There have been some words about nazis recently... soup nazi etc. Barbara said: watch your words. Terry: take it easy. Well, living in Germay, born after WW2, I am running around with that Cain stigma. Nothing to what the nazi victims had to suffer, but enough not to be easy about this stuff. So please be patient, if my words seem to lack some humor.
If you ask in a German store for a Tesa-Film you will get an adhesive tape and nobody expects it to be from the Tesa company. Tesa has become just a term for such tapes. If you ask in a Dutch bookshop, whether they have the book as a Prisma, everybody knows you are not asking for this book being published by Prisma Publishers, but you are asking for a paperback version. Some terms loose their strict, original meaning and are used in a wider sense, degraded to a sort of synonym. Same with the term, "nazi". Call someone a nazi and it is understood all over the world that you think of him as a questionable person, far beneath any discussionable level. Inferior.
The term "nazi" is used very often as a weapon of discrimination and is meant to hurt. It recently appeared in Israeli political fighting. But more ominously, it was used by US Scientology to fight German resistance to their totalitarian abuses. There are many documented incidents of Scientology terrorizing people. For this reason, German authorities decided to watch them. US authorities were misled by the Scientology lobby, and the US Secretary of State apologized for "the inappropriate and inacceptable" comparison to nazi suppression that they made in reference to German government actions.
The German constitution, from 1949, took into consideration a weakness of the first constitution of the "Weimar Republic", which followed the repressive system of the Kaiser-Reich and provided extensive, nearly unlimited rights of freedom, thus enabling the nazi movement to wipe it out. This suicidal component was eliminated in 1949 when it was mandated that political movements fighting the constitution be watched and, if necessary, forbidden. It happened to left- and right-winged organisations. It happened to the Kurdish PKK, and it might happen to Scientology.
Scientology is a wolf in lambswool. It pretends to enhance people's lives, but proceeds to exploit, abuse and terrorize instead. Hubbard's writings leave nothing unclear about their aim of abolishing constitutional rights. Just like the nazis (in a very strict historical reference), they make use of the rights of freedom to further their aim to abolish it. This is not tolerated anymore in Germany. Very simple. Their comparison of German authorities to officers of the nazi regime is not only inappropriate, it is perverse, given the heavy role totalitarian structure and aims play in their organization.
Calling someone a nazi, who has not been acting in that historical period as such, is wrong. The nazi term has become a term that borrows its meaning from a historical source, but in many cases does not refer to it. Barbara asked for not using this term in an inappropriate way, because an inflationary use, neglecting the reference to the horror of the nazi regime, would not only be harming the memory of the victims, it would flatten the consciousness of the evil of nazi ideology.
This ideology is nothing especially German. It was formulated there about 70 years ago, but it is derived from much older sources. Visions of an ideal state with a "sane people" have already been formulated by ancient Greek philosophers. The ideal state expresses an attitude to be found in many societies and centuries. It is a social and political concept of strong leadership coupled with minimal individual rights. A totalitarian Big Brother concept. Hear the infamous and demagogical sound of "brother". Big Brother is not your brother. Instead, he is the fatherlike figure, to whose will "children" are exposed in helplessness. The fascination with this character lies in the simplicity that results when you give over your mind and your will to someone who will take care of it for you. "Everything would be managable by a strong director". This concept will never die. We will see totalitarian systems rise for the time being, no matter political or religious.
The bad thing about nazi ideology and similar concepts is that they promise welfare and bring misery. The concept is a false dream, a lie. It does not work. The intolerable price for being "well" (totally) organized is the loss of freedom, which is one of the most fundamental needs of mankind. It is a pity that the wish for things going well crystallizes on this unworkable concept. I'm afraid, it is something we have to live with, trying to control(!) it in a free and democratic way.
BTW: I would not say, that the upcoming of monotheistical religions are a Big Brother concept. They certainly were a progress, freeing peoples religous feelings from the maze of animism. But it is unsatisfying, how political movements utilized this concept throughout history. Leaders/monarchs and high priests "next to god". Both cooperated seamlessly.
The nazi term is used in many ways. Trying to get things clear I see these groups (comments welcome):
First: 'the real nazi' People, who lived in and actively promoted, supported the nationalsocialist system. And those, who carried on their convictions, after the system collapsed, with full knowledge of the systems atrocities. They are called 'old nazis'. They will be gone soon.
Second: 'the infected nazi' People, who out of stupidness or maliciousness still propagandize nazi ideology. These 'neo nazis' are kind of hooligans, waving forbidden symbols, having fun with terrorizing people. These are todays notorious 'nazis'... fine for headlines, but only few are (politically) dangerous.
Third: 'the conceptional nazi' People, who do not learn from history, insisting, the Big Brother idea bears 'Heil'. You hardly will meet them with a baseballstick in their hand. But they are really dangerous. And it is difficult to understand, from the German point of view, that f.e. the US or Denmark, pointing to constitutional rights, make so little effort in stopping them. The German neo nazi scene is fed from the US.
Fourth: 'the so called nazi' People, who are not acting with reference to the historical phenomenon, but are named so for reasons of disliking or discrimination. The term should not be used in this way, but it will be. It is just 'too nice' for kicking someone.
Nazis on the net (of whatever provenance) are nothing to worry about especially. The net is mirroring real life. According to the nature of the web, it will not be possible to ban them. So we have to fight them on the web in the same way as in real world. We have to live with them, however disgusting it may be, and resist.
I hope, I could sort these ugly things a bit for better understanding.
© copyright, 1997, Volker Hansen