Patterns of Prejudice, 1973, 7 (1), 6-16.

(With two post-publication addenda following the original article)


By John J . Ray

THIS is a study of some present-day Australian Nazis. The data I have derived by the increasingly respectable method (among scientific sociologists) of participant observation [1]. Over the last seven years I have joined Nazi organizations and "collected" people of Nazi sympathies. As a young WASP of basically conservative political views, I found this relatively easy to do -- provided I paid my tax of an occasional antisemitic utterance. Almost all my knowledge is of people living in Brisbane and Sydney -- the two cities where I have spent my last seven years.

As an initial categorization, I feel that the Nazis I have known can be divided into three groups. The first are the old-fashioned Nazis; the second are the ideological Nazis; and the third are the young Nazis. A fourth category are antisemites who would roundly deny any interest in, or approval of, Nazism. I will firstly describe the individuals who fall roughly into these categories and then I will go on to identify anything that I feel is common to all these antisemitic people. For obvious reasons I will identify individuals by initials only and will avoid mention of details which could expose their identity to the casual reader.

The old-fashioned Nazis are generally, but not exclusively, men upwards of fifty years. H.B. is one instance. H. was a tradesman of German origin who had come to Australia before the first world war. He had taken an interest in some of the more millenarian American religious sects and had collected in his very dilapidated home a great array of books and journals (mostly quite old) which claimed to tell of various sorts of esoterica and "inside information" on world events and human history. Between the two world wars he had been very active in the "Australia First" movement. He did not speak much of Hitler: to him it went without saying that Hitler had been right and that it was "the Jews" who had contrived his defeat. His belief in a malevolent international Jewish conspiracy was as implicit as his belief in the Bible as God's verbally inspired word. The Jews had murdered his God and were now trying to murder his race. He was always concerned to see "behind" world events for their "real" significance and origin. "Bible prophecy" and "International Jewry" both provided him with answers to his quest. His religion was hence a quest to understand rather than an emotional compulsion. Except in the particular nature of his obsession he seemed much like any old man railing at the world about him. Of the utter genuineness of his beliefs, however, there was absolutely no question. He was utterly convinced that the Jews - one and all - had the prime aim of destroying or enslaving all other races. To question this belief was only to draw out an incredible array of "proofs" in the form of events and utterances over all the period of recorded history. He felt that the objective truth of what he had to say would be proved to anyone who was prepared to "study" the matter.

L.L. was another "old-fashioned" Nazi. Also an old man of German origin who had migrated to Australia in the early days, he lived on a very run-down farm outside Brisbane. Most of the things said above of H.B. could be said of him. He was, however, much more active than H.B. and got his picture into the paper from time to time -- celebrating Hitler's birthday or some such. He was also not as concerned with religion. Such interest as he did have in religion, however was in the more millenarian sects. W.D. was yet another hoary-headed old man. He was of Dutch origin and a devout Baptist. He wrote and distributed tracts which consisted of mingled warnings about Jews and Armageddon. He was also concerned about pure or "natural" food. All three mentioned so far believed implicitly in the writings of Major Douglas and the Social Credit movement. Seeing bankers as scheming villains who had hoodwinked the innocent majority of the population to their (the bankers') own aggrandisement has obvious affinities with what is believed of the Jew. Given indeed the prominent historical association between Jews and finance, the two beliefs reinforce one-another. Again like H.B. and L.L., W.D. lived in a dilapidated old house crammed with old books and defunct magazines. All three were married to wives who obviously believed in their husbands. To all three the Jews were the epitome of everything evil.

Others in this category I have met at Nazi party meetings are N.S. and E.N. N.S. was in his late forties and of German descent. Like H.B., he had grown sons who did not reject his basic views but who were simply not interested in community affairs. He was a manual worker with some inclination to minor crime. His own financial woes served as a confirmation of his belief in the oppressiveness of "the Jewish financial system". He too accepted the tenets of Social Credit. E.N. was a nephew of L.L. and bore a surname equally Germanic. Although in his mid-twenties, he belongs in this group because of the similarity of his belief system. He had been brought up by parents of fiercely Pentecostal religious beliefs but seemed to have no real religious commitment of his own. He did not appear to be versed in Social Credit but went along with it when it was mentioned. Fair-haired, blue-eyed but physically slight, he was something of an errand-boy and hatchet-man to the local Nazi leader. He took part in Nazi demonstrations and was very regularly at meetings of Nazis. He had the interesting characteristic of tending to stand "too close" to one [2]. Unlike the more serious older men mentioned so far he seemed to be of a noticeably cheerful disposition. He had at one stage had a small entrepreneurial business but this had failed, leaving him in debt. E. was unmarried and worked in a manual occupation.

For all the people in this category, an obsession with Jews seemed to be paramount -- with little concern for other elements of Fascist belief. Their Nazism seemed more an outcome of their antisemitism. For the group next to be described the reverse is true. Other Nazis in the present category that I have known I will not here describe in detail. One was an officer in the local Social Credit organization. It must be stressed however that not all Social Creditors are Nazis or antisemitic. The converse - that all Nazis believe in Social Credit - is however very nearly true.

The next category is of the Ideological Nazis. Epitomizing these is M.H. About 5'4" tall, mustachioed and with the slightest trace of an early speech impediment which he claims to have cured by "self-hypnosis", M. is a one-time Methodist theological student and lay-preacher. He is very gregarious and popular. Wherever he lives is always a foregathering point for others of the extreme Right. Recently married to a girl of "good Aryan type", he has two small children. He has a criminal record for small offences of fraud (mostly with cheques). He works in a manual occupation but is presently an evening student in one of the more marginal medical arts. He was at one time a first-year university student but failed to complete the year. He has the most devastating contempt for "the masses" and regards them as properly and easily gulled. His interest in religion is directed solely to this end. He was at one time however a true believer of a very fundamentalist sort. As a byproduct of this he still enjoys hymn music. He and I have often joined in the strains of the old Protestant favourites -- as I too was once a believer.

Although still in his mid-twenties, he has an impressive record of Right-wing activism and at one time stood for election to an Australian parliament -- under the banner of a party he had formed especially for the purpose. His party members were entirely diehard Nazis. One of his favourite recreations is listening to endless replays of Hitler's speeches. He also enjoys however a great deal of good music -- the predictable Wagner and Bruckner but also Bach, Vivaldi and other composers of the Baroque period. His father was an English Fascist in the heyday of Sir Oswald Mosley or at least a strong Fascist sympathizer. His brothers have quite similar attitudes to him but are simply not interested in community affairs. They hence take no part in Rightist activities.

What then is the ideology of this "ideological Nazi"? He believes implicitly in the principle of race and regards all non-Germanic races as "degenerate". He believes in the Fuehrerprinzip and in Kueche, Kinder und Kirche as the proper role of women. He venerates everything traditional even long after it has ceased to be functional or relevant. He is fiercely proud of everything typically English or Australian and greatly enjoyed (and often quotes) Barry Humphries' "The wonderful world of Barry McKenzie". He admires Ian Smith of Rhodesia and Johannes Vorster of South Africa. He plans to migrate to South Africa in the future. He is much more of a racialist than the old-fashioned Nazis. Their main concern was the Jews (though they also considered it self-evident that blacks were inferior) whereas he has a violent antipathy to all non-Germanic races and is well-versed in even the most recent debates among psychologists about innate racial differences in intelligence, e.g. Jensen, 1969 [3].

He has a complete collection of the works of Nietzsche and often quotes things in it he has read. He has a great attraction to mysticism and witchcraft-- the latter not because he believes in its supernatural efficacy but because it is traditional, "Germanic" and pre-Christian. He often talks of re-establishing an "Odinist" religion (the supposed religion of the pre-Roman German tribes). He contemns Christianity because it is "effeminate" and has seduced the Western European races away from their traditional "manly" virtues. He has utter contempt for weakness and the weak and believes that the "ideal" population of the earth is "about 30 million" -- to include, naturally, no wogs, Jews, Asians or blacks. Thus all could live in the "noble simplicity" of the ancient Germanic tribes -- with lives regulated only by codes of honour and duty, not morality.

He wholeheartedly approves of Hitler's eugenic aims and the extermination of "the useless eaters". He is a great believer in health foods and I still have unhappy memories of a glass of fresh cabbage juice that he once regaled me with! With him, therefore, it will be evident that his antisernitism is only one aspect of his overall Fascism. Had Hitler spoken well of the Jews, he might have been pro-Jewish. Like all the Nazis mentioned so far he was a strong believer in the claims of Social Credit (until I endeavoured to disillusion him in the matter -- he being intelligent enough to give such an enterprise some prospect of success) and even now he does not appear to have abandoned entirely such notions.

Another ideological Nazi is G.H. Although he does not normally claim to be a Nazi, he is one of their most regular associates and is an "expert" on local Jewry. Like all the Nazis mentioned so far, he accepts "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" as genuine and relevant. While he will derogate "the Jews" in casual conversation, he will, if pressed, insist that he is "anti-Zionist" - not anti-Jewish. While he is just as much a believer in race as M.H., he does not appear to harbour any particular animosity towards other races. He believes more in Apartheid ("apartness") than in the "final solution". He is a veritable encyclopedia of Right-wing apologetics and exegesis and writes articles for various limited-circulation Rightist publications from time to time. At Right-wing demonstrations and meetings pressmen find him only too ready to give a well reasoned and very lengthy justification of his stand. He is a member of several more moderate Right-wing organizations than the Nazis and often succeeds in having a "letter to the Editor" published in the dailies. He is unmarried, works as a clerk and is aged about 30. He is of undoubted intelligence, very well-informed on all things political and is very respectful of religion even though he himself is the most nominal of Anglicans. His very serious disposition goes with an undoubted insensitivity and clumsiness in social matters. He completed his secondary education but did not go on to university. By inclination and habit he is nonetheless very much an intellectual. He is a great attender of meetings. His Nazi associates seem to have partly talked him into a belief in Social Credit.

Another Nazi in this category is X.Y. When last I knew him, X. was at one of the best Greater Public Schools in his final year. Very tall, fair-haired and blue-eyed he was a most capable and eloquent public speaker. Good-humoured, socially masterful and of obviously outstanding intelligence, he embodied all that one expects of the best G.P.S. products. His wealthy and long-established father was an influential figure in Liberal-Country party politics and X.Y. himself was a Young Liberal. X. was the sort of person one would expect to go on to a brilliant career at the bar. He was an admirer of Hitler, an undoubted elitist and knew well his "Protocols". His acceptance of the "Protocols" was probably more tendentious than serious but, whatever the rationale, he was clearly anti-Jewish. He was beknown to the local Nazi leader but restricted his activities to more public and legitimate political channels. He was strongly in favour of recognition for Rhodesia. His fundamental contempt seemed to be for weakness of any sort. In his public face he was "anti-Zionist" rather than anti-Jewish. His strong traditionalism was well matched with his love of legalistic debate and expert manipulation of the forms of democracy. He had contempt rather than animosity towards weaker races and stopped short of advocating "the final solution" for anyone but the Jews. He himself was a WASP of pioneer Australian background.

The next ideological Nazi was C.D. -- a local Nazi leader. I met C.D. at a folk music club. He was about 30, with his own rather entrepreneurial business, and unmarried. He seemed well-known and widely accepted in the demi monde of the local folk-music and coffee-dive "scene". Although rather serious, he was very socially oriented and seemed well-liked. He had at one time been an Australian Olympic athlete, He believed literally in the existence of some conspiracy to undermine traditional values and virtues in society. He saw the answer to his very real concern for Australian society in strong government and prestigious leadership. He admired strength per se and all the military virtues. At home he would listen either to Hitler's speeches (on tape) or Beethoven piano sonatas and such like. To him antisemitism was a "study". By "studying" his collection of bigot literature he believed that he increased his understanding of what was going on in the world and how he might come out on top. The Nazi meetings that he organized often took the form of a study of chapters from "The Protocols". He was by birth half Greek but had anglicized his name. Powerfully built, he had swarthy to yellow skin and looked in fact rather Chinese -- something of great mortification to him. He was a great devotee of Social Credit. He had also great admiration of traditional British values and led himself a rather Spartan life.

As a youth he had, I gathered, often suffered the humiliation of being called a "Dago". His sporting record was, at least in part, an attempt to prove himself better than his tormentors. Given his extremely conservative values he found that the Jews were a group that he could convincingly vent his own aggression on. This, however, was apparently quite unconscious. He obviously really believed that all the woes of the modern world could be traced to the corrupting influence of the Jews -- whom he identified also as being in control of the mass-media. He was indeed much concerned to copy the supposed successful tactics of the Jews. He often observed that the Jews maintained their own racial exclusiveness while selling the rest of the world a doctrine of (supposedly weakening) "race mixing". By observing that "the first race laws were passed by Nehemiah" he felt that his own racialism became justified as merely a legitimate defence against a conniving enemy: "fighting fire with fire". Were it not for his wide-ranging Fascist values in fact, his obsession with the Jews would put him best into the first category mentioned in this paper. As it was, however, he could wax as eloquent about "discipline" as he could about Jews. His attitude towards religion was very respectful and one suspects that he did have some residual beliefs himself.

The second local Nazi leader I came to know was A.S. A. was slightly built, bald and sported a rather Hitlerian moustache. Paradoxically, he was a rather "moderate" Nazi, with a well thought-out political "platform". His durability as a Nazi leader seemed attributable to his personal gregariousness and social pleasantness. His policy towards Aborigines of giving them Arnhem land and thus forming a sort of permanent anthropological zoo, rates as very moderate in Nazi circles if not "weak-kneed". Despite this, his personal popularity seems never to have been in any question. He is a very dapper dresser and there is a possibly apocryphal tale circulating that attributes his interest in Nazism solely to the attractions involved in dressing up in uniforms. The tale is that he once got himself appointed ambassador of some small nation formed since the last world war and succeeded thus in getting himself invited to certain garden parties and other formal occasions. He would arrive at these occasions in the full ceremonial uniform that went with his (honorary) office. While he was there, he would get his friends to ring up and ask for him. This would give him the opportunity to be called out from the throng and enable him to parade before all eyes in his resplendent uniform. This tale was told to me by one of A.'s oldest Nazi associates, but one who had subsequently fallen out with A.

A. is the only Nazi who was living on the proceeds of his Nazism during the period I knew him. Since he was living in considerable squalor during most of that period, however, it was obvious that the financial support he was receiving was not great. A. has been imprisoned on various occasions for the possession of dynamite and other weapons but claims that he was on those occasions "fitted" (framed) by the police. Knowing A. (he seems in no way inclined to personal violence or physical attack on anything he opposes) and knowing the police, I am inclined to accept A.'s account of the matter. The dynamite was said to have been "seized" from one of A.'s publicly signed Nazi headquarters. As he himself observed to me, if he had been going to use dynamite, he would have been mad to have kept it in a place so open to a police raid.

His favourite recreation is listening to tapes of Hitler's speeches and World War II Nazi marching songs but he is also a devotee of Bach and other recondite composers. I have heard him claim (evidently under some misapprehension as to the meaning of the word) to be a "musicologist". His attitude to religion is cynical but not contemptuous. He is Australian by birth and immediate ancestry. In public he makes much of "the honest Australian worker" and he definitely attempts to appeal to working class sentiments. In one of his not uncommon public appearances I heard him say in reply to a questioner "Yes, I live in R., among the workers" -- evidently presenting this as a considerable virtue. In private, however, he is as much an elitist as any Nazi and is very proud of his occasional contacts with people in positions of power and authority. While he does not thus have any real regard for the workers as such, it must be conceded that he does nevertheless seem to have something of an affection for them. He feels sorry for them because of the way they have been exploited by "vested interests" and "The Jews" (which he sees as largely synonymous). He does seem to have a clearly paternalistic philosophy and much admires the England of "Colonel Blimp". As with all the ideological Nazis, his antisemitism is only one aspect of a larger traditionalist but conspiratorial outlook.

I have known four thoroughly committed Nazis in this category who are university students. Two in fact were quite active as student leaders but understandably kept fairly quiet about their Nazi sentiments. One of the students (not one of the two who were leaders) is in fact the most "red hot" Nazi I have met. Although very softly spoken, he is utterly committed to ruthless destruction of everything non-Nazi. He is very culturally oriented (he spends hours daily listening to Beethoven and the Baroque) but seems to know no such thing as pity. He is one of a large working class family but is thoroughly an intellectual by both inclination and habit. Unlike the others he is reasonably outspoken about his Nazi views. Since he is at present only 19, this may not last. He is (coincidentally?) a blue-eyed, fair-haired WASP.

All of the student Nazis showed remarkably low levels of antisemitism. Although they would all voice some antisernitic sentiments from time to time, this was clearly little more than perfunctory -- something done as an expression of solidarity with historical Nazism rather than out of the sort of genuine indignation and apprehension displayed by the old-fashioned Nazis described above as category I. If not of antisemitism, of what then does the Nazism of this group consist? It is admiration for the ruthless display of power and the splendid panoply of Hitler's Germany -- for the sense of destiny and the pursuit of an ideal goal that makes no concessions to human weakness, inadequacy or ugliness. This distaste for ugliness is in fact something that seems to have received little comment from previous writers on Nazism. Many of the Nazis in the present category (2) show very real aesthetic sensibility. Their real attraction to even the most recondite composers of classical music puts them above the vast majority of the population at large. Their desire for a world of Nordic-appearing WASPs is substantially the pursuit of an aesthetic ideal. Unlike the normal person in a democratic society, the Nazi is willing to sacrifice human lives and happiness to the pursuit of his aesthetic ideal. What does not measure up to the standard must be destroyed. For readers who have been keeping a tally, it may be of interest to know that three of the four student Nazis had substantial German ancestry. Among these were both the student leaders. All four were not in any way religious believers.

By reason of his long notoriety, there is one more ideological Nazi I will describe here. G.R. is about 40, tall but portly in build, and exudes an air of middle class trustworthiness and respectability that would easily lead one to thinking him a very successful and important businessman. He has innumerable convictions for various types of fraud and false pretences. He might be described as a confidence-man by vocation. He has no time for "Nat-Socs" -- as he calls the uniform-loving associates of A.S. -- but does acknowledge himself as a Nazi. He makes a good thing out of religion and has been appointed a "bishop" by one of the more enthusiastic American minority denominations. As a man of religion he is compellingly reminiscent of Sinclair Lewis' "Elmer Gantry". He evidently sees religion as a legally immune confidence racket of which he wants his share. In this respect his sentiments are identical with those of M.H. (described earlier) and the two are in fact very good friends and companions.

In different cities, both he and M.H. took the lead in "organizing the Arabs" (against Israel) and made substantial financial gain from the connection. To my knowledge, however, the local Arab anti-Zionist movement now has entirely woken up to its Nazi "friends" and ejected them. It is characteristic that the Nazis try to "con" even their potential political allies -- after all to them conning people is what politics consist of. G.R. is a great former of various "front" movements and it is for this that he is well-known. He also makes a speciality of infiltrating other legitimate Right-wing political movements and has thus on some occasions been able to exert some political influence. He was one of a group of Nazis who at one time "took over" a certain Liberal party branch that was of importance to a then current national political furore. G.R. is an Australian of WASP background. I have the strong impression that his antisemitism is largely nominal. The essence of his Nazism is his satisfaction in (through stealth) dominating and deceiving others. Nazism is the only political creed that openly acknowledges this as proper behaviour. One of G.R.'s great delights is to assume Jewish-sounding names. This legitimizes his actions as "beating the Jews at their own game". He shows however none of the genuine apprehension of Jewry that characterizes the old-fashioned Nazis.

We now come to the category I have labelled as the "Young Nazis". Most of these are associates (or "troops") of A.S. They are simply brutally-minded young men of limited intelligence. Again in several cases of German origin or extraction, they are simply seeking opportunities of being exhibitionistically nonconformist and aggressive. Had they more intelligence they might be anti-Apartheid demonstrators. I do know two of their number (unusually intelligent for this group) who have made the conversion. Most, however, cannot manage the complicated rationalizations and self-deceptions necessary for them to do this. This is not to say that the Nazism of the young Nazis is not genuine. Nazism again is the only political creed that openly justifies (even glorifies if the object is appropriate) their nakedly aggressive impulses. To them Nazism makes obvious sense: it preaches what they instinctively feel.

An essential feature, however, is their acknowledgement of their own aggressiveness. A child who was brought up to repress and deny his aggressiveness would not, of course, see Nazism as being so common-sense -- although he might fundamentally be just as aggressive as any of these young men. A more extended commentary on anti-racist aggressiveness is available in one of my earlier articles [4]. It will be obvious that detailed descriptions of any of these young Nazis would be of little profit here. They could change their allegiance overnight to some other movement that offered them better ego satisfactions. Equally, many aggressive young men in our society of no present political awareness could lend their support to any Nazi movement that developed into a real political force.

We now come to the category of antisernites who are not Nazis. These are all people whose antisernitism is at least partly traceable to personal experience with individual Jews. They embody what might be called "traditional antisemitism" and represent perhaps the last remnant of nearly 2,000 years of Christian antisemitism, This dislike of Jewry does not imply any desire to persecute or oppress Jews. It is simply a personal preference to avoid and dislike Jews -- as one might dislike people who drive flashy cars or part their hair in the middle ( ! ).

Such a person is D.R. D. is a very successful business entrepreneur with an attractive wife and three beautiful small children. He is in his early 40s and, although of Australian Irish background, was brought up an atheist. A follower of the Communist party in his youth, he is now an admirer of John Gorton. He has a formidably well-informed and catholic devotion to classical music. He is a great lover and exponent of Australian working class traditions and language. Nazism to him is utterly contemptible and "sick". For all that his dislike for Jews is probably rivalled only by his contempt for Aborigines. Jews to him are "scabs" -- people who take what they can get with no accompanying sense of obligation or duty to the others who make their opportunities possible. Aborigines he condemns for their whining disinclination to work and their tendency to "lower the standards" of their community. Both offend against his Australian credo of being "fair dinkum" and allowing "a fair go". He sees both as grasping -- the one by deceit and the other by indolent whining. In standard literary English we might say that D. dislikes insincerity and failures of consideration for others. He can relate many vivid anecdotes which show that his "prejudice" is not prejudice at all. He condemns after and because he has come to know those of whom he speaks. His profusely exemplified Philippics against Jewish and Aboriginal moral defalcations are worthy in fact of an independent literary record. Coming as he does from the "outback", I have seen him use his first-hand knowledge of Aborigines to devastating effect in informal debates with citified Left-liberal intellectual idealists. Let it be clear, however, that his ideology of everyone deserving a "fair go" would make him a resolute and formidable opponent to anyone who proposed or practised oppression of others on the basis of their race. I hope I have made it intelligible that he would oppose his daughter marrying a Jew but would oppose Belsen and Auschwitz much more. If Jews he disliked, injustice he hated.

Although I have other examples of non-Nazi antisemites in mind -- some even with postgraduate degrees and of superb personal adjustment - I believe that I have said enough here to establish the point that dislike of Jews can exist on a purely personal (and thus, in some sense, legitimate) basis of actual experience with Jews. This phenomenon may of course be something of a vicious circle; persecution could well have bred characteristics of servility and hatred for Goyim which in turn excuse fresh discriminatory practices. The ebullient unconcern and self-confidence of the Israeli sabras may be just the antidote needed here. One could scarcely claim of them that "You never know what they're thinking" [5].

We have now come to the point where we may ask: "What characteristics are general to antisemites?" The two things that stand out from the account I have given so far are no doubt German ancestry and liking of classical music. Concerning this latter point, however, a word of caution is in order. I myself am a Baroque music devotee and as one consequence of this it could perhaps be said of anyone I know that they are very likely to appreciate Baroque music. This works two ways. I do tend to get on best with people who I discover share my tastes and my own championing of Baroque music does tend to influence others who might not previously have given it much mind to take it up. This does not however well explain the tastes of people I have met solely through joining Nazi organizations; and the capacity of people in general for an appreciation of this music is so rare that I still remain impressed by its incidence among Nazis. It must be recollected that even Hitler had artistic sensibility of a sort. I can think of several possible explanations for the phenomenon but would want to see them on a firmer evidential basis before suggesting them in print.

The common German ancestry is, I think, a slightly easier phenomenon to deal with. I would like to say at the outset that I do accept the idea of a national character (whether socially or genetically transmitted is irrelevant). I would say then that Nazism expressed something peculiarly congenial to (but not exclusive to) the German character. Even anti-Nazi prewar writers such as Roberts [6] admit that Hitler was immensely popular in Germany. He was no mere military dictator. As I speak good German I have also come to know many migrant Germans in Australia and their main complaint against Hitler seems to be only that he failed. They commonly speak well of the Nazi period. There are some migrant Germans who do, very cautiously, give support to the Australian Nazis. They are, however, very wary of being caught at it. They have, after all, experienced or observed the post-war "De-Nazification" of Germany. Australians who are merely of German descent or have lived here throughout the war years are under no such inhibitions. If their German characteristics have survived, they may well find Nazism very congenial.

What then is this character that is so salient among Germans? Again I can only proceed here with extreme caution but I believe that a certain combination of energy with emotional flatness is in evidence. Perhaps one might even speak of an emotional starvation. Only strong emotional stimuli get through to them. The images here are of a high barrier that only a strong force can surmount or of a partly blocked channel. This would explain both the Nazi's relative insensitivity to suffering on the part of others and his appreciation of the supercharged emotion in one of Hitler's speeches. Most Australian Nazis cannot speak German and some of the speeches they have are not provided with translations. They therefore spend hours listening to speeches that they cannot understand the sense of. The emotion alone and the admiration for Hitler is sufficient. In fairness, however, it must be mentioned that most of the speeches are interspersed with marching songs of a very stirring character. What the Nazis do is thus not unlike what classical music fans do when listening to a cantata in a language other than their own. That a shortage of normal emotional stimulus might cause one to turn more to the canned emotion of music does thus fit the Nazi pattern well. The historical Nazism of' Germany too was very musically oriented. As well as the immense number of Nazi songs, performances of Wagner, Bruckner and Beethoven were almost a Nazi ritual. The immensely percussive and dramatic music of Carl Orff also dates from the Germany of this period. On one of the (American-produced) tapes that the local Nazis often listen to, the commentator says of the S.S. "Where ever these murderers went, they sang".

To put the theory of Nazi (and to a lesser extent, German) personality given here in a larger framework, the account by Eysenck of his two major personality dimensions (neuroticism and extraversion) is of relevance [7]. One possible interpretation of Eysenck's account is that the neurotic is over-responsive and the introvert over-receptive. Conversely, the extravert is under-receptive or has a high threshold for stimulation. In the context of the present theory, this leads to the testable proposition that Germans, and particularly Nazis, should be especially extraverted. That I have not in fact tested out this hypothesis among my Nazi contacts is due to their considerable suspicion of anything like a psychological test. Even the best informed of them would see it, not inaccurately, as an attempt to "get at" them. Given, however, their love of parading in uniforms, this hypothesis does fit the facts extraordinarily well. It is also of interest to note that I have shown elsewhere [8] that authoritarianism correlates significantly with Social Adaptability. Further data from the same study show that the relationship with militarism is even higher. A subsequent unpublished study has shown that the Social Adaptability variable is highly related to Eysenck's Extraversion variable. Eysenck himself connects extraversion and authoritarian attitudes [9].

Eysenck's theory of extraversion is basically physiological and, hence, presumably genetic. On a-priori grounds, however a theory of social transmission through child-rearing practices would be equally plausible. It should be pointed out that the postulated Nazi emotional non-liability is not at all a necessarily negative attribute. It may have great immediate survival value. It was without a doubt the stolid ferocity of the average German soldier that gave the Wehrmacht an effectiveness out of all proportion to its numbers. The traditional emotional lability of Italians and the effectiveness of the Italian army make an informative comparison. In the second world war we saw 80 million Germans take on 100 million English and Frenchmen plus 200 million Russians and 200 million North Americans, That they might have succeeded had Hitler taken one or two decisions differently is surely food for thought. Had, for instance, Hitler allowed Willy Messerschmitt to begin producing the Sturmvogel jet fighter when it was ready in 1942 or had he not ordered Goering to desist from attacks on R.A.F, bases and bomb London instead, the R.A.F. and hence the Royal Navy and hence Britain could not long have survived. A Fascist imperium such as that of ancient Rome might indeed have been re-enacted in our world. Fascist virtues are to be feared -- not scorned.

One may ask how well my observations of antisemites square with the account of antisemitism given by Adorno et al [10] -- now a classic in the psychological literature on this subject. This account attributed various types of psychopathology to the Nazi personality. In a previous work [11] I have already identified crucial areas of difficulty with the Adorno et al account and my original interest in the research there reported was largely due to the poor fit that their account provided to what I knew of actual Nazis. I will therefore concentrate here not on dissecting the Adorno et al. account (other than my existing work to this effect, there is also the work collected in Christie and Jahoda [12]) but rather on the general question of psychopathology among the neo-Nazis I have described.

There is for a start little evidence of psychosis, One exception to this is W.S. When I first met W.S. he was in Goodna mental asylum's maximum security ward for taking a pot-shot at a rabbi with a rifle. He clearly showed loss of reality contact, and even C.D. (in whose company I first met W.S.) subsequently would speak of "poor old W." W.S. was something of an associate of L.L. but all the other Nazis shied clear of him. As in the research of Elms [13], however, people such as W.S. are entirely exceptional. On the whole in fact (as should be apparent from my descriptions of X.Y. and others above) most Nazis have very good reality-contact -- marred perhaps by an excessive cynicism. At the worst they tend to expect falsely of others the same conspiratorial inclinations as their own. Their view of the world might, however, best be described as jaundiced rather than delusional. Their suspicion of Jews is, I feel, no different from the Radical's suspicion of "the establishment" or "the power elite". Their account of Jewry is a theory about the world -- not a distortion of their immediate perceptual and ideational processes.

The question of neurotic tendency is harder to answer. Tauss [14] has shown that a substantial majority of the population may be said to have some form of neurotic disturbance. Against this I have noticed only the most minor manifestations of what might pass for neurotic symptoms among my Nazi contacts. They are in fact almost always concerned with things outside themselves. If they were not very interested in large-scale social phenomena they could not in fact be Nazis. They are definitely not the sort of people who would eagerly answer "yes" to questions such as: "Do you often get pains?" On the other hand their social adjustment is often superb. They would not make such good confidence men if they did not have an instinctive ease with the rules of interpersonal conduct.

An entirely different question, however, is the question of psychopathy. This was once known as "moral imbecility" and is now coming increasingly to be called "sociopathy". It refers to a failure to have acquired inbuilt moral restraints. Its worst manifestation is criminality. Most Nazis are completely amoral. They do not believe there is any such thing as Right and Wrong and they feel themselves under no constraint to obey moral dictates. It is interesting context to this to note that academic writers on moral philosophy are also often very skeptical about the viability of a concept of discoverable or objective Right and Wrong. Debate on the reducibility of "is good" statements to "I like" statements is in fact a common exercise for undergraduate philosophy students. I also have before me at the moment an as yet unpublished paper by John Maze, lecturer in philosophical psychology at the University of Sydney, which contains a most sweeping and persuasive indictment of moral convictions as representing themselves a learned delusional system [15].

For better or for worse, then, Nazis will only do what they see as being in their (perhaps long term) self-interest to do. Whether or not they are criminal depends then on the ratio of effort to reward and whether they think they can get away with it. In fact only three of the Nazis I have described above show criminal proclivities and I know of only one other such. Some of the young Nazis do from time to time get into trouble for possession of drugs but the harm they do to others by this is at most presumptive and certainly not intentional. Again in confirmation of the theory about Nazi emotional phlegmatism, Eysenck has long associated psychopathy with extraversion.

To conclude this section then it can be said that the Nazi is perfectly normal psychologically [13], except for his high threshold to emotional stimuli. Once the threshold has been passed, however, the response may be of normal amplitude. His personal aggressiveness could also be attributed to the same characteristics. One of the normal deterrents to aggression is counter-aggression. With his high threshold, the Nazi would very likely be much less affected and consequently less deterred by this. Indeed one very extreme example of such a phenomenon is R.M. R. is very often a lone counter-demonstrator at Left-wing rallies but ridicule and physical assault seem to deter him not a whit. He still derives great satisfaction from the febrile rage his presence seems to evoke among the hated "peace creeps". He is, however, himself very strongly built physically and is of clearly below-normal intelligence. He is one of the young Nazis. This relative failure of social sanctions among Nazis also goes far to explain their failure to acquire reflexes of moral restraint.

So much for what characterizes Nazis. I am also sometimes asked what it is that Nazis get up to. What do they do at their meetings and how do they endeavour to influence the course of events in the world about them? The answer is "very little". Their meetings -- most of which are informal -- are principally occasions for reinforcing one-another's values, of doing in fact what most Australians do in the bar of their local pub. They certainly have no programme of action or set of immediate goals. They sometimes stick up posters calculated to scandalize the Left rather than achieve any real results and in Sydney hold occasional meetings on the Domain. The anti-Apartheid movement has also stimulated them into more counter-demonstrating than was once their wont. Again the aim here is entirely to provoke the "Lefties". The counter-demonstrators are almost entirely drawn from the young Nazis. The ideological Nazis tend to be individualists who do their bit for their cause by infiltrating other community organizations and representing themselves as "ordinary decent citizens" outraged by the excesses of the Left. This is seldom, however, a concerted campaign.

Like the extreme Left, the extreme Right is extremely divisive and it is almost impossible for them to get concerted action on any issue. Each has his own idea of what should be done. Since there are far fewer active Nazis than active Left-wingers, this divisiveness does often leave one Nazi alone to his particular point of view. Since Australia does seem to be a fundamentally conservative country, one man in the right place (particularly in the Liberal or Country parties) can have a lot of influence for all that and in general I think it would be true to say that Nazis are as successful in promoting their aims as are the Left. The difference is that the Nazis have to operate almost solely underground.

What I have said above in using the terminology of "the extreme Right" must not be taken as implying that I believe the Nazi simply to be a conservative who is more extreme in his views. Shils [16] long ago pointed out that there are some things that Nazis and Communists have in common that in turn distinguish them from Liberals and Conservatives taken together. At its simplest Nazi and Communist are both totalitarian ideologies and Liberal and Conservative are both democratic ideologies. Attempts to find a psychological counterpart to this political division have been made by both Eysenck [17] and Rokeach [18]. Eysenck proposed a two dimensional schema where Fascists and Communists fell together at one end of a "toughmindedness" dimension while the democrats were both "tender-minded". Thus the Nazis were tough-minded conservatives and the Communists were tough-minded radicals. Critiques by Christie [19] and Rokeach & Hanley [20] have, however, substantially undermined Eysenck's position. Rokeach [18] replaces tough-mindedness with "dogmatism" as the variable common to both Fascists and Communists. Although useful, his account is however of a personality variable rather than an attitude dimension. It may also not be the only or even the main thing that the two have in common.

The dimension that I would like to propose as a fundamental to the difference between Conservatives and Fascists (as also to the difference between Social Democrats and Communists, Maoists etc.) is the relatively obvious one of respect for the individual and belief in the primacy of individual liberties. If the conservative's commitment to these things be doubted, let it be remembered that it was this that Churchill was most eloquent on in his polemics against Nazism. Hitler and Churchill were certainly both, in some sense, Right-wing* but on the question of respect for the individual the gulf was unbridgeable. Note that American opposition to Communism has also been in the name of freedom and "the free world". In the political debates in our society the Right have in general opposed the cry of "freedom" to the Left-wing cry of "peace". Note that freedom from regulation is also the ideological underpinning to the traditional conservative preference for laissez faire in economic policy.

Parenthetically, I would also like to point out that the Nazi and the Conservative do not differ on ethnocentrism. Churchill was as proud of his "English-speaking people" (witness his great four-volume History) as Hitler was of his Herrenvolk. The difference was in the inferences for action that the two saw as warranted by this. Churchill saw a duty to help. Hitler saw a right to exterminate. I also attribute the Nazi fascination with religion that I observed to their conservative predilections. True Conservatives, I take it, are generally in some way or other religious believers #. Nazis thus have a feeling that they should be religious or at least feel that to be so is in some sense traditional and legitimate. Their complete amorality on the other hand makes the compulsions of religion fundamentally foreign to them, Thus their continual ambivalent trifling.

Another question that I am sometimes asked is: "Where do the Nazis get their financial support?". There is in this question implied a conviction that people who "put their money where their mouth is" show an especially deep level of commitment. The question is as naive as asking: "Where do the Communists get their money from?", and I hope that the answer by this stage is as obvious. Most Nazis work for their living and they have few projects requiring funding. When they do the funds are often found from among their own ranks. On one occasion when A.S. set up an offset printing press, the funds were provided by one of the "oldfashioned Nazis" from his savings. For other specific needs however funding was in the past provided through certain Arab embassies and the Croatian community also provides support of various kinds. Some Australian Nazis who have travelled to Germany have also been regally entertained there by at least one sympathetic German industrialist.

In conclusion let me reiterate that Nazis are not generally in any way bizarre people. If you met one unknowingly you could quite well like him. Nor are they in any sense bogeymen. They are very much a marginal minority. Even if crypto-Nazis do attain to some power in public life, the traditional respect for the individual in Anglo-Saxon societies should ensure that he could function only as a (perhaps extreme) Conservative. There is obviously some room for further research on the explanation advanced here for the phenomenon of Nazism. I, naturally, hope that it will prove a more viable one than those previous attempts rooted in Freudian theory.



1. See S. Bruyn, The Human Perspective in Sociology. Englewood Cliffs, N. J. Prentice Hall. 1966.

2. E. T. Hall, The Silent Language. Garden City. Doubleday. 1959, p. 163.

3. Arthur R. Jensen, "How much can we boost IQ. and Scholastic Achievement?" Harvard Educational Review, 1969, Vol. 39, pp. 1-123.

4. Ray, J.J. (1971) Ethnocentrism: Attitudes and behaviour. Australian Quarterly, 43, 89-97.

5. For a more extensive treatment of non-Nazi antisemitism see Ray, J.J. (Unpublished) Semitism and antisemitism: Some observations from Australia in support of the Stein/Glock hypothesis

6. S. H. Roberts, The House that Hitler Built. Now York. Harper. 1938, pp. 41 and 359.

7. H. J. Eysenck and S. Rachman, The Causes and Cures of Neurosis. San Diego, California. Knapp. 1965. Also H. J. Eysenck and S. B. G. Eysenck, Personality Structure and Measurement. London. Routledge. 1969.

8. Ray, J.J. (1971) An "Attitude to Authority" scale. Australian Psychologist, 6, 31-50.

9. H. J. Eysenck, The Psychology of Politics. London. Routledge. 1954, p. 174.

10. T. W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, D. J. Levinson and R. N. Sanford, The Authoritarian Personality. New York. Harper, 1950.

11. Ray, J.J. (1972) Is antisemitism a cognitive simplification? Some observations on Australian Neo-Nazis. Jewish J. Sociology 15, 207-213. See also footnotes 4 and 8.

12. R. Christie and Marie Jahoda, Studies in the Method and Scope of "The Authoritarian Personality". Glencoe, III. Free Press, 1954.

13. A. C. Elms, "Those Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes are No Nuttier than Anyone Else, It Turns Out". Psychology Today, 1970, Vol. 3, pp. 27-59.

14. W. Tauss, "A Note on the Prevalence of Mental Disturbance". Australian Journal of Psychology, 1967, Vol. 19, pp. 121-123.

15. See Maze, J. (1973) The concept of attitude. Inquiry 16, 168-205.

16. E. A. Shils, "Authoritarianism: Right and Left". In Christie and Jahoda's Studies as under footnote 12.

17. H. J. Eysenck, The Psychology of Politics, as under footnote 9, p. 130.

18. M. Rokeach, The Open and Closed Mind. New York. Basic Books. 1960.

19. R. Christie, "Some Abuses of Psychology". Psychological Bulletin, 1956, Vol. 53, pp. 439-451.

20. M. Rokeach and C. Hanley, "Care and Carelessness in Psychology". Psychological Bulletin, 1956, Vol. 53, pp. 183-186.


*Principally in that both Churchill and Hitler were anticommunist. And Hitler did to some extent romanticize the past. No real-life political party is purely anything so the fact that Hitler's Nazism was a mixture of elements should come as no surprise. In economic policy and in disrespect for the individual he was clearly of the Left but his nationalism conflicts with the internationalism that most Marxists preach so has usually served to place Hitler on the Right in modern-day minds. In his day, however, Hitler was not alone in being both Leftist and nationalist. From Napoleon Bonaparte onward, there were many nationalist Leftists prior to Hitler. Even Engels was a German nationalist, in fact. So in his day, Hitler was a mainstream Leftist, only to the Right of Communism. And even in modern times most Leftists are to the Right of Communism. See here for a more detailed treatment of Hitler's ideology. Even his antisemitism was Leftist in his day.

# This sentence was rather vague but was nonetheless still a little careless. I would revise it these days to say something even more qualified: "Christians were at the time usually conservative in at least some senses". Roman Catholics at the time in fact most usually voted for Australia's major Leftist political party (the Australian Labor Party) but were nonetheless respectful of the traditional order in many ways. And in a generally irreligious place like Australia, there are far more voters for conservative parties than there are regular church attenders of any kind. The depth of Australia's irreligiosity (and the consequent irrelevance of religion to Australian politics) is perhaps best shown by the fact that just about all all the politically outspoken Christian clergy in Australia of the year 2004 seemed to be opposed to the conservative government of John Howard -- which seems to have caused Mr Howard little concern and which certainly did not prevent him from having a notable election victory in that year.

It may be of interest to some readers that the journal in which this article appeared -- Patterns of Prejudice -- was published by the Institute of Jewish Affairs, in London.

Go to Index page for this site

Go to John Ray's "Tongue Tied" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Dissecting Leftism" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Australian Politics" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Gun Watch" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Education Watch International" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Socialized Medicine" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Political Correctness Watch" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Greenie Watch" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Food & Health Skeptic" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Eye on Britain" blog (Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Immigration Watch International" blog. (Backup here or here).
Go to John Ray's "Leftists as Elitists" blog (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Marx & Engels in their own words" blog (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "A scripture blog" (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's recipe blog (Not now regularly updated -- Backup here or here)
Go to John Ray's "Some memoirs" (Occasionally updated -- Backup here)

Go to John Ray's Main academic menu
Go to Menu of recent writings
Go to John Ray's basic home page
Go to John Ray's pictorial Home Page (Backup here or here).
Go to Selected pictures from John Ray's blogs (Backup here or here)
Go to Another picture page (Best with broadband)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: