Saturday, 6 May 2017

Hitler was a genius

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I don't like analogies between Hitler and Donald Trump but there are certain similarities. Both are/were demagogues. And both geniuses. 

Both were/are monsters too, of course, but to very different orders of magnitude. President Trump is a monster like someone's father-in-law is a monster.

Yet it's incredibly interesting how many leftists think they are comparably malign. And incredibly striking how few left-wing historians recognise even Hitler, let alone Mr. Trump, as a genius.

The great British historian Hugh Trevor Roper (Lord Dacre) had no doubts and nor can any fair person.


"No one, I believe, can hope to understand or explain Nazism unless he is prepared to admit the reality of this problem, and unless, furthermore, he is willing to make a distinction which our ideologically minded historians seem incapable of making: that is, to admit that Hitler, without whom Nazism could not have existed—for he preceded it, founded it, nurtured it, expressed it, and to the end controlled it—was both a revolutionary leader of genius and the meanest, most squalid character who has ever, by genius, conquered great political power. In the 1930’s too many observers recognized the first fact and therefore, because they could not make this distinction, refused even to conceive the second. Since 1945 the second is a platitude; but because the distinction still seems beyond the capacity of the average man, and even the average historian, the first fact is stubbornly denied and Hitler’s rise, being therefore the rise of a nobody, must be ascribed to impersonal historic forces which, though now obvious, seem to have attracted no attention at the time."
This is by Lawrence Birken, a left-wing and much less accomplished historian, and is probably right too.
"Few scholars would award Hitler much of a place in the history of ideas. While there are literally thousands of books about national socialism, the number of studies that actually deal with Hitler's thought could be counted on one hand. Historians of ideas are likely to dismiss that thought as "shoddy," "simplistic" or just plain deranged. But if we are to read Hitler neither to condemn nor to praise but merely to understand, then we come away with a very different conclusion about his place in European intellectual history. As early as 1953, H. R. Trevor-Roper evoked the image of Hitler as a kind of synthesis of Spengler and Napoleon, noting that of all world conquerors the German leader had been the most "philosophical" even if he had also been the "cruellest." Read with an open mind. Hitler indeed appears as a startlingly intelligent thinker who felt compelled to work out an elaborate political philosophy. In particular, if we agree that intellectuals should be judged as much for the questions they ask as for their answers, then Hitler must be regarded as a genuine intellectual.

"The tendency to deny Hitler his proper place in European intellectual
history tells us as much about the way we look at that history as about Hitler
himself. There are in fact two flaws in the way we do that history that
predispose us to exclude Hitler from its canon. In the first place, intellectual
historians have an implicit bias toward the notion that a powerful thinker
must also be an ethical one. In the second place, they have a stake in the
belief that Western civilization as a whole has been a force for good. In other
words, intellectual historians idealize both intellectual history and the
intellectuals who make it. Scholars have consequently more or less excised
Hitler from his place in Western culture as a means of sanitizing that culture."

6 comments:

  1. if we agree that intellectuals should be judged as much for the questions they ask as for their answers, then Hitler must be regarded as a genuine intellectual.

    It's hardly surprising that intellectuals are uncomfortable about welcoming Hitler into their club. The truth is that inside every intellectual there is a totalitarian dictator trying to get out.

    In the first place, intellectual historians have an implicit bias toward the notion that a powerful thinker must also be an ethical one

    Intellectual historians have an implicit bias toward the notion that a powerful thinker must think the way they do.

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  2. If you read Churchill’s scribblings though he has does have some powerful insights e.g. Bolshevism vs Zionism but for the most part they have not much relevance to the state of the world today. Hitler’s writings on the other hand read like a crystal ball. Weimar Germany was essentially a trial run or a dress rehearsal for the Cultural Marxist revolution of the 60s. He saw it coming.

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    1. The Weimar Republic was a wonderful epoch. I let this comment through but you are very close to the line.

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    2. For whom was it wonderful? Weimar Germany was a cultural sewer where every type of sexual degeneracy was celebrated. It was total chaos.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2847643/Berlin-liberal-hotbed-homosexuality-mecca-cross-dressers-transsexuals-male-female-surgery-performed-Nazis-came-power-new-book-reveals.html

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  3. There is an Abyss between an evil genius and a genius for evil. You can decide whom I think is which.

    Dante

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    Replies
    1. I am afraid I don't understand this remark.

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