Chapter Twelve: The Socialist Roots of Nazism

At the time Hayek was writing, according to the English intellectuals and media who commented on Germany, Nazism had seemed to burst on the scene without much precedent -- to them it looked like some kind of fluke. In this chapter Hayek makes the case that is not so. He says that Nazism is solidly based on the previous socialist roots that had been growing in Germany since Bismarck's time in the 1880's.

Hayek gives a list of thinkers, both English and German, who contributed to the evolution. It's a good list.

The most interesting thing I saw in this chapter was the overt competition between English and German thinkers. Hayek is saying that Germany of the previous fifty years was a hotbed of intellectual thought, and much of it centered on finding a better way to do things than the English liberal way -- the way of soon-to-fail capitalism. The alternate ways that gained the most traction in Germany were the various forms of collectivism -- various socialisms and communisms. These were attractive because they resonated with the Prussian spirit of duty to the state being the highest form of aspiration, and this thinking had been intensified by the crisis of war.

These thinkers looked upon the War of 1914 (World War One) as a salvo in this war of philosophic competition, and while a setback, it had focused German thinking and liberated the German people to do more socialist experimenting. And further, that the reason Germans chose Nazism over Communism was that Communism was too international for their taste -- they liked the idea of aspiring for their nation, not some worldwide class struggle.

It's a good chapter to see examples of the gung-ho thinking of German thinkers in the midst of this tremendous crisis their nation was undergoing -- the two World Wars, the German Revolution, and the Great Depression.