As promised, I give a few ideas in response to Patrick’s post A response to Fr Anthony… that responded to my recent posting on the Beast of Nazism and similar ideologies.
As William Tighe suggested in his comment, there is a difference between Germany and Prussia. The history of that piece of land is long and highly complex. Much of it came together under the influence of Luther and cujus rex ejus religio. Some parts like Westphalia and Bavaria remained Catholic, but Prussia and much of the north gave that Kruppstaal hardness that favoured the sympathy some of the old military elite had for the Nazi ideology. Most of what I have seen personally of Germany has been of the Catholic parts with colour in the towns and a sense of joy. I admire the spirit of German Romanticism and the greatness of German music from Buxtehude and Bach to Brahms, Richard Strauss and Max Reger. There is a rigour and purity in that kind of music that I admire. Elgar, Stanford and Parry all worked in the “tradition” of Brahms and developed their own lyrical styles on that basis. Culturally, England owes much to Germany through the Royal Family and a sense of fair play, honesty and hard work.
The roots of the Beast are everywhere. Anti-Semitism (not merely an opposition to Zionism but the hatred of all Jewish people) was everywhere. I am old enough to remember schoolboys insulting boys by calling them “dirty Jews”. The Dreyfus affair in early twentieth century France is also a facet of the developing ideology. The Church in Italy was not exactly sympathetic either. It is known that the Gestapo based many of its methods on the old Spanish Inquisition.
I mentioned in my article that regimes like that of Hitler were Socialist (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei). Mussolini began with social reform and popular policies and actions. Taxation was very heavy, but everyone had a job and a home. The Volkswagon (people’s car) was launched at Wolfsburg near Hanover by Hitler. He also had the first motorways built to allow this little wonder of mechanical engineering to drive at high speed. One problem with the EU, as many rightly say, is that it resembles the old Soviet Union or may have the potential of becoming something like Hitler’s Berlin. Totalitarianism comes indifferently from nations and multi-national entities and bureaucracies. Of that there can be no doubt. A vulgar American would say – Either way you’re screwed.
There is also the notion that immigrants are being brought in because (if pushed up against a wall) they would work longer and less well-paid hours than white Brits. Perhaps. That has been so for a long time. I remember boys at school in the 1970’s going on about the “pakis” and the “wogs” in Bradford. That is more than forty years ago.
The big problem about “purifying” society is how far you go. After having deported or exterminated all immigrants, who do you go for next? Tramps? Unemployed people? Anyone not conforming to the precise type of human being? There is a legitimate concern about uncontrolled immigration and the strain they put on the Welfare State and the lack of respect they have for the culture welcoming them. That question has to be addressed, but within the limits of humanity and morality.
From the almighty cock-up in England, something will come of it. Much will depend on how other European countries relate to the EU and seek independence like the UK, the general implosion and collapse of the EU or some way to profit from the tightening noose and march towards globalism and the world bank. I am still confused, but seek to reason at a deeper level than English right-wing Conservative rhetoric.
I admire Patrick’s imagination of some Orwellian / Sharia future dark age. It may well turn out like that, a kind of third-world hovel one would find in the Middle East. I pray not to live long enough to see such a world. We can do much to delay the process’s effect on us by moving to the country and to remote places away from the towns, just as long as we have a means of survival. That is OK for as long as we don’t become afflicted with cancer or some other awful medical condition – then we either need a medical system or pray for a quick and painless death! We are only human and depend on the system to some extent. I too have read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and seen the film with Richard Burton.
I do make a distinction between nationalism and totalitarian national socialism or another kind of socialism (international). What we often call far-right is actually left-wing. The main principle is stealing the resources from the “haves” to distribute them equally to all (and keep some under the table). It is known that there is really no essential difference between the Nazism of Hitler and the Communism of Stalin. They glorified strength and power, and mercilessly killed and tortured those who did not worship the leader as their god.
Something needs to change.
Patrick is right as we stand poised at the brink of big changes in our life and our assumptions. Most of us will have to take initiatives and take responsibility for our own destiny. As Sartre once said in a cynical moment L’enfer, c’est les autres. Hell is not other people themselves but our utter dependence on them even in sin and foolishness. We have to be ourselves and make our own way. Most people cannot, but those of us who can must not be held up by those who cannot or will not.
In the end, the political upheavals that occupy our minds are of lesser importance than our self-knowledge which has to begin in ourselves before spreading to others with the potential for understanding. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.
I voted Brexit neither for racist nor nationalistic reasons. As a Christian I am bound to love all my fellow men and as a Catholic I am obligated to be deeply suspicious of my own secularised country.
Since WWII we’ve had both peace and political stability in Western Europe. So why do we now need a movement that attempts the dissolution of all nationhood – which the peoples of Europe clearly don’t want, hence the recent rise of right-wing groups? Our present political model: independent sovereign states, co-operating for trade and defence – why must it morph into that of a huge monolithic bloc which will inevitably be a threat to the rest of the world, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states, the USA? The Eurostate project is a lie. It proposes the answer to a redundant question: how do the peoples of Europe live together more closely and amicably?
One might ask how comes this disconnect between the prevailing political momentum on the one hand and the wishes of us plebs on the other. Ah, that would be… the lack of effective democracy. That would be… the lack of real accountability. In the Referendum, only a third of the electorate voted for the UK to remain in the EU – and I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of even these folks weren’t voting for “ever-closer union”.
The writing on the wall suggests that the N-exit is spreading throughout Europe, which would herald the same fate for the EU as the Soviet Union in 1989. Many French are deeply resentful about the increased membership of poor and former Soviet block countries in 2005. It remains to be seen whether the liberal Conservative lot in England will put the gini back into the bottle, not implement Article 50 and tell the masses to eat cake as the Orwellian nightmare comes ever closer. Perhaps civil war looms in England and this side of the Channel.
I pray God you are right about a Soviet-style collapse. I think it is likely to happen – though of course the countries who are conspicuously net-gainers from the Union have a powerful incentive to stay within the fold.
I shall be perfectly happy with any kind of fudge, any level of compromise, in a trade-off over our access to the single market and immigration, so long as Article 50 is implemented and Parliament recovers its sovereignty in this land.
As a sort of footnote both to Dr. Tighe’s comment on Patrick’s post, about Prussia, and your observation that “It is known that there is really no essential difference between the Nazism of Hitler and the Communism of Stalin”, some works and authors I have enjoyed, without being widely and deeply enough read to evaluate them adequately:
Sebastian Haffner’s The Ailing Empire (1989 English translation of 1987 Von Bismarck zu Hitler), and Der Teufelspakt: Die deutsch-russischen Beziehungen vom Ersten zum Zweiten Weltkrieg (1989, which seems not to be translated into English: I read both in Dutch translation);
Leopold Schwarzschild’s World in Trance (1943) – I’ve dabbled in the manuscripts of his unpublished Tovaritch Hitler, scanned online: see his Wikipedia article External Links, and hope someday to catch up with his The Red Prussian: The Life and Legend of Karl Marx (1948);
Edvins Snore’s 2008 film The Soviet Story;
all sorts of things by Chesterton, including short propagandistic pieces (available online) like The Appetite of Tyranny and The Crimes of England.
GKC, Schwarzschild, and Haffner share attention to Prussia and to continuity – the horrors of Nazism occur within a uniformitarian, statist, militarist, imperialist continuity that even in the Weimar Republic is quite ready to destroy the lives of ‘their own people’ as means to whatever ends. GKC particularly attends to intellectual, ideological, institutional ‘Prussianization’ in the English-speaking world as well. Schwarzschild’s Marx bio title suggests that he places what is revolutionary in Marx (and Engels) in this Prussian context and continuity, too, even as his draft Hitler bio and Snore’s film attend to Nazi debts to Marxism and vice versa and ways and degrees in which ‘there is no difference between them’.
More vaguely, I have read (or, via films, heard) about the dramatic extent to which the East German government cheerfully took all sorts of ex-Nazis on board. (So, alas, did the CIA, it seems!)
And where, I wonder, does Mrs. Merkel fit into this picture? I have run into a 2014 Accuracy in Media artilce by Cliff Kincaid which refers to “a book by Günther Lachmann and Ralf Georg Reuth titled, The First Life of Angela M., which suggests that she had deeper ties to the communist regime than previously known or acknowledged. She has admitted joining the Free German Youth, the communist youth organization, and a photo has surfaced showing her in a communist uniform. But the book argues that she hid her role in the youth group as secretary for agitation and propaganda, instead depicting herself as someone engaged in ‘cultural’ affairs.
“One of Merkel’s defenders said she ‘couldn’t remember whether she was involved in agitation and propaganda.’ ”
Is she one of the latest characteristic ‘Prussians’, ready to wreak whatever havoc she deems appropriate in both Germany and the closest thing to a German Empire she has, the EU, in pursuit of whatever ends she favors?
Perhaps, Father, if your goal is to decry racism, you might want to avoid reflexively attaching the epithet “vulgar” before the nationality “American” in the very essay where you complain that in the past the epithet “dirty” was reflexively attached to the ethnicity “Jew.”
Wadda they? Commies? Muzzies? Let’s go geddem, boy! I’m with you all the way… 🙂