"But what about the Nazis?"

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Baal
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 11:49 pm
As a serial lurker, I see many posts (particularly in respect to Ethics) which ultimately bring about the Nazi case. The general format is "What would you have done during the times of the Nazis" or "Isn't that what the Nazis did?" etc.

The case of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the like were very specific sociocultural events which immense background. To have this brought into an ethical debate without actually going into the political, social, and psychological era of the times, e.g dominant ideologies in the US, Germany, the Ghetto and the like, is a rather cheap treatment of the event itself, in which it becomes diluted as a mundane, perhaps even mythical reference to anything evil; in other words, it abstracts from the actual events and places them in a timeframe far earlier than its actual occurrence - e.g. Mythical Time; thus leading it to be a self fulfilling folktale rather than a historical event; and something which is relevant and understandable to the whole of humanity rather than a (very broad) group of people.

The Nazi case is thus the new Myth of the modern era; it is a myth not in the sense of it not having taken place (for it did), but is mythical because it is used almost impulsively as some kind of fairy-tale scenario of good vs. evil. Other players who were not as good as the myth portrays them to be (The "Allied" powers) are the prince charming of this magical tale. The actual atrocities have been entirely forgotten and merely abstracted as a "Blow of evil", of "being possessed" etc. and thus has lost its actual history.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 01:11 am
@Baal,
Come on Baal, are you saying the Nazis are the Ethical Bogeyman? Keep this up and you will give them a bad reputation. I do agree, however, that using the "nazi case" so flippantly is a cop out. Their mythical presence in today's cultural conscience is an abstracted vilification of a one time reality. Hitler and cadre have become cautionary tales. "Don't be bigoted, or you'll be like Hitler." It is a far cry from the average xenophobe or racist to a megalomaniacal sociopath personality cult dictator. to throw these terms around so lightly not only is an unfair comparison to most people these terms are being applied to, they take out of context the real psychological issues associated with a person like hitler, and a real historical era associated with the movement.

What I see when a person uses these analogies willy nilly is either someone too lazy to create an apt analogy, or someone so uneducated to believe that anyone can be a Hitler, or someone so callous that s/he would deliberatly troll the thread by using the most heinous thing they could think of.
 
salima
 
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 02:02 am
@Baal,
"Other players who were not as good as the myth portrays them to be (The "Allied" powers) are the prince charming of this magical tale."..Baal

i hear ya. it makes me sick to see war glorified-there has to be a hero, a good guy and a bad guy. but that is what the 'allied forces' did, you can see it in old movies and newsreels. the bombing of hiroshima and nagasaki were not acts of heroes. if there were any heroes it was the underground who hid the people being persecuted, rescued captives and fought the armies that had invaded their countries.

making someone like hitler into a myth makes it real dangerous to be unable to recognize him when he shows up again-and he will. i dont mean literally, like in reincarnation-i mean if we dont look at what he really was and how so many people were passively following his leadership, what have we learned?
 
Caroline
 
Reply Tue 21 Jul, 2009 04:58 am
@Baal,
Re:Baal
Care to expand a little on
" going into the political, social, and psychological era of the times, e.g dominant ideologies in the US, Germany, the Ghetto and the like,............." please, thanks.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 22 Jul, 2009 09:54 pm
@Caroline,
What is unfair about comparing a bigot to Hitler or Nazi principle in general? They follow the same trend, only one is not so extreme as the other.

Nazism has become a cautionary occurrence: we look back and say "never again", so why not look around today, in our own times, and notice the tendencies toward what we do not ever want to see in full fruition? If anything, it will be wise for us to make those comparisons so that we do not forget what leads to Nazism.
 
Baal
 
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 06:48 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Caroline and Thomas:

The social and cultural elements of Nazism and the era at the time was that of Modernism, Science, Industrialism, Age of the Machine, lots of pseudo-Mysticism and theology, anthropology etc.

Much of this is often omitted in contemporary accounts (depending where, of course) -- however all of these contributed to the rise of the Nazi regime. Likewise, the so-called Allied powers harbored much of the same sentiments: Extreme nationalism, "Civilization" (Imperialism), applied Science (eugenics, forced sterilization, racial segregation (yes.. the US had all that as well)) and thinly veiled Racism.

Nazi Germany and Hitler were just embodiments of the era, and thus to accuse a bigot of being "Like Hitler" is essentially deflecting the blame from the actual culture and centering it on the individual.

Oh surely Hitler was a powerful orator etc. and his personality had much to do with what transpired, however much of what occured, the very orderly and calculated exterminations of the holocaust, the manner in which it was all done, and the ruthless and perhaps even apathetic manner in which all was executed was purely a product of the ways of "Science" and "Culture" which dominated then as much as they dominate now, but only under a far more fragmented form.

Sure, there have been bigots, and a bigot is always a bigot - what they
are bigoted against surely varies, how much they attribute their woes to an enemy varies as well -- but such is not necessarily related to bigotry but rather on the current culture and "Scientific" as well as "Logical" methods of reasoning etc.

The bottom line being that Nazism was more of an embodiment of chaos and pure faith in the creation of Man and the glamor of a People than it was "Pure Evil" or even "Reactionary" (although the latter did also contribute significantly).
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 08:21 pm
@Baal,
I largely agree with you -- and would go on to assert that ALL major world events were contextually unique.

But still, if our theme on this forum is to have philosophical discussions, the extreme example of the Nazis is very illustrative of what humanity is capable of. We can take one of the most educated, literate, technologically advanced nations, and witness the rise of a political party that voluntarily and on philosophical grounds launches untold aggression and butchery.

The possibility of the Nazis tells us a great deal about humanity.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 08:38 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;79163 wrote:
I largely agree with you -- and would go on to assert that ALL major world events were contextually unique.

But still, if our theme on this forum is to have philosophical discussions, the extreme example of the Nazis is very illustrative of what humanity is capable of. We can take one of the most educated, literate, technologically advanced nations, and witness the rise of a political party that voluntarily and on philosophical grounds launches untold aggression and butchery.

The possibility of the Nazis tells us a great deal about humanity.


Paul I agree with you, however, I think what Baal is trying to express is a distaste for hyperbole rather than a case for inaccurate analogy. To directly compare many of the things discussed here with the Nazi movement and outright genocidal policy is in most cases very much hyperbole and trivializes through that analogy much of the plight of those that were victimized, their families, and descendants.
 
Baal
 
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 08:52 pm
@GoshisDead,
And yes.. this is what I meant.. but the hyperbole analogy automatically precludes what you suggested (e.g. what humanity is capable of) precisely because it mystifies the Nazi era as being possessed by "Evil" elements and thus not purely "Human".

Certainly victims can say such things (until they give you more detailed description), but in their case it was very real, and the creation of their own, personal, myth is their way of coping with it or there reflection of the events. They are in a form of ambivalence, and for them Nazism was very real.

However for the generation that did not experience this, beginning from the myth itself will make it remain a myth, and have it rebounded as a parable of sorts to be abstracted and applied, when indeed much other examples would do -- and as my first post etc.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 09:10 pm
@Baal,
Evil and monstrous should be seen as purely human qualities, shouldn't they?

After all, the only examples of evil we have in the world come from the acts of humans.

One of my grandmother's starkest memories was when she was hand-selected by Josef Mengele when she was in Auschwitz and lied to him about her age during the selection. She still describes him to this day as a monster.

Isn't that what a monster is, in the end? A kind of human?



Anyway, what I DO object to here, and I think this is what you've been getting at, is that people are generally highly ignorant of the actual history, the context, the complex and inconsistent philosophies held by prominent Nazis.

Cartoonizing their acts and their beliefs bothers me a lot more than cartoonizing them as monsters.

For instance, how often have we seen someone contend that the Nazis were internally justified in their acts because they say the Jews as threats -- even though history does not bear out that the Nazis actually thought this (or that they would be justified in their acts even if they had). How often do we see atheists blaming Naziism on Christianity and Christians blaming Naziism on atheism?

If people are to make examples of the Nazis, then it's going to be most useful to do it with some kind of historical understanding of them.
 
Baal
 
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 09:30 pm
@Aedes,
Well I already addressed victims' association with that era and how they relate to it is not, and should not be similar to how we relate to it. These people have tattoos with numbers on their arms: there is no escape from what happened. For Them, the immediate is the sensed, and the abstracted is the attribution - but the case for us is reversed.

The point is that the product and actions may have indeed Produced "Evil" but ascribing "Evil" as a human quality or property is not necessarily the point here -- it is actually contrary to the point. The real point here is that cultures can instigate evil, that many forces combined can produce evil. It is not a quality exerted by one person or even a group of people. At least not in the social and psychological sense.

If you have ever suffered serious trauma in your life, you will find yourself trying to erect a kind of antithesis to the events which transpired and try to deflect from the causal elements and attribute more to the supernatural, to something superlogical (and here we are not debating whether such an attribution is correct or not) -- but in order to both analyze and prevent such things, portraying these people and their ideologies as "Monsters" is detrimental to their prevention.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 23 Jul, 2009 09:36 pm
@Baal,
I edited my last post, but I'll rephrase it here.

I think as you do that discussing the Nazi era first and foremost requires a knowledge of its history. The Holocaust itself was many separate events, not a simple organized act. The beliefs of the Nazis were heterogeneous and inconsistent. The psychology of the Nazi perpetrators was variable. And the Holocaust is historically inseparable from the prosecution of the war against the USSR.

But most people lack a good historical background, and thus tend to oversimplify the Nazis beliefs and actions.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 03:07 am
@Baal,
I understand what you're saying now, I think I didn't grasp what you meant because I've always seen the Holocaust for what it was. It happened not all that long ago and if you read about what the Nazi's did do the Jews and their children it will make your stomach turn, I dont think I've ever read anything quite so inhumane and i've read alot on the horrors humans like to inflict on each other. Are you talking about the next generation down who see as some sort of myth? It is interesting that you say the US had genocide sorry i mean forced segregation on their a minds too? Yo mean the segration of blacks and whites, it's a joke isn't it, they ship over 1000's of slaves and then wonder what they're going to do about nationlism, honestly it makes me laugh, the stupidity.
 
urangutan
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 05:04 am
@Baal,
Being as a Nazi, is not something hidden, rather it is an expression that can be read upon someones face or emotion. They are without something they once had and care not of the destruction it takes to obtain it and the spoils in between. You cannot hide it behind terms like road rage, when that is what it is. No I am sorry, but Hitler is the inner soul of a great many people. They are not fortunate enough to find friends like he did.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 08:23 am
@Baal,
Avoiding the sense of the word which is pejorative and used as an ad hominem attack, to draw an historical analogy is often tenuous unless one can show that there are basic and fundamental similarities that outweigh the accidental. Much the same can be said, for example of "colonialism" or "Neo-colonialism" or "Neo-Nazi." Without this warrant for the analogy, it is on the par with slogans or reductionism, neither of which shed light on the situation being discussed.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 11:22 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;79201 wrote:
I understand what you're saying now, I think I didn't grasp what you meant because I've always seen the Holocaust for what it was. It happened not all that long ago and if you read about what the Nazi's did do the Jews and their children it will make your stomach turn, I dont think I've ever read anything quite so inhumane and i've read alot on the horrors humans like to inflict on each other. Are you talking about the next generation down who see as some sort of myth? It is interesting that you say the US had genocide sorry i mean forced segregation on their a minds too? Yo mean the segration of blacks and whites, it's a joke isn't it, they ship over 1000's of slaves and then wonder what they're going to do about nationlism, honestly it makes me laugh, the stupidity.



No Caroline:
He meant eugenics and genocide in the US and Canada. In 1997 Canada was even brought up on investigation in front of the UN for genocide. Eugenics was an official policy in the US and a credible political movement. For decades in Canada and the US it was legal to forcibly sterilize Indigenous people normally preteen girls. After being forced to go to a bording school some of these kids even had medical testing preformed on them. It may not be as violent as nerve gas showers but it is effectivley genocide.

Here is a native source/ first nations site, The funders of this site are the ones who brought the suit before the UNited Nations. If you look in the UN archives you will find its no joke, but i don't feel like combing through them.
Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 11:48 am
@Baal,
gosh-
this website seems not to have been updated since 2005, and actually i dont see any information later than 2003. so what happened with the investigation by the UN?

hasnt there been any suggestion that usa commited genocide? but you cant really go after the government today for what happened hundreds of years ago. i just thought they could at least acknowledge it and try and make reparations. not that there is any suitable way to make amends for genocide....

and with stories like these, how can anyone think there there arent conspiracies going on? (per responses on a different thread)
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 11:57 am
@salima,
No alligations were brought up about the US, however, forced sterilization in bording schools was not uncommon in the US. Cultural, religious, and many rights we take for granted were denied Indigenous communities, and fairly sadistic corporal punishment in bording schools were administered if a student was caught speaking his indigenous language, practicing her own religion, or really any other non-"white" activity. i This was until the US's official repeal in 1991. Nothing really came of the alligations against Canada. The First Nations suit really wasn't about reparations, more about publicity. Laws in Canada and the US regarding cultural suppression, land stewardship, water, hunting, religious rights have changed in the last two decades.

I think however, this was brought up as an example that allied countries were not necessarily better than the axis powers at the time. That evil is spread out fairly evenly in humanity etc...
 
Baal
 
Reply Fri 24 Jul, 2009 12:18 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;79276 wrote:
Avoiding the sense of the word which is pejorative and used as an ad hominem attack, to draw an historical analogy is often tenuous unless one can show that there are basic and fundamental similarities that outweigh the accidental..


While in principle you are correct, this is not the main part of my argument. In fact, I am in a large part addressing their usage in ad hominem attacks: While in a philosophical forum ad-hominem attacks are frowned upon, they occur explicitly and frequently in the 'real world' and also here on this site (although I will concede that such accusations are often cleverly veiled.. there are even a few in this thread..). You will have a degree of ad-hominem in any debate which is a forum or communique proper. They may be more absent in more extensive expositions where the other side is only later being viewed in disagreement e.g. in retrospect, or when the other side's arguments are abstracted and framed into the wishes of the author. This mainly has to do with the immediacy of the dissenting view (this is actually a whole discussion in itself.. but not particularly relevant to this thread...).

Invoking terms with a powerful pathos and ethos such as "Nazi" is always ad-hominem except if the venue is purely within historical context - and why this has become such is particularly cyclical - "Nazis are monsters" and vice versa - and I think it's a precise demonstration of the point I wished to highlight in the first place, namely the mythification of the Nazi era and the Nazis themselves, the fact that any comparison, even an accurate comparison automatically attains this quality of ambivalence, being both mythical and historical - and in this sense, per earlier explanations, in which for us this mythical aspect is the immediate, is immediately rejected in terms of accurate analysis and thus what remains is merely and exclusively the prejorative.

---------- Post added 07-24-2009 at 09:27 PM ----------

Aedes;79176 wrote:
I edited my last post, but I'll rephrase it here.

I think as you do that discussing the Nazi era first and foremost requires a knowledge of its history. The Holocaust itself was many separate events, not a simple organized act. The beliefs of the Nazis were heterogeneous and inconsistent. The psychology of the Nazi perpetrators was variable. And the Holocaust is historically inseparable from the prosecution of the war against the USSR.

But most people lack a good historical background, and thus tend to oversimplify the Nazis beliefs and actions.


Actually the Holocaust the events, and the ideologies that surrounded it, while on the surface were heterogeneous, they were in essence all part of the same ideology and theme -- which existed almost universally, which is partially an explanation of why it was able to go on as long as it did.. and perhaps if not for the military aspect of WWII, would have continued much longer than it did.

Actually, this is what makes the holocaust a special event, different from other forms of persecution, unless you mean the perennial pogroms which took place outside of the death camps -- which was nothing new at all.

This had occurred during the Armenian genocide, the Chmelnitzky events and perhaps many others.
 
Philosopher Jay
 
Reply Mon 10 Aug, 2009 01:00 pm
@Baal,
It seems the term "Nazi" signifies many things: the real historical group that seized power in Germany in the 1930's and caused World War II and the holocaust, pure evil, the evil of extreme xenophobic nationalism, the evil of extreme antisemitism, the evil of extreme state control, the evil of extreme anti-communism/socialism, to name a few.

In ethics, it seems to mean most often a nightmarish situation where your life is on the line unless you take drastic action. It seems that when anyone expresses pacifist or peaceful desire, the Nazi question is brought up. When it is brought up, it is almost as if the Nazis were being used as a knife held against the throat. There is the implication, "Fight or the Nazi knife will slit your throat."

What a strange power the word has. the word "Mythological" describes it well, only the word describes powerful things, like Hercules, that the world now believes is unreal. Nobody believes that the Nazis were unreal. They were too real, a nightmare come to life.

It seems to me a scientific problem. We need to discover the conditions that produced the Nazis and make sure it never happens again. Perhaps we should think of the Nazis as a horrible virus that devastated much of Europe like the Bubonic Plague did in the middle of the fourteenth century.
 
 

 
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