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" Nowhere here does "Klemperer compare and contrast Communist mutation of language with Nazi mutation, which would have been a fascinating and valuable exercise"

 Book comment on Amazon:

Klemperer notes the Nazi appropriation of Christian words and rituals for Nazi purposes (while noting that “from the very outset National Socialism fought against Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular”). These ranged from ceremonial recognition of martyrs, the parading of relics, and the constant use of ewig (eternal), to the encouragement of idolatrous treatment of Hitler, where non-Nazi Germans would repeat to Klemperer, when queried about some disaster or horror, only that “I believe in him.” Klemperer also offers an unpopular opinion about Zionism—namely, that “it is undoubtedly the case that Nazi doctrine was repeatedly stimulated and enriched by Zionism.” In fact, he draws extensive parallels between the language of Theodor Herzl and Hitler—not that he blames Herzl for Nazism, or thinks he did other than mean well, but Zionism held no appeal for Klemperer, who was German through and through.

It is worth remembering that when Klemperer published this book he was living in Communist East Germany, where he had chosen to return (that is, to what was then the Soviet Zone) after the war, and where he had joined the Party and was later lionized by the East German regime. Apparently the third volume of his diaries, covering the postwar years, is somewhat critical of Communism, but far more critical, in an incoherent fashion, of the West. Nowhere here does Klemperer compare and contrast Communist mutation of language with Nazi mutation, which would have been a fascinating and valuable exercise. Quite the contrary—he bizarrely exalts Communist twisting of language as wonderful and clarifying. In one section, he claims that “the wealth of new technical terms [under Communism in Russia] testifies to something diametrically opposed to what it reveals about Hitler’s Germany: it points to the weapons employed in the battle for the liberation of the mind.” He them compounds this glaring and sycophantic error with “It is absolutely essential that we learn about the true spirit of different nations . . . we have been told more lies about Russia than any other. . . . . Gleichshalten (coordination) and Ingenieur der Seele (engineer of the soul)—both are technical expressions, but while the German metaphor points to slavery, the Russian one points to freedom.” I suppose, given his experiences, one can forgive Klemperer this ingenuousness, if that is what it is, but to any rational and informed person, this is vomitous.

Of course, the spirit of the LTI continues today among all modern ideologues; it’s just that most ideologues don’t have the grip over their society that the Nazis did, so the total impact is less. We see flashes of the LTI in the propagandistic plasticity of today’s leftist cant, most notably in areas where reality is denied by the Left but their view forced down on normal people by their control of the levers of education and culture (or what currently goes by that name). Thus, rather than “mutilation of the mentally ill,” we are told that we must use the new term “gender confirmation surgery.” Marriage is redefined to be something totally new, and we are told this is “marriage equality,” rather than forced identical treatment of things wholly different. Or, a less obviously propagandistic usage, we witness the forced use of “she” instead of “he” as the generic pronoun in all writing, claiming that it’s just a technical change, or mere fairness, when the real reason is to remedy fictional oppression, change modes of thought to coerce believing in that fictional oppression, and identify who is an enemy of the new regime. And here, just like the LTI, one forced shift in language is quickly followed by another, as we see that new usage now being mandatorily replaced by “they,” something ungrammatical, jarring, and conveying less, rather than more, information. I, at least, won’t use either stupid construction, in this life or the next.

All this is tied closely to the Left’s demand that reason be replaced by emotivism. As Klemperer says, and we can say just as well of today’s parallels to the LTI, “The insistence on the emotional is always encouraged by the LTI.” But “[e]motion was not itself the be-all and end-all, it was only a means to an end, a step in a particular direction. Emotion had to suppress the intellect and itself surrender to a state of numbing dullness without the freedom of will or feeling; how else would one have got hold of the necessary crown of executioners and torturers?” “The language of the victor . . . you don’t speak it with impunity, you breathe in it and live according to it.” Which raises the question—are we going to let the modern Left be the victors, in language or anything else? I sure hope not.

But on reflection, I don’t think that’s the right question. They won’t be victors, because they can’t be victors. It is increasingly obvious, despite surface appearances, that the behaviors of the modern Left are merely epiphenomena, the spastic dying lights of a dying political system, Enlightenment liberalism. The question, therefore, is not how to be victorious over the Left. It will defeat itself, as does, ultimately, anything that consistently and broadly denies reality, though it certainly doesn’t hurt, and is enjoyable and beneficial to mankind, to hasten the process of defeat. The question, rather, is what will replace it—some chthonic horror, the bastard descendant of the twin nightmares of the twentieth century, Nazism and Communism? []


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