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On Nazi Culture
Tantz Aerine at 8:13AM, Feb. 16, 2012
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Here are Abt Nihil's thoughts on the essay I wrote about Nazi Culture, and my response! I expect the discussion with continue, so feel free to jump in anytime :) 

Abt Nihil said:
I'll just outline my objection here, and you're free to repost it in the WM forum, once you've located it 
I think from a theoretical standpoint, it would be better to coin a new term for what you describe as Nazism here (i.e. a theoretical term defined as being equal to the conjunction of your “basic principles”), and classify actual Nazism as a subclass. The advantage being that you could tie Nazism more directly to a special context (namely, the ideology of the Third Reich). All post-WWII-Nazis have in some shape or form adopted this ideology, and by calling them “Nazis”, you're attributing this special ideology to them. I don't see the benefit of calling cultures who only satisfy your more general basic principles Nazi; it seems to blur the term by granting it far broader applications.
In my opinion, this broadening of the term serves two specific aims you're trying to achieve theoretically: It paints a picture of Germany being infested by Nazism in the 30s, rather than describing this infestation as an emergence (which I would prefer), and you're tweaking the term to be able to apply it to current goings-on beyond mere Neo-Nazism (which, in the case of the aggressive species of neoliberalism you're apparently getting at, seems, very frankly, borderline polemic to me).  
 



 
And here is my reply!

Somehow DD has gotten so hard to navigate back to old features that it used to have… I will paste it when I find it :/ 
Now to the issue.
I would not object to coining a new term rather than use the Nazism one at all. In fact I do think it SHOULD get its own term. However the reason I didn't do it was because the term ‘nazi’ is intrinsically and viscerally connected (in the subconscious) to a specific list of behaviors that go far beyong the parameters of the political party it got its name from. And because many tend to separate it as a phenomenon from the rest of the occurences in history (which I have a lot of reason to believe is catastrophic), I used the term as a social phenomenon just to drive the idea through that it is really NOT a new feature of humanity, unfortunately. 
And I think I might disagree with you when you say ‘calling cultures who only satisfy your more general basic principles Nazi’ for the simple reason that I don't call the sum of the cultures I have touched upon nazi- instead I separate the particular infestation, as you very well put it, from the aforementioned culture. I firmly believe though that the special ideology of nazism (if we take away the tags and look at the essence of the behavioral pattern) are identical across occurences. That's why I did what I did, pretty aware it would raise this objection at times 
I hope I'm explaining it right though. I will clarify whatever doesn't make sense.
Also, when you say ‘emergence’ in your second paragraph, do you imply that you see Nazism as being indigenous to Germany and the Third Reich, rather than just another manifestation of the very same approach that has been carried through the ages? 
I don't deny nor wish to hide at all that I am pretty polemic to neoliberalism (among other systems), because I do firmly believe it is another form of nazism, which I think (if we compared) would be shown to be almost identical to the economic approaches of the Third Reich anyway. (If you mean by ‘polemic’ that I am openly hostile to it) 
Before I discussed the applications I did define Nazism for the purpose of the essay. Maybe it is that definition you disagree with? Because taking that definition for nazism (and looking at history without the contraint of labels) I think the diagnosis is correct 
 
last edited on Feb. 16, 2012 8:14AM
Abt_Nihil at 8:43AM, Feb. 16, 2012
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All right - our opinions are pretty close, I think. Some clarifications:

What you're saying in your 2nd paragraph is correct. I wasn't clear enough about that. I shouldn't have said that you called pre-Nazi cultures Nazi, but that Nazi ideology occured before Nazi Germany. My point being that people are known to display quite radical ingroup/outgroup behavior at times (often, but not only, under existential pressure), and I think that is what your basic principles amount to - a sociopolitical ideology built on this behavior. Nazism is one specific form of this sort of behavior, but in no way does the behavior imply the ideology. So what I meant is: You can trace both Nazi Germany and previous radical ideologies back to this basic mechanism of behavior, making Nazis a subclass of any ideology that is motivated by this general behavior.

Also, by using the term “emergence”, I don't mean to say that Nazism is/was necessarily German (many countries during that time knew borderline fascist factions, and displayed proto-Nazi traits), but rather that Germans exemplify some special attributes which contingently led to this specific form that we know as Nazism. I don't think there's anything about German culture that led *necessarily* to Nazism - in fact, the fact that it did was extremely tragic (for contextual reasons you already mentioned, such as the failure of Germany's budding democracy). However, there is some firmly rooted Prussian militarism which both made up a good chunk of German identity as well as Nazi identity - or rather, the sort of compliance with Nazism that is so mindboggling about the German people's behavior during that time. Also, Hitler has a very specific biography - as far as I can tell, he wasn't possessed by Nazism at all (in the sense of a regular being possessed by a distinct “spirit”); rather, he embodied Nazism perfectly. Coupled with the fact that his biography is quite exemplary of the German situation at that time (especially being made to feel useless except during war), it shines a particularly German light on Nazism. (“German light” being a bad metaphor, of course :D)

By “polemic” I mean: I have the feeling that what you're really trying to say is that a specific form of neoliberalism is “as bad as” Nazism, and to drive the point home, you're tightening the ideological connections (which I think aren't really there). And that is a bit of a slippery slope.

I didn't take your part leading up to your list of basic principles as a clear definition of Nazism “for the purpose of the essay”. Rather, I tought that by descriptively pointing out that these principles apply, you'd like to convince me that THIS is what nazism is :) Nazism is an ordinary-language term that's been thoroughly coined, so to speak, and while its properties and attributes may at times not be very clear, I don't see how wanting to define it (rather than describing what it is) makes sense.
last edited on Feb. 16, 2012 8:46AM
Tantz Aerine at 1:04PM, Feb. 16, 2012
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I think we are not disagreeing (again :P ) in almost any point! But I am afraid I may have given a slightly inaccurate impression with some things so I will try to clarify: 

 My point being that people are known to display quite radical ingroup/outgroup behavior at times (often, but not only, under existential pressure), and I think that is what your basic principles amount to - a sociopolitical ideology built on this behavior. 

This may be where we disagree somewhat, on the element of level and scope. It is true that a natural reaction to any group behavior is, when it feels it is being threatened, to turn inwards for bolstering, looking at anything foreign with suspicion or hostility. Xenophobia is a good term for this phenomenon, I think. 

But nazism (or however we may choose to name it to encompass the social group behavioral pattern across time, as we said before) goes a step further than that, and in my opinion this separates and morphs it into something entirely new: it has a very specific imperialistic pro-war streak every single time. Whether that is small scale within a society or already developed to be large scale across societies, nazism as I have seen it knows no borders within which to confine itself and its intolerance to pluralism. And it is imperialistic WHILE being all the other things I have described, as opposed to other dangerous patterns (like for example, invading nomadic hoards) that I wouldn't call nazi because they don't display the sum of the characteristics I have listed. 

That is why I choose to name nazi other historical occurences (such as the Holy Inquisition) AND neoliberalism. Because in my study of them I have found them to share the exact same list of characteristics, when the tags and the propaganda justifying them are stripped away so we can see the bare bones of their inherent philosophy. 

I wouldn't call neoliberalism nazi if I didn't truly believe it to be. I know what sort of slippery slope that would be and I never take it for the sake of sensationalizing something. I don't like capitalism OR communism either, but I don't believe them to be nazi (despite some of their imp decidedly nazi applications). 

Now, what I meant with ‘for the purpose of the essay’: For sure my definition as I give it is the one I think matches nazi fully, for ANY purpose. I said for the purpose of the essay (i.e. discussing nazism) I just felt it was right to define it first. XD Nothing more, nothing less! I didn't shape my definition for the purpose of the essay, that would be distorting definitions. XDXD

 
 
 
last edited on Feb. 16, 2012 1:05PM
Tantz Aerine at 1:14PM, Feb. 16, 2012
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Oh I should also add that this essay is only on the principles of nazi CULTURE. I do intend and will write another one where the historical course of the actual Nazi party is discussed, starting with the extermination of Germans before 1938 and then jumping to what they did in the Balkans.

I will leave the Prussian connection though to you- it promising to be a fascinating read the way you put it! (Also, I agree about Hitler on one level, but I probably differ on some deeper levels. That will be an interesting discussion too, when we get there!)
 
Abt_Nihil at 8:34AM, Feb. 17, 2012
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All right. My main point was and still is that I see Nazism as a specific ideology that is a subclass of the phenomenon you're describing. We can line up these subclasses on a scale, and on this scale of ingroup/outgroup behavior, Nazism would certainly occupy one of the more extreme places. A crucial point here is that the question isn't so much who human rights are applicable to, but who is seen as human to begin with, i.e. as someone worthy of having rights in the first place. Different eras and different cultures have set different borders here, and while we today, in deciding whether to give similar rights to, say, animals, have more of a “threshold” problem, other cultures simply excluded members of their own species (based on gender, ethnicity, sexuality etc.). Once excluded, dealing with these (artifically/socially defined) “subspecies” becomes a question of how exploiting these other creatures can serve one's own goals. If eradicating them serves your own goals best, as the Nazis thought, then, according to their definition of humanity, it's perfectly fine. In their point of view, the mere existence of “lower species” threatened the master race's purity. And that would constitute the ideological “excuse” for giving in to a more basic fear, the fear of a group being threatened by another - as you suggested, an extremely paranoid form of xenophobia.

These are some of the attributes which distinguish this subclass “Nazism” from, say, the subclass “radical neoliberalism”. While you can describe neoliberalism as imperialist (etc.), its ideologically radically differs from Nazism (i.e. Nazism in my sense, not yours :3).
Tantz Aerine at 7:59AM, Feb. 19, 2012
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So it really comes down to a question of definition :) (for neoliberalism as well ;) )

Like I said I wouldn't mind to coin a new term and put Nazism as a subculture if you like, but still I believe that if we went around doing that, and stripped all these ‘eligibles’ of their tags and historical names, you would see that it's the same (extreme, not moderate) tennet that is at work, doing exactly what you have described via different tages, categorizations and rhetoric. :) 
 
last edited on Feb. 19, 2012 8:00AM
Abt_Nihil at 2:41PM, Feb. 19, 2012
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I guess one motivation on my part is that the ideology seems to make a huge difference. Nazi Germany didn't beat around the bush when it came to wanting to eradicate whole ethnic groups. There is no such thing to be found in any neoliberal ideology. In fact, any suffering that is caused by neoliberalism has to be explained away as collateral damage.

Also, I forgot something in my last reply: What I really meant was, I just wasn't sure which part of your essay was supposed to be this definition you referred to.
Tantz Aerine at 7:14AM, Feb. 26, 2012
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Abt_Nihil wrote:
I guess one motivation on my part is that the ideology seems to make a huge difference. Nazi Germany didn't beat around the bush when it came to wanting to eradicate whole ethnic groups. There is no such thing to be found in any neoliberal ideology. In fact, any suffering that is caused by neoliberalism has to be explained away as collateral damage.
Also, I forgot something in my last reply: What I really meant was, I just wasn't sure which part of your essay was supposed to be this definition you referred to.
Actually that is not entirely accurate. It is in retrospect that we can see the NSDAP not beating around the bush about wanting to eradicate whole ethnic groups, with the release of confidential documents and the like. In fact, at least in the first stages (and not only during those) careful steps were taken to NOT be tagged as eradicators of whole ethnic groups. And they didn't just do it to other ethnic groups, but also within the ethnic group of the Germans. In fact the first holocaust took place within Germany and it did NOT involve just Jewish-Germans, but any German citizen that did not make the cut of ascription to the NSDAP and/or the requirements the NSDAP had, ranging from the weak and the disabled to the politically opposing elements of German society. 

But it was not done with clear admission within the NSDAP ideology- even antisemitic slogans and propaganda did not begin right off the cuff, but after the first cleansing waves of dissonants had taken place (around after 1936 I would wager).
Neoliberal ideology explains away its own cleansings as collateral damage for better-groomed markets/societies/ etc, but that is exactly what the nazis of nazi Germany did too. If you want we can look at it specifically. :) 
 
Abt_Nihil at 6:43AM, March 14, 2012
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Sorry it took me a bit longer to respond.

Now, first off, I don't think there's some fool-proof way to get at the “original” intentions of either Nazis or Neoliberals. The point is that we have a very clear intuition at least in the Nazi case though. Why is that? Because we have “Mein Kampf”, written many years before any Jew was industrially dispensed with; we have the general maliciousness in the Nazi's behavior, going back, again, to the days of “Mein Kampf” and the first “Hitlerputsch” in Munich; we have these very specific psychological profiles of the main leadership of the Nazi party; we have the psychological profiles of youths today who are or aim to be Neo-Nazis; and quite frankly, it is almost impossible not to view the whole Nazi-ideology as an excuse for rampant, violent xenophobia. If at any point the Nazis were hiding this fact, then we can very clearly construe that, from today's POV, as a deliberately deceiving political strategy.

We don't have anything like that in Neoliberalism. We don't have to do any psychological profiling on neoliberals. (Of course, we could - and we would find some psychological similarities. But only because political ideologies always correlate statistically with psychological profiles and social classes. But that wasn't my point in the Nazi case. In the Nazi case, I was painting a picture of borderline sociopaths.)

You could invoke the argument about neoliberals secretly deceiving us, but the difference is that in the Nazi case, we are certain, whereas in the neoliberal case, we're speculating. Those who are speculating in the Nazi case are mostly Neonazis themselves - historical revisionists. Again, there is no fool-proof way to distinguish these two forms of speculation, it's just a social mechanism. We have a social mechanism in place that is quite alert to the Nazi ideology (at least in Germany, we do), but neoliberalism is, socially, a mainstream ideology. There is NO comparable social mechanism in place.

Of course, the stronger arguments being that neoliberals tend to have less violent tendencies, less psychoses, and tend not to initiate ethnic cleansing, war and genocide. The only way to really make this fly is to construe a “secret war” of neoliberals. I'm not saying you couldn't do it… :P
Tantz Aerine at 11:38AM, March 21, 2012
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You know that out of all people you shouldn't apologize for lateness in replies to ME. :P 

I will concede all of those points, because I don't think we're actually disagreeing. It is true that we can now look at the NSDAP in retrospect (including Mein Kampf) and view everything within the context it should be viewed. I also think that because nazism as it surfaced then ran its course, we have far more complete data than we do for any of the patterns and situations taking place now.

As for neoliberalism, the melee, I should think, is not on the ethnic level (or the genetic level) on a primary level because of those previous mechanisms in place. What is mainstream now is the economy (and not real economy at that) as a measuring rod to evaluate entire peoples as healthy/worthy/good for the world as opposed to evil/scourges/bad for the world as a whole. And of course so far no vast (or OVERT) genocide has been taking place but then again the primary genocide of the Germans at around 1935 wasn't known when nazism of the NSDAP was mainstream either.

So maybe when neoliberalism has run its course, and we have the rest of the data at hand, we will be able to draw a final conclusion about how nazist it is or isn't. ;) But I have to say that as a social scientist, and one trained into figuring out patterns through history in order to see what's coming, I can't say I don't have an idea of what that final conclusion will be.
I sincerely, thoroughly, deeply hope I am proven wrong. 
 

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