Saturday, October 8, 2011

Unification from Differentiation

Upon reading Burke's discussion of the four features of Hitler's "unification device," Burke's analysis of Mein Kampf was, for me, at its most interesting (202). Hitler promoted anti-Semitism through notions of inborn dignity in the Aryan race; by projecting onto the Jewish population all of the problems Germany was facing, a projection "given a semblance of reason because the individual properly realizes that he is not alone responsible for his condition" (203); by a "symbolic change of lineage" (203); and by providing "a noneconomic interpretation of economic ills" that targeted "Jew finance," placing "Ayan finance" in a position to take control.

This differentiation between "Jew" and "Aryan" adequately severs one matter (finance) into two separate matters, automatically casting one in an undesirable light. "Aryan finance," as Hitler would have considered it, would in actuality simply have been "finance." Anything in connection to the "Jew" aspect of German affairs would function, then, as an unrecognizable, external other to which so-called insiders could not relate. Tacking adjectives of any kind onto a subject automatically disconnects the termed group from an overall whole.

Upon first reading this section of Rhetoric of Hitler's "Battle," this practiced seemed unfamiliar to me. After further reflection, I realize there is a much-discussed matter in America today that takes on this very type of differentiation. To illustrate, I'd like to share a quote a friend from Sweden sent me just after Friday's class:

The concern that marriage may be spoiled by the introduction of "gay" marriage is closely aligned to Hitler's interpretation of Germany's economic problems stemming from "Jew finance" in finance. A discussion about finance can disguise a discussion of Jews, and purposely set a certain group away from the rest. At present the debate of "gay marriage" is doing the same thing with the LGBT community. However, this is hardly a surefire tactic: unlike the case of Nazi Germany, differentiation has not successfully unified people who identify as not-LGBT.


  1. Before reading this post and seeing the Liz Feldman quote, I had not really thought about the term "gay marriage" as being a source of differentiation; almost a way of creating a subconscious "us vs. them" mentality. It has become somewhat of a tagline in LGBT debates, and it makes me wonder if it is just a natural indicator of a marriage between two gay people or if there were more specific goals through its origination. Words are extremely important and just the tacking on of an adjective can create a tagline that becomes ingrained in society.

    A major difference between Nazi Germany and modern America with LGBT issues is the consumer culture, advertisement driven society that we are so tuned in to. Hitler was ahead of the game in getting out the word with programs like Hitler Youth and strong ad programs that created a brainwashing to gear towards the tacking on negative adjectives with the Jewish population. There is a passage from "Rhetoric of 'Hitler's Battle'" that states, "Politics, he says, must be sold like soap - and soap is not sold in a trance"(216). I thought this was a really interesting quote that pertains to the mantra of "gay marriage" that we have acquired in America.

  2. Much like Annie, I didn't think of "gay marriage" as two separate entities until seeing that quote. In a psychology class I took, we spent an hour long lecture discussing the way Hitler went about accumulating power; the man was a baby kissing, hand shaking, joke telling kind of guy. We were shown several pictures of Hitler next to pictures of American presidents, and the class was pretty amazed to see our presidents doing the exact same thing. When people want their opinions to be heard and accepted, they tend to start in a round about way (baby kissing) until they gain power, and then they begin to place their ideas into the minds of others by making a phrase that once had very little meaning(Aryan finance and Jew finance) into something that becomes infectious to a certain group. Much like with the term "gay marriage." I have become so desensitized to the term that I hadn't seen it as being labeled until reading that quote.


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