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On Puritans’ ostensible ‘puritanism'; and on Lutheranism’s ostensible proto-Nazism

06 May

1. The Puritans were not anti-sex; they were anti-fornication.

Big difference.

I noticed this usual smear against them come up once again in the blogosphere, in this post.

Cutting-and-pasting my response:

“Puritans hated Christmas and men having sex with women.”

They hated Christmas, but no; the puritans hated fornication, not heterosexual married sex.

In fact, rather the opposite; it is well established that spouses who withheld themselves from their spouses, were ill thought of, and sometimes ended up facing excommunication for it!

Here’s some education for you:

http://www.gracebaptist.ws/sermons/notes/PuritanStudy/Puritan2.html

http://hnn.us/articles/406.html

http://www.likesbooks.com/puritans.html

http://web.archive.org/web/20100202225642/http://www.christianitytoday.com/holidays/halloween/features/puritans.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_19575_5-ridiculous-sex-myths-from-history-you-probably-believe.html

You’re welcome.

BTW, as a bonus, if you read those links, you’ll see they were fun-loving folks who not only enjoyed marital sex, but also drank alcohol, wore clothing of all colours, and were not the continuously stern-faced sourpusses they’ve been portrayed as.  And there are other myths exploded as well, for those who care about such things.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a fan of their theocratic tendencies, their persecution of those who disagreed with them, Cromwell’s dictatorial behaviour (and the removal of the rightful king from the throne by the Roundheads), their punishing people who went for walks other than to church on the Sabbath; their banning of Christmas customs such as mincemeat pie, and Cromwell’s troops entering homes on Christmas and removing geese from ovens and throwing them out in the snow, punishing young courting couples for holding hands under apple trees on the Sabbath, etc.

The Puritans, both in England and in New England, were guilty of a great many things, and I’ll be the first to accuse them of those real offences.  But they aren’t guilty of what now gets labelled, or I should say, libelled, ‘puritanism’, oddly enough; that smear is a modern invention.  They loved their fun, just as much as they loved punishing those who disagreed with them.

2.  As per Jim’s main contention in that post, that Nazism is directly descended from Lutheranism: I don’t agree with it, either.

Now, Slumlord recently showed correlation between voting patterns in 1930s Germany and religious tradition, i.e. Protestant versus Catholic (see here, here, and here), which clearly do show an unfortunate clear faultline between which areas tended to vote National Socialist and which ones tended not to, but he himself noted that:

sound Protestantism would have probably prevented the rise of Hitler. It’s the watered down version of it that is toxic.

With which I agree, and commented thus:

And many if not most of the Protestants, by then, were not the more orthodox kind that their forefathers had been, but more mainline, liberal; Germany had been at the forefront of Protestantism’s devolution, what with liberal modernism having been entrenched in the seminaries since the mid-late 19th century; I presume you’ve heard of Friedrich Schleiermacher, and the impact he had had…  And Walter Rauschenbusch brought the liberalism he had picked up in Germany, back to America, greatly impacting the denominations we call mainline Protestantism, today…

So, yes, it was much more Protestants who sadly embraced National Socialism, than Catholics, to a much greater degree.  But, many of them were liberal Protestants, far removed from the ways of thinking of their forefathers, who were far more like Roman Catholics, in their ways.

So Jim is wrong about Nazism flowing naturally and directly out of Lutheranism.  It doesn’t; it only flows out of a deformed Protestantism, one that has strayed rather far from its roots.

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66 Comments

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in religion, Sex, The Decline

 

66 responses to “On Puritans’ ostensible ‘puritanism'; and on Lutheranism’s ostensible proto-Nazism

  1. Svar

    May 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    First off, both the orthodox confessional Protestant Churches as well as the Roman Catholic Church were against the Nazi movement. The RCC actually made it an excommunicable offense to join the Nazi Party: Carl Schmitt is one example of a prominent former German Papist who left the Church for the Nazi Party and became a Nazi political theorist.

    I once read this article in Touchstone Magazine which showed how all of the Christian denominations in Germany were getting angered and horrified by Hitler’s eugenics policies. The attitudes of Hitler and Rosenberg towards Christianity are also telling; Hitler bragged that Christianity will be wiped out from Germany the same way it has been in Russia while Rosenberg stated that “Catholicism and Marxism are just two manifestations of the Jewish spirit”.

    Also, Nazism is not a reactionary conservative movement; the National Socialist movement was opposed to the Christian Monarchist parties of Weimar Germany and once the Brownies got to power, those conservative parties were banned alongside the social-democratic parties, and the communist parties.

     
  2. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    @ Svar: Indeed, there were many faithful, brave confessional Protestant Churches that stood up to Hitler, as well as the Roman Catholic hierarchy doing so, as you mention. Alas, there were also some Protestant churches that capitulated, and went along with the ‘New Order’, allowing the Nazis to even place swastikas in churches…

    But as stated, there were the heroic resisters. There were the likes of Pastor Martin Niemöller. There was the White Rose movement, which included Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and even an Eastern Orthodoxer.

    Christians of all stripes can rejoice that there were faithful brethren there, at that time, who all recognized the evil of National Socialism, and who stood against it, at great personal cost. Yes, there were others who capitulated, but they didn’t include all Christians there, thankfully.

     
  3. jamesd127

    May 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    > punishing young courting couples for holding hands under apple trees on the Sabbath, etc.

    Bunch of pinkos. Note the gender neutral punishment, prefiguring the left’s policy of ignoring and repressing gender differences.

    The puritans were gender neutral on a matter where there are large differences between the sexes – it is girl’s job to keep her legs closed.

    The patriarchal position is that it is the father’s job to manage his daughter’s sex and reproduction, not the state’s. The puritans were leftists in that they imposed state authority over marriage, sex, and reproduction, and did so in a gender blind fashion.

    When they punished males for courting, this prefigured today’s open ended and ever expanding sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape laws.

     
  4. jamesd127

    May 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    > “So Jim is wrong about Nazism flowing naturally and directly out of Lutheranism. It doesn’t; it only flows out of a deformed Protestantism, one that has strayed rather far from its roots.”

    Leftism is theocracy that lacks a pope and holy Roman empire. If you have any theocracy that contains competing elements, natural selection of memes will result in it adopting ideas that further power, and undermine ideas that undermine power, thus over time, theocratic elements of protestantism naturally became deformed. The exigencies of the pursuit of power will slowly, smoothly, and continuously transform the movement beyond recognition.

    The French revolution was spawned of Gallicanism deformed, Nazism was Lutheranism deformed, and today’s anglosphere left, which now dominates and controls all leftism everywhere as the communists hoped to do, is puritanism deformed and transformed in innumerable tiny steps. Communism is progressive reform Judaism carried to its logical conclusion.

    Gay Bishops are the inevitable consequence of Exeter Hall’s anti slavery campaign.

    If you want theocracy, as Bruce Charlton argues, you need a King or some such in charge of it, to prevent the power struggle leading to people adopting ever holier than thou positions, or, as today, ever lefter than thou positions.

     
  5. jamesd127

    May 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I wrote:
    > “Communism is progressive reform Judaism carried to its logical conclusion.”

    Communists are of course anti Semitic – but so are progressive reform Jews. Observe the progressive reaction to the Crown Hill pogrom.

     
  6. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    @ jamesd127: Good points, all.

     
  7. David Collard

    May 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Yes, they are interesting points from jamesd127. I found this an interesting article too: although the writer clearly disapproves of the Cavalier strain, you can see how more amenable it might be to the survival of patriarchy:

    http://dneiwert.blogspot.com.au/2007/09/albions-seed-part-ii-cavaliers-1642.html

     
  8. Svar

    May 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Huh. So is this what a civilized exchange of ideas looks like? Interesting how well that works when you don’t have socially-retarded and ugly spergy cunts whining about how masculine traditional men like feminine traditional women or homosexual Austrian barracks-bitch waxing poetically about his depraved sexual exploits.

    GSG is still heart-broken over us. Wish I could say the same, but I prefer the company of psychologically normal women, not crazy, broken unwomen.

     
  9. David Collard

    May 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Svar, women cause trouble. There was a reason why discussions of women were banned from army messes in Britain once. They caused too many duels. Manosphere blogs should discourage most women from commenting, except for the very few who know their place, like Kathy. Many of the others are just looking for trouble or attention-whoring. It took me a while to realise this.

    The only blog run by a man and woman that seems to work OK is Complementarian Loners, although they don’t seem to get many comments.

     
  10. David Collard

    May 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I notice that women are largely absent from Chateau Heartiste these days. And The Spearhead, although that crella still comments.

     
  11. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    @ DC: An interesting analysis, there.

    I share his disapproval of the Cavalier strain (though I am an ardent monarchist), no doubt in part because I’m Reformed and of Scotch-Irish background – like the Appalachian hill-dwellers… But also because I do believe in freedom as a good, that ought to be available to all, not just the privileged classes; and I see the aristocratic values of the well-off class of the “Old Dominion” as being ultimately antithetical to true freedom – just as was the case in the British Isles themselves…

    I don’t see that patriarchy requires such; no reason why middle and working class societies can’t equally be set up along patriarchal lines – and in fact, in times past, they were… Paterfamilias was held as an ideal family structure amongst all socio-economic classes, and “a man’s home is his castle” was held to apply, from actual castles, right down to log cabins in the woods…

    So you’ll hear no gushing about the “southern agrarian tradition” from me; no praising and devouring the collected works of Eugene Genovese, blah blah blah. I’m an Ulster-Canadian, thank you, who has seen patriarchy amongst his working class, small farmer ancestors and their descendents, work just fine – as it should, for any and all classes…

     
  12. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    1. It was basically Puritans who created the incredible tradition of Renaissance Bible translation in England. They cared a lot for aesthetics.

    2. The Nazis were illiberal but they were also modernists.

     
  13. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    @ Thursday:

    1. Oh yes; I’ve seen a reprint of the Geneva New Testament, and it looks like a beautiful book, in terms of design. And if we have them to thank, ultimately, for the sort of now typical illuminated large family Bibles like that which my parents have, full of gold leaf and many illustrations, then indeed, we owe them a great deal, even just from an artistic and design perspective.

    2. Indeed; a most curious mix…

     
  14. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Will, I agree. The real reason people have gone for liberalism and decadence is that they are safe, comfortable, and prosperous. Putting an religious, authoritarian government on top of that wouldn’t really change much. Conversely, a formally liberal regime, even one like that set up by the American founders, would work perfectly fine if it functioned, as it was designed, to restrain a fundamentally religious and parochial people. Freedom is an very important value. It just isn’t the only value.

     
  15. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Which is why I have essentially no time for explanations that try to blame liberalism on Christianity/Nominalism/Protestantism/whatever. It’s the prosperity, stupid.

     
  16. jamesd127

    May 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    > I see the aristocratic values of the well-off class of the “Old Dominion” as being ultimately antithetical to true freedom

    The aristocratic values of the well off class were exemplified by the restoration and the Cavalier Parliament – and it is clear that the restoration was perceived and experienced as freedom for everyone, even though it was more freedom for the well off. The masses celebrated their freedom by making rude gestures at theocracy, for example by the maypole dances.

    The restoration purged all state and quasi state institutions, among them, academia. One might think that this restricted academic freedom, and in one important sense it did. Academics were prevented from pursuing power by being holier than thou. This made the rise of science possible. The restoration directly led to the rise of science. Before the restoration, people discussed the circulation of the blood primarily in the context of more important questions such as the relationship between God the father and God the son.

    The Anglican Church was purged of anyone who took religion very seriously, anyone holier than thou, and anyone who engaged in religion outside the Anglican Church was forbidden from posts that would give him access to the levers of power. The cavalier purge was a purge of the Puritan theocracy, but not a restoration of the old theocracy.

    The Puritans are responsible for the Petition of Right, and thus for the doctrine that freedoms of wealthy males apply to all men (except for slaves, vagabonds, women and so on and so forth), however, the Cavalier parliament did not resist or reverse that stuff. What they did reverse and resist is the Puritan expansion of state power to meddle in everyone’s life.

    Academia was clearly more free to do academic stuff after being purged of theocracy and forbidden to pursue theocratic power. Before the restoration, science was “the invisible college”. After the restoration, science was “the Royal Society”.

     
  17. David Collard

    May 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Yes, well I am an Australian, and I must miss the nuances. I haven’t read her discussion of the Scotch-Irish, but I did note that the Cavaliers seemed more patriarchal than the Puritans in some respects.

    I suppose my position would be that patriarchy is the natural state of Mankind, and that it is God’s will for society. The exact form it takes can vary. As a Catholic, I would say that there is a patriarchal clerical hierarchy, and then at the level of the family, there is the domestic church, headed by the father and husband. I base this on scripture and tradition, in the usual Catholic way. I agree that the father in the home, no matter what his class, should hold sway, except in unusual circumstances.

     
  18. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    @ jamesd127: “The Puritans are responsible for the Petition of Right, and thus for the doctrine that freedoms of wealthy males apply to all men (except for slaves, vagabonds, women and so on and so forth), however, the Cavalier parliament did not resist or reverse that stuff. What they did reverse and resist is the Puritan expansion of state power to meddle in everyone’s life.”

    A good thing, of course, that…

    And yet, we have increasingly meddlesome governments today, that interfere in all areas of peoples’ lives… Looks like the Puritan totalitarian instinct died hard, i.e. it wasn’t crushed well enough…

    Science didn’t arise solely out of academia, though; much science, and engineering, had been done in and by, orders in the church. The mechanical clock had been invented by monks, seeking to know when to pray their hours. And monks had contributed much to knowledge of plants, and continued to do so; we have Gregor Mendel to thank for discovering genetics, through his observations of peas. So, while the Restoration may have revolutionized science education in academia, science didn’t start only then at that time…

     
  19. David Collard

    May 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I have acted on this belief on occasion, ordering people out of my house if I felt they were infringing on my prerogatives. I am not a naturally aggressive man, but I know where my rights in this respect lie, at least in my own mind.

    Sometimes it can be tricky knowing where my authority begins and ends. For example, my parish priest was happy for my daughter to be an altar girl. I was not. So I forbade it. But I am not sure if this was the right decision. These powers have their limits. The bishop’s, the priest’s, mine as a father; but I think they do have meaning still, in their place.

     
  20. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    @ Thursday: “The real reason people have gone for liberalism and decadence is that they are safe, comfortable, and prosperous. Putting an religious, authoritarian government on top of that wouldn’t really change much. Conversely, a formally liberal regime, even one like that set up by the American founders, would work perfectly fine if it functioned, as it was designed, to restrain a fundamentally religious and parochial people. Freedom is an very important value. It just isn’t the only value.”

    “Which is why I have essentially no time for explanations that try to blame liberalism on Christianity/Nominalism/Protestantism/whatever. It’s the prosperity, stupid.”

    Agreed, on both counts.

     
  21. Will S.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    @ DC: I think the Cavaliers probably only seemed more patriarchal than the Puritans; I doubt in practice that they really were all that much different in family governance understandings.

    My position is pretty much the same as yours, that patriarchy is the natural state of mankind, and we would do well to hold fast to it, or rather, in our case today, return to it.

     
  22. jamesd127

    May 7, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Will S.
    > “The real reason people have gone for liberalism and decadence is that they are safe, comfortable, and prosperous.

    The Cavaliers after the restoration were safe, comfortable, and prosperous, but did not succumb to liberalism and decadence for quite some time.

     
  23. Prinz Eugen

    May 7, 2012 at 1:43 am

    We can also thank Cromwell for the mass enslavement of Irish and their deportations to the New World. I am not fan of the South with its supposed “Cavalier tradition” (which I think is vastly overplayed), though I do like Virginia. It must be said that while in both Revolutions Virginia played a key role it seems that in both they were quite reluctant.

    “Which is why I have essentially no time for explanations that try to blame liberalism on Christianity/Nominalism/Protestantism/whatever. It’s the prosperity, stupid.” –

    This is a pretty dumb statement. The entire problem with modern so-called “conservatism” is that it actually is a defense of liberalism. We can make no headway if we do not define what IS liberalism, what exactly constitutes “prosperity” ect. To do this we must definitely look at liberalism’s roots. This certainly is not the way.

     
  24. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 2:16 am

    We can make no headway if we do not define what IS liberalism

    It is a particular moral outlook. See Jonathan Haidt.

    what exactly constitutes “prosperity” ect.

    This one ain’t that hard.

     
  25. jamesd127

    May 7, 2012 at 6:01 am

    > The entire problem with modern so-called “conservatism” is that it actually is a defense of liberalism

    Not sure what you mean by this. Perhaps you mean that “conservatism” wants to roll things back to what they were a few years ago, so that today’s conservatism is last decades radical leftism.

     
  26. Prinz Eugen

    May 7, 2012 at 8:34 am

    James, Yes precisely. But not only that modern conservatism has come to advocate liberalism in its very virulent forms whether it is neo-conservatism or libertarianism.

     
  27. slumlord

    May 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Which is why I have essentially no time for explanations that try to blame liberalism on Christianity/Nominalism/Protestantism/whatever. It’s the prosperity, stupid.

    Umm…not really.

    It’s true that prosperity is a medium in which liberalism can thrive, but it doesn’t cause liberalism. Indeed, if we were to define what the aim of liberal social policy has been over the past century, it would be to provide a social environment and state apparatus which permit the separation of action from consequence. Wealth buffers stupidity. The welfare state, in addition to helping the genuinely poor, insulates the deliberately stupid from the consequences of their actions.

    Poverty permits no such luxury. Liberal ideas in a poor environment are Darwinian negative, and as such, poor societies on the rise are inherently conservative.

    The problem is that the wealth/liberal correlation breaks down completely amongst the Orthodox Jews and Educated trads.

    Religious values have societal consequences. Protestant values are not just associated with voting patterns, but also with economic prosperity, high levels of institutional functioning and low levels of corruption. Even architecture changes with religious ideals. Religion is very powerful social force and I think it should not be underestimated. In the former Yugoslavia, the difference between Catholic West, Orthodox East and Muslim invader is quite stark, even though everyone had the same level of income under communism.

     
  28. Prinz Eugen

    May 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Slumlord- The magnitude of liberalism’s evil goes predates the welfare state. In fact the welfare state really is just liberalism overcorrecting. Economic liberalism’s birth beginning in earnest in 18th century England came about with the mass dispossession of the lower classes by way of the enclosure movement. This is resulted in appalling conditions while the merchant class grew to have unprecedented wealth and power. The elite only relented to head off potential revolutions soon measures were taken to make the lower class complacent. This is what we essentially have now. Remember too that Marx always saw Capitalism as a necessary step toward communism, in so far as it destroyed the old Christian largely agrarian order, capitalism was “advancing history” this was a good thing from Marx’s perspective.

     
  29. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Slumlord:

    There are experiments that show that a sense of threat or uncertainty activates the conservative moral foundations. It is a psychological change, not people thinking about what works and what doesn’t.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/willwilkinson/2011/03/28/the-moral-default-setting-liberal-or-conservative/

    As for educated, prosperous trads, these personality traits don’t just respond to outside stimuli, they also vary between individuals at a genetic level. Some people are inherently more conservative, and therefore some people are going to be reactionaries no matter how prosperous they or their society is.

     
  30. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    A sense of threat or uncertainty also seems to activate supernaturalism, the basis of religion:
    http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2005/12/gods-of-cognitive-scientists.php

    And the conservative moral foundations are highly correlated with religion. When religion goes down, so do the conservative moral foundations.

     
  31. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    In other words, people’s psychology changes depending on how safe and secure they feel.

     
  32. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Off topic, but left liberals are literally crazy:

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/when-doing-good-is-bad-150274195.html
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/31/walking-the-line-between-good-and-evil-the-common-thread-of-heroes-and-villains/
    http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/print/3528

    Combine this with Jon Haidt’s finding that liberals can’t understand conservatives and one can see why the left is so vicious.

    A caveat: the application of this to some of the examples is highly questionable. The author of the original paper, and I am speculating here, only knows liberal psychology from introspection and so (falsely) applies this to every sort of heroism he admires. So, he rather stupidly conflates 9/11 firefighters and such with the “sociopathic altruist” type when it actually better fits with the Percy Shelleys and Che Gueveras of the world. There are almost certainly at least two types of “heroic” personality.

    So don’t focus too much on the poor choice of examples. The main point is this: when you add up the (experimentally well established) personality traits (novelty seeking, disrespect for authority etc.) that have (again, experimentally well established) correlations with political left liberalism you get something that is really close to a sociopath. Which is bloody brilliant! Add in a bit of moralistic self-righteousness and you’ve got a recipe for mass murder.

    (HT: Will Wilkinson. The worst sort of libertarian, but one with a real sense of curiosity about the world. Well worth keeping up with.)

     
  33. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    predates the welfare state

    But not rising levels of wealth.

     
  34. The Man Who Was . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    To balance things out, authoritarians (read conservatives) have an unfortunate tendency to get suckered in by power hungry assholes (Hitler, Nixon, Bush II, Cardinal Law) who don’t really share their concerns:
    http://mediotutissimus.blogspot.ca/2012/04/authoritarians-bob-altemeyer.html
    Which is why I do not think that liberalism in every and all circumstances is a bad thing. We need someone to hold those in power accountable.

    (One objection I have to this research is that you have to control for intelligence. J.S. Mill was right, stupid people are more instinctively conservative. But that doesn’t mean consevatism is stupid. The opposite side of this coin is Bruce Charlton’s clever sillies: http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.ca/2009/11/clever-sillies-why-high-iq-lack-common.html
    )

     
  35. Prinz Eugen

    May 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    But not rising levels of wealth.

    For the few. The majority experienced a sharp decline in wealth and security. Not to mention cultural and even spiritual degradation.

     
  36. Prinz Eugen

    May 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    “To balance things out, authoritarians (read conservatives) have an unfortunate tendency to get suckered in by power hungry assholes (Hitler, Nixon, Bush II, Cardinal Law) who don’t really share their concerns:
    http://mediotutissimus.blogspot.ca/2012/04/authoritarians-bob-altemeyer.html
    Which is why I do not think that liberalism in every and all circumstances is a bad thing. We need someone to hold those in power accountable”

    More like conservative liberals or ones who wish to conserve enlightenment values. Also the posion of liberalism is not necessary to hold those in power accountable. In fact liberalism has proved completely inept in doing this.

     
  37. jamesd127

    May 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    > Economic liberalism’s birth beginning in earnest in 18th century England came about with the mass dispossession of the lower classes by way of the enclosure movement. This is resulted in appalling conditions while the merchant class grew to have unprecedented wealth and powe

    commie propaganda. Everyone benefited from the enclosures, just as everyone benefited from industrialization. People were not forced of the land into the cities, they were drawn into the cities by the rapidly rising wealth created by industrialization

     
  38. Prinz Eugen

    May 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Ha thanks for demonstrating just how intellectually stunted most so called “conservatives” are. The Act of Settlement laws forced the population into camps from which one couldn’t escape without a “certificate” which was nearly impossible for one to get. Even Adam Smith condemned it! But I guess Adam Smith, Chesterton, Belloc and Thomas Jefferson were all commies? Right?

     
  39. Reggie Perrin

    May 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    This is an interesting subject. The relationship between Nazism and the Protestant churches was a complex one (and, sadly, most discussion on the subject on the internet consists of tedious polemics about whether Adolf Hiter was a Christian).

    Some conservative Protestants resisted the Nazis on biblical grounds, Niemöller and his colleagues in the Confessing Church being the most famous example. These guys became a magnet for wider resistance to the regime as the 1930s wore on – former socialists and even communists suddenly rediscovered their religious faith when their political organisations were smashed and the churches became the only sizeable centres of resistance to Nazism.

    Other Protestants favoured a Nazified Christianity – these were the “German Christians” under Bishop Ludwig Müller. This was the subject of great controversy – Hitler wanted these guys to take over the Evangelical Church (the united German Protestant body) shortly after he came to power, but he was thwarted by a mixture of popular resistance and President von Hindenburg, who was a traditional conservative Protestant.

    Many, many Protestants didn’t agree with the detail of Nazi ideology but saw Hitler as a bulwark of traditional German values against Marxism, or as a deliverer from economic collapse. This, for example, was the mentality among small farmers in pious Protestant areas like Franconia which had a high Nazi vote. The Nazis weren’t conservatives, but a lot of their rural Protestant supporters were conservatives and thought that the Nazis were on their side (after all, the enemy of my enemies is my friend – right?). They turned out to be horribly, catastrophically wrong, but they didn’t realise that in 1933.

    Theological liberalism is a bit of a red herring – whatever Schleiermacher and the Tübingen school had been getting up to in the universities since the 19th century, liberal theology had only made limited inroads among ordinary churchgoers by the early 1930s. The guy who suggested that liberal Protestantism paved the way for Nazism is misinformed about the social basis of Nazi support, as well as being guilty of a cheap calumny against liberal theology.

    The German Catholic community was altogether less friendly to Hitler, but there were exceptions to this. Cardinal Faulhaber was rather too favourable to him, at least in the early days. The Zentrumspartei was the last legal opposition party in Germany, and it dissolved itself in July 1933 when the church hierarchy decided to put its trust in a Concordat with a serial liar which wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Hitler’s first and only Vice Chancellor was Franz von Papen, a Catholic aristocrat who ended up resigning in (I think) July 1934 after the Nazis murdered two of his associates and put him under house arrest. If you sup with the devil, you need to use a long spoon.

     
  40. jamesd127

    May 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    “The Act of Settlement laws forced the population into camps from which one couldn’t escape without a “certificate” which was nearly impossible for one to get. Even Adam Smith condemned it! But I guess Adam Smith, Chesterton, Belloc and Thomas Jefferson were all commies? Right?”

    The act of settlement (better known as the Glorious Revolution) endorsed and enforced the existing relatively harmless theocracy of anglicanism, and prohibited the various theocratic factions from competing against each other, and prohibited them from using theocracy to advance the interests of some elements of the elite against other members of the elite.

    The prevented the holier than thou one upmanship of the puritans (I am holier than thou, therefore I get to have power over you to force you to be as holy as me). This one upmanship was legalized in 1828 by the Sacramental Test Act, when dissenters were allowed access to the levers of power, whereupon the non established religions suddenly developed an intense interest in social reform, in government welfare for the poor, the abolition of slavery, the emancipation of women, electoral reform, and so on and so forth, eventually becoming the lefter than thou progressives of today: (I am lefter than though, therefore I get to have power over you to force you to be as left as me.) The non established religions became, via the abolition of slavery and other exercises of political power, the established religion, which is now taught in academia (PC), and required for entrance to elite institutions.

    Members of today’s established religion compete fiercely each to be lefter than the other, resulting in the same dynamic that caused the puritans to be ever more oppressive. Through being ever lefter, the ever lefter new elite get to destroy and subjugate the old elite, destroying the institutions of western civilization in the unleashed struggle.

    Whereas struggle for power and wealth through the market is positive sum, and created all the wealth of modernity, struggle for power and wealth through the state is negative sum, destroying everything.

     
  41. Will S.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    @ Reggie Perrin: I see. Why do you think, then, that more Protestants than Catholics “saw Hitler as a bulwark of traditional German values against Marxism, or as a deliverer from economic collapse”?

     
  42. Dave

    May 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    A small historical point – I am descended from a long line of conservative Lutheran men. They left Germany in the mid-19th century because of the state interference in the churches. Reformed and Lutheran churches were being forced to fuse together without regard to theological differences – and this set the stage for a weakened theological background for the average Protestant German peasant in the 20th century. While mainstream Lutherans in America went left in the 20th century too, there is still a core of conservative Lutheranism largely descended from the Germans who fled in the 1800’s.

    Look at the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod or Wisconsin Synod to see what I mean. They kicked the liberals out of their seminary in the 60’s and they still refuse to ordain women. I would highly recommend a conservative Lutheran Missouri Synod or Wisconsin Synod church for the reactionary seeking a spiritual home which still respects patriarchy.

     
  43. Will S.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    @ Dave: Interesting; that parallels very much what happened with the Reformed churches in the Netherlands in the 19th century (I’m Dutch Reformed), in terms of State interference. So you’re saying, contra Reggie Perrin’s claims, that theological liberalism had indeed widely infected the Protestant churches in 1930s Germany? I figured that must be the case, what with the liberalism of the seminaries as early on as the mid-late 19th century; it couldn’t have no effect, surely.

     
  44. jamesd127

    May 9, 2012 at 12:14 am

    > “Theological liberalism is a bit of a red herring – whatever Schleiermacher and the Tübingen school had been getting up to in the universities since the 19th century, liberal theology had only made limited inroads among ordinary churchgoers by the early 1930s. The guy who suggested that liberal Protestantism paved the way for Nazism is misinformed about the social basis of Nazi support, as well as being guilty of a cheap calumny against liberal theology.”

    What now constitutes liberal theology in the twenty first century had only made limited inroads among ordinary churchgoers in the 1930s, but what constituted liberal theology in the late eighteenth century was pretty much the ruling paradigm by the early twentieth.

    If your church supported the forcible suppression of slavery and the emancipation of women in the nineteenth, it probably had gay bishops in the twentieth.

     
  45. jamesd127

    May 9, 2012 at 12:48 am

    “Many, many Protestants didn’t agree with the detail of Nazi ideology but saw Hitler as a bulwark of traditional German values against Marxism, ”

    What makes you think anyone saw nazis as the bulwark of traditional values? I don’t see anything about traditional values in the twenty five point Nazi platform, nor in Mein Kampf.

    Hitler only started going traditional values in 1934, after all elections had been permanently cancelled, as part of his program to encourage German women to breed.

     
  46. Reggie Perrin

    May 9, 2012 at 3:43 am

    @ Reggie Perrin: I see. Why do you think, then, that more Protestants than Catholics “saw Hitler as a bulwark of traditional German values against Marxism, or as a deliverer from economic collapse”?

    This is an interesting question. I think the reason lies in cultural identities rather than theology. Catholics had a stronger community identity, and so were more resistant to the allures of Nazism.

    The German Catholic community was a discrete bloc of the population, with its own distinct traditions and identity. Within living memory, it had already been persecuted by the state (Bismarck’s “Kulturkampf” in the 1870s). It had strong tribal, non-state allegiances.

    Something similar can be said of the working classes. For many urban workers, voting for the SPD wasn’t just a matter of political opinion, it was a tribal, cultural thing. You were a Social Democrat because your father had been one and all your friends and coworkers were. This provided a distinct subculture which was resistant to the Nazi alternative (even though the Nazis tried to claim to be “socialists” too).

    By contrast, German Protestants were the social mainstream who had been running the country until 1918. They were respectable, middle-class people or rural farmers. They were not a distinctive, minority subculture, and so had no discrete identity to serve as an alternative rallying point to Nazism.

     
  47. Reggie Perrin

    May 9, 2012 at 3:54 am

    What makes you think anyone saw nazis as the bulwark of traditional values? I don’t see anything about traditional values in the twenty five point Nazi platform, nor in Mein Kampf.

    By “traditional values”, I meant order, nationalism, militarism, discipline and resistance to the rising threat of Marxism. The Nazis vocally advocated these things in every period of their history. That is uncontroversial among historians. Of course, the Nazis also had radical, even revolutionary, aims – like all fascists, they were inconsistent in their position – but their radicalism was overlooked by a large segment of their electorate. The details and inconsistencies of their policies were irrelevant to a small Lutheran farmer in Silesia. Society is going to pot, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend. If these guys in brown shirts are against Marxism, they must be the good guys – right?

    On a final point, the 25-point programme wasn’t really treated seriously after the late 1920s. It was a relic of the early years of the party, and no attempt was made to implement it systematically.

     
  48. Reggie Perrin

    May 9, 2012 at 4:00 am

    What now constitutes liberal theology in the twenty first century had only made limited inroads among ordinary churchgoers in the 1930s, but what constituted liberal theology in the late eighteenth century was pretty much the ruling paradigm by the early twentieth.

    I don’t doubt that this was true in the universities and among the clergy (though there were still some very conservative pastors, Niemöller being one of them). The point is that lots of ordinary worshippers in the pews were either uninterested in or oblivious to what the Herr Professor Bauer or Doktor D.F.Strauss had been discussing with other scholars. They just turned up to church on Sundays, said the Unser Vater every night and worried about falling prices for their crops.

     
  49. jamesd127

    May 9, 2012 at 5:01 am

    > “I meant order, nationalism, militarism, discipline … like all fascists, they were inconsistent in their position”

    Fascism is a logically consistent position, and by and large, I seldom see fascists accused of inconsistency except by Marxists. The labor theory of value is logically incoherent. Fascism logically and emotionally coherent, while Marxism ties itself in knots with its logically incoherent surplus value theory, and its emotionally incoherent idea that proletariat will rule despite the fact that very few Marxists are the slightest bit proletarian, or even know any proletarians, whereas all fascists are members of the group that they intend should rule.

    By and large it is Marxists who favor order and discipline, though before World War II they were very much against nationalism. Recall all those Marxist complaints about the anarchy of the market, and Marx’s promise that labor would be organized in brigades military style. The fascists theoretically were not so keen on order and discipline, since though they did not like the anarchy of the market, they theoretically favored a less centralized structure than the Marxists. No central plans for fascists, or at least when they implemented central plans, they were embarrassed to call them that.

     
  50. Reggie Perrin

    May 9, 2012 at 5:50 am

    You’ll forgive me, I hope, if I don’t engage with the contentions that you make here. I was seeking to discuss the social and confessional basis of Nazi support, which is a historical rather than an ideological question. I have very little interest in the subject of Marxism.

     
  51. jamesd127

    May 9, 2012 at 6:07 am

    >. I was seeking to discuss the social and confessional basis of Nazi support, which is a historical rather than an ideological question

    Your account of Nazism struck me as heavily ideological.

    It appears to me unlikely that German protestants in the 1930s perceived and categorized Nazis in the way that Marxist influenced academics in recent years perceived and categorized Nazis, in part because the Nazis showed a different face after abolishing elections, in part because modern academics perceive Nazis through Marxist eyes, interpreting them as the opposite of Marxism when they were closer to being a variant of Marxism.

    I just don’t see Nazis showing traditional values in any way, shape, or form before 1934. Rather, the vote for the Nazis reflected the destruction of traditional values by hyperinflation.

     
  52. Reggie Perrin

    May 9, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Marxist academics categorise Nazism as being a mere facade for the economic interests of corporate Germany. This is simply incorrect. The Nazis’ main conservative allies, at least at the start, were the army and big agriculture, not big business (in fact, many businessmen thought that they were dangerously socialist).

    I would agree that Nazism and Marxism are akin in many ways – you’re perhaps familiar with Hannah Arendt’s “totalitarianism” thesis, which makes this same claim. Reich Chancellor Bruning (who was a Catholic) described the Nazis as the “brown Bolsheviks”, as opposed to the “red Bolsheviks” of the KPD.

    Nevertheless, it seems reasonably clear from the cotnemporary evidence that a large part of the Nazis’ appeal can be bracketed under headings like “traditional values”, “order and stability” and “restoring national pride”. I strongly resist (indeed, I rather resent) the suggestion that this interpretation is somehow Marxist. The evidence is that many of our hypothetical Protestants saw Nazism as an antidote to the economic collapse of the Depression and the perceived chaos of parliamentary rule and the Bolshevik threat. Of course, as we know, alongside their traditionalist policies, the Nazis were also radicals, seeking to emasculate traditional élites (including the churches), violently persecute the Jews and other enemies, and launch aggressive wars of conquest. But plenty of voters overlooked this in 1933.

    If you’re interested in contemporary sources, unmediated by academic commentary, I’d recommend Noakes and Pridham’s “Nazism” document readers – volume 1 deals with the Nazis’ rise to power, while volume 2 deals with their domestic policy in office.

     
  53. Reggie Perrin

    May 9, 2012 at 6:38 am

    “The evidence is that many of our hypothetical Protestants saw Nazism as an antidote to the economic collapse of the Depression and the perceived chaos of parliamentary rule and the Bolshevik threat”

    I should have added: “and the national humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles”.

     
  54. slumlord

    May 9, 2012 at 8:04 am

    @Reggie

    “Many, many Protestants didn’t agree with the detail of Nazi ideology but saw Hitler as a bulwark of traditional German values against Marxism, ”

    The polling data doesn’t suggest that. The Protestants seemed either to vote for the Nazi’s or the Social Democrats (socialist), The communists got their best showing in Protestant areas. That’s not to say that Catholics did not vote for these parties, it just that they were far less popular in Catholic areas.

     
  55. Reggie Perrin

    May 9, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I agree that Protestants had a tendency to vote either Nazi or Social Democrat. The wild card in Catholic areas was the Zentrum, which kept a lot of Catholics away from the Nazis (and other parties).

    The correlation of Protestant voters and the Communists is a new one on me. The Communists’ bedrock was young unemployed men, but I hadn’t been aware there was a confessional link.

     
  56. jamesd127

    May 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Reggie Perrin
    > Nevertheless, it seems reasonably clear from the cotnemporary evidence that a large part of the Nazis’ appeal can be bracketed under headings like “traditional values”, “order and stability” and “restoring national pride”.

    Restoring national pride, certainly, but not order and stability, and certainly not traditional values. Nazis were accurately perceived as “socialist, conspiratorial, and terrorist”. “Socialist” is not traditional values, and “conspiratorial and terrorist” is not order and stability.

    Rather, the rationale for voting Nazis was desperate measures for desperate times, that the old values had been proven false by hyperinflation and the widespread display of bad behavior by the elites during hyperinflation.

    After 1934, yes, you could say that the Nazis suddenly became fans of order, stability, and traditional values now that they were in power, but before 1934, they were conspiratorial revolutionaries, and their ranks were full of sandal wearing vegetarian spiritualist pagan polyamorists.

     
  57. Dave

    May 10, 2012 at 12:56 am

    @Will S.

    I suppose the precise point I am making is that those German Lutherans who took their confession seriously enough to do something about it had already left Germany 50-80 years before Hitler’s rise to power. Those who remained by the 1930’s were by definition those (both laity and clergy) who had the option of leaving to a better life and decided not to excercise it. I suspect this remaining population was less likely to care about purity of doctrine and more likely to put up with state interference in religion – a perfect environment for the NSDAP.

     
  58. Will S.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:02 am

    @ Dave: Ah. Interesting perspective; makes sense to me!

     
  59. Will S.

    May 10, 2012 at 1:07 am

    @ Dave: Chicken or egg question: Which came first: the liberalization in the 19th century German seminaries, or the exodus of the confessing Lutherans from Germany? Or were they simultaneous processes?

     
  60. Reggie Perrin

    May 10, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Restoring national pride, certainly, but not order and stability, and certainly not traditional values. Nazis were accurately perceived as “socialist, conspiratorial, and terrorist”.

    This quotation, I believe, comes from the German business community. You will recall that I noted above that the business community was averse to supporting the Nazis until very late in the day (broadly, the latter part of 1932).

    The Nazis, and the SA in particular, were indeed rightly perceived by many people as a disorderly rabble. This is one reason why Hindenburg and the traditional conservative élite waited as late as 1933 before bringing them into government (their electoral breakthrough was in 1930). Nevertheless, a large part of their appeal was the promise of order and discipline in society in place of the perceived chaos of parliamentary democracy. I am not aware that this is disputed among serious historians of any stripe – of course, you are welcome to improve my understanding of the subject by citing contrary evidence. The inconsistency between standing for law and order and engaging in street violence is simply part of a broader pattern of inconsistencies in Nazi and fascist ideology (much like its simultaneous reverence for the past and obsession with future regeneration).

    I feel sure that you share my contempt for polemicists who arrive at their interpretation of Nazism simply by inverting their own political commitments: hence, some on the left wrongly equate Nazism with the conservative right, while some on the right wrongly equate Nazism with socialism. The truth is a great deal more complicated: some conservatives (Protestants and others) looked to the Nazis as a bulwark of order against Marxism, while some radicals looked to the Nazis to stage a revolutionary transformation of society. You will not properly understand Nazi ideology unless or until you recognise the inherent inconsistencies of this nature. On the “right” side, the Nazis formed alliances with the conservative élite, but persecuted conservatives when it suited them; on the “left”, they followed Keynesian economic policies and did not allow the market to distribute resources, but they showed little interest in redistributing wealth frmo rich to poor or allowing labour to organise freely.

    the old values had been proven false by hyperinflation and the widespread display of bad behavior by the elites during hyperinflation.

    I am not aware of a single historian who attributes the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933 to the hyperinflation of the period leading up to 1923. I feel sure you will fill this gap in my knowledge. To be sure, the hyperinflation contributed materially to the instability of the Weimar Republic in a general sense, but the German voters had other problems to worry about in 1933. The Nazis were still getting less than 3% of the vote after the hyperinflation, in the late 1920s.

    before 1934, they were conspiratorial revolutionaries, and their ranks were full of sandal wearing vegetarian spiritualist pagan polyamorists.

    To be sure, there were always pseudo-mystics of this sort in the Nazi ranks, Himmler and Rosenberg being salient examples (Hitler himself had no time for their pseudo-pagan interests – though he did prefer a vegetarian diet – but that is another story). There were also orthodox Protestants and pillars of German society (the Kaiser’s son being one prominent example). Long before 1934, the Nazis drew their support from a broad cross-section of German society. Richard Evans referred to them as a “catch-all party of social protest”. As I said, you will not understand the Nazis as long as you continue to see them as a monolithic, coherent bloc. They were no such thing.

    I have a feeling that this will be my last post here. Please feel free to have the last word.

     
  61. Dave

    May 10, 2012 at 8:07 am

    @Will S.

    I’m not a complete expert on the subject, but the wikipedia article on the subject:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Lutherans

    Definitely puts the beginnings of the exodus around 1830. My forefather left around 1860 because he had heard that there was a need for confessing Lutheran ministers in America. Elites matter, and I suspect that once the elite corps of resisting confessing Lutherans had left the seminaries by 1850 then the liberals had free reign. It would be interesting to do some historical research on that subject to connect together the details.

     
  62. Will S.

    May 10, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Interesting. Thanks Dave!

     
  63. jamesd127

    May 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    > > before 1934, they were conspiratorial revolutionaries, and their ranks were full of sandal wearing vegetarian spiritualist pagan polyamorists.

    > To be sure, there were always pseudo-mystics of this sort in the Nazi ranks, Himmler and Rosenberg being salient examples (Hitler himself had no time for their pseudo-pagan interests – though he did prefer a vegetarian diet – but that is another story). There were also orthodox Protestants and pillars of German society (the Kaiser’s son being one prominent example)

    “Orthodox” being left protestants of the sort of whom it is said that he addresses his prayers to “to whom it may concern”, not orthodox in the sense of conforming to what was orthodox some decades earlier.

    Particular Identified Nazi voters, including the Kaiser’s son, just did not look like the traditional values crowd, nor did any nazi rhetoric before 1934 seek to appeal to traditional values.

     

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