*Culture in Nazi Germany*

That is a new and forthcoming book by Michael H. Kater, excerpt:

The book’s first contention is that in order for a new Nazi type of culture to take hold, the preceding forms first had to be wiped out.  This mainly affected the artistic and intellectual achievements most hated by the Nazis, those of the Weimar Republic, whose aesthetic and political hallmark was Modernism.  The police controls Hitler used to carry out purges in political and social contexts were also used against Modernist art forms and their creators…

However, as far as films were concerned, the most acute interest shown by Hitler was in the weekly newsreels.  These embodied for him what film was all about: an ideal instrument for political control.  He regularly commented on newsreels to Goebbels, and had some several cut or modified.  More so than in the case of feature films, Hitler was liable to override any decisions Goebbels had already made on them.  Even long before the war broke out Hitler was adamant that newsreels display the heroic…

Recommended, even if you feel you’ve had your fill of books on Nazi Germany.

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I've been meaning to study exactly this topic, until I realized: it doesn't matter. There were good judges, good lawyers, good writers, good people in Nazi Germany, just like there are good ones today in the United States. We don't study any of them because they weren't able to make a difference.

Debt bondage, a feature of modern warfare, coupled with currency fluctuations based on oil prices, have been the 20th century's bane of existence. W.H. Auden once wrote, "Poetry makes nothing happen," but if art doesn't make anything happen, it's one sign human creativity has become subservient to another, more sinister set of cultural codes. I don't know if I've summarized the book, but if I haven't, I'd love to hear something new, something fresh, and something humane from someone who's read it.

I do consider all of the ideas you have presented on your
post. They are very convincing and can certainly
work. Still, the posts are too brief for starters.
Could you please lengthen them a little from next time?
Thank you for the post.

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'The book’s first contention is that in order for a new Nazi type of culture to take hold, the preceding forms first had to be wiped out.'

Not really, unless one means that the program of the Nazis was radical in a sense that meant it had to remove the restraints normally found in any society. Further, the Nazis often presented themselves as restoring proper culture in various areas, while sweeping away 'trash.'

What is striking living in Germany is just how much the Nazis simply entwined themselves into society, meaning the term 'wiped out' is broadly inaccurate.

I had the privilege to get to know a few Germans who lived during that time. What was remarkable about their stories is how unremarkable the events were before the war.

One women said that she could go in the streets to do her chores without being afraid of young hooligans. She said that trouble makers were the ones who got mistreated. I remember being chilled by her comments.

Another gentleman was 25, fully trained industrial tool and die maker, and unemployed living in his father's home. 3 weeks after Hitler gained power he and a large number of others got a letter telling him where to show up for work. He also said that everyone knew the cost of their prosperity, it was their freedom.

So maybe the 'culture' that had to be supplanted had no redeeming qualities. It was an art and culture of abandon and dissipation. The dramatic change that happened in the lives of most people when the Nazis took power made that culture look rather cheap and useless.

I posit that if they had term limits of 8 years at that time, Hitler would be considered an heroic example emulated almost everywhere.

Same with Chavez if he had been followed by someone who would have dismantled his worst initiatives.

Interesting to see last week anti-semitism justified by people who should know better because of poor childhood experience.

'So maybe the 'culture' that had to be supplanted had no redeeming qualities. '

Sure, the Nazis distinctly hated opera, right? All that singing and costumes - nothing redeeming there.

'It was an art and culture of abandon and dissipation.'

Yep, that definitely describes the Bayreuth Festival to a T.

'The dramatic change that happened in the lives of most people when the Nazis took power made that culture look rather cheap and useless.'

I am not really sure how to put this to you, but most Germans did not care about the art found in Berlin (and Vienna). And much of the hatred directed against modern art such as the Neue Sachlichkeit was due to its 'Jewishness' in the sense of gallery owners being the ones peddling such 'trash.'

And this may give you an idea why the Nazis hated the Neue Sachlichkeit - the artists identified in this movement rejected romantic idealism, which of course the Nazis could seemingly never get enough of. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Objectivity

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If you want to understand how Chavez made it work, and who actually follows the pattern, don't be afraid, read it right on through:

"For Chávez, for instance, vulgar language and insults were a trademark, not a flaw. He talked to national audiences about having sex with his wife, called Americans an obscene term, described his bowel movements on television and named the first cellphone made in Venezuela after a popular slang term for penis."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/yes-trump-is-undignified-demagogues-have-to-be/2019/03/08/bd8d8d9c-4109-11e9-a0d3-1210e58a94cf_story.html

"Chavez" didn't make anything work. A spectacular nation, with a loving populace, unique and all their own, he wrecked it over envy. Start paying 2 bucks a gallon a for petro and get back in the game.

Good point. What works for a populist leader, for him to get and maintain power, may not be the same as what works for the populace.

Even supporters may see reductions in their welfare.

He was more socialist than populist.

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Which is typical of Communists and Socialists.

My point above was that these radical ideologies gain traction because they are talking about a real problem that needs attention. Chavez' supporters, who still exist in large numbers, had their lives improved.

There was a remarkable bit of information I ran across reading about the OSS, (precursor to the CIA). During WWII the agents had no problem finding sympathetic protectors in countries which were invaded by Germany. Greece for example. Which allowed them to establish safe houses and bases of operation within enemy territory. But they couldn't do that in Germany because the populace would turn them in. For whatever reason the German Nazis had wide support among the population.

One of the women I knew worked in a German social agency during the war. She worked at an office in a rail terminal and would receive people whose homes were destroyed by bombing and route them to a new home somewhere. Those places were a target for the bombing campaigns so she never knew whether she would survive the day.

There was a very funny article in Macleans magazine, a canadian news magazine that is reliably Liberal. The article described how people were thinking that the economy wasn't doing well, and said that no it is doing fine, it is a mistaken impression. A month later the news came out that the last quarter of last year had .4 growth. I knew that from what I was experiencing. But ideological blinders and desperation at the coming election convinces people to believe what they want to believe. Then policy is made based upon those mistaken impressions, and the results are a 180 degree neck stretching shift in the political winds. Best not to call people idiots and deplorables when they are telling you what you desperately need to hear to keep things working the way you want.

I think it is kind of an obvious (glaring even) mistake that people think Chavez erred on a left/right rather than on a populist/rationalist axis.

It is what allows them to be preposterously pro-Trump and anti-Chavez.

The results of a category error.

That’s an interesting take. Anti-technocracy versus technocracy? Is that where you’re going with this? Politics as a form of utility maximization rather than competing coalitions vying for relative status. Utopia by hiring the “best and brightest” technocrats.

That’s magical thinking IMO, akin to denying evolution or the Big Bang. Anyone who denies the conclusions of the public choice school is on the same wavelength of building museums where Jesus is riding a dinosaur.

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Hmm, so the problem wasn't Chavez's economic plan and foreign policy orientations, rather it's that his appeal was populist and he wanted to have the support of large numbers of ordinary Venezuelans, especially non-wealthy ones?Maybe it would have worked if he had done something like form a vanguard party that, through its own genius, represents the interests of the working class as a whole; has anyone ever tried that?

nice

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Had my fill of the 20th century a while ago. These days it is all about the Byzantine Empire and the Mongols. What a disaster that 4th Crusade.

Worked out GREAT for Venice. Boats mostly paid for, Zara destroyed, Constantinople reduced to a Venetian dependency for almost sixty years.

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For museum fans: "Design Museum Den Bosch’s exhibition of Third Reich design will be the first in the world. The Volkswagen Beetle, the 1936 Olympic Games, the swastika and Leni Riefenstahl’s films..." Opens September 7, 2019.

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Scratching my head here. What was "new" about the Nazis? The intolerant/violent/abusive racism they displayed wasn't "new". Our tribes have been slaughtering/enslaving each other since we first came down from the trees. The first Russian pogrom preceded 1933 by over 100 years. This seems to be a case of reverse-exceptionalism. It would be nice if we could believe there was something special about the circumstances that gave rise to such inhumanity, but anyone who has been paying attention. Knows of the genocides of the last 50 years. Even today, what's that going on in China?

You misunderstand the article. It was an anti-Trump dog whistle that all self identifying far left nutcases pick up like a dog's ear picks up the whistle. You are simply supposed to drink in the anti-Trump responses and believe that everyone is turning against Trump. Obviously you aren't "woke" enough yet.

There's zero mention of Trump anywhere in what Tyler wrote and in Amazon's blurb. Also, it's not an article, it's an unreleased book. Not everything is about the martyrdom of your orange messiah.

You do understand the meaning of the phrase "dog whistle" don't you/

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'What was "new" about the Nazis? '

That they practiced eugenics on such a large scale, without even pretending that the killing of millions was somehow justified by anything other than their ideology. Generally, genocidal regimes justify themselves with necessity, The Nazis justified (at least among themselves) their measures with triumphalism, that finally those with power were able to take the proper heroic measures, not just small steps, towards a much better world.

Stalin did most of his murdering to maintain absolute power, as did Mao. The Nazis killed children because they were 'defective,' for example, and out of a desire to cleanse humanity of its 'unacceptable' elements. In other words, the Nazis were the culmination of what various eugenic thinkers, such as Harry H. Laughlin, whose own activities in the U.S. led to things like this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Sterilization_Act_of_1924

"The Nazis killed children because they were 'defective'": as had many Christians over the years, albeit on the sly. And many another society too.

"Stalin did most of his murdering to maintain absolute power, as did Mao": that seems implausible to me. They could have maintained power with far fewer victims, I'd guess. They were just evil bastards in roughly the same terms as the Nazis.

'They could have maintained power with far fewer victims, I'd guess. '

Depends on how you count the victims - the gulags weren't death camps meant to exterminate an entire group, they were a more or less profitable state enterprise with a steady need for labor. Mao was notably incompetent, and most of his victims were not people lined up in front of pits and shot.

There is no question that both of them killed large numbers of people and that both fit any meaningful definition of evil, but Stalin was not trying to exterminate Ukrainians, for example.

The Nazis, on the other hand, intentionally killed those who were considered unsuitable for further existence.

It is a real distinction, unless one is more interested in dismissing road bumps to a much better world.

"The Nazis killed children because they were 'defective'": as had many Christians over the years, albeit on the sly.

In a systematic and industrial fashion, where? And with whose approval?

'as had many Christians over the years, albeit on the sly. '

You really have to stop making things up - nobody has accused Christians of following a genocidal eugenics ideology.

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WOW three million without even trying.

Wouldn't confisc.....requisitioning the grain, closing the borders, guarding the granaries constitute "trying"

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The Soviets and Maoists were of course eliminationist too, towards class enemies and dissidents... but there's an option of defection there and then defection back and drafting new people in to the class. It's not really the destruction of a people. What they wanted to do was bloodthirsty and utopian, but ultimately silly and impossible. What the Nazis wanted to do was rooted in an insane conspiracy theory, but ultimately possible. Similarly on the reforms to change society - the Soviets and Maoists killed huge swathes of people, because what they wanted to do was impossible, ideological and insane (collective farms and so on). Not a matter of "competence" but that their ideology took them to suggest social and economic structures that did not comport with reality. The Nazi economic programs did not. Again the distinction is that the Nazis aimed to do something possible, if not something anyone believes they should do, while the Soviets butchered huge numbers of people in the pursuit of what was not even possible.

(Again: State sponsored coercive eugenics; possible but ill advised. Lysenkoism and New Soviet Man; not even possible.)

'Not a matter of "competence"'

No need to debate terms, but the Great Leap Forward was pure stupidity leading to a large number of deaths. The Soviets are more complex, but of course many of their schemes were also completely idiotic, and the gulags were simply slave labor in a different guise.

'The Nazi economic programs did not.'

Not really sure how to put this, but WWII was an explicit Nazi economic program.

'Again the distinction is that the Nazis aimed to do something possible'

No West European has ever successfully subjugated Russia, and Hitler did not even follow the advice of those in charge of trying to do it.

'the Soviets butchered huge numbers of people in the pursuit of what was not even possible'

No, the Soviets did not butcher huge numbers of people - starved millions, and worked to death many in the gulags (some dispute about how many, but the gulags were not death camps). It was the Nazis with an organized program of extermination, which is what makes them stand out as a totalitarian state.

I think there's a distinction here between military conflicts that they walked into, and their generally bellicose stance (one that was not that distinct from European imperialist expansion that came before, or what the Soviets would've done if they weren't threatened by atomics), and general economic policies in the sense which I am describing. I would not accept that WWII can be described as an economic program or that was considered this way.

You can dispute the kind of state organized camp deaths the Nazis and Soviets engaged with I guess - I don't think we'd look on the Nazis particularly more kindly if absent external pressure they'd decided to slowly work the residents of Dachau to death with starvation and forced labour.

'and general economic policies in the sense which I am describing'

You have heard of the Nazi concept of Lebensraum, and how that concept was to be implemented, including the enslaving of millions of Untermenschen, right?

'I would not accept that WWII can be described as an economic program or that was considered this way.'

Well, WWII as a global conflict did not just involve the Nazis, of course. If you are talking about the invasion of Poland, then definitely, though of course, many Germans (not just Nazis) felt that Germany was also reclaiming land that had previously been part of the German Empire.

'the residents of Dachau'

Were often poltical prisoners, and they were generally not treated like Jews. Dachau actually comes fairly close to a gulag facility. However, the gulag had no equivalent of Auschwitz.

This started with distinctions - the Soviets killed a lot of people, but they did not kill them as part of a targeted eugenics program that encompassed killing the defective, and eliminating entire groups of people entirely. The Soviets did not send children to the gulags, in contrast to what the Nazis did, just killing them if they did not further the goals of National Socialism to bring us a much better world - for those deserving it.

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Except for Andrew Jackson, is there anyone in American history Trump has not criticized and belittled, the founders, Lincoln, war heroes, even those serving in his own administration. Yes, indeed, Trump is attempting to wipe out the achievements of everyone who came before him while creating an image of greatness for himself that is pure fiction.

I don’t follow these things closely, but has he belittled Washington and Jefferson? Lincoln? Links?

Lincoln, railroad lawyer and tool of the northern industrialists, could do with some belittlement

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Michelle Obama was even more explicit in declaring her husband's presidency the first thing about this country worth being proud of.

And more generally, it's certainly not commentators on the *right* who are seeking to have artists and works from the past declared "problematic" by today's standards.

Like their wonderful statues of people who rebelled against the United States to keep Black people as property?

I was thinking of the sitcom, Friends.

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The point is, can it happen here (there)? Will an impoverished and desperate populace living in an hollowed out America and facing the diktat of neoliberal apologists of Red China back extremist politicians and try to take what it can't make?

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Too bad Bill Shine couldn't make it work.

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Fake News.

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The police controls Hitler used to carry out purges in political and social contexts were also used against Modernist art forms and their creators…

Crude methods. In this country, you just cut off the public subsidies and divvy up per stirpes foundation capital among the founder's relatives, the vast bulk of that rubbish disappears.

You give tax breaks to foundations, or churches, and have them do the dirty work for you. You don't need federal money if you can do what you want (without oversight or someone else's potential control through a democratic process) if you structure the tax code right so that your foundation or church or whatever tax exempt group you want to contribute to, and take a deduction, does the work for you.

Ask Betsy DeVos.

You give tax breaks to foundations, or churches, and have them do the dirty work for you.

What 'dirty work'? Churches aren't running art museums. A few of them have some handsome artifacts they're preserving, but they're not doing that in service of government policy. And no clue where you acquired the fanciful notion that people endow foundations to act as conduits for government actors.

As for 'tax breaks', neither churches nor foundations have owners to whom to pay dividends. They generally get very little revenue from commercial transactions. All of their employees pay income and Social Security taxes.

I'll take that deduction from my taxes, thank you very much. I'd rather you pay taxes for government services and I pay for political organizations which get dumb people to vote the way a I want them to vote.

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Quentin Tarantino explained that he identifies with Goebbels, and the scene in "Inglourious Basterds" in which Goebbels tears up when Hitler praises his latest movie is modeled on how Quentin feels when Harvey Weinstein praises his latest movie.

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It's called gangsterism.

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That's reading like the story line from the Man in the High Castle from Philip Dick.

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"The police controls Hitler used to carry out purges in political and social contexts were also used against Modernist art forms and their creators ..."

Maybe so, but at best this seems a third-order effect. Is it really news that Nazis were totalitarians, and therefore attempted to control, well, pretty much everything?

From accounts I've read, by 1935 or so it became nearly impossible for those living in German cities at elast to avoid returning the Nazi salute. For to fail to return the proffered "Heil Hitler" created a significant risk not merely of verbal disapproval but of a beating by street thugs.

So, Nazis didn't like "degenerate" art. Yet one can imagine Nazis who would have promoted Modernist art forms that glorified Naziism, and these would have been Nazis all the same.

Which is to say, disapproval and suppression of Modernism was never the essence of Naziism; it's just not what made Nazis, Nazis.

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“The book’s first contention is that in order for a new Nazi type of culture to take hold, the preceding forms first had to be wiped out.”

No. That is a better description of Bolshevism which intended to destroy class, race, religion, and nations. Nazism was largely a reactionary movement that sought to preserve those things against the threat of communism and restore Germany to glory.

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