The book Mein Kampf was published in 1925 by
NSDAP (National Socialist German Labor Party) leader Adolf Hitler. It
was written for the most part during his incarceration in the fortress of
Landsberg, where he was thrown for inciting revolt. All in all, this
work is of great value to modern students of government, mainly because it
provides a large number of arguments (of varying compellingness) against
parliamentary or republican democracy as we know it today.
This book is very thorough; it first endeavors to track the
author's progress and development as a National Socialist and human being, and
also to track and expose the reasons for the German and Austrian states'
failures in World War I. It also provides a sort of instruction manual for
those who would create a party like the Nazi one; the author's chronicling of
the organization's growth from seven to many thousands reads like a novel.
Many of the statements and ideas put forth in this book make completely
understandable the ideological foundations of the German Third Reich.
Unfortunately, it is at these foundations that the book reaches its
lowest point. At its higher levels Hitler's theorizing is intricate and
sometimes strikingly accurate--mainly, when he is exposing the corruption and
impotence of the past and contemporary German state. Ideologically,
however, the book fails, because it deals with subjective and poorly-defined
racial concepts. The spectre of the Jew, omnipresent throughout the book,
is at the same time "a pestilence" and "a parasite"; it manages to support
Marxism and simultaneously work for International Finance; it tries to
"guard its nationality" while poisoning Aryan blood by intermingling with it.
These sorts of discussions permeate the book (although it doesn't
contradict itself within the same chapter, usually), punctuated by Social
Darwinist racial discussions. Ironically, Hitler himself tends not to
understand natural processes--in his version of evolution, the 'strong'
mate with the 'strong' intending to remain the same, which is the exact
opposite of what nature intends through sexual reproduction.
In truth, the 'Jew' here can be replaced with 'Satan' or 'education'
or anything else that poses a credible and poorly explained threat, because it
would serve the same function. For Hitler, using Jews as a scapegoat was
perfectly logical--Jews were indeed omnipresent in European intellectual
society, plus they already had a long history of being scapegoated.
The fact that this book roots so many of its theories on falsehoods and
generalizations is disappointing, although not surprising.
The sociopolitical system this book suggests seems to actually make some
sense, especially with the author's indictments of parliamentarianism ("The
intellectual content of what these men said was on a really depressing level,
in so far as you could understand their babbling at all," says he about the
Viennese parliament, "...A wild gesticulating mass screaming all at once
in every different key, presided over by a goodnatured old uncle who was
striving in the sweat of his brow to revive the dignity of the House by
violently ringing his bell and alternating gentle reproofs with grave admonitions. I couldn't help
laughing.") What it essentially puts forth is the idea of a people and a
nation driven solely by the idea of National Pride. This is meant to be
identical to Racial Pride, and also German Pride. It is to be led by a
leader (who will "emerge naturally"), and yet everyone will retain personal
responsibility. The main driving force for this state is the acquisition
Lebensraum, space for expanding population.
Although personally this kind of nationalism is abhorrent to me, it does
seem to be workable, provided that the people are truly motivated to fight.
Since there will always be an enemy somewhere, the problem of lack of motiv
ation doesn't even present itself.
This book's racial theories are rather ridiculous. Culture is
'created' only by pure-blooded representatives of the Aryan race, a concept not
clearly defined at all. It is assumed that the German people are the
quintessential Aryans, although the correspondence between Aryans and Germans
is never really discussed. The other races that Aryans have intermingled with,
such as (somehow) the Japanese, are merely the 'preservers' of culture; they
do not make any on their own, and without the Aryan influence would have none
at all. The satanic Jew is the 'destroyer' of culture, always on the lookout
and aiming to destroy true Aryans.
Seeing as this is very much a propaganda pamphlet (Hitler recognizes
the importance of propaganda--he devotes page upon page to it), none of its
claims--and I do mean none--are proven at all by anything other than personal
impression. Since it obviously seeks a relatively educated and critical
audience, this seems self-defeating. The logic of Hitler's arguments is often
flawed--for example, he seems to rely on pure repetition to 'prove' that the
Marxist Jews are really paving the way for financial and stock market tyranny.
As a historical overview, it is of some use, although it must be taken
with a grain of salt. The author goes into pre-war events very
specifically, and later on does an especially good job of describing the
political situation in Munich and the rise of his own party. The narrative often
devolves, however, into more rabid anti-semitic, anti-Marxist and
anti-bourgeois blathering, and thereby loses much of its value.
This book is important, if anything because it is a look into the mind of
probably the most famous and, arguably, the most significant politician of the
twentieth century. Hitler is probably as close to a Lucifer as our modern
civilization has, and this text approaches the Necronomicon in the fear it
inspires among those who haven't read it (and the reverence it inspires in its
adherents). However, it is not of much use--it should be put on a bookshelf next
to "Lenin's Commentaries on Marx", and abandoned like that.
(Node your homework, and fix it up.)