Is anti-intellectualism harmful to society

"Too much thinking is bad"

"There is a very famous scene in which Hitler, during the years of apprenticeship and suffering in Vienna, suddenly faces a Jew in a caftan and suddenly realizes that there are Jews there at all: And that leads him to the many many Jews in Vienna see."

And here already the hatred of Jews germinated in Hitler, which later culminated in the Holocaust. The early programmatic writings of the National Socialists are full of such "primal scenes of experience", according to Dr. Medardus Brehl, literary scholar at the Ruhr University Bochum. In "Mein Kampf" Hitler describes how he politically "wakes up", how he literally goes from being blind to seeing, and even becoming a "seer":

"Another famous scene is in the sanatorium where Hitler was admitted as a war blind man and reflected there in his blindness on the state of the German nation. And that is a very interesting constellation, because here the crisis of the individual and the crisis of the nation are short-circuited with each other. And in this situation something like the awareness arises that one has to become politically active. "

"Autobiographical narrative and political worldview" is the name of a new DFG research project at the "Institute for Diaspora and Genocide Research" at Bochum University. The subject of the project are biographical and autobiographical texts by National Socialist leaders as well as by simple members of the NSDAP, which were written in the 1920s.

"You have to imagine that these National Socialists are between 35 and 40 years old in the 1920s. They are at the beginning of their political career and are writing their biography. That is actually a paradox, you usually write in the retrospective a life designed out of a relatively short life experience, and actually none of them has ever been politically responsible. "

But the Bochum researchers want to work out that these biographies have a special function in the early phase of National Socialism. There experiences are described that many people of this generation can share. And from these experiences the history of the "movement" slowly develops and in turn the National Socialist worldview in turn.

"And that's exactly what it's all about. To what extent are biographies portrayed that are based on repeatable experiences that are shared by many people, for example World War I, the revolution of 1918, inflation, the occupation of the Ruhr - standardized biographies that also contain certain patterns of ruptures and the continuation of life paths and thus also describe paths into politics. "

Ernst Röhm, Chief of Staff of the SA, wrote the autobiography "The Story of a High Traitor" in the 1920s. Josef Goebbels, Propaganda Minister of the National Socialists, wrote "Michael. A German fate in diary sheets". Such writings have hitherto been neglected by literary studies as "insulting and propaganda writings" without literary qualities. But for the Bochum researchers, these writings give deep insights into the essence of National Socialist ideology. In contrast to the programmatic publications of the left at that time, they describe "knowledge of life" from which the "correct political path" is revealed almost with necessity.

"If you see programmatic writings from the context of the political left, for example, then it works differently. They have the character of a manifesto, a political program is developed on the basis of theoretical reflection, but under National Socialism it runs through the autobiographical narrative, because the NS -Weltanschauung is developed precisely from biographical experience. That means that we do not have to imagine that the Nazi worldview is a result of theoretical reflection on social conditions, but what is developed is the result of a protopolitical experience with social reality in which political necessities are revealed. "

The anti-intellectualism of the National Socialists was evident early on. The biographical narrator stylizes himself as a "visionary self", as a "seer" to whom the truth "revealed" itself in a kind of religious awakening experience; and who therefore lays claim to future leadership.

"Reflection, writes Goebbels, too much thinking is bad. That obscures the view, the view is clouded, that is the point. Intellectualism is fought because, from the perspective of the National Socialists, it is precisely this that contributes to no longer really looking at the world and then you become a communist or a social democrat. "

Logically, in Goebbels' so-called "Michael novel" too, the enthusiasm for the Führer is by no means borne by the word, but by the charisma that emanates from the Führer as an "eye opener".

"There are initiation scenes, that is the encounter with Hitler as a speaker, with the Fiihrer; what is very interesting there - and this confirms the thesis - is that reflection is not as important as the experience of a certain presence, because What the Führer is saying is not described at all, only his aura is described. It is all about eye contact. You look at each other, something like elections or awakening happens, these are scenarios like that. "

The communist is blinded. He has an ideology. The truth, however, was revealed to the National Socialists with a mythical whisper. No objection, no argument can exist against it. The National Socialist captured the world as it is. He has, in the literal sense, the "Weltanschauung". This legitimizes his claim to rule - and of course his terror as well.

"If you ask how the concept of Weltanschauung was understood in the 1920s, a passage from Goebbels'" Michael "is perhaps quite obvious, 1929. You can read the following:" Weltanschauung is: I stand at a fixed point and look at life and the world from a certain point of view. It has nothing to do with knowledge or with education. If the point is correct and the perspective is straight, then the worldview is clear and good. If not, it's blurry and bad! "