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
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.
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:
an introduction to Peikoff's book, Ayn Rand describes The
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
as protection and ammunition. It
will protect you from supporting, unwittingly, the ideas that are
destroying you and the world."
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.
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
parties devoid of principles or direction and
moved at random by pressure groups, each demanding still more
"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.
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.
rise of defiant old-world racial hatreds disguised as
"ethnic-identity" movements and "affirmative
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.
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
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