When Muslim extremists destroyed the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and a plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, the ghosts of Emma Goldman, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Karl Marx whispered in the ears of the liberal envious and told them, “Aha, here it is. Backlash against the success of United States. Tell the world the Americans brought this upon themselves. There is no evil. There is no morality. It is all relative. There is only the here and now. Why should America be so successful while others fail? It’s not fair. Let the Americans suffer for once.”
In this chapter, I shall study the rise and impact of two 20th Century political contemporaries, Adolf Hitler of Germany and Mohandas Gandhi of India. In so doing I will make my best case that evil exists, and that moral relativism is immoral.
Hitler used demagogic psychological powers to liberate the “unconscious of the German people and articulate their latent aggressiveness,” according to Professor Dalton. He considers Freud a major political thinker because his evaluation of human nature is the best answer to the unanswerable question, “How could Nazi Germany happen?” In a perverse way, Hitler was the wrong man at the right time and in the right place. This is the way it is in politics and history. Ronald Reagan was the right man to run against and succeed Jimmy Carter. George W. Bush, if all indications up to now are a go, is the same to Bill Clinton. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was just the ticket after Herbert Hoover.
Teddy Roosevelt was in the right place on a number of occasions over 20 years - Tammany Hall reformer; Spanish War hero; V.P. to an assassinated President; leader of a fledgling nation just itching to bust its muscles. In fact, almost everybody famous was the right guy (or gal) in the right place at the right time. Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth; the list goes on.
Others had their time altered, through Shakespearean drama, simple bad timing or murderous tragedy. Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and William Jennings Bryan help to fill out this list.
But Hitler and Gandhi seem to transcend their time. They were not constrained by electoral cycles or term limits. They were the faces of their countries, for good or bad, and beyond that. They represented the entire moral spectrum of humanity.
In Hitler, we see perhaps the most influential man of the 20th Century. He is not the Man of the Century. Time magazine said Albert Einstein was, but even in identifying Einstein, it can be said that if there were no Hitler, Einstein’s role would have been diminished. Einstein, like many of the men listed above, exists as a significant historical figure because he opposed, or juxtaposed, Hitler. Without Hitler, Ike, Patton, even MacArthur, would not have been nearly the giants they were. Franklin Roosevelt's place would be far more controversial.
Without Hitler, Communism probably would not have rose as an international behemoth. It was in opposing Hitler that the Soviet Union and Stalin rose to a prominence they never would have known had they just remained in the background. Without the rise of Russia, China would not have gone to Chairman Mao, Korea would not have happened, and neither would Vietnam. Truman spoke of a domino effect, and he applied it to Communism. No domino was bigger and more powerful than Adolf Hitler.
Hitler started the jet program that started the Americans on a race to get there first, thus creating an atomic bomb that probably would not have come along for years. It would have delayed bombs built in Russia and China, and the Russian space program.
Without Hitler there would not have been a Berlin Wall, East Germany, an Iron Curtain and a Soviet Bloc. Without Hitler there would be no Israel, and the Communist spin-off that led to war in Southeast Asia and Pol Pot’s genocides. Without Hitler Gandhi would not have liberated India, and the British Empire would not have crumbled. Without Hitler, England and the U.S. would have existed on relatively equal footing for many years.
Without Hitler, Harry Truman would not have had to drop the atomic bomb and Tom Dewey would have beaten him in 1948. He probably would have been succeeded either by William Howard Taft's son, Robert Taft, or maybe Adlai Stevenson. Without Hitler, countless people who died on the battlefields of World War II would have made names for themselves in politics, the sciences, in sports and on movie screens.
Without Hitler John Kennedy would not have been a war hero. His brother Joe probably would have become President. Without Hitler, local business leaders in Whittier, California would not have asked a young Navy lieutenant to run for Congress in 1946. Richard Nixon would not have had the Communist scourge and Alger Hiss to campaign against. There would not have been a Supreme Commander to ask him to be his running mate, and there probably would never have been a Watergate.
Without Hitler, the dividing line between right and wrong, between good and evil, would have been much blurrier. The fuzzy morality of Emma Goldman and Karl Marx would have more easily assuaged its way into the thinking of a fat and happy populace. We would have been much more willing to be seduced by the socialistic propaganda of John Steinbeck’s descriptions of the Great Depression and an evil business climate to blame for it. Without Hitler there would not have been something to rally around.
The mind can go many places on a subject like this. Page after page could be filled with wild scenarios and what-could-have-beens. I will let it rest at this juncture. Suffice to say, the point is made, and the point is this. Somebody, probably a Christian minister, once said that, “All things happen for some good reason.” There are many reasons to dispute this claim. Certainly the Jewish people might need some convincing. As insane as the concept is, it may be said that Hitler’s existence on this Earth resulted in a change in the course of history that turned the 20th Century. This, quite simply, is a good thing. Does that mean that if we could time travel we should not have sent assassins to Germany in the 1920s with orders to terminate Hitler with extreme prejudice? Sure, if we could have eliminated Hitler, we should have. But this is all water under the bridge. Sometimes it takes great evil for great good to fight. No place is this more evident than in the confrontation with Hitler.
History records him to be the most evil man in history. It is often pointed out that Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung did more damage. But Stalin and, in turn Mao, are products of Hitler. It is ironic that Hitler despised Communism as much or more than the U.S. did in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Stalin and Mao had more time to do their killing. Much of Stalin's territory grabbing resulted from historical opportunity. Hitler was the most blatant land-grabber and warmonger of all time.
There is a sense of chauvinism among the modern class. We tend to look back at history and dehumanize people, especially when studying warfare. Genghis Khan and the Mongol hordes, for example, are viewed as bloodthirsty beyond our current ability to understand. The Romans were a cruel empire. They enslaved, raped, pillaged, took the spoils of war, and terrorized populations through crucifixion. There are conflicting dimensions in studying the warfare and killing methods of the old warriors. On the one hand, war was a much more confined process. Most of the killing was hand-to-hand, or in relatively small numbers. This required a certain kind bravery and savagery. Much of the killing done today is “anti-septic,” “push button,” “computerized,” and “surgical.” But we have our modern examples of very personal savagery. Saddam was the most visible of the current day until the United States decided to put a stop to it. The Taliban in Afghanistan, the torturers of Bangladesh in the early 1970s, and the necklace specialists of South Africa's ANC come to mind.
Furthermore, the study of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle put a much more human face on Mankind long before the birth of Christ. Humanity has always had deep thinkers. Compassion for our fellow human beings is as old as a desire to kill him. Biblical scholars will point to the study of Caen and Abel.
However, the viewpoint of modern vanity is that by the 20th Century, the world had matured. The rise of Hitler’s Germany, however, is alarming and confusing. Communism was a long time coming. Many books and movements heralded it. We find Communism in the works of Rousseau, Thoreau, Marx, Engels, Goldman, and many others. Communism was a social movement of the industrial age.
National Socialism may not have been a new idea, per se. Nationalism is as old as nations, and it is not necessarily a bad word. Moses might have been a called a nationalist. Teddy Roosevelt was a nationalist. Certainly, it is a concept that was always popular in Germany. Otto von Bismarck was a highly successful nationalist. In 1870, the year the Germans fought France to the encirclement of Paris, he accomplished the great feat of unifying all the German states and “tribes” into one country. The common language, culture and arrogance of the German people built itself up to what many think was their "natural" militarism, resulting in World War I.
Kaiser Wilhelm’s attempt to subjugate Europe into a Greater Germany was not entirely the result of saber rattling. The blunder of nations was in not recognizing the killing machines they had created. The German plan for the invasion of France in 1914 had been sitting in the Kaiser’s desk since his chief of staff drew it up in 1905. It said that the troops would march into France through Belgium with the “right sleeve of the last German brushing the Atlantic.” It was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand by a Serbian Nationalist that drew the Balkans, Russia and eventually Turkey into a World War that originally was planned as a French-German re-match. The Americans, the Dardanelle Campaign, and the Russian Revolution were not considerations.
The point of this discussion is German culture. The Versailles Treaty laid out harsh penalties on Germany for waging war and trying to impose their culture on everybody else. Despite criticisms of the treaty, the bottom line is that Germany got what they deserved. Germany is and was a country of cultured people. The fact that people of such culture could be put under the sway of a Viennese corporal is the great dilemma of history.
Hitler and Napoleon have been compared. They have their similarities. Hitler was a corporal and Napoleon was known as "the little corporal." Napoleon was not actually a corporal, but in one of his early campaign he moved freely amongst the enlisted personnel, a rarity for officers. The nickname stemmed from this incident.
Sometimes mass movement is proletarian in nature. The rise of Napoleon and the rise of Hitler are quite different, however. They both emerged from economic chaos, but Napoleon emerged from the French Revolution, which was in effect a civil war. Hitler emerged from a depression that resulted from Germany’s failed war. Napoleon came from a movement that had “won” in their battle with the French monarchy. Hitler came from a standpoint of abject failure. The use of their forces by Napoleon and Hitler were quite different, too. Napoleon utilized foreign mercenaries to man his enlisted forces, a tradition in his country that still is in effect with the French Foreign Legion. Hitler would never have thought of such a thing. His forces were made up of “German supermen.”
The greatest similarity between Napoleon and Hitler is the fact that they rose to power over cultured people. There is arrogance, perhaps even a racist arrogance, which allows us to tell ourselves that Arabs, Persians, Africans, Indians, Hispanics, Islanders and Chinese could be swayed by such totalitarians. A kind of British Darwinism has always tinted our vision of the Third World. This is the same view that gave the English a sense of destiny in the ruling of dark-skinned peoples. Surely we can be trusted to rule over them. Middle class conservatives despise academic elite classes who pre-suppose the same thing for them, but of course the middle class is mostly white.
But the arrogance plays itself out in a view of modern barbarism or, at the very least, chaos. Whites look at Africa, Latin America, much of the Middle East, and tell themselves that these places have problems ruling themselves because of some kind of endemic inferiority within native populations.
There may be truth to this. Maybe we are just at that moment in the changing ebb and flow of history where white people are, for the most part, in control. But some important points need to be made. First, some Third World cultures have a lot more history than some elite whites are willing to consider. The Aztecs were not just plains Indians. They were inventors and pyramid builders of the highest order. They were scientists and mathematicians. They also employed some hideously barbaric practices. Some moral relativists have excused these practices as simply being part of their particular culture.
White supremacists and sheet-wearing Ku Klux Klanners would have you believe that Africans have always been little more than “jungle bunnies.” That modernization imposed upon them by their white enslavers and colonizers is the only reason they have any foothold at all within the modern world. But these dunderheads do not take into account the brilliant military strategist Hannibal, who led the North African Carthaginians in wars that gave the Romans all they can handle. This included a magnificent surprise Alpine crossing that led them to the gates of Rome. Nor does it give much credence to their offspring, the Moors, who conquered Sicily and much of Italy. They were responsible for a great deal of the culture and racial make-up of the Mediterranean. William Shakespeare's "Othello" was about a Moor.
The Chinese were mathematicians and linguists. The Egyptians were architects and workaholics. Politics, wars and the tides of history met an Age of Enlightenment in which white Europeans became the inventors of the world, giving a disproportionate concept that they are responsible for all progress.
At some point, the Europeans became the educated class, the rulers, the militarists, the organizers, the inventors and the conquerors. There is no denying they are the majority architects of the world. However, and here is the point, this is not to say that this resulted in straightforward progress for humanity. This chapter is about Hitler, Gandhi and moral relativism. Racism and the Third World are tied together with it.
The Christian worldview is really no different than any other moral worldview. At the heart of all good religions, and I include all the major ones under this umbrella – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist – is compassion for humanity. Compassion for humanity has been the conflict of man and governments since time immemorial. It is not relative. It was as much a matter of right and wrong, good and evil when Caen slayed Abel, as it was when the Aztecs sacrificed virgins by cutting out their still-breathing hearts, and when the S.S. sent trainloads of Jews into the gas chambers. There is no excuse for it. It cannot be cloaked under the guise of culture, bravery or retaliation. Refuting the concept of moral relativism lies at the center of great, unifying political moves, when countries and leaders decide to "bury the hatchet" and make real deals for lasting peace with hated enemies. It is for this reason that the Palestinians, oppressed and terrorized as they are, cannot use moral relativism as an excuse for sending suicide bombers into Israel. It is the reason that Arab extremists, frustrated by English-American demarcation lines resulting from the break-up of the Ottoman Empire that put the “infidels” in charge of the oil, must be held responsible for their actions. They cannot excuse their actions as justifiable backlash.
Compassion for humanity is the responsibility of everybody, especially the ones in power. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all emphasized this. Even if we were to accept the racially charged view that white Europeans are in control of the world because they are intellectually superior, one thing is as clear as clear can be.
White Europeans are not morally superior!
By no stretch of the imagination am I saying that white Europeans are morally inferior. What I am saying is that morality, good and bad, is the single strain that connects all humans throughout history. It supersedes Christianity or any organized religion. It is the basic “free will” that all people have always had, from the cavemen to the scientists. It is inherent in man, a struggle between God and the devil, fought within the breast of all beings.
White accusations of immorality among the dusky peoples, the "great unwashed," and the wild-eyed natives of the Earth, is hypocritical blindness in light of what whites have wrought upon the world. This goes back to the question of German culture. The German-speaking people are the culture of Mozart, Brahms, Wagner, Beethoven, Freud, Einstein, Martin Luther and Thomas Mann. They are people who embraced Christianity. They were thoughtful enough about it to reform their Catholicism and create one of the strongest of the Protestant offshoots, Lutheranism. They are people renowned for their work ethic, their intelligence, and their physical beauty.
These people elected Hitler, waged war on the world twice in 20 years, leading to the deaths of 70 million people. They sent 12 million people to concentration camps, and in the process came close to wiping out European Jewry.
As a result, the world views race in a way they never did before. To some extent, political correctness owes itself to Hitler. An entire victim class of minority's points to Hitler as an example of inherent white racism that must always be kept down, checked, exposed and dealt with. Hitler’s victims were not just his countrymen, the Jews, the soldiers and the refugees, but generations of good, decent white people who now live in his shadow. This is a wicked shadow. It is a shadow of aspersion that leaves that trace of question on the heads of white people who operate in a world in which the unspoken question is whether they are racists. It has caused many whites to apply guilt to themselves and set out to bend over backwards to prove that they are not.
Optimists have been known to say “all good things happen for some good reason,” and while this writer is not advocating affirmative action quotas, white guilt or P.C., I do acknowledge that there exists today increased sensitivity for people, and a compassion for others. That is a very good thing.
Hitler’s Germany is not the only example of white people unable to lay claim to a monopoly on morality. Communism was promoted and maintained, in large part, by whites. The KGB was a “white” organization. There is no excuse for any of it. The excesses of Communism cannot be justified as a backlash against exploitation any more than the Nazi death camps are “understandable” after World War I, Muslim terrorism is a reaction to Lawrence of Arabia, or the KKK was okay because the South lost.
Another point needs to be made, to dispel myths promoted by the Left for too long without being debunked by the right. Ever since the McCarthy "blacklist," liberals have been identified with Communism, and conservatives have been identified with Nazism. Liberals, trying to get the spotlight off of them when their Communist sympathies were exposed, attempted to say that there is a far right, an extreme element of conservatism, and that this is the Nazi equivalent of their Communism.
Eventually, their willing accomplices in the Fifth Column picked up on this. Historical references to the Nazis were flavored with phrases like “far right” and “right wing.” This is garbage. This book has gone into great detail describing the thinkers who inspired socialism and Communism. They include Thoreau, Rousseau, Marx, Engels, Emma Goldman, and to a lesser extent, Dostoevsky. These people were all "true believer" liberals. They saw intrinsic flaws in capitalism and felt that workers were exploited victims. They espoused changes in government and/or philosophy, and were part of a worldwide movement that operated in France, the United States, Russia, and Germany, among other nations. There is a direct, undeniable link between them and the Sino/Soviet Communist bloc that eventually formed.
Some of these “icons of the Left” are embarrassing to the progressive liberals who have had to try and promote their causes despite growing evidence that they are swimming against the tide of history. Unable to make these people into heroic figures, the liberals then turned to the right and tried to pin an equally horrendous historical movement on them. Hitler’s Germany, they decided, was right wing!
They tried to find similarities between the "party of Lincoln" and Hitler; between Teddy Roosevelt and National Socialism; between conservative principles of free speech, lower taxation, business promotion, smaller government, rugged individualism, greater liberty, and German totalitarianism; between Dwight Eisenhower and…Heinz Guderian? They tried to find all of these similarities. Of course, there are no similarities. Desperately they tried to find some correlation. They could not find it in the matter of African American civil rights, since Democrats ran the Jim Crow South. They only found a few limited places to go. American country clubs, whose members were mostly Republicans, and who discriminated against Jews, were trotted out as examples. McCarthyism was their easiest target, because most of the Communists found were Jewish. So, they grasped for this straw. They decided that not letting Jews play golf, and the fact that most U.S. Communists were Jews, was a direct link to Adolf Hitler. This sophist lie was allowed to grow in part because the dominant media culture – Hollywood and the networks – consisted of a large number of liberal Jews. They had the power to orchestrate a backlash against McCarthyism.
At the heart of Leftist lies is moral relativism. Liberals must try to reconcile their evil, Communism, and say that their “opponents,” the conservatives, have an equally evil ideologue hiding in their closet. But the concept dies fly, not only because of the failure to find linkage between the far right and the Nazis in the 20th Century, but also throughout history. In other words, they are trying to play down their dark side with a the concept that “everybody’s doing it."
It is, of course, essential to good debate to know what ammunition the other side has, be capable of playing devil’s advocate, and in this regard systematically debunk the arguments before they can gain root. So where will the liberals look for historical “evidence” of the link?
Well, they might try and say that conservatism and despotic dictators and military leaders have something in common. For some reason that has no good explanation, the phrase “further to the right than Attila the Hun” has made itself into popular parlance. Popular right wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh even jokes about it. He says he occupies the “Attila the Hun Chair for the Advancement of Conservative Studies at the Excellence in Broadcasting Institute.” Because Attila was the leader of a "Germanic tribe," this might explain the so-called historical “connection” between Nazis and conservatives. There seems to be no other good explanation. Attila fought the Romans, but he also was allied with them at times, although he was a notorious double-crosser. Because he was an effective military commander, this is supposed to make him a “conservative.” George Patton admired him and was compared to him. Patton was a Republican. Oh.
The Left will point to the Ku Klux Klan and try to make that connection, but this falls laughably short. First of all, the KKK rose out of the defeated South. The defeated South was run by the Confederacy. The Confederates were Democrats. The Union elected the Republican President, Abe Lincoln. The KKK was the shadow para-military of the Jim Crow South for 100 years, operating like Al Qaeda’s relationship with the Taliban. Of course, the Jim Crow South was, as mentioned before, run 100 percent by the Democrats. Thinking blacks like Clarence Thomas and Condoleeza Rice, who grew up and recognized this Truth, made the obvious choice: The Republicans.
The Left will then try to say that after Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act, the South abandoned the Democrats and went Republican because the Republicans held the kind of racist views they could live with. Of course, this does not pass the smell test, either. Without strong Republicans support, the Civil Rights Act never would have seen the light of day. The South went Republican because the G.O.P. offered the right kind of leadership to husband them from Jim Crow to the modern world. Bigoted Democrats like Albert Gore, Sr., Robert Byrd and William Fulbright fought tooth-and-nail against civil rights, but the Democrats simply have not had the gumption to face these realities. They have too many other unpleasant realities to face up to without adding to the list.
The Left will then throw out the name David Duke, a former KKK leader who tried to run for office as a Republican in Louisiana. Unlike the Democrats, who fail to excoriate their Gores, Byrds, and Fulbrights, the G.O.P. never gave Duke the time of day. He wad drummed out of the corps in short order without any decent endorsements, lost, was all but disgraced by the right, and at last word lives in another country.
The Left might try and point out that in the 1930s, a small group of Republican businessmen tried to get a World War I Marine hero to orchestrate a right wing coup against Franklin Roosevelt. The Marine played along just enough to turn them in, and the coup never came close to getting anywhere. It consisted of a tiny handful of people and had no popular support. Had it been exposed, the Republican party would have quashed it before anybody else would have had to. This of course did not stop the heroes of Hollywood from making as much hay of it as they could. The book “Seven Days in May” was based on these events, and in 1963 a John Schlessinger movie, using a Rod Serling screenplay, starred Burt Lancaster, Fredric March, Ava Gardner and Kirk Douglas.
The Left might try and say that anti-Semitism and racism are products of the "elite classes" of right. These ideas have fomented for centuries among ruling classes of people who are supposed to be conservatives. This is the so-called "linkage" between the right and the Nazis. Anti-Semitism and racism are as old as man. They have found homes in a lot of places that might be many things, but are not historical pre-cursors of the Republican party. Does anybody think the Egyptians are the ideological brethren of Ronald Reagan? Or anybody else in the Arab world, where anti-Semitism has always been a hotbed? Since the Republican party is also the home of the Christian Coalition, about the only linkage to racism I can find is anti-slavery. It was the “Christian Coalition,” if you will, of the 19th Century who forced the issue of slavery.
I am not just a conservative because nature intended me to be one, as if conservatism comes to somebody the way dark hair, short stature, or athletic ability comes to him or her. I chose this path. I chose it because I thought a lot about it and I wanted to do what was right. The beauty part is that the information needed to see why it is right is readily available to anybody who chooses to find it. I did not learn all this stuff studying for a doctoral thesis at an expensive graduate school. We need not cede all knowledge to the elites who occupy the tenured professorships of certain colleges. The daily newspaper, magazines, the Internet, libraries, and bookstores are your friend, as they are mine. Folks who possess a lot of knowledge need not be deans and chairs and fellows. They can just be guys who own a lot of books, and read ‘em!
Adolf Hitler, who we now can safely say is not associated with the conservative right, united Germany through division. He did it using methods not uncommon to elite organizations, whether they be fraternities, the Marine Corps, Navy SEALS, or Masons. He did it by putting Germany through a kind of “boot camp,” separating what he saw was the “wheat from the chaff.” It was a harrowing time of round-ups, violence, reprisals, re-education and test. People knew fear. But when Krystalnacht, the "night of the broken glass" and the other events described in William Shirer’s “The Nightmare Years” were over, Germans felt like the frat guys who were accepted, the Rangers who passed the last survival test. They were in the inner circle that knew what the secret password was. Once this happened, Hitler said they were uber alles (“all of us”) and he told them what they wanted to hear. The Jews, he said, were responsible for their downfall. Now that they and their kind – Communists, anarchists, homosexuals, intellectuals, clergy – were eliminated, Germany could rule the world, as was their divine right.
Hitler’s hatred of Communism, of course, is still another peace of “evidence” the Left has tried to use as the link between the right - who hate Communism, too - and the Nazis. The fact that we allied ourselves with Communism to defeat Hitler effectively ends that theory.
One of the great arguments throughout history and psychology is the “nature vs. nurture” concept. This argument has its place in dissecting Nazi Germany. Did Germany turn to Hitler because of some natural tendency within the country? Did Hitler tap into some kind of dormant part of the psyche that is as much a part of all of us as our hearts, our lungs, and our bones? Or was Nazi Germany a product of particular events at a particular time in history? Of course, nobody really knows the answer. Probably a little, or lot, of both. But there is another theory, and this is the one I have proposed as a partial explanation for the violent, beautiful 20th Century.
This is the theory that says that the devil decided to go on the offensive, and that Hitler was merely his puppet, his mouthpiece, his general. As Mick Jagger once sang, “I rode a tank, in a general’s rank, when the blitzkrieg reigned, and the bodies stank.” The name of the song? “Sympathy for the Devil”. Well aaawwrright, Mick and the Stones may have been on to something!
If so, if the devil and the forces of evil were mounting the big charge, let it be said, “Thank God for the U.S. of A.” In that case we not only stopped Germany, we triumphed over evil. Not bad for government work.
Since we do not have access to the devil’s archives, and he turned down my request for an interview, we can only go by what the evidence is. The psychological answer has many adherents. Strasser’s critique is that Hitler unlocked Germany’s “mass unconscious,” according to Professor Dalton. Somehow he found their secret desires. According to Freud’s terminology, the German people’s mass superego was submerged in their mass id, allowing them to give “full vent” to an “unarticulated desire for aggression." There is something to be said for this.
The Democrats might say that because Republicans are naturally pre-disposed to “love” war. This is hogwash. General Douglas MacArthur once said, “No one hates war more than a soldier.” However, there is a psychological desire for aggression. There is a part of us that glory in it. Once we feel that we have freed ourselves to think this way, it is like opening up a psychological valve that allows us to vent this aggression.
When John Kennedy was contemplating bombing Cuba during the 1962 Missile Crisis, he reportedly said, “It sure would feel good,” and he was not kidding. Right or wrong, at some point it feels good. This is the part of our personality that Hitler tapped into, but it was not something uniquely German. He was reaching into something uniquely human.
This is an important point. If we dismiss Hitler as a creature of Germany, or Europe, or some “other,” we fail to safeguard ourselves from the same kind of psychological needs that Freud knew everybody has.
The circumstances of Hitler’s rise, however, are particular to a time and place. The Versailles Treaty came on the heels of a crushing, demoralizing military defeat, and what followed was a brutal depression in Germany. Huge inflation and mass Germany was forced to pay war reparations that resulted in massive unemployment. In the 1920s, a weak government, the Weimar Republic, led them.
Luckily, the U.S. learned the lessons of Versailles. We gave Germany and Japan a chance to save face after World War II, preventing a re-occurrence of events that could have let history repeat itself. In the 1990s, we carefully monitored events in Russia, a country compared to the Weimar Republic because they, too, had lost a war, albeit a cold one. So far, it seems that Vladimir Putin is not Hitler and nobody is pushing the id buttons in the former U.S.S.R.
Hitler’s rise started not with military goals, but in answer to Germany’s psychological and economic needs. Tip O’Neill said that, “All politics are local,” and so it was in Germany. Individuals liked Hitler at first because he created jobs.
Professor Dalton offers an explanation that is not entirely psychological or economic. He points to a combination of leadership, ideology and organization.
All studies of Hitler start with his conversion to anti-Semitism, which is explained in “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”), which he wrote while serving a prison sentence for fomenting an uprising. Hitler advocated the politics of exclusion, and used his prison term to martyr himself.
The Hitler phenomenon takes on German “characteristics” that he drew upon in “Mein Kampf” and in his oratory. There has always been a strain of anti-Semitism in German culture. Wagner was anti-Semitic, and the Nordic characteristics of Germans, who valued blonde hair, blue eyes, physical strength and, in their women, sexual eroticism. This was set against the image of Hebrews, who tended to have dusky skin, dark hair, wore beards, dressed “differently,” spoke an alien language, were seen as the traitors of Christendom, were non-athletes, and whose women were unappealing.
Despite these negative characteristics, Jews nevertheless excelled intellectually. They ascended to positions far beyond their percentage of the population in the arts, the sciences, and in banking. These are professions that average people would normally consider “high brow” anyway. To top it off, the Jews had the “arrogance” to call themselves the Chosen People.
However, this set of circumstances is not absolutely unique to Germany. Jews exhibited these characteristics wherever they were. Hatred of Jews prior to World War I was just as vehement in France as in Germany, as evident by the despicable treatment shown a Jewish Army officer in the "Dreyfuss affair."
But France “won” World War I. The French did not need any scapegoats. Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head in modern France because this is a country exhibiting some of the characteristics of post-World War I Germany. France has had a huge influx of immigrants in recent years. Their culture is under siege. Their collaboration with Germany is no longer a secret. Jews are highly successful in France, as they are everywhere they are found. France finds itself a shell of its old self, no longer a dominant member of the world community. This has produced a latent backlash of Jew-baiting that bears watching before it gets out of hand.
Hitler’s exclusionary policies were hardly new. In fact, they resemble, as Professor Dalton notes, the “dehumanization of the untouchables in the Indian caste system.” The excluded are considered unclean, both physically and morally. However, the brilliance of Hitler is found in the way he built his enemies up in order to tear them down. He recognized a rebel spirit in the human psyche, the same desire to topple the “high and mighty” that infused the French overthrow of Antoinette and Louis. In this regard, Hitler characterized Jews and Communists as “controlling" everything in German society. Had Hitler simply demonstrated hatred for these groups, he would have taken Germans to a dead end. At some point, the people would have felt sorrow for the objects of their hatred, who would have been seen as dispossessed and homeless.
It is this build-up of the “other” that still fuels movements like the Aryan Nation in America. The white supremacists would not get anywhere if they simply pointed to black failures in school and society; the welfare state, inner city turmoil, black-on-black violence, drug dealing, the irresponsibility of fathers, foul rap music, and under representation in a competitive business environment. Instead, the white supremacists try to point to the same control of societal institutions that Hitler pointed to.
The Catholics are no longer viewed as the enemy. There is no evidence, especially after the Kennedy Presidency, that American Catholics owe allegiance to a Papacy rather than the Constitution. In the case of Jews, the supremacists use the Hitler playbook. They see Jews in control of Hollywood and academia. There is no doubt that Jews make up an extraordinarily high percentage of movers and shakers in the arts and in the intellectual salons of New York and California. However, the kind of worldwide conspiracy theories that involve the so-called Tri-Lateral Commission are either non-existent or, if they do exist, hidden so carefully that nobody can truly make the case.
The supremacists of the post-civil rights era, however, have turned their real attention to blacks and other dark-skinned types. Jews, they have found, are difficult to identify. They are likely to “look like” them. Blacks can be spotted and identified easily. The blacks are “built up” by white supremacists like the terrorist Timothy McVeigh. Blacks have become such a victim class that “leaders” like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have turned themselves into millionaires extorting and shaking down money from legitimate business, who prefer to appease them rather than face lawsuits and poisonous accusations of racism.
What infuriates white racists now are not blacks at lunch counters or the fronts of buses. They wonder why it seems like there is a Federal law that states that only blacks can be skycaps and only Filipinos can work in military PXs. They are exasperated when they go to the courthouse, the DMV, or some other government building, and instead of getting decent service they find only minorities, languidly and unenthusiastically moving about their jobs, all on the taxpayer’s dime. They turn on the television and see episode after episode of “Law and Order” or (name the show) that depicts the perp as a Second Amendment-spouting white Christian bent on murdering minority kids. Or tough but dedicated, honest black police captains who keep the whites from running amok. Or TV commercials that make the world look like everybody is a preppy-dressing black consumer who makes the engines of commerce run. They cannot figure out why firefighters, doctors and judges on TV are likely to be black, but when they see their real-life counterparts they are white. They see these images and they see lies. They are not happy about it. Instead of just shrugging their shoulders and accepting it for what it is, however, the white supremacists take it very personally.
They decide that modern minorities have ascended to a special class of affirmative action beneficiaries, responsible for keeping them from reaching their full potential. They see them protected by a liberal media and an evil government. The worst part about it is they know that simply expressing knowledge of these facts will bring down the full force of Political Correctness on their heads. It infuriates the Aryans who see blacks escape their crimes because they were “profiled,” while whites are sought out and targeted by the FBI, the DEA and the ATF.
The modern white supremacists have taken Hitler’s idea of building up their adversaries. The difference between Hitler and the Aryans of today is that Hitler had the power to “do something about it." The current racists really do not, so they find outlets for their frustration.
Hitler de-humanized the Jews. Nowadays, we call it demonizing the “other.” The liberals have found that it is their only real weapon in their battles with conservatives. Hitler also brilliantly “seduced” the German people in the manner of a man making love to a beautiful woman. He portrayed himself as the clean, Aryan alternative to the Jewish seducer. He scared the people into believing "the Jew" was out to befoul them with sick and immoral acts, i.e., sodomy and homosexuality.
Finally, Hitler, who was raised a Catholic but did not believe, nevertheless played on German Christianity by asserting that he was doing God’s work, which was he said was to exterminate Jews.
Hitler used militarism and the “spirit” that the Greeks said was noble, but secondary, and raised it as the highest principle of German glory. This is an interesting point. Hitler saw major action in the Great War. He smelled death and defeat. He could have learned lessons from this experience. In 1962, Nikita Kruschev drew on his awful experiences defending Leningrad during World War II. He wrote to President Kennedy, justifying to himself as much as anybody why he was giving in and removing nukes from Cuba. But Hitler did not just see failure. He saw missed opportunity. His view of war is not as odd as one might think.
Many Americans were frustrated by our only real military "failure," Vietnam. But instead of seeing only the failures, they see the clear mistakes that were made. They say that if we had done certain things, i.e., not fight the war with ”our hands tied behind our backs,” bombed the dykes, flooded the countryside, then invaded North Vietnam, conquering and occupying Hanoi, we could have ended Communist adventurism in Southeast Asia once and for all. Hitler’s love of militarism existed side-by-side with his view of violence as a tool. Plato and Aristotle saw violence as signs of an immoral state. Machiavelli viewed it as legitimate state policy, to be used when necessary. He did not endorse excess or unneeded violence. Marx did not glorify violence, but felt that it was the only way to disrupt the bourgeoisie. Hitler took it further than anybody. He glorified it and made it a state creed.
As mentioned before, Hitler feminized the masses, believing that they were like a woman who secretly wishes for a strong, dominant man. Women prefer to bow to a forceful man, and people prefer to bow to a forceful leader. Like women, Hitler believed that the masses are emotional and irrational. It was this in mind that Nazi propaganda emphasized simple, repetitive messages.
Born in 1889 in Austria, Hitler was the son of a customs official father and a doting mother. His father died in 1903. Hitler attended high school but dropped out. He viewed his life as one of struggle, and this was the dominant force of his existence.
In 1907, Hitler set out for the city of Freud, Vienna. He attempted to gain admission to the Academy of Fine Arts, but his rejection brought about bitterness. His mother died shortly thereafter, and in his second try at the academy, he was turned away again. His bitterness was now a struggle. For the next six years, Hitler lived as a vagabond and starving artist on the streets of Vienna. He observed the dregs of Viennese society.
“By interpreting men exclusively in the light of that twisted experience and seeing in their motives nothing but hate, ruthlessness, corruption, greed, lust for power, cruelty, or fear, he imagined with provincial complacency, that he had come close to ultimate knowledge, whereas actually he was merely revealing his own desperate and depraved personality,” wrote J.C. Fest in “Face to the Third Reich”. If one is predisposed to belief in such concepts of absoluteness, this is an apt description of a world served up for the devil himself.
Vienna was the “hardest, though most most thorough school of my life,” Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf". He obtained “the foundations for a philosophy in general and a political view in particular which later I only needed to supplement in detail, but which never left me.” In the book, Hitler outlines a tri-partite “axis of evil” that includes Marxism, parliamentarians, and Judaism.
In World War I, Hitler felt that he was engaged in a struggle that all the German people wanted. He peppered his memories of the Great War with descriptions of struggle, describing his feelings about participating in it in orgasmic terms. He felt an “ecstasy of overflowing enthusiasm.” Hitler fought bravely in the trenches until he was gassed and spent the last days of the war in a hospital.
“…Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base,” he wrote, “will be wavering and uncertain.” Hitler said that violence must be more than “naked force”; rather, it must stand for an ideological commitment. However, the truth beyond the ideological commitment is secondary to getting people to believe in it, which is where his views on propaganda, which are frankly brilliant although evil, come in to play. Getting back to the Hitlerian allegory of the masses as female, one could compare his views with the cad who only wishes to talk a woman in to sex. How he gets her into bed is unimportant, only that he gets her into bed. This is similar to the Machiavellian “ends justifying the means.” If Hitler is to be compared with great seducers, he is the Robert Evans, Hugh Hefner and Robert Guccione – combined - of political seducers.
“Like a woman…they have been abandoned,” Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf”. He likened the Germans to a beautiful woman who has lost her husband, with a grubby Jew trying to get into her pants, only to be saved by the gallant Aryan man.
The “Aryan – unlike the modern pacifist,” he wrote, subjugates “lower peoples” and bends them to his will. Through struggle and domination, those among the populace who are deserving of greatness will rise “upward,” and in so doing avoid “blood mixtures,” which preserves “pure blood.” This is not an entirely new idea. Hitler emphasizes race, but this kind of “destiny” is one that higher classes have applied to themselves with regard to intelligence, athletic ability, and other concepts of excellence.
In Norman Mailer’s fabulous CIA magnum opus, “Harlot’s Ghost”, a legendary “company man” named Hugh Tremont Montague is the product of an elite class of East Coast Americana that includes the best schools and a complete understanding of every nuance of the espionage arts. He happily understands his essential role in protecting the U.S. from Communism. In so doing finds no necessity in recognition or grubby politics. He is so self-assured that his own view of himself is all he needs. In speaking to his protégé, Harry Hubbard, he tells Harry that some people are blessed with exceptional ability. Those people deserve to be recognized and placed in positions above the normal, and not held to the same standards. Unexceptional people, he tells Harry, are “fodder for the devil.”
This kind of thinking plays itself out in every facet of our society. Gifted athletes are given scholarships to great colleges, and then paid enormous sums to play for professional teams, where they are able to live like modern kings. Brilliance is rewarded in business, academics and in the literary world. People who rise above the masses and distinguish themselves are accorded godlike status.
Where these examples stray from Hitler is that they are color-blind (many athletes, for example, are black), while the law, more or less, applies to everybody. Western society does some strange things to its exalted, who they like to build up, but enjoy tearing down even more. Hitler would have none of that “tearing down.” In his world, those who rise to “godlike status” are immune to any of the laws of normal society. Saddam and his inner circle lived in a similar world. Like the Nazis, members of Iraq’s Ba'ath Party lived well, but God help them if they displeased the boss.
Hitler was Machiavellian in his view of governmental structure. He despised the ragged failure to reach consensus found in the English Parliament, insisting instead on strong, centralized control. He openly encouraged “fanaticism and intolerance” and to “intolerantly impose its will on all others. Hitler naturally assumed that the state’s role was to achieve racial purity. He invoked Providence when he said he “must sacrifice himself for the totality” of the state. Hitler used reference to a God he did not personally believe in; to believe in a Christian God was entirely opposed to his vision of humanity. Christ could never be squared with his actions. But he used Him when for his purposes.
Hitler’s views clash with the Greeks, and even his use of violence as a creed breaks from Machiavelli and Marx, who were pragmatists compared to him. There may not be another political figure more different from Hitler than Gandhi. This tremendous difference in the end worked in Gandhi’s favor. Gandhi said the end never justified the means. Gandhi believed in Thoreau’s non-violent cooperation. He despised violence not just because of the harm it did the victim, but the harm caused to the attacker.
Gandhi studied Thoreau’s works while practicing law in South Africa. He returned to India and in 1919 organized an independence movement against the British. Gandhi owes much of success to timing and patient British benevolence. As for timing, he made his pitch for independence in the wake of the two great conflagrations of history, when the world was most horrified by war. The independence movement began one year after the Armistice, and reached its successful conclusion two years after Nagasaki.
Gandhi was able to take over an independence movement previously riven with strife between moderates and extremists. The extremists were in full throttle in 1919 in light of the Amritsar massacre, and they wanted British blood. However, Gandhi pointed that the Indians were not in a military position to win a bloody battle with Great Britain. But most importantly, he said the English had de-humanized themselves by killing so many at Amritsar. Gandhi endeavored to point this out not only to the Indians, but also to the British, and to use their own compassion against them. In this regard, Gandhi was not merely “lucky” that his opponents were compassionate people. He was perceptive first in seeing this despite much evidence to the contrary, and in formulating a long-range plan that would best work against such opponents. Had Gandhi’s opponents been bloodthirsty, he most likely would not have succeeded. It is instructive to understand that had Gandhi adhered to the “eye-for-an-eye” principle many Indians wanted, then it would have allowed for “justification” on the part of the English; an “I told you so” attitude” that would have given them carte blanche to break the Indian spirit by force.
Gandhi’s contemporary, Nehru, cogently observed that Gandhi’s greatest attribute was in teaching liberation from fear. The Brits had up-to-then relied on institutionalized fear to keep the Indians in line. The English had maintained the “jewel in the crown” of the empire despite being outnumbered 4,000 to one. Hitler appealed to aggressive elements of the mass unconscious. Gandhi appealed to man’s nobility. This is not just an impressive political tactic, but one that generates a sigh of relief. After studying Machiavelli, Freud, Hitler and Stalin, one might be convinced of the frightful human craving for dominant leaders who tell them what to do because they are too timid to know better, or lack the courage to make their own decisions. The success of America, and the English transformation from a monarchy to parliamentarian power, might have been seen as indicators that the Machiavellian-Hitlerian vision is not entirely true. But the freedom of the U.S. and English people, up until Gandhi’s India, was seen from a racial perspective. After all, the Americans and the English were free to make their choices because they were composed of educated whites. In India, many misconceptions about dark-skinned peoples were tossed away. In this Gandhi achieves perhaps his greatest accomplishment. His lasting legacy in India is actually mixed. He was assassinated and the country itself was split along religious lines, thrust into Civil War. But he made the world aware that “natives” were capable of compassion, restraint, thoughtfulness and self-rule.
Gandhi’s political instincts were honed by his own religious values. He was a Hindu, and therefore an adherent to the Hindi vision of life outlined in an earlier chapter. At the core of his philosophy was swaraj, meaning self-discipline. While this had been taught to 2,000 years of Hindu’s, it was not necessarily a political concept. The Hindu’s believed in one-on-one teaching that resulted in self-actualization. Gandhi incorporated these concepts into mass instruction. This was necessary but difficult. Many Indians thought of self-rule as foreign. They preferred to be told what to do. In many ways this might have appeared to be examples of the Hitlerian vision of man. But Gandhi was determined to show this was not so.
Swaraj is about self-mastery and personal understanding of ones’ self and others. A person’s individual journey is meant to be self-liberating. Indians needed to achieve this before they could hope to achieve political liberation. In this way, Gandhi was not merely a leader or a strategist. More than anything, he was a teacher. Gandhi had to get Indians to liberate themselves from their long-held concept of individual liberation and get them to think about non-exclusivity in their lives. Perhaps the famous term “no man is an island” is more apropos to what Gandhi taught his countrymen.
It is this teaching principle that Gandhi wanted to impart, not just to get the Indians liberated from the British, but in getting them to the point where they could rule themselves effectively. Tragically, he was shot and killed just when he was needed the most, as a teacher and a unifying symbol. It is a testament to his greatness that no charismatic replacements have come close to Gandhi since his death, while his nation slipped back into a funk. But he is a powerful force of nature, and hope springs eternal that India will find its way with Gandhi’s spirit guiding them.
Gandhi also employed the concept of inclusivity that is called satya, or pursuit of the truth. The language is important here. Gandhi does not call for possession of the truth, but pursuit of it. Truth is not entirely possessed by humans. The highest truth we can know is that we are all part of one another. Note the difference from Hitler. He went by the “boot camp” approach, separating the unclean, the unworthy and the weak from the selected few, calling that few “all of us,” directing them not to live in a world still littered with the unworthy, but to conquer it for their rightful selves.
Gandhi unnerved and disarmed the British by including them, not opposing them. He did this using ahimsa, intertwined with satya, which is the practice of non-violence. The highest truth is not the means, but the end. The means and the end are connected. This diverges even from American campaign theory. The Kennedy’s were strong adherents of the idea that one had to attain power before they could use it wisely. Gandhi would say that how they attain power is just as important as the wise use of power.
Unfortunately, both Gandhi and the Kennedy’s met a similar fate. Attaching much karmic significance to their diverging philosophies is futile. In nonviolence, Gandhi taught, man elicits the greatest force at the disposal of the human race. But his life, especially since it coincides with Hitler’s, is a conundrum. When asked how he would have confronted Hitler, Gandhi is vague. Everybody knows he would have been killed in two seconds and his “movement” utterly destroyed. His fate would have been left in the hands of the U.S. and Great Britain, which of course were forced by no other choice to oust the likes of Hitler by using greater violence than Hitler. It is, in the study of this human conundrum, that we see the special strategy of the devil.
Gandhi no doubt would have opposed war to take out Saddam Hussein. So, probably, would Jesus Christ. The phrase the “devil is in the details” and “getting in bed with the devil” are very telling.
Gandhi believed that truth and nonviolence generated liberation called satyagraha, which activates our energies for love and compassion, which are (hopefully) stronger than hate. The best way to describe satyagraha is to remind people the way they felt when their children were born, or the day they proposed marriage. It is the way they felt when they were six and had been away at camp for two weeks, and after missing their parents so much saw them again. What satyagraha does is to give people that kind of feeling about everybody, not just friends, relatives and loved ones. It has the power of complete substitution for hate. It is the essence of goodness, and it the most powerful force in the Universe.
Finally Gandhi endorsed sarodaya, meaning equality. Gandhi endorsed a concept that, in the caste system as it had evolved in India, was not a state of equality. He felt that people voluntarily restricted their wants, and that people uplifted each other to unify humanity. He was not unlike the Bush family and their sense of noblesse oblige. Gandhi was a member of privileged society. He felt the obligation to extend his wealth, influence and place in a “socially constructive manner,” according to Professor Dalton. He felt that the underprivileged would view the benevolence of the upper class and in turn feel the need to overcome their deprivation. Finally, Gandhi insisted on the Indians being treated as equals by the Brits. This was a tough nut to crack since even Winston Churchill referred to Gandhi himself as a “half-naked fakir.”
Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 in Porbundar, in Gujurat province on India’s west coast. He was assassinated in Delhi on January 30, 1948. Gandhi was shaped first by the region of his birth, which was provincial and not highly influenced by the British, as was Bombay or Calcutta. As a member of the vaishya caste, he was third in the Hindu hierarchy, a “lowborn.” The Gandhi’s were a sub-caste of the bania, the small business owners. In their case they ran a grocery. His people were known to practical. Gandhi’s relatively low caste status helps explain why later, when he was the most powerful man in India, he emphasized equality for all.
His family was very religious. Gandhi’s mother was one for vows, fasting and self-control. Gandhi had an oppressive view of sex, and identified with the Harijans, or Untouchables. He attended Alfred High School, where he was schooled in English. He gained admiration as well as anxiety for the English. Obviously bright, Gandhi was sent to London where, from 1888-1891, he took law and spent his time “playing with the English gentlemen,” as he put it in his simple-titled “Autobiography”. Returning to India in 1891, Gandhi had high hopes, but did not achieve immediate success as an English-trained attorney. Upon hearing that lawyers were needed in South Africa, he left for that English colony in 1893.
This was an important part of his life. He was needed and found himself a man of influence among the Indian minority, as opposed to being just another Indian lawyer in India. There were 66,000 Indians in South Africa, most of whom were laborers. 570,000 British and Dutch ruled over them, and the 2 million Africans.
Gandhi was accorded political status, and utilized a liberal style in forming the moderate National Indian Congress. He petitioned Indian grievances in court, and became a darling of the Indian Opinion newspaper, formed in 1903. Gandhi did everything within the law, using moderate legal and constitutional means at his disposal.
In June of 1906, the Zulus, a renowned warring tribe that had fought the British to a standstill in the Transvaal Province a few decades before, rebelled against English rule. Gandhi formed an ambulance corps to assist the British during the rugged Boar War. He saw first hand the English massacre of 3,500 Zulus.
Up until that time, Gandhi was an “emulator,” a term used to describe educated Indians who chose to dress like the English, and take on their proper mannerisms. Gandhi broke from his emulative status gradually, first by testing himself with a vow of brachmacharya, which is sexual abstinence. Young English males, separated from home, were encouraged to engage in libidinous adventures in the colonies that would be frowned upon at home. As an educated man of professional means, Gandhi lived in a society in which women were available to him. In denying himself he was making his first break with English ways.
“The experience of witnessing the outrages perpetrated on black bodies by white he-men aroused in Gandhi both a deeper identification with the maltreated, and a stronger aversion all male sadism, including such sexual sadism as he had probably felt from childhood on to be a part of all exploitation of women by men,” wrote Erik Erickson in “Gandhi’s Truth”.
This alerted in Gandhi a deeper, crucial connection between three forms of exploitation: Imperialism, racism, and sexism. The “Black Act” was enacted in 1907, and in response Gandhi called a meeting of 3,000 Indians in Johannesburg. The movement took on the name satyagraha, or truth-force, and set forth to passively resist the British by exposing truth. Arrests followed, but after seven years of continued campaigning, the government granted reforms in 1914.
As mentioned before, Gandhi’s key moments came in close proximity to events that took up greater English concern. In 1914 the Brits were engaging in the saber rattling and eventual mobilization of forces against Germany that started the Great War. There was a pattern of giving in to Gandhi during times when the country had to focus on larger issues.
In 1909, Gandhi had visited England and during a five-month stay, lobbied Parliament. His arrival was not terribly welcome since he came shortly after a British official had been killed by an Indian terrorist. To put it into context, the English may have viewed Gandhi the way they viewed a member of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, in the 1970s. But Gandhi advocated peaceful measures that put the British at ease. He negotiated with British liberals and Indian terrorists.
Upon his return to South Africa, Gandhi drafted the treatise “Hind Swaraj” ("Indian Independence"). He rejected Western civilization and not only affirmed Hindu tradition, but preached it as superior. After the reforms that lessened the harshness of the Black Act (Indians were called Blacks), Gandhi was emboldened to move on. In 1915, while the English were fighting bloody battles in Europe, he returned to India. His advocacy of nonviolence contrasted against news of the war. Instead of fomenting a coalition, he was seen as disoriented and confounded by the war. He was an uneasy ally of Great Britain. The Germans and the Turks offered no friendship. Gandhi cooperated in India’s participation in the war. The performance of Indian soldiers serving the Crown was honorable.
The effects of the war, economic and otherwise, created a sense of disillusionment with the movement and India’s place in the Crown, despite England’s victory. In 1919, events shaped Gandhi’s path. The “Rowland Batts” were passed, giving the government jury trial power with no appeal. It was, in effect, Martial Law. The British gave themselves the right to detain anybody who “threatened public safety,” was considered “dangerous,” and virtually any offense or document was deemed seditious in nature. To possess such documents resulted in two-year prison sentences, followed by two-year probationary periods.
In March of 1919, Gandhi called for a nationwide satyagraha in resistance to the Rowland law. After fasting for 24 hours, people were instructed to go on a general strike (hartal), with specific instructions to make it civil and nonviolent. The following month in Amritsar (a city of 160,000, located in the northern Indian Punjab province), civil agitation led to crackdowns. On April 13, a British Indian army force of 50 riflemen, under the command of General Reginald Dyer, fired on 10,000 unarmed Indians, killing 400 and wounding 1,500. Dubbed the "Amritsar massacre," it was marked first by the shots, then Dyer’s “crawling order.” Dyer was praised in London, and the event marked the full turnaround in Gandhi’s attitude toward the British. Because the killings were carried out by Indians, not British regulars, it solidified in his mind the idea that emulation of the British, for all their good qualities of honor and tradition, in the end was destructive to India. Gandhi began the practice of dressing in traditional Indian garb, and prepared for the next campaign. From 1919-22, the country engaged in massive nonviolence. This was the great consolidation of India, including all castes; Untouchables, Hindus, Muslims, emulators, and the like. Most important, Gandhi gained control of the nonviolent movement, which had been in a struggle with those who agitated for English blood after Amritsar. Gandhi now was completely inclusive, even inviting liberal Brits to his cause. He attracted the attention of the press, basing the movement on trust, tolerance and active nonviolence.
This was a courageous step for Gandhi and for his followers, who not only abstained from violence, but also put themselves in harm’s way by virtue of marches and strikes. This often incurred the wrath of British soldiers who used force to move them off the streets.
In 1930, Gandhi went on his “salt march,” perhaps his greatest single achievement. It was dramatized in the Richard Attenborough classic “Gandhi”, and in Joan Bondurant’s “Conquest of Violence”, in which she states “as for the elements of true satyagraha, all are to be found in the salt satyagraha.” The march was widely publicized and drew into his orbit women and other traditionally non-political Indian groups. Studies of Emma Goldman have ascertained that she embodied a strain of society, which exists everywhere but manifests itself among the poor and the radical. These might otherwise be considered “professional protesters.” Gandhi’s “salt march” effectively ended discussion of his campaign as being of this variety, at least among the mainstream.
The “salt march” was an entirely symbolic gesture. One of England’s most profitable exports was that of salt collected from the Indian Ocean, but the profits went to them as they considered this natural resource to be theirs exclusively. Gandhi said the salt was a product of Indian environment and therefore should belong, along with profits from its sale, to the people of India. The brilliance of his claim in part deflected talk of his being a Communist or a socialist. Gandhi did not disdain the capitalistic effects of salt sales. Rather, he was trying to get India involved in the trade. It was an inherently good thing, in many people’s eyes, that India wanted to participate in the business of India, instead of simply playing the role of the servant, the welfare state, or the ignorant.
Gandhi spoke eloquently during of elevating British humanity above imperialism. He found a receptive audience in the United States, thanks to coverage of him by the New York Times. His revolutionary position in opposition to the English struck a cord with Americans, as did his call for equality. Furthermore, the Americans, now a world power after forcing the Great War to a victorious conclusion, were thinking geo-politically. They were engaged in “gunboat diplomacy” in China, where a nascent Communist revolution threatened business trade, and saw India as an important strategic country. In the endgame, the Americans wanted to stay on the good side of Gandhi should he prevail, although in 1930 it was far from a settled issue. But they were also naturally pre-disposed to opposing colonialism. World War I had expanded British colonial rule and American influence along with it, though. The Yanks were not about to press the issue.
In the 1930s and ‘40s, Gandhi drew women and disparate elements into his movement, including American reporters and the English, who he extended olive branches to. His constant mantra was that humanity be elevated above imperialism. As times changed, this resonated even with the English. Again, tragic events worked in Gandhi’s favor. World War II took up all the effort and resources of the British Empire as they mounted a desperate, successful struggle to stop Hitler and Tojo. Unable to pay much attention to Indian politics, the English had little control over Gandhi. Gandhi did not give the English much help in their war effort. As a pacifist, he let others do the fighting for him and took advantage of them when their guard was down. By the time the great crusade against the Axis Powers was over, Britain was a shell of its old self/ They were unable to stop the tide of Indian independence, which came officially in 1947. No sooner had this occurred, than fighting erupted between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi decided to make a symbolic gesture that would make himself a martyr and a hero to his people. He went on a fast in Calcutta, in order to get the religious fighting to stop. Indians were killing themselves, and undoing all the peaceful good that Gandhi had stood for. The irony is that the British had kept their powder dry, for the most part, since 1919. Now, far more Indians were killing each other than the English ever would have. The “Great Calcutta Killing” was a bloody outburst that lasted throughout 1946 and ’47. Gandhi's fast had the peaceful effect he desired in August of ’47. It was the “greatest miracle of modern times,” wrote British historian E.W.R. Lumby.
Unfortunately, Gandhi met the bullet of a Muslim assassin shortly thereafter. The two religions went back to fighting, and in almost no time, most of what Gandhi spent his life fighting for became, not relevant, but perverted by the ethnic strife, the civil war, the splitting up of Indian into Muslim Pakistan. 50-plus years of continued bloodshed and hatred followed. Gandhi is a revered figure and a great man, perhaps even too great to be contemplated by humans. But his greatness stands not in contrast with the British, who he fought against, but rather side by side with them. Gandhi needed England, and England needed Gandhi. The two are partners in history. They uplifted each other in ways they could not do on their own. If Gandhi’s “nemesis” had been some other country, he likely would have been killed and his movement squashed in infancy. By the same token, England discovered, in losing its empire, its soul. As they say, God works in mysterious ways.
Gandhi’s philosophy is best described in the title of his one-volume collection of writings, “All Men Are Brothers”. Through self-discipline, Gandhi was an example to his people, who exhibited a national self-restraint rarely seen in history. He strove to liberate India from Britain by eliminating from the Indians the fear of the British. His work inspired many of his followers to stand up to English soldiers, sometimes taking physical beatings. He is the descendant of Plato and Rousseau, but took their work to a much higher level. They were mainly writers and teachers, but Gandhi was a “soldier,” a politician, and a man who risked everything. He elevated political discourse to the concept of moral freedom. He did it not by attributing morality to the state, but rather instilling morality in individuals, including playing to the conscience of his “enemies.” Gandhi fought not only for Indian freedom from the British, but for the freedom of Indian women within their own culture. While India remains a paternal culture, he did begin a tradition of women’s liberation. His legacy includes Indira Gandhi, as well as a small handful of women leaders throughout the Middle East. Women are seen as subservient to men, but some exceptional women have been accorded special status that has allowed them to transcend gender roles. This is very much a part of Gandhi’s legacy.
Gandhi’s self-discovery is the self-discovery of an entire people, and in fact his journey is one the whole world took. His contrast to Hitler is so stark as to make him a symbol of conscience. In Gandhi, man sees somebody who makes us take a second look at ourselves and ask questions we never dared ask before. Can the world live in peace? Can conflict be resolved peacefully? The answer to these questions may not be 100 percent yes, but it is more often yes now, because of Gandhi, than it was before him. It is important to note that Gandhi is an important figure whose life is taught in the U.S. All leaders in the most powerful nation on Earth are well aware of who he was and what he stood for. Gandhi may not be the prime influence in all decisions made by modern leaders, but his voice is one that is listened to and respected as part of the process.
Adolf Hitler, for all of his power and the armies at his disposal, has been relegated to a disgraced part of history. Gandhi, the man of the flowing robes who never hurt a fly, influences billions. This is as hopeful a fact as any that comes out of the 20th Century. It gives hope to the Christian concept that the lamb will in the end reign supreme. It is a powerful message of truth. Man is not an entirely evolved species. Violence is still very much a part of the way we do business, but the power of love has been shown to be more than just a specious phrase.
Gandhi showed that nonviolence is superior to violence. The force contained in emotions of love and compassion are stronger than those found in hatred, as Professor Dalton points out. Gandhi discovered that love manifested itself not just in action, but in a gentleness of the soul. That is, when man not only refrains from hatred, but does not feel hatred, the veiled threat is replaced by spiritual satisfaction. While Gandhi was not a Christian, his teachings are very much like those of Jesus. He came to the world as if Heaven-sent, with words to soothe the savage breast of humanity at a time when Christ’s message was not getting out. While Christianity is a beautiful religion, Gandhi the non-Christian is great evidence that it is not the only religion. The dull concept that only Christians can ascend to Heaven is leavened with stupidity when reflecting on Gandhi’s life. Forgiveness by one God of all Mankind is at the heart of his message. No single kind of man is better than another; not the richer more so than the poor, the white over the black, the smart over the dull. All men are equal and all men are worthy of love.
Gandhi freed himself and his adherents from selfishness and narrow interests, replacing that with inclusiveness. He believed in sharing, and his concepts of economic freedom differed from Locke and Rousseau. They felt that the dilemma of Democracy implied, as Professor Dalton writes, a tradeoff between freedom and equality. Gandhi said that equality could be attained through individual liberation, with all inclusive of one, and vice versa. Exclusivity was the enemy of freedom. Dominance and submission are the concepts that Gandhi abhorred. As mentioned earlier, perhaps in a strange twist, the Gandhi vision is found in such uniquely American organizations as the Rotary or the Lion’s Club, where businesses that compete also include. By sharing resources they all lift each other. Gandhi’s approach is found in American foreign policy, too. The U.S., despite the power to do so, has not taken up the mantel of British colonialism. Instead, they prefer to share power through trade and cooperation. Gandhi might not like the fact that we occasionally have to use force, but this does not change the fact it is necessary.
Gandhi’s teachings were reflected in our own struggles with the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King employed Gandhi’s methods in the civil rights struggle. King connected the war with civil rights in a way he envisioned Gandhi would have. Connectedness is the legacy of Gandhi.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism