The Image of Hitler in the Disintegration of the West
Commentary for 18 August 2014
Wotan is a restless wanderer who creates unrest and stirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic. He was soon changed by Christianity into the devil, and only lived on in fading local traditions as a ghostly hunter who was seen with his retinue, flickering like a will o’ the wisp through the stormy night. In the Middle Ages the role of the restless wanderer was taken over by Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, which is not a Jewish but a Christian legend. The motif of the wanderer who has not accepted Christ was projected on the Jews, in the same way as we always rediscover our unconscious psychic contents in other people. At any rate the coincidence of anti-Semitism with the reawakening of Wotan is a psychological subtlety that may perhaps be worth mentioning.
– Carl Jung, “Essay on Wotan,” 1946
Ever since the Second World War, Hitler’s name has been a synonym for evil in the West. Perhaps he suffered the fate of Wotan, as described in the above quote from Carl Jung. Indeed, he was changed into a political devil during a secular age when all religious concepts were being superseded by political concepts. Hitler was the leader of the National Socialist movement in Germany. Since Hitler was a nationalist, it was thenceforth obscene to be a nationalist. At the same time, references to Hitler’s socialism were typically muted; that is, unless a socialist wants to say that Hitler’s economic policy (i.e., socialism) saved the German economy (which is the one compliment we are allowed to grant Hitler).
Using the image of Hitler during the past 70 years, we have played a kind of game with ourselves. In the education of all citizens, we inculcate the following views regarding mass murder: Mass killings organized by Communists should be mentioned in the media with less frequency than those of Hitler. Although Communist dictators have killed tens of millions more than Hitler, we must always think of Hitler when the topic of mass murder is discussed. When Mao killed 50-60 million Chinese, or Stalin killed 11 million Ukrainians, we typically avoid using the term “genocide” or Holocaust to describe Communist crimes. We do not want to put tag-words into circulation that will associate Marxism with mass murder in the public mind. We reserve these for Hitler’s mass killings, so that Hitler’s wickedness might be more easily remembered. For example, how many people even know the term “Holodomor”? This is a Ukrainian word which signifies mass murder by starvation conducted by the Soviet government in the early 1930s which killed more Ukrainians than Hitler killed Jews.
In many universities today, those who favor Communism have attempted to depict Hitler as a mere copy cat of those who killed Indians and enslaved Africans in the nineteenth century. From the socialist standpoint, it is important that the atrocity tag-words associated with Hitler be applied more readily to Western countries than to Communist countries. Therefore, in today’s history textbooks, the so-called Indian Wars of North America are described as a “Holocaust” or “genocide.” (See David E. Stannard’s American Holocaust, or Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide.) It is very important that the “crimes” of the United States weigh heavier than other crimes in history – even heavier than those of Hitler. One Marxist-Leninist website, the EspressoStalinist.com, maintains that between 95 and 114 million Native Americans were murdered by Europeans from the time of Columbus to the present. This figure is more frequently repeated of late, and is more likely to be taught in schools than the old estimates. This aforementioned site also quotes Hitler biographer John Toland as follows:
Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination … of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.
In committing the Holocaust, therefore, Hitler was merely mimicking the United States government’s policy toward Indians. In this retelling of history, genocide becomes a special failing of white capitalist society, and of Christendom. Here a moral judgment is set down which condemns the civilization of the West; for if Nazi Germany had to be destroyed for its genocidal atrocities then America must also pay the ultimate price.
If a nation becomes convinced of its own unique wickedness, how will it defend itself? People do not generally fight and die for something they believe is wrong. And if American wickedness is like Hitler’s wickedness, what right does America have to exist? As for the border of such a country, it is hardly a border. Surely, such a border is an injustice which must be erased. The idea of the United States as a country of European extraction, deriving its political models from Greece and Rome, rather convicts the whole of indemic racism and unworthiness.
If America's European background is objectionable and racist, then the country must strive to become "brown." It must reject Europe and embrace anything and everything else. All tribes, all religions, all ethnicities must be recruited to live in America; for only then can the wickedness of European colonialism be expunged. Only then can the blot of racism be eliminated. Such is today's logic, which seeks to replace America with a multicultural entity. Here socialism is bound to replace capitalism. From thenceforth there cannot be any “American culture” or any “American” identity. From now on there is only the tribes of the earth under egalitarian regulation.
With regard to the image of Hitler in the disintegration of the West, we find the same process underway in Europe. Here the Muslim enters Europe, and Europe is not allowed to defend itself. Europe must bend to Allah, and to his religion. Europe must bend to Africa and Asia. There is no question of Europe for the Europeans; for that would smack of Hitlerism. Here the past colonialism of the European powers is turned on its head. Now it is Europe’s turn to be colonized. If Hitler was an evil racist, then the colonial powers were evil and racist. If Hitler had no right to exist, then Europe itself has no right to exist. Liberalism's triumph over Hitler has determined this, and we go along because we do not want to be on the wrong side of history. Yet I am reminded of Nietzsche's warning, which ought to be quoted more often:
In the opinion of every strong and natural man, love and hate, gratitude and revenge, goodness and anger, affirmation and negative action, belong to each other. A man is good on condition that he knows how to be evil; a man is evil, because otherwise he would not know how to be good. From where comes the morbidity and ideological unnaturalness which repudiates these compounds [and] which teaches a sort of one-sided efficiency as the highest of all things?” [Will to Power #351]
Liberalism has defined what is good, and it has defined it in such a way that the good cannot defend itself. Our own history since 1945 is the history of increasing strategic paralysis. First we must bomb half a bridge. Second, we must wage war without seeking victory. Third, we cannot name our enemy. Fourth, we must set an example for others by setting aside our nuclear arsenal. We now find that the warrior, who is man, is not allowed to be a man. Only a woman is allowed to be a man. Here we see that certain universal principles have replaced human instinct – but only in the West (and not anywhere else). We also see that these principles may be self-defeating or self-annihilating. And so we may affirm, on a deeper level, James Burnham’s thesis that liberalism was and is the ideology of Western suicide.
What is a man, asked Nietzsche, without his powers of defense and attack? He is a nullity. As our civilization has long labored under a one-sided idea of goodness, we now see a false ideal of “the good” dictating a policy of unilateral disarmament, the appeasement of mortal enemies, and the nullification of the U.S. border. Those who object to this “suicide of the West” are racists and Islamophobes. They are cast in the image of Hitler. Here we have adopted an idealism which makes “man amputate those instincts which enable him to be an enemy, to be harmful, to be angry and to insist upon revenge,” wrote Nietzsche. “This method of valuing thus believes itself to be ‘idealistic’; it never doubts that in its concept of the ‘good man’ it has found the highest desideratum.”
We see, of course, that the Image of Hitler in the disintegration of the West is not the origin of our problem. This image is merely a psychological weapon forged by liberalism – which has become the victim of a very old and false system of valuation which Nietzsche criticized in 1888. This false system of valuation was touched upon by Carl Jung, in his book Aion: Researches Into the Phenomenology of Self. Jung said that the only way out of our dilemma was “a new assimilation of the traditional myth.” Here the instinctual man may be reconciled to the rational (liberal) man. Yet the assimilation of myth presupposes, Jung warned, “the continuity of historical development." Jung doubted this was even possible, and wrote that, "Naturally the present tendency to destroy all tradition … could interrupt the normal process of development for several hundred years and substitute an interlude of barbarism.” He then added, “Wherever the Marxist utopia prevails, this has already happened.” [p. 181] Does not Marxist utopia prevail in America? For what is the welfare state? What is Obamacare? What is the progressive tax system? What is this political correctness that rules in our universities and schools? Where else is the neurotic pandemic of our time worse? Certainly not in Russia, or in China.
Disorienting ideas have spread like a fatal disease throughout the body politic. Common sense is no longer common. Authority is attenuated. Hierarchical structures are breaking down. The process advances unchecked because the disease itself pretends to be the cure. And every cure, in turn, is yet another form of the disease. Those who are infected are considered nobler, and more advanced in their thinking than those who are not infected. The neurosis becomes more and more acute, foreshadowing a larger breakdown; for things cannot continue in this way forever. Something must give. What this entails was hinted at by Jung in the following passage:
The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil. [“The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales,” Collected Works 9i, par. 397]
Another puzzle, and another paradox. The image of Hitler as the Patron Saint of Wickedness conflates the idea of strength with the idea of evil, so that only the weak are now admitted to be good. Only the weak are harmless, and therefore acceptable. Thus, in order to justify our existence we are now weakening ourselves. We must hand over our wealth. We must put down our weapons. We must apologize for our successes. We must open our borders. We must bow to Allah.
Here is a storehouse of great evil. For what good is thereby produced in the end? Nietzsche warned, “Perhaps there has never before been a more dangerous ideology, a greater mischief in psychologicis, than this will to good: one has reared the most repellant type, the unfree man….” He further asked, “what good is it to hold with all one’s strength that war is evil … [when] one wages war nonetheless! One cannot do otherwise!”
The pacifist cannot enforce his pacifism and is, therefore, a nullity. Goodness itself has become a nullity because it has lost its iron. Ask yourself: Why is it obscene to act in your own interest? Why must we act only in the interest of that greatest nullity of all – humanity. Who exactly is humanity? As Kierkegaard once explained, the public is a monstrous nothing; and what is “the public” if not humanity? Here is the danger in all our high-sounding universal ideals. They are monstrous nothings and we, by believing in them, nullify ourselves.
With everything disintegrating around us, and the image of Hitler superimposed upon the whole, our collective guilt swallows us. We are suddenly incapable of defending our own civilization. Why did we vote for Obama? Why have we accepted the negation of America under the banner of multiculturalism? Why have we become co-conspirators in the ascendency of Islam, in the economic supremacy of China, in the Sovietizing of our public schools, in the socialization of health care, in the neglect of our nuclear arsenal?
Joseph Schumpeter once wrote that liberalism could not exist without illiberal supports. Well, we have removed all the illiberal supports only to find that liberalism cannot stand on its own. Assailed by Communism, by Nazism, and now by an emerging Fourth Political Theory, we have cut off every illiberal resource in the course of battling super-illiberalism (i.e., totalitarianism). Could it be that God now prepares an enantiodromia (as Jung calls it) in which East becomes West and West becomes East? Might there be, in the midst of this Ukrainian revolution, a renewal which frees both East and West? Or are we destined to experience yet another catastrophic war in the very image of Hitler himself?