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Old 04-17-2021, 10:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

There’s surely no need for me to write as exhaustive an account on this man as I have on the last; everyone must know who Darwin was, and have a basic idea of his achievements. Hitler, however, seems to have taken some inspiration from his work, presumably the idea of the “survival of the fittest”, and conveniently ignored (not for the first or last time) anything that did not fit in with his worldview. Darwin, for instance, was vehemently opposed to slavery, whereas Hitler wanted to make slaves of anyone considered inferior to the German/Aryan race; Darwin believed all races were or should be equal, Hitler despised other races as being racially weak and subordinate to his own, even considering Slavs and Jews as sub-human. Darwin was mostly an atheist, or at least agnostic, while Hitler at least seemed to believe in the Christian God, though probably concurring with Chamberlain that Jesus could not possibly have been a Jew.

The idea of man originating in Africa would have been abhorrent to Hitler, who believed the true progenitors of the human race to have been Aryan Germans, not black Africans, but he would have agreed with the idea of selective breeding, though where Darwin simply proposed it as something creatures were subject to, Hitler planned to put his own process into place, deliberately eradicating certain “unwelcome” or “unwholesome” or “impure” genes and traits, in an effort to create a race of ubermensch, as postulated by Nietzsche.

Speaking of whom…

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

It appears, to some degree, that Hitler may not be at fault for having taken certain concepts from the writings of the German philosopher, as, though Nietzsche himself was certainly not an anti-Semite nor indeed a fascist, on his death in 1900 his sister Elisbeth, who became the curator of her work, and was herself a prominent German nationalist, rewrote and couched his writing in terms that appealed to and seemed to support the position of the Nazi party, leading to Nietzsche’s work being, for a while, erroneously associated with fascism and Nazism. Hitler would quote from Nietzsche’s works in Mein Kampf, but it seems to be debated how much he actually read of the philosopher’s writings, how much he understood it and how much he agreed with it, versus how much he was able to - like Nietzsche’s unscrupulous sister - twist and mould to his own ends.

In particular, of course, the idea that appealed to him was Nietzsche’s concept of ubermensch, or the overman, though Hitler seems to have taken this far more literally than the philosopher intended, believing that the German people would be, and were, the ubermensch, above all (Deutschland, after all, Uber Alles) and that lesser, inferior races could be considered to be untermensch, or undermen - a concept it appears was not considered in Also Spake Zarathustra, in which Nietzsche discussed the idea. But even if he had to strip away everything else about the concept, in order that it be of use to him, the very kernel lying at the centre of ubermensch could be subverted and wrangled into an idea that there were to be, and according to Hitler’s twisted philosophy, already were, superior beings on the Earth, that they would naturally rise to be the rulers of the world, and that they were, of course, German.

Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931)

Though it would be in no way fair to lump Le Bon in with radical fascists and anti-semitists such as Chamberlain and Lueger, as he seemed to have no inclinations in that direction, nor did he write to support such a position, his theory of the hive-mind that operates when a group of individuals gather and a crowd is formed, shortly thereafter becoming a single entity that acts on its own, spurred on usually by the loudest or most forceful or charismatic voices within it (those who shout “Are we going to take this?” etc or the first one to hurl a bottle, brick or stone) and therefore robbing each person of his own individuality was used by Hitler and the Nazis, perhaps in ways Le Bon had not anticipated, expected or intended. When you know you can control or manipulate a crowd by simply appealing to, or engendering, or waiting for this hive mind to emerge, it’s surely easy to make the crowd do what you want. They can riot, at your direction, or support you, or attack a certain object, agree or disagree with something you want them to agree or disagree with. Knowing how to control the crowd is a powerful weapon, and most people won’t even know they’re being used.

How many of us have considered, in the aftermath of a riot, march, football match, gig or other crowd event, how or why we did the things we did? On a far less violent level, what makes us all sing the lyrics to a song when the singer points the microphone out into the crowd? Or follow his or her directions like puppets? When a protest leader shouts “what do we want?” why do we always respond to a question he or she already has the answer to? Answer would seem to be that it’s not us answering, or singing, or dancing like monkeys: it’s the hive mind which is controlling the crowd.

Hitler wasn’t the only one to use this knowledge: his predecessor and fellow fascist dictator Benito Mussolini did it in Italy, and Lenin wielded the power in Russia to overthrow the Tsarist regime of Nicholas Alexander II.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

Possibly because his hero, Richard Wagner, and indeed Nietzsche both read him, Hitler seems to have been influenced by this German philosopher, even though Schopenhauer claimed that Hitler’s belief in the supremacy of the white man was incorrect, as there was no such thing as a white race.

I may here express my opinion in passing that the white colour of the skin is not natural to man, but that by nature he has a black or brown skin, like our forefathers the Hindus; that consequently a white man has never originally sprung from the womb of nature, and that thus there is no such thing as a white race, much as this is talked of, but every white man is a faded or bleached one. Forced into the strange world, where he only exists like an exotic plant, and like this requires in winter the hothouse, in the course of thousands of years man became white.

In addition, like Darwin he was fiercely against slavery, had great sympathy for the black races and though he believed the white man superior other than to the Egyptians and Hindus, he seems to have thought this was just how it was, and not that the white man had any great claim to or right to overlordship of the earth.

Ah yes. But then he says this: [Judaism] is, therefore, the crudest and poorest of all religions and consists merely in an absurd and revolting theism. It amounts to this that the κύριος ['Lord'], who has created the world, desires to be worshipped and adored; and so above all he is jealous, is envious of his colleagues, of all the other gods; if sacrifices are made to them he is furious and his Jews have a bad time ... It is most deplorable that this religion has become the basis of the prevailing religion of Europe; for it is a religion without any metaphysical tendency. While all other religions endeavor to explain to the people by symbols the metaphysical significance of life, the religion of the Jews is entirely immanent and furnishes nothing but a mere war-cry in the struggle with other nations.

So Hitler must have loved that. Also his views on women, who, he claimed, were by nature meant to obey, and were directly fitted for acting as the nurses and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that they are themselves childish, frivolous and short-sighted. He is in fact referred to as the biggest misogynist in Western philosophy. His views on heredity, breeding and eugenics must have hit home too: With our knowledge of the complete unalterability both of character and of mental faculties, we are led to the view that a real and thorough improvement of the human race might be reached not so much from outside as from within, not so much by theory and instruction as rather by the path of generation. Plato had something of the kind in mind when, in the fifth book of his Republic, he explained his plan for increasing and improving his warrior caste. If we could castrate all scoundrels and stick all stupid geese in a convent, and give men of noble character a whole harem, and procure men, and indeed thorough men, for all girls of intellect and understanding, then a generation would soon arise which would produce a better age than that of Pericles.

Right. And if my aunt had wheels she'd be a wagon.
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