Peikoff.com > The Ominous Parallels

with an Introduction by Ayn Rand   

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"If you do not wish to be a victim of today's philosophical bankruptcy, I recommend The Ominous Parallels as protection and ammunition. It will protect you from supporting, unwittingly, the ideas that are destroying you and the world."  

— Ayn Rand

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Chapter 1: The Cause of Nazism

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The Oninous parallels by Leonard Peikoff 
Each of the philosophic principles essential to the rise of Nazism in Germany has a counterpart in present-day America.


Is the freest country on earth moving toward totalitarian dictatorship? What were the factors that enabled the Nazis to seize power in pre-war Germany? Do those same conditions exist in America today?

These are the questions raised — and answered, with frightening clarity — by Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's intellectual heir, in his powerful book The Ominous Parallels.

ominous parallels book cover"We are drifting to the future, not moving purposefully," Peikoff warns. "But we are drifting as Germany moved, in the same direction, for the same kind of reason."

Some of the "ominous parallels" between pre-Hitler Germany and the United States that Peikoff identifies are:
  • Liberals who demand public control over the use and disposal of private property — social security, more taxes, more government control over the energy industry, medicine, broadcasting, etc.
  • Conservatives who demand government control over our intellectual and moral life — prayer in the schools, literary censorship, government intervention in the teaching of biology, the anti-abortion movement, etc.
  • Political parties devoid of principles or direction and moved at random by pressure groups, each demanding still more controls.
  • A "progressive," anti-intellectual educational system that, from kindergarten to graduate school, creates students who can't read or write — students brainwashed into the feeling that their minds are helpless and they must adapt to "society," that there is no absolute truth and that morality is whatever society says it is.
  • A student radical movement (from the 1960's through the violent anti-nukers and ecology fanatics of today) who are, Peikoff maintains, the "pre-Hitler youth movement resurrected." The radicals are nature worshippers who attack the middle class, science, technology, and business.
  • The rise of defiant old-world racial hatreds disguised as "ethnic-identity" movements and "affirmative action."
  • A pervasive atmosphere of decadence, moral bankruptcy, and nihilist art accompanied by the rise of escapist mystic cults of every kind — astrology, "alternative medicine," Orientalists, extrasensory perception, etc.
In an introduction to Peikoff's book, Ayn Rand describes The Ominous Parallels as, "the first book by an Objectivist philosopher other than myself" and goes on to say that, "If you do not wish to be a victim of today's philosophical bankruptcy, I recommend The Ominous Parallels as protection and ammunition. It will protect you from supporting, unwittingly, the ideas that are destroying you and the world."

In brilliantly reasoned prose, Peikoff argues that the deepest roots of German Nazism lie not in existential crises, but in ideas — not in Germany's military defeat in World War I or the economic disasters of the Weimar Republic that followed, but in the philosophy that dominated pre-Nazi Germany. Although it was mediated by crises, Peikoff demonstrates that German Nazism was the inevitable climax of a centuries-long philosophic development, preaching three fundamental ideas: the worship of unreason, the demand for self-sacrifice and the elevation of society or the state above the individual.

"These ideas," Peikoff says, "are the essence of Nazism and they are exactly what our leading universities are now spreading throughout this country. This is the basic cause of all the other parallels."



 







 
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