Hitlerism, he saw, was a recrudescence of an old barbarism. Its racial nonsense and cruelty, its naked worship of brute force, its suppression of truth and resort to lies and myths, its ruthless contempt for the individual, its anti-intellectual and anti-moral dogma that to one man alone belongs the right of judgment and decision, and that for all others virtue lies in blind, unquestioning obedience--each of these fundamental elements of Hitlerism was a throwback to that fierce and ancient tribalism which had sent waves of hairy Teutons swooping down out of the north to destroy the vast edifice of Roman civilisation. That primitive spirit of greed and lust and force had always been the true enemy of mankind.
But this spirit was not confined to Germany. It belonged to no one race. It was a terrible part of the universal heritage of man. One saw traces of it everywhere. It took on many disguises, many labels. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin--each had his own name for it. And America had it, too, in various forms. For wherever ruthless men conspired together for their own ends, wherever the rule of dog-eat-dog was dominant, there it bred. And wherever one found it, one also found that its roots sank down into something primitive in man's ugly past. And these roots would somehow have to be eradicated, George felt, if man was to win his ultimate freedom and not be plunged back into savagery and perish utterly from the earth.
29 March 2012
Thomas Wolfe on "Hitlerism"
"Hitlerism" is a term we never hear today, having been replaced by "Nazism." Wolfe wrote about it in You Can't Go Home Again, before the outbreak of the war: