Sunday, October 17, 2010

Assault of Thoughts - 10/17/2010, Hitler Edition

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- The Economist has a review of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, which documents the ways in which Stalin and Hitler enabled each others' tyrannies, and the ways in which we have forgotten the crimes of both men in Eastern Europe. In 1937, Bertrand Russell wrote that: "homicidal lunatics were well employed in killing each other, but... sensible men would keep out of their way while they were doing it", and I think this is how we tend to view the second world war's eastern front. What that obscures, of course, is the innocents caught in the middle.

- The New York Times reports on a controversial new exhibit on Hitler in Germany. I can understand the German sensitivity to this, but I think the educational goals are laudable. Andrew Sullivan reacts to the exhibit here.

- It turns out that producing fraudulent propaganda was not below the Nazis (shocking, I know). One particular instance recently revealed as a fake is a famous picture that was alleged to show Hitler at a rally in 1914, showcasing the leader's German patriotism. Recent analysis suggests it was doctored.

- I don't mean to ignite any political firestorm with this one - I just thought it was interesting. Apparently, in the 1930s Twentieth Century Fox helped produce film propaganda for the Nazis. I just think it's an interesting piece of history that says nothing about the modern corporation... less scrupulous people that like to make use of flow charts on chalkboards could probably draw a different conclusion, if they were so inclined.

- I recently acquired a copy of Joachim Fest's authoritative biography, Hitler. Not sure if I'll get a chance to read it any time soon, though.

- Twice in the last week or two I've come across references to the foreword to the German edition of Keynes's General Theory and the alleged connection with the Nazis. It's horribly bad analysis to draw that parallel. So in the interest of dispelling it, here's an old post of mine about the foreword. Reading it again, I think the prose is a little rougher than it ought to be. I think I ought to expand on this in the future.


  1. Links to the references?


    This is worth passing along:

  2. This was one:

    The other was in a comment section - I forget where exactly.

  3. Well, the link you mention says nothing about a Nazi connection.

    This is what the link does say:

    "Krugman dismissed the idea that Keynesianism was best suited for totalitarianism..."

    I think that is a fair conclusion to make ... that it is easier to adapt the so-called "general theory" to a totalitarian state than to an open society according to Keynes' own line of argument. It is fair to conclude that here we have another one of the enemies of the open society - Mr. Keynes.

  4. When did Keynes make the argument that it was easier to adapt the general theory to a totalitarian state than to the open society?

  5. In the provided quote.

    "The theory of aggregated production, which is the point of the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state [eines totalen Staates] than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire. This is one of the reasons that justifies the fact that I call my theory a general theory."

    It is unfortunate that Keynes didn't man up and fight in WWI; he had that comfy job in the Treasury to do instead.

  6. Oh that?

    I didn't realize that was all you meant. Well needless to say, you only reinforce my doubts about your critical thinking skills or your objectivity if that's how you read that passage.

  7. Oh, and I didn't realize "manning up" amounted to fighting in a war - least of all that war.

  8. Daniel,

    Needless to say you will reinforce my image of you as a loyal acolyte of Keynes.

    It did in WWI. Remember, when Shackleton and his men returned from that Antarctic they went to fight in the trenches because they thought that they had been shirking their duty by being stuck down there. But that obviously isn't what I am getting at.


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