Principled anti-Nazism [Section 41 of Nietzsche and the Nazis]

[This is Section 41 of Nietzsche and the Nazis.]

41. Principled anti-Nazism

nn-front-cover-thumbPhilosophically and politically, the Nazis stood for five major principles: They stood for collectivism, for instinct and passion, for war and conflict, for authoritarianism, and for socialism.

National Socialist Principles:

  • Collectivism
  • Instinct, passion, “blood”
  • War and zero-sum conflict
  • Authoritarianism
  • Socialism

That means we can identify the principles that, in each case, are the direct opposite of what the Nazis stood for:
Anti-Nazi Principles

  • The Nazis stood for collectivism. The opposite of that is a philosophy of individualism that recognizes each individual’s right to live for his or her own sake.
  • The Nazis stood for instinct and passion as one’s basic guides in life. The opposite of that is a philosophy of reason that has a healthy confidence in the power of evidence, logic, and judgment to guide one’s life.
  • The Nazis stood for war and conflict as the best way to achieve one’s goals. The opposite of that is a philosophy that encourages productiveness and trade and the best way to achieve one’s goals in life.
  • The Nazis stood for political authoritarianism and top-down leadership. The opposite of that is a philosophy that leaves individuals maximum freedom to live their lives by their own choice and direction, respecting the equal right of other individuals to do the same.
  • The Nazis stood for socialism and the principle of central direction of the economy for the common good. The opposite of that is the system of free-market capitalism, with individual producers and consumers deciding for themselves what they will produce and what they will spend their money on.

As a start, the principles in the right-hand column are the best antidote to National Socialism we have going. Each of those principles is controversial in our time, and I expect they will continue to be so for generations to come. But they represent the starkest philosophical contrast to National Socialism possible, and they form the first line of defense against future incarnations of Nazism. There is no better place to start than understanding them thoroughly.

I will end on a provocative note: The Nazis knew what they stood for. Do we?

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4 thoughts on “Principled anti-Nazism [Section 41 of Nietzsche and the Nazis]

  • March 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Dear Professor Hicks:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your film from which this and 40 previous posts were adapted. However, your final provocative query that completed the journey left me in a bit of a quandary. I have difficulty accepting that collectivism is inherently negative (which I am inferring from you given its position in your chart). One quick example–should alleged resource depletion and its attendant problems be resolved individually? Isn’t it only possible to solve these and similar problems collectively, (even if executed individually)?

    Next, I wonder about the socialism/capitalism dichotomy. I would love to read a greater discussion on this subject. For example, is capitalism in your analysis an economic system whose primacy is capital (i.e. wealth)? How is that the opposite of socialism? If socialism is the primacy of the mass of people (I’m not arguing that it is–this is simply a point of departure for example’s sake). Of everything that you discussed in your film, this is the point with which I had greatest difficulty understanding.

    Essentially, allow me to elicit a response to this question: is it the combination of the above characteristics that make one a fascist or at least an adherent to an undesirable philosophy? Is the combination of the diametrically opposite characteristics that which will destroy it? Or, by your analysis, should each of these philosophies separately and jointly be avoided?

  • March 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Rolandovich:
    Thanks for your comment and excellent questions.
    My schedule’s overfull right now, but I will be able to follow up with you soon.

  • March 21, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Dr. Hicks,

    I have a curiosity regarding the same portion of the film. Were these right column values present in Germany when the Nazis were rising to power? It seemed that you built an excellent case for how an entire culture could be wooed from such beliefs by Nietzsche’s philosophy/the Nazi remix, but your conclusion is that they are the best defense we have to start with, which seemed contradictory. I very much enjoyed your presentation. I’ve read mixed reviews, but everyone with a negative opinion coupled its statement with evidence of their ignorance. I’ll wait patiently with Rolandovich.


  • November 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Dr. Hicks,

    Enjoyed the film. Revealing Hitler saying they were lucky men didn’t think. The irrationalist approach demonizing opposing thought – it explains some things we witness now. Very scary how we fall for these things over again – sheep to their demise.

    Stunning how moraly bankrupt — may I say “evil” — their ideas and methods, evolution justifying every degradation. No fear of God, no respect for humanity. Worshipping only at the temple of man.

    A cruel god this man-made thing.


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