Hey Everyone: Stop Freaking Out That Mein Kampf Sells Well As An eBook

from the know-thy-enemy dept

So, hey, you guys remember that Hitler guy from a while back? You know, the one who occasionally is posed as the KFC colonel, or who can be found ranting about the DMCA process, and is somehow worked into every bad argument about anyone with whom people are in a disagreement? Well, it turns out he was also a guy who, years back, was a real bastard and sometimes enjoyed writing down exactly how and why to be a bastard just like him. Those writings were called Mein Kampf, the manifesto that later became the blueprint for the Nazi party, who, as you know, were organized around the idea that a political party could, in fact, personify evil. Then America, all by themselves, with absolutely no help from Britain or Russia, dismantled Hitler’s Germany and restored all that is right and beautiful to the world (history, as I learned it in American public schools…). After that period, reading Mein Kampf, or owning it, became taboo. Efforts were made in Germany, in fact, to ban the book outright. Being seen in public with a copy would be tantamount to accepting its ideals, because we humans apparently don’t understand anything at all.

But now, in the era of eBooks, it turns out that Mein Kampf is a hit once more, and it has certain well-meaning advocacy groups chasing enemies that don’t exist.

“While the academic study of Mein Kampf is certainly legitimate, the spike in ebook sales likely comes from neo-Nazis and skinheads idolizing the greatest monster in history,” World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer told ABC News in an emailed statement. “We think that responsible companies shouldn’t profiteer from the sales of hate books, or at least should donate the profits to help the victims of anti-Semitism, racism and other like bigotries,” he said.

Put more simply, popularity of the book as recorded by sales numbers means that the Nazi movement is returning and no company should allow the book to be sold. Or, if they do allow it, they should donate all profits to those who fight bigotry. Bigot is an interesting word however, which is in part defined as “a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.” You know, like someone who would label anyone buying a book of bad ideas and immediately decide those same people were deficient enough to not know they’re bad ideas. Freedom of speech and thought is most important when it concerns speech and thought that is downright dastardly. After all, how are we to know who the bastards are if we don’t allow the bastards to tell us they’re bastards? Even more to the point, how are we to learn they’re bastards if we don’t listen to or read them? The entire phrase “Know thy enemy” apparently eludes Mr. Singer.

Which, as it turns out, is almost certainly besides the point. People aren’t buying Mein Kampf on eBooks because they’re neo-Nazis. They’re interested in one of the most well-known historical figures of our time and they can finally read the book, while disagreeing with it, on the subway without everyone else looking at them like they were the scum you clean out of your bathtub.

“The popularity of the digital Ford translation of Mein Kampf has surged due to academic interest in the subject.” Elite Minds President Michael Ford told ABC News in an email. “With digital readers, no one faces the stigma of having a copy of Mein Kampf on their bookshelf or risks it being seen on a table and having visitors make false assumptions about their reasons for owning it. They can read it in the subway without fear of being mistaken for a racist just because they want to learn about history,” Ford said.

It’s so obvious, I can’t believe anyone actually missed that. Because guess what else became hugely popular on eBook platforms? 50 Shades Of Gray, and I’m thinking it’s highly unlikely that most folks reading that novel are into that level of kinky sex. It’s a controversial book that some might find embarrassing to read in public with a huge book cover broadcasting the undertaking. Just like Mein Kampf.

So quit it with the moral panic. You can’t claim to understand the genesis of the Nazi party, or really even World War 2, without reading that book. Yes it’s evil, yes it’s wrong, and yes it was the ravings of a mass murdering lunatic. But reading it doesn’t make you the same and knowing the mind of an enemy is more important than burying hateful speech.

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Comments on “Hey Everyone: Stop Freaking Out That Mein Kampf Sells Well As An eBook”

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Anonymous Coward says:

oh God! not ‘reds under the beds’ all over again, is it?

Hoover proved to be a real bad guy and there were numerous complaints about his tactics, tactics that are being acted out again now, but this time by the NSA. everyone in government was afraid of him back then and it appears that the same fear has re-manifested itself today

Luke says:

“Efforts were made in Germany, in fact, to ban the book outright.” -> Not just efforts, the book is actually banned in Germany (as are most Nazi traditions, writings and insignia). You can buy old books in antiquarian book stores, but you can’t sell any new editions (both based on the copyright owned by the Bavarian government until the end of next year, and hate speech laws). The only thing allowed is research or quoting parts embedded in academic commentary for stuff like high school textbooks.

David says:

Re: Knowledge

The main problem with this kind of book is that it works. It’s easy to forget that intolerance is a natural impulse that’s more easily and readily evoked than its counterparts.

In today’s world, the danger that reading such a book will make you an adherent to Nazi ideology is not all that large. That it will teach you how to hatemonger for fun and profit is a larger danger, and the “war against terror” and other “national security” nightmares are to a good degree pulled almost straight from the book.

Sea Man says:

“history, as I learned it in American public schools…”

Funny, I went to American public schools, and we learned that we did not defeat the Nazi’s alone. You must have went to some shit schools…that, or you just wanted to inject some unrelated liberal hogwash into your story. Either way, that entire sentence had no place in this article.

Anonymous Coward says:

The real issue here is that most people talks about this book as if it were written by the devil and its purpouse is to convince people to burn every bible in the world.

You should have a look at the good things he did because there are a lot of those too.
btw Israel took a lot of advice from uncle Adolf so it cant be that bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So you believe that the church is evil. Does not matter what good, if any they have done?

The church has been responsible for everything from child molestation and the following cover up to protect the perpetrator to mass genecide?

So, none of their good deeds deserve to be recognised?

nobody important says:

scare tactics and strawmen

What this article misses, is just how much of Mein Kampf is still valid today.
While the points where the author’s bias has prevailed (Versailles Treaty and antisemitism), it talks about problem of strong, but somewhat excluded, social groups that are unwilling to integrate with the rest of the society, they live in and political/financial groups of international influence range, that may have interests contrary to the countries they work in.

These are a hot topics even today – in Europe and USA both (and not only there). I’d say that even on this blog the later topic is a reoccurring one.

The fact, that the solutions presented were flawed doesn’t make the problem bogus.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: scare tactics and strawmen

This. Too many people don’t seem to understand the difference between a bad idea and a bad implementation of a good idea.

Ask any doctor, particularly an oncologist: Just because you can correctly diagnose a problem doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to treat it effectively. But having a bad treatment plan, or even an utterly disastrous one, doesn’t mean that the diagnosis was wrong.

See also: Karl Marx

nobody important says:

Re: Re: scare tactics and strawmen

See also: Karl Marx

Well, utopian socialism (just like (probably) original Christianity) was actually an unworkable idea, as it ignored the fact that there will be people willing to play the system and the system has no way to compensate for it past a very low margin.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:3 scare tactics and strawmen

“Sodom or Gammorrah[sic] how Christian tollerance[sic] works”?

Uh, Sodom and Gomorrha were not exactly destroyed at a time where “Christianity” was on the horizon. According to the Bible they were destroyed by The Being One rather than by religious practitioners. Actually, Lot begged to have them spared.

nobody important says:

Re: Re: Re:2 scare tactics and strawmen

I’ve never compared Christianity (the social movement) to Nazism.

Now, comparing Catholicism (in any of its forms – be it Orthodox, Roman or Protestant) to Bolshevik Communism is on the other hand quite fitting. Both are are cults of One God in Many Persons (clergy and party, respectively).
Protestants may distort it a little by not having a central node, but that just shifts control/benefits to the local authorities.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: scare tactics and strawmen

See also: Minarchist Libertarianism and the Austrian School

Unworkable, impractical and underdeveloped past “Taxation = theft” and “The market will provide.”

They keep forgetting that the market isn’t free and that, to access it, you need to have money and that money needs to circulate.

The only thing they say that I do agree with is the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. I don’t like it, but it is true.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mein Kampf is a disgusting book by a disgusting mass-murderer, and anyone who reads it as anything other than a cautionary tale of insanity and bigotry is dangerous – and yet, I would never support censorship of this or any other such book.

But how utterly ironic it is! The people who complain about a book “idolizing the greatest monster in history” should probably consider ACTUALLY reading a different book that quite literally “idolizes” someone who, only through an accident of history, didn’t HAVE the tanks and planes and battleships that Hitler had, but still managed to commit genocide on a scale previously unknown, using only swords.

For just ONE example, this book says “These be the words which [redacted] spake unto [redacted]… Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Ja’haz… and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. … Then we turned and went up the way to Ba’shan, and Og the king of Ba’shan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Ed’re-i. … And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Hesh’bon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city.”

Disgusting book, not just by and ABOUT a disgusting mass-murderer, but a book that enthusiastically PRAISES him (no surprise, since he supposedly wrote it). Where are all the outraged protests about THIS one being popular as an ebook, eh?

Eol says:

It is popular because it is a taboo

It is a fact that there is a lot of idiots in the world, which means a lot of people reading such a book will not look at it with criticism and some may even agree with the ideas. I?ve met people like that: ?if it?s written then it surely must be true?.

And this is precisely why it shouldn?t be banned. Banning things, especially books, is counterproductive. It makes people curious. It makes people want it. There are many examples of books being a success just because they have been banned, not because of their overall value. So I?m always surprised when it happens, over and over again. Because people have known how it works for a long time now (e.g. the whole Adam and Eva business, if we talking about books), and still they keep making the same mistake.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: It is popular because it is a taboo

“Banning things… is counterproductive. It makes people curious. It makes people want it.”

This needs to be repeated whenever possible. As someone who grew up in the 80s video nasties scandal of the 1980s in the UK (and thus obtained crappy 5th gen VHS copies of everything on that list before my 18th birthday), it amazes me that people think that whining loudly about something actually achieves anything.

Then, of course, there’s the old adage – “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. In that light, we should all have access to the roots of Nazism, to allow the ammo needed to stop them from growing.

Also, I’ve not read the work itself, but are there qualities worth looking at other than its author and legacy? As a cinema fan, it’s fascinating to watch thematically and politically disgusting works like Birth Of A Nation and Triumph Of The Will due to what they achieved artistically.

Dances With Goats says:

the dogshit rule

So if you get your scooper out and pick up dogshit, put it in a box, tape the box shut, wrap it in plastic then bury it, the contents turn toxic, nasty, slimy and stink like you would not believe.*

Light and air turn dogshit into inoffensive dry, white chalky crumbly things that fall apart when you try to scoop them up.

Dangerous, uncomfortable or unpopular ideas are like that. Bury them and you won’t like what you get when they come back to the surface. Expose them to light and air, so they can either enrich the social soil, or dry up and crumble like so much dogshit.

*(At least that was true until commercial dog foods turned into corn and soy goo with meat flavoring and byproducts.)


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