Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany Table of contents Introduction. 2. Soviet Russia and the nature of human beings. 3. How was the nature of human beings reflected in Nazi Germany
1. The idea of the leading figures of the Enlightenment that human beings are by nature rational and good (or at least not evil) is rather interesting and controversial. This issue is increasingly important in this age of numerous philosophic and psychological approaches to the nature of human beings and the role of personalities in historical process. Many people believe that people have natural inclination to good deeds, but these people overlook many historical illustrations and facts which uncover a real transformation of human nature under historical and critical circumstances. Furthermore, such eloquent examples of human nature expression as Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany allow thinking over the nature of human beings deeply and substantially. This paper will argue that although human beings are by nature rational and good (or at least not evil), some outside circumstances and different aspects of their life can assert them to act in their own way, and the scale of such transformation can sometimes reach beyond the edge of our understanding of human nature. Human beings transformation in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany will be discussed, and these examples will show truthfulness of the thesis indicated above.
2. The distinct reality of the Soviet society is totalitarianism and the lack of human rights,
as well as planned economy which is a real obstacle for personal initiative: "It is one thing, however, to understand that central economic planning cannot work and that totalitarianism is inconsistent with the nature of human beings" (Crane, 1982). The Soviet state system was supported by people's fear of communist party and the KGB, and methods used by party leaders, especially in the beginning of the state existing, cannot allow thinking that human beings are by nature rational and good: mass repressions of political adversaries and many sections of the population, tortures and total terror. This system was created and provided by such communist leaders as Lenin and Stalin, but it couldn't be alive without a real support of ordinary people who took part in the actions indicated above. Was their human nature rational and good Yes, it was, but in the process of personal development humans were led by the crowd instinct and were under strong influence of psychological, social and ideological dictatorship of the Soviet state, and many people were inspired that their actions should be done for that state, and these people absolutely believed in their leaders: "Ideology in Russia is on the wane. The bright young university graduates who guided us around Leningrad and Moscow sounded like robots when speaking of Lenin and the Revolution (Crane, 1982).
3. The situation in Nazi Germany resembled that of the Soviet Union under Stalin's rule. Adolf Hitler won democratic elections and became a German dictator. Nazi party became the only power in the country and was able to dictate its own rule in the state policy and introduce new Nazi ideology: "Nazism stressed the superiority of the Aryan, its destiny as the Master Race to rule the world over other races, and a violent hatred of Jews, which it blamed for all of the problems of Germany" (Grobman, 1990). The main retaliatory body of the Nazi state, Gestapo, did numerous things which were directed to suppress the will of citizens and assert them to be loyal to the new state order. Numerous facts of cruelty and atrocity provided by Gestapo became known after the end of the war, and many people couldn't believe that human beings were able to do such things. Huge Nazi suppression machine wasn't able to exist without support of ordinary citizens, and some of them actively supported the regime. Were they rational and good by their nature Yes, maybe they were rational and good initially, by their nature, but, as well as in the Soviet Russia, their will became suppressed by state propaganda and fear to be killed or tortured by retaliatory bodies of the state. People who did such actions believed that they did them according to the ideological aims and for the purposes of their state.
4. The paper has argued that human beings are by nature rational and good (or at least not evil), but in some extreme situations they can do things which contradict human nature. This view will become increasingly dominant in the coming century, as there are still many wars and ideological conflicts in different parts of the world. We should deeply explore different aspects of human nature and do our best such events and situations not to be repeated in the future.
Crane H. Edward. Fear and Loathing in the Soviet Union. 1982. CATO Institute. (http://www.cato.org/special/berlinwall/crane1982.html)
Grobman M. Gary. Nazi Fascism and the Modern Totalitarian State. 1990. (http://www.remember.org/guide/Facts.root.nazi.html)