Thursday, August 16, 2007

Make them secure

A review of Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State by Götz Aly. I linked to a July 24 post by Ilya Somin on this and another book last month.

Michael C. Moynihan points out that the point of view adopted in this book is a necessary addition to others in the effort to explain National Socialism, but it is not the golden bullet, which almost certainly does not exist.

“The Nazi leadership did not transform the majority of Germans into ideological fanatics who were convinced that they were the master race,” Aly concludes. “Instead it succeeded in making them well-fed parasites.”

This makes sense. The majority of people, for many reasons, are not ideological and will not become extremists. The most basic of those many reasons is that they have better things to do and just can't be bothered. Saint-Just recognised during the ur-Revolution that the greatest enemy of the radical was the indifferent. The nazis' approach to this problem was simple: make them secure. It does not give us the why of nazism, but it helps towards explaining the how.

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