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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Four: Reductio ad Hitlerum and Propaganda

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

Though Leo Strauss would eventually be forced into exile, finding safe harbour in the United States, he would not simply denounce Nazism out of hand. Not that he supported the Holocaust, but he did hold some admiration for the regime.

In fact he would later state that he tried to join the Nazi Party when he was younger, but was turned away because he was Jewish.

Strauss would develop a philosophical argument which he called Reductio ad Hitlerum.

What he suggested was that not everything Adolf Hitler did was bad, and using examples like Hitler was anti-smoking, loved dogs and was a vegetarian, we can't automatically think of those things as bad, just because they were associated with Hitler.

I'm going to get into this in another chapter, but I wanted to point out that Leo Strauss and the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, both supported and even encouraged deception. For Strauss it was the "Noble Lie", for Goebbels, the "Big Lie". And whether he realized it or not, Strauss had been deceived here.

Hitler was not a vegetarian (1), but loved wild game, sausages and caviar. However, the image of a vegetarian was created as part of his public persona. The same goes for his love of dogs. He often had a dog, but there are several stories about how he would brutally beat them. Robert Waite mentions one in his book; The Psychopathic God:

Heinrich Hoffmann’s daughter, for example, remembered clearly that when she was a 15-year-old in pigtails and flannel nightgown, Hitler, who was visiting their home, asked for a good-night kiss. When she refused, he beat his hand viciously with his whip. In 1926, apparently in order to impress Mimi Reiter, a 16-year-old girl, he whipped his dog so savagely that she was shocked by his brutality. (2)
However, I wanted to use this argument to discuss propaganda. Leo Strauss would write in Natural Right and History:

In following this movement towards its end we shall inevitably reach a point beyond which the scene is darkened by the shadow of Hitler. Unfortunately, it does not go without saying that in our examination we must avoid the fallacy that in the last decades has frequently been used as a substitute for the reductio ad absurdum: the reductio ad Hitlerum. A view is not refuted by the fact that it happens to have been shared by Hitler. (3)

The problem with trying to draw parallels between Adolf Hitler and George Bush or Adolf Hitler and Stephen Harper, is that people will go right to the Holocaust, and you're accused of hyperbole. But while Hitler will definitely "darken the scene", we need to look at the propaganda techniques used by the Neoconservative movement, which was founded by Leo Strauss and adhered to by both George Bush and Stephen Harper.

They are pure Joseph Goebbels, and the new masterminds are people like Ari Fleischer and Guy Giorno.

I'm going to present arguments to support my theories, but when I accuse Fliescher and Giorno of following Goebbels, it's not a "slippery slope" and I am not playing the Hitler card. it was brilliant strategy so why wouldn't it be copied?

William Aberhart would fashion his control of the media from that of Adolf Hitler, but it was never as finely crafted as it has been with the Neoconservatives. And William Aberhart never had a sinister agenda.

Chapter Twenty-Four Continued: Language Guidance


1. Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover, By: Ryn Barry, Pythagorean Books, 2004

2. The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, By: Robert G.L. Waite, Basic Books, 1977, ISBN-10: 0306805146

3. Natural Right and History, By: Leo Strauss, University Of Chicago Press, 1999, ISBN-10: 0226776948

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