Social inclusion and explosion of Nazism: how democracy ate and puke itself through interactive communities

Photo by Erika Fletcher on Unsplash

Democracy is acting like a double edged sword. Pluralism and the majority rule has been advertised as the modern paradise, however, democracy itself is a paradox: handling the destiny of an outcome to the hands of many has already proved its unethical consequences many times through history:public shaming or cyber bullying nowadays should not surprise anyone considering our ancestors’ enthusiasm to sentence the gladiator to death within a flip of a thumb.However, some pages in the history are still surprising in their level of brutality. For example, the rise of Nazi party in Germany.

If we ping a random German guy nowadays and ask for his opinions on national socialism, racism or hatred towards other races, there is a high probability that our person of interest will exhibit lack of interest, if not contempt or humiliation. Ironically, if we had a chance to repeat the same experiment 170 years ago, there is a high chance of getting similar results. Then, what led the majority of Germans to receive Nazism easily 80 years ago?

According to a research by Satyanath, Shanker and Voth, the rise of Nazism in Germany had causal relationship with one of the indicators of democratic society: civic activism, which means civil people’s engagement in various social clubs, bridging people from different backgrounds around same interests: gymnasts, singers, students, chess players and etc. Despite having non-military and non-political nature, these clubs served successfully as a platform of spreading Nazism ideology among members.

Sounds relatable?

Funny fact, these platforms were the result of a democratic step in Germany’s history, namely, the 1848 Revolution by the political left which demanded the right of free assembly.

Researchers show that increased participation in any kind of civic activity in the 1920s positively predict accepting Nazism, as towns with more dense social networks experienced faster Nazi party entry. Some individual examples in the research show that, even most indifferent members of society which had no prior sympathy towards Nazi ideology, accepted it just because their club mate, who seemed as a reasonable guy, was a carrier of ideas. By penetrating in people’s lives in early 20s century, backed up with political instability and economic crisis, Nazism found it’s perfect environment to thrive.

Fortunately, social capital was not the only strong factor. Research also demonstrates power of strong governance, by introducing additional variable, stable governance as a barrier against spreading of Nazi ideology. For example, Prussia, which was a more politically stable state, despite having already established several democratic reThe exponential spread of ill-like ideas within networks is neither new, nor an ending process. If it wasn’t for Nazism, there will always be some new, dark, controversial “disease” which will penetrate into every part of people’s lifestyle like a parasite, live and breed within daily activities, like clubs in 1920s or twitter in 2020s. Seems like history is doomed to repeat itself, and we all have no choice other than playing our roles.forms, had been resilient towards Nazism. This shows strong and stable political governance can balance democracy within the society, holding it going from “breaker of chains” into a “mad queen”.

Tricky part: The researcher mentions contradiction with previous researches, which concluded that low level of civic activity and self-isolation in German societies. However, I don’t think it contradicts with previous research. If it was so, why long term civic activity does not result in more radical outcomes?Let’s consider “Nazism”as a virus, and people in late 19thcentury as aborigens which had low level of social exposure, and therefore, low level of immunity.Maybe, it was due to timing: the people lacked social activities in 19thcentury, and when it was democratized, these “Steppenwolves” more vulnerable to new ideas. For that reason, we cannot tell that non-social engagement was not determinant for Nazi ideas to grow.

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” — Will Rogers

The exponential spread of ill-like ideas within networks is neither new, nor an ending process. If it wasn’t for Nazism,there will always be some new, dark, controversial “disease” which will penetrate into every part of people’s lifestyle like a parasite, live and breed within daily activities, like clubs in 1920s or twitter in 2020s. Seems like history is doomed to repeat itself, and we all have no choice other than playing our roles.

I talk to myself all the time.