Hitler's World May Not Be So Far Away [Link]

September 17, 2015 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

A fascinating article from Timothy Snyder:

Hitler’s alternative to science and politics was known as Lebensraum, which meant “habitat” or “ecological niche”. Races needed ever more Lebensraum, “room to live”, in order to feed themselves and propagate their kind. Nature demanded that the higher races overmaster and starve the lower. Since the innate desire of each race was to reproduce and conquer, the struggle was indefinite and eternal. At the same time, Lebensraum also meant “living room”, with the connotations of comfort and plenty in family life. The desire for pleasure and security could never be satisfied, thought Hitler, since Germans “take the circumstances of the American life as the benchmark”. Because standards of living were always subjective and relative, the demand for pleasure was insatiable. Lebensraum thus brought together two claims: that human beings were mindless animals who always needed more, and jealous tribes who always wanted more. It confused lifestyle with life itself, generating survivalist emotions in the name of personal comfort.

and later:

As Hitler himself knew, there was a political alternative to ecological panic and state destruction: the pursuit of agricultural technology at home rather than Lebensraum abroad. The scientific approach to dwindling resources, which Hitler insisted was a Jewish lie, in fact held much more promise for Germans (and for everyone else) than an endless race war. Scientists, many of them Germans, were already preparing the way for the improvements in agriculture known as the “green revolution”. Had Hitler not begun a world war that led to his suicide, he would have lived to see the day when Europe’s problem was not food shortage but surpluses. Science provided food so quickly and bountifully that Hitlerian ideas of struggle lost a good deal of their resonance – which has helped us to forget what the second world war was actually about. In 1989, 100 years after Hitler’s birth, world food prices were about half of what they had been in 1939 – despite a huge increase in world population and thus demand.

It's a long read, but rewarding. I also think it makes the current political environment much more depressing. The denial of science for populous attention, the pandering to base elements such as racism, and the willingness to profit from panic are tried and true methods of gaining political control. I can't stop thinking about the quote "Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story." That's even more frightening.