By Australian columnist Andrew Bolt
The big risk in making films about Hitler isn't that you make the Nazi dictator look too nice. It's the very opposite, as we saw this week with Channel 7's hit mini-series, Hitler: The Rise of Evil. The real danger is making Hitler seem plainly crazy and evil - leaving viewers unable to understand why such a man won so much support from so many people, and not only Germans. We need instead to know what led people to admire Hitler, rather than to see him for what he was: an enemy of freedom. We need to know this, because some of the same cultural forces that helped Hitler -- such as the green movement -- are among us again today.
Of course I'm not saying that green activists are closet Nazis. Nor do I think Australians will ever pull on jackboots, torch Parliament House and fling liberal politicians into concentration camps. Still . . .
There is no one reason for Hitler's rise. Luck had something to do with it, so did violence. The men who opposed him were weak. But that wasn't all. Hitler's preaching about German strength and destiny was water in the desert to the millions of Germans who'd been stripped of pride, security and hope by their humiliating defeat in World War I, and the terrible unemployment that followed.
The world was also mad then with the idea that a dictatorial government should run the economy itself and make it "efficient", rather than let people make their own decisions. The Nazis -- National Socialists -- promised some of that, and their sibling rivals in the Communist Party more.
The theory of eugenics -- breeding only healthy people -- was also in fashion, along with a cult of health. The Nazis, with their youth camps and praise of strong bodies and a strong people, endorsed all that, and soon were killing the retarded, the gay and the different.
Tribalism was popular, too. People weren't individuals, but members of a class, as the communists argued, or of a race, as the Nazis said. Free from freedom -- what a relief for the scared!
You'd think we'd have learned. But too much of such thinking is back and changing us so fast that we can't say how our society will look by the time we die. A kind of eugenics is with us again, along with an obsession for perfect bodies. Children in the womb are being killed just weeks before birth for the sin of being a dwarf, for instance, and famed animal rights philosopher Peter Singer wants parents free to kill deformed children in their first month of life. Meanwhile support for euthanasia for the sick, tired or incompetent grows.
As for tribalism, that's also back -- and as official policy. We now pay people to bury their individuality in tribes, giving them multicultural grants or even an Aboriginal "parliament".
But most dangerous is that we strip our children of pride, security and even hope. They are taught that God is dead, our institutions corrupt, our people racist, our land ruined, our past evil and our future doomed by global warming.
Many have also watched one of their parents leave the family home, which to some must seem a betrayal.
They are then fed a culture which romanticises violence and worships sex -- telling them there is nothing more to life than the cravings of their bodies. No one can live like this and be fulfilled. People need to feel part of something bigger and better than ourselves -- a family, or a church, or a tradition or a country. Or, as a devil may whisper, the greens. The greens. Here's a quote which may sound very familiar -- at least in part.
"We recognise that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind's own destruction and to the death of nations. "Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger . . . "This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought."
That was Ernst Lehmann, a leading biologist under the Nazi regime, in 1934, and he wasn't alone. Hitler, for one, was an avid vegetarian and green, addicted to homeopathic cures. His regime sponsored the creation of organic farming, and SS leader Heinrich Himmler even grew herbs on his own organic farm with which to treat his beloved troops.
Hitler also banned medical experiments on animals, but not, as we know to our grief, on Jewish children. And he created many national parks, particularly for Germany's "sacred" forests. This isn't a coincidence. The Nazis drew heavily on a romantic, anti-science, nature worshipping, communal and anti-capitalist movement that tied German identity to German forests. In fact, Professor Raymond Dominick notes in his book, The Environmental Movement in Germany, two-thirds of the members of Germany's main nature clubs had joined the Nazi Party by 1939, compared with just 10 per cent of all men. The Nazis also absorbed the German Youth Movement, the Wandervogel, which talked of our mystical relationship with the earth.
Peter Staudenmaier, co-author of "Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience", says it was for the Wandervogel that the philosopher Ludwig Klages wrote his influential essay Man and Earth in 1913. In it, Klages warned of the growing extinction of species, the destruction of forests, the genocide of aboriginal peoples, the disruption of the ecosystem and the killing of whales. People were losing their relationship with nature, he warned.
Heard all that recently? I'm not surprised. This essay by this notorious anti-Semite was republished in 1980 to mark the birth of the German Greens -- the party that inspired the creation of our own Greens party. Its message is much as Hitler's own in Mein Kampf: "When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall."
Why does this matter now? Because we must learn that people who want animals to be treated like humans really want humans to be treated like animals. We must realise a movement that stresses "natural order" and the low place of man in a fragile world, is more likely to think man is too insignificant to stand in the way of Mother Earth, or the Fatherland, or some other man-hating god.
We see it already. A Greenpeace co-founder, Paul Watson, called humans the "AIDS of the earth", and one of the three key founders of the German Greens, Herbert Gruhl, said the environmental crisis was so acute the state needed perhaps "dictatorial powers". And our growing church of nature worshippers insist that science make way for their fundamentalist religion, bringing us closer to a society in which muscle, not minds, must rule. It's as a former head of Greenpeace International, Patrick Moore, says: "In the name of speaking for the trees and other species, we are faced with a movement that would usher in an era of eco-fascism." This threat is still small. But if we don't resist it today, who knows where it will sweep us tomorrow?
From the Melbourne Herald-Sun, July 21, 2003.
There is a more comprehensive coverage of the above topic reviewed here