PREFACE

As Ayn Rand has indicated, this book demonstrates how German philosophy led to Hitler and the Holocaust.

The Cause of Hitler’s Germany is about two-thirds of The Ominous Parallels, a book of mine published in 1982 by Stein and Day. In the book, I intended a warning: If Americans continue to accept and act on the same philosophic ideas that led to the Third Reich, then America will have to follow a parallel course and suffer the same result.

The book, accordingly, studied American culture and history in as much detail as that given to Germany. Given our cultural state, however, I did not expect any such warning to be heeded or even heard, and it wasn’t. There is no improvement in the 30 years since, no change in the basic ideas ruling the United States (and the West as a whole). The Soviet Empire has collapsed, but the ideas of irrationalism, self-sacrifice, and collectivism still dominate and fuel murderous tyrannies, primarily now in the upsurging Middle East, but elsewhere, too.

Unlike The Ominous Parallels, this substantial portion of it is offered not primarily as a warning but rather as an explanation. To this day, Nazism remains vivid in the public mind as the greatest evil in human history, and continues to be the subject or background of countless novels, films, and non-fiction analyses. But the artists and scholars still have no real explanation; they are no closer than they were in 1982 to identifying the fundamental roots of Nazism.

For this reason, I agreed with the suggestion of Dr. Michael Berliner that I bring out this reduced version of my book. It was Dr. Berliner who first thought of such a possibility, who initiated the project, and who oversaw the development of its various stages. He wanted a book that would focus only on the Nazi aspects: on their intellectual origins in German philosophy, and then on their manifestations in Weimar culture and, as a result, in the world of Hitler. My approach to discovering the cause of Nazism is, I believe, unique and worthy of special attention; I am hopeful that this time it may reach its audience. If we are to survive today’s world, some—and ever-more—people must come to understand that abstract theory is what produces existential consequences, both personal and social.

Eleven of the 16 chapters of The Ominous Parallels are included in this book. In omitting the other five chapters, I have eliminated a great deal: the material, analyzing our country’s decline into an intellectually Germanized culture, thereby showing how and why the mind of the Enlightenment gave way to religion, pragmatism and nihilism, all of it expressed by the shrinking of “Americanism” in our public’s attitude, and by the ever-growing scale and power of our government. The solution, I argued, is to replace the philosophy of Kant and Hegel with the pro-reason, pro-individualism viewpoint of Ayn Rand.

I have made some minuscule changes to the original wording, cutting out a few lines here and there that refer to the omitted chapters.

Leonard Peikoff
Aliso Viejo, CA

February 2013

 

 

P.S. If, after reading this book, you are interested in a broader and deeper discussion of the relationship between philosophy and culture/politics, I refer you to my latest (2012) book: The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out. But this book is technical and requires some background, so read the one in your hands first.