The first principle of informed debate is to never allow the opponent an illogical initial premise. When reading Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”), the most important thing for a reader (especially one without a guide) to do is to pause at each statement and understand what makes it false – the first and foremost being his blaming everything on the Jews.
“Mein Kampf” reads like a conspiracy theory. He begins by seeing Jews in every institution he despises (conveniently blaming Germans’ behaviour in those fields on the Jews’ supposed influence) and goes on to build up a conspiracy theory in his head about Jews planning on taking over the world. Literally. By attributing invented motives to the entire race, and by seeing in each of Germany’s misfortunes the planned influence of the entire Jewish race, he sinks further and further into a sort of mania from which he never escaped.
The racist theory he’s known for – that of Aryans being the most superior race, springs from his notion that all the greatest creative advances in the world spring from the minds of men from the Aryan race. More than anything, this displays his (willful?) ignorance of the contributions of people around the world to science and progress, from the architecture and embalming practices of ancient Egypt to the mathematical, astronomical and medical knowledge of ancient India.
Although he proved himself a master manipulator, he conclusively proved little else.
“Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and , in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; but it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side.” – Adolf Hitler
One thing I admired about Hitler was his thorough understanding of politics. In the first volume of “Mein Kampf”, A Retrospect, he talks about the importance of building up a comprehensive understanding of ideals and opinions, or a Weltanshauung. This, Hitler believed, would mentally equip people to form their own opinions on current affairs, and would also prevent a person (particularly a politician) from being in a situation where he must either retract an earlier statement, losing the support of his followers, or continue to fight for a cause in which he has lost belief, which Hitler considered morally reprehensible and thought would lead to the ineffectuality of further activity in pursuit of that belief.
An interesting question is whether Hitler genuinely believed that Jews were the primary cause of Germany’s downfall until the end. From his book, his views on politics make clear that he has a poor opinion of the common man. He believed that multiple aims of a movement tend to divide its following, resulting in non-achievement of any of the aims. He thus suggests that one aim should be selected and impressed as the sole aim on the masses. He also states that altering the aims of a movement, once begun, can be detrimental to the movement as it opens up the fundamental principles of the party to debate and shatters the blind faith and obedience required to bring the movement’s aims to fruition. Could this be what happened with the Jewish question? We may never know whether Hitler stuck to his ideas till the end because he believed in them or because, despite being disillusioned, he believed retracting this belief would stop the movement and stop Germany’s efforts at grabbing back power.
Finally, it is easy while reading “Mein Kampf” to view it solely as a discussion on ideology and politics. Only when you read about the means he employed to reach his ends is it possible to understand to what extent he believed that non-Aryan races were lesser than human. Final words: Hitler’s mania might have been nipped in the bud if he had had access to unbiased information about other countries and nations. This speaks wildly in favour of educating children on world history and the promotion of international educational institutions. I read “Mein Kampf” mainly because I believe that every point of view is based on something, either fact or an experience, and I wanted to find out at what point Hitler’s statements veered from factual. I can happily say that after reading his defense of his beliefs, his very first premise is easily countered, making his entire argument, while extensive and on the surface well-rounded, entirely baseless.
I found myself agreeing with some of Hitler’s views on politics, including his opinion on the failings of the parliamentary system of democracy; on the whole, he displays a comprehensive understanding of national and world politics as well as psychology. It was truly sad, and instructive, to observe the effects racism, springing from misinformation and bias, had on a man with such potential.