I think maybe this one might be a little more advanced than my usual, but the issue is something I’m curious about, as a sociological issue, and through the prism of my studies. This won’t be an exhaustive explanation, but hopefully my ideas will communicate enough – I tend to keep some vital information in my head at times, which is a consistent problem, because I always assume everyone knows what I’m talking about. Believe it or not, it can also be tied back to observations on the SVM community. So it’s relevant and pertinent to my interests, and I wanted to put it out there, because that’s generally the way I roll.
If I get 100+ comments, I will be very angry if you didn’t read the whole thing. Don’t make me slap you in the comments because reading is “boring”. No one is forcing you to skim this. Look – here’s something about your level if thinking is boring and reading a waste of your “valuable” time. If you’re too stupid to read the whole thing and misread it because you skimmed it, shut your stupid mouth. You are too dumb to read this one. Leave now.
For those of you who’ve continued on, I have a funny picture I made for a_dreamt_theme – because she loves this stuff:
I was thinking about the fact that if you asked most people, they would say that the world has learned their lesson from Nazi oppression, and that something like that couldn’t happen again. But I would wonder if that isn’t still a possibility altogether, based on SVM community sentiments.
One of the things I did in postgraduate study was study the Nazi movement through the prism of Mein Kampf, Nietzschean philosophy, and Wagnerian ideas. Basically – how they justified their own actions to themselves, and how they could see it as “right” to murder all those people. What it looked like from the inside as such, and what sorts of excuses and justifications people offered themselves to ameliorate their part in it. Lest anyone think I was justifying it – I wasn’t. But, I always have wanted to get around inside of stuff and find out why the hell things worked the way they did – particularly abhorrent behaviour. Uh, criminologist? I made sure that I didn’t do it in a disrespectful manner, for sure.
Not only did I not do it in a disrespectful manner, I don’t even fit most of the criteria. As a woman, I’m supposed to be a fine upstanding sexually pure breeding machine, and I’m doing the sin of working and having pre-marital sex (I even had my kids before I was married, the dirty slut I am) and eh, I’m not racially pure as is desirable (there’s no 5 generations of German purity and one of those ancestors isn’t even white!), I have two kids with disabilities I don’t want murdered (being that they weren’t perfect, it’d be off to the camps and medical experiments to see if they can feel pain for my boys), and Hitler had no time for people who used their brains – the intellectuals. Using your brain was bad according to Mein Kampf (are the fangirls who bash Sookie for thinking for herself in good company or what?).
Now, of course, the Nazi movement was driven by a lot of issues – not just Hitler. He just came out as top of the pile because he was the most charismatic. Any time travel story about going back and killing Hitler affecting the story – eh, that’s simplistic and appealing, but in no way true. The fact that the Allies saw fit to punish Germany so thoroughly for daring to go to war against them was one lesson politicians learned. Funnily enough, crashing their economy and destroying their society with reparation payments seemed to piss off the Germans. Plenty of blame to be apportioned to the Allies who thought bringing their enemy lower than they could dream they could go was a smart tactic. Hence why Allies today try not to make enemies pay through the nose for being bombed. You want war nowadays, you pay for it yourself, or at least borrow the hell out of China.
One of the things that was an influence on Hitler was Nietzsche. Nietzsche was a German philosopher who questioned why we believe certain things as good, and declared that there was no moral absolutism. He saw two opposite ends of the spectrum – the übermenschen and the untermenschen, which he explored in Thus Spake Zarathustra. But he said that they were both crap, even if one was slightly less crap, and unlike Schopenhauer (seriously, I was so depressed reading Schopenhauer) he wanted to break down all societal concepts. Please don’t go away with a bad idea about Nietzsche if you haven’t read about him before – his main aim was to get society to start questioning fundamental ideas that it has. Not just accept them because the Church or the government says they are so. Nietzsche came out against Nazi Germany, as a facile understanding of his philosophy, because the whole point to moral nihilism is not to set up one thing as “right” – and particularly not government.
Hitler turned that around in Mein Kampf and said that the untermenschen – the under man – was Jewish, that he was an intellectual who weakened the German society, and caused the German people to take such a trouncing in the First World War. People at that time in Berlin were sitting around discussing philosophy and thinking of lofty concerns – that’s indeed where Tolstoytan beliefs popped up – ideas that later inspired Gandhi. Berlin was a wonderful place before the war – I think I would have had a fine old time and fitted in. It was all this sitting down and talking that Hitler saw in Berlin cafes that caused the Germans to lose that war, and but for those lazy intellectual bastards, they could have won. If they’d gotten off their arses, that is, according to Hitler. Using Nietzsche, Hitler argued that the Jewish allies were determined to bring down the German people by weakening them from the inside.
Hitler had the idea that kindness, Christian values and intellectual ideals were designed for the untermenschen – so that he could be King of the World, instead of the “rightful” King, the übermenschen. That was why the Jewish people invented these insidious religions that taught people to be kind – it was to secretly rule the world. By deceiving the übermenschen and making him think those things were what mattered – all the qualities of the weak – the ones who called for less violence and more thinking. Hitler saw this as a dirty trick and a terrible misdirection to weaken the rightful supremacy of the pure Germans, and get them to submit to Jewish ideas – and all the requisite ideas of Jewish conspiracies and other guff. He took Nietzsche’s will to power ideas – which were really about living things not just wanting to survive, but thrive – and turned them into social Darwinism.
One of the other things that influenced the Nazi movement was Wagnerian opera, which was sort of the same movement at the time. Like Tolkien, Wagner latched onto old cultural mythologies to create new cultural images. Much like Queen Victoria took Boudicca, the Celtic harridan, and dressed her statue as an old Victorian matron for London town. Wagner latched onto Viking mythology and Germanic paganism to create operas to celebrate the wonder that was the German heritage…and co-opted a lot of not-really-German stuff. Lots of Wagner’s operas had an anti-Semitic bent and he wrote a lot about what the Germanic romantic history – the Völkisch popularist movement. In fact the Germans claimed the Vikings as their progenitors. Wagner’s operas were really loved in Germany for that reason, and that’s why this image is so popular when one thinks of Vikings – this is a Wagnerian concept, and it’s tied up in some of the philosophy of superior race.
This sort of thinking was happening all over the world at the time – Darwin himself faced a lot of misinterpretation as well. Even today you can see people justifying say, a leopard running down an oxen with “survival of the fittest” – when in fact the concept refers to that leopard competing with other leopards. The leopard that survives is the fittest leopard for the purpose of being a leopard, but it is not genetically superior to the oxen by virtue that it’s a freaking leopard. Cause as you can see, the leopard eats that oxen – it kinda needs oxen. Evolution is not that eventually there will be one lone apex predator with nothing but dirt to eat. Voracious things eat themselves out of house and home – as we ourselves are worried about doing now.
So Nietzsche was slurred by Hitler choosing his philosophy to hang his hat on. Hitler is definitely a crap philosopher. There were holes in his logic you could drive a truck through, certainly. Like how the hell you’re going to run a government if thinking is for the untermenschen, and the only value is the physical strength and will to power. Presumably in Hitler’s dream, with enough lebensraum (room to live and move) there would be blonde children wandering around in large forests, exercising, and society would be perfectly pure and we wouldn’t need anything more than just clubbing someone to death if they do stuff we don’t like. But you wouldn’t need to club other Germans because they thought the same way you did, and wouldn’t offend. That was possibly the stupidest idea that Hitler had – that giving people room and happiness means that no one will be violent or disruptive any more. Hitler dreamed of a perfect human race bred that way. I am not such an optimist as that. I’ve read about too many offenders with plenty of money doing heinous things.
As an aside, Mein Kampf talked a lot about the young, strong, supple and muscled bodies of young blond men. Hitler was a freaking terrible writer who repeated himself way too much and talked of too many gyms filled to the brim with these men. It was almost like quasi-gay porn. Seriously. According to Hitler’s own words, he’d spend a day gazing at young men vaulting horses and doing other gymnastic feats, thinking about how wonderful the young men were, and exhorted other German people to do the same. Hitler took an inordinate amount of time staring at young men working out in tight clothing.
Killing Hitler wouldn’t have changed anything but the faces, spin and perhaps timeline – and not necessarily for the better. Could have also been worse. Nietzschean ideals travelled as far as Superman as the embodiment of the übermensch, who I believe is pretty fucking popular. It was a confluence of the perfect storm. I would argue that some of this thinking really still exists as well. Whole swathes of ordinary people who could indeed be convinced to kill “problem” sections of society – it was the German people who under considerable strain – voted in someone who was telling them good things about themselves. It wasn’t because the Germans were terrible people – it’s just that they felt really down, and were prey to thinking better of themselves if someone could convince them broken as they were they were naturally “born” better.
It still happens that way – nowadays we call it the “Just World” theory – various religions and ideas like karma – that if good stuff happens to you, it’s not because you were lucky enough to be born without hassle into an upper-middle class Western household with money and resources; it’s because you’re not so bad as to be born to a couple of African parents who are dying of AIDS. It’s firmly believed by a whole heap of people that if bad stuff happens to you, it’s because you deserve it. I once had someone tell me that another mother had a baby with disabilities because she’d adopted out her other children – that this was “bad karma” come back to get her. I asked her what I had done to deserve it, and what my sons had done to deserve it for my choices. She shut up pretty quick about that one, but she’s not the first (or last) unthinkingly stupid person that ever existed.
One of the things that makes me believe that Hilter type ideas could rise again is the unthinking way many people talk about vampires. After all, they are almost the epitome of the übermenschen – super strong, fit, physical and duel their shit out. They kill people who cross them and argue with them. I’ve written here before about the fact that pet type stories are created for them, despite the fact that it has no basis in SVM. Readers never seem to question the idea that vampires are in fact, superior, just cause they said so. Despite zero readers being vampires – and thus, automatically inferior to these vampires.
It’s intensely interesting to me at least – and a commentary on the possibility of this happening again – that we have human people, a great mass of them who are not the leaders of industry, not the elite, supporting and loving stories of one race dominating and killing another. I mean, all of these writers are indeed human. They should be on the human side. Yet, they are not. They are on the vampire side against their own people, and against the smallest people in the SVM world. It seems to me that when people support this sort of thing that they always include themselves in the “winning side” – ie. the side that grinds the other into the dirt.
So for example, everyone imagines themselves as Eric’s girlfriend/wife, who would happily pass judgement on her fellow humans, carelessly consigning them to death for thinking the wrong thing or based on their worth as a person. You know – that Steve Newlin should die because he doesn’t think right; or that Bill deserves to die for raping Sookie; or that Bobby Burnham hates Sookie, and thus deserves death. No one ever imagines that Steve Newlin decides that their acceptance of vampires might get them killed; or that they are Ginger dying alone protecting her “Master’s” club; or the Geoff Marriot in the situation. No one is including themselves in the statement of “vermin” but it’s readily used even though it was said once by a vampire – to the point that all the humans use it.
Even if you take the vampire out of the equation, there’s plenty of contempt had for the dirty whores Eric (read Askars) usually sleeps with – because we all know that if they sleep with him, they’re dirty whores, but if he sleeps with the lot of them he’s not – and whatever happens to them is their due. If they get physically hurt, then that’s all good, because really, they shouldn’t be with such a shining exemplar of manhood. No one ever imagines that if they get their fabled night with Askars (as many of these women claim to want) that they will be a dirty whore in the morning, maligned in the press as such. No – they imagine themselves as the Sookie who’ll finally get Eric (read Askars) away from the dirty whores he’s usually with, and Pam will be their good chum.
No one ever imagines themselves to be the smallest person in the situation – the one that no one cares about. The one that will be killed or herded into camps – not until they’re actually in the situation. There’s a whole part of people being cognitively dissonant in the ways they think about themselves and the nebulous “they” that is the other, the part that is to be resisted. They always imagine themselves as having special consideration by Eric for their absolutely immense skills of “I like him, so he’ll like me, right?” When readers fantasise about this sort of society, they don’t see anything through the prism of being the little man Eric kicks in the face for daring to approach his throne – of course not! They’re the Sookie or the Pam, or even the Eric – they’re never vulnerable to the vagaries of the “superior race” – they are the ones with power dishing out punishment.
So thinking that this sort of thing couldn’t happen again is shortsighted, I think. The US showed not long ago that you can sign all the Geneva Conventions you want, but you just reclassify “waterboarding” as not torture, despite the fact that its origins are born in the Spanish Inquisition. Suddenly you’re not torturing – you’re using enhanced interrogation techniques that are definitely in no way torture…except if used against Americans. Signing contracts doesn’t mean shit if countries refuse to comply, and their citizens don’t have the means or will to make their government behave. But, I’m sure your average American feels more strongly about how to stop terrorists, than how not to terrorise their own prisoners. Signing the Geneva Convention doesn’t mean dick if no one follows it.
This didn’t come the last time from the ivory towers of academia – it came from the working and middle class. It came from poor people, and people who didn’t do much thinking, but patted themselves on the back for their ‘superiority’ anyway. I see it happening through the prism of vampire fiction – with the untermenschen (us humans) perfectly willing to believe that the übermenschen (vampires) is superior because he says so. Even though it’s fictional, people are happy to support an ideology that would leave them at the mercy of Mickey, but because they always see themselves as so much better – want to believe lies like the ones Hitler told people – they acquiesce and see the “logic” but peg themselves as automatically the friends of the powerful, while not taking ownership of the actions of the powerful.
We can see by virtue of the large majority who love this kind of pet/superior vamp/superior human fic, and who write this kind of pet/superior vamp/superior human fic that the majority of this sort of sentiment still exists in one form or another. Next time it might not be Jewish folk, but I suspect it’ll be the wonderful combination of foreign, different and probably intellectuals. They’ll be ready with the pitchforks again because someone might make them feel inferior, and they’ve found someone who can make them feel worthy. Luckily they’ll be able to deflect simplistic blame to their leader, but it won’t really be that simple, will it? Looking around at the SVM community, it would be fruit ripe for the picking – we’ve just got to wait until a reason to harvest and a farmer.