The New Nazis

In the 1960s, rebellious young people grew their hair long and sang songs about love and peace. In the 1990s, rebellious young people are shaving their heads bare and singing songs about hatred and violence. Skinheads, they're called. They wear black jeans, jackboots, and bomber jackets decorated with Nazi insignia. They carve swastikas on tree trunks and scribble white supremacy slogans on walls. In Europe, skinheads are violent. They beat up foreigners, throw firebombs into their homes, and set their cars ablaze. Their slogan is "Foreigners get out!" What's going on here? The Nazi insignia and swastikas tell the story: The skinheads are resurrecting Nazism. You see, Nazism wasn't just about "Heil Hitler" and concentration camps. It was also a philosophy--called fascism. Fascism denied all spiritual truth and worshipped what is tangible and earthy: nation and race. Fascist philosophy was not completely defeated after World War II. It simply went underground. Today, we're seeing its re-emergence in the skinhead movement. And not just there. Fascism is even turning up on university campuses. The academic world is reeling from the discovery that two of the most influential scholars of modern times--Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man--were once Nazis. Heidegger was a German philosopher, who once dreamed of becoming the official philosopher of the Nazi state. De Man was a pro-Nazi journalist in Belgium. These men were later to shape many of the ideas taught on university campuses today. Perhaps it should not be so surprising that fascism is re-emerging. You see, human beings are incurably religious. The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once wrote that a person "cannot live without worshipping something." Anyone who denies God must worship an idol. An idol is not necessarily a figure of wood or stone. It can also be an idea--or a set of ideas, put forth to explain the world without God. An ideology. You can often recognize ideologies because they end with "ism"--communism, socialism, nationalism, fascism. For many decades, the most aggressive ideology was communism. A third of the world's population lived under communist rule. The recent decline of communism has created an ideological vacuum. Fascism is rising to fill that vacuum. And no wonder: fascism, with its emphasis on race, resonates with the exaggerated sense of race and ethnic identity emerging around the globe today--the tendency to break into competing groups: Hispanics versus Jews versus blacks versus whites. In polite company, we call it "multiculturalism." But it's really an expression of the same impulse we see in fascism--the impulse to identify people foremost by race and ethnic group. So don't be surprised when you read that skinheads are the newest fad. One idol--communism--has toppled; another idol--fascism--is being resurrected. The rise and fall of idols has occurred since biblical times. And it will continue throughout the rest of human history. As long as humans revolt against God and raise ideologies to take His place.


Chuck Colson


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