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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
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3) Mein Kampf
by Adolf Hitler

Right, let's not lynch me. I've read the Bible, and I'm not Christian. I've read the Koran, and I'm not Muslim. Having read Mein Kampf does not make me a Nazi. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I've always believed in having informed opinions. If I'm going to denounce Christianity as a load of bollocks, surely I need to understand just what it is I'm disagreeing with. It is for this reason that I frequently became disillusioned in history or politics lessons. Nazism = bad was frequently drummed into our heads, without any reason behind it. Sure, Hitler had millions killed; but so did Oliver Cromwell, that doesn't mean that Republics are necessarily bad.

So, armed with this information, we follow Thinker into a year 9 History lesson. The topic, of course, is the Second World War, and Nazism, and how evil the Nazis are, and how every German person was a mixture of stupid and evil.

Surely not, thought I. Surely the German people were just.. mis-informed? Misled? Perhaps there was some vote-rigging? Surely, no mass population would ever vote in a leader on the promise of genocide?

Then, using a combination of dial-up Internet and real paper-based, non-Wiki encyclopaediae, I learned of a book called Mein Kampf. Written by Adolf Hitler, it detailed his mad thoughts, his insane ramblings, his ideals and, most of all, the story of his life.

Intrigued, I tracked a copy down, and bought it. I've no idea where the proceeds went to, actually. Still, a fiver's hardly going to re-establish a Reich, my 14-year-old brain reasoned.

And so, I read it. It was a frightfully boring tome, poorly written, and with the occasional outrageous statement going completely without support or backup. He'd make ridiculous claims about the Jews in general, and their evil, sick tendencies. I noticed, throughout the book, that the Jews were always treated as a collective. As were Communists, Gays, Gypsies and so on. But there were never Jewish scientists. No Jewish doctors, no Gay policemen, no Communists in the army. No, the Jews acted as a collective. One Jew was the same as any other. This helped to dehumanise them.

Of course, I don't want to go into repeating the book, or summarising it, or whatever. If you want to find out what it says, go read it.

The most striking thing, though; the way in which reading this hate-filled literary record of one madman's bile change my life; is how I read, see and hear eerily similar sentiments expressed today.

Replace "Jews" with "Immigrants", and you could be reading the Daily Mail. You could be listening to your favourite yob at the pub, or chav on the street, complaining about "Immigrants". The usual "coming over here, stealing our jobs" stereotype directed at non-whites in general is sickening.

Having read Mein Kampf, and learning about the horrors committed during World War II, I make terrifying extrapolations.

The Germans of the 1930s were no stupider, nor more evil, than the majority of modern Britons. Mein Kampf was nothing more than an early version of the Daily Mail. It politicised the thick, alerted them to the "injustices" against them, and it earned Hitler votes. It got Hitler into power.

With the rise of far-right nationalist parties such as the BNP, I fear the same thing happening in Britain. Ordinary, working-class Britons have no interest in politics. But if the BNP or a worse party could politicise them, feed them bullshit about the injustices they face, alert them to the evils of "the Immigrant".. it's very scary.

I believe that, had I never read Mein Kampf, I wouldn't see this in the same way. I could possibly have just followed, accepted that the Germans were stupid and evil, and that the modern British were above that.

I shudder to imagine myself as a Daily Mail reader. I'd like to thank Adolf Hitler for opening my eyes to what it could possibly lead to. I just wish more people were able to see.

That said, I obviously see how it'd be a bad idea to make Mein Kampf compulsory reading in schools.

Apologies for length. I can only hope it's not as dull and boring as the book itself.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 1:16, closed)
I've not read it
So I'm going to take your word for it all.

Some interesting points.

*clicks*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 1:22, closed)
that was a great post
Read it too and for the same reasons. I'm from Frogland where the book is a taboo. You name the Nazis, you write tons of lines about them and their wrong doings in essays and in 3h long history tests but you do not even touch the book, which was banned at the time. The idea is that touching it would make you nazi too. It even seemed loaded with supernatural powers like Evil Dead's Necronomicon. So once I moved to the US I found it on a shelf, bought it and was surprised how freely I could do so.

Now, the book is a huge disappointment. There is no structure at all in it. It jumps from blaming the Versailles treaty to blaming his old friends, blaming other German politicians, blaming the jews and then jumps onto something else. Each chapter is some sort of collection of his random thoughts of the day. It sorts of become obvious that Mein Kampf wasn't a book that was meant to be read, it's more of a thing you had to be seen carrying or that should sit on your bookshelf to impress the neighbours.

I believe the entire German nation got coaxed into it and following the violent repressions of the socialists, democrats, competitors on the far right, people started to use that survival instinct and accept whatever happened next. The book in itself isn't the thing that got Hitler elected. At least that's my assessment.

Oh yes and "terrorists" burnt the Reichstag. And Poland has weapons of mass destr... err. I'm stopping it here.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 2:12, closed)
That was a profound post.
*clicks*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 6:14, closed)
well put and well written
and a good point all round, except did Cromwell really kill millions of people?
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 6:45, closed)
^
Cromwell was an evil, genocidal fucker. "Sure, Hitler had millions killed; but so did Oliver Cromwell". Yup, they're on a par.

Cromwell was a nasty, nasty piece of work. (But then, anyone Irish would say that.)
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 8:06, closed)
interesting then that
he was voted among the top 10 Britons in a BBC poll in 2002...

yay for genocide....oh wait

the irish must have had weapons of mass destruction, that must be it!
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 8:52, closed)
funny thing
but many of the great dictators were half-educated, sociopathic and generally utter tossers. But they rise to the top in the same way that managers do - through egotism, arrogance and intimidation. Hitler beats the Jewish scientist because the scientist is too intelligent and too cultured to have a stand-up screaming match with an idiot. But the idiot taps into that huge pool of idiot in society who'll believe whoever is shouting the loudest (and has the best PR).
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 8:58, closed)
Well said, Frank.
Isn't it interesting though, that those with enough motivation to tap the 'pool of idiot' (loving the phrase) turn out to be the bigoted selfish sociopaths who use it to a negative end.

Wouldn't it be remarkable if someone were to 'tap the pool' to instigate a force for the greater good? (You educated folks will probably be able to name a couple!).
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:11, closed)
*click*
But don't think you're right to put Cromwell on a par with Hitler - there's a lot of ill-feeling about Drogheda and Wexford, for sure, but the seiges there weren't in line with the miliary and political thought of the time. And bear in mind that it was Cromwell who let the Jews back into England.

/bit of a Cromwell fan.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:16, closed)
Most excellent..
Exactly what this QOTW is about.

A well deserved click.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:20, closed)
Everything I know about Cromwell
I learned from the Monty Python song.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:21, closed)
To put Cromwell on a par with Hitler,
does he have to have killed as many or just took a good stab at genocide and/or the slaughter of a shedload of people he had successfully demonised as lesser beings deserving of no better fate?
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:27, closed)
Hmmm...
This could end up being like Dictat-Idol.

Pol Pot vs Cromwell!

Phone in now, your vote decides!
(Calls cost 5 a minute)
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:32, closed)
so
Cromwell can massively reduce the population of Ireland because he was nice to the Jews?

Enzyme, sweetie, finally we disagree :)
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:37, closed)
In honesty,
I've no great problem with Oliver Cromwell. There have been worse people throughout history; Genghis Kahn, the Crusaders, Atilla the Hun, amongst others.

Oliver Cromwell was simply the first to come to mind when trying to think of a controversial mass killer who was backed by an otherwise good idea- in his case, Republicanism isn't an evil, but many died for it.

I could probably have used most Roman Emperors, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, or even many of the British Imperial leaders, who had many killed, despite also bringing good.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:41, closed)
@CHCB
well, yeah, they were only Irish after all, it's not like they had any money.

*hopes that tongue in cheekiness of above post is properly understood by all*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:43, closed)
"a controversial mass killer who was backed by an otherwise good idea"
How about Jack "whore-free streets for all" The Ripper?
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:43, closed)
@chcb
Nyaaah. Cromwell's actions were entirely in keeping with what was generally accepted as proper at the time. The idea that he was a goggle-eyed fanatic is just not true.



At least, that's what my A-level history teacher told me. Hello, Dr D!
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:45, closed)
Quite.
Wiping out 40% of the population and altering the laws and social structure to exclude those of the religion he detested...
sounds not unlike that Hitler bloke. The "product of his time" argument isn't all that convincing.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:50, closed)
The winners
...always write the history books....
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:53, closed)
^ and the losers
write the folk songs.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:55, closed)
@CHCB
OK - but, even allowing that that happened, it wasn't a part of a political programme to "cleanse" Europe of Irish Catholics. Hitler's power was largely premised on eliminating Jewish "contamination". But English policy in Ireland had been something of a disaster from the point of view of most of the Irish for several centuries before Cromwell, and remained so for a long time afterwards. Cromwell was simply one part in a line; there's nothing all that special about him or anything that he did that couldn't equally well have been done by Charles had he still been on the throne (allowing for the fact that Charles possibly would have been better for the Irish simply by virtue of being too dumb to fuck them over).
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:58, closed)
*click*
I very much like this post.

I've never read this book myself, but my brother (who has) describes it as a rant. It's like it's been written exactly as he dictated, which would explain the fact that it jumps from topic to topic.

I will probably try to get my hands on a copy now though, so i can see what I'm dealing with.

Still, in regards to your quote of "Surely not, thought I. Surely the German people were just.. mis-informed? Misled? Perhaps there was some vote-rigging? Surely, no mass population would ever vote in a leader on the promise of genocide?" - I agree, and follow up with this

"the road to Auschwitz was built by hate but paved with indifference" Ian Kershaw.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 9:58, closed)
and everybody likes us...
...no matter how many of your lot we blow-up! Tiocfaidh ar la!




*please see above 'tongue-in-cheek' clause*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:00, closed)
Ah, you see baz
that's because you weren't "proper" terrorists, you all had white skin and you didn't do anything really bad, like kill americans. Plus we knew that deep down you're all just cheeky chappies who want to have a Guinness and a bit of a knees up with some fiddle playing.

*is worried he may bite his tongue if he keeps it in his cheek any longer*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:04, closed)
@Enzyme
Ooooo, English philosopher versus Irish archaeologist - the clothes gloves are off.

So, because Cromwell's intentions were slightly different to Hitler's (allegedly), because he was one in a long line of people fucking over the country, that makes the end result (death and decimation) more acceptable than Hitler's (death and decimation)?

Cromwell's message to Catholics was that they could go "to Hell or Connacht". Don't you think that reeks a little of ethnic cleansing?

Are we going to start debating the nature of evil now (pft!) or intention (problematic)? Besides, haven't you enough embryonic stem cell/abortion time-limit votes to hold your attention today...?
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:06, closed)
@al
sure they were only brits!



*tongue now taking root in cheek*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:06, closed)
tis true
they were only brits, and they were probably too polite to say anything when they got shot/blown up/dismembered and left in the woods so the bodies couldn't be returned to their families for burial apart from "oh gosh, i'm so sorry, I seem to have bled all over your balaclava, please allow me to pay for the dry cleaning bill".

I do apologise if this whole dialogue is coming across as dreadfully insensitive.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:13, closed)
Well, as an ethnic minority myself...
*my tongue hurts*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:18, closed)
Well, having read the Daily Mail on more than one occasion
I can confidently state that as a white British (honest, decent and hard working) male I have become a minority in my own country.

I blame the Irish myself, coming over here, stealing our jobs, using our nipple clamps etc.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:34, closed)
^
*shamefacedly returns nipple clamp and stops fiddling*
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:38, closed)
@al
You dont need immigrants to become a "white British (honest, decent and hard working) male" minority - you have dole-scrounging "Chavs" to do that for you.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:48, closed)
^
yeah, bloody chavs, coming over here, not stealing our jobs...
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 11:11, closed)
Very good
I might wind up reading that.
Interestingly, my Dad has a book called Unsur Kampf (sp?). This was written as a British response to Mein Kampf. Not sure what it says though, I think perhaps I should read both.
You are quite right about knowing your enemy too.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 20:41, closed)
.
Good post. Just out of interest, which edition of Mein Kampf did you read? The premise behind Harry Turtledove's alternate-history novel In the Presence of Mine Enemies (an alternate history set in 2010 where the Reich won WW2 and WW3) is that the first edition of Mein Kampf supported democracy.

PS. I vote Genghis Kahn for most evil despot. Hitler was just more efficient.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 0:07, closed)
An interesting take on it.
Gets a click from me.

There's some bloody good posts in this week's QOTW.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 10:49, closed)

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