From The Land without a Heart by A. E. Johann
It was not the goal of this book to discuss whether America can win the war, or whether it must lose it. But perhaps it has become clear —and that was my goal — that America does not deserve to win the war and spread its system over the entire world. There is nothing in the American system worth imitating, either for Germany or Europe. If Americanism conquered the world, it would mean the end of all human values and of genuine freedom — the freedom to do something, not from something! — of all the values for which Europe has fought and suffered for millennia, for which it has given all its strength of body and soul.
No European could exchange places with an American. America is a pitiable country and the Americans are a betrayed people, betrayed by their leaders…
From Europe and America:
Failures in Building an American People
The ideal of eternal success is a grave danger to a people’s morality. The result is that in the USA, people are valued only according to their success, ignoring all other measures. Such a view of life inevitably must attract materialistically-oriented people. The USA was their place.
Even before the World War, efforts were made to teach the “aliens” the language and ways of thinking of the country. Courses in Americanism included not only the language and government, but also attempted to build American national pride. This resulted in the desire for records and gigantomania that always amuses us. Lacking a significant political and intellectual history, the American is forced to build his national pride on technology.
Customs were another leading factor. The immigrants sought to adapt to them as rapidly as possible to avoid standing out. The growing standardization of life reached such an extent in the USA that independence became impossible. Everyone wears the same clothes, and thinking like everyone else is a duty. In contrast to Europe’s variety, this seems odd to us, but we should not forget that uniformity is about the only way Americans can experience community. This process of Americanization was successful, but also superficial. A type developed, but not a people.
Randall Bytwerk, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA), maintains an archive of Nazi and Communist propaganda from Germany. Both pieces were published in 1942, but they could have been written yesterday, and not necessarily in German.
13 thoughts on “The Land without a Heart”
One thing missing from most people’s understanding of Fascism is an appreciation of Fascist’s contempt for materialism and commerce. They hated America largely because we didn’t give a rat’s ass about their supposed “higher values” but instead just made stuff.
“And what is true of the leaders is even more true of the rank and file of the movement. The relative ease with which a young communist could be converted into a Nazi or vice versa was generally known in Germany, best of all to the propagandists of the two parties. Many a university teacher during the 1930’s has seen English and American students return from the Continent uncertain whether they were communists or Nazis and certain only that they hated Western liberal civilization.” — F.A. Hayek
“… just made stuff…” Like B-17s. Lots of them. And P-51s. Lots of those, too. The Germans have not made as much progress as they like to tell themselves.
And England was a nation of shopkeepers. The virtues of open societies inspire contempt on the part of those societies’ enemies, who see the broken window pane but miss the sturdy house surrounding it.
“Not necessarily in German,” indeed. See what some American religious leaders were saying in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Calling the English a nation of shopkeepers was probably the stupidest thing Napoleon said. The English are useless at keeping shops. That is why shops are kept by waves after waves of immigrants. I think he may have meant merchants, in which case he would have been right.
There are some interesting points about the ongoing hatred of America, not least by Americans, paralleled by hatred of the Anglosphere, not least by people of the Anglosphere. Andrew Roberts in his “Napoleon and Wellington” has some interesting facts about the Whigs of the day and their worship of Napoleon.
People do, indeed, forget about the “green” aspects of fascism/nazism and their hatred of what they thought of materialistic values, though they saw the advantage of those values to keep the people on their side. Communism, on the other hand, is devoted to materialistic values, which is why anti-American communist propaganda tends to be more confused or nuanced and the response to it has been rather more complex.
There is the additional point that one of the reasons Europeans express contempt for America is because they see it as the land of religion. Confused?
“And remember, folks, use only authentic belligerent European culture…accept no substitutes. We think we’re best, so why don’t the rest of you get with the program.”
What’s really funny is that I literally did a double-take on reading that those excerpts were NAZI propaganda circa 1940. I thought you were quoting current European writers and the “war” reference was to Iraq! The styles are indistinguishable. The more things change…
I, too, mistook those passages for current writings. Even Europeans living in American have “done me the favor” of sharing their hatred and contempt for America
I thought they were current too. it’s too ironic.
Thanks for linking to that propganda archive. It looks like a treasure trove of documents.
And yet, effective propaganda contains an element of truth. In these examples, rather large elements of truth – as made clear by the fact that it is so difficult to discern the difference.
Not only is it eerily reminiscent of current criticism from Europe, it’s also remarkably similar to things many thoughtful Americans might say; fondly yet ruefully.
And it’s underlined by dismissing it as “They hate America.”
Nonsense. America is much-loved on the whole, and justly so. But it’s tempered with an amused perspective on how little self-awareness Americans have, and how very little interest they have in other nations, or understanding that values differ. On the whole, we are viewed, accurately enough, I think as a large-breed puppy, just about growing into it’s feet and almost completely potty-trained. We are admired for our courage, but not our co-ordination. Others have learned that in our eagerness to be noticed and beloved, we are often unaware of where our feet may be placed, or notice that our happy wagging butts are in someone’s face.
We always seem honestly puzzled, and genuinely hurt when such gaffes are pointed out – and we are forgiven because we are adorable, and really do not understand that we are being bad.
The point of our culture being superficial is true enough – and given our history, it’s difficult to see how that could have been avoided. We are indeed “a type.”
Ask any Canadian.
Especially any Canadian border guard, who has to politely remind many Americans that Canada is, in fact, a separate sovereign nation, and does not recognise the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, much less concealed-carry permits.
(Canada politely maintains secure storage lockers for personal weapons at many border crossings, I believe.)
Of course it’s all a matter of relative perspective. Gandhi was once asked about Western Civilization. His response, “It would be a good thing,” was not primarily aimed this way.
“Propoganda” is, I believe, designed to persuade and the truth of the subject matter is not indicated without further comment. That is, “propoganda” can be factual, fabrication or a combination of both; it’s propoganda in any case.
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