Saturday, January 28, 2017
Trumping the argumentum ad Hitlerem fallacy
The argumentum ad Hitlerem fallacy involves demonizing one's debate opponent (or the person or cause supported by one's debate opponent) by comparing them with Hitler -- without, of course, backing that comparison up with an argument based on facts. It has occurred to me that there's an Orwellian twist going on here, where the very same people and sub- (or super-)culture indulging this fallacy are the ones exhibiting the un-fallacious, and all-too real, danger.
I've often pondered, as many people over the decades have, the question of how a relatively sophisticated, progressive society like Germany in the 1920s could have succumbed so horribly to Nazism. With the rampant anti-Trump hysteria this past year into the present, this is the first time that question is no longer a safely historical one for me (and for all of us), but dismayingly alive -- and, as I said, acutely ironic, in an Orwell-must-be-spinning-in-his-grave sort of way, given the Hitler comparison the anti-Trump people draw either explicitly or implicitly.
I intend to complete my reading of a very important work in this regard, Hitler and the Germans, a series of lectures given in 1964 by my favorite philosopher, Eric Voegelin, at the University of Munich. From my reading of the first 20 or so pages (it's 273 pages), Voegelin is, among other questions, directly addressing and analyzing this one; and I'm confident it will help me illuminate its foreboding resurgence in our time, in the counter-intuitive form of the motley collective of the anti-"racist", anti-"fascist", anti-Trump movement.
It all reminded me of a You Tube cartoon film that came out I believe a few years ago. called "AntiRacist Hitler". It's about Hitler somehow coming back in our time, and realizing quite adroitly that for him to regain his old power anew, what he has to do is re-package himself as "anti-racist" because he sees that his type of demagogic power base is best represented by the new social justice warrior demographic (i.e., the very same demographic that has been fulminating & frothing at the mouth against Trump).
It's a deliciously droll and yet broad satire at the same time, only 10 minutes. I highly recommend it.