I’m no Nazi. Farthest from. And i’m not sure how to ask/admit this. But there is something stirring in those films of the soldiers in lock step and the spotlights and flags and music and such. I know it’s propaganda. I know the evil of the government. But what is it in human psychology that is moved by that? Why is there a certain beauty in the Leni Riefenstahl film with the masses and the spotlights and such?
I dread being called a nazi in this thread, but i’ve heard lots of people who say, “wow those parades sure were cool.”
It’s attractive because it’s attractive. Pageantry is always attractive. They actually gave a damn about that stuff back then and it shows. The Soviet parades also look extremely alluring and they must have been incredible to watch.
Medieval and Renaissance parades, tournaments and pageants must have also been amazing to watch.
They were designed to inspire awe. I’m distracted at the moment, but I’ll throw a couple of things out and make sense at the same time. The masses of soldiers marching and performing with precision give the impression of an unstoppable machine – just the kind of machine you want when you’re heading for a fight. The pageantry harkens back to the glory days of Rome (as an example). The searchlights remind me of bonfires, a common rallying point; except instead of just a big fire, you have the lights reaching into the heavens. Many of us enjoy a light show, as evidenced by the many fireworks shows we have. Music and noise. I was at a Mardi Gras parade with a drum corps. It’s a visceral feeling when those base drums are beaten, and the snares are invigorating.
Basically, the events were carefully designed to push the viewers’ buttons.
But Germany wasn’t North Korea. It was a major part of western civilisation and the modern world. Thats what I’m trying to get at. I myself can find Nazi propaganda ‘attractive’ (is that the word?) Why on a maybe primal level, do otherwise educated people find ‘spectacle’, emotionally moving?
Military parades, marching, banners, music, didn’t originate with the Nazis, and attraction isn’t subject to reason. At best you could get to the level of: we like uniforms, we like marching, we like music, and we like it even more put together.
With all the other aspects of the Nazi regime in mind, watching nazi parade footage becomes a battle between reason and feeling, and unsurprisingly may be disconcerting.
I realise it’s not about reason. I’m trying to understand what is it in the human psyche that this thing speaks to.What unreasonable part? And why this particular display? And why? Are college football games this same desire on a small scale?
Study most forms of human assembly, from political rallies to (even more overtly) almost all sports games. From football (in the non-American sense) bleachers full of thousands of hooligans chanting in one voice among burning Bengal fires, to the iconography surrounding American football.
You’ve already had the best answer you’ll ever get: because humans enjoy that sort of thing. It’s like asking why people think flowers smell nice. Because that’s how most of us are wired. Why do people enjoy fireworks? Because they’re cool. And so on.
You’re looking for a complex answer to a simple question.
This seems to be a pretty common misconception so I take the liberty to digress a bit here. As the original Boss factory is near the town where I live, there have been quite a number of newspaper feature articles on the company’s involvement with the Third Reich.
A few key points:
[li]Hugo Boss (1885-1948) was a Nazi by conviction (party member since 1931; heard by witnesses to express pro-Nazi sentiments even after 1945)[/li][li]His company was not a designer brand company (it only became one long after his death) but a common or garden clothing manufacturer, then an uniform manufacturer, after WWII a work clothing manufacturer.[/li][li]During the Third Reich the factory manufactured party/Hitler Youth/SA etc. uniforms, both on contract for the party and for sale to party/Hitler Youth members who had to buy their own uniforms. It was not the designer but a manufacturer to the party-approved patterns. (BTW the design of the original party uniforms was that intended for the Imperial German colonial service - the party got a cheap surplus uniform lot after the German colonies were lost. Hence Brownshirts, from the khaki-ish colour.)[/li][li]The company also got state contracts to manufacture Wehrmacht uniforms (Hugo’s party connections won’t have hurt), and employed forced labour during WW II (a page (German language) from a site on forced labour in Metzingen) [/li][/ul]
Presumably, after the company became a designer brand under Hugo Boss’ successors, management considered the word “Boss” to have more marketing punch than “Holy”, the name of the boss at the time (would ambitious people rather buy a Holy suit than a Boss suit? I think not). The unsavoury history wasnt’a consideration yet.
It is a simple fact that we have evolved as social animals with a strong innate sense of group identity. Instinctively, we put a circle around some set that is “Us”, and associate strongly positive feelings with things related to that set, and negative feelings with things that are in opposition or detrimental to that set.
Here’s a data point if you want actual study results, discussed by Dr. Keith E. Stanovich in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind, and in his book What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought.
Two groups of (American) subjects were presented with this scenario: Imagine that the U.S. Department of Transportation has found that a particular German car is eight times more likely than a typical family car to kill occupants of another car in a crash. The federal government is considering restricting sale and use of this German car. Please answer the following two questions: Do you think sales of the German car should be banned in the U.S.? Do you think the German car should be banned from being driven on American streets?
Another group was given essentially the same question, but stated a different way: Imagine that the Department of Transportation has found that the Ford Explorer is eight times more likely than a typical family car to kill occupants of another car in a crash. The German government is considering restricting sale or use of the Ford Explorer. Please answer the following two questions: Do you think sales of the Ford Explorer should be banned in Germany? Do you think the Ford Explorer should be banned from being driven on German streets?
You can predict the results: among American subjects tested, 78.4% thought car sales should be banned and 73.7% percent thought the car should be kept off the streets when told it was a German car being used in the US, but for the subjects given the context of restricting or banning an American car in Germany with the exactly same statistics, the response rates dropped to 51.4% and 39.2%.
The most interesting thing about Dr. Stanovich’s stuides is that they indicate that the tendency to go with the “gut feeling” of this type of bias, as well as other types of essentially irrational thinking patterns, is only weakly correlated with analytical intelligence as measured by standardized IQ tests. In other words, just because someone is very good at thinking through word problems and “doing the math”, doesn’t mean that person sees the everyday world as a set of mathematical word problems.
You can speculate if you like about the environmental pressures that led to the evolution of bias traits like that, but that is really all it will be, speculation. It’s hard to think of a way to test something like that conclusively. But the advantages are pretty obvious of having tight-knit social groups in terms of maintaining claims on territory and resources against other groups, and of evolving ways to make that knitting as visceral and instinctive as possible.