Hitler became a very interesting part of popular culture; on one hand as a Satan substitute for the secularly minded, and as an educational tool on the other, with purpose of avoiding the possible occurrence of similar people and phenomena in the future.
However, the image of Hitler is so vilified and drawn as such a caricature, that it utterly fails at being educational, like that government-sponsored anti-terrorism video in Australia, which portrayed terrorists as retards. Yes, one understands that the author of the video doesn’t like the terrorists and thus portrayed them as retards in order to make that clear. However, since the actual terrorists are not retards (one was actually a successful and likable student at Dartmouth), the “educational” video fails its primary purpose of teaching people what terrorists do and how to recognize them. Yes, we get it, you wanted to offend the terrorists. Good job at displaying sufficient political correctness. However, you merely spent tax money and achieved no useful purpose. Fail.
The only credible and, in my opinion, valid portrayal of Adolf Hitler was made in the movie Untergang, but it is too limited to be really educational and deals with the phase of his reign in which he was already on the way down, and as such teaches precious little about how he managed to come into power and establish such a firm hold over his nation. The rest of the cinematic and literary portrayals I saw are actually pathetic, and serve very similar purpose to the regime art in totalitarian regimes – that of displaying one’s loyalty to the main stream opinion and vilifying the party’s enemies. Having spent my childhood and youth in one such country, I became very skilled at recognizing this form of bullshit. Essentially, the caricature of Hitler plays the same role in the Western societies as the publicly displayed portraits of the Dear Leader do in North Korea – to love the Regime, to hate its enemies, is to display orthodoxy, which leads to approval and promotion. Failing to do so can be dangerous.
There is not a single thing about Hitler that is not portrayed as negative. I’m frequently amazed by the lengths to which people go in this – his painting, his participation in WW1, his political ideas, his social skills, even the way he ate are portrayed in extremely unfavorable ways. But then the question remains, how did such a caricature of an universal loser manage to inspire Germany, and make it into his obedient tool? This is explained by some sort of a mass psychosis, and thus every possible chance of learning a historical lesson is lost.
In order to learn, we must give up the oh-so-beloved dismissive image of Hitler, and risk wrath of the politically correct idiots who feel the need to constantly display public hatred of the regime’s enemies in order to remove all doubts about their subservience. In order to learn how to avoid the next Hitler, we must learn why people adored him uncritically, to the point of presenting their newborns for blessing. Obviously, what those people saw was not a caricature.
I’m going to do something rather unorthodox. Instead of trying to go the standard route of a biographer, I will skip through the irrelevant tedia of his uneventful childhood and concentrate on what he himself considered important: his art. Let me show some examples of his paintings:
How good is this, how original, how evocative, and what does it say about the author?
Well, it’s technically not particularly good, but we need to evaluate his art from the perspective that it was done by someone who tries to be admitted into the art academy, not by a mature, educated painter. It is technically sufficiently competent to give us some idea about his interests. Is it original? No. Is it evocative, in a sense that you can get some insight into the workings of the author’s mind? Actually, quite so. What I get from it is a feeling of solitude, being rejected and apart from society, a distance from everything important, an emotional separation and a longing. This is a completely different sense of solitude from the one of Ansel Adams’ photography, in which you sense deep serenity, awe and involvement with the beauty. Ansel Adams didn’t go to live in Yosemite because he was rejected by society and tried to find his way in. He went there because that’s where he wanted to be, that’s where the external world manifested things from his inner world that he wanted to capture. It’s quite the opposite thing. Adams is awed by the beauty of nature. Hitler is unhappy, and paints empty sceneries and inanimate structures because of an unfulfilled longing for human acceptance.
I might be looking too much into it, but as a comparison, let’s peek into the minds of some other artists, and look at their early works:
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Francisco de Goya
Need I go on?
In order to understand Hitler, we need to understand what made him tick, and if we put ourselves in the position of a young man who thinks he’s a talented artist, and might actually be one, and is repeatedly rejected by what he perceives as a Jewish clique at the art academy, which accepts only their own, who paint things that are currently en vogue in the academia, which dictates what is and what is not to be supported, and is essentially deprived of his chosen occupation by the choice of others and their judgment of him, we can start to understand his anger. The fact that he was at some point essentially a street painter, very close to being a beggar, and that he lived a life of utter destitution and hopelessness, all the while observing the wealthy, who walled the likes of him out of their world of money and culture and education and sophisticated company, we get to understand the painful loneliness in his paintings, and we also get to understand the roots of his anger and hatred for those whom he perceived as guilty for his condition. Eventually, the Jews became the ones to blame, and the root of all evil.
Which brings us to the next important thing about Hitler. He was a conspiracy theorist. This is, probably, the most important, essential thing to know about him, because a conspiracy theorist is an outsider who attempts to heal his perceived impotence and unimportance in the world by creating an elaborate scheme in which he is the one who gets it, who sees through the conspiracies of the elites and is thus important. In fact, he is appointed by destiny to lead his people from bondage into freedom, like Moses lead the Jews into the promised land. He had to suffer through various trials, but was chosen by destiny to be the leader of his people. And the most important thing is, he actually believed that much before it was true. This is quite stunning, and I heard an interesting theory about the possible reason. Hitler dabbled in occultism, and at one point experimented with mescalin, which gave him messianic visions and lead him to the belief that he was a man of destiny. This formed a deep conviction which he seems to have radiated and which the others perceived. He was incredibly self-assured, a man of vision and ideals, and he professed a very simplistic conspiracy theory which rang as completely true to people then, and would ring as true to people now. You see, if I told you there’s an international conspiracy of bankers, who just happen to be Jewish, to control the economies of countries in order to keep them in a subservient state, occasionally inciting wars in order to keep the slave-nations preoccupied and in need of financing, would that be so hard to believe, to a nation that is deeply humiliated by a lost great war and an economy destroyed by the Versailles peace and the resulting war reparations? And in a nation in which democracy couldn’t solve a single problem, could not even elect proper leadership due to political infighting and special interests, a concept of a strong, destiny-appointed Leader who will rebuild his nation from the ashes and lead it to greatness, well, it was appealing, but not enough to give Hitler a significant entry into political life. Only when he maneuvered the political powers into appointing him the prime minister, and when the communists unfortunately decided to burn the parliament building in protest of his appointment (yes, this is actually the narrative that seems to be true, according to my evaluation of the available evidence), and he took dictatorial powers, did he start to get really significant support in the nation, because he seemed to actually introduce law and order and combat the disruptive influences introduced by the parliamentary democracy.
So, when the domestic terrorists ended up in concentration camp, everybody applauded. When the Jews, who were seen as responsible for the financial disaster of the nation, were discriminated against and suffered a strong backlash, everybody applauded. When all the criminals were picked up from the streets and taken into Dachau, everybody applauded. And Hitler created jobs, he rebuilt the economy, he stopped bleeding money into war reparations and infused the nation with a sense of pride, of self-worth and accomplishment, which they sorely needed. He started as a strange political figure on the margins, but when he took power and showed that he really meant business, he was accepted as a messianic figure, a literal savior of his nation, and the interesting thing is, that he actually was. If he died then, at that point, he would have been remembered as one of the greatest men of the 20th century, a father of modern Germany, who brought about the bright new age of science, technology, prosperity, emancipation and freedom. But, unfortunately, he didn’t die then.
One of the weirdest things about Hitler are his racial theories, and we need to look into those, too, in order to understand what made him tick. You remember how I mentioned earlier that he dabbled in occultism? Well, this is more important than it might seem, because occultism at that time meant Theosophy, and his racial theories, as incompatible as they might be with modern science, are quite compatible with the theosophical perspective of things. Theosophy picked up some of the early evolutionary theories and developed those into their framework; for instance, they believed that the human race went through certain evolutionary steps (ethereal, Hyperborean, Lemurian, Atlantean and, the present, Aryan), you could call them quantum leaps, and that humanity at that point was the fifth, Aryan race, with remnants of the fourth, and that in the future there will be a sixth race, as a result of eugenic practice somewhere in the 28th century.
Suddenly, the Hitler’s Aryan race bullshit, which sounded like totally arbitrary nonsense, starts to make sense: he was thinking from within the intellectual framework of the Theosophical society. He basically identified the Germans with Blavatska’s Aryan race, he perceived the problems of Germany as a conspiracy of the Atlantean remnants, mostly the Jews, to hold back the evolution of humanity and to degenerate everything back to the Atlantean level, and he was anointed by the supernatural forces as a leader who will not only re-assert the Aryan evolutionary supremacy, but also purify the gene pool of humanity by removing the remnants of the fourth race and all sorts of degenerate influences.
In order to understand why this made sense, we need to understand the concept of Modernity, or Modernism. This was basically the thing between the French revolution and the Vietnam war; you know, the bright new age for humanity where we get rid of the old and embrace the new, where we are no longer bound by the feudal system, the church and by ignorance, and there is universal liberation and emancipation, empowerment through science and technology. Essentially, Modernism was the mental framework of the 19-20th century, and its patterns are woven throughout the first religion of the New Age, the Theosophical Society. Essentially, it’s about breaking away from the old, ignorant, unconscious and automatic patterns, into knowledge, awareness of the underlying forces of nature, awareness of the supernatural forces that move the natural ones, about childbirth of Humanity into a bright New Age, the new world order.
That’s where we get our key for the Hitler phenomenon – he’s merely a product of his times. He’s not some spectacularly perverted monster who managed to think the unthinkable and do the unimaginable. On the contrary, he did what was merely the norm in Modernity. Mass murder of the “remnants of the old regime” is a tradition established in the French revolution. Genocide of the “inferior races” was already executed in America, by the Spanish and the British. The concept of harvesting a slave race for the benefit of the master race was also widely practiced in the slave markets in Africa. Hitler didn’t actually invent new stuff, he merely methodically implemented things that were accepted as the main stream aspects of Modernity. Of course you kill the ideological enemies, of course you kill the remnants of the old regime, of course you practice eugenics, enslave inferior races if possible and exterminate them if necessary. That’s what Modernity is all about – that, and the progress of science, advancement of technology. Wernher von Braun was an excellent example of the mentality – who cares if the advancement of science is produced for the sake of throwing bombs at people, and with slave labor. What is important is that “mankind” goes to the Moon and the planets. Who cares if the space race is fueled by the cold war, that the real purpose of the rockets is to carry nuclear bombs across the globe, who cares about the Vietnam war and the Cuban missile crisis. What is important is that the Eagle lands, that “humanity” makes its “great leap”. Modernity is the era in which the Americans thought it perfectly acceptable to perform medical experiments on the mentally ill, the prisoners and the “inferior classes”. What is today seen as blatant racism, was the main stream of the evolutionary biology of the time. Germany wasn’t the least bit more racist than America at the time (if anything, it was less so), and that’s the reason why nobody during the WW2 really cared that Hitler gassed the Jews. It was what everybody else would do in his place. In fact, Hitler was greatly inspired by Henry Ford in his antisemitism. It was main stream. Hitler was not on the extreme right fringe of the political practices of Modernity – he was dead center. The only reason why he is vilified is that he lost the war, and the winners rewrote their own history in hindsight, in order to de-emphasize the similarities with Hitler’s Germany for propagandistic purposes. His racial theories are presented as strange madness, while in fact they were the main stream of the salons across the Europe and America, presented together with Buddhism, Vedanta and a New Age variant of Christianity.
And that is the true paradox of Adolf Hitler – not that he wasn’t evil, but that his kind of evil was not the least bit uncommon or extraordinary in his time. In fact, it’s the same kind of mentality which the modern atheists apply to religion – if only they could get rid of it, there would be a bright new dawn of science and knowledge, an intellectual ascent from the dark bonds of superstition and myth. The thing is, it’s not a new idea at all. It’s been tried before. The bright new order of society in which humanity gets rid of the old superstitions and embraces science, technology and reason, purging the reactionary degenerates, actually existed in not one, but two varieties. They were called the Third Reich, and the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics.