When I was studying, one student girl asked the teacher what is so bad with Nazism. She asked what's so bad if other peoples are exterminated? The teacher thought for a while and said that it would be boring without diversity.

Although the girl did not ask any more, I think this answer is not that satisfactory because existence of diversity is not that obviously good.

So what are the modern scholarly points of view criticizing Nazism which could be satisfactory to explain to a layman why Nazism is bad?

  • 1
    Do you think Hitler gained massive support of ordinary people (he did win democratic elections) because they simply wanted to have a lot of terror, concentration camps, and another world war? – kubanczyk Jan 1 '12 at 18:15
  • 2
    No, of course. But do you think what was explained in Mein Kampf were "simple and good intentions"? lol again. – Anixx Jan 1 '12 at 18:32
  • 6
    This is not a good question because this is essentially an ethicals/morals question. "Why is killing lots of people bad?" is an ethics, not a history question/ – Rory Jan 3 '12 at 10:47
  • 1
    After further consideration, I have decided to close this question. If you would like to reword it so that it asks a question that can be definitively answered without relying solely on opinion, then I will be happy to undelete. One option might be to ask about the historical significance of the Nazi movement. Questions regarding morality or ethics are not really appropriate for this site. – Steven Drennon Jan 4 '12 at 15:12
  • 2
    @kubanczyk: Hitler didn't reach power by winning democratic elections in the normal sense. The Nazis never had more than 40% of the Reichstag, and lost ground in the last free election. This is normally enough (in a multiparty parliament) to run things, but hardly enough to usurp power. That came from a highly undemocratic decision by von Hindenberg and others, who were looking for a right-wing autocrat and got the wrong one. – David Thornley Jan 14 '12 at 15:44

Modern scholarly points about Nazism are kind of beside the point, since any one of them extremely depends on ones ethical, moral and philosophical axioms and bases the scholar has, and most of them are quite contrary to each other.

As a couple of random examples:

  • Communist types criticize Nazism for (1) its nationalist structure - proper communism is international; and (2) its incorporation of oligarchic crony capitalism (they wouldn't care about the "oligarchic crony part" - any 'capitalism' is equally bad).

  • Certain strains of Christian philosophy criticize it for placing whatever its value system is above the salvation of human soul.

  • Theoretical libertarians would criticize it for using violence to achieve its ends, in many many forms.

  • Practical (utilitarian) libertarians would take a similar views but use a completely different set of arguments - basically, arguing from game theoretical point of view that given human nature, such a society would not work as well for everyone.

If you want practical reasons why Nazism is bad, you need to define "bad".

| improve this answer | |

A favorite analogy of mine:

Say you have a bucket, and in that bucket you have tennis balls and baseballs. Definitionally, it is diverse. This is very useful if you want to play baseball and tennis, but if you only want to play either baseball or tennis, the bucket becomes less functional. If, on the other hand, you wish to play golf, the entire bucket is useless.

Diversity, despite the modern feeling, is most certainly not a virtue in itself, and it does not add intrinsic value to a thing and more than, say, its size (a large pile of gold is very valuable, a larger pile of feces, on the other hand, is not). I would actually argue that excessive diversity can be detrimental to a society — I don't know about you, but I am glad that the paranoia of the 1950's is over, as well as the violence of the early unionization movements.

Even if we lay aside questions as to whether humans have intrinsic self-worth (over and above other life forms) (as a warning, I do not make that assumption but rather the opposite), there are still problems present in Nazism. Here are two which come to mind immediately, the first to do with the National Socialist internal policies, and the other to do with external policies:

  • First, the choice of who to eliminate was arbitrary (remove people who happened to share a certain ancestry and ideological output) included some who were decidedly beneficial to both the economy and society as a whole (doctors, professionals, musicians, etc).
  • Second, the Nazi idea of lebensraum meant the forceful subjugation of surrounding (read: all) nations, by force.

Both of these trends are destructive in the sense that they did active injury to others and thereby undermined the implied social contracts which must necessarily exist for the continued function of society. If lebensraum were to be taken on an individual basis, then I would be well within my rights to go out and start forcing my neighbors out of their homes. If society were to take the opinion that money should be given out arbitrarily without respect for any sense of talent, then that will actively remove creativity as a virtue.

| improve this answer | |
  • Well, even if some of those people were beneficial to the society, this could be quickly compensated by the immediate seizure of their possessions, houses, valuables, money, gold teeth, body fat and distributing them among the population or investing into development. It seems that the social contract in Nazi Germany was quite strong until its ultimate defeat. Regarding lebensraum I think the girl did not meant any foreign policy of Nazism, and this was not discussed. – Anixx Jan 1 '12 at 13:57
  • 1
    I won't bother analyzing the entire thing, but your analogies are highly suspect. "a large pile of gold is very valuable, a larger pile of feces, on the other hand, is not" - that is patently not true for a farmer on an isolated island who has no means of using said gold since the economy is based on large stone disks as money; yet can use manure for fertilizer. – DVK Jan 1 '12 at 14:06
  • @DVK You seem to be straining a gnat and swallowing a camel. The point was that size is not an intrinsic measure of value. For such a farmer obviously the two materials would be reversed — he would not appreciate a lsrge pile of gold spread over his land, but manure would be useful. – cwallenpoole Jan 1 '12 at 14:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.