Timothy Snyder and the Nazi Thing

I’ve long intended writing a piece with the provocative title of “the Nazi Thing” on the puzzling question of what it is about the climate debate which makes people on both sides resort to using language like “denier,” “death trains” on the one hand, and “eco-fascism” on the other, when it’s so obviously counterproductive. An example of an own goal from the sceptic side was this article by Tim Ball in which he talked about “the Big Lie”, which angered Professor Richard Betts, one of the few professional climate scientists who will talk to us, who responded with this.

I dropped the idea and took it up again when I came across a rather different and particularly bizarre example a year ago of the conflation of two subjects. It’s contained in two articles in the Guardian, the first being a review of “Black Earth” by Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale, and the second a long article by Professor Snyder  concentrating on the conclusion of his book entitled “Hitler’s World May Not Be So Far Away.”

The review summarises fairly Snyder’s original (to me) view of the Holocaust as being a result not so much, or not only, of a ruthlessly efficient state killing machine, but also, and necessarily, of the prior destruction of all state and social institutions in the countries in which the killing took place. Note that Professor Snyder does not deny any of the accepted facts about the Nazi killing machine, but points out that our Western view of the Holocaust, largely formed by accounts of the Nuremberg trials and Hannah Arendt’s account of the Eichmann trial, tends to ignore an important part of the evidence.

After several hundred dense and carefully annotated pages of analysis of the Holocaust, Professor Snyder adds a chapter entitled “Conclusion: Our World” which is an equally dense analysis of the present, and a series of predictions. The Guardian review summarises it thus:

This is not a comprehensive history of the Nazi genocide of the Jews, therefore, but a book with a thesis: and it is here that it really goes off the rails. In his concluding chapter, Snyder describes the Holocaust as an act of “ecological panic” […] In the 21st century, he speculates, rapid and destructive climate change could lead to wholesale food shortages caused by desertification of huge areas of the planet, or alternatively drastic economic collapse and state bankruptcies. The consequences of the destruction of the state, so obvious in eastern Europe between the wars, can now be seen in Iraq and Syria. Territorial conquest and exterminatory wars might occur with increasing frequency as the condition of the Earth deteriorates. China might invade Africa. Russia has already invaded Ukraine, mindful, as Hitler was, of its rich agricultural resources […] American evangelical Christians decry the work of scientists. Climate change, they say, is a myth, designed like so much else to give the state greater powers.[…] Such proposals seem reasonable enough, but do they really constitute lessons we should all learn from the Holocaust? […]His speculations about possible Chinese or Russian wars of conquest driven by the need for resources are wild in the extreme. This is a pity: much of this book makes for compelling and convincing reading, but tying historical arguments to ecological nostrums in this way does not really work.

***********

I’ve been reading the book, in particular the final chapter, in which he links the lessons of the Holocaust to climate change. As a serious historian, he meticulously references his statements.  Below I quote the major claims in his final chapter, and give his references. Note that the quotes are in fact my translations from the French edition (sometimes they correspond to whole paragraphs in his Guardian article, so they seem to be not too far off the original.)

[Please note: This article is about his scholarly treatment of climate change and his use of supporting reference, NOT about his thesis on the Holocaust. Comments will be moderated in accordance with my own desire to keep the discussion to the former subject]

******

The green revolution, possibly the only change which distinguishes our world from that of Hitler, may well have reached its limits. It’s not so much that there are too many people, but that this growing population demands ever more abundant and reliable food supplies. World production of cereals per head reached its peak in the eighties. In 2003 China, the world’s most populated country, became a net importer.

The reference for this last statement is:

Aliyu: “Agricultural development and “land grabs”: The Chinese Presence in the African Agricultural Sector”: Consultancy African Intelligence, 2012

Then follows a mention of the riots caused by food price rises in eleven countries in 2008 and 2010, referenced to

Moyo: “Winner takes all, China’s race for resources and what it means for the world”, 2012.

Then:

The civil war in Syria began after four consecutive years of drought forced the farmers into overpopulated towns. Indirectly, and along with other causes, climate change is provoking violence and South-North migration, reinforcing the far right and challenging the movement towards European integration. [no reference].

There follows a page and a half on Hitler and Lebensraum and the current fashion for post-catastrophic thinking in popular culture. Then:

The planet is changing in a way that could render more plausible the Hitlerian view of life, space and time. The predicted rise in average global temperatures of 4°C in the course of this century would transform human life over a major part of the planet. Climate change is unpredictable, which only worsens the problem. Present tendencies might mislead us as to the possible retroactive effects to come. If the icecap melts, the sun’s heat will be absorbed by seawater rather than being reflected back into space. If the Siberian tundra melts, the methane released will trap heat in the atmosphere. If the jungle disappears from the Amazon basin, it will release a huge quantity of CO2.

References for this are, on causality:

Maslin, Mark: “Global Warming. A very short introduction” OUP 2004

On Temperatures and causality:

Alexander, L.V. et al “Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation” Journal of Geophysical Research, 2006

Rohde, R. et al: “A new estimate of the average earth surface land temperature spanning 1753 to 2011”, Manuscript: text presented at the 3rd Santa Fe conference on global and regional climate temperature change, 2011

Zhang, Xuebin et al., “Detection of human influence on twentieth century precipitation trends”, Nature 2007

On predictions being too optimistic:

Rahmstorf et al., “Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011”, Environmental Research Letters, 2012

The Economist 22/9/12, “Arctic Ice: Now You Don’t: Summer Ice in the Arctic Ocean is vanishing rapidly”

The Guardian 27/11/12 [no reference, but probably this one by Fiona Harvey about methane]

On non-linear effects:

Maslin again

Mitchell, J.F.B. et al “Extreme events due to human induced climate change”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 2006

Latif & Keenlyside, “El Nino / Southern Oscillation response to climate warming”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 2009

There follow 15 pages of discussion of contemporary global politics covering Rwanda, Ukraine and a dozen other topics culminating in a discussion of the origins of Likud among the Jewish emigrés from Poland, where an anti-semitic Polish government in the thirties encouraged Zionism as a way of getting rid of its Jewish population. Then:

The US today resembles Poland in the thirties in the sense that there are more Christians than Jews who support actively the Zionist ideal. [no reference] Certain American political allies of Israel, like the Evangelical Christians, tend to deny the reality of climate change while supporting the fossil fuel policy which gives rise to it. Among these are millions of Evangelicals known as Dispensationalists who support Israel because they believe that disasters which happen in that country will announce the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Reference: Smith & Leiserowitz: “American Evangelicals and Climate change” Global Environmental Change, read in manuscript, 2013; and Leiserowitz, personal communication

There follows an interesting analysis of the American view of the Holocaust:

Americans, when they think of the Holocaust, take it as read that they could never experience such horrors… The historical reality is a bit more complicated. Racial segregation was the rule in the troops which Roosevelt sent to liberate Europe. At the time anti-semitism was rife in the US. The Holocaust was almost over when the American troops landed in Normandy. While they liberated certain concentration camps, they never came across any of the major extermination sites or saw the thousands of mass graves in the East…

A misunderstanding of the link between the authority of the State and mass slaughter underlies an American myth of the Holocaust which is dominant at the beginning of the 21st century: that the USA deliberately saved people from genocide enacted by arrogant states. According to this reasoning, the destruction of a state could be associated with salvation rather than risk. Certainly, in 1945 the US contributed to the destruction of the regimes in Germany and Japan, but they then went about reconstructing state structures.

There follows a critique of US policy in Iraq and of the analyses of the Frankfurt school of philosophy and social science (Adorno and Horkheimer) and of the Viennese School ( von Hayek):

Adorno and Horkheimer, in their influential “Dialectic of Reason”, start (like Hitler) from the idea that “bourgeois civilisation” is on the point of collapse. They reduce the scientific method to a question of practical domination, without understanding (again, like Hitler) the reflexive and unpredictable nature of scientific investigation.

The disciples of the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek hold that an overblown welfare state leads to national socialism, and therefore prescribe deregulation and privatisation as a remedy for all political ills. Though handy, this account is historically indefensible. There has never been a democratic state which has constructed a system of social welfare and then succumbed to fascism (or communism)… In an extreme version of market utopianism (which Hayek himself opposed) the Vienna School merges with the thinking of Ayn Rand; competition represents the very meaning of life. Hitler thought the same thing.

His critique of Hayek and defence of state intervention to correct the extremes of unbridled capitialism ends thus:

In practice, societies bent on profit engender exterior costs to which they have no solution. The classic example of this externality is pollution, which costs nothing to the polluters but is harmful to others.

And the references for this are:

Powell, James: The Inquisition of Climate Science 2011

Oreskes & Conway: Merchants of Doubt, 2010

Farley, John W., “Petroleum and Propaganda: The anatomy of the global warming denial industry”, Monthly Review, 2012

Union of Concerned Scientists: “Got Science? Not at News Corporation” 18/10/2012

Weart, Spencer, “Global Warming: how Skepticism became Denial”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2011

Then:

Though the science of climate change is clear, certain American conservatives deny the validity of the science and describe its conclusions as a political scam, a confusion of science and politics which could prove very dangerous…No American would deny the science of ballistics, but some deny climate science. Hitler denied that science could solve the fundamental problem of nutrition, but supposed that technology would enable him to conquer territory. It followed that relying on research was absurd, and immediate military action was the answer. In the case of climate change, the denial of science similarly lends legitimacy to military action rather than investment in technology. If people don’t assume for themselves the responsibility for climate change, they will blame others for the ensuing calamities. Insofar as climate denialism obstructs technological progress, it may provoke veritable disasters, susceptible in its turn of rendering catastrophic predictions more credible.Thus a vicious circle may develop, in which politics collapses into ecological panic.

references:

Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925-26

Thomä, ”Sein und Zeit im Rückblick: Heideggers Selbstkritik”, 2001

Genette, Gérard, Figures I, 1966

Robbe Grillet, Alain, Pour un nouveau roman, 1963

The footnote which gives these references is followed by:

“The denial of climate science poses serious problems for the US Navy; confronted with the probable flooding of its bases and the reality of competition for the Arctic.

*******

And that’s it. Here are a few brief footnotes to Snyder’s footnotes.

1) His first and apparently principal source of information (referenced twice) is Maslin, Mark: “Global Warming. A very short introduction”, a kind of “Climate Change for Dummies” published in OUP’s series of very short introductions. We know Maslin. He’s a frequent contributor to the Conversation, for instance here where, under a picture of camels in the snow, Mark entirely failed to persuade Paul and me that scientists know much at all, and he and his editor Willy de Freitas agreed that censorship was not the way forward, shortly before banning me. And at “Why I’ll talk Politics with Climate Change Deniers but not Science” where Paul, Barry, Foxgoose, Rog Tallbloke and I tried unsuccessfully to get him to talk to us about politics or anything else.

2) The only other general survey of climate science cited is “Powell, James: The Inquisition of Climate Science 2011.” From Amazon’s summary:

Modern science is under the greatest and most successful attack in recent history. An industry of denial, abetted by news media and “info-tainment” broadcasters more interested in selling controversy than presenting facts, has duped half the American public into rejecting the facts of climate science―an overwhelming body of rigorously vetted scientific evidence showing that human-caused, carbon-based emissions are linked to warming the Earth. The industry of climate science denial is succeeding: public acceptance has declined even as the scientific evidence for global warming has increased. It is vital that the public understand how anti-science ideologues, pseudo-scientists, and non-scientists have bamboozled them. We cannot afford to get global warming wrong―yet we are, thanks to deniers and their methods.

3) Two of his citations (Rohde, Leiserowitz) are from unpublished manuscripts, i.e. stuff his friends told him. One of them is in support of Snyder’s apparent belief that millions of Americans are looking forward to the destruction of Israel.

4) Some of his citations seem to bear no relation to the subject they are supposed to support. For instance: in support of “temperatures and causality” he cites a paper by Zhang et al on “Detection of human influence on twentieth century precipitation trends”.

But the worst example is the final paragraph quoted, in which his prediction that:

…climate denialism …may provoke veritable disasters, susceptible in its turn of rendering catastrophic predictions more credible. Thus a vicious circle may develop, in which politics collapses into ecological panic”

is supported by references to Mein Kampf; a critique of Heidegger’s self criticism; a series of essays by a French narratologist; and an essay on the French “new novel” by a French author of new novels. This barrage of references from the outer reaches of European philosophy is immediately followed by an unsupported claim that the US Navy fears that their bases will be submerged.

5) His important point on the externalisation of the costs of pollution – a key criticism of unbridled capitalism – is supported with reference to a number of weirdo conspiracy theorists (Oreskes, Spencer Weart etc.)

*****

Snyder is a highly respected academic working in a field far from climatology. In his own field of the history of the Holocaust he demonstrates all the qualities we expect from a reputed academic, supporting his theses with references to the best authorities. But when he proposes links between his own historical field and that of climate science he drops all scholarly standards and quotes any old conference paper or telephone conversation he feels like; mad activists and conspiracy theorists like Oreskes and Powell; or Mark Maslin, a professor-cum-company director who combines his job at my old university as palaeontologist or geographer or climatologist (all descriptions of his expertise taken from “the Conversation”) with that of director of Rezatec Ltd, a company set up by the Royal Society as a “Leading provider of data-as-a-service geospatial data analytics” to serve those who may be worried to death by forecasts of eco-doom to be found in the books and articles of Mark Maslin.

The more Maslin cries “we’re doomed” at the Conversation, or in his teeny weeny dummies’ rough guide at Oxford University Press, the more the world’s deciders are likely to decide that they need the services of a leading provider of data-as-a-service geospatial data analytics. And the more Maslin, director of the leading provider of data-as-a-service geospatial data analytics, is cited in a major historical work on the murder of tens of millions, the better it is for him and his fellow venture capitalists at the Royal Society.

Win-win, or what?

As I said above, This article is NOT about the Holocaust, or Snyder’s interpretation of it. It’s about the use of evidence, in the form of references, and by extension of the trust we can place in academics who stray outside their chosen field. I may moderate comments here, depending on how I feel. I would like to pass this post on to Professor Snyder, so I want it to look as if it’s read by normal human beings.

22 thoughts on “Timothy Snyder and the Nazi Thing

  1. Geoff Chambers I had two immediate thoughts after reading your scholarly work
    1) [What] trust can we place in academics who stray outside their chosen field”? Most of the original climate science alarmists so strayed. Climatology was somewhat of a backwater of geography with few practitioners. Look at the problems caused by those straying into statistics. Interestingly (to me anyway) we would give very firm advice to undergraduates doing their final year dissertations not to stray blindly into a different area of science (if only because the thesis might well be marked by someone with that same speciality).

    2) Amateurs (and students) tend to use secondary literature, rather than primary sources. It is an indication that the author does not know the primary literature well and either has taken a shortcut, or has no real interest in delving into the innards of a subject. They thereby run the considerable risk of being overly influenced by the author(s) of the secondary literature. You see it all the time when evaluating student’s work. One of the main ways of conveying a love of science is to get students to read and appreciate primary literature.

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  2. I endorse Alan K’s comments.

    I’m saddened to see Timothy Snyder’s standards apparently slipping in this way. I have read his book “Bloodlands” and was very impressed, both by his written style and by the depth of his scholarship. I may give the latest effort a miss, or then again I may look out a copy to see if I agree with your criticisms. After all, I can hardly criticise his apparent use of secondary sources, while relying on a secondary source myself!

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  3. ALAN KENDALL

    Thanks for making those very interesting points. It’s good to have confirmation from within academia of what is only a hunch of an outsider.

    On the question of studying the primary literature: pre-hockeystick, the historical multi-century temperature record compiled by Hubert Lamb was based (I believe) on archive records of such things as the date of grape harvests, and the classic work was the massive “Histoire du climat depuis l’an mil,” (1967) by Emmanuel le Roy Ladurie. In a later, popular work, in 2007 the author paid his respects to the work of Mann and Jones for adding to the sum of knowledge, without discussing their work. In the latest version of his big history he criticises their work, without seeming to have properly understood it.

    In retrospect, it is astonishing that the IPCC, and hence the world, should have accepted the word of a statistical study of treerings on a bare mountaintop in the Rockies against centuries of human testimony. You don’t need much knowledge of cultural history and the philosophy of science to understand why the testimony of mediaeval monks written in Latin doesn’t stand a chance against statistics. But the fact that the two kinds of testimony have not been properly confronted is a disturbing reflection on academic practise.

    Snyder’s study poses a slightly different problem. Snyder’s reputation and scholastic integrity is in a different league to that of the Leiserowitzes and Maslins on whom he bases his findings. But where is the historian of note who will challenge the credibility of his sources?

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  4. MARK HODGSON

    Don’t give his book a miss because of me! What I read of it (and I confess I skipped large chunks, since I only had the French edition) was very good indeed. Where I knew a little about the subject (on the treatment of Jews in France) his treatment and the sources he quoted were credible. But his main point is that our view of the Holocaust is distorted precisely because the major part of the tragedy happened in the East in countries where all state structures had been annihilated, and the sources are therefore less accessible and less familiar to us in the West.

    Otherwise, you can read his long article in the Guardian which I link above, which summarises the book. I didn’t quote from it here simply because my interest was in his sources, rather than his thesis.

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  5. Geoff. An interesting comment – “You don’t need much knowledge of cultural history and the philosophy of science to understand why the testimony of mediaeval monks written in Latin doesn’t stand a chance against statistics. But the fact that the two kinds of testimony have not been properly confronted is a disturbing reflection on academic practise.”

    The testimony of medieval monks, so long as it doesn’t involve religious doctrine, should stack up well against tree-ring and other proxy temperature data simply because they consititute first hand observational data. Such and similar data (like court records) has indeed been used by those trying to date the maximum advance of LIA glaciers in Norway and the Alps. I used to illicit gales of laughter when I quoted (in translation, and in my best Sesame Street Swedish Chef voice) dated documents about destitute farmers overwhelmed by the glacial advance who were seeking parish aid.

    I suspect the confrontation you hope for hasn’t occurred because of Snow’s “two cultures” Climate scientists don’t want to waste their time using whatever latin they retain, and those capable of translating difficult to obtain medieval monastery records (and the like) are not interested in climate.

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  6. Geoff

    I will look out for the book, and will read it if I come across it. I’ve browsed the Guardian link now. I’m slightly puzzled as to why Snyder wrote as he did, as it seems a strange link to make, but maybe I’ll understand better when I’ve read the book. Then again, maybe in the world of academia and publishing, signing up to the climate change mantra is now essential for a successful career?

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  7. The real problem with the CAGW is that it appears to be a a poorly conceived ploy to deliberately harm the coal industry, in favor of the natural gas industry. The actual science behind this is nonexistent. No part of meteorology has any training or experience with electromagnetic field theory, or the generation and propagation of electromagnetic flux in a dispersive media such as Earth’s atmosphere. James Hanson (astronomer) wrote two conflicting papers on the the atmosphere and temperatures of Venus. That is it; there is nothing else!
    By 1970 the US Air Force Cambridge Laboratories had the most highly developed science on atmospheric optical effects. These studies were concerned mostly with electromagnetic atmospheric absorption and scattering from 0.2 microns to 700 microns over atmospheric slant path lengths from 10 meters to 400 km. It was well known at that time that gross flux absorption is immeasurable without source distinction from the source and the flux “from” (generated by), the intervening atmosphere. All of the field measurements used amplitude or spatial ‘modulation techniques’ for this required distinction. That data is still known as the HiTran data base, maintained now by Harvard University.
    The only ‘institution’ to misuse this database for calculation of gross EMR flux attenuation was NASA Goddard under the direction of that same James Hanson. The rest is the history of the greatest pseudo-science scam ever! This scam needed no conspiracy; only gross incompetence and greed!

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  8. Alan Kendall says: 04 Feb 17 at 7:02 am
    ” One of the main ways of conveying a love of science is to get students to read and appreciate primary literature.”

    Oh yes! Read up on the thought and tribulations of Max Planck, Jimmie Maxwell, and even Issy Newton; each trying to learn and understand “What da hell is going on?”

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  9. Will. I am not sure if you are agreeing with me or not, although recalling previous conversations I suspect the latter. But once again we probably are in fact agreeing. You are talking about the state of mind of scientists who, when doing science, do not have the answers and therefore are struggling to comprehend, to find simplicity and thereby understanding. This, as you might be pointing out, can hardly be called “love”, at best it is frustration, at worst downright hatred. No what I was referring to was that feeling you can get by reading the work of others, others who have fought their way through the morass of incomprehension. I, and I believe all my teaching colleagues, would supply reading lists for our students, in the hope that they might become enthused by the significant contents of those papers, or sometimes by the novelty of the methods employed. I suspect only a very small percent of students actually ever read any, unless in connection with marked assessments. For many years it was not considered cool to be a “swot”. I recall one student, who went on to do a doctorate with my wife, who wanted to continue his reading during a week-long field trip. He had to hide away in our cabin. Now there was someone who fell in love with his science, read voraciously, and went on to fight his own battles with incomprehension. A palpable success, but not really of our doing.

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  10. I’m bored with endless rehashing of historical events. Can there really be much more to say about Hitler and the two wars especially when historians all seem to be cut from the same cloth? Adding climate change at the end is just an attempt to make it relevant. Sure climate change could be part of future conflicts but then so could a million other things.

    Warfare is very easy to understand and is as much part of humanity as going to the loo. Little that Hitler did was remotely unusual other than the scale and era of weaponry. You can see the fundamental behaviours from the playground, through democratic governments and on to ISIS. From 1066 to the Iraq wars. People want stuff, power, sex, admiration, etc. They use persuasion but also violence to get what they want. They form groups, often using shared aggression to cement them together. It generates safety from outsiders but also warns insiders against detaching (see Brexit). Gangs get bigger by defeating or co-opting other groups. Leaders of other groups can either join as a subordinate or be attacked. Resisting the gang is dangerous and unlikely to win you friends from within the gang even when the gang disperses (see post WW2 Europe and UK relations). It sounds like Snyder is rediscovering this in the Nazis spread across Europe.

    The Jews were an obvious target. They were outsiders, even as they lived amongst ordinary Europeans. Exclusion can be along many lines. Skin colour, religion, sex, sexuality, wealth. What excludes or includes people will change over time, but rarely are there no outsiders. Party politics is a ‘them and us’ construct. Even liberals have their chosen deplorables. At the moment it’s Donald Trump, his voters and anyone who wants out of the EU. It doesn’t matter that on a scale of 1 to Hitler, the actions of those people are very mild, they’re in another tribe. Trump’s behaviour is no worse and a lot better than many UK Muslim men (and I’m not talking about terrorists) but you’ll rarely hear a condemning word for such a prehistoric outlook. Sure, there are far better examples of humanity from every religion and every part of the planet but so what? What makes Trump so evil? Because he’s wealthy, because he’s white, because he’s the president or because attacking him is a group defining behaviour? Similarly attacking sceptics has little to do with what we say and everything to do with which side we’re perceived to be on.

    The thought goes – that if we can foresee the set up for the next Hitler, we can stop it happening. Thus we get a proliferation of alarm calls about all sorts of attitudes, behaviours and hazards but those pundits are as blind to many of the relevant signs as we were before the rise of the Nazis. Western governments are experimenting with enforced integration, allowing far more immigration than has been seen before. The predictable result isn’t better mixing but more segregation. The newcomers form their own groups rather than apply for membership of existing ones. Multiculturalism didn’t just let people be outsiders, it positively encouraged it. The three monkeys policy of the liberals doesn’t make the enmity go away, it hides it. It even makes it worse because genuine grievances cannot be aired and addressed. The risk is that eventually the pressure escapes in an unpredictable manner (see Trump and Brexit). I’m not saying that we were on the point of war but if you ignore people long enough, someone will arise who offers to speak for them. What might be asked for in return might be more alarming than dealing with the original problems.

    I’m sure that Snyder would be horrified at the idea that the EU is a civilised version of what Hitler was up to. We have expansionism and the forced creation of a new empire. We have the absorption or destruction of local governments. We have military ambition and aggression towards neighbours. We have the social exclusion and demonisation of groups (eg those worried about immigration). The language used by the EU towards Brexit Britain would make one think we were the EU’s vilest enemy, not a long time ally and contributer. Even the climate change plans are inflicting ideological choices on people, regardless of hardship or opinion. I’m sure that Hitler and many of the Nazis thought that they had good reasons for doing what they did.

    The seeds of warfare and atrocity have always been there and always will be. The hard part is working out which will germinate and why. Looking backward won’t tell us anymore than we already know.

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  11. Alan Kendall says: 05 Feb 17 at 6:33 am

    “Will. I am not sure if you are agreeing with me or not, although recalling previous conversations I suspect the latter. But once again we probably are in fact agreeing. You are talking about the state of mind of scientists who, when doing science, do not have the answers and therefore are struggling to comprehend, to find simplicity and thereby understanding. This, as you might be pointing out, can hardly be called “love”, at best it is frustration, at worst downright hatred. No what I was referring to was that feeling you can get by reading the work of others, others who have fought their way through the morass of incomprehension.”

    Rest assured it is the reading the actual work\history of those competent to do such work is where you grow to love to be able to do something comparable. I do not find anything that I do understand, “simple”, but instead ‘frustrating’ and even ‘horror-able’, because my understanding at best is so sparse.
    10 years of daily work to ‘start to understand Maxwell’s equations’. If I try to put myself in Max Planck’s shoes, with the measurement techniques in his time. Hands in air screaming ‘alles ist kaputt!’ I love having someone that interested, asking what I do not know! “I don’t know either, lets go find out”.

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  12. It is an astonishing failure of rational thinking to believe that “Hitler’s world” had anything to do with climate….except: The climate madness of today is chillingly similar to the social madness that inspired so much of Hitler’s dark vision: eugenics. And eugenics was the “cutting edge”, “science based” movement of its day. Eugenics was promoted by the intelligentsia. Eugenics was enshrined in laws in the progressive nations of the world. Eugenics was resisted by people that the academy rejected as throw backs and anti-science. In other words, eugenics corrupted the debate in the public square and in the salons and parliaments of the mighty and allowed a failed Austrian hater to use eugenics as one of his primary rationalizations to justify not only the Holocaust but the wholesale slaughter of the feeble and handicapped as well.
    The climate kooks of today are at least as corrupt. As, sadly, this book review points out.

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  13. I wish I could find time to pursue this further. Maybe someone else can, and report back here. J J Ray at his extremely useful blog GreenieWatch reproduces an email from someone who has reviewed Snyder’s book, and who did not like in one bit:

    Black Earth was a collective endeavor. 14 archivists and librarians dug up the data. 30 academics and publishing execs reviewed drafts and submitted recommendations. The book was released simultaneously in every European language. It became a bestseller in four countries and won numerous awards.

    Snyder is American-born but is better known in Europe than the USA. Much of his success derives from his involvement with the Vienna-based Institute for Human Sciences which employs 40 academics with funds from the Austrian and German governments. Their mission is to overcome obstacles to Central and Eastern Europe integration through re-writing history with “thematic daring.”

    While not an outright work of Holocaust denial, Black Earth, forcefully deploys the controversial genres of: Holocaust Obfuscation, Double Genocide Theory, and Holocaust Inversion.

    Black Earth is also a meticulously crafted enviro-propaganda text concluding with a long, preachy chapter on Global Warming. The book devotes more page-space to Climate Change than to Auschwitz. Snyder’s opinions about the dangers posed by Climate Change place him among the strident fringe of the Global Warming faithful. He argues future Holocausts can be prevented with carbon taxes.

    More damning still, near the end of the email:

    Uniquely, Snyder’s team clumsily and unsuccessfully tries to use Hitler’s allegedly idiosyncratic ecologism to exonerate Europe’s other fascist dictators (whom he treats favourably) from any guilt for Hitlerite crimes.

    The book traffics in anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism; both staples of Euro-fascism. The book overflows with a militant statism seldom heard in the English-speaking world. (To fascists, of course, the state-building project is a manifestation of the divine.)

    Black Earth is a battle cry for Pan-German oligarchs and their ultranationalist Polish, Ukrainian, and Baltic clients. Snyder wrote this book while writing reams of articles for the mainstream media defending the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s lawfully elected government. In those articles, and in Black Earth, the Russians, particularly Vladimir Putin, are demonized. Most critically, Russian (and North American) fossil fuel reserves are deemed an existential threat to Earth’s ecosystem.

    Tim Snyder is a Benedict Arnold. He’s an Ezra Pound. He’s a Tokyo Rose. His portrait shall forever hang in that shameful gallery of treasonous Americans whose ideology, vanity, and greed drove them into the arms of foreign reactionaries determined to scuttle the American project.

    A Google search helped me track down what seems to be the book review by the email author, one William Kay: http://www.ecofascism.com/review40.html

    That looks to be even more animated about the book. It concludes with these paragraphs:

    Snyder’s shoddy scholarship and professional anti-Americanism come together in his treatment of German novelist Karl May. Snyder claims the opening of the American West inspired Hitler’s craving of lebensraum in the East. He argues that Hitler was a great fan of May whose novels romanticized the Cowboy-Indian conflicts of late 19th century America. However, as Mark Musser has pointed out, in May’s novels the Indians were the heroes and the colonists were the bad guys. (7) May’s books bemoan the opening of the West. Thus, Snyder tossed out a hypothesis without having researched the matter.

    Lastly, Climate Change is not a topic about which Europeans can simply agree to disagree and then move on. Accepting the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis, and implementing the corresponding catastrophic energy policy changes, are conditions precedent to maintaining friendly relations with the EU. As Trump marches the English-speaking world out of Europe’s Climate crusade transatlantic relations will surely plummet. At the same time, and to the further mortification of the Europeans, US-Russia relations are due for a thaw. After all, it was not Moscow that mounted a multi-decade economic warfare campaign against the energy infrastructure of the English-speaking world under the guise of Global Warming; no, that was our “allies” in Brussels.

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  14. That’s fantastically helpful John, thank you – encouraging, even, in articulating some of my deepest misgivings about the whole climate scene. I don’t have time to look further into it for now but I’m very glad to know where to find the links.

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  15. As a libertarian voter I can assure you that most of what our opponents say about each other is true. Left-Right unidementional politics goes from Soviet International Socialism to German National Socialism, the biggest difference being how much Christianity is in the mix. That 1932 all-socialist Gestalt model does not fit 2017 at all well.

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  16. the biggest difference being how much Christianity is in the mix

    Kissinger reported that when he met Mao face to face the guy was obsessed with the fact he was going to meet Jesus to give an account of his life. An embarrassment to the advocate of realpolitik but it shows that the real picture may be more complex than most people think.

    On how much Christianity was “in the mix” with the Nazi variant of socialism, what do you consider the best sources? I’ve read quite a bit on the Vatican’s shameful record and so-called Christian anti-semitism but also on heroic dissenters like Bonhoeffer and this lesser-known confrontation with a tortured suspect in the courtroom of the horrific Nazi ‘hanging judge’ Roland Freisler after the failed July 1944 plot to kill Hitler:

    Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin … stopped Freisler in his tracks when he said ‘Yes, I have pursued high treason since 30 January 1933, always and with every means. I have made no secret of my struggle as a commandment from God. God alone will be my judge.’ At that point proceedings were halted by air raid sirens. American bombs flattened the courthouse walls, and Freisler was killed by falling masonry. Kleist’s trial was resumed in February 1945; he was executed in early April.

    That’s from page 715 of Michael Burleigh’s “The Third Reich – A New History”. Which historians do you think give the best overview of this fascinating and complex subject?

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  17. I told Kleist’s remarkable story on Thursday partly because I think behind Nazi smears of present-day political opponents, as Snyder has in effect done, albeit in quasi-scholarly fashion, is a deep desire to be like the brave German confronting Freisler in our own day. (The God part is, I think, orthogonal. That’s a sentence I didn’t know I was going to write!) Somebody else I was very conscious had done a similar thing a week ago, perhaps against his better judgment, was Jewish historian Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler.

    I’m indebted to Hilary Ostrov for a retweet that has alerted me to the fact Brendan O’Neill also spotted Rosenbaum’s article among the welter of current Trump-Hitler comparisons. Even the title of O’Neill’s spiked piece, Calling Trump a Nazi is its own kind of Holocaust denial, expresses something profoundly important. The author hits every target, for me, including the strange congruence of Trump’s statement on Holocaust Memorial Day not mentioning the Jews. The only pertinent thing Brendan doesn’t mention is “climate denial” and its cognates. But highly recommended.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. JOHN SHADE (08 Feb 17 at 3:11 pm)

    The information you provide on the sources of Snyder’s research in a multinational academic organisation is fascinating, though it shouldn’t affect our judgement of the value of Snyder’s work. The very well researched review you link to is from a site called “Environmentalism is Fascism,” which brings me back to the question in my first paragraph.

    The first seven paragraphs of the review are about the publishing company Bertelsmann (owner of Penguin and Doubleday among many other media outlets) its history of publishing Nazi propaganda during the war under the grandfather of the present owner, and its connection with the Club of Rome. It’s very interesting but it tends to reinforce the impression that the very able author William Kay is a bit of a Torquemada, aiming to root out environmentalism as a heresy, rather than persuade people of its silliness.
    I must recommend his article on “The Online Enviro-critical Community” http://www.ecofascism.com/article33.html
    since it mentions this site, right after Jo Nova, WattsupWithThat, the Air Vent, and Real Science.

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  19. RICHARD DRAKE
    The Rosenbaum article you link to deserves great respect because it’s written by an expert in the process of changing his mind about something important: He has this thoughtful comment about a conversation with Alan Bullock:

    Bullock, then nearing 80, told me how students of Hitler were often misled to focus on his vicious anti-Semitism. In fact, Bullock had initially argued, it was likely he had believed in nothing … Hitler was a “mountebank,” Bullock exclaimed, a con man who played the Jewish card, using it to whip up rowdy enthusiasm and give the impression of a movement. This is the comparison I’d been seeking…

    And such a comparison, in the hands of a thoughtful person like Rosenbaum, may be enlightening, just as a comparison of the rise of environmentalism with the rise of other eccentric political movements appealing to people’s anxieties and seeking scapegoats to blame may be enlightening. But putting those thoughts under the heading “environmentalism is fascism” destroys any effect they might have.

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  20. Geoff: Not sure I was as impressed with that part of Rosenbaum. From everything I’ve read Hitler was both an open, rabid antisemite and an opportunist of rat-like cunning. I really like Rosenbaum’s retelling of the story of the Munich Post though. Let me come back to that.

    I agree with you about ‘ecofascism’. For one thing I concur with Ben Pile that our situation in 2017 is very different. (A brief summary of the great man’s view!) I’m probably a bit more sympathetic to Delingpole on this kind of thing than you are though, because the climate propaganda battle has been so asymmetric. As with all such invective I object to it far more in the mouths of pseudonymous actors who can stir up hate online without incurring any reputation price, as pundits like James, and indeed Tim Ball, pay every day. (Rosenbaum of course gives the example of ‘nyms during the election campaign sending him messages like “I gas Jews” which is far more serious.) I have a lot of time for the US Jewish writer who a week ago penned The Perfect American Storm: Incivility, Anti-Intellectualism, Tribalism pointing the finger squarely at social media. But that’s probably taking us towards some of my hobby horses away from your chosen topics for this thread!

    Meanwhile this

    But if they’re this inept perhaps they’re not as dangerous as recent furious analogising suggests?

    And such a comparison, in the hands of a thoughtful person like Rosenbaum, may be enlightening, just as a comparison of the rise of environmentalism with the rise of other eccentric political movements appealing to people’s anxieties and seeking scapegoats to blame may be enlightening. But putting those thoughts under the heading “environmentalism is fascism” destroys any effect they might have.

    Yep. I’ve never subscribed to Godwin’s Law as would-be inhibitor of such comparisons. We do well to understand what went wrong in 30s and 40s and that’s not easy. Current events can shed light, as well as the other way around. Above all, heroic examples of those who, despite their limitations, stood up to tyranny, like the writers of the Munich Post, are always precious nourishment. We just shouldn’t kid ourselves that we face the same level of challenge when we don’t. Kleist had been horribly tortured for goodness sake. The other defendants were, in Burleigh’s account, crushed by the failed plot, followed by torture and the screaming public denunciations of treason by the judge. But one guy wasn’t. I know I’ve never had to face anything so extreme but at least I can know what I’m shooting for!

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