As promised, I give a few ideas in response to Patrick’s post A response to Fr Anthony… that responded to my recent posting on the Beast of Nazism and similar ideologies.
As William Tighe suggested in his comment, there is a difference between Germany and Prussia. The history of that piece of land is long and highly complex. Much of it came together under the influence of Luther and cujus rex ejus religio. Some parts like Westphalia and Bavaria remained Catholic, but Prussia and much of the north gave that Kruppstaal hardness that favoured the sympathy some of the old military elite had for the Nazi ideology. Most of what I have seen personally of Germany has been of the Catholic parts with colour in the towns and a sense of joy. I admire the spirit of German Romanticism and the greatness of German music from Buxtehude and Bach to Brahms, Richard Strauss and Max Reger. There is a rigour and purity in that kind of music that I admire. Elgar, Stanford and Parry all worked in the “tradition” of Brahms and developed their own lyrical styles on that basis. Culturally, England owes much to Germany through the Royal Family and a sense of fair play, honesty and hard work.
The roots of the Beast are everywhere. Anti-Semitism (not merely an opposition to Zionism but the hatred of all Jewish people) was everywhere. I am old enough to remember schoolboys insulting boys by calling them “dirty Jews”. The Dreyfus affair in early twentieth century France is also a facet of the developing ideology. The Church in Italy was not exactly sympathetic either. It is known that the Gestapo based many of its methods on the old Spanish Inquisition.
I mentioned in my article that regimes like that of Hitler were Socialist (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei). Mussolini began with social reform and popular policies and actions. Taxation was very heavy, but everyone had a job and a home. The Volkswagon (people’s car) was launched at Wolfsburg near Hanover by Hitler. He also had the first motorways built to allow this little wonder of mechanical engineering to drive at high speed. One problem with the EU, as many rightly say, is that it resembles the old Soviet Union or may have the potential of becoming something like Hitler’s Berlin. Totalitarianism comes indifferently from nations and multi-national entities and bureaucracies. Of that there can be no doubt. A vulgar American would say – Either way you’re screwed.
There is also the notion that immigrants are being brought in because (if pushed up against a wall) they would work longer and less well-paid hours than white Brits. Perhaps. That has been so for a long time. I remember boys at school in the 1970’s going on about the “pakis” and the “wogs” in Bradford. That is more than forty years ago.
The big problem about “purifying” society is how far you go. After having deported or exterminated all immigrants, who do you go for next? Tramps? Unemployed people? Anyone not conforming to the precise type of human being? There is a legitimate concern about uncontrolled immigration and the strain they put on the Welfare State and the lack of respect they have for the culture welcoming them. That question has to be addressed, but within the limits of humanity and morality.
From the almighty cock-up in England, something will come of it. Much will depend on how other European countries relate to the EU and seek independence like the UK, the general implosion and collapse of the EU or some way to profit from the tightening noose and march towards globalism and the world bank. I am still confused, but seek to reason at a deeper level than English right-wing Conservative rhetoric.
I admire Patrick’s imagination of some Orwellian / Sharia future dark age. It may well turn out like that, a kind of third-world hovel one would find in the Middle East. I pray not to live long enough to see such a world. We can do much to delay the process’s effect on us by moving to the country and to remote places away from the towns, just as long as we have a means of survival. That is OK for as long as we don’t become afflicted with cancer or some other awful medical condition – then we either need a medical system or pray for a quick and painless death! We are only human and depend on the system to some extent. I too have read Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and seen the film with Richard Burton.
I do make a distinction between nationalism and totalitarian national socialism or another kind of socialism (international). What we often call far-right is actually left-wing. The main principle is stealing the resources from the “haves” to distribute them equally to all (and keep some under the table). It is known that there is really no essential difference between the Nazism of Hitler and the Communism of Stalin. They glorified strength and power, and mercilessly killed and tortured those who did not worship the leader as their god.
Something needs to change.
Patrick is right as we stand poised at the brink of big changes in our life and our assumptions. Most of us will have to take initiatives and take responsibility for our own destiny. As Sartre once said in a cynical moment L’enfer, c’est les autres. Hell is not other people themselves but our utter dependence on them even in sin and foolishness. We have to be ourselves and make our own way. Most people cannot, but those of us who can must not be held up by those who cannot or will not.
In the end, the political upheavals that occupy our minds are of lesser importance than our self-knowledge which has to begin in ourselves before spreading to others with the potential for understanding. Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.