Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nietzsche and the Nazi’s

The recently published “Nietzsche and the Nazi’s A Personal View” by Stephen Hicks, an Objectivist is a brilliant analysis of the philosophical roots of Nazism.

Hicks tells us how philosophy plays a dominant role in shaping history. The part I find particularly impressive is the section in which Hicks deals with Anti-individualism and collectivism. He points out that the National Socialists were collectivistic and anti-individualistic in a horrible sense. They rejected the idea that men are ends in themselves. Hicks reaffirms Ayn Rand’s contention that Nietzsche’s individualism is largely overstated. While I don’t find the idea of individuals creating themselves from scratch quite plausible, we are by and large responsible for our own destiny. Nietzsche believed the exact opposite, and such determinism can never be an adequate foundation for Individualism.

The counterfeit individualism of Nietzsche is evident in this passage:
“Nietzsche believes that most individuals have no right to exist and—more brutally—he asserts that if they were sacrificed or slaughtered that would be an improvement. In Nietzsche’s own words: “mankind in the mass sacrificed to the prosperity of a single stronger species of man—that would be an advance.”And again: “One must learn from war: one must learn to sacrifice many and to take one’s cause seriously enough not to spare men.” It is hard to see as an individualist
anyone who sees no value in the lives of the vast majority of individuals. And it is hard to see as an individualist someone who would sacrifice those individuals in the name of improving the species. Improving the species is a collectivist goal, and measuring the value of individuals in terms of their value to the species and sacrificing those who do not measure up—that is textbook collectivism.”

The Nazis got their way by stirring up altruistic sentiments, like all demagogues do. As the Nazi party manifesto says: "We demand that the State shall make it its first duty to promote the industry and livelihood of citizen. We demand extensive development of provision for old age. We demand creation and maintenance of a healthy middle class, immediate communalization of department stores, and their lease at cheap rate to small traders. We demand development of the gifted children of poor parents, whatever their class or occupation, at the expense of the State. The state must see to raising the standard of health in the nation. We demand an end to the power of the financial interests. We demand nationalization of all trusts. The Nazi party is convinced that our nation can only achieve permanent health from within on the principle: The Common Interest Before Self.”

Yes, “The Common Interest Before Self”, which is the root of all tyrannies.

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