Monday, 24 October 2022

Nazism, The Liberal Response

Nazi Germany's rule over Europe was harsh and as the war went on it became clear that mass murder was organised, deliberate, ongoing and widespread. The rule of Imperial Japan was equally harsh and murderous but received much less criticism. Today, while the crimes of Nazi Germany are infamous, the crimes of Imperial Japan are much less well recognised. But the world was shocked and sickened by these crimes and they wanted the perpetrators punished and new international laws that would prevent such behaviour in the future. 

Liberalism has sort to create a world where violence is limited and whereby the rule of law prevails. It decided that international organisations would be created and that they would enforce international law. But at the same time they didn't totally trust these organisations and they made sure that they didn't have much teeth. But there was also another idea here, that Liberalism always wants to look nice and in that vane it came out strongly against Genocide. I'm not suggesting that those sentiments weren't real, they very much were. 

Something I find quite interesting is how different thinking came about after the Second World War. Thinking that you find very rare before the war, such as anti-colonialism, racial equality and mass immigration. I'm not saying that these ideas didn't exist but they didn't exist in official circles. But after the war they quickly gained a place and that continues today. 

The Nazi's are the greatest threat that Liberalism has ever faced, but that threat was not just physical, it was also spiritual and metaphysical. Liberalism believes in evolution, although it normally uses the word progress. The idea that things start simple and primate and that that they evolve or progress over time always becoming more complex and at the same time better. Which includes human behaviour, we as a species were becoming more and at the same time better people. But it is extremely hard to reconcile that with what happened during the Second World War. It was a profound shock, maybe what Liberals believed about Liberalism wasn't true?

Liberalism decided that it needed to oppose those things that had created the Nazi's. Not just the economic and political circumstances, but even the beliefs of the Nazi's. Even though they had said similar things before the war. The Nazi's supported the idea of a national people (the Germans), they supported racial purity and they supported racial supremacy. But before the war you can find quite respectable Liberals supporting such things. But the reaction against the Nazi's was so extreme that Liberalism would gradually over time come to reject those things that it once found completely acceptable. But how could they convince others to rethink their position and to support positions that they had once opposed?

In two ways, firstly they did it over decades, they allowed those who still supported the older way of thinking to move through and then out of the system. While at the same time teaching the younger generations that we didn't fight WWII because nation-states had legitimate conflicting interests that lead to war. The way nearly every other war is portrayed, but as a war against injustice. Principally that race hate and supremacy were the villains  and the cause of the war. That if these things can be eliminated then the war might not have happened and in fact future wars may be avoided. That the war, for example, was not fought to defend the interests of the British people or even of the British state but that it was instead a war about values. Our values against their values. We fought a war whereby self interest was barely a factor, instead we fought a war of high principles, we even fought on behalf of other people. 

This line of thinking put Liberalism back on track, it had not only defeated the Nazi's in the war but they would create a better world and defeat them yet again. In a world without race hatred, racial supremacy and without nations, then Nazism was not only defeated but it was extinct. So they told people that there was only one race, the human race, that race was only skin deep, that racial differences only existed because of circumstances, change the circumstances change the reality. But nation-states still existed, one people ruled by one state, but wasn't that one of the core reasons for the rise of the Nazi's and the war?

If nations could be eliminated then that would go a long way towards stopping anything like that from happening again. The reason different people didn't get along was simple prejudice. People needed, by law if necessary, to mix, to get to know each other. This idea is called Contact Theory, the theory goes that the more contact people have the more people understand each other and the better they will get along. But how do you achieve this when people are pretty much all the same?

By immigration.

You bring in people who the locals would normally never have a chance to be in contact with. In places like the United States where there is already such a population, then you change the law so that you must have contact with each other. Critics have made the point that non-White people do not have a right to be near White people. But the law is designed to say actually that they do have such a right, in fact that is the express purpose of the law. 

We have all met those who claim that we are a nation of values, not a nation of people. We have met someone who says that there is no difference between different peoples. This is all because of Liberalism's response to Nazism.

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1 comment:

  1. I was reading about the founder of Contact Theory- Gordon Allport who married psychologist Ada Lufkin Gould (Gould apparently comes from the Old English word for Gold- and many took the name of Gould on arriving in the UK and the US). It seems the Allport's originate from Staffordshire. It's interesting that Contact Theory is used to justify a forced contact policy. It's also interesting that Allport was brought up in what seems to be an itinerant existence. Thanks for the article.