On Postwar Germany
Despite the “reeducation” of postwar Germans in accordance with the standards of the democratic left and despite Communist infiltration, partly by way of Communist East Germany, the early German Federal Republic was morally and politically sound. Our first postwar chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, was a devout Catholic from the Rhineland, whose religious background guided his understanding of the world. Catholic and certainly Christian associations were foundational for the early Christian Democratic – Christian Social coalition that ran Germany at the federal level until 1969. This ruling coalition believed that neither Communism nor Nazism totalitarianism had any place in a constitutional government that valued human dignity. At least in the early years of the Federal Republic, the Agency for the Protection of the Constitution served a positive function in detecting totalitarian threats. It had not yet been instrumentalized by the far left.
However, with the secularization that has occurred in recent decades and the declining social morality throughout the West, any voice reminding man of his transcendent nature has almost entirely disappeared. As Eric Voegelin pointed out, the modern non-transcendent “contracted self” is unable to understand reality and will therefore inexorably lose the power to reason—and to love. This is exactly what we experience in Germany these days. Ultimately, we need to be reminded of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s luminous insight: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this happened.”
(This letter has been translated from the original German.)
Doctor of Medicine
Prof. Gottfried replies:
I welcome Dr. Kallen’s comments and fully agree that the German Federal Republic under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer bore little outward resemblance to the woke, antifascist dictatorship into which the German people have since descended. But as an historian, I try to understand the origins of this moral and social collapse that has affected not only Germany but also most of the rest of what are euphemistically called “liberal democracies.” These changes did not come from nowhere, and although we may deplore some of the consequences of modern secularism, the ideological madness that I’m describing may have started while Germany still appeared to be a religious country.
German reeducation started with the Allied occupation of the non-Soviet controlled part of the country, and it featured many of the idées fixes of cultural Marxism, stressing inter alia globalism and German war guilt, two essential characteristics of the now-dominant German political religion.
I would also note that the influence of these ideas was much stronger on the younger generation of Germans than on those Germans who survived the war. As a visitor to Germany in the 1960s, I found the older generation to be mentally better balanced and culturally more grounded than the younger generation. Neither Nazi totalitarians nor the destructiveness of a lost war seemed to have driven these survivors to madness. But those who had been exposed to both reeducation and what passed for American culture already prefigured the present-day woke, antifascist German leadership class.
My own position, which I have expressed before, is that postwar Germany should have been spared the pains of reeducation and “denazification” (which typically favored the far left during the Allied Occupation). The majority political parties after the war hardly represented a threat to the U.S., France, or England; and the appeal of Nazism after the defeat of the Third Reich was minimal. We could also have dispensed with the ex post facto justice meted out at the Nuremberg Trials, a spectacle that Robert Taft properly criticized.
While waiting for the arrival of my next 12 issues of Chronicles, I decided to re-read some of the older issues and found it a rewarding experience. I was particularly impressed by the prescience of Anthony Esolen’s tour de force, “Effeminate Cruelty,” in the February 2021 issue. The accompanying sub-title, “The tyrants of the modern era have limp wrists,” immediately conjured up an image of the wretched Justin Trudeau.
Esolen’s essay focuses on three specific forms of cruelty, and at least two of them may be applied to the recent tragic outcomes in Ottawa. The first of these is “hatred of the natural.” And what could be a more natural group to hate than the Canadian truckers with their good-natured, blue-collar attitudes, their love of country, their accompanying spouses, kids, and pets? The second cruelty dealt with ambiguity and arbitrariness in the application of the law, as Esolen’s Orwellian example, “the lawlessness of its law” describes. Once again, what immediately springs to mind is the persecution of the single-parent Canadian waitress donating $50 of her meagre income to the truckers and, subsequently, suffering consequences normally reserved for convicted terrorists.
I must also give a nod to Alexander Riley’s excellent review in the October 2021 issue , “The Deplorable Academics,” dealing with Gad Saad’s entertaining book, The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas are Killing Common Sense. The image of inferior male cuttlefish (analogous to social justice “warriors”) masquerading as females in order to bypass larger alpha males and, thereby, impregnate females, comes across, curiously enough, as an outlandish example of Esolen’s effeminate cruelty.
Thank you very much for Scott Trask’s “Remembering George Santayana,” in the February 2022 issue. For us descendants of “the people who helped to obtain those advantages” who are now “neglected and absorbed into a large state where [our] traditions are despised and [our] freedoms lost,” there is some philosophical comfort in reading Santayana’s explanation of how we got to where we are, and Scott Trask’s elaboration of Santayana’s prescience.
—D. Tyrone Crowley
Genes vs. Culture
Lawrence Mead makes a valuable terminological contribution in identifying what he calls “equal group outcomes” as a high-ranking goal of the left (March/April 2022 Chronicles, “Genes vs. Culture”), though their highest goal is of course simply to maintain their hold on power, an end they achieve by buying votes through the redistributionist schemes so dear to their larcenous socialist hearts. (Can you spell AOC? Redistribution and vote-buying make a depressingly perfect marriage of ends and means.) Mead then shows further insight in tabbing what he succinctly calls “sameness”—the notion “that all social groups have exactly the same talents and potentials”—as the underlying dogma the left uses for demanding those equal group outcomes.
With the word “sameness” his two syllables are compact, but slightly more broad than a formulation I’ve employed for some 30 years now, the Doctrine of Human Interchangeability, a term that merits wider adoption. The capitalization befits what is a de facto formal principle, even though the left resists coming right out and stating it in direct fashion. As a fig leaf to warrant their rigged outcomes, the self-styled Progressives are constrained to assert that all humans are quite interchangeable without regard to group, save at childbearing. That’s one distinction the utopians must frustratingly still wait a bit longer for technology to solve—so that future members of the previously wombless sex can be genetically re-engineered to be capable of that function, if indeed wombs still count for anything at all in high tech’s world to come, where “replacements” will gestate in large amniotic jars. The more farseeing Progressives no doubt have plenty of ideas for using gene-tampering to wipe away all human difference, at least as pertains to the epsilon worker drones, who will also be customized for compliant temperament. Aldous Huxley would have understood perfectly.
—L. F. Mares
Our poet this month is R. V. Young, professor emeritus of English at North Carolina State University and the former editor of Modern Age. His newest book, forthcoming from Catholic University of America Press, is Shakespeare and the Idea of Western Civilization. He has previously published poetry in The St. Austin Review, Culture Wars, and The Wanderer, as well as in Chronicles.