Schopenhauer & Hitler, Part 2
Schopenhauer’s Critique of Democracy
Schopenhauer’s political views were based on his extremely low assessment of the intellectual and moral quality of the great majority of mankind. One could not rule against the will of the people, therefore:
[T]he people is sovereign: But this sovereignty never comes of age and therefore has to remain under the permanent care of a guardian: It can never exercise its rights itself without giving rise to limitless dangers, especially as, like all minors, it is easily fooled by cunning imposters, who are therefore called demagogues. (150-1)
Schopenhauer argued on Hobbesian grounds for an autocratic hereditary monarch ruling as “the national father” (151). In this respect, we should stress a probable major difference with Hitler insofar as Schopenhauer considered the state be desirable only as a necessary evil, a reflection of the dark hearts of men:
[T]he necessity of the state ultimately depends on the acknowledged injustice of the human race [. . .]. From this point of view it is easy to see the ignorance and triviality of those philosophasters who, in pompous phrases, represent the state as the supreme goal and greatest achievement of mankind and thereby achieve an apotheosis of philistinism. (149)
Presumably Schopenhauer was thinking of Hegel.
Monarchy was the government “most natural to man” as he had “a monarchical instinct,” whereas republics were “anti-natural” (153). Schopenhauer wrote:
A constitution embodying nothing but abstract justice would be a wonderful thing, but it would not be suited to being such as men. Because the great majority of men are in the highest degree egoistic, unjust, inconsiderate, deceitful, sometimes even malicious, and equipped moreover with very mediocre intelligence, there exist the need for a completely unaccountable power, concentrated in one man and standing above even justice and the law, before which everything bows and which is regarded as a being of a higher order, a sovereign by the grace of God. Only thus can mankind in the long run be curbed and ruled. [. . .]
He is, as it were, the personification or monogram of the whole people, which in him acquires individuality: In this sense he can justly say l’état c’est moi. [. . .] [The kings in Shakespeare’s plays] regarded themselves as incarnations of their nationalities. This is in accord with human nature, and is precisely why the hereditary monarch cannot divorce his own and his family’s welfare from that of his country. (152-3)
While Schopenhauer clearly had a hereditary monarch rather than a revolutionary dictator in mind, one can almost hear the benevolently, almost childishly smiling Rudolf Hess’s naïve profession of faith: “Hitler is Germany, as Germany is Hitler! Hail victory!”
Schopenhauer opposed freedom of the press on the same grounds. While it might relieve certain social tensions and allow a government to self-correct, the opportunities for corrupting the people were too great:
Freedom of the press is to the machinery of the state what the safety-valve is to the steam engine: Every discontent by means of it immediately relieved in words – indeed, unless this discontent is very considerable, exhausts itself in this way. If, however, it is very considerable, it is as well to know of it in time, so as to redress it. – On the other hand, however, freedom of the press must be regarded as a permit to sell poison: Poison of the mind and poison of the heart. For what cannot be put into the heads of the ignorant and credulous masses? – especially if you hold before them the prospect of gain and advantages. And of what misdeeds is man not capable once something has been put into his head? I very much fear, therefore, that the dangers of press freedom outweigh its usefulness, especially where there are legal remedies available for all grievances. In any event, however, freedom of the press should be conditional upon the strictest prohibition of any kind of anonymity. (152)
Schopenhauer’s writings on journalists and the reading public are some of his funniest (“all newspaper writers are, for the sake of their trade, alarmists” ).
Finally, there is Schopenhauer’s magnificent, biting critique of utopian rabble-rousing and the entire project of materialist-egalitarian “progress”:
People have always been very discontented with governments, laws, and public institutions; for the most part, however, this has been only because they have been ready to blame them for the wretchedness which pertains to human existence as such. But this misrepresentation has never been put forward in more deceitful and impudent a fashion than it is by the demagogues of the present day. As enemies of Christianity, they are optimists: And according to them the world is “an end in itself,” and thus in its natural constitution an altogether splendid structure, a regular abode of bliss. The colossal evil of the world which cries against this idea they attribute entirely to governments: If these would only do their duty there would be Heaven on earth, i.e. we could all, without work or effort, cram ourselves, swill, propagate, and drop dead – for this is a paraphrase of their “end in itself” and the goal of the “unending progress of mankind” which in pompous phrases they never weary of proclaiming. (154)
Is this not a perfect summary of Marxism and consumer democracy? Of the evil Judeo-Christian doctrine of the absolute equality of all featherless bipeds and of their absolute supremacy over nature. Of the Satanic claim that we supremacist equals have no higher purpose than the filling of our bellies through the rape of this planet and the enslavement and extermination of her life. Picture some obese, raceless coffee-colored humanity coming home in their SUVs laden with extra large Big Mac meals, rushing to get home in time to watch the ball game on their flat-screen TV. And then think of all the Marxoid lies and agitation, of all the rainforests destroyed, all the animals butchered, all the fossilized life pumped out of the ground and pointlessly consumed, and all the garbage produced to achieve this end, this glorious high note of human civilization and intellect.
But I digress.
We forget how unrespectable the very notion of democracy has been for most of human history and for the overwhelming majority of our greatest minds.
Schopenhauer derided the liberal delusion (or deception) that right could replace might as force “can never be annulled or really abolished from the world: It must always be appealed to, and the most that one can hope for is that it will stand on the side of justice” (151). Rather, if one was fortunate, might at most only be convinced to serve right. This was for Schopenhauer “the problem of statecraft, and it is certainly a hard one: how hard you will realize if you consider what boundless egoism reposes in almost every human breast” (152). He offers, one is unsure how seriously, a grand eugenic solution:
If you want Utopian plans, I would say: The only solution to the problem is the despotism of the wise and noble members of a genuine aristocracy, a genuine nobility, achieved by mating the most magnanimous men with the cleverest and most gifted women. This proposal constitutes My Utopia and my Platonic Republic. (154)
Is this not quite exactly what Hitler set out to do in selecting, training, and ultimately breeding the SS as a spiritual and biological ruling elite for Germany and indeed all Europe? Hitler affirmed that might must rule the world. But he used various techniques and doctrines in addressing “the problem of statecraft” and ensuring that might be in the service of right: The stoking of patriotism (ethnocentrism is linked to in-group solidarity), the promotion of character, guaranteeing the link between people and elite through absolute meritocracy, and, finally, systematic ideological (one could say, civil-religious) education in these values.
1. Indeed, Schopenhauer is his angriest and most ornery when contemplating the sorry state of grammar in the German newspapers of the day, even suggesting the government be charged with censoring this (206).
2. The conceit that right could replace might in international politics is the official doctrine of the German Federal Republic and the European Union today. This has been expressed notably by the European Union’s founders Jean Monnet and François Mitterrand (the latter, I tend to think, really knew better). This false doctrine has also been verbosely theorized by the Marxoid academic Jürgen Habermas, the Federal Republic and the Union’s foremost official intellectual, and the only goyishe member of the Frankfurt School.
3. Schopenhauer writes: “[T]he arrogance of men [would] expand, if not to the point of bursting then to that of the most unbridled folly, indeed madness, if the pressure of want, toil, calamity, and frustration were removed from their life” (43). Is this not obviously, indeed maddeningly true, in our age of consumerism and comfort? Conversely, Hitler demanded that character be cultivated in both the German people and the SS by avoiding softness, through rigorous training and periodic wars.