Thursday, May 5, 2005

Nazism's relative relativism

Jonah Goldberg has some breif but interesting comments at the National Review about the place of relativism in Nazism and fascism generally.

Of course the notion that morality is contingent on context is central to Nazi philosophy. Johann Gottfried Herder, the intellectual father of Volkish nationalism (but a decent guy), argued that morality is geopgraphically [sic] and ethnically specific. ...

But relativism doesn't solely mean the individual defines his own truths. It also means that individuals and groups can disregard external notions of authority and universality -- moral or legal -- to further their own conceptions of good and evil. This is what Julien Benda was referring to in his Treason of The Clerks when he complained that for the first time in memory, philosophers had sided with Socrates' killers.

The Communists believed that killing inconvenient peoples for the good of the party was entirely justified.

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