It may be out of place for me to write of two terrible things that I have no personal experience with. Especially since I am proposing two rather abstract therories about rather concrete realities, and then using them as metaphors for each other. But, as I said in Godwin's Law, the historical minefield that fascism left in the Western World is something that still effects us all.
There are four opiate receptors. Between the four of them, they control the different effects that natural opium gives people, including digestion, respiration, euphoria and pain relief, to different degrees. Different opiate and opiod drugs have a differing degree of action on these different receptors and the different actions they create. There are opiates that can calm coughs without producing euphoria, and vice-versa. According to the book "Buzzed", a good if not great reference on the effects of drugs, two of the four opiate receptors ( mu and delta) produce the addictive euphoria, while kappa- receptors actually produce a sense of dysphoria. The sigma receptor, which may or may not be an opiate receptor, produces a feeling of dissassociation, a dreaminess and lack of connection with worries. While both doctors and users of opium may disagree with this, it seems that the effect of opium is different not only in the concentration, but in the quality of the effects. Opium tends to produce more of a "dreamy" quality than refined opiates.
What does this speculation into intoxication have to do with the worst disaster in European history? While nazism is a terrible aberration, it is based on things that are still present in the culture of Northern Europe, in much the same way that heroin is an unnatural reflection of the endorphins of a runner's high.
Growing up in American culture, we have a concept that is in equal parts metaphysical, psychological and political. This is the concept of the strong, the powerful, the good, the unreflective feeling of rightness and communal membership. This concept is so engrained in our culture, it is hard to even recognize it is there. This idea, of the omnipresence of an undeniable group identity, is one part of patriotism. Many people who detract from patriotism think it is the only part. However, patriotism is just as likely to show another face: the idea that the people are forever creating and living in a culture milleu that the official culture can't understand. This may be something peculiar to America, but there tends to be a respect for rebels, non-conformists, trouble makers, outlaws, reformers and dissidents included in our patriotism. This is not only a product of the left wing movements of the 1960s, criminality and defiance have always formed a part of our folk tales and society. From my (admittedly non-perfect) knowledge of other cultures tradition, this is not totally unique to America.
Patriotism can be a dangerous thing, but it seems to have its own built-in safeguards. For every American fantasizing about an orderly, homogenous small town where the people knew how to act respectfully, there is one idolizing John Dillinger violently defying all authority. Much as opium can produce euphoria, dysphoria, or disassociation, patriotism can produce feelings of communal identity, or feelings of rebellion and difference.
It was German chemists who first produced heroin, giving people the straight feeling of euphoria without any dampening effect of disassociation. And it was the German people who discovered a way to feel the omnipresent rush of national power, without the dampening effect of any tradition that places the heart of the culture outside of this sense. At this point, all that remained of the culture was the feeling of omnipresense of power. Just as a heroin addict chasing the all-enveloping feeling of the rush will do anything to get high, the German people would do anything to maintain the all-enveloping feeling of national power.
The nazis were evil, but before they were evil they were bad. Before they were bad they were dangerous. Their bad idea was in taking away any idea from their culture that stood against the ideas of power and success. Ironically, when the ideas of power and success were given full reign, the German nation was brought to the point of physical destruction and moral shame that no other nation has ever suffered.