The Significance of Dehumanization: Nazi Ideology and its Psychological Consequences

Politics, Religion and Ideology 19 (2):139‒157 (2018)
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Several authors have recently questioned whether dehumanization is a psychological prerequisite of mass violence. This paper argues that the significance of dehumanization in the context of National Socialism can be understood only if its ideological dimension is taken into account. The author concentrates on Alfred Rosenberg’s racist doctrine and shows that Nazi ideology can be read as a political anthropology that grounds both the belief in the German privilege and the dehumanization of the Jews. This anthropological framework combines biological, cultural and metaphysical aspects. Therefore, it cannot be reduced to biologism. This new reading of Nazi ideology supports three general conclusions: First, the author reveals a complex strategy of dehumanization which is not considered in the current psychological debate. Second, the analysis of the ideological mechanism suggests a model of dehumanization that is more plausible than other psychological models. Third, the author provides evidence that this kind of dehumanization had psychological consequences and hence was an important feature of Nazi reality.



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Johannes Steizinger
McMaster University

References found in this work

Paradoxes of Dehumanization.David Livingstone Smith - 2016 - Social Theory and Practice 42 (2):416-443.

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