Friday, February 8, 2008

John Lukacs on Hitler

"But here we come to the mistaken view that many conservatives adopted during the twentieth century and that they have even now. This is that the rise of nationalist anti-liberalism meant a great historical reaction against 1789.* In 1933 and 1934 the then-leading German conservative, Franz von Papen, said that what was happening in Germany in 1933 was the great answer of history against the largely French-inspired idea of 1789 (And this is the enduring mistake of many conservatives, who despise the "Left" more than they distance themselves from "extremists" on the "Right".) But Hitler was someone very different from a counterrevolutionary; and the German 1933 was not a counterrevolutionary movement. Nothing was further from Hitler (or even from Mussolini, or from Peron, etc., etc.) than to see anything good in monarchy or aristocracy (let alone in the world of the eighteenth century). He was a populist; and a revolutionary; and at least in some ways, a democrat. Evidences of this, in his words and acts, could fill a small book."

----John Lukacs
Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005, 248 pp.

*The French Revolution occurred in 1789.


Chaim said...

But fascists of Italy and Germany were liberals and socialists, not conservatives. They derived from and were related to liberalism, of both yesterday and of today. They just wore stuffier outfits...

~chaim rosen

Greg said...

Yes, this is true, but as John Lukacs mentions, Hitler was far from a counterrevolutionary. He simply utilized a facade of conservatism in order to appeal to and gain the support of the older conservatives in Germany. I recommend reading Lukacs book The Hitler of History, in which he picks apart the true politics of Hitler.