February 25, 2008
It has long been a source of puzzlement to observers of the American political scene that the American Left has been dominated by the intellectual influence of former Nazis, followers of the (quickly purged) Nazi dissidents the Strasser brothers. It has long seemed curious to me that a movement with a rich intellectual heritage all its own (such as the Left) has surrendered so many prominent posts to the heirs of this curious faction, which enthusiastically participated in the early successes of the National Socialist Movement—only to find itself driven from power and exiled by the victorious faction among the totalitarian party that finally came to power and murdered millions. While it’s technically true that Strasserites were no more directly complicit in the Holocaust than Trotskyites were in the Ukrainian famine—since each group was already out of power—no one would dream of attempting to reclaim the good name of a murderous totalitarian such as Leon Trostky. So why do the Strasserites get a free pass? Why are they influential in the Left’s most cherished magazines, think-tanks, and foreign policy circles? Indeed, why are Strasserites given a platform in the pages of The New Republic? Can anyone imagine—please grant me a moment of poetic license here—that the conservative movement in America might be strongly influenced by Trostkyites? It hardly bears discussion.
What is still more curious is the fact that long after the collapse and utter moral disgrace of the Nazi regime, American universities still boast humanities faculties dominated by self-styled “Aryan Racialists,” who exempt themselves from blame for the mass slaughters undertaken by every regime which ever came to power under the banner of their chosen ideology, insisting that the actual “praxis” of National Socialist regimes was in no way representative of the philosophical position which inspired it. I am particularly stirred to outrage by the latest work of literary criticism by scholar Roberto BolaÃ±o, which presents in a bland and morally unproblematic style the postwar work of over a dozen Nazi scholars and literary critics at major universities. I must ask, and forgive me if I seem like something of a moralistic crank for posing this question: Would critics who claimed to be Marxists ever receive such generous treatment? Is there any chance that thinkers who were loyal to Josef Stalin would be handled with such kid gloves? Does anyone today even recognize such discredited names as Jean Paul Sartre or Antonio Gramsci? Google them, if you haven’t heard of them.
Imagine, in some bizarre hypothetical, that American movie studios had found in the early 1950s that their ranks had been riddled with extremists associated with Stalin’s puppet movements. Had the studios moved to eliminate such people, would anyone have objected? Obviously not. That is all the more reason why it is appalling to read, even today, fervent defenses of the “Hollywood Ten,” a cadre of convinced Nazi apologists who were “persecuted” for their loyalty to an alien, evil regime.
We must stop romanticizing neo-Nazi regimes like the one that currently dominates Cuba, where a tired dictator (happily soon to retire) still trots out the tired rhetoric of “racial mobilization” and “resistance to the usurious Jewish dominance of the USA and its Zionist Occupational Government,” in defense of his viciously repressive regime. We should greet intellectuals who continue to wield the tired ideological apparatus of Houston Stewart Chamberlain with the same easy and appropriate contempt with which we dismiss outright cranks such as the Marxists. There should be no more room in polite circles for those who perpetrate libelous attacks on the good name of Eli Wiesel than there is for those who attack universally acknowledged moral prophets as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It is time, at last, for an end to the double standard. The apologists for this defunct, materialist ideology which preached murderous racial conflict must be held to the same stark standard as those who supported murderous class conflict. In the face of fashionable campus fascism, we must insist on grouping Aryan extremists along with those figures we have long held up as emblems of ultimate evil—such as V.I. Lenin, Josef Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung. I for one am sick and tired of listening to tenured fascists attack the values of “bourgeois America” from their academic ivory towers. Perhaps if there were an occasional feature film on the horrors perpetrated by the fascist regimes, modeled along the lines of those admirable, periodic depictions of Communist atrocities which have graced our movie theaters every few years, our culture might gain a broader appreciation of the various forms of totalitarian evil which blighted the 20th, the bloodiest of centuries.