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Reducio ad Hitlerum Revisited: For the Clueless

January 28, 2011

Reducio ad Hitlerum Revisited: For the Clueless


It is such a pity when clear thinking becomes a weapon in the hands of people who have no concept of why it was invented. It is no point condemning dogma in general then inventing a new one that somehow cannot be called a dogma. Yet that is precisely what people do when they take a simple concept and turn it into form of insult.


Mention Hitler, Nazis, fascism to some quarters and you will howled down with a barrage of: ‘Reducio ad Hitlerum.’ As if by fling out this mantra suddenly disproves all arguments. Such thinking is essentially faulty because it relies upon the mantra rather than the context of its meaning. Any mantra separated from its context is meaningless and to use it in such a fashion is little more than a red herring and diversionary tactic. Rather than instantly poop out this phrase the arguer should be pointing out how it is relevant. Failure to do so is just Argumentum Repititio (argument by repetition). Or as I have heard it describe little more than ‘Orwellian Duckspeak’. Eventually even the mention of Hitler causes the phrase to be mindlessly blurted out.


The contextual situation for ‘Reducio ad Hiterum’ is only when another person is called Hitler or compared to Hitler or the Nazis. The ‘reductio’ is that the person is accused of being like Hitler ie:’Hitlerum’. It is wrong when it is used as a ‘Straw Man Argument’, but it is never wrong when the comparison is valid.


How did ‘Reductio ad Hitlerum’ become famous when it was really just a rebranding of the ‘Straw Man Argument’ or stereotyping an opponent? Perhaps the name of ‘Hitler’ captured people’s imagination and that made it memorable. Regardless of which, to inappropriately use this phrase is a logical fallacy in itself.


We might thank Lean Straus for coining the phrase but we should also examine his motives in doing so. Leon Straus is considered to be the father of ‘Neo Conservatism’ and believed strongly in Nobel lies, rampant nationalism and eternal enemies as the basis of a stable society. His ideology is in many places directly comparable with Mussolini’s version of fascism. Straus could have just been trying to silence critics of his ideology who could see the parallels between his writings, Mussolini and eventually Nazism. ‘Reduction ad Hitlerum fellows, so I am off the hook.’


Those who instantly snap off the phase ‘Reductio ad Hitlerum’ probably have no idea that they are using a phrase that was most likely designed to disguise the true nature of ‘Neo Conservatism’.

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