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Commentary. A newspaper delivers Mein Kampf to the masses.

The trivialization of evil

In 1949, a French scholar published Les grandes oeuvres politiques: De Machiavel à nos jours, a manual which presented 15 works, the first of which was The Prince by Machiavelli and the last, Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. An unusual choice, which seemed even more odd under the title of the Italian edition, which translates as The Great Works of Political Thought.

Yet that book, which was adopted in many university courses, until a few years ago, because of its relatively simplistic concept, had enormous circulation.

Of course, even before focusing on the content, it must be said that the least debatable among the “great works,” a cumbersome, confusing text, lacking any consistency throughout or even originality, was included.

The author, who penned it during his brief detention, after the failed Munich coup in November 1923, was merely rehashing racist theories widespread in Europe from the late 19th century, mixing them up with autobiographical memories, and bizarre “shocks” like the confirmation of Karl Marx’s Jewishness, and thus that Marxist Bolshevism was one with Judaism, as though one was proof of the other.

That text, even after it was adjusted for editorial purposes, exhibits a disarming coarseness, full of poisonous toxins.

A sample of nonsense coated, sometimes, with the “science,” sometimes simply seasoned with political gravy representing the resentments of the medium and lower classes, frustrated economically and psychologically by the Germany’s defeat.

The book was the Nazi handbook, and it was imposed everywhere in the Third Reich, with millions of copies sold, and often sold out, and the corresponding royalties were collected by the author. Then came the damnatio after the Second World War, even if the book has continued to circulate a little everywhere, in semi-clandestine circuits or, in many countries, freely.

There are several Italian editions of the book, Mia Battaglia, or “My Battle.” Recently, since the copyrights expired (70 years after the author’s death), which were held by the Land of Bavaria, it was announced that the original text would return to shelves in Germany (where it was forbidden), and, elsewhere, in a critical edition, which promises to be philologically flawless.

The announcement had provoked immediate debate, albeit high-level, and after the distribution of Hitler’s work with il Giornale, the debate seemed to have gone down to a low profile.

It is primarily a commercial operation (the copies of the newspaper were sold out by midmorning on all the newsstands I checked); although the political and cultural significance is beyond question, the comments of the Democratic Party leaders who have denounced the “electioneering” action by Sallusti and his partners, to vote for “extremist” candidates against those of Renzi’s party sounds grotesque.

If they lose, will it therefore be Hitler’s fault?

Someone among them did not fail to evoke the criminal spectrum: watch and punish, in summary.

It was stated that, contrary to what was said on the previous evening, the book was not a “gift” but was available for a price; however, it is still disturbing that a newspaper decided to inaugurate a series of books with such a pearl.

Personally, perhaps on the basis of my profession as a scholar of political ideas, I think that obviously one can read Hitler; but not as a daily newspaper item; at il Giornale they get away with it by asserting that their retro-thought would activate antidotes against Nazism. This sounds naive.

Because this newspaper is certainly not alone. For years it has nourished racism and intolerance, distrust and even hatred for aliens. And it’s especially worrisome because this newspaper (that has pursued historical revisionism, helping to normalize fascism) distributed a text that, incidentally, attacks “dirty foreigners.” And the Jew was for Hitler the dirtiest of the “foreigners,” who had to be eliminated in one way or another.

Auschwitz is in embryo in that text.

We have now reached one of the terminal points of revisionism: We have gone from the philosophical statement of the “banality of evil” to its deliberate, voluntary and most disconcerting trivialization.