Nov 132009

The Objectivism Seminar is working through Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s all-too-topical book, The Ominous Parallels. In it, he explores what gave rise to to the fascist, totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany — and analyzes whether and how a fascist, totalitarian regime could emerge here in America.

Our focus this week was Chapter 9, “The Nazi Synthesis” — a reference to what gave the Nazis the ability to seemingly offer everything to everyone. Topics we discussed included:
  • How “The nationalists, at heart, were socialists. The socialists, at heart were nationalists. The Nazis took over the essence of each side in the German debate and proudly offered the synthesis as one unified viewpoint. The syntheses is: national socialism.”
  • This synthesis stressed the basic principles common to all groups and served as an opening to every major segment of the population, reactionary and radical alike. At the same time, the non-Nazi parties limited themselves to a narrower, more specific consituency while alienating the rest of the country.
  • The “Twenty-Five Points” document outlining the Nazi agenda: how it demanded special state action on behalf of virtually every group, with the middle class as its most obvious target of appeal. These are the white-collar workers, small tradesmen, bureaucrats, academics — those ravaged by the war and hit hardest by the hyperinfltion, and who felt pinned between government-protected cartels above and government-supported unions below.
  • How the Nazis offered private deals and/or public promises to virtually every significant group in Germany to broaden their support — all the way down to the spinsters. What enabled the Nazis to offer conflicting messages tailored to appeal to each audience, flattering everyone as uniquely important, soothing concerns about their interests, promising punishment of those they felt pitted against.
  • The one real consistency the Nazis offered was that of supporting and sacrificing to the “public interest” — rejecting the Weimarian mixed economy with its partial freedoms for utter totalitarianism.
  • And much more…

The chapter closes by saying:

The poor hated the rich, the rich hated “the rabble,” the left hated the “bourgeoisie,” the right hated the foreigners, the traditionalists hated the new, and the young hated everything, the adults, the Allies, the West, the Jews, the cities, the “system.”

The Nazis promised every group annihilation, the annihilation of that which it hated. Just as Hitler offered Germany a synthesis of ideas, so, appealing to the nationwide, classwide spasm of seething fury, he offered the voters a synthesis of hatreds. In the end, this combination was what the voters wanted, and chose.

If this sounds interesting, you can listen in on the podcast — just download the session’s MP3 directly, or listen to it with the little player on the right, or subscribe to the podcast series over on the Seminar’s TalkShoe page. And if you have something to ask or add, please do pick up the book and join the discussion! We meet at 8:00pm Mountain on Mondays, for about an hour.
Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha