Sunday, August 16, 2009

American Universities and Nazism

Carlin Romano of the University of Pennsylvania has an excellent review of Stephen H. Norwood's Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses in the current issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education (paid access).

Romano raves about Norwood's book and points out that with respect to the Nazis in the 1930s:

"students, journalists, labor leaders, and elected officials—at least some of them—are the heroes of Norwood's book, showing more moral courage and activism than university administrators did."

Romano may be right that Iran poses a parallel to Nazi Germany (although one reader has pointed out that the parallel may be weak). But he falls down (and by implication Norwood does as well) in referring to Nazism as "fascism". Nazism is as much a form of socialism as of fascism, "Progressivism" or the more general "corporatism". Whereas Stalin advocated "socialism in one country", Hitler advocated "national socialism". As John Lukacs points out, the two phrases mean the same thing. But academics and journalists have shamefully hidden this by referring to Nazism as "fascism", which was Mussolini's system. Romano follows this disgraceful convention, which is an Orwellian way to lie about socialism. Nazism was not fascism, "Progressivism" or "corporatism". It was more extreme. It was socialism just as Stalinism was.

Hitler elevated race in his ideology, but Stalinism was also anti-Semitic and racist. All four ideologies, corporatism, Nazism, Communism and Fascism, emphasized centralization of authority and centralized economic planning, ideas that both American "Progressives" and Straussian conservatives, who have recently dominated the Republican Party, advocate.

Although some journalists may have been heroes, others have not been. In particular, the pissant New York Times covered Hitler's anti-Semitism but buried the story off the front page. Nor was support for Hitler limited to US universities. The Swedish socialist economist Gunnar Myrdal, who wrote a classic book on American race relations, American Dilemma, supported Nazism in the 1930s at the same time as the presidents of Harvard and Columbia did.

Even if Fascism and National Socialism are as similar as National Socialism and Communism, why do the Democrats and social democratic academics continue to refer to Nazism as "fascism" rather than its true name, "National Socialism"? Why don't they refer to Mussolini's Fascism as "national socialism", which would be a more descriptive and meaningful depiction? "Fascism" is murkier. "National Socialism" accurately describes the facts.

Moreover, while some academics, like Romano and Norwood, (also see Phil Orenstein's Frontpagemag article about the dual origins of the American university and Nazism in the idealism of Fichte) are willing to confront the academic support for Hitler, academics have been unwilling to confront the equivalent support for Mao that continues in the American academy to this day.

The famous linguist Noam Chomsky has been a persistent denier of the Cambodian holocaust and John Kenneth Galbraith had high praise for Maoist China in the pages of the pissant New York Times at a time when Mao had already murdered at least 25 million people. Academics continually criticize Milton Friedman, who helped a Chilean government that ultimately killed about 3,000 people, but praise Castro, who has murdered 100,000 people and imprisoned and tortured many more. Indeed, Michael Moore had high praise for Cuban socialism in his movie Sicko just last year. Both Galbraith and Friedman died two years ago. In Friedman's obituary the Democratic Party propaganda outlets mentioned Friedman's assistance to Chile, but in Galbraith's they did not mention that he had visited China and praised Mao in the Times.

Romano's point that Iran poses a parallel to Hitler is a good one. But academia's response to Maoism and Stalinism deserves careful scrutiny as well. The term "fascism" should not be applied to Nazism. It is an Italian term that refers to Roman history. Nazism and Communism are Roman derivatives, but "state activist liberals" have been apologetic about the mass murder of left wing Romanism and have attributed the mass murder to ideological causes rather than its true cause: centralization of state power.


LL said...

I don't see the parallel between National Socialism and the Iranian pseudo-theocracy to the extent you seem to. Yes, the Persians have their own brand of racism and ethno-centrism. The difference is that the bazar/souk does not really take orders from the Supreme Leader. Rafsanjani (representing the bazar) has a power base that is used by the Supreme Leader to balance against the rural and often more radical interests within Iran.

I'd like to see you flesh your ideas out further. I know you were commenting on a book, but I think you're on the right track -- however you need to think it through completely. It's tough to do on a blog where people expect you to wrap up a complete concept in a few paragraphs.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Dear LL: You've given me an assignment and I will take you up on it. But tonight I am compiling data on college presidents!

Phil Orenstein said...

One thing that truely fascinated me in my research on the German University was how the notorious Hegel considered to be the great philospoher of the dialectic, the March of Absolute Spirit to greater freedom, but concluded the "march" with the deification of the supreme German state on earth. The fools who followed in his footsteps gave birth to the Left Hegelians led by Karl Marx and the Right Hegelians which culminated in Nazism. I would love to dig deeper into this morass of idiocy claoked in scholarship, but right now I am preparing for an upcoming protest against ObamaCare in front of my Congressman's office.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Phil--let's face it, there are idiots to Hegel's left, idiots to Hegel's right, and idiots behind your Congressman's door!