C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Why Wingnuts and Philosophy Don't Mix...

I know I should resist the temptation to see how the other half lives (or mouth-breathes, as it were). But some habits are hard to break, and I've relapsed from time to time.

I tried, at least, not to make these relapses public. To that end, I resisted the urge to ridicule this 'world government' conspiracy theory, of the sort embraced by anti-Semitic bigots and cranks:

The same crowd also believe that 'reptilian bloodlines' rule the world. I figured that the authors of this stuff couldn't possibly believe in all of it.

My resolve was then sorely tested when I saw this post claiming that intellectuals were more or less part of a treasonous alliance between Marxism and Islam. It's nutty, and the author doesn't forward a shred of evidence to support his ridiculous claims, but it's not vastly different to the drivel peddled by more skilled propagandists.

I even bit my tongue when I saw this shameless attempt to besmirch an apparent detractor of Winston Churchill, a great hero to some conservatives. Naturally, the post doesn't deal with some of the many factual criticisms that one might extend to Churchill. This is the same Churchill, Nobel Laureate, who gave us such pearls of wisdom as:

“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effect should be good… and it would spread a lively terror…”


"I do not admit... that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia... by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race... has come in and taken its place."

Unsurprisingly, he championed Zionism, as opposed to 'the schemes of the International Jews' (i.e. Bolshevism). He was not altogether unsympathetic to fascism, either. To quote a comrade blogger, who supplied the above references:

Benito Mussolini had "rendered a service to the whole world", showing "a way to combat subversive forces". Even Hitler received some Churchillian approbation: "One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations."

All this I passed by, politely as it were, thinking it unworthy to bring facts to bear against deranged wingnuts. Being stupid, ignorant, or plain delusional is not a moral flaw, however irritating (or unintentionally hilarious) the consequences.

Dishonesty, on the other hand, is a different matter, so I simply couldn't resist this woefully inaccurate, and thoroughly mendacious attack on the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (whose name, incidentally, is misspelled for most of the post).

The author claims that Nietzsche was 'Hitler's hero'. Whilst Hitler read and admired Nietzsche (Nietzsche's sister had edited a posthumous volume of his writings, removing references that condemned Germany's rising anti-Semitism) Hitler had plenty of 'heroes'. Among them were Schopenhauer, for instance, and plenty of other perfectly respectable and bourgeois figures within the West's literary, musical and artistic canon.

Hitler's 'philosophy', if it could even be called as much, does not resemble Nietzsche's in any significant respect. There are innumerable passages in Nietzsche's work that condemn 'mob rule', that condemn German (and other) nationalism, that oppose anti-Semitism, and that attack politics of all stripes: conservative, liberal, and radical. It is perfectly clear that our wingnut author here hasn't read a page of Nietzsche, still less understood any of his philosophy, when she blathers:

The views of Hitler, and his idol, Neitzsche, could be seen as a revealing forerunner for today’s globalizing, centralizing European government as a whole. Neitzsche espoused some views which could come straight out of any Rhodes school or Common Purpose training camp.

Actually, 'globalisation' is the fruit of neoliberal capitalism, and it's difficult to see Nietzsche rallying to its cause. Anybody with even a passing familiarity with Nietzsche's views would know he wouldn't waste his spittle on a 'Rhodes school' or 'Common Purpose training camp'.

So why do we see this wilfully dishonest attempt to smear mad Freddy, rather than to come to terms with his philosophy? So that the author can reach this equally disingenuous conclusion about Hitler:

Adolf was, in actuality, an internationalist and a globalist.

Really? Nothing about Hitler's invasion of other European nations, or persecution of Jews, Gypsies, and communists demonstrated an 'internationalist' perspective. The author concludes:

Neitzsche has been the darling of the Left for decades now. In the current age of globalism and internationalism, is there going to be a surge in Nazism whether overt or tacit? I would say, the surge has already started.

Nietzsche has been the 'darling' of a lot of people, from all sides of politics, and with no discernible political views at all. In many respects (and I am not a technical philosopher), I would have thought Nietzsche's influence was starting to wane. The Nietzschean impetus behind 'deconstruction' (Derrida) or the unravelling of power and discourse (Foucault) is decades-old now, and many of the more prominent Continental philosophers are not Nietzschean in the least. So when our good author warns us of a 'surge', once can only assume she is referring to a growth is crude propaganda, wilful ignorance, and deliberate and blatant lying.