Poli 388W - AR

Sammy Basu



Democracy and Nazism


SMU 317





What can we learn from the failed Weimar Republic and the consolidation of authoritarianism in the form of the Nazi Third Reich about the constitutive elements of democracy in general at the institutional, cultural, and cognitive levels?  In exploring the historical record, this course considers the nature of political and moral argument in relation to several modes of discourse: philosophy, art, worldview (Weltanschauung), propaganda, ideology, and deception.  In argumentative, ethical, aesthetic, and affective terms, what made agitation for the demise of Weimar democracy persuasive, and conversely, what legitimized participation in the Nazi racial state?  Finally, what insights can we apply to contemporary democratic politics?


Two contemporaneous accounts as well as other primary texts including documents, posters, and films will be read in conjunction with secondary scholarship.


Seminar Discussion, Exams, and Term Paper



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Joseph Roth.

What I Saw: Reports from Berlin, 1920-1933.  

[1920-33] (2003)

Sebastian Haffner.

Germany Jekyll & Hyde: A Contemporary Account of Nazi Germany [1939] (2008)



Stephen J. Lee.

The Weimar Republic (2010)

Stephen J. Lee.

Hitler and Nazi Germany (2010)