October 21, 2004

LET US REASON TOGETHER (via Robert Schwartz):

Twin Tyrants, Imposing Their Separate Visions in Strikingly Similar Ways: a review of THE DICTATORS: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia By Richard Overy (WILLIAM GRIMES, NY Times Book Review)

The parallels, both chronological and political, are striking. Both Stalin and Hitler rose to power in an atmosphere of extreme crisis created by World War I and its aftermath. Possessed, almost literally, by a sense of historical mission, and using remarkably similar tactics, they neutralized their political opponents, turned the state into an instrument of the ruling party and transformed the economy into a mighty war machine. Historians are still counting the dead. [...]

Toward the end of "The Dictators," Mr. Overy, in a provocative but frustratingly brief argument, points his finger at a culprit for the murderous ferocity that characterized Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. Both ideologies, he maintains, derived legitimacy and passion from the cult of science. Germany would triumph because, in the Darwinian struggle for supremacy, the strong are destined to crush the weak. The Soviet Union marched forward into the future supremely confident that the iron laws of history and economics were on its side. There was no room for doubt, for compromise, or mercy toward opponents in either society. In this respect, Stalin and Hitler were, indeed, the bloodiest of brothers.

Choosing which is the worst form of Rationalism, Applied Darwinism or Applied Marxism, seems a singularly unfruitful enterprise--Reason is the enemy in both instances.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 21, 2004 10:51 AM

Reason as in "The Age of Reason" or "rationalism" as in the fetish of the autonomous mind is the enemy. Unlinked to and unsupported by a faith which is true, reason is both anti-mind and anti-human.

Posted by: luciferous at October 21, 2004 11:06 AM

"The author obviously confuses ideology with science. There was nothing scientific about Marx or Hitler's misinterpretation of Darwinism." (I love the retrospective wisdom of contemporary reason worshipers, I hope they are always so wise)

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at October 21, 2004 11:10 AM

Well said, Tom. Given that rationalists made enormous blunders in the past, can they say they are making none now? Naturally, the rationalists of the bygone era would have answered in the negative, just as the latter-day ones will.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at October 21, 2004 11:23 AM


Indeed, you have to be unfamiliar with Darwin's own words to think Nazism wasn't scientific Darwinism:


Posted by: oj at October 21, 2004 11:28 AM

Anti-semitism far predated Darwinism and did have its origins in faith. The anti-miscegenation laws in the US and elsewhere that served as basis for some of the Nazi eugenics laws likewise pre-dated Darwinism. The Nazi's dislike for the Pole and Slav and their Drang nach Osten also did not need any Darwinistic basis. Eugenics science at the time simply served as a modernistic veneer over age old prejudices, it did not cause them.

I have not done much research into the area of scientists' opinions on the Nazis and their programs, but I think they were rejected by most of the scientific community outside areas which were controlled by the Nazi's themselves.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 21, 2004 11:42 AM


One could almost say that it served as a rationalization for industrial strength murder and oppression. Obviously, human cruelty is all too common or even natural. One could also note that adding science and reason to the mix produces Marx and Hitler.Such is the faith in materialism/reason.

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at October 21, 2004 11:52 AM


It doesn't take a supernatural God to make a religion. Nazism and Communism just as much religions as Christianity and Islam. And they are all subject to the horrors attendant with monotheistic, universalist, salvationist belief systems.

NB: Islamists, religious though they are, have exterminationist dreams far beyond anything Stalin or Hitler had in mind.

Evolution, if true, is impossible to apply.

Intelligent Design, however, is very subject to application. Which is precisely what the Communists and Nazis were up to, regardless of what they called it.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 21, 2004 12:02 PM


I think your first point goes without saying. God is not needed, just an over riding belief system which is beyond any proof. The problem with science and reason is their limited applicability, (how can they concern themselves with "evil" for instance). They describe themselves as concerned only with what is "knowable" while dismissing that which it descibes as "unknowable" as bunk. It assumes much in the process while, by neccessity, ignoring that which it cannot explain or categorizing it as a social construction which serves some conspiratorial purpose. In many ways the exclusive faith in matter and reason is not really reasonable in the least.

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at October 21, 2004 12:23 PM

One of the most enjoyable essays I've ever writted was for a Modern Europe final a couple years back, comparing Hitler, Stalin and Napoleon. Napoleon was remarkably like both Hitler and Stalin, largey because he, too, was driven by Reason.

Ergo, the French are on my "hate" list, along with Commies, Nazis and terrorists.

Posted by: Timothy at October 21, 2004 12:54 PM

grahr--"largely," not "largey."

Posted by: Timothy at October 21, 2004 12:55 PM

>Anti-semitism far predated Darwinism and did
>have its origins in faith. The anti-
>miscegenation laws in the US and elsewhere that
>served as basis for some of the Nazi eugenics
>laws likewise pre-dated Darwinism. The Nazi's
>dislike for the Pole and Slav and their Drang
>nach Osten also did not need any Darwinistic

Because "Men of Sin" will use any accepted transcendental authority -- God, Christ, Bible, Allah, Mohammed, Koran, Rosseau, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nature, Mother Gaia, Baba Saddam, you name it -- to give cosmic justification for what they were going to do anyway.

However, in this blog the party line is "It's ALL Darwin's Fault!"

Posted by: Ken at October 21, 2004 1:09 PM


Yes, Rationalism simply makes Man into God. freed from any rules but those they reason out they can do anything, including the eugenics Darwin counseled.

Posted by: oj at October 21, 2004 1:30 PM


Yes, hatred is our birthright--exterminationism an element of Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at October 21, 2004 1:32 PM


Ever hear of a thing called a balanced appraoch? Faith without reason and its opposite may be the problem. A reasonable man of faith or science does not reject the balanced approach to scientific inquiry or religious tradition and faith. Only fanatics on either side offer such ideologically based rejection. Atheists, orthodox materialists, cultists and Islamists come to mind.

The complete and total rejection of the western religious tradition at the behest of "Darwinists" is the fanatical and unreasonable position. Personally, I don't reject out of hand the position of the Darwinists, but from the evidence presented extrapolating theories regarding social organization seems a dangerous, even stupid game.

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at October 21, 2004 1:33 PM

One Darwinist. Orrin's favorite.

I was amused, a couple weeks ago, by a series of NPR interviews of voters in Indiana, Pa., concerning religion and politics.

One anthropologist lamented that he'd had a hard time finding a Presbyterian church that would accept him, since he taught evolution.

Despite Darwin's ravings, Darwinism no more teaches eliminationism than taxonomy teaches taxidermy.

Description is not prescription.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 21, 2004 2:18 PM

If all life is a contest between creatures with similar genetic packages then obviously you are driven to help your team win. Eugenics and genocide are just good sense, never mind biological imperative..

Posted by: oj at October 21, 2004 2:26 PM

There is nothing but reason and matter and nature is "red in tooth and claw" so should we not act accordingly?

The prescription follows the description: "It's 20 below outside, dress warmly."

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at October 21, 2004 2:44 PM


"If all life is a contest between creatures with similar genetic packages then obviously you are driven to help your team win. Eugenics and genocide are just good sense, never mind biological imperative.."

That is pure nonsense. For one thing, eugenics does not belong in that sentence.

For another, one could just as easily write "If all life is a contest between creatures with similar religious beliefs ..."


Part of the problem with science is this caricature: "...while dismissing that which it descibes as 'unknowable' as bunk."

No, just as unknowable. If someone presents something to you as art, but you think not, how do you know? When presented with two mutually exclusive religious belirfs, or two mutually exclusive readings of the same religious belief, how do you know which to choose?

Neither the subjects, nor the answers, are "bunk."

But the answers are unknowable, in that it is impossible to apply a standard criteria to the question and the information to arrive at an answer.

Also, the balanced approach you speak of requires only one thing: declining to proclaim Absolute Truth.

Religions have had a far longer career, with all the awful consequences, of doing just that.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 22, 2004 6:58 AM


Religion is mutable, genes aren't.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2004 7:18 AM


Who wrote this?

Assumptions can be dangerous, especially in science. They usually start as the most plausible or comfortable interpretation of the available facts. But when their truth cannot be immediately tested and their flaws are not obvious, assumptions often graduate to articles of faith, and new observations are forced to fit them. Eventually, if the volume of troublesome information becomes unsustainable, the orthodoxy must collapse.

(a) Orrin Judd

(b) Scientific American

It's from the October issue of SciAm. The article goes on to say,

We may be witnessing such a turning point in our understanding of genetic information. The central dogma of molecular biology for the past half a century and more has stated that genetic information encoded in DNA is transcribed as intermediary molecules of RNA, which are in turn translated into the amino acid sequences that make up proteins. The prevailing assumption, embodied in the credo "one gene, one protein," has been that genes are generally synonymous with proteins.

The article is pay-per-view on the Internet, but it goes on to say that the so-called "junk" DNA, which was thought to be useless evolutionary detritus, may play an important rule after all.

If this isn't evidence of science self-correcting and improving in the pursuit of ever-closer descriptions of reality, I don't know what is.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 22, 2004 7:49 AM


Yes, we well know that whatever we currently believe about science is wrong--the paradigm always shifts.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2004 8:20 AM

But, unlike Theism, less wrong than before.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 22, 2004 11:50 AM

No, it always comes right back to where Theism started it.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2004 11:56 AM

Orrin's and Tom's naked racism has nothing to do with Darwinism.

Racists can use Darwinism, be they cannot be Darwinists.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 22, 2004 5:11 PM


Darwinism is racism. Though that's not why it's wrong.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2004 8:16 PM

Only if there's a multiplicity of races.

No Darwinist of any standing today believes that.

Besides, even if there were races of humans, Darwinism could not say which needed to be exterminated. It does not claim to make that sort of decision, or any decision at all.

The only reason that Jews were targeted was that Christians hated them.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 22, 2004 9:49 PM


They all know it, they just can't admit it because of the implications. 6 million dead jews was enough to shame even Darwinists into silence.


Posted by: oj at October 22, 2004 9:53 PM


Help me out here.What the heck is Harry talking about? No, I'm not a Democrat nor a materialist.
Naked Racist? Is he nuts?

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at October 22, 2004 10:31 PM


Because Darwinism justifies eugenics, genocide and the like (which makes the decent Darwinists like Stephen Gould become apoostates) many modern Darwinists simply insist that race is merely a human construct, rather than a biological reality. (A finch with a big beak and one with a small beak prove genetic divergence can cause genuine speciation, but Manute Bol and Billy Barty are identical.) So, anyone who acknowledges that race exists is a racist.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 9:12 AM

Race exists, but it's not genetically sorted. It's somewhat like what teenagers do, sorting themselves into "Goth" and "Preppie" groups, (among many), by how they dress.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 24, 2004 5:53 AM

Racism, at least in the West, is a confused but basically Christian construct.

This is most easily seen in the Spanish Inquisition, in which the formal doctrine that Jews could convert was, in practice, thrown out, and Catholics with Jewish ancestors were burned at the stake not for what they believed but for their 'race.'

The careful working out of a theory of race came long after, but was more or less complete with Gobineau, who came before Darwin.

You will note that while Orrin freely ascribes evil to individuals and to statist organization, he will never admit that a Christian organization is, in itself, evil, though manifestly, that is the case.

This puts him in a pretty difficult position as a debater when it comes to the plight of the Jews.

1. There is no question that Christianity developed the idea the Jews are vermin and could be exterminated without concern.

2. No question, also, that Hitlerian Germany raised this option to an obligation.

3. Therefore, Orrin has to find some non-Christian villain to throw off on. The candidates are rather thin on the ground, since only Christians and Muslims have ever had anything bad to say about Jews. For lack of a better, he pitches on Darwinism, which has some plausibility if you don't admit all the components.

4. Hitler did, indeed, claim the sanction of 'blood,' and that fitted in neatly with darwinism. But for him (and the rest of the Germans) 'soil' was equally important. Darwinism has nothing to say about 'soil.'

5. Therefore, Orrin's indictment collapses. The responsiblity for Jew-murder rests with the Christians. Orrin's arguments become disgusting because of the Catholics' enthusiastic participation in Hitler's form of Jew-murder.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 25, 2004 1:29 AM


The Inquisition was as you say racist not religious, was a case where the State was restrained by the Church, and didn't kill many.


Exterminiationism requires biological theory, which Darwin supplied.


Posted by: oj at October 25, 2004 7:42 AM