Saturday chit-chat

By skepticlawyer

Lorenzo hadn’t posted the third part of his review of Claudia Koonz’s The Nazi Conscience last night (UK time), which was when I put up the rather endearing picture below. Now he has (in what is becoming a weekly phenomenon around these parts), I recommend reading it. Go here for starters.

The idea that Nazism had a public conscience is a frightening one, particularly once one discovers it was borne of a pernicious trahison des clercs. As they say, read the whole thing.


  1. TerjeP
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink


  2. kvd
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink


    And your husband would complain about the snoring. Not that there’s anything wrong with either attribute.

  3. kvd
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Say I borrow $10 from my neighbour, and $10 from overseas. Say the central banks in question charge 5% and 2%. Say I lend it all to my other neighbours, charging 7-8% to cover administration and currency hedging. Say the RBA now says I must pay .25% more, on all $20 I’ve on-loaned, to stop the neighbours spending the $20 on flat screen tvs. Say the $A appreciates by 10-20%. Say I am paid $16M.

    Question: is that salary paid to handle the ensuing complex calculations, or to stand up, cry poor, and check that the government guarantees are still in place?

    (This is in lieu of noting French Bulldogs have an average litter of four, repeated two or three times during their life expectancy of 10-15 years. And that they snore)

  4. Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Former or current French bulldog owner, kvd?

  5. desipis
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    For some reason I’m more curious about the contents of the bottle, than anything about the dog…

  6. kvd
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Current, entirely rational, admirer. Frenchies are basically “Aaawww ain’t he cute” dogs. Both loyal and super-intelligent. And I often say to myself that snoring is sort of cute-ish. If you need proof, I’ve made notes of exactly this at 3 a.m

  7. Posted October 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    There is a French bulldog puppy locally — I see her with a young couple from time to time when I’m taking a run. She wears a sparkly pink collar and is made of cute.

  8. kvd
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, some authorities believe that dogs are basically collar blind. In that case, I would hope so.

    Posted October 23, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I think the near-empty bottle on the dressing table explains much.

    Posted October 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    re Lorenzo’s review, anyone who reads it will walk away disturbed at the implications, because from here you can discern the politics of our era, shorn of our own habituated misconceptions. What I read un-eases me in the way a lot of more reflective people might felt increasingly through the thirties, as events began to assume a ominous pattern. Is there much difference between a detention camp and a quarantined mass refugee camp?

    Posted October 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Btw SL/Lorenzo, will not invoke Godwin.
    Even tho above is arguably transgressive of that single commandament of modern times, to which all else in conversation must yield. But I will not yield to a baser impulse, yea even as my cheek is smite, I will turn the other…

  12. Posted October 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    When does an intellectual — no matter how brilliant — become so compromised by his political associations that his work should at the very least be intellectually quarantined? (Marked: ‘handle with caution, has led to people wanting to kill other people in large numbers’ or some such).

    That, for me, is the central question raised by the first part of Lorenzo’s review. I read quite a bit of Carl Schmitt (the Nazi jurisprudential scholar) for the BCL and I remember having those thoughts at the time. It also raises a similar, but related question: at what point — when an intellectual’s empirical claims have been utterly discredited — should we then start ignoring his metaphysics? How much does the metaphysics need to depend on the physics? This latter question is one of some urgency when it comes to Aristotle and — even more so — Aquinas.

  13. Movius
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    It’s in the definition of Godwin’s Law that it doesn’t apply when the conversation is about actual Nazis.

  14. Patrick
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Not as such, Movius. Godwin’s law is only really that any discussion will eventually be about Nazis. So an actual discussion about Nazis is kinda besides the point or if you prefer beyond the scope.

    Godwin’s law is commonly used, however, to imply that whoever has brought up the Nazis has ‘lost’ the debate. The way in which Paul Walter just lost the debate he had in the same comment tried to start is a great example of this. It is a great example because it is exactly the kind of completely absurd and also deeply offensive comment that pretty much instantly loses any debate because:
    a) no-one can take such a protagonist seriously; and
    b) it is a particularly devastating form of pre-emptive auto-reductio.

    Here, for example, Paul has almost defined immigration camps as reasonable and justified by establishing Nazi detention camps (whose ineluctable point was of course the actual death of the internees!!) as the relevant comparator, thus making it excruciatingly hard to win on the merits, and has defined himself as a clown or at best someone with no understanding of history nor of the topic at hand and of course no sense of proportion, making it almost impossible to convince anyone that he actually has an argument to consider.

    Posted October 23, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Is allright Patreek- that confused load of ramblings changes my view not a jot, basically people wouldn’t know shit from clay anyway, without you additionally providing yourself as exemplar for my point, in your trivialising post by means of its bottom trawling level of aspiration.

  16. Posted October 23, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Settle, peeps. It’s a Saturday chit-chat thread. Look at the cute French bulldog!

  17. Peter Patton
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink


    Have you seen those docos of personal footage of Hitler’s private life; the weekend parties at Bayreuth and such? The banality and domesticity – admittedly against a sublime toposcore – really does chill one.

  18. Peter Patton
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    And the doggie pic compounds the bathos!! 🙂

  19. Henry2
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Gday folks.

    Im going to address Lorenzo’s blog here, on the presumption that he will probably be watching the references and debate here.

    Firstly, I want to ask each of you, which group you see as the modern day Nazis (MDN).

    I believe that the answers will cover the complete spectrum. Each of us sees that group which is against us as that which is most dangerous and likely disregard our right to an existance.

    In this and please tell me if Im wrong, we see Lorenzo citing the Catholic church as having the hallmarks of the Nazis with their affection to the Catholic family over and above all others.

    We see Paul Walter equating himself with the reflective people of the thirties, but not being explicit about who he sees as the MDN. We can maybe get some idea by reference to his last line, ie. those that want to lock up refugees are the MDN.

    For mine the MDN are dark green.

    … those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.

    The Lewis quote aptly describes the green attitude that insists on controlling the populations growth and avarice ‘for our own good’. And even better for the good of untold generations of unborn.

    that aggression was justified against those who obstructed the Volk; and that the government could annul such groups’ legal protections

    If we assume the ‘volk’ to be the green fellow travellers for this purpose, we see claims that climate change deniers should be the subject of Nuremburg style inquisitions reflect this quote very well.

    When an opponent says “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already … You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp.

    This sent a chill through me, for are all green propoganda not aimed directly at the youth?

    Now read the four themes of (extremist) conscience with the same mindframe.

    I know I’ve led with my chin here but I hope you will take this post in the good nature I know exists in this blog.



  20. Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Yes, there are parallels with the thirties. Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Khomeinism are all modernising revolts against modernity: they have a pervasive similarity with fascism (particularly Nazism) — Jew-hatred, political atavism, militarist rhetoric, paramilitary organisations, politicised violence, etc etc.

    Camps for people who are not citizens and are attempting to evade laws enacted by democratically elected free societies: not particularly Nazi really. Particularly not in polities such as the US and Oz which, at no level, parade as ethnic polities.

    Gitmo itself is more about the return of the C16th/C17th — we have this minority of religious believers of whom we confront the same issue that Elizabethan and Stuart England faced with Catholics: how can we tell the “good” law-abiding believers from the “will kill us in our beds” believers? The destructive possibilities of modern technology add further fear to the mix. Again, not particularly Nazi.

    The Bush/Howard/Blair = Hitler thing is very sad. Really, invading countries because you would prefer them to have democratic governments — again, not particularly Nazi.

    The immigration angst is about who gets to decide — for if border control laws are not enforced, the ordinary citizens have NO say. Those who want open borders get their way if the laws are ignored or evaded. So, enforcing the laws as well as what the laws are become a political football. The accusations of racism (and appealing to racism) are techniques to justify voters who disagree with (x level of) open borders having any say.

  21. Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    SL Thanks for the plug!

    My previous comment should read “and of appealing to racism”.

  22. Posted October 24, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Henry2, what a ripper question!

    To my mind, there is no group (in the Western World) that fits the category of ‘MDN’. There may be some in the developing world (one only needs to look at the regular civil wars, genocides and massacres in Africa for evidence of this), but not in the West.

    There are, however, things we need to be very wary about, I think, even in stable Western countries.

    1. Stigmatizing people based on something over which they have no control (race, sex, disability, sexual orientation).

    2. Thinking that because someone disagrees with me, he or she must be evil (as opposed to just wrong, which is a matter of argument, of course).

    That’s just off the top of my head; there are no doubt others.

  23. Posted October 24, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Great question.

    Just to clarify, I wasn’t suggesting the Catholic Church was Nazi: merely pointing out that it was clearly a source for some Nazi themes and patterns — not the same thing.

    As I was implying at @22, ‘Islamofascist’ is a reasonable term. There are a powerful lot of similarities between the jihadis and 30s fascism and (especially) Nazism.

    Some of the tendencies of the dark greens are worrying. Michael Curtis’s recent exploding heads fiasco managed to encapsulate the sort of concerns folk have. In Dominic Lawson’s words:

    Anyway, the reaction to Curtis’s film was not as either he or Ms Armstrong would have wished. Many of those who support their objectives declared their disgust at the idea of blowing up recalcitrant children, even as “humour”. Worst of all from Armstrong’s point of view, the film went viral on websites run by those who regard the whole climate change agenda as fundamentally misguided and its proponents as misanthropes motivated as much by hatred of humanity as love for the planet. As often as 10:10 tried to pull the film off YouTube, their critics re-posted it.
    This, at least, proves what a cataclysmic misjudgement Curtis had made. When you try to satirise the critics of your campaign, and it turns out that those very critics embrace your film as demonstrating exactly what they find unbearable about the climate-obsessed eco-lobby, then you know that you have kicked the ball into your own net.

    But that does not really make them the new Nazis.

    The Nazis in Germany and Fascists in Italy were only able to get as far as they did because of the rise of Leninism/Stalinism. Without the genuine fear the rise of a menacing revolutionary socialism that threatened people’s lives, freedom, property, culture and religion, Mussolini and Hitler would not have been able to get the mass support going. (In particular, the small and large rural landholders threatened by the collectivisation aims of the Leninists-cum-Stalinists — and the lack of reassurance from the PSI and SPD respectively — provided breakthrough support for both Mussolini and Hitler.)

    The dark greens simply do not have remotely the level of paramilitary organisation that both Mussolini and Hitler put together. The politics and rhetoric of violence was central to both Fascism and Nazism and is simply absent from contemporary Western politics apart from the far, highly marginalised, fringes.

    So, who are the MDN in the West? Nobody who matters. In the Islamic world (some of which extends into the West), the matter is sadly different.

    Just to be clear, I do not buy into the Great Muslim Demographic Threat for reasons which are set out very well by Razib Khan here.

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