Friday, July 02, 2004

Hitler Spricht!

An archive of Hitler Speeches covering the period from 1922 all the way down to April 29, 1945, just one day before he took his life. This probably isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's a useful historical resource all the same.

What I find especially interesting is observing just how strong the continuity is between the sorts of tropes Hitler employed in his speeches, and the usual strategems relied upon by many politicians and opinionators even in our day. To be sure, no one outside the lunatic fringe talks openly about "Aryans" and "Judaization" nowadays, but I think one can confidently say that every single rhetorical device Hitler uses in his speeches currently remains in use, even if in lightly disguised form: from cries that "this war is all about oil", to the labelling of individuals as "Zionazis", to the equation of Ariel Sharon to a baby-eating ogre, to the insinuation that "Big Oil", "Wall Street financiers" and "greedy multinationals" are the true driving powers in American foreign policy, we see in mainstream use just the sort of language and imagery Der Führer would have been perfectly comfortable with.

Nor is this continuity of discourse a problem for just the Indymedia left, as wild-eyed ravings about "internationalism" ("New World Order"), the insistence that the only alternative to a panglossian "blank slate" philosophy must be the admission that "race" is the great, inherent and unalterable determining factor in life ("The Bell Curve" aficionados), the "organic" nature of the "Aryan" (or as we say today, "White Anglo Saxon") state, and the threat posed to said state by contamination with non-white blood, are all depressingly familiar standbys of many on the supposedly respectable right. His enchantment with war - war for its own sake, war as the father of all things, war as a means of "rejuvenating" an "effiminate" and "decadent" society - is also far from dead in these allegedly more enlightened times.

It really shouldn't be surprising that Hitler's views find echoes both on the left and the right in our day. It is true that he was an ultranationalist, and it is also true that he was much less enamored of the "socialism" aspect of National Socialism than were the Strasser brothers, but a socialist he definitely considered himself to be, albeit one not of the "internationalist" mold. Considering Hitler's background, it should come as no shock to anyone to learn that he harbored a great resentment for markets and their alleged inability to recognize truly great men (by which one can only suppose he meant men like himself) who just happened to lack remunerative skills or the right qualifications. Hitler did indeed desire a socialism of a sort, just one which was to be restricted to those who met his racial criteria of merit. In all this there is a great deal of Plato's Guardian state, as Karl Popper noted quite a long while ago.

An interesting exercise would be to use the Fallacy Files site pointed out by Frank McGahon as an aide while systematically going through Hitler's speeches and picking out each and every superficially appealing but nonsensical argument employed in them; I'm sure such an undertaking would provide whoever took it up very many hours of labor.