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Why did Nazism thrive in Germany?

by JerryClower
Tags: germany, nazism, thrive
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SW VandeCarr
#37
Apr22-10, 06:14 PM
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Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post
I think there was probably no real central command.
Hitler ruled by decree. If he said it, it happened. That's what I mean by absolute power. Of course there were many nodes of subordinate power and bureaucratic "fiefdoms" as in any government. In fact Hitler often left areas of responsibility ill defined and encouraged "turf wars" so he could step in and settle things. Sometimes he micromanaged, sometimes he let things drift. He was not a good administrator, but he was the perfect despot because he had the SS in his pocket.
zoobyshoe
#38
Apr22-10, 08:37 PM
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Quote Quote by SW VandeCarr View Post
Essentially yes. However, I don't think Hitler would have passed the present legal standard for being mentally ill in terms of culpability. He think he could have been held responsible for his crimes had he been captured and tried.
You're right. The criteria for "legally insane" are vastly more stringent that those for getting a psychiatric diagnosis.

My assessment of how he got into power despite being bipolar: basically, the common manifestations of bipolar mania are what allowed him to get into power, at those times, under those circumstances. When a person is manic they can attack a task with a drive and confidence that is astonishing. Up to a point there is a certain clear headedness that keeps their work on target. They can be surprisingly competent and effective and productive. Brain scans of people having manic episodes show their brains to be hyper-energized: burning up glucose like crazy, pun intended. What usually happens next, though, is they cross a threshold into delusions of grandeur, crash, and sink into black, suicidal depressions. As I mentioned earlier he complained of depressed symptoms to Morel, but there is also at least one episode where he was waving a pistol around threatening to kill himself. Unfortunately, someone wrestled the pistol away from him.

The average bipolar person spends their manias feeling invulnerable and omnipotent, more or less. They indulge in every kind of risky behavior: speeding, gamboling, spending till their credit cards are cut up, and promiscuous sex with strangers. Hitler's famous "fearlessness" in battle situations was probably not real courage, but a manic delusion of invulnerability, an example of gross risk-taking. They are manipulative and lie like sociopaths, and they demand special treatment. When foiled they will become angry manics, and can spew complaints, vituperation, threats, insults, etc., non-stop for extended periods. The average Hitler speech was a typical angry mania. As expository writing, his speeches were terrible. He's rarely quoted because he rarely said anything in a memorable literary way.

In his case the angry mania was delivered on his listener's behalf, not his own: he persuasively projected his personal sense of outrage about the state of Germany onto his listeners with such passion, such expressive intonation, that people were caught up in it, and felt he was giving voice to their own fears and outrage. While the content was pretty poorly organized, his delivery was mesmerizing, animalistically dynamic, elemental. The medium was the massage in this case. Reasonably sensitive, educated people pegged him as a nut job, but his hardcore followers were not particularly bright. We're talking street gang types, the uneducated, a lot of ex-military, political crackpots and cranks, but if you get ten thousand of such people as fanatic supporters suddenly you're a political force to be reckoned with. Nothing succeeds like success. The fact he had such a following made him interesting to everyone who heard of him. Many working class people went to early Nazi rallies out of idle curiosity and left as believers: here was a guy who was unquestionable dedicated, who had a plan, who would get something done. People were psychologically naive: the intensity of his anger could be mistaken for sincerity, seriousness of purpose.

After the failed Beer-Hall Putch, he toned his overt power hunger down and decided to try legal routes to power: entering elections legitimately and making backroom deals. A lot of power brokers correctly assessed him as a crazy, but quite incorrectly thought they could use him like a puppet. He was keenly sensitive to this and always surprised the hell out of them by coming out with all the winnings. How was he so canny? Even a person with delusions of grandeur can tell if what you're offering is in accordance with those delusions or not. He knew instantly when people were trying to use him and he invariably turned the tables on them. By virtue of the same instinct he kept the high level members of his government in competition with each other such that they had no mutual trust out of which allegiances against him might be forged.

So, his mania gave him the extreme ambition, extreme energy, organizational skills (up to a point) his infectious emotional surges, "fearlessness", and sociopath-like willingness to enter into agreements he never intended to keep, all of which got him into power.
zoobyshoe
#39
Apr22-10, 08:46 PM
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Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post
My question was how do you know if this account is accurate or whether it was just the mythology of Hitler that became popular as a means for anyone to threaten anyone else out of disobedience? It's easy for mommy to make up stories about how angry and punitive daddy is going to be when he finds out what the kids have been doing, but the fact is that it may be more mommy's threatening story than the reality about daddy.

I'm not claiming to have evidence either way. It's just that the propaganda that elevates Hitler to monster status is too effective for me not to think it's a quality of the propaganda-art less than the model. Hitler was unquestionably an effective model/actor. The question is how to ascertain what can be known about him outside of propaganda about him. Obviously some people wanted to build him up - so how do you know how much is really him and how much is propaganda imagery for the purpose of instilling terror?
This doubt about conventional, accepted historical sources is starting to smell fishy. I hope you're not going to turn out to be one of these people who claim the Holocaust never happened.
brainstorm
#40
Apr22-10, 08:58 PM
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Quote Quote by SW VandeCarr View Post
Hitler ruled by decree. If he said it, it happened. That's what I mean by absolute power. Of course there were many nodes of subordinate power and bureaucratic "fiefdoms" as in any government. In fact Hitler often left areas of responsibility ill defined and encouraged "turf wars" so he could step in and settle things. Sometimes he micromanaged, sometimes he let things drift. He was not a good administrator, but he was the perfect despot because he had the SS in his pocket.
Do you ever wonder why people who work in retail stores do pretty much anything you ask? It's because they're trained to observe that the customer is always right, customer is king. If Hitler ruled by decree, it was because of a culture of submission to authority among those who obeyed his degrees without evaluating their merit. What did they have to lose? Mostly everyone was just desperate to keep their job anyway. They didn't think about the quality of the orders, only whether they would get lost in the large unemployment pool if they got fired for some reason.

Still, I think Hitler just sold national-socialism as a political ideology despite the fact that it was already a popular social ideology that had yet to be explicated in public politics. I think that Hitler did not design the machinery of bureaucracy, authority, militarism, etc. that were used to carry out the nazi programs. I think he mainly just inspired them to go at it with more intensity. I seriously question the implicit or explicit assumption that people have that things would have gone radically different if Hitler hadn't been the one elected chancellor. I think the culture of national-socialism evolved on multiple levels simultaneously and Hitler and the officers were just playing their role alongside others.

I think the reason Hitler and the officers are mythologized as tyrants is to uphold the belief that everyone else was "just following orders." It was uncomfortable for people to admit being complicit in the regime, and for others to allow some people to go unprosecuted. It's disturbing to think that when a lot of people commit the same crime at the same time, they can all get away with it because any one can claim it is unfair to punish him/her instead of someone else.
brainstorm
#41
Apr22-10, 09:13 PM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
This doubt about conventional, accepted historical sources is starting to smell fishy. I hope you're not going to turn out to be one of these people who claim the Holocaust never happened.
Whenever I read about someone getting fined or jailed for denying the holocaust, I think the reason is that they're doing it out of some kind of covert anti-Semitic hate gesture that I don't fully understand. I have no reason to believe the holocaust didn't take place. I question the framing of it some, in that I think calling it a single event reifies collectivism and downplays the fact that every individual who loses their life had an entire life taken away from them, not to mention those who loved them.

I question the aura of Hitler because it seems like an extension of the cult of the Fuhrer to me. It just seems too convenient to believe that on the one hand fascist-authoritarians love to submit to "higher" authority, and on the other hand, this one individual is portrayed as being the ultimate commander of authoritarian power. To me, the draw of fascist authoritarianism for people is that they can take little or no individual responsibility and still contribute to and validate themselves according to a service ethic. So I dislike the idea of becoming complicit in that kind of fascist authoritarian attitude by validating the mythology of the evil leader who sells out all the poor unsuspecting followers by leading "the innocent sheep" into something they're not aware of and don't understand. How does the saying go, "wir haben es nicht gewusst."

Back to the topic of the thread, this is not a German-specific ideology. Ethnic identity doesn't make a difference in whether people subscribe to authoritarianism as a means of claiming innocence and irresponsibility for their actions. I also don't think that authoritarianism/fascism is ever harmless, even though it doesn't always culminate in death(s). At the least it is something that happens daily, which results in discrimination and other mistreatment against people for no other reason than their daring to think for themselves instead of conforming to a known lie.
Char. Limit
#42
Apr23-10, 01:34 AM
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The reason that Hitler was able to succeed in Germany (Nazism never really thrived without Hitler der Sprecher (the orator) to move it along) was because of a national feeling, that had been nurtured for the last four hundred years, of insecurity.

It goes all the way back to the Thirty Years' War, where fully one third of the German people died. How, you ask (probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway)? By the German lords fighting each other, killing the middle and lower classes in the process. Afterward, Germans didn't care about freedom or democracy, they wanted to live. They wanted security.

This effect also sprang into being after World War I, where a defeated and humiliated Germany was forced to essentially bow before the nations of Western Europe (France and England) and commit seppuku. The crippling debts ruined Germany's economy, and the Great Depression only made it worse. Notice that Hitler came into power at the same time FDR did. They both first entered power for the same reason... the country was falling, and the people turned to someone who promised what they wanted. However, FDR promised prosperity, while Hitler promised the humiliated, broke, insecure German people security.

Also, look up a certain term in German. Vergangenheitsbewältigung. It should give you the attitude that Germans think of Nazism today.
zoobyshoe
#43
Apr23-10, 03:29 AM
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Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post
I question the aura of Hitler because it seems like an extension of the cult of the Fuhrer to me. It just seems too convenient to believe that on the one hand fascist-authoritarians love to submit to "higher" authority, and on the other hand, this one individual is portrayed as being the ultimate commander of authoritarian power. To me, the draw of fascist authoritarianism for people is that they can take little or no individual responsibility and still contribute to and validate themselves according to a service ethic. So I dislike the idea of becoming complicit in that kind of fascist authoritarian attitude by validating the mythology of the evil leader who sells out all the poor unsuspecting followers by leading "the innocent sheep" into something they're not aware of and don't understand. How does the saying go, "wir haben es nicht gewusst."
Facing the fact Hitler was in total command doesn't make you complicit in anything. It's not a myth or "aura", it's the position he maneuvered himself into. All the best advisers Germany had to offer could not prevent him from leading Germany into ruin. Everyone here who has read about it will tell you that Hitler, not his generals, lost the war. He over-extended himself against all their advice. This would not have been possible had he been the figurehead you claim. If he had been a figurehead they could have bumped him aside and taken over when he started screwing up.
SW VandeCarr
#44
Apr23-10, 03:51 AM
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Quote Quote by Char. Limit View Post

It goes all the way back to the Thirty Years' War, where fully one third of the German people died. How, you ask (probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway)? By the German lords fighting each other, killing the middle and lower classes in the process. Afterward, Germans didn't care about freedom or democracy, they wanted to live. They wanted security.
Not just German lords, but foreign and mercenary armies (Tilly, Wallenstein) rampaging through the territories of allies and enemies alike. I think the rise of the expansive militarism of Brandenburg-Prussia began in the immediate aftermath of this war. However, the military class had little respect for Hitler. Why did they let this bipolar misfit take control? Surely, they could have found a better leader if a dictatorship was inevitable given the circumstances. How about General von Schleicher, who was chancellor before Hitler? He could have moved to prevent Hitler from taking power. I understand he was considered fairly competent.

Look up a certain term in German. Vergangenheitsbewältigung. It should give you the attitude that Germans think of Nazism today.
Coming to terms with the past.
SW VandeCarr
#45
Apr23-10, 04:15 AM
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Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post
"wir haben es nicht gewusst."
Wir wollten es nicht wissen.
brainstorm
#46
Apr24-10, 06:09 PM
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Quote Quote by Char. Limit View Post
The reason that Hitler was able to succeed in Germany (Nazism never really thrived without Hitler der Sprecher (the orator) to move it along) was because of a national feeling, that had been nurtured for the last four hundred years, of insecurity.

It goes all the way back to the Thirty Years' War, where fully one third of the German people died. How, you ask (probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway)? By the German lords fighting each other, killing the middle and lower classes in the process. Afterward, Germans didn't care about freedom or democracy, they wanted to live. They wanted security.
The funny thing is how nazism always seems to preach against weaklings, but basically what you're saying is that people were beaten into submission, to the point of wanting life and security, never mind loss of freedom and no say (democracy) in their lives. What a subtle way to talk about creating a slave mentality!

This effect also sprang into being after World War I, where a defeated and humiliated Germany was forced to essentially bow before the nations of Western Europe (France and England) and commit seppuku. The crippling debts ruined Germany's economy, and the Great Depression only made it worse. Notice that Hitler came into power at the same time FDR did. They both first entered power for the same reason... the country was falling, and the people turned to someone who promised what they wanted. However, FDR promised prosperity, while Hitler promised the humiliated, broke, insecure German people security.
I think I mentioned in previous posts that collective punishment for WWI helped strengthen German nationalism by creating a feeling of collective blame for the war and collective punishment. If you treat people as a collective, the temptation for them to subscribe to collectivism becomes greater. It's a vicious cycle that needs interruption, imo.

Also, look up a certain term in German. Vergangenheitsbewältigung. It should give you the attitude that Germans think of Nazism today.
I used to fall for it every time someone would drop a term and claim that it explains a whole mentality, culture, etc. I don't fall for it anymore. I looked up the word, meaning "coming to terms with the past" but you have to discuss it for it to become relevant. Playing the game of imperative-implicit may work to drive people into fascist submission, but when you wake up from the trance of fascism, you realize that that's a negative and not a positive thing - so please try to avoid it by explaining your points explicitly and making them open for reasonable discussion.
Char. Limit
#47
Apr25-10, 01:27 AM
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Quote Quote by brainstorm View Post
The funny thing is how nazism always seems to preach against weaklings, but basically what you're saying is that people were beaten into submission, to the point of wanting life and security, never mind loss of freedom and no say (democracy) in their lives. What a subtle way to talk about creating a slave mentality!
Well, I wouldn't quite call it that, but in the 1650's and 60's, it really was pretty close.

I think I mentioned in previous posts that collective punishment for WWI helped strengthen German nationalism by creating a feeling of collective blame for the war and collective punishment. If you treat people as a collective, the temptation for them to subscribe to collectivism becomes greater. It's a vicious cycle that needs interruption, in my opinion.
Absolutely. I completely agree with this.

I used to fall for it every time someone would drop a term and claim that it explains a whole mentality, culture, etc. I don't fall for it anymore. I looked up the word, meaning "coming to terms with the past" but you have to discuss it for it to become relevant. Playing the game of imperative-implicit may work to drive people into fascist submission, but when you wake up from the trance of fascism, you realize that that's a negative and not a positive thing - so please try to avoid it by explaining your points explicitly and making them open for reasonable discussion.
Did you just call me a fascist?

But no, and please, don't answer that.

This wasn't my main point, but the wikipedia article on the word describes German attitudes on Nazism after the war, I think. I didn't mean to offend.
brainstorm
#48
Apr25-10, 09:39 AM
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Quote Quote by Char. Limit View Post
Did you just call me a fascist?
I guess in a way I did accuse you of fascism, but that's different to me than calling someone "a fascist." Fascism is a framework of social-orientation and action, imo. I wouldn't divide people into fascists and non-fascists, especially not in some essential way. Fascism is really as aspect of everyone's nature and cultural vocabulary. It's just that each individual is unique in the consciousness and will to resist the specific patterns of thought and culture that have developed through their personal genealogy of experiences and personality.

I didn't mean to offend or avoid offending. I was just pointing out that it is one of the myriad cognitive techniques of fascism to interact in terms of implicit-imperatives. There are lots of code words in German, like "liebenraum" and "undermenschen" that are associated with fascist ideas. By using these terms and then avoiding discussion, a very anti-democratic approach to communication and social-beliefs is attempted. Oftentimes when people are treated this way, they develop a fear and even hate for discussion of authority. They desire for people to fall in line with authority and accept meanings without question. I hope you can see how that can lead to the kind of slave-mentality and other consequences of fascism we've been talking about.

This wasn't my main point, but the wikipedia article on the word describes German attitudes on Nazism after the war, I think. I didn't mean to offend.
No offense, but do you see how talking in terms of "German attitudes" reproduces the same collective imagery and collective responsibility assumed in the collective punishment after WWI? I note this because I think these subtle aspects of thinking and talking about people in terms of collectives are what perpetuates the ideologies of fascism, consciously or sub-consciously.
Char. Limit
#49
Apr25-10, 10:56 AM
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Please, get the words right... Liebenraum means "love space", the correct term is Lebensraum, or "space for living".

Also, there's a T in Untermenschen.

Proper spelling is very important.
OmCheeto
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Apr25-10, 02:08 PM
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Quote Quote by Andre View Post

So who can say, which community in that condition, with a strong leader is immune for groupthink?
None according to wikipaedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history

National Socialism looks very logical on the surface: economic security, social welfare programs for workers, a just wage, honour for workers' importance to the nation, and protection from capitalist exploitation(wiki on the Nazi's)

Wouldn't the proletariat of all nations want that?

But once these things can't be provided, scapegoats must be found. There's always someone responsible for our woes, and it surely couldn't be us.
brainstorm
#51
Apr25-10, 02:56 PM
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Quote Quote by Char. Limit View Post
Please, get the words right... Liebenraum means "love space", the correct term is Lebensraum, or "space for living".

Also, there's a T in Untermenschen.

Proper spelling is very important.
Sorry, I've only communicated about these words orally. I don't really like it when people utilize words in one language to communicate concepts instead of just talking about them in the language being used, which is why I gave these examples of that mode of communication. My point was that the suggestion is implied that culture is imperative in the meanings of certain words, and I think that is conducive to fascist ideology, in whatever language(s).


Quote Quote by OmCheeto View Post
National Socialism looks very logical on the surface: economic security, social welfare programs for workers, a just wage, honour for workers' importance to the nation, and protection from capitalist exploitation(wiki on the Nazi's)

Wouldn't the proletariat of all nations want that?

But once these things can't be provided, scapegoats must be found. There's always someone responsible for our woes, and it surely couldn't be us.
This is a proletarian ideology that certainly is not limited to any single ethnicity or culture. The problem is that it's not really legitimate or healthy. It creates an ideology of proletarian entitlement in terms of collective rights, which obscures the fact that economics is the product of individual economic activities. Also, why should economic security be limited on the basis of national/ethnic identity? Socialism already has the bad habit of promoting collectivism/groupism, and when the "group" is construed as a national or ethnic group, economic exclusion on the basis of ethic/national identity is naturalized. As a result, you get the mentality that it's perfectly legitimate to have equality among some people and inequality among others on the basis of national/ethnic or other group membership. Why should membership in any group be a legitimate means of claiming economic rights? Shouldn't people be responsible for their own economic activities and benefits individually?

Scapegoating is just the result of ethnic differentiation and discrimination, I think. If someone views themselves as having entitlements as being part of a group-classification, it is logical that other group-classifications should have separate entitlements or are responsible for undermining the preferred group. It's groupist/collectivist logic that develops into a whole discourse that makes it very difficult to think in terms of individuals interacting in a free market economy. Sadly, even the very ideology of individualism and free market economics is disdained as a reaction of collectivist socialism. People are brainwashed to believe the only way for them to live well is by ganging up against individuals identified and grouped as being ethnically different. Is it any wonder that racism/ethnicism and collectivist war-feelings keep resurfacing in global discourse?
Char. Limit
#52
Apr25-10, 09:22 PM
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Well, I've already spoken my piece on why Nazism thrived, and you agreed with me, or vice versa, one of the two, and there's one more thing I'd like to say, unless someone challenges my first two arguments.

Language, often, does carry stereotypes and cultures with it. I have multiple times been called a Nazi for daring to speak German in public, for example. So I would say that culture is indeed imperative in language, and generalizations are natural in any speech, not just fascism.
brainstorm
#53
Apr25-10, 09:40 PM
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Quote Quote by Char. Limit View Post
Well, I've already spoken my piece on why Nazism thrived, and you agreed with me, or vice versa, one of the two, and there's one more thing I'd like to say, unless someone challenges my first two arguments.

Language, often, does carry stereotypes and cultures with it. I have multiple times been called a Nazi for daring to speak German in public, for example. So I would say that culture is indeed imperative in language, and generalizations are natural in any speech, not just fascism.
Have you ever thought that the reason someone would assume you are a nazi for speaking German might be the result of ethnic stereotyping and fascist assumptions?

Language is the vector of culture, but culture is malleable and subject to flexible interpolation in practical usage. Language is a set of words and grammatical possibilities that makes the expression of practically all thoughts and ideas possible. If language carries fascism, it is not because of the meanings of words, it is because of patterns of thought and communicative orientations that are established in social interaction.

I said it in another post, but if I tell you over and over that "Germany is fascist" as an imperative, and you succumb to the will to avoid disagreeing with me, out of fear of conflict or otherwise, then your subscription to the idea that "Germany is fascist" would be the result of your submission to my authority on the basis of resistance to question my claim. So fascism is transmitted through both form and content of propaganda. It is not an inherent quality of any language itself, because all languages contain the possibility of disputing claims and discussing alternative ideas.

The form of language-manipulation I most dislike is when people avoid making explicit claims as a means of avoiding discussion. This way, they can merely imply by proxy things they want to say, so when someone else responds to the implication to bring it to discussion, the person says that it is simply not what they meant. That way, they can deny responsibility for a thought or idea until someone else expresses it for them. I believe this is an authoritarian game, because the goal is to manipulate someone else to say something for you, instead of you saying it to them and leaving it up to them what to do with it.
CloudChamber
#54
May13-12, 07:41 AM
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Another reason Nazism and radical parties in general were able to grow so strong was the Treaty of Versailles, which, with 242 articles, a request for 33 billion dollars and the famous war guilt clause, was very harsh. As a result, Germans started despising their government for agreeing to such cruel conditions and watched as their economy plunged into ruin. This economic chaos and distaste for existing leadership established the perfect basis for a charismatic opportunist like Hitler. By slowly dismantling the Treaty of Versailles and gaining land without wars, many felt he was bringing the country back to its former glory (he was Time magazine's man of the year in 1938!). Sadly, they ignored the massive genocide he was implementing and averted their eyes as millions of innocent people met their deaths. I doubt the nation will ever repeat this, having (hopefully) learned from the horrors of the past.


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