Lecture 24 - The Nazi Mystery (very detailed) and Course Conclusion

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27 Mar 2012
Synthesize the major aspects
Examination of democracy, ideology, and analysis of contemporary political problems link
Is there a Nazi mystery?
What occurred in a stark example of a political phenomenon known as the corruption of a
regime and a corruption of the body politic
French philosopher, Raymond Aron goes to the heart of the problem, Manent will cite on pg
161. “Why and understand what circumstances did a highly civilized nation surround itself
around a demagogue like Hitler and go down the path of suicide”
What was like in Germany from the 1900 to 1930s
Germany was a showcase of culture and cutting edge thought. German public education was
considered the best to be in Europe at the time. The cultural innovation and level of
sophisticated thinking was obvious in many different realms
Art, New objectivity. Music, in most original expressions. Best film directors. Berlin was rival to
Hollywood at the time.
20th century is dominated by German thinkers. 2 of the most important philosophers in 20th
century is German.
Overall understanding remains elusive. Nothing occur at the time produce any good. German
Army before Hitler has a long standing tradition of war and honour. This tradition should have
stopped Hitler from anti-military actions. But the Army did not disobey.
We have to known as the founding moment of the 20th century. WWI 1914-1918
Germany lost WWI but on a more subjective level, Germany remain unconquered or even
victorious after WWI
If it weren’t American Intervention, Germans would have won, they came very close to winning.
In addition, German military leadership felt stabbed in the back when political leadership signed
the Treaty of Versailles. They felt that the politicians should not have signed Versailles, and
Versailles came to be the object of popular resentment in Germany.
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In post WWI Germany, the Germans were very upset by the new European order dominated by
France and England. Germans were also angered at the Americans.
This antagonism will pit Germany against France, UK, and US, was translated in civilizational
France, UK, and US were considered as competing and rival civilizations. When you frame a
conflict in terms of civilization, which are actually saying is that you have a particular outlook or
way of life / civilization / mode of being that is opposed to another political outlook and way of
Clash of civilization were important.
How did the Germans perceive the competing civilizations? The French represented a civilization
founded on intelligent social ability, art of conversation, table manners cultivated in France,
put emphasis on being intelligently social with others.
The Germans who opposed French civilization, these French ways of being demonstrated that
the French were superficial and probably corrupt.
The English and American civilizations on the other hand were founded on individual initiative
and commerce, and from the German perspective, the English and the Americans were greedy
and they were self interested, even vulgar.
The problem here for the Germans was that both French superficiality and Anglo-American
greed were actually impediment to greatness. Two civilizations will actually not allow its citizens
to engage in great acts or acquire greatness. Germans wanted a civilization based on greatness
and characterized by a true culture of the mind and the soul.
The Germans believed that the only way to attain or become great was to remove calculating
self-interest from the equation
Self-interest, through manners or greed, must not be part of German civilization. The best way
to avoid calculated self-interest is to promote and be engaged in War. Soldiers believing that
self-sacrifice was the way to attain greatness more than self-interest. Soldiers demonstrate they
are prepared to die for their country, dying in order to achieve greatness.
In any case, going to war, celebrating war entails that people are prepared to die for something
that beyond the self. Totally the opposite to self-interest.
The heroism of war was the corner stone of the German notion of civilization, war was seem as
being noble, whereas commerce was seem as vulgar.
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