Bouphonia on Hitler’s Reading Habits

Since we’re on the subject of the controversial Austrian statesman, let’s turn to the shamefully underpublicized Bouphonia.  One of Bouphonia’s specialties is lively dissections of the flaccid and/or mendacious double-talk excreted by certain kinds of (American-style) conservative ideologues.  Here, Bouphonia’s anonymous author examines the notion that there’s something suspicious about evolution because "the Nazis did indeed take Darwinian science as inspiration":

Hitler did indeed take certain useful elements of his era’s "Darwinian science" as inspiration, when he wasn’t being equally inspired by Goethe, Herder, Schopenhauer, Fichte, Hans Horbiger, Henry Ford, Karl May, Napoleon, occultism, Christianity, mythology, and anything else that appealed to his magpie mind. In Mein Kampf, he sets forth his method quite clearly:

A man who possesses the art of correct reading will, in studying any book, magazine, or pamphlet, instinctively and immediately perceive everything which in his opinion is worth permanently remembering, either because it is suited to his purpose or generally worth knowing….

What’s "generally worth knowing," from the standpoint of a power-hungry ideologue, is precisely that which serves the purpose of gaining and maintaining power. It’s immaterial whether Jesus died on the cross or not, so long as you can score political points by blaming the Jews for it.

If he were alive today, Hitler might well embrace Intelligent Design; it’s by no means incompatible with pseudoscientific racism, it’s vague enough to leave room for Odin as well as YHWH, and it’s prone to a type of wishful thinking and paranoia that could easily have resonated with his own (if we weren’t intended by some supernatural intelligence to discriminate against the Jews, how come they were designed to look Jewish?).

Current scientific thinking on race wouldn’t be any more suited to Hitler’s purpose than it is to, say, Charles Murray’s; as manufactured anti-elitist causes go, ID would probably have been at least as useful as Horbiger’s Welteislehre was in its day. This idle speculation aside, it’s clear enough that Hitler had little interest in any scientific theory (or historical account, or philosophy, or religious dogma, or art) that he couldn’t use to prop up opinions he’d already formed.

2 thoughts on “Bouphonia on Hitler’s Reading Habits

  1. This might, theoretically, be a worthwhile discussion if the subject was to what extent evolutionary biology and genetics should be allowed to inform policy. But that’s not what it is. As you can see when you follow the link, this attempt to link Charles Darwin to Adolf Hitler stems from the movie Expelled, which was made by creationists and is intended to malign everyone who rejects their creationist ideas. The message is: Atheism and Darwinism are wrong and dangerous.

    The star of the movie, Ben Stein, is an intellectually bankrupt wretch of the worst order. I recently saw his appearance on CNN. Unfortunately Youtube took down the video, but it was almost nauseating (although that was in no small part due to Stein’s insufferable voice). Aside from firing up each other’s exasperation about the horrors of natural evolution, Stein and Beck did take some time to talk about this little, proud nation of ours. Beck mumbled a bit about the state of things these days and “healthcare” and then exclaimed: That’s exactly how it was in Germany! – which means, when Hitler came to power or was in power, presumably. And then Stein reported that doctors in Germany are prescribing patients a pill that will kill them, a “strong barbiturate.” I cannot find a clip of that part, or a transcript, online anymore, but you can get a general feel of the inanity of these two dimwits here.

    It is rather depressing that this garbage is shown on a secular, mainstream TV channel in the US (CNN Headline News).

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  2. This reminds me of discussions about whether one is morally allowed to like Wagner’s music since he’s been Hitler’s favorite composer. Life is rather austere when you’re trying to avoid everything Hitler used, wore, once mentioned without having the intention to extinguish it or even was fond of. You have to say goodbye to the Akropolis, cream tarts, Paris, the movies, microphones, staying up all night talking big, aeroplanes, wearing boots; trousers; shirts; coats; any underwear; headgear or swastika armbands, dogs, anything military, moustaches, shouting, amphetamine, Rome, toboggans, architecture, philosophy, tea, beer, hatred, the opera, planning wars, convertibles, growing up in Austria and masturbating. Bloody hell, seems like fuehrer hasn’t left us that much to enjoy besides sushi, Elvis, poststructuralism, Starbucks, Musicals, crack and political correctness.

    Anyway, Darwin hasn’t had any direct impact on Hitler’s ideology. As far as research can confirm, his ideology was somehow influenced by social darwinist writers like Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Gobineau.

    There is no use in blaming any philosophers, writers and artists for influencing or inspiring Hitler’s thoughts and deeds. In “Mein Kampf” he confessed freely having been impressed by the socialist worker’s movement’s widespread and well organized network in Austria and Germany, to which millions of followers felt commited to and could identify with. These structures have been established by leftist German politicians when Marx was in London studying Smith, Mill or Ricardo and waiting for Engel’s next cheque to arrive. Marx himself was strongly influenced by Hegel, whose theories Hitler certainly never has studied (way too abstract and dreary).

    It’s a pity how often Hitler and the most horrible epoch of german history are used thoughtlessly to justify any contemporary positions or politics worldwide. Whereas profound knowledge about the 3rd Reich is still not common neither in Germany or anywhere else, the way to deal with it has slightly changed.

    Fortunately in contemporary Germany, it’s easier to have a laugh about Hitler than it has been 30 or even 20 years ago. On the other hand “Hitler would have agreed to that” is still popular as an ultimate argument. Which leads me back to topic. Hitler had no special concern for the USA and religious fundamentalists there. His ideology and politics were centered on other topics. Nevertheless no problem here, creationists!

    Hitler would have liked you lot taking him serious. He took such a pleasure in people recognising and listening to him. Remember those Nuremberg Rallys? Probably he lacked some attention when he was young. I’m sure he wouldn’t have caused such a lot of trouble when he’s had the pleasure to be educated in your believes.

    Since I’m German I feel obliged to remark that today’s creationists in the USA in the end derive from protestant sects, who wouldn’t be there without Luther.

    So we have to take all the blame once again. That’s fine with me.

    Nix für ungut

    Frank Decher

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