More profoundly, Nihilist simplification may be seen in the universal prestige today accorded the lowest order of knowledge, the scientific, as well as the simplistic ideas of men like Marx, Freud and Darwin, which underlie virtually the whole of contemporary thought and life.We say life, for it is important to see that the Nihilist history of our century has not been something imposed from without or above, or at least has not been predominantly this; it has rather presupposed and drawn its nourishment from, a Nihilist soil that has long been preparing in the hearts of the people. It is precisely from the Nihilism of the commonplace, from the everyday Nihilism revealed in the life and thought and aspiration of the people, that all the terrible events of our century have sprung. The world-view of Hitler is very instructive in this regard, for in him the most extreme and monstrous Nihilism rested upon the foundation of a quite unexceptional and even typical Realism. He shared the common faith in science, progress and enlightenment (though not, of course, in democracy), together with a practical materialism that scorned all theology, metaphysics and any thought or action concerned with any other world than the here and now, priding himself on the fact that he had the gift of reducing all problems to their simplest foundations. He had a crude worship of efficiency and utility that freely tolerated birth control, laughed at the institution of marriage as a mere legalization of a sexual impulse that should be free, welcomed sterilization of the unfit, despised unproductive elements such as monks, saw nothing in the cremation of the dead but a practical question and did not even hesitate to put the ashes, or the skin and fat, of the dead to productive use. He possessed the quasi-anarchist distrust of sacred and venerable institutions, in particular the Church with its superstitions and all its outmoded laws and ceremonies. He had a naive trust in the natural mom, the healthy animal who scorns the Christian virtues--virginity in particular--that impede the natural functioning of the body. He took a simple-minded delight in modern conveniences and machines and especially in the automobile and the sense of speed and freedom it affords.There is very little of this crude Weltanschauung that is not shared, to some degree, by the multitudes today, especially among the young, who feel themselves enlightened and liberated, very little that is not typically modern.
Seraphim Rose