The error of Nazism

The Nazis are hated for what they were right about (Darwinism), not for what they were wrong about.   The error of the Nazis is the error of Mencius Moldbug:  Hobbesianism.
The error of Hobbes is to assume that people can only cooperate by subjugation to a common leader, which implies any relationship betweens states, nations, peoples and races, is necessarily one of war, near war, and predatory maneuver preparatory to war, a war of each against all.

Thus people and groups that subscribe to Hobbesianism find themselves at war against all, because they expect to find themselves at war against all – but find to their shock and surprise that their non Hobbesian enemies are cooperating just fine to deal with the common enemy and common threat.  Thus people and groups that subscribe to Hobbesianism get defeated, and frequently enslaved or wiped out.  All those who believe in something morally better than Hobbesianism, however hypocritically or deludedly, gang up on them.

While Hobbes is disastrously wrong, Darwin and Darwinism is correct.  As Darwin rightly pointly out, some races are better adapted than other to a life of artifacts, agriculture, clothing, and fire, and others better adapted to running naked through the jungle.  Some races are better adapted to an environment largely dominated by humans, and other races better adapted to an environment largely dominated by elephants and lions.

Those races better adapted to the jungle are genetically predisposed to be less intelligent when dealing with the problems of civilized life, though they may be better at reading footprints in the dust, running swiftly, and smelling the scent of game.  They are also genetically predisposed to predation, to rape and robbery, as is apparent when we observe both the American ghetto, and the way Africa is governed.

The races of Africa are more diverse than the races of the rest of the world, thus any generalization is not only untrue of some individual Africans, but also untrue of some African races.

those who sold the ancestors of today’s African Americans were probably just as advanced as the purchasers, individually and as a racial group, but for most African races, that is not the way to bet.

And since it is not the way to bet, it follows that the way to bet is, as Darwin tells us:

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.

And superior races, to avoid the annihilation that is apt to follow from Hobbesianism, need to be morally superior, as the Nazis were not:

Nor is the difference slight in moral disposition between a barbarian, such as the man described by the old navigator Byron, who dashed his child on the rocks for dropping a basket of sea-urchins, and a Howard or Clarkson; and in intellect, between a savage who uses hardly any abstract terms, and a Newton or Shakespeare. Differences of this kind between the highest men of the highest races and the lowest savages, are connected by the finest gradations. Therefore it is possible that they might pass and be developed into each other.

8 Responses to “The error of Nazism”

  1. Bill says:

    This is an unusually unclear post. Or at least the historical claim about Hobbesianism leading to destruction is hard to understand. As far as I can see, the Nazi’s defeat had a lot to do with them misjudging the Americans and British and very little to do with them being Hobbesians.

    The Nazis made the mind-bendingly stupid mistake of thinking that American and British policy vis a vis the Nazis would be significantly influenced by American and British public opinion. How they could make this mistake with the memory of WWI fresh is beyond me. Chomsky is not right about much, but on the narrow point that the lines of causation run frequently from policy to public opinion in a modern democracy (and that this is especially true in foreign policy and war) he’s got it mostly right, and the Nazis got it disastrously (for them) wrong.

    But this has dick to do with Hobbes. Hitler wanted coexistence and cooperation with the British and Americans. He had no difficulty imagining cooperation with those two powers. It’s the Jews, Slavs, and Bolsheviks he wanted to exterminate and dispossess.

    It is undoubtedly a good thing that the US came in to WWII on the side of the good guys, but the idea that this represented some altruistic, popular “let’s gang up on the bad guys” behavior descending from the non-Hobbesian character of Americans is nuts. Prior to Pearl Harbor (and the Lusitania for WWI), the regnant American attitude was “fuck it, not our fight” with a heavy dose of pro-German ethnic sentiment. The leftish, Anglophile American elite, represented by Roosevelt and Wilson, wanted in, and they worked tirelessly to re-engineer public opinion to get the US in. Wilson’s accomplishment, in particular, is mind-boggling if you believe in democracy and the will of the people.

    What are the other examples of the Hobbesians vs the not-Hobbesians resulting in Hobbesian destruction?

    • jim says:

      Bill:

      The Nazis made the mind-bendingly stupid mistake of thinking that American and British policy vis a vis the Nazis would be significantly influenced by American and British public opinion. How they could make this mistake with the memory of WWI fresh is beyond me.

      Hitler was doing OK until he declared war on America.

      He declared war because he thought that was only a gesture, that it did not make much real difference – which is classic, 100% Hobbesianism.

      After declaring war on America, thereby ensuring he was at war with the entire world, he kept saying that being at war with the entire world was not as bad as it seemed, because his enemies would soon be distracted by fighting each other – which is classic, 100% Hobbesianism.

      His enemies were never distracted by fighting each other – but fascists and Nazis were regularly distracted by fighting each other. Italy and Germany attacked Greece, which arguably directly caused the failure of operation Barbarossa – which is classic, 100% Hobbesianism.

      That the deal between Germany and Russia was called a “non aggression pact” is Hobbesianism. Non Hobbesians deny that they would ever aggress against anyone.

      is undoubtedly a good thing that the US came in to WWII on the side of the good guys, but the idea that this represented some altruistic, popular “let’s gang up on the bad guys” behavior descending from the non-Hobbesian character of Americans is nuts.

      America was not motivated by “let’s gang up on the bad guys”. It was motivated by Hitler declaring war and Japan bombing Pearl Harbor. Rather, the fact that it was not busy with war on France, Australia, China, Mexico, and Canada was because it was non Hobbesian.

      What are the other examples of the Hobbesians vs the not-Hobbesians resulting in Hobbesian destruction?

      World War I is unique in that the moral regress was directly caused and manifested by a philosophy. The other conflicts I had in minde were generally conflicts with morally inferior peoples, which Darwin viewed, usually correctly, as another measure of their backwardness, primitiveness, and not quite human character – thus for example Clive of India had the same technology as the civilization he was fighting, but was victorious, because his enemies would not hang together, and so hung separately. Papua New Guinea was for the most part conquered through moral superiority.

  2. Bill says:

    The critique of Moldbug is also kind of odd. He is not a fan of democratic liberalism, and he openly prefers monarchy to it. This does not make him a Hobbesian.

    Reading Moldbug is painful: he says in ten pages what a good writer would say in ten sentences. He also mixes together perfectly reasonable ideas (progressivism is powerful, insane, hyperagressive, violent, and intolerant) with utter lunacy (we should fight it by doing nothing; there is no leftist conspiracy).

    I don’t see any endorsement of Hobbesianism in that article, though. With characteristic verbosity, he says in this passage roughly the same thing you are saying but without the adulation of the Allies:

    Ie: there is a Structure. There is no counter-Structure. But the leftist, knowing his own world, finds it very easy to visualize a symmetric and opposite edifice in loving and fabulous detail. In a word: he projects. It’s only human.

    For example, one thing I always had trouble understanding about the history of World War II is why Japan never attacked the Soviet Union. Clearly, Japan and Germany could easily have defeated Russia by attacking from both sides, splitting Eurasia between the Axis. Or at least, this is an obvious strategy given the ad usum Delphini version of this historical event.

    So why didn’t it happen? The simple answer is that there was never any such entity as “the Axis,” at least not in the sense that there existed “the Allies.” The former imaginary entity was a pure product of fascist propaganda organs, whose opposite numbers were happy to play along. In reality, “the Axis” was three separate countries – Japan, Germany, and Italy – neither of which really trusted each other at all, but had put their names together on a treaty or two. Given that all parties to these pacts were on the record as considering all treaties worthless scraps of paper, we know exactly what they were worth in private.

    Nothing like the joint military planning of the Allies existed between the Axis. There was no great plan to create a Nazi South America, a Japanese Australia, etc, etc. And there was very little to suggest to the Japanese that, in the long run, they would come out better if they added another enemy to their war. After all, Japan was already fighting an obviously losing battle for its life against the US.

    Thus, the standard terminology of the war is an exact inverse of the reality. The Allies were an axis, cooperating ruthlessly and efficiently; the Axis was an alliance, cooperating grudgingly and without trust. The Allies were the Empire; the Axis were the rebels. The Axis never had a real plan for world domination, whereas the Allies had it figured out long before. Again, projection. (And note that this structural analysis tells us nothing about the relative goodness or badness of either side.)

    This inversion is a permanent feature of the leftist optical system. The leftist, in all times, of all races, in all nations, is really, genuinely convinced that the right, although evil rather than good, works exactly like the left. Except more so, of course.

    The left is one vast alliance – proverbially, a leftist sees no enemies to the left, and no friends to the right. So doesn’t the rightist see no friends to the left, and no enemies to the right? The left has a party line. Doesn’t the right? The left is full of people who have obviously mortgaged their souls for power. But isn’t the right?

    Perhaps you are letting the accidental fact that the Allies were the good guys in WWII cloud your analysis of the essences?

    Besides, Moldbug’s preferred system, “joint-stock republic” or “joint-stock city-states” or whatever, is more than vaguely anarcho-capitalist, which would seem to preclude Hobbesianism.

    • jim says:

      Bill: Moldbug

      is not a fan of democratic liberalism, and he openly prefers monarchy to it. This does not make him a Hobbesian.

      Preferring absolute monarchy most certainly does make him a Hobbesian. His argument is essence of Hobbesianism: no peace except through subjection to a common master, with absolute and total power.

      It is pretty obvious that UAE, a monarchy, is vastly better than any Middle Eastern democracy other than, perhaps, Israel – but UAE is not an absolute monarchy. Similarly, Lichtenstein, the last place in Europe where the monarch exercised real power, is vastly better than the rest of Europe, but Lichtenstein never was an absolute monarchy. Divided sovereignty does in fact work – sometimes. It works when sovereignty is divided between parties that could go to war if the rules are broken, or progressively bent further and further.

    • jim says:

      Bill quotes Moldbug:

      Nothing like the joint military planning of the Allies existed between the Axis. There was no great plan to create a Nazi South America, a Japanese Australia,

      Exactly so. The allies felt hugely betrayed when the Soviet Union proceeded to create the iron curtain puppet regimes. Hitler would not have paid the slightest attention, or felt the slightest concern, at a Japanese Australia. The question Moldbug misses is “why not?”

  3. Bill says:

    Preferring absolute monarchy most certainly does make him a Hobbesian. His argument is essence of Hobbesianism: no peace except through subjection to a common master, with absolute and total power.

    Does he prefer absolute monarchy? “Restore the Stuarts!” is not really the cry of an absolute monarchist, is it? The Tudors and Stuarts were the apogee of power for the British monarchy, but their power was not absolute. It was less than the power of Louis XIV, who really did approach absolute power. Charles I and II were not absolute monarchs. James II wanted to be one but clearly was not one. Of these last three pre-1688 Stuart Kings, two were deposed and one was not able to profess his true religion. Has Moldbug said somewhere that it would have been better had English Kings been able to rule entirely without constraint by the aristocracy, because the actually existing Stuart monarchy was sharply constrained by its aristocracy through Parliament and through less formal means.

    And his preferred system is not subjugation to a common master. Rather it is something like anarchocapitalism or minarchism with many little governments. That kind of system presupposes that people can cooperate w/o a looming whip hand.

    • jim says:

      Bill:

      Does [Moldbug] prefer absolute monarchy? “Restore the Stuarts!” is not really the cry of an absolute monarchist, is it?

      He said that the concessions made by Charles caused the loss of Charles head, which is pretty much what Hobbes said – that the failure to be sufficiently absolute eventually led to the mess we are now in.

      his preferred system is not subjugation to a common master. Rather it is something like anarchocapitalism or minarchism with many little governments.

      In anarchocapitalism, defense agencies do not own what they defend – they defend people, not places, their areas of activity overlap. In Moldbug’s system, this sort of competition is illegal. His “sovereigns” instead compete in attracting business to the region where they have total monopoly control. Anarcho capitalist defense agencies are “rentacops, vigilantes, militias, and heroes”. In Moldbug’s system, they are “sovereigns”

      Moldbug tells us:

      Nick, again like all philosophers who are not actually SS officers, is a fan of limited government. This may have something to do with the fact that he’s a scholar in the Anglo-American legal tradition, which (except for one man, Hobbes) has always stressed the rights of the many against the few. This is a noble tradition, both figuratively and literally, and when we point the rifles of reason in its direction we must experience some Burkean tremors.

      Nonetheless, I have sworn the gran rifiuto and I am not about to repent. So it’s worth asking: does limited government actually work? Does it aim at a desirable purpose? If so, should we expect it to achieve this purpose? As usual, I’ll work praxeologically and consider any so-called “evidence” only after I’ve reached my conclusion.

      Fortunately, these questions are easy to answer. The answers are “no,” “yes,” and “no.”

      So in that post, he nails his colors to the mast and tells us he stands with Hobbes. In all the other posts, he takes the Hobbesian position without explicitly invoking Hobbes.

      One, abolish the Pakistani constitution. Don’t suspend it – abolish it.
      Two, abolish politics in Pakistan. [...] Seize and permanently confiscate all media and publishing firms in Pakistan, all party buildings and funds, all private schools and universities, and all nongovernmental organizations. Abolish the parties permanently.

      • Bill says:

        On the question of whether Moldbug explicitly endorses Hobbes, I concede. Though, as a matter of descriptive accuracy, I don’t see much to disagree with in that post. The US is probably the most successful effort at a constitutionally limited government, and it has exhibited exactly the failure mode that Moldbug identifies.

        You can see the absolute contempt that the entire US political elite holds constitutional gvt in, for example, in the recent case of Honduras.

        In anarchocapitalism, defense agencies do not own what they defend – they defend people, not places, their areas of activity overlap. In Moldbug’s system, this sort of competition is illegal. His “sovereigns” instead compete in attracting business to the region where they have total monopoly control. Anarcho capitalist defense agencies are “rentacops, vigilantes, militias, and heroes”. In Moldbug’s system, they are “sovereigns”

        But here, it makes a lot of difference what Moldbug means when he is talking about these sovereigns competing for his “business.” If it means he can move among them more-or-less at will and that he can choose his sovereign, then he is describing a system close enough to anarchocapitalism that the residual differences seem irrelevant to me.

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