Don’t remember when I first noticed this – high school, I’m thinking – but whenever it was, when I first started reading a little about the Nazis and what the fascists were trying to do, something rang very false: we’re calling these guys right wing extremists? Everything about them is left wing – they want to socialize everything, destroy religion and build a worker’s paradise. Isn’t that the diametric opposite of what even their enemies say right wingers are about?
I was a simple boy back then. Eventually, I learned that they weren’t real socialists because they worked with the capitalists instead of killing them all off, and were highly loyal to their own country. Real socialists want to kill rich people and hate their country – something like that, it was never put that clearly.
But as this article points out, Hitler was just more realistic. Those capitalists, while perhaps loathsome, were exactly the people who knew how to make things and generate cash for the state. The Reich needed those kind of people. Nowadays, we implicitly believe that we don’t really need people with demonstrated ability to get things done, that your average OWSer or community organizer can do just as well as Elon Musk or Bill Gates. Hey, when fantasizing, don’t be a piker – your magic should be powerful and your dragons huge.
Earlier, I posted about the process of dropping into history as a way of freeing oneself from modern nonsense. This is just one case where it’s easy to see that something fishy is going on.
Another related case, sickening and horrible, went on during the Winter Olympics. In the mandatory host country celebration of nationalism, the Russians presented a fantasy of Soviet history that was not only not terrible, but downright positive. Slave labor? Death camps? Tens of millions murdered outright? Let’s not bicker about who killed who. This is a happy occasion.
And our talking heads ate it all up. Not one, as far as I heard, called them on it, even from the safety of the broadcast booth: “You know, Bob, while that’s a very pretty parade going on down there, I can’t help but marvel how this version of Russian history glorifies the people that murdered 20 million Ukrainians and sent Solzhenitsyn to the gulag, among other atrocities. Maybe they’ll bring that up in the closing ceremonies?” That guy, if he got out of Russia alive, would have a career as a speaker all lined up for him. Except he’d get hired only by people he didn’t like.
Once, I was shocked into silence by a liberal friend of mine who said, with no apparent irony or insincerity, that Hitler killing 6 million Jews was worse than Stalin killing tens of millions because Hitler killed out of racist hatred while Stalin was trying to do something good. This was one of the first times I was brought face to face with the phenomenon John C. Wright expressed most clearly: that it is characteristic of progressive thinking to insist on being judged by intentions, not by outcomes. Therefore, Stalin’s intention to build a worker’s paradise absolves him from mass murder, while Hitler’s desire to build a worker’s paradise doesn’t.
Oops! Therefore, to excuse Stalin, who wanted what Progressives still want, we have to impute other motives to Hitler – even if their motives were demonstrably and historically the same.
The ends do not justify the means. We note in passing that neither Hitler nor Stalin got the ends they chose. But the people they killed still died.
h/t to a tweet by William Briggs.