Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hitler was not a liberal

Reprint of Clobbering Cross Currents
Original post date: Friday, April 29, 2005

One of the things that has fascinated me about Cross Currents is its occasional capacity to rise above the routine moral callousness of hack conservative punditry and attain a level of exquisite depravity normally reserved for villains in James Bond movies.

To wit, the claim by Yaakov Mencken that liberalism begat Hitler: "And none of [these societies and leaders from the past who persecuted Jews], not one, managed to create an era as bloody as the one created by that pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life—Germany, circa 1940."

Pretty sneaky, isn't he? If all you read was Cross Currents, your [nasty remark self-edited] and you'd think that Hitler was a good liberal, a direct result of German liberalism. Why you might even think that Germany, circa 1940, was the "pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life" and not a place where people were frequently shot on the street for no reason.

Unfortunately for Mencken and his anti-liberal slurs, Hitler wasn't a product of "modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life." Nor was his Germany, circa 1940, the pinnacle of anything, save thuggery, murder and supression.

Hitler wasn't liberal or the product of liberalism. He was a backlash against it. True, the world might have avoided Hitler if the German progressives had been stopped (as conservatives of the time may have wished) from transforming corrupt, monarchist Germany into a modern, liberal state, but the rise of Hitler isn't an argument against liberalism anymore than the rise of Islamic terrorism is an argument against Zionism or capitilism.

Anyway, who ultimately buried Hitler? The liberal democracies, of course.

Notable Comment: On the original post Moishe Potemkin wrote: "I'm also not quite sure why-if mistaken ideology isn't such a big deal-the Cross Currents staff is so in love with Roman Catholics, and so vitriolically opposed to Reform Judaism. Other than validating their bigotry against, well, you know who."

Comments:
'Hitler wasn't liberal or the product of liberalism. He was a backlash against it.'

100% true, but the popular culture in Weimar Germany was pretty decadent.

'who ultimately buried Hitler? The liberal democracies'

Not entirely true. The Soviet Union was more responsible for the direct military defeat of the Nazis. The lend lease aid they received from the US was essential to their war effort, as was the refusal of Britain to capitulate (which would have allowed the 1/4 of the German army that was deployed in France to be moved to the east), but the actual blood was mostly shed by the USSR. (Hitler's strategic and tactical incompetance was also a major factor, as was is diversion of military resources to facilitate genocide.)
 
What is more correct is that despite Germany being a liberal, modern society, they still turned out to be bloodthirty savages.

Hitler wansn't liberal of course, but of all genocides in modern history, Germany was the most most advanced, the most cultured, etc.

When 1 million people get killed in Rawanda, it's not such a big surprise.

But when it happens in a modern, western country, it's more suprising to everyone (except for Jews)
 
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That's not an argument against liberalism, though.
 
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