January 3, 2017

"It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler's ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was totally unfounded."

"To the contrary, the debate about Hitler's worldview and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies, at a time in which authoritarian political views and rightwing slogans are gaining ground."

Said the publisher of a new (annotated) edition of "Mein Kampf," which had not been available in Germany since World War II and is now a bestseller there.

The publisher claims that the book is being bought by "customers interested in politics and history as well as educators" and not "reactionaries or rightwing radicals." But how do they get information like that? The linked article cites "data collected about buyers by regional bookstores." What? Bookstores interrogate people about why they are buying a particular book?! You go into a bookstore in Germany, select "Mein Kampf," walk up to the counter, and the clerk confronts you about why you are buying it? That seems unlikely to produce honest answers. Wouldn't nearly everyone — whatever their real motivation — make a guarded reference to their interest in understanding history?

65 comments:

Michael McClain said...

"Mein Kampf" is practically unreadable. Anyone who actually reads it is either seriously seeking to better understand National Socialism or wants to find justification for previously formed racist opinions.

I've tried to read the thing several times and have always given up. Life is too short to read such claptrap. Even "Das Kapital" was a better read.

rhhardin said...

Kenneth Burke in _The Philosophy of Literary Form_ said in his 1930s criticism of the work that we ought to read it to see what kind of magic shit it was.

As I recall the idea of perfection was big, like the lefties today.

DOuglas2 said...

One trouble with the more quantitative sciences that rely upon response from human subjects is psychology -- if you look hard enough at how to eliminate the response biases that can be eliminated and counterbalance the biases that can be counterbalanced, that also gives you the knowledge to do just the opposite.

A consultant can say "tell me the answer you want, and I'll tell you what questions to ask and give you a methodology for gathering the responses. It may be that they know that their survey isn't good science, but it has all the markers such as large sample-size and non-self-selected respondents, so to the average science journalist it is more credible than mere harping about methodology from individuals who don't like its result.

PB said...

The book may be opening up eyes to the similarity of the social democratic state of Germany to the foundations of the Third Reich and where it leads. Rather than a how-to guide, it may be a valuable cautionary tale.

From a similar era, it is useful to re-read The Gathering Storm, by Churchill. it talks about things that are very apropos to today's issues.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

What? Bookstores interrogate people about why they are buying a particular book?!

Sounds like the very totalitarian state they claim they want to avoid.

traditionalguy said...

The Germans need a religion. They have become mostly atheists who get their super-natural fix from psychic fortune tellers, which is what Dur Fuhrer was. He told them to fight and die to Make Germany First. The trouble was he also wanted to rule the world so he could kill off the non-Teutonics and preserve his Aryan Psychic Powers in a pure bloodline. In the end he killed off the Germans because they had failed him.

No wonder the Russians are building up their military while watching Germany (Now renamed Angela's EU) proposing to build an EU Army to replace NATO.



mockturtle said...

Blame Merkel.

Quaestor said...

Sounds like the very totalitarian state they claim they want to avoid.

BINGO!

Leave it to the Germans to take totalitarian steps to avoid totalitarianism.

David said...

They just count the number of buyers with little mustaches under the nostrils. Works with the men

Bob Ellison said...

Michael McClain, your point about unreadability is important for both Mein Kampf and Das Kapital. Also for the works of L. Ron Hubbard.

Most of the really important books, papers, and essays are well written. The Origin of Species and Silent Spring are exceptional cases. (Silent Spring is a turdball on science, but well written. It's like a J.K. Rowling tale.) Freud wrote crap very well, and it poisoned psychology to the present day.

So why do books like Mein Kampf, so badly written, seem so important?

I think the books sometimes seem like origin myths of superheroes. It's not the writings themselves, but the personality cults of the writers, that make the writings seem important. People seek them out, as you say, either in order to understand what the heck happened or in order to justify their own aligned prejudices.

Gabriel said...

Mein Kampf is practically stream-of-consciousness. It's mostly chronological autobiography interspersed with long off-topic rants. It's not very revealing reading, it's mostly boring.

Laslo Spatula said...

I'm Renfro Jeffries. Nazi And Proud Of It!.

You People don’t get it, do you? You KNOW about the Government-Media-Cosmopolitan Complex, and how they look to take over your lives: you understand THAT. But then if someone calls you a Neo-Nazi for calling them out you get the vapors: it always comes back to Hitler for you people…

All Great Men have done Good Things and Bad Things, but No: Hitler, you can only look at the negative. Yet you still LOVE Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington: they owned fucking slaves and they’re still on Mount Rushmore…

Don’t get me wrong: I have much respect for Washington and Jefferson, but you are watching them get washed out of History by the Academics and the Government-Media-Cosmopolitan Complex because they did some Bad Things. Do you not see your inherent contradiction…?

I’m not asking you to love Hitler: I am asking you to Love America…

You are on the wrong side of the barbed wire, friends. Helter Skelter is coming, and it's coming with Cattle Cars: don't say I didn't tell you.

I'm Renfro Jeffries, Nazi And Proud Of It!

I am Laslo.

Michael McClain said...

Bob Ellison: Like Clausewitz's "Vom Krieg", "Mein Kampf" and "Das Kapital" are often quoted but rarely read. Old Dead Karl (Clausewitz) is a tough read, but worth it in the end. Hitler and Marx, not so much.

Even Nazi's didn't read "Mein Kampf". It was mainly for display on the coffee table.

Ann Althouse said...

"Not every German who bought a copy of Mein Kampf necessarily read it. I have heard many a Nazi stalwart complain that it was hard going and not a few admit— in private— that they were never able to get through to the end of its 782 turgid pages. But it might be argued that had more non-Nazi Germans read it before 1933 and had the foreign statesmen of the world perused it carefully while there still was time, both Germany and the world might have been saved from catastrophe. For whatever other accusations can be made against Adolf Hitler, no one can accuse him of not putting down in writing exactly the kind of Germany he intended to make if he ever came to power and the kind of world he meant to create by armed German conquest. The blueprint of the Third Reich and, what is more, of the barbaric New Order which Hitler inflicted on conquered Europe in the triumphant years between 1939 and 1945 is set down in all its appalling crudity at great length and in detail between the covers of this revealing book."

Shirer, William L. (2011-10-21). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (p. 81). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Michael McClain said...

"I think the books sometimes seem like origin myths of superheroes. It's not the writings themselves, but the personality cults of the writers, that make the writings seem important. People seek them out, as you say, either in order to understand what the heck happened or in order to justify their own aligned prejudices."

Rather like "Dreams of My Father".

Ann Althouse said...

"In Mein Kampf he expanded his views and applied them specifically to the problem of not only restoring a defeated and chaotic Germany to a place in the sun greater than it had ever had before but making a new kind of state, one which would be based on race and would include all Germans then living outside the Reich’s frontiers, and in which would be established the absolute dictatorship of the Leader— himself— with an array of smaller leaders taking orders from above and giving them to those below. Thus the book contains, first, an outline of the future German state and of the means by which it can one day become “lord of the earth,” as the author puts it on the very last page; and, second, a point of view, a conception of life, or, to use Hitler’s favorite German word, a Weltanschauung. That this view of life would strike a normal mind of the twentieth century as a grotesque hodgepodge concocted by a half-baked, uneducated neurotic goes without saying. What makes it important is that it was embraced so fanatically by so many millions of Germans and that if it led, as it did, to their ultimate ruin it also led to the ruin of so many millions of innocent, decent human beings inside and especially outside Germany."

Shirer, William L. (2011-10-21). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (p. 82). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

mockturtle said...

"For whatever other accusations can be made against Adolf Hitler, no one can accuse him of not putting down in writing exactly the kind of Germany he intended to make if he ever came to power and the kind of world he meant to create by armed German conquest."

Hitler was, if nothing else, transparent.

Hunter said...

its 782 turgid pages.

Turgid.

AllenS said...

Every election in the US, there are people asking voters who they voted for. Calm down.

William said...

Pornography has moved away from the written word. Who reads Tobacco Road for the good parts anymore? Just so with political polemics. The written word is not the way to get your point across. I doubt if it was even in Hitler's time.......The Germans seem to have a tendency to march off cliffs. I am certain that their next act of self immolation will not be due to the availability of Mein Kampf at local bookstores.

Fernandinande said...

"In the new programme everyone gets everything he wants.

The farmer is assured that the interests of agriculture will be safeguarded.

The industrialist is assured of protection for his products.

The consumer is assured that his interests will be protected in the market prices.

Teachers are given higher salaries and civil servants will have better pensions."

traditionalguy said...

Bring on the Hypnotists. When you awake, you will die for Blood and Soil uber alles, being branded by a crooked cross.

Ann Althouse said...

"The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally."

That's about Trump, who is sometimes compared to Hitler. A big difference is that what Trump has said, he has said in short, clear, often-repeated sentences.

Hitler dictated (he was a dictator) a very long, meandering book that was very taxing to read, even if everything was right there in it.

"But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it..."

That's the more apt modern American quote.

We had to make this man dictator to find out what was in his book.

Also: “I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the healthcare bill." Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

Who had the time to read Mein Kampf?

Fernandinande said...

"And so, internally armed with faith in the goodness of God and the impenetrable stupidity of the electorate, the struggle for what is called 'the reconstruction of the Reich' can now begin."

William said...

I haven't read Mein Kampf, but I've seen that Lani Riefenstahl film. I doubt if he was much of a writer, but he seemed to know quite a bit about stagecraft. Those rallies were impressive to look at. Wagner should also get some credit for warming up the crowd......When you think about it, from Hitler to Stalin to Mao, a good portion of the human race during the 20th century was under the rule of psychotic assholes.

traditionalguy said...

Mullah Obama also counted on no one reading the Iran Treaty that he had the UN approve, or The Paris Climate Treaty that the only the UN will approve, etc.. But boy can he smile at us while he lies whenever he speaks.

Hunter said...

I read The Audacity of Hope in 2008.

An easy read that could have easily been titled Middle Ground Fallacy: The Book. It was a fine introduction to Obama's method of political argumentation.

Oso Negro said...

The Germans are not interested in freedom of speech.

Fernandinande said...

Example of a totalitarian ideology at a time in which authoritarian political views and leftwing slogans are gaining ground:

"A man [Thomas Salbey] who famously stood up to the Munich shooter after he killed nine people is facing being charged by a prosecutor for insulting the killer."

William said...

Churchill wrote his early books, but most of his later works were written by his private secretary. The ideas were his and he added some rhetorical flourishes, but the books were ghost written. The words he used in 1940 were all his own. Those are the words he will be remembered for, and they're their own marble inscription....... Can anyone name a pithy quote from Hitler or Mussolini? Stalin said "How many battalions doestbe Pope have?", but otherwise I'm drawing a blank. Dictators aren't very quotable.

Livermoron said...

Mein Kampf was given by the State to every German couple as a wedding gift. Hitler received the royalties.

I've read Mein Kampf, mostly in the original German, and it is a slog. I hope that those who read it will come to understand that Nazism was/is a socialist philosophy...essentially a national form of communism.

If you are at all interested in reading it, I recommend the Yale annotated version that came out post-WW2.

Pithy Hitler quote? He was known to have admired the eugenics programs of the US's Democrat party... did he ever say 'if you like your baby you can keep your baby'?

PB said...

You want turgid? Read it in the original German.

Bob Boyd said...

One of Hitler’s assistants says to him one day, “Sir, we’re mining too many useless ores.”

Hitler replies, “Well, mine less.”

A grammar Nazi then bursts through the door and shouts, “Mine FEWER!”

Hitler looks up and asks, “Yes?”

YoungHegelian said...

For those who wish to get a, relatively speaking, non-turgid dose of Hitler there's always the Table Talks. It's like Hitler, but with an editor.

rcocean said...

"I've tried to read the thing several times and have always given up. Life is too short to read such claptrap. Even "Das Kapital" was a better read."

I dispute that. But Mein Kamp is a close 2nd in the "Most turgid book to make a big impact" sweepstakes.

rcocean said...

"I've tried to read the thing several times and have always given up. Life is too short to read such claptrap. Even "Das Kapital" was a better read."

I dispute that. But Mein Kamp is a close 2nd in the "Most turgid book to make a big impact" sweepstakes.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Thumbs up to Bob Boyd for the Dad joke of the morning. Made us laugh :-D

Jupiter said...

William said...

"...The Germans seem to have a tendency to march off cliffs. I am certain that their next act of self immolation will not be due to the availability of Mein Kampf at local bookstores."

The Germans are already well along with the project of turning Europe into a Death Camp with Muslims as the Master Race and themselves as Sonderkommando. As always, the Left leads the way.

Trumpit said...

Dylann Roof, a landscaper, wrote out a brief manifesto: http://gawker.com/here-is-what-appears-to-be-dylann-roofs-racist-manifest-1712767241

The Unabomber, a former Berkeley math professor, penned a lengthy manifesto: http://partners.nytimes.com/library/national/unabom-manifesto-1.html

Bernie Sander's (a recent Democrat presidential candidate) manifesto can be found in his recent book: https://www.amazon.com/Our-Revolution-Believe-Bernie-Sanders/dp/1250132924/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483459968&sr=1-1&keywords=bernie+sanders+book

Donald Trump makes his foul manifesto up as he goes along via regular tweats employing frequent insults to his detractors, and praise for murderous dictators like Vladimir Putin - an anti-democratic, journalist-killing thug and brutal opponent of LGBT human rights. See, for example:
http://www.rferl.org/a/russia-journalist-found-stabbed-st-petersburg/27648112.html




chuck said...

It's not like all the Nazis in Germany magically disappeared in May, 1945. I shared a room in a workers dorm with one in the summer of 1965. He read the National Zeitung (NZ) and kept a copy of Conversations with Hitler on his night table. There was a little game that he played with the cleaning lady from a nearby farm.
every morning she would put the book in the top drawer, every evening he would put it back out on display. Come to think of it, I never saw him actually read the fraudulent thing. His best buds were two cousins from the Ivory Coast, which surprised me what with that racism thing.

He wasn't the only Nazi I met, although they were far from a majority. I'd be surprised if there weren't others to this day, especially from the East.

> a good portion of the human race during the 20th century was under the rule of psychotic assholes.

Hitler (painter), Stalin (poet), Mao (poet, calligrapher), I'd say psychotic artists.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

No one is going to read Mein Kampf to get fired up about Nazism. It's a total snoozefest.

n.n said...

Abortion rites, class diversity, selective exclusion ("="), social justice adventurism... It requires a narcissistic faith (e.g. atheism), a twilight religion (e.g. Pro-Choice), and a creative mind to combine these totalitarian aspects of human nature and call it good.

That said, they are still avoiding the issue... euphemisms abound, principles matter.

robother said...

"Mein Kampf" vs. "Das Kapital." In the battle of the books, heavyweight turgid prose division, you can't go wrong with German. Say what you will about Germanic nihilism: at least Nietzche's pithy.

Drago said...

This just in: continued worship of Mao/Stalin/Castro/Che/Pol Pot by the Left remains totally cool.

BN said...

If the Russians hadn't hacked the diaries written in German prisons and sent them off to Wikileaks, "Mein Kampf" would never have seen the light of day.

Rance Fasoldt said...

In college (Haverford College - early ’60s) I had a poli sci professor who explained how moved he was reading The Communist Manifesto for the first time, in the 1930s. Later I read the screed for a Russian class. What a pile of crap. Shame on that professor. It may be worse than Mein Kampf or Das Kapital, neither of which I have read. I read it in English, since it was too banal to bother trying to translate it.

However poor Hitler may have been as a writer, he was an accomplished orator. I remember seeing a film of him at a rally, waiting a full minute for the crowd to settle down, then beginning quietly, with the entire hall straining to hear him, finally, after almost an hour, rising to a fiery pitch, with the crowd cheering and screaming its approval. I didn’t understand the text, since I couldn’t follow the German, but I certainly understood the emotions.

J. Farmer said...

Mein Kempf included a lot of paranoid antisemitism that was quite prevalent in Europe. More than 380 years before Hitler's autobiography a pamphlet was published in Germany titled Von den Juden und ihren Lügen, or On the Jews and Their Lies that proposed destruction of synagogues, confiscation of Jewish property, and ultimately expulsion, written by Martin Luther.

JaimeRoberto said...

In Merkel's Germany books read you.

J. Farmer said...

@JaimeRoberto:

In Merkel's Germany books read you.

What a country!

Alex said...

Who would physically go into a bookstore and buy Mein Kampf? Everyone buys e-Books these days.

Alex said...

The Germans are not interested in freedom of speech.

Free speech can lead to Hitler. Ergo, we need to ban free speech and only allow such speech as is progressive and friendly to POC.

Hunter said...

PB said...
You want turgid?

Ron White has a theory that everyone does. At least a little bit.

buwaya said...

""Mein Kampf" is practically unreadable. "

I disagree. The first third or so is often fascinating.
A good and sprightly English translation helps.

This bit is from James Murphy's translation, Chap. III
This is the sort of thing that annoys so many about Internet arguments. But most reasonable people are able to swallow their annoyance without being inflamed into thoughts of mass murder. Right ?

"It was then simple enough to attempt to show them the absurdity of their
teaching. Within my small circle I talked to them until my throat ached
and my voice grew hoarse. I believed that I could finally convince them
of the danger inherent in the Marxist follies. But I only achieved the
contrary result. It seemed to me that immediately the disastrous effects
of the Marxist Theory and its application in practice became evident,
the stronger became their obstinacy.

The more I debated with them the more familiar I became with their
argumentative tactics. At the outset they counted upon the stupidity of
their opponents, but when they got so entangled that they could not find
a way out they played the trick of acting as innocent simpletons. Should
they fail, in spite of their tricks of logic, they acted as if they
could not understand the counter arguments and bolted away to another
field of discussion. They would lay down truisms and platitudes; and, if
you accepted these, then they were applied to other problems and matters
of an essentially different nature from the original theme. If you faced
them with this point they would escape again, and you could not bring
them to make any precise statement. Whenever one tried to get a firm
grip on any of these apostles one's hand grasped only jelly and slime
which slipped through the fingers and combined again into a solid mass a
moment afterwards. If your adversary felt forced to give in to your
argument, on account of the observers present, and if you then thought
that at last you had gained ground, a surprise was in store for you on
the following day. The Jew would be utterly oblivious to what had
happened the day before, and he would start once again by repeating his
former absurdities, as if nothing had happened. Should you become
indignant and remind him of yesterday's defeat, he pretended
astonishment and could not remember anything, except that on the
previous day he had proved that his statements were correct. Sometimes I
was dumbfounded. I do not know what amazed me the more--the abundance of
their verbiage or the artful way in which they dressed up their
falsehoods. I gradually came to hate them."

J. Farmer said...

Sadly, nearly 100 years later, the US still has not learned the correct lesson from WWI. Had Wilson not dragged the US into that ridiculous, sanguinary conflict we might have avoided Hitler all together. It would have been even better for Britain to stay out, but I guess the potential spoils of war proved too irresistible for them to avoid. And even then, the French and British may have done well to stay out of WWII instead of offering war guarantees to a bunch of foolish Polish colonels. One thing that is striking about Mein Kempf is how eastward looking (and concerned) Hitler was. Buchanan's Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War is an imperfect book, but it makes a striking case against one of the sacred cows of US diplomatic history. Given that, we may well have been spared the tired Munich cliche used to justify foolish American military adventurism for the last half-century.

Bay Area Guy said...

Hitter wrote Mein Kampf in 1925 or so - before he had any power, before he became a mass murderer.

It should be published and read by those who are interested in understanding the workings of his warped mind.

Bay Area Guy said...

And, of course, reading MK isn't an endorsement of the man's hideous views. Jeez, this should be elementary.

Jupiter said...

J. Farmer said...
"Had Wilson not dragged the US into that ridiculous, sanguinary conflict [WW1] we might have avoided Hitler all together. It would have been even better for Britain to stay out, but I guess the potential spoils of war proved too irresistible for them to avoid."

Do you have any idea what you are talking about? What do you imagine would have happened if Britain had "stayed out" of the Great War? Perhaps you are correct, Hitler would have been "avoided" because the Kaiser would have attained most of Hitler's goals 30 years early.

Jon Ericson said...

Awesome

Rhythm and Balls said...

The publisher claims that the book is being bought by "customers interested in politics and history as well as educators" and not "reactionaries or rightwing radicals." But how do they get information like that?

I think through something called "marketing research."

Ever heard of it? I have a feeling your commenters might have. After all, they think economics is powerful enough to take priority over the preservation of life on this planet.

Rhythm and Balls said...

More than 380 years before Hitler's autobiography a pamphlet was published in Germany titled Von den Juden und ihren Lügen, or On the Jews and Their Lies that proposed destruction of synagogues, confiscation of Jewish property, and ultimately expulsion, written by Martin Luther.

He wanted to appear more pious, devoted and zealous than his Catholic competitors - esp. after the Jews somehow didn't agree to seeing a point in his invitation to convert them en masse to Protestantism.

mockturtle said...

Hitler could probably have been averted if the Treaty of Versailles had not utterly crippled the German economy.

rebel deuce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Farmer said...

@Jupiter:

Do you have any idea what you are talking about? What do you imagine would have happened if Britain had "stayed out" of the Great War? Perhaps you are correct, Hitler would have been "avoided" because the Kaiser would have attained most of Hitler's goals 30 years early.

Frankly, that last sentence makes me question if whether you know what you're talking about. The Kaiser was completely sidelined during the First World War. Wilhelm II did make a blunder in not reigning Austro-Hungary in and giving them the green light to war with Serbia, but he had ruled Germany for a quarter-century without a major conflict on the continent.

Unless you can explain how a victory for the Kaiser in 1914 would have led to 50+ million deaths two decades later, I'm not sure why a German victory in WWI would have been such a terrible outcome given what we know now. And even if the Germans had lost, without American backing, it is unlikely that the British could have extracted such a heavy price from the German Empire in Versaille in 1919. Niall Ferguson, not exactly an Anglophobe, made a much harsher indictment of Britain in his book The Pity of War.

Bad Lieutenant said...

J. Farmer,

Unless you can explain how a victory for the Kaiser in 1914 would have led to 50+ million deaths two decades later, I'm not sure why a German victory in WWI would have been such a terrible outcome given what we know now.


This was recently covered here. Apparently the lebensraum concept was not created by Hitler, and Germany intended to strive for many of the same miracles of population management they began 20 years later (exile, slavery, genocide).


Not sure what you're driving at re the Brits.

J. Farmer said...

Bad Lieutenant:

Apparently the lebensraum concept was not created by Hitler, and Germany intended to strive for many of the same miracles of population management they began 20 years later (exile, slavery, genocide).

Territorial expansion and settler colonialism was obviously not created by Hitler. It was being employed by the imperial powers surrounding the newly constructed German Empire. But nationalist support for eastward expansion grew after the British-imposed blockade and the effects of Versailles. The concept did not evolve into what you describe until really the Nazi period.

Not sure what you're driving at re the Brits.

I'm driving at exactly what I'm saying...the British should not have gotten involved in WWI, and the issue of Belgium neutrality was a dumb pretext for Britain to get involved in a conflict that would ultimately lead to its demise.