” it is usually conceived as a static push-pull of love-hate, Eros-Thanatos, or action-passivity originating solely in the family, that is, in the play of innate conflicting instincts, not as an historically specific dilemma in which one may, like Hitler, be forced to please social classes that may be at odds with each other; or as other rebellious petit-bourgeois intellectuals, be torn between pleasing oneself and one’s patrons.  That is, the artist may identify with the fully observant, fully feeling [Romantic Wandering Jew] then disavow and demolish the family-shattering perceptions (perhaps attached to angry fantasies) that have briefly been experienced and which have destroyed (in fantasy) the good parent who pays the rent.  Nor do the functionalists address the concrete content and “plausibility” of such “histories” as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in which the communists are purveyors of false utopias, secretly in the pay of finance capitalists, who, controlling the media, mass desire, and the money supply, can make the masses rise at will (no conflict there!); nor do they examine the ongoing prestige of antidemocratic narratives–the linked cautionary myths of selfish (Jewish) Narcissus and over-reaching (Jewish) Icarus; nor the omnipresence of racial (i.e.,cultural) explanations for historical change, with history itself stigmatized as typical Jewish “reduction of religion.”[11]

      Alan Bullock (1991) emphasizes Hitler’s “twisted” antisemitism (madly confusing capitalist and communist, loathing miscegenation); but Bullock erases the tricky Jewish switch from emancipating communist to enslaving finance capitalist delineated in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which Hitler had read, believed, and promoted.[12]  Lord Bullock fortifies instead his construction of a crazy Hitler (earlier identified as narcissistic failed romantic artist produced by “the countryside,”7-8, 11, 5), while curiously suggesting rational reasons (“internationalism, egalitarianism, and pacifism”) for Hitler’s antimodernism.  Bullock reports Hitler’s views:

 “In international affairs Jewish capitalists sought to divert nations from their true interests and plunge them into wars, gradually establishing their mastery over them with the help of money and propaganda.  At the same time, the Jewish leaders of the international Communist revolution had provided themselves with a world headquarters in Moscow from which to spread subversion internally through propagation of the Marxist parties of internationalism, egalitarianism and pacifism, all of which Hitler identified with the Jews and saw as a threat to Aryan racial values.  [Not to “national communism, anti-capitalist on a world scale”; i.e., natural order? [13]]

[Bullock, cont.]   Turning the argument the other way, anti-Semitism provided Hitler with further justification for Germany to follow a policy of conquering additional living space in the East at the expense of Bolshevik Russia, which Hitler constantly identified with the Jewish world conspiracy.  Not only would this strengthen the racial character of the German people, but it would destroy the base of international Jewry, and cut off the poisonous plant of Marxism at the root.     In Hitler’s twisted cosmological vision, the eternal enemy of the Aryans, the race which possessed the power to create, was the Jew, the embodiment of evil, the agent of racial pollution which had undermined and destroyed one civilization after another…(161).  His was a closed mind impervious to argument or doubt (163).” [14]

      The antifascist ethnopluralists, themselves tied to the “identity politics” that disguise competing material interests as the primary locus of social conflict,[15] ignore the testimony of historical actors. For the Nazis, “class” analysis (of the type offered here) was the poisonous plant of false consciousness: the foregrounding of class antagonisms made the true community of interest within the racial group invisible; thus, as their argument runs, the Protocols would make sense.  For instance, Alfred Rosenberg complained that Italian Fascists were blind to the hidden connections between finance capital and Marxism, were oblivious to the racial brilliance of switching Jews in adapting to novel situations and manipulating them toward the goal of world domination, i.e., the defeat of the völkisch, participatory politics the Nazis would initiate:

  [From Alfred Rosenberg, “The Folkish Idea of the State”;  unlike the Italian Fascists, National Socialists are not duped by Jews:] “Fascism still lacks the insight to see that international private and stock-exchange capitalism, against which Fascism has not begun to fight, was and is the very same element which pays for Marxist propaganda throughout the world, that a community of interest between Marxism and international loan capital existed and still exists–namely, to make the national industries which are tied to the soil dependent on mobile loan capital.  And Fascism has not yet comprehended that this community of interest is symbolized by the fact that the leadership of one as well as the other power finds itself almost exclusively in the hands of the Jewish race or of a few personalities compliant to Jewish money.  The danger for Fascism in Italy consists of the fact that it won a great victory, thanks to one personality, but does not yet represent such a strong ideological system that one could hope it would survive the death of Mussolini.  That danger already exists today that Jewish stock-exchange capitalism naturally takes into consideration the new force as such, and in the realization that it cannot be fought against directly, approaches Fascism as a false friend.

[Rosenberg, cont.] …The internationalism of the Jewish world stock exchange, in league with world revolution, stands today at the highest point of its power.  And yet this internationalism is already fighting for its existence, for its strongest opponent–still invisible in many states, in some already under way, fully developed in National Socialism–is growing.  And the world political task of National Socialism consists of knocking one state after the other out of the world-political power system of today, and in the end, leaving no people under international management, but only a series of organic, folkish state systems on a racial basis.”   [16] 

    Rosenberg’s populist fascism opposes the duplicitous tactic of “the rabbis” (quoted above) whose deployment of intellectual pluralism and combat only confuses the masses, subjecting them to the demagoguery that will destroy normal racial solidarity and independence for the pernicious internationalism that is always, at bottom, a ruse for the rule of money.  Rosenberg, a national socialist, knows exactly what the competition is offering; he is neither confused nor inconsistent, given his racialist assumptions.  Bankers are the enemy and the word banker is “raced” as Jewish and bankers are opposed in interest to “national industries…tied to the soil.”

      A third explanation sees Nazism as bourgeois decadence.  Popular among nativist radicals, it brings out the latent antisemitism in some New Leftists and in counter-culture anti-imperialism.  Both the Soviets and American crypto-Tories have made Hitler (the consummate anti-bourgeois, anti-sentimentalist!) into a product of disintegrating capitalism and sentimental bourgeois culture.  They and similar thinkers have conflated American puritans/Jews and Nazis, functionally equating “genocides,” in this case, the extermination of European Jews, the American Indians, American blacks, the Vietnamese, etc.  Harvard professor F.O. Matthiessen, “a Christian and a Socialist,”identified Melville’s Ahab, a prototypical American, with the alleged savagery of the Hebrew prophets (1941, 1948).[17]  Also centered at Harvard were the Walter Langer team, authors of The Mind of Adolf Hitler, originally a 1943 report for the OSS but revised for publication in 1972 to diagnose hippie-fascists.  Langer, aided anonymously by Henry A. Murray, Ernst Kris, and Bertram Lewin, attempted to account for his subject’s “ambitiousness” and “extraordinary political intuition” (atypical of a “basically illiterate peasant family”); Langer and Murray actually gave credence to rumors that Hitler carried Jewish blood: Langer reported that Hitler’s grandmother might have been a servant in the home of the Baron Rothschild; Murray was impressed by a Jewish godfather to Hitler;[18] what’s more Hitler’s brilliant (Jewish) insights into the minds and hearts of the little men (the class base of fascism for the CIA and other moderates during the 1950s) should be adapted by American mind-managers.  Here are more excerpts from the declassified Murray report to FDR, 1943: 

 [The following diagnosis of Hitler’s condition was prepared by W.H.D. Vernon, under the supervision of Murray and Gordon Allport, all Harvard men:] “ Now it is known that syphilophobia often has its roots in the childhood discovery of the nature of sexual congress between the parents.  With a father who was an illegitimate and possibly of Jewish origin, and a strong mother fixation, such a discovery by the child Adolf may well have laid the basis of the syphilophobia which some adventure with a Jewish prostitute in Vienna fanned to a full flame. [fn: “This is mere conjecture and must be treated as such. But it is the sort of explanation which fits known psychological facts”]…Hitler’s personality structure, though falling within the normal range, may now be described as of the paranoid type with delusions of persecution and of grandeur.  This stems from sado-masochistic splits in his personality…Just as the father is the cause of his mixed blood, the source of his domination and punishment, and of the restrictions of his own artistic development; just as in the childish interpretation of sexual congress, the father attacks, strangles, and infects the mother, so the Jew, international Jewish capital, etc., encircle and restrict Germany, threaten and attack her and infect her with impurities of blood…But the mother is not only loved but hated.  For she is weak, besides he is enslaved to her affections and she reminds him all too much, in his role as dominant father, of his own gentle sensitive nature.  So, though he depends on the German people for his position of dominance, he despises and hates them, he dominates them, and because he fears his very love of them, he leads them into the destructiveness of war where multitudes of them are destroyed.  Besides, the Jewish element in his father identification permits him to use all the so-called “Jewish” tricks of deceit, lying, violence, and sudden attack both to subject the German people as well as their foes (78-80).”

 [Henry Murray: Hitler’s “revengeful dominance” is “a counteraction to insulted narcism” presumably inflicted by his (possibly half-Jewish) father:] “…Knowing something of the character of Alois Hitler, we can safely infer experiences of abasement and humiliation suffered by the son….(196)…Since many of the prominent positions in Vienna were held by Jews, some of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, as well as his hatred of Vienna, can be attributed to humiliations received from the upper classes during these years…(199)  [The “determinants” of Hitler’s antisemitism:]…3. The suitability of the Jew as an object on which to project his own repudiated background and traits: his Jewish god-father (and possibly his Jewish grandfather), his physical timidity and sensitiveness, his polymorphous sexual impulses…5. The realization, after having once embarked on the road to militarism, that the stirred-up aggression of his followers needed some outlet…7. In building his military machine the anti-militaristic Jewish people could not be of much help to him.  At bottom, Fascism is the advocacy of the aggressive drive over and above the acquisitive drive (with which the Jew has generally been identified), and, by the same token, it is the substitution of Power and Glory for Peace and Prosperity, a materialistic paradise on earth (with which Communism and the Jew have also been identified).  Finally, the Nazi doctrine of fanatical irrationality (thinking with the blood) is antipathetic to the intellectual relativism of the Jew.  Thus there are several fundamental points of opposition (as well as certain points of kinship) [where?!! C.S.] between Nazi ideology and Jewish ideology (207-209).

 [Murray, cont.]  Hitler has a number of unusual abilities of which his opponents should not be ignorant.  Not only is it important to justly appraise the strength of an enemy but it is well to know whether or not he possesses capacities and techniques which can be appropriated to good advantage.  Hitler’s chief abilities, realizations, and principles of action as a political figure, all of which involve an uncanny knowledge of the psychology of the average man, are briefly these: [21 items follow, including:]…Heiden speaks of “Hitler’s frequently noted incapacity to impose his will in a small circle, and his consummate skill in winning over a crowd prepared by publicity and stage management, and then, with its aid, vanquishing the small circle, too” (211).

     So what is this “Jew”?  Brutal/humiliating/hypermasculine or timid and gay?  Or both, as in Jewish switching, a.k.a. “sudden attack”/”intellectual relativism”?  Not surprisingly, Hebraic types (for Murray, Melville as Ahab) were deplorable to the crypto-Tories/New Dealers, because, after instructing guileless WASPS in mind-control, they turn around to blast good non-humiliating father-figures, to decode the mythic narratives that alone  confer national unity or group solidarity in a pluralist society.[19] 

       The writing of George L. Mosse, distinguished mentor to a generation of New Left cultural historians at the University of Wisconsin, similarly transmits the ambivalence of the moderate conservatives.    Mosse’s investigations into the sources of Nazi culture address modernization theory and develop a utopian, mass political lineage for Nazism.[20]  What were the Nazis: moderns, antimoderns, or a distinctive, confusing new blend of both?  In answer to my letter requesting a clarification of his influential formulations, Mosse replied that he once believed “National Socialism was largely a critique of modernity,” a view he has since revised: “…I think it was part of a protest of modernization…I would say that National Socialism masked modernity even as they were furthering it.” [21] Mosse seems to be saying that, on second thought, the Nazis were cunning and dishonest in their goals.  I wonder if Mosse’s “switch” overrelies on a definition of modernity as the advent of industrialization, not the institutionalization of civil liberties in the state; the unintended effect is to relativize Nazi brutality and level distinctions between autocratic and democratic bourgeois societies, a difference Mosse is elsewhere careful to maintain, cautioning me that I could “certainly compare völkisch movements to American conservatism,” but not “Nazi Germany to the United States.”  He does not say which American conservatives he thinks are völkisch; probably the right-wing populists, not the (élite) ethnopluralists!  Mosse went on to distance himself from analyses like my own that discern analogies between the world-views of ethnopluralism (identity politics) and national socialism.  He wrote, “I reject the current controversy over macho multiculturalism or postmodernism having anything whatever to do with Hitler’s psyche.  That seems to me totally unhistorical.”

      The confusions of conservative Enlightenment permeate Mosse’s writing when he is not in his materialist mood.[22] In The Holy Pretence: A Study in Christianity and Reasons of State from William Perkins to John Winthrop (1968), a book about “emancipation of political action from moral restraint,” Mosse frets that “…the victory of the Dove can lead to unbridled idealism, and the ignoring of secular realities; while the victory of the Serpent means the total acceptance of what the sixteenth century called ‘Machiavellism’” (154).  Mosse lauds the Baroque synthesis that prudently balanced the Serpent and the Dove so that “neither obliterates the other.”  The realism of the secular world was not achieved through science and libertarian ideas, he argues, but through wise adjustments in religion itself (152) [cf. Dumont, 1977].

      The leftward trajectory of the Reformation is an ongoing concern for anyone who analyzes propaganda and fascism.  Writing seven years later in The Nationalization of the Masses (1975), Mosse makes the crucial point that the modern intellectual constantly historicizes and demystifies symbolic discourses; this habit militates against the maintenance of a stable national identity expressed through symbols.[23]  When inside the anti-materialist Aristotelian civic humanist tradition, Mosse will not turn around and demystify “moderate” mind-managers in the West, the followers of Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons.  Given his reputation among New Leftists and other antifascists, Mosse has presented a disturbingly inaccurate synthesis for the intellectual origins of fascist brutality in his “General Theory of Fascism.”[24]  Arguing against the “stereotype” that fascism is a reaction to liberalism and socialism (1), Mosse claims throughout that fascism (Nazism more than Italian fascism) selectively appropriated and, through its control of mass media, put a corporatist spin on Western ideals (5, 14, 17-19).  Hitler and Mussolini are carefully separated; Hitler came out of the jacobin antipluralist, antiparliamentary tradition of mass politics and popular culture (the repulsive part of the West); the more pluralist Mussolini allowed new and old élites to co-exist because he respected aristocratic culture and tradition; this aristocratic culture embraced the German idealism that Mosse suggests was foreign to Nazis (3, 10, 28, 33, 35).  Fascist violence originated in the brutality and camaraderie of World War I (which Mosse blurs with youth and the mobs of the French Revolution, aka Napoleon, “Romantic Nationalism,” “popular sovereignty” and “workers movements,” even “middle-class virtues”), not the medievalism of the aristocracy (4, 6, 9, 10, 17-19, 21, 25, 31, 37, 38).  There was no counter-revolution and no civil war; weak bourgeois institutions simply collapsed, and Hitler and Mussolini presented themselves to fill the void.  Conservatives left the Nazi government after six months (19).

      Mosse is politically allied to the pluralists and pragmatists of the moderate center (many of whom were intrigued with Italian Fascism during the 1930s) and who have abandoned the open-ended processes and unpredictable outcomes of liberal nationalism, instead redefining American nationality on the basis of a mosaic of rooted ethnic groups; i.e., they are ready to play ball inside the fences erected by élites.  With intellectuals like Talcott Parsons and Henry A. Murray, the moderate nationalists have recommended that the state rely on the manipulation of symbols to enforce “integration” and “national unity” while simultaneously denouncing the tyrannical animal called mass politics!

     Of course, as Mosse also realized, one problem with the formulation of a clear-cut Nazi radical conservatism or reaction [25] was Hitler’s desire to bring railroads, improved tools, and “welcoming farms” to central Europe; and, like other eugenicists, Hitler believed he was scientific, critical, and independent, following the truth wherever it might lead.  No less than the Burkean conservatives (including “socialists” like Karl Pearson, then the Fabians), the weaving, quilting Hitler wanted modernity and progress without the loss of a stable national/ethnic identity: capitalism without tears, slavery without guilt.  Sentimental Christians and Jews were de trop.

 [Hitler, Table-Talk, Oct. 15, 1941:]  Inflation is not caused by increasing the fiduciary circulation.  It begins on the day when the purchaser is obliged to pay, for the same goods, at higher sum than that asked the day before.  At that point, one must intervene.  Even to Schacht, I had to begin by explaining this elementary truth: that the essential cause of the stability of our currency was to be sought for in our concentration camps.  The currency remains stable when the speculators are put under lock and key.  I also had to make Schacht understand that excess profits must be removed from economic circulation….All these things are simple and natural.  The only thing is, one musn’t let the Jew stick his nose in.  The basis of Jewish commercial policy is to make matters incomprehensible for a normal brain.  People go into ecstasies of confidence before the science of the great economists.  Anyone who doesn’t understand is taxed with ignorance!  At bottom, the only object of all these notions is to throw everything into confusion (65-66).

 [Hitler, Nov. 5, 1941:]  The Jew is the incarnation of egoism…The Jew has talent for bringing confusion into the simplest matters, for getting everything muddled up…The Jew makes use of words to stultify his neighbors. And that’s why people make them professors….

     If the Jew weren’t kept presentable by the Aryan, he’d be so dirty he couldn’t open his eyes.  We can live without the Jews, but they couldn’t live without us.  When the European realizes that, they’ll all become simultaneously aware of the solidarity that binds them together.  The Jew prevents this solidarity.  The Jew owes his livelihood to the fact that this solidarity does not exist (119-120).

[Hitler, Feb. 3-4, 1942; Hitler identifies with heretics; Jews have instigated the “collective madness” of witch hunts carried out by organized Christianity:]  A Jew was discovered to whom it occurred that if one presented abstruse ideas to non-Jews, the more abstruse these ideas were, the more the non-Jews would rack their brains to try to understand them.  The fact of having their attention fixed on what does not exist must make them blind to what exists.  An excellent calculation on the Jew’s part.  So the Jew smacks his thighs to see how his diabolic strategem has succeeded.  He bears in mind that if his victims suddenly became aware of these things, all Jews would be exterminated.  But, this time, the Jews will disappear from Europe.

     The world will breathe freely and recover its sense of joy, when this weight is no longer crushing its shoulders (288).


                [1] See fn. below, Nazi Ideology Before 1933.

               [2] Henry A. Turner, Jr. ed. Hitler—Memoirs of a Confidant (Yale UP, 1985): 69-72. Otto Wagener “was a prominent oficial in the Nazi Party with close ties to Adolf Hitler from the autumn of 1929 until the summer of 1933. Wagener served as chief of staff for the storm troop auxiliary, the S.A.; headed the  Economic Policy Section of the party’s national executive (Reichsleitung); worked on special assignment for Hitler in Berlin; headed the party’s Economic Policy Office during the early months of the Third Reich; and briefly served as commissar for the economy.” [ix]

                [3] See the writings of Nation editor Cary McWilliams or the speeches of Michael Parenti.

                [4] Though he distances himself from Marxist explanations for Nazism/fascism as the rule of monopoly capital, Ian Kershaw does see entrepreneurship as a prominent value of Nazism. See The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives, Fourth edition (London: Arnold, 2000): 67. “The mammoth profits of the major concerns were no incidental by-product of Nazism, whose philosophy was closely tied in with provision of a free hand for private industry and eulogization of the entrepreneurial spirit.”

                [5] Table Talk, May 16, 1944, 720; but Hitler also admired Uncle Tom’s Cabin!  Could it be because the freed slaves were to be repatriated in Africa?

              [6] [From my letter to an historian of madness:] I’ve started to read the short book on Hitler and power by Ian Kershaw, and was fascinated to see that he follows a Weberian model of the charismatic leader casting a spell on the nationalized masses, and notes, without explanation, that Hitler sees everything in black and white, vulgarly simplifying complex historical events…And there is not a word about German Romanticism, or Herder, and only unexplained mentions of the volkisch Right. Hitler is treated as the man of the mob, its embodiment even, an outsider and autodidact. So for these conservative writers (like Kershaw), Hitler is fascinating as the encapsulated horror of five centuries of lower-class hubris. And the lower orders really are outsiders to the empyrean realms of traditional elites, are they not? 

                [7] For examples of German irrationality in confusing capitalists and communists, See J.P. Stern, Hitler: The Fuehrer and the People (U.C. Press,1975): 80; Arno Mayer, Why Did The Heavens Not Darken? (Pantheon, 1988): 92; Jeffrey Alexander and Chaim Seidler-Feller, “False Distinctions and Double Standards: The Anatomy of Antisemitism at UCLA,” Tikkun, Jan-Feb 1992, 12-14.  For the latter, genocide was waged initially against assimilated German Jews; it was not about class, rather “nonrational, psychological, and symbolic causes were more important causes of antisemitism than many had once believed.”  The crazy German explanation permeates New Left culture, see Ellen Willis’ well-known article on the myth of the powerful Jew, Village Voice, 9/3/79.  The oddness of the Germans in confusing capitalists and communists seems to be taken for granted by nearly every Jewish scholar I have consulted. See also Louis Harap, who applies the same formula to the Populists: “For Donnelly, the Jews were the preternaturally clever men who were both the money power and the brains of the revolutionary resistance to that power. (This was an example of the polar stereotyping that was to become more common in the twentieth century, culminating in the canard that the Jews were not only the banker- capitalists who were impoverishing the people, but also the leaders of the Bolsheviks, who were leading man into a subhuman state.” Louis Harap, The Image of the Jew in American Literature (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1974), 428. But evangelical Catholics in the 1930s were attacking materialistic civilizations (i.e., rational, secular society): Capitalism and Bolshevism had similarly elevated “natural man.”

     More recently, Saul Friedländer creates a set of opposites that are not antitheses: Referring both to rhetorical strategies in both Mein Kampf and the film The Eternal Jew, and noting that “images of superhuman control typically gives way to the second one, subhuman threats of contamination, microbial infection, spreading pestilence,” he writes, “Images of superhuman power and subhuman pestilence are contrary representations, but Hitler attributed both to one and the same being, as if an endlessly changing and endlessly mimetic force had launched a constantly shifting offensive against humanity.

“Many of the images, not only in Hitler’s vision of the Jew but also in Nazi anti-Semitism generally, seem to converge in such constant transformations. These images are the undistorted echo of past representations of the Jew as endlessly changing and endlessly the same, a living dead, either a ghostly wanderer or a ghostly ghetto inhabitant. Thus the all-pervasive Jewish threat becomes in fact formless and unrepresentable; as such it leads to the most frightening phantasm of all: a threat that looms everywhere, that, although it penetrates everything, is an invisible carrier of death, like poison gas spreading over the battlefields of the Great War.” In Nazi Germany and the Jews Volume 1, The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 (New York:  HarperCollins, 1997): 101-102. Friedländer begins the quoted paragraph by criticizing Hitler’s view of the Jewish conspiracy as implying “a stupefied, hypnotized mass of peoples completely at the mercy of the Jewish conspiracy,” but is he offering a similarly irrationalist explanation as “in fact formless and unrepresentable”? Although Friedländer describes “The Eternal Jew” exhibition of 1937 (p.253-54), an exhibition that presented “racially typical” images of Jews, he does not go on to review the Christian myth of the Wandering Jew (also  der ewige Jude) in all its variants; variants that suggest the wandering Jew as having the characteristics of the return of the repressed; i.e., the facts of the material world that cannot be successfully repressed, but that return in distorted and threatening forms that must be controlled or eliminated for the sake of social harmony.

                [8] Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Executioners, p.40. Cf. Ivan Illich, KPFK broadcast with Jerry Brown, April 5, 1996.  Class societies beset by political conflict (hence structurally discouraging friendship) arise from the artificial manipulation of needs and desires in the modern world.  Overstimulating music (whatever departed from quieting Gregorian chants) have contributed to [anomie].  Illich participates in the ongoing luxury debate, argued against materialism and on behalf of politeia.

                [9] See Gregory Bateson, “Morale and National Character,” Civilian Morale, Second Yearbook of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, ed. Goodwin Watson (Reynal and Hitchcock, 1942): 71-91; Ruth Benedict, Race and Racism, 1942, 163: “If we are to make good use of the great powers of education in combating racism, two goals should be kept clearly distinct.  On the one hand, it is desirable to teach in the regular social studies the facts of race and of the share of different races in our civilization.  On the other hand, it is necessary to hold up ideals of a functioning democracy; it is necessary to help children to understand the mutual interdependence of different groups; it is necessary to encourage comparison of our social conditions with conditions that are better than ours as well as with those that are worse.”  Of course, the idea that race yields other than superficial physical differences is denied throughout, so why is she so insistent on maintaining race as an analytic category?  Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies: Psychoanalyzing the White Terror (Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1989) takes the same “moderate” position, defining its gentle, poetic, pacifist, fragment-loving antifascism against totalitarianism: both militarist (armored) Right and bourgeois scientific hyper-intellectual (armored) Left (including Marx and Freud).  Unlike these avowedly feminist theorists, the fascist type loathes the people he mobilizes (this is the conservative view of Hitler as bad Jew).

                [10] Cf. Meinecke, German Catastrophe, 72-73: “Hitler wanted to overtrump the bourgeois, class-egotistical nationalism of his heavy-industry patrons and money providers, and also the Marxism of the Russian bolshevists, which he attacked with special zeal and which wanted to condemn the bourgeoisie to extinction.  He therefore seized upon the idea that the creation of a new fruitful folk community need not rest upon the one-sided victory of the one or the other of the social forces contending against one another–that the natural groupings of society did not have to be unceremoniously destroyed–but that they must be steered around and educated to serve a community which included them all.  Hitler’s undertaking seemed to promise more continuity with the traditions and values of the existing bourgeois culture than the radical new edifice of bolshevism.  With this idea he bribed a wide circle of citizens.  The working class, he intended, should be inspired with the full pride that their productive work merited and thereby lose all their inferiority complexes which sprang from the beginning of the class struggle.  The same fundamental idea of nurturing the special pride of the professional classes and amalgamating them with the all-embracing community was also extended to the peasantry.  There was no lack of specious enticements for all classes–celebrations, festivals, and so forth…[To combat liberalism’s amorphousness, Hitler created] those youth organizations which were expected to give the whole coming generation uniform basic conceptions and at the same time to satisfy the natural impulses of youth.”

                [11] See editorial, “Psycho-analysis and Faith,” Times Literary Supplement, May 27, 1939, 313, quoted in Freud Without Hindsight: Reviews of his Work 1893-1939, ed. Norman Kiell (International Universities Press, 1988): 647-648: “What is perhaps most remarkable about this theory [Moses and Monotheism, that barbaric Europeans are scapegoating Jews because they (Nazis) are really anti-Christian] is that it is peculiarly Jewish in its reduction of religion to the plane of history, though this plane is conceived with a new comprehensiveness.  But unlike the similar attempt of another great and influential Jewish thinker, Karl Marx, Freud’s is based on the conviction that Jewish monotheism, and its creative development into Christianity, are definitely in the main line of human progress.”

                [12] See Norman Cohn, Warrant For Genocide (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968).  Cf. my account of the Protocols with Leonard Dinnerstein, “Antisemitism in Crisis Times in the United States,” Anti-semitism In Times of Crisis, ed. Sander L. Gilman and Steven T. Katz (N.Y.: N.Y.U. Press, 1991): 216.  “According to the “Protocols” Jews had an affinity for Bolshevism, manipulated economic and political power, and were determined to undermine the world order.  They allegedly favored alcoholism, spread pornography, subverted Christian principles, and would no doubt take over American government and society if allowed to do so.”  The Introduction argues that religious antisemitism was secularized: “…the perversity of the Jew’s nature in betraying Christ over and over again (throughout history) becomes the biologically determined quality of the Jew which leads to the Jew’s heartless role in the rise of capitalism (or communism–take your pick)….”  The functionalist authors, themselves wedded to “identity politics,” have erased the particular threat of “Jewish” science and anthropology which found a fluid “identity” in learned experience, not tradition or the acquired instincts of national character.

                [13] See Hitler’s Secret Book (N.Y.: Grove Press, 1961, written 1928): 132, 135: “…present day Russia is anything but an anticapitalist state.  It is, to be sure, a country that has destroyed its own national economy but, neverthless, only in order to give international finance capital the possibility of an absolute control…” p.135: “…we base ourselves [!] on the hope that one day the Jewish character–and thereby the most fundamentally international capitalistic character of Bolshevism in Russia–might disappear in order to make place for a national communism, anti-capitalist on a world scale.  Then this Russia, permeated once more by national tendencies, might very well come up for consideration in terms of an alliance with Germany.” This is a very damaging quote to those who think that Nazism was not a movement of the Left, or who while deploring the right-wing direction of nationalism, make tactical alliances with national liberation movements, no matter how anti-intellectual.

                [14] Alan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (Harper Collins, 1991).  See pages 160-61 for Bullock’s distortion of Hitler’s attitudes toward propaganda as revealed in Mein Kampf, taking his quotes out of context and implying the canard that Hitler cynically and consistently promoted the Big Lie (to bamboozle Germans), rather than fastening such deceptions on the Big Jewish Press and British propaganda during the World War,  but the good father/good teacher Hitler was protecting the masses from the confusion that resulted from ambiguity and uncertainty. ).

                [15] Not only between capital and labor but between producers competing on the market. Whether one is a Marxist or libertarian will affect one’s evaluation of market competition.

                [16] Alfred Rosenberg, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” “The Folkish Idea of the State,” Nazi Ideology before 1933, Introduced and transl. by Barbara Miller Lane and Leila J.Rupp (Austin: University of Texas, 1978): 57, 64-65, 70-71.  These ideas should be compared to David Welch’s reading of the 1934 Nuremburg rally (as presented in Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will) in which Welch ignores Hitler’s obvious attempt to affirm labor unity with the Party after the purge of the S.A.Rohm-Strasser faction, apparently in order (for Welch) to claim the over-riding interest of establishing “the principle of leadership” (i.e., Hitler is the hypnotist lacking a coherent ideology).  However, the theme disclosed in Welch’s evidence is not leadership as domination, but merging/the rebuilding of Germany as a proletarian nation/immortality.  See David Welch, Propaganda and German Cinema 1933-1945  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983): 156-157.  The lines Welch quotes that refute his own argument include “…Corpsmen. ONE PEOPLE, ONE FšHRER, ONE REICH!” ONE.  Today we are all workers together and we are working with iron… SONG. We are true patriots, our country we rebuild.  We did not stand in the trenches amidst the exploding grenades but nevertheless we are soldiers. VARIOUS..down with the Red Front and reaction. ALL. You are not dead, you live in Germany.  HITLER. My comrades, you have now presented yourself to me and the whole German people in this way for the first time.  You are representatives of a great ideal.  We know that for millions of our countrymen work will no longer be a lonely occupation but one that gathers together the whole of our country.  No longer will anybody in Germany consider manual labor as lower than any other kind of work.  The time will come when no German will be able to enter the community of this nation without having first passed through your community.  Remember that not only are the eyes of hundreds of thousands in Nuremberg watching, but the whole of Germany is seeing you for the first time.  You are Germany and I know that Germany will proudly watch its sons marching forward into the glorious future….”

     Cf. the introduction to the screening of Triumph of the Will, on public television, 9/17/92.  Film critic Michael Medved explained that the world’s greatest culture had succumbed to monstrous madness; the thrust of the propaganda was put vaguely as Hitler the Savior’s unification of Germany in response to the S.A. purge, the only source of divisiveness Medved mentioned.  The film was so compelling, he said, that only clips could be shown in Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series.  The issue of Nazi Germany’s pseudo-proletarian identity was entirely evaded by Medved, yet it was the principle theme of the film, with the frequent reiteration of Germany’s classless and casteless new social structure (at the same time legitimating the leadership of the most racially fit fighting minority that had selflessly brought the revolution to this stage).  In fact, the S.A. was not a source of division, but the stronghold of “left” populists who had demanded a völkisch, anticapitalist revolution that would abolish class divisions to restore racial unity; it was always the materialist bourgeoisie, Marxists and Jews who intruded, not the S.A. splitting the country.  I found the two hour film soporific; the claim that it is brilliant and irresistible supports the thesis that Hitler successfully deployed propaganda to put one over on the German people.

                [17] See F.O.Matthiessen, American Renaissance (Oxford U.P., 1941); From The Heart of Europe (Oxford U.P.,1948): 182-183.  See Lord James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Vol.II (N.Y.: Macmillan, 1891): 275-276, 278, 281-82, for a more ambivalent account of American [Chosen People]: “If you ask an intelligent citizen why he so holds [incorrect majorities will be persuaded of the right], he will answer that truth and justice are sure to make their way into the minds and consciences of the majority.  This is deemed an axiom, and the more readily so deemed, because truth is identified with common sense, the quality which the average citizen is most confidently proud of possessing.  This feeling shades off into another, externally like it, but at bottom distrust–the feeling not only that the majority, be it right or wrong, will and must prevail, but that its being the majority proves it to be right.  This feeling appears in the guise sometimes of piety and somtimes of fatalism.  Religious minds hold–you find the idea underlying many books and hear it in many pulpits–that Divine Providence has specially chosen and led the American people to work out a higher type of freedom and civilization than any other state has yet attained, and that this great work will surely be brought to a happy issue by the protecting hand which has so long guided it (276).”

                [18] Walter Langer, The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report (Basic Books, 1972): 102-103. Murray, op.cit.

                [19] Alex Bein (cited above) relies on Alan Bullock and the Langer report in his presentation of Hitler’s personality.  The influence of the crypto-Tories in American Studies is the terrain of my book on the Melville revival.  One of the central debates in American history surfaces in an essay by Barbara J. Fields, “Ideology and Race in American History,” Region, Race and Reconstruction, ed. J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson (N.Y.: Oxford U.P., 1982): 143-177.  This subtly argued essay challenged the New Left/American Studies interpretation of white supremacy (not class conflict) as the motor of American history.

         [20] Compare to Sternhell, Ze’ev. Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, translated by David Meisel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. Pre-fascist ideology in France set the stage for the Vichy Revolution in 1940-41. Revolutionary syndicalism and radical nationalism of the late 19th century were fused in the 1920s and 1930s to create a novel, mass based, youth-inspired revolt against materialism and decadence blamed on liberalism, democracy and reformed Marxism (i.e. social democracy). For the prefascists, the enemy was finance capital and monopoly, seen as Jewish, American and British. The deracinated individual was the source of decadence, and the compensatory discourse was corporatist/communitarian and meant to integrate the proletariat into the nation through a strong planning state, coterminous with the nation. Emphasized family, work (in tradition of medieval guilds), and region. Did not eliminate profit or private property. Neither ideology nor economic crisis alone could have created this revolutionary departure from the principles of 1789; hence the implicit warning to other social democrats: don’t allow economic crisis to develop: this ideology is still extant. Sternhell somewhat plays down the antisemitic, Christian character of the sources of the ideology, though he does not deny it. France was “impregnated” by the ideology of fascism (a revolution of the spirit: modern, aesthetic, and moral, exalting blood and soil, instinct, force, violence, the healthy body, sacrifice, and monkish asceticism, futurism, modern architecture of Le Corbusier, and Freud). The nonconformist journalist politicos in the 1930s penetrated popular culture; only a few of them, however, explicitly embraced nazism and fascism, though they came very close. Henri De Man the principle theorist of an idealist Marxism. (Sternhell does not consider historical materialism to be idealist.)

    This book is directed against Marxist interpretations of fascism as a reaction by monopoly capital to working class militancy in a period of economic crisis. Sternhell thanks A. James Gregor (a self-described fascist and biographer of Mussolini) in the acknowledgments.(vii) and places five of his books in the bibliography. Also Mosse’s General Theory of Fascism, and Masses and Man.

    Sterhell does not explain how Freud could contribute to fascist ideology, given that Freud did not advocate unleashing the instincts, as did Jung, for whom the unconscious, home of the racial ancestry and spirits, was a source of creativity.

                [21] Cf. Erik Levi, Music In The Third Reich (N.Y.: St. Martin’s Press, 1994): 124, commenting on the paradoxical Nazi views of technological progress misted over with anti-industrial romanticism. , a conflict that was apparent in confused music policies.

                [22] See The Crisis of the German Ideology (1962), and Toward The Final Solution (1980).

                [23] George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany From the Napoleonic Wars Through the Third Reich (Howard Fertig, 1975).

                [24] See Mosse, “Introduction: A General Theory of Fascism,” International Fascism, ed. George L. Mosse (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979): 1-41.

                [25] Mosse’s Nazi Culture was criticized by readers as ignoring the role of technology in the Third Reich, he reports.  See also Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967)

August 8, 2009

Hitler, switches, modern art, and more, much more

Wilhelm Trubner, 1877: Combat of the Titans

Here are three pages from my unpublished manuscript that criticizes existing psychoanalytic/social psychological explanations of Hitler’s psyche, using Hitler’s own words about himself as a primary source. I am posting this on the Yankee Doodle Society website as an enticement to read more from this chapter, as the footnotes are lengthy and survey the literature existing at the time I wrote it, in the late 1980s-early 1990s. If viewers here want to see the entire 32 page excerpt from my larger manuscript (tentatively titled Eros and the Middle Manager), please write to me at clarespark@verizon.net or see the last three blogs here: https://clarespark.com/2010/08/14/index-to-blogs-on-hitlers-view-of-the-jewish-mind-2/.  If you have been reading prior blogs here, you will recognize the themes I have tried to develop on the Yankee Doodle Society website, overall an attempt to rescue the radical Enlightenment from the “moderate men” who have co-opted “the Enlightenment” and turned it against “the lower orders.” The sample follows below, and Hitler’s words were taken from his Table Talk (1973) with introductory essay by H. R. Trevor-Roper, and translated by Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens. I challenge the widespread notion that Hitler is best understood as a failed artist. In my view, Hitler views the skeptical, switching, restless Jewish mind with panic, but his fears are also class fears of the squeezed petit bourgeois.

I should add that this and the rest of the ms. was read by Robert Brenner, Frederick Crews(this section only), and the late Roy Porter. I was encouraged by their responses to press on.

[From my manuscript:]

[Hitler, Feb. 3-4, 1942; Hitler identifies with heretics; Jews have instigated the “collective madness” of witch hunts carried out by organized Christianity:] A Jew was discovered to whom it occurred that if one presented abstruse ideas to non-Jews, the more abstruse these ideas were, the more the non-Jews would rack their brains to try to understand them. The fact of having their attention fixed on what does not exist must make them blind to what exists. An excellent calculation on the Jew’s part. So the Jew smacks his thighs to see how his diabolic strategem has succeeded. He bears in mind that if his victims suddenly became aware of these things, all Jews would be exterminated. But, this time, the Jews will disappear from Europe. The world will breathe freely and recover its sense of joy, when this weight is no longer crushing its shoulders (288).

[Hitler, June 13, 1943:] I cannot make up my mind to buy a picture by a French painter, because I am not sure of the dividing line between what I understand and what I do not understand. I have the same feeling when I look at paintings by Corinth and Trübner–to mention only two of our German artists. These men started by painting pictures of great merit, and then, urged on by pride, they started to produce the most startling and extraordinary works. [THE SWITCH] In literature the Jew has already blazed the same pernicious trail, and artists like Corinth and Trübner have followed them. The result is the frightful daubs with which they now inflict us (703-704).

Less is more. Like many critical theorists, George L. Mosse has placed Nazi excess in the tradition of mass politics and youth revolt, i.e., Jacobin democracy and terror. But Hitler’s own writings place him securely in the ranks of the reactionary romantic anticapitalists; he was a typically vulnerable petit-bourgeois, railing against fluctuating money markets, terrified of status loss, and choking off the intellectual curiosity and expression that will cast him into the abyss reserved for lapsed conservative Christians and blue-collars. He wants an enduring structure, a familiar terrain. How many of those who have attempted to analyze him and/or the appeal of national socialism pay attention to his panic in the face of naturalistic romantic art and poetry? As with other neoclassicists, the consequence for Hitler is a deficient vocabulary; he cannot define his situation in concrete, descriptively precise language—words, tones, and gestures that chart the rise and fall of feelings, their switches, subtle interpenetrations and metamorphoses. How might the scientistic social critic (his vocabulary similarly limited insofar as he turns away from the living world to his non-interactive models, ideal types and abstractions) react with phobic intensity to the finely differentiated emotions of everyday life, emotions that he cannot grasp without the words and detail that match the distinctive qualities, nuances and motions of each? Might his own person become the loathsome, super-demanding, ever elusive creature that Hitler disowned as Jewish, the muddling (female) body that even after repeated exterminations inevitably returned to terrorize him again? Might the tasteful planner or architect taken with structural models that may be encompassed at a single glance feel the same? Are there not escapist, mystical, and submissive longings , underneath such “aesthetic” preferences; postures or dreamy states that quiet the rage of seeing, mop up the blood on the floor?
The blurred formulations of Nazi ideology crowding the field of cultural anthropology and cultural history sharply contrast with the clear view of the enemy available in the straightforward writing of Hitler and other National Socialists. They explicitly and plainly oppose independent labor unions, the rootless cosmopolitanism associated with “international finance capital,” liberalism and international socialism, and the universalist ethics and the too-attractive no-holds-barred intellectual procedures associated with science and democracy, all products of the radical Enlightenment and identified with “the International Jew.” Because the idealist social theorists described above are corporatist liberals wedded to the calming closures of Christian eschatology (and unconditional surrender?) their explanations for Nazi antisemitism are marred by the abstractness and vagueness of ideal types and antitheses.

Above all they must carve a clear channel between Hitler and themselves as supporters of FDR and other self-sacrificing good fathers; as bureaucratic collectivists supposed to be different from fascists they necessarily construct Hitler as a creative figure, the failed, unbalanced romantic artist concocting an original, eclectic, incoherent ideology that may not be construed as another case of corporatist liberalism. .

[Harvard social psychologist, Dr. Henry A. Murray to FDR, 1943:] [Hitler] was a compound, say, of Lord Byron and Al Capone (143)…It was not Germany as it was or had been that Hitler represented but rather the ideal social pattern which he wished to impose on the country. Not only during his days of rumination in Vienna but later it was necessary for him to construct an ideology from diverse sources in terms of which he could preach to the people. None of the elements were original with him but some inventiveness was required in developing the precise combination of principles that became the creed of the Nazi Party. Besides this, he was continually preoccupied with inventing means to his goals, which involved a considerable amount of creative thought; thus, to a certain extent, he functioned as a creative artist and certainly conceived of himself as such (178-179).

The only switch visible to the moderate men is the metamorphosis of extreme nationalism to antisemitism and xenophobia, a change that “moderate” nationalism resists after social psychologists have cooled it out. In the mass media that have interpreted the Third Reich to millions, the outsider Hitler’s own voice has been presented, perhaps invariably, as a rant in the German language, shadowed by domineering Jewish blood, lapped up by cheering fresh-scrubbed German Aryan women. [end of excerpt from Eros and the Middle Manager]

Lovis Corinth, 1905: Die Jugend des Zeus

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