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(15) Illun

I write the term “Hitlerite” and not “Nazi”, even if it sounds anachronistic and quaint—i.e. the sort of thing Noël Coward (whom I hate) would say, “Friffully awful time one’s havin’ with the Hitlerites, Margie dearest. Chin up, it’ll all be simply divine in the end.” “Nazi” is pejorative slang from Weimar Germany—there were also “Sozies” (Social Democrats) and “Kommies” (self-explanatory). If you watch Twitter, “Nazi” trends every other day because it’s just standard political abuse in the democracy and what it really means is “person who asserts innate differences between races and sexes—and/or asserts a traditional religious approach to life.”

To understand what it means to use the term “Nazi”, imagine if The New York Times ran an article after Pelosi visited Taiwan that read: “Xi Jinping, leader of China’s ruling Commie Party, made comments to a press conference today as regards Speaker Pelosi. Jinping urged China’s Commie activists to prepare…” You would think that the NYT had been taken over by some deranged drooling semi-senile member of the John Birch Society, who hid in a janitor’s cupboard at the NYT for thirty years until the moment to seize control struck. So extreme.

If you say “National Socialist”—as scholarly works mostly do—it blunts the term’s effectiveness for rhetorical demonisation. “Trump is a National Socialist” sounds vaguely absurd “Trump is a Nazi” is somehow plausible. The full term makes you think, “Hang on, is he a socialist? And if so, what is ‘national’ about his socialism?” It provokes questions; and it’s too long to vituperatively spit at people. I say “Hitlerite” because it’s a mouthful to write “National Socialist” and also because I think that what was salient about that movement was not “national socialism”—“You know, I would support Hitler, but I’m just not sure about his income tax policy”—but rather Hitler himself; it was a religious movement about racial survival that worshipped Hitler—and so “Hitlerite” is more accurate, “national socialism” was the pragmatic vehicle.


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