Orwell's review of Mein Kampf

From March, 1940, a fascinating look at the development of Hitler's reputation in Germany and the UK, and the way that his publishers were forced to change the way they marketed his book.

Review Of "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler [March 1940] George Orwell

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  1. Orwell doesn't actually have a lot to say about the book, although as he notes, a lot depends on what translation you've got. Various translation are quite different.

    I really wish there were a way to force otherwise decent conservatives to read Main Kampf to see how much of the modern conservative movement seems to be lifted right from its pages. It literally seems like there is a boiler room operation where Mein Kampf is carefully written into conservative talking points.

    The strategy is crafty yet simple - first they lie about what Hitler said, then they say what Hitler said. For instance, Glenn Beck says that "social justice" was promoted by the Nazis (which is a lie), but in Mein Kampf Hitler says it is a liberal Jewish conspiracy.

    With infinite shrewdness he (the Jew) fans the need for social justice, somehow slumbering in every Aryan man, into hatred against those who have been better favored by fortune, ..... He establishes the Marxist doctrine. (Mein Kampf p349)

    See? If you listen to Jonah Goldberg or Glenn Beck you end up embracing Mein Kamf and quoting Nazi propaganda, because they are quoting Hitler. Also notice how Hitler is accusing his opponents of envy? The Nazis often accused their opposition of "envy," and so did Romney. Of course the Nazis promised to save the nation from Socialist "class warfare," and that's another big selling point for the GOP. The average conservative is embracing "fascism disguised as antifascism."

    Mein Kampf is an interesting read. The racism is quite thick at times, but after the last 8 years of attacks on Obama, Mein Kampf has lost much of its shock value,. The sections about propaganda are quite lucid, and I think that much of this was written by Goebbels and the rest of the gang when they were all under house arrest after the beer hall putsch.

  2. phuzz says:

    I've seen people say that because the name of the Nazi party was the "National Socialist Party" that Hitler was actually left wing and basically a communist.
    It's at this point I usually withdraw from the conversation, there's no helping some people.

  3. Those people must be terribly disappointed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

  4. Well Hitler certainly thought Jews were a race, and so did many Americans. This was a widely accepted explanation for why Jews could supposedly never be assimilated even into American culture.

    Hitler mingled the ideas of race, patriotism, religion, and genetics. Today we can see this same Nazi theme in the works of Dinesh D'Souza, who argues that Obama's African father means that Obama can never really be part of American society and what seems to be a sort of new "American race."

    But notice how Goldberg turns the question of whether anti-Semitism is really "racist" into a general question of "Was Hitler racist?" He neatly goes from Aristotlean ontological hairsplitting about whether Jews are really a race (when Hitler clearly thought they were) to a larger question of whether Hitler was really such a bad guy and dismissing all the rabid racism of Mein Kampf with an effete wave of the hand.

    His argument is a non sequitor - if Jews aren't a race, Hitler wasn't a racist, when really these are separate questions. But he uses that technique a lot, because if Hitler likes cupcakes and liberals like cupcakes, then liberals are Fascists. And if everyone is a Fascist, the nobody is a Fascist, especially not people who are basing their politics on Mein Kampf.

  5. Of course Orwell was a socialist, which makes his popularity among goobers all the more entertaining. And Ayn Rand was a militant atheist who believed in free love and unlimited abortions.

    You seem to be a fan (perhaps unknowingly) of Cleon Skousen who may have been the first person to be remembered for suggesting Hitler was a leftist in 1962. because there were lots of people that actually remebered WW2, he was widely regarded as being at least a little bit insane. And his critics noted that if one looked beyond this red herring argument that Skousen's agenda was close to outright Fascism. He was considered too far right for the John Birch Society and the old segregated Mormon Church.


    Skousen also believed that he was an LDS prophet, because nothing says "Hey I'm not insane!" like thinking you're a prophet.

    He languished in obscurity until being promoted by Glenn Beck, another totally-not-insane conservative with a very shaky grasp even on his own religion.

    And this led to the very visible Skousen institute pamphlet in Cliven Bundy's shirt pocket. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with Bundy's Mormon faith, or he just feels the same comfort level of many evangelical Christians who also take the ramblings of a fringe self-styled Mormon "prophet" as the word of God - Elohim or Yahweh, I guess it's all the same.

    The "consitutional conservatices" love affair with Skousen and his ideas that Hitler was a leftist is apparently not dimmed by Skousen's proposal to eliminate most of US society and replace it with a centrally planned economy.

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