Ideas Do Have Consequences

On this day, in 1925, a young German veteran, bitter in soul from the humiliating defeat of his nation in the recent war ‘to end all wars’, published a vitriolic book, Mein Kampf – My Struggle (or My War), while languishing in prison after a failed mini-rebellion in Munich (the ‘Beer Hall Putsch’) two years before. Adolf Hitler’s program – anti-Judaism, Deutschland uber alles, its own uber-patriotism, regaining her greatness through military might – was all there. The book, after its own initial languishing, became a best-seller. And what Adolf promised in writing, Adolf soon delivered in reality – but only because people – the volk – let him do so, hungering for a saviour who was not Christ.

After the war, the rights to the book were bought by the Bavarian government, and publishing made illegal – until 2016 and those rights ran out. So Mein Kampf is now back in print.

Ideas have consequences, claimed Richard Weaver in his 1948 book, just after the world had been devastated by what became knowns as Hitler’s war. But that idea itself goes back as far philosophy, and our own reflection on ourselves.

In all the movements before us, we should ponder their principles and their foundations before we support them, and resist them if they are unsound or even inhuman. I don’t think I need to remind the reader of what BLM stands for, behind its anti-racist façade. I am not much of one for censorship – it has its place is certain extreme forms, like pornography – but in general, free speech should have its way, and ideas defeated, or won, on their own merits, by vigorous debate.

This was the point of Pope Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg Address, which seems like aeons ago in his warning of what would happen if we strove to impose what we deem true by violence. As he declared: To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death.

Alas, there do not seem to be too many ‘reasonable souls’ around.

Without such dialogue, based on reason, or logos, ideas fester, and if we disallow have disallowed public, rational discourse, the only recourse is violence, as a young mother, Jessica Doty Whitaker, discovered simply for saying ‘All Lives Matter’. A group of ‘black men’ shot her in the head, after their verbal altercation, which sadly involved said BLM supporters, and the deceased’s fiancé, both pulling out ‘weapons’. She was apparently assassinated from a bridge. Examples of such wanton destruction – of statues, monuments, and, now, real people – could be multiplied ad nauseam, and this sickness may well be just beginning.

Yes, it seems we are already well into the violent phase. ‘Tis best, and far easier, to resist an error and an evil in its initial phase – while still just an idea – before it grows and becomes monstrous in its full consequences.

Stand up for the truth, as best you might. As the Germans, and the world, found to their peril, even if you’re not interested in totalitarianism and thought control, they are very much interested in you.