Nationalism, not internationalism or cosmopolitanism [Section 9 of Nietzsche and the Nazis]

[This is Section 9 of Nietzsche and the Nazis.]

9. Nationalism, not internationalism or cosmopolitanism

This raises a question. So far the Nazi Program emphasizes that collectivism and socialism take priority over the individual—but which collective or social grouping has priority? Here the Nazi Program emphatically defines its collectivism and socialism in nationalistic terms. Individuals belong primarily to their ethnic and racial groups, those ethnic and racial groups giving them their core identities.

In the 1920 Program, seven of the twenty-five points speak directly to this issue. This issue is moderately complicated, because the Nazis have three enemies in mind against whom they want to distinguish themselves.

First they reject Marxist socialism or any socialism that puts economic groupings first. As much as the Nazis hate capitalism, they do not see the world as a battle between economic groups. The Marxists, as they see it, are obsessed with and too narrowly focused on money. To the Nazis money is only part of the battle—the major battle is between different racial and cultural groups with different biological histories, languages, values, laws, and religions. The battle is between Germans—with their particular biological inheritance and cultural history—against all other racial cultures.

Second, the Nazis reject cosmopolitanism, an ideal of Western liberals who believe that all humans are essentially the same wherever one travels in the world, and who believe that one should strive to be a citizen of the world, someone who can be at home anywhere.

The Nazis are nationalists, by contrast, and they reject any form of internationalism or cosmopolitanism.[16]

These themes explain the design of the Nazis’ swastika flag, as a symbolic integration of the socialism and the nationalism. Red is symbolic of socialism, white is symbolic of Nationalism, and the swastika is, according to Hitler, representative of the Aryan struggle for racial and cultural supremacy against those who are trying to destroy the Germans.

Consequently, in the Nazi Program of 1920 we find many points about German national identity and asserting German needs and goals.

Point 1 demands the unification of all ethnic Germans into a greater Germany.

Point 8 demands that immigration by non-Germans be halted and that all those who have immigrated recently be expelled from the country.

Public offices can be open only to citizens, and Point 3 defines citizenship in terms of the possession of German blood.

And the possession of German blood is defined carefully to reject a third target of the Nazis, those whom they hate even more than the Marxists or the liberal capitalists—and that is the Jews.[17]

Point 3 of the Program denies that Jews can be racial comrades of Germans, and this in combination with the other points in the Program effectively shuts the Jews out of German life.

A widely-used Nazi propaganda poster displayed a dragon with three heads wearing hats representing the communist, the international capitalist, and the Jew—the enemies the pure German warrior must defeat.

From the beginning of the Party in 1920, then, the pro-German nationalism and the strong anti-Semitic themes are, like the collectivism and the socialism, core Nazi themes.

mein-kampf-cover-100pxWhile the 1920 Program only mentions the Jews twice and seems to advocate only that the Jews be forced to leave Germany, within a few years the Nazi leadership had clearly begun to consider harsher measures. In 1925, for example, Hitler published Mein Kampf, a book that sold increasingly well as the Nazis rose to power. Hitler variously describes the Jews as an “octopus,” as “a parasite on the body of other nations,” as a “vampire,” as a “spider” that was “suck[ing] the blood out of the people’s pores,” and as having taken over the German state. To free the German Volk, consequently, Hitler calls for the “elimination of the existing Jewish one” and “the end of this parasite upon the nations.”[18]


[16] As Goebbels put it in his 1929 Michael, which sold well and went through seventeen editions: “Race is the matrix of all creative forces. Humanity—that is a mere supposition. Reality is only the Volk. Humanity is nothing but a multitude of peoples. A people is an organic entity” (Goebbels 1929, in Mosse ed., 1966, p. 106).

[17] Michael Mack’s German Idealism and the Jew (University of Chicago Press, 2003) is a study of the role German philosophers, historians, and other intellectuals, including Kant, Hegel, Marx, and others, played in developing and promoting anti-Semitism. See Appendix 3 for further quotations.

[18] Hitler 1925, pp. 623, 305, 327, 193, 453, and 327.


[Return to the Nietzsche and the Nazis page. Go to the main page.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *