Sep 102009

The Objectivism Seminar just started going 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 1, “The Cause of Nazism.” Topics we discussed included:
  • Hitler’s explanation of the moral philosophy of Nazism, which underlies “the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men.” He contrasted this with egoism/selfishness (which we only found surprising for its forthrightness).
  • The degree to which the German people were aware of the political aims of the Nazi party (the “total state”, a totalitarian regime) when they freely voted the Nazis into power.
  • Terminology: statism, totalitarianism, individualism vs. collectivism, socialism and its relationship to communism and fascism, etc. For the Nazis, socialism was much broader than economics.
  • How property and economic action fare under Marxist/communist treatment vs. fascist/Nazi treatment.
  • Peikoff’s argument that “An evil of such magnitude cannot be a product of superficial factors” (a good number of which he names and dispenses with). And why there is no direct or even approximate causal relationship between any “specific practical crises and the development of Nazism.” (Like losing WWI or a nasty economic depression.)
  • What it means to understand things in terms of fundamentals, and why the tools for doing so are necessarily philosophical.
  • Peikoff’s basic argument that philosophy is the fundamental factor behind the destiny of nations and the course of history.
  • Peikoff’s statement that the science of philosophy had to be destroyed for the horrors of the 20th century to come about.
  • And a lot more…
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 an hour or hour and a half.
Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha