We must understand the philosophy of the times. Rousseau had begun a strain of thought which was the opposite of the growing capitalism and individuality of the English model.
A specific German strain became based on collectivism, or importance of society. Nietzsche had declared ‘God is dead,’ and with it had gone moral certainty. Man would live by the morality of the most powerful. Man himself could become the Superman. Meanwhile, Hegel had looked to the dialectic.
This was an ancient form of debate with an initial statement forming a thesis. The opposite was placed in the antithesis. The two were debated to produce synthesis, which became the new thesis. What Hegel realized was that this same system accounted for history, with a civilization forming, a counter society rising, the two battling it out to produce a new society, which caused the formation of its opposite, etc. And in doing so, mankind advanced towards the perfect State. And in the new Germany, the perfect State had been achieved, and everything was to be subservient to that State.
It was a train of thought that fuelled Germany from the late 19th century, and its final expression would be a continental fascism that created new governments in Spain and Italy, and finally Hitler’s Nazism. However, the economist Karl Marx also realized value in the dialectic. Writing against Adam Smith’s morality of the market, he saw it in terms of the clash of the classes, perfection being when the worker revolted against the capitalist boss and created the perfect society of equality, or communism – and it was this idea that came to Russia through revolution – an idea that could not be realised as leaders will always arise.
Meanwhile, the ultimate opposite to the collectivism of fascism and communism was growing across the Atlantic. Amongst the early settlers of America were the Protestant Pilgrim Fathers, and the planters of the south, who brought with them black slaves from Africa. They formed two systems – the growing capitalism of the north, and the agricultural society of the south.
Following independence Americans expanded west, subjugating the Native American nations. The north was unhappy with slavery and eventually most southern states withdrew from the Union. The American Civil War began in 1861, deciding whether their society would be agricultural with slaves, or capitalist with workers, the North eventually victorious and America rushing down the road of capitalism and mass industrialization. In 1929, the Wall Street stock market crashed, plunging the world into Depression – a Depression that the new Nazi Party of Germany under Hitler capitalized upon.
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