Statolatry: “a true, a real pagan worship of the State”

Statolatry: “a true, a real pagan worship of the State”
Non Abbiamo Bisogno,” Encyclical Of Pope Pius XI promulgated on June 29, 1931.

How the State Leads People to Their Own Destruction, Robert Higgs

I have been reading Konrad Heiden’s Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power, published in 1944. Heiden was a German journalist who fled Germany in 1934, and wrote several books on National Socialism and Hitler. It’s an amazing book filled with social history, and that makes it a bit ponderous (it’s the German, I think), but his “interlude” chapter on 19th century German intellectual and political history has the best two-page explanation of Hegelianism I’ve ever come across. Most of the book focuses on the 1920s and very early 1930s, given that Heiden fled Germany after Hitler came to power, that makes sense.

Heiden provides this explanation of how the idolatry of the state works, especially in a demoralized nation-state like post-WWI Germany:

These [the junior and senior leadership of the Nazi party] were concerned with more than power; many were out for more than advantages. They wanted their life to have a new meaning, their existence in society a purpose; their value for their own people was the one thing that gave their careers on earth any value. To many, and not always the worst among them, only faith in their fatherland had retained any meaning, their own nation had become God; if they hesitated openly to declare themselves religious unbelievers, Hitler had provided them with a suitable formula: “We know two Gods: one in heaven and another on earth; the second is Germany.” But “we” are Germany, Hitler had said on another occasion, and “we” meant “I.” And so there were people who prayed to Hitler, perhaps without realizing it was prayer. (p.631-632)

Statolatry Described,” by Charles Featherstone, The LRC Blog, December 19, 2007


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