Nazism Between Utopia and Anti-Utopia

On the one hand, Nazism was clearly a utopian movement. It wanted to create a perfect world for the pure Aryan race, devoid of degenerating forces. In a sense, it was idealistic. It had an ideal view of humanity and wanted to realize it, in part by way of the destruction of the less than ideal human beings and of those who were considered enemies of and dangerous to the better humans. Nazism had a peculiar kind of love for humanity. It’s love for humanity implied the destruction of those who abase, bring down and pollute it. Humanity was of course defined in a very particular way: true humans were the Aryans. The love for Aryans rather than hatred of Jews and other inferior beings was the prime motive. Love was what mattered, not hate, sadism, rancor or revenge. The future mattered, not our origins. People’s origins and race mattered only to the extent that racial mixing would threaten the future existence of the better race. And although there was blind and violent rage, the Nazi killings were in general rational, dutiful, professional, organized, and framed in terms of self-defense against degenerating forces.

On the other hand, as George Steiner has pointed out, Nazism was also a movement based on rancor towards Judaism and towards the impossible promise of unbearable and unattainable moral demands emanating from Judaism. Judaism presented to the world an impossible ideal, and we never hate anyone more than those who present us an impossible ideal. Nazism wanted to exterminate the Jews because Jews continuously confront humanity with its failings. The unbearable perfection caused the destruction of the emissaries of this perfection.

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2 thoughts on “Nazism Between Utopia and Anti-Utopia”

  1. As a rule of thumb, almost everyone considers himself the good guy—and most of the great atrocities in human history have been commited for idealistic purposes. (In some case, possibly only ostensibly so.)

    As an aside on Nazis and Jews, if you have the opportunity to read Mein Kampf, you will find that Hitler himself was very vehement where Jews were concerned. Notably, he saw Marxism (one of his main enemies) as a part of a Jewish conspiracy and seemed to lean in the general direction of Jews being the root of all evil. This may have been his personal opinions, rather than the party line, but the hatred-of-Jews-angle should not be trivialized.

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