Re: MEME: History, Nazis, and >H
Tue, 7 Dec 1999 20:35:24 EST

In a message dated 99-12-05 22:10:45 EST, Eliezer wrote:

<< For myself, I am not foolish enough to participate in the cosmic joke of regarding Nazi Germany as being peculiarly German, or Hitler as being "inhuman".>>

I agree, Hitler was in many ways all too human. "Inhumane" would be a better way to describe him, perhaps. In my own exploration of the human condition, I have confronted both the angelic and demonic aspects of being human (figuratively speaking, of course). It is by being aware of how easy it would be to fall over the abyss into evil that I hope to avoid it, recognize and defeat it in others, and at the same time find forgiveness for those who have erred.

>>I believe I can claim a passing familiarity with cognitive
science, and particularly what it means to be human. Hitler and the Nazis strike me as being human, almost archetypally human.<<

The Nazis were being human, and they did play on our tendency to separate out as "us" and "them". However, it is also this same humanity which has given rise to people who have turned their backs on divisiveness and recognised how closely related we are (granted, most of these have not been 20th century heads of state<g>).

>>The Nazi memes mesh with the built-in human mindware, which is how they
took over the whole country. There hasn't been any point in reading _Rise and Fall_ where I said: "But how could people do that?" It isn't a very pleasant experience, but it does reaffirm one's faith in transhumanism.<<

Transhumanism should reaffirm your faith in this regard since it is based on humanism, which is nearly diametrically opposed to Nazism, as well as reason and science, as opposed to the mystic irrationality of Nazism.

>>"Hitler was inhuman", you say. Why? Because you think of yourself as being "human", and everyone in your group must be good guys, and all the bad guys must be in another group.<<

This is always a dangerous conceit, that your side is all good and the other side all bad.

>>This group polarization reflex is, of course, one of the same pieces of
mindware underlying the success of the Nazi racial-superiority meme. By calling Hitler inhuman, one is demonstrating (1) that one shares the same basic mindware with Hitler and all other human beings, thus demonstrating (2) the falsity of (a)
one's own statement, (b) the Nazi philosophy, and (c) the mindware itself.<<

Okay, I would have to agree with that, though I'd argue for modifying the "mindware" as opposed to scrapping it entirely.

Glen Finney