Did Hitler Win the War?
IN FOCUS, 20 Nov 2017
Harald Ofstad | Dagens Nyheter – TRANSCEND Media Service
I – The simplest explanation of the situation of the world is that Hitler won the war and is directing the events from his control room. If we accept this idea, it will be intelligible that the development is consistent with his ideology and more and more seems to be characterized by his evil genius. But if we assume that Nazism was crushed 1945, how then should we explain the correspondence?
No, Hitler won the war. Shortly after his apparent defeat he succeeded in starting the cold war and the crusade against Communism. Göring was well-informed when he during the Nuremberg trials predicted that just wait – within just a few years the Western Powers just have to continue the struggle against Communism that we began – in fact, you are grateful but you really don´t dare to say it. Since then, there has been a rapid succession. Anti-semitism has stepped forward openly. The racial problem is more violent and widespread as ever. Anti-democratic tendencies manifest themselves also in states which we anticipated to be particular defenders of democracy. War, violence, and police brutality in a clear Nazi pattern in state after state. Narrow nationalistic and power-oriented thinking even among those who took the initiative to established the UN. Outrage and injustice against military weaker countries.
Even though Hitler lost the war, what, then, explains the development? Was Nazism not really a German phenomenon, but an extreme expression of tendencies which might appear anywhere and express themselves politically if the conditions are present?
II – The German Nazism was characterized by a will to power highly conditioned by national feelings of inferiority. There are no indications that this form of Nazism is dead, but today this is not the greatest cause for worry. Now we are threatened by a kind of protectionist Nazism employed by superpowers which more and more see themselves as an élite with a duty to arrange the conditions of the world “in the best way”. The danger of a Nazi development is coming from surplus of power, not from feelings of inferiority. This form of international National Socialism which we´ll have to take into account will therefore hardly be as compensating as the German, it will be less psychologically and nationally conditioned, and more international and characterized by sociology, less neurotic, more “rational” and technical.
But why, at all, introducing the concept of Nazism – a word that to such a degree is used as insult or means of propaganda? Because it compels us to see the relationship with the German Nazism, makes us more alert on the patterns in which the single components are part, and increases our understanding of where the counteraction should be put in.
III – Let me say some about what I mean by Nazism as a general phenomenon. There is – and will surely exist for long – political brutality, both on the national and international level, which reasonably not could be called Nazi. If the word will have a varied and guiding meaning, it must direct the attention to the essential of the set of factors which the German Nazism exemplified – without being attached to them.
Firstly, we must demand that the state, group, race, nation or constellation of such units – let us use the word group, whose ideology or policy we should classify as Nazi – regard itself (in words or deeds) to constitute an élite in relation to one or other groups, and to have the the right to interfere with their conditions in order to realize their own objectives. The first group should therefore be called the élite group or the group of superior value, the other, the group of inferior value.
One of the reasons why I use the word group, and not the word race, is that I think it is misleading to assert that Nazism only could rise on a so called race conditioned foundation. The important idea is “we-are-more-valuable-than-you”. In this context, it is not important what is taken as proof of superiority.
The superior value group doesn´t necessarily have be a non-democratic group, in the sense that it has abolished freedom of speech and the political freedom. Neither is it necessary that it has deprived the inferior value group its rights. It could simply have seen to that the oppositional lack means for converting their demands into actions which could change the state of power. Nor should we demand that the superior value group have abolished parliamentarism. It is not impossible that the ideology of power is held by everyone. It will not be less Nazi because of this.
The second condition is that the élite group has a positive attitude towards violence as a political means and generally think violence is a better means than nonviolence. One always presupposes that violence should be used, because, among other things, violence proves, better than anything else, the power of the superior value group and the weakness of the inferior value group..
The violence doesn´t have to express itself in shooting and bombing. It is also violence to see to that the “inferior” don´t get the food they need, or, as an example, to poison their minds so that they begin se see themselves as inferior.
The third – and last – component is that the superior value group considers itself to have the right to ignore all moral norms in its relation to the other group. It is not obliged members of the other group other considerations than what is benefitting its own interests.
It considers itself to have the right to indoctrinate them in a suitable ideology, to use them, to treat them, to change them, to exterminate them. Everything that promotes the interests of the superior value group is allowed.
The combination of these three components, the élite idea, the presumption of violence, and suspension of morals, constitute the nucleus of Nazism. It does not give any reason to speak about Nazism, if one of them is at hand. As an example, it’s not enough if we find symptoms of cult of violence within a group. Maybe, it is defending itself against an attack or has started an insurrection according the formula, “it is equally important for us to have the opportunity to live a good life as for you”. In terms of value, there must also be an idea of superiority present. Nazism is always a movement von oben.
We should not regard these components as though they either are or are not present. They can be fulfilled to a higher or lower degree, but it is most likely that there exists a dynamical relationship between them: an extreme degree of one of the components has a tendency to affect the conditions so that the two others will gradually make the picture complete.
IV – Surrounding this nucleus of three components, there is a wide zone of factors that – according to circumstances – facilitate their growth. Here, we find cult of leadership, chauvinism, power-oriented nationalism, a tendency to make a difference between the manifest will of the people and the “true” will of the people, racial prejudices, an emphasizing the necessity of morals and firm norms, the idea that it is better to think correctly than freely, Puritanism, ant-rationalism, anti-intellectualism, cult of the vital and heroic, urge to punish, black-and white thinking, a disposition towards clichés and sentimentality, symbol oriented (unrealistic) idealism, romantization of “chivalry”, anti-parliamentarism, the principle that power is right, and so on. These marginal factors could in a higher or lower degree – separately or together – initiate processes that make the three nucleus components develop.
V – It is the superiority of power itself, not evil or perversion that pushes the superpowers into the role as self-appointed big-brother-police. But almost inevitably and to an intensifying degree, the police role will stimulate the rise of an ideology which gives them the right to interfere – right because they have the power. This is already a big step towards Nazism.
But this is just the beginning. We must further take into account that the recognition of military superiority also will support the belief in superiority in understanding and political judgment, in other words, that “we are the political élite of the world, because we have the longest bayonets”.
To this comes that the superpowers are into a phase of increasing development of wealth, while the military weaker states to a large extent are poor and industrially undeveloped. And when the poor want to see a more just distribution of the resources of the world, the superpowers will regard them as potentially threatening, and therefore regard all radical changes in these countries as the beginning of insurrection, which must be taken down, the sooner the better and which therefore proves the necessity of violence. The feeling of threat will at the same time give the superpowers the good consciousness needed in the role of ruler which the superiority of power not really could bring.
But, still, this is not all. The rich superpowers are to a great extent predominantly populated by white people, while the weak and poor to a great extent are populated by colored peoples. And since racial prejudices often are latent even at places where they have not shown up before, there is a danger that ideas of racial superiority will get established – the tendencies meet and have a cumulate effect. There is a constellation of states rising who regard themselves as the white élite of the world – the superior value group – which is standing against an inferior value group of poor, colored, and weak states.
VI – Before the organized abuse of power, there existed an unrestrained Nazi ideology in German Nazism. The ideology was part of promoting the brutality and the persecution of “the weak and unfit to live”. The ideological factors are working still today, but since everything that reminds of Nazi terminology – also ruling and élite terminology – is extremely unpopular ever since the time of the gas-chambers, I don´t think that the rich-white-powerful will formulate an explicit ideology of ruling to justify the differences. The ideological justifying will develop step by step – not as a whole, like “Mein Kampf” – and it will be expressed in “democratic”, “liberal” and “socialistic” terms – which we already have seen coming up – in the same way as the ideologists of Negro slavery justified the slavery with “humanistic” arguments.
The ideology will contribute to give the élite a feeling of having the right on their side, which creates a veil between them and the reality, and therefore diminishing all impulses to all radical changes.
VII – We must take into account that the white non-superpowers who feel themselves threatened by colored states, and rich states or multinational companies which feel threatened by the poor, or believe to benefit from associating themselves with a superpower, or one who has associated themselves with a superpower, will try to join the élite group and seek protection from them, in the same way as great parts of the German middle classes resorted to the Nazis. The individual state or organization within the élite may, however, have developed far in the leveling between rich and poor, but turn for protection, among other things, because one is afraid to sink in relation to others.
VIII – Of course, I don´t think of the kind of development I have sketched is inevitable and necessary. These are tendencies and forces, and we know that there are tendencies in the opposite direction.
If we take my reasoning as ground, there are particularly two kinds of such positive forces which we should support.
Firstly, action which work for a more just distribution of the resources of the world, not only the pure economical, but all that defines the status of value of a group, for example, also its access to education. Such a leveling do not only increase the international justice, but contribute to immunize the soil against the ideology of Nazism by making the experience of “we sink down towards them who are standing under us” meaningless.
Secondly, actions which promote creating more adequate international institutions and control organizations, founded on the really existing difference between power and right.
At the moment, none of these counter powers seems to be very strong within the nations where they would be most important. The pro-Nazi tendencies are probably in predominance, among other things, because they are so strong in the USA that they are soon threatening to verify Sinclair Lewis´ pessimistic prediction in “It Can´t Happen Here”, published 1935.
If we judge from what we know about the lives of the Nazi élite in Germany, it is not certain that the world élite could expect any comfortable life as a superior value group. It cannot, however, be excluded, especially if the élite idea suppresses all inclinations toward identification with the peoples in the inferior value group so that one manages to feel happy no matter how they are living. In such a case, the situation of the superior value group will in a small degree motivate a change. And how do you convince the rich and powerful that he should become poorer and weaker out of consideration for others?
Harald Ofstad, (1920-1994), Norwegian analytical and moral philosopher. Ofstad experienced the Nazi German occupation of Norway during WWII. After the war, he studied philosophy under Norwegian Arne Naess. 1955 Ofstad became professor in applied philosophy at Stockholm University. He published his Vår forakt for svakhet: En analyse av nazismens normer og vurderinger in 1971 (Our Contempt for Weakness: Nazi Norms and Values – and Our Own), a detailed analysis of the values and norms underlying the weltanschauung of German Nazism.
Submitted by TRANSCEND Member Björn Lindgren.
Published 20 July 1969 in Dagens Nyheter.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Nov 2017.
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