In the Netherlands, among others, Nazism is seen as the most diabolical political system ever, the embodiment of absolute evil. In the non-Western world, for example the Islamic world and the Indian subcontinent, to my surprise when I was there, many people did not hide their admiration for Adolf Hitler. Why is Nazism the absolute evil according to almost everyone in the Western world, and non-Westerners often think otherwise?
What are the characteristics of the Nazi ideology?
In the Netherlands there is quite a bit of confusion about fascism and Nazism. This is the result of the political debate in the Netherlands, in which the term fascism is used inappropriately to disqualify political opponents. Strictly speaking (and there is no valid reason for participating in this language pollution) fascism is an extremely nationalist political philosophy, where the state comes first and all power is in the hands of one person and party. War, according to fascists, is natural and worth pursuing. Both the economy and society are under strict control of the fascist party and political opponents are cracked down on.
Nazi ideology also introduces the element of racism. According to Nazism, humanity is genetically divided into superior and inferior 'races', comparable to dog breeds, where the own race is of course superior. Between these races there is constant war, the "race struggle," in which the strongest race, its own race, will eventually be victorious. Usually a scapegoat is sought, for example the Jews or another minority group, on which the aggression of the people can focus. Nazism has more economic freedom than fascism. You could say that in fascism the state, and in Nazism the race is central.
In summary, the Nazi ideology thus boils down to the following statements.
Humanity is divided into superior and inferior races, in short: it is a racist ideology.
- There is a constant battle between these races.
- The task of the Nazi state is to look after the interests of its own race, in other words to wage a race war against inferior races and to keep the race pure, for example by forbidding marriages between people of different races.
The job of females is to mate with powerful, genetically superior males and give birth and raise many soldiers for the breed.
- For this purpose, all parts of society must be deployed efficiently and ruthlessly (totalitarian state).
- All the power of the state rests with one infallible leader who must be obeyed unconditionally, even to death.
The end, the establishment of supremacy of one's own race, justifies all means.
Indeed, an ideology reprehensible in all respects
In this list of points, there is really not one point that can be reconciled with a society that is dignified by Western standards. If this program is implemented in full, it will mean a bloody war against the rest of the world and the introduction of a racist dictatorship, in which family members betray each other and there is only room for the individual under a tombstone. But is Nazism the worst ideology imaginable, in other words, can Nazism be seen as the pure representative of absolute evil?
Basic racist philosophy and iron consequence led to Nazism
Hitler's main book, Mein Kampf, contains some surprising things. Thus, the man turns out not to be the unscrupulous psychopath for whom he is usually worn. However, the man had a thoroughly racist worldview, in which the highest human form of existence is the Aryan (Indo-European). According to Hitler, all human progress (“culture creation”) comes from whites, to be precise: purebred Aryans, like the Germans. So everything is allowed to preserve the racial purity of the Aryans, after all: according to him, the survival of humanity is at stake. The other peoples are culture carriers (he cites the Japanese as an example) or culture destroyers (eg Jews and blacks). He attributes the remarkably high level of civilization in China and Japan to lost Aryans (the Ainu, the most Aryan-like people in Japan, are not particularly known for their trendsetting culture). Only if Aryans remain racially pure, according to Hitler, will they continue to be able to advance the world, otherwise humanity will be doomed to decline. Jews are, in Hitler's eyes, a parasitic race, incapable of producing a culture of their own that sends and exploits the innocent Aryans.
The horrors of the Nazi era are the result of the consistent, compassionate thought through and implementation of this ideology.
Was Nazism unique in history?
Ethnic cleansing is timeless. For example, pogroms were commonplace. Most members of many ethnic groups traditionally believe that they are all descended from a common ancestor and are superior to other peoples. For example, the Jews believe they are descendants of the patriarch Jacob. The Somalis, for example, also believe that they all descend from a certain Samaale, who would again be a descendant of Mohammed. However, it was a combination of Darwinian genetics (without understanding how genetic information is actually stored) with this ethnogenesis that led to the development of racial ideology.
The massacre of entire colonies was also common. Consider, for example, what happened to the Tasmanians or the Armenians. In the biblical book Joshua you can read in detail how at the behest of Yahweh one nation after another is massacred by the Israelites. There are many questions about historical authenticity, but the mindset has been set. The temptation became great for the colonists to imagine themselves as God's chosen people, who have the divine right to murder other people. The industrial destruction of Jews, homosexuals and gypsies was the result of a pogrom in an industrial country. Concentration camps, for example, were established by the British during the Boer Wars.
Racist ideas were commonplace in the colonial era. The natives were unable to provide for themselves and therefore had to be civilized (or enslaved) by brute force. Eugenics was also very popular before the Second World War (also among socialists); in countries such as Sweden and the United States, deficient people were sterilized until the 1970s.
In short, Nazism is not as alien to Western culture as it is often portrayed.
Why do many non-Westerners have less trouble with Hitler and Nazism?
Before World War II, racism was less controversial than it is today. There are genetic differences between people, including differences that affect their character and intelligence. With a few exceptions, however, no deterministic connections can be made between the presence of a particular gene and intelligence or character. This is because genes code for proteins and the way these proteins interact determines what the effect is.
Because the frequencies of genes differ between human populations, there are many more genes encoding black pigment in circulation in Central Africa than in Greenland, there are also genetic differences between groups of people. Thus it turns out the 'warrior gene', one damaged variant of the MAO-A gene that induces aggressiveness and impulsivity indirectly (because it does not break down neurotransmitters that trigger strong emotions), more common among the aggressive lowland Yamomami (an Indian people from the western Amazon) than among the Yamomami who live in the more peaceful villages in the mountains. Aggressiveness is more useful in the plains than in the poor mountains, where long-term thinking is essential.
Non-Westerners have not experienced the traumatic rise of Nazism or (in the US) the civil rights struggle. Racism is therefore strongly developed in the ethnically very homogeneous East Asian countries: it is easy to see who comes from Vietnam, Cambodia or Japan. India has had the racist caste system for thousands of years, with the light-colored Brahmins taking the highest rank. A Brahmin greatly admired Hitler for fighting for the white race. My German travel companion was of course not happy with that.
Descent is also very important in Africa: an African sees himself as just an individual in an endless stream of ancestors and descendants. They don't know Jews, or they hate it (as in the Islamic world). In the Islamic world, the term 'ummah', the community of Muslims, takes the place of people with fascists or race with racists. In short, many non-Westerners, such as an Islamic acquaintance from Bangladesh, therefore see Hitler as an admirable strong leader, willing to step over to make his own group dominate.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1923)