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Monday, November 22, 2004

 

national socialism in the contemporary


i've often compared the rise of neoconservatism and the mindset that encourages it as the reinvention of the european national socialism of the 1930s. such claims can be hard to explain, however, in part because of the immense wall of popular perception that has built up around nazism as a method of understanding it in a modern context.

in the aftermath of world war two, a fractured western civilization -- already in flight from any continuity with its past following the first great war -- was left to reckon with the devastation with the philosophical means they had available. for a great many, this meant contextualizing the nazis mystically as evil incarnate -- a method made easier by the onslaught of war propaganda they had consumed -- and therefore inhuman to the individualist masses who believe in the platonic and christian notion of the essential goodness of man. hitler and his ilk were made out as monsters almost of a fairytale sort. this collective dismissal of the human motivations, philosophies and reasonings behind the rise of that horror altered the way the history of the war and its origins was written and conceived, making the reality of how many contemporaries felt hard to see or understand.

so it can be instructive to read the writings of national socialism's contemporaries and advocates, such as anthony ludovici*. ludovici was a serious scholar of his day, a prominent prewar british conservative and an interpreter of nietzsche. he was also a racist, as many early 20th c conservatives were, whose advocacy of eugenics is both ridiculous and disturbing.

ludovici's writings are almost completely forgotten now, as part of an intellectual purging that came following the 1930s. but his admiration of nazi germany exists online in excerpt.

reading them now, i am struck by the similarity of ideals and values that we now see in the american popular appeal of neoconservatism.

* - information on ludovici is often accessible on the net only through websites whose politics many (including myself) will find reprehensible. please understand that in no way am i condoning the views of either ludovici or any website by offering these links. for a modern analysis of ludovici and british fascism, please consult dan stone's "breeding superman: nietzsche, race and eugenics in edwardian and interwar england".


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