Home > book reviews, philosophy, reviews > 10 Books…Part XX: Hitler

10 Books…Part XX: Hitler

Finally we have the book back from the library, total payment for it so far: $1.00 in money, innumerable in soul crushing psychological torture from having to labor through this “work.” On the bright side the lame posts such as yesterday’s should be postponed at least until I finish this book and this extra long series on this book. So today, we cover the epitomy of 20th century evil, the man no one will vocally align themselves with, Adolf Hitler and his seminal work Mein Kampf.

I don’t know if the term originated on the internet or somewhere else. I don’t know if the term refers to a person or not. But the term “godwin” refers to a person who likens their opponent’s argument to something Hitler would have argued/said/agreed with giving the opponent the unadmired position of having to side with Hitler. Most notably this occurs in three topics: Gun control, capital punishment, and now healthcare. Hitler was pro-gun control, pro-death penalty, and I guess he was for universal healthcare or something…I’m not sure how he fits into the debate really. The thing about the godwin argument is that even on the internet it is recognized as a weak argument. In fact that term “godwin’s law,” refers to the fact that the first person to bring up a Nazi or Hitler reference automatically loses the argument. I’m not sure whether this is confined to the internet or not.

I’m going to assume that it is, although if anyone wants to debate the subject that’s what the comment section is for. I bring all of that up because it ought to be fun to see how many of the writers we have already covered that Wiker can shoehorn into the Hitler chapter. It is also a good time to remember that Wiker isn’t writing for all of us, he’s writing for a select audience that already agrees with him and hasn’t read the books he is covering–this gives him great freedom to be as absurd as he wants to be without the fear of being called on it…except by internet reviews.

The first five pages of the chapter are utterly worthless save one thing which I will get to in a second. First though, all they contain is a quick overview of the Nazi regime’s atrocities. Something that I think all of his readers should be familiar with. This isn’t a book by Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, it’s not a firebrand emotional book designed to reinvigorate the masses into the fake culture wars; it attempts to appear intellectual. So the history of the Nazi atrocities, while necessary, does not need five pages. We know who Hitler was and why he is famous. However the first five pages reveals something else: pretension in the writing. Pretension in print is difficult to find outside of English Grad student papers but if you pay attention you can easily spot it. One of the easiest tells is to look for a glut of foreign words when there exists a common English word.

In discussing Nietzsche’s philosophy if someone uses the french word “resentiment” instead of “resentment” although both words mean the exact same idea, they are being pretentious. In this chapter we have “weltanshauung,” “volk,” and my personal favorite “Schutzstaffel” used in place of the words “worldview,” “folk”*, and “SS.” We know what the SS was, in fact the term “SS” is so prevalent in history that if you said “Schutzstaffel” to someone they probably wouldn’t know what that meant. All of this lets us know that Wiker speaks German and he wants to brag about it. Which is pure braggadocio, I speak Canadian and this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned it.

The first philosopher he equates with Hitler is Machiavelli, drawing a likeness between them as quickly as possible. The problem here is that, to use a metaphor that Wiker should be familiar with, he has built his house on sand. The Machiavelli Wiker akins to Hitler is the Machiavelli from chapter 1 of this book. Not the real Machiavelli, mind you, but the stereotypical strawman that Wiker easily burns away. He’s likening Hitler to a person that doesn’t really exist but everyone thinks he does. It’s like when Socialists wear Che Guevara shirts thinking that he was just a freedom fighter and had no part in any murders or re-education camps, they put on that iconic image referencing a person that wasn’t actually there. Or when people talk about Guy Fawkes as though he were some sort of hero when in fact he was just a failed religious terrorist.**

It’s not really worth addressing except that Wiker gets some things right. Sure Machiavelli advised that religion should be used when convenient, but that was because his desire was to remove the head of state from having to be an ethical role model otherwise those heads of state could not do their job. Pure adherence to Christian ideals cannot sustain a standing army nor a legal system. Hitler was not a Machiavellian because he never garnered faith in the population.

That mistake, the mis-characterization in chapter 1 is one of the problems in the book: whenever he refers back to a previous chapter it almost invariably fails because he has gotten it wrong the first time. We’ve already mentioned Machiavelli, but Nietzsche, Hobbes, and Darwin all get mentioned here and it is all wrong. More on that next time as well as the strange addition of Plato to the book. We’ll see how that goes.

*Maybe I should cut him some slack here. “Volk” could mean many things, literally it means folk, but in Nazi terms it refers to the German people. However, if Wiker meant it as the latter he neglected to explain it so we just don’t know.

**Don’t get your history from comic book movies.

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