Do you know the origin of the term “Nazi”?

It’s a shorthand word, formed from the first two syllables of the German pronunciation of the word “national” – which Germans pronounce na-tsi-o-na:l.

Few people now remember that the Nazi party’s full name was the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, or NSDAP. The first word in that name had enormous importance to Adolf Hitler and the other architects of Nazism, because the Nazi Party emerged from the earlier militant German nationalist movement called Volkisch – which has no direct English translation, but most closely means racial-nationalistic.

National Socialist German Worker's PartySo the word Nazi doesn’t only describe someone who believes in racial superiority – it also means a militant nationalist, a person who privileges the institution of the nation over the individual; or even more startling, actually deifies the nation. Hitler tried his best to demonstrate that militant nationalist philosophy, first with his mass rallies and then by passing genocidal laws and ultimately by attempting to dominate and conquer the world.

The Baha’i teachings diametrically and absolutely oppose such nationalism.

In his 1930’s-era analysis of the Baha’i principle of global governance and world unification titled The World Order of Baha’u’llah, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, warned the world about this Nazi brand of militant and unfettered national sovereignty:

Europe, hitherto regarded as the cradle of a highly-vaunted civilization, as the torch-bearer of liberty and the mainspring of the forces of world industry and commerce, stands bewildered and paralyzed at the sight of so tremendous an upheaval. Long-cherished ideals in the political no less than in the economic sphere of human activity are being severely tested under the pressure of reactionary forces on one hand and of an insidious and persistent radicalism on the other…. The clamor of a nascent nationalism, coupled with a recrudescence of skepticism and unbelief, come as added misfortunes to a continent hitherto regarded as the symbol of age-long stability and undisturbed resignation. – p. 31.

The Baha’i teachings characterize this sort of nationalism as “capricious and militant,” as “narrow, brutal, arrogant and pernicious,” and say that it must eventually die and be “transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship.”

In another clear characterization, Shoghi Effendi says:

The wave of nationalism, so aggressive and so contagious in its effects, which has swept not only over Europe but over a large part of mankind is, indeed the very negation of the gospel of peace and of brotherhood proclaimed by Baha’u’llah. – The Light of Divine Guidance, p. 55.

Baha’is believe that nationalism itself, the old idea that nations should rule the world, needs to be supplanted and replaced by a unified worldwide governing body, a Parliament of Man. This remarkable, anti-Nazi vision for a global solution to the humanity’s insistent problems, outlined here by Shoghi Effendi, paints a panoramic picture of the future world all Baha’is work towards:

Some form of a world super-state must needs be evolved, in whose favor all the nations of the world will have willingly ceded every claim to make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. Such a state will have to include within its orbit an international executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth; a world parliament whose members shall be elected by the people in their respective countries and whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments; and a supreme tribunal whose judgment will have a binding effect even in such cases where the parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to its consideration. A world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of Capital and Labor definitely recognized; in which the clamor of religious fanaticism and strife will have been forever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law — the product of the considered judgment of the world’s federated representatives — shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units; and finally a world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship — such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Baha’u’llah, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age. – The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 40-41.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

2 Comments

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  • Allen Boyaintright Harris
    Mar 17, 2017
    When I was in the US Army, the favored way of shaming someone for expressing their individuality was, "Oh, so you think you're special, huh?" This could be said to be a way of enforcing the "rights" of the state over that of the individual. Just an observation.
  • Charlotte Solarz
    May 04, 2014
    Thank you, David Langness @ bahaiteachings for this post; the topic of Nazism is most timely to current events! You present the antidote to this sickness to be the all-inclusiveness found core to the Baha'i Teachings, and this is pure balm!