Was WWII a fight between different serious interpretations of the world, apart from the usual superficial descriptions of military fights between countries?

Does there exist some philosophical secret to explain it better? I am here not interested in the argument from pity for the victims. I only want to know at the bottom of it, what the underlying philosophical fight was, just to come to know, without valuing it from some fixed perspective, and without the usual, prescribed catchwords, which are designed to stop its philosophical investigation in advance.

I want the philosophical POV’s of the war parties, separated from atrocity stories and taboos. I want to hear the truth about what their philosophical motivation was. (The historical truth is atrociously frozen in and tabooed with iron determination; my substantiated POV is that this is a political decision of the occupators of the USA.) — But philosophy is not history, historical events or policy, hence I claim to hear the philosophical truth.

What were the two philosophical (not political !) poles in this war? What do they philosophically represent? How have they philosophically developed? Did these poles already exist in Antiquity? Do they exist in some mythology? What does it imply for us today that one of these (philosophical) poles had (or seems) to perish? Is it a loss?

What is (the name of) the center of the victorious (philosophical) pole? What is its interior structure, and how is the organization of the external departments of this victorious philosophical pole?

  • I was hoping for an answer on a profounder layer. Jobermark’s answer below is the plain answer of a paragon, as always. But from all these ornamental trees we will lose track of the hollow oaks where true wisdom dwells. I am searching for a deeper, less mechanistic, natural wisdom, which only an amateur scientist/philosopher may foster. I have the impression that such wisdom is excluded intentionally and that there is a gap between social reality and truth of this kind, here too. Who is keen and bold enough to formulate such an answer here? – user26880 Jul 2 '17 at 0:28
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    If you are looking for speculative or 'intuitive' philosophy to be induced by your questions, this simply by definition is the wrong place as it is a bad fit for any SE. If you are looking for a philosophically interesting position (written 1934), The Limits of Community by Helmuth Plessner more or less predicted WWII. – Philip Klöcking Jul 2 '17 at 11:32

The philosophical core that Germany, Italy and Japan shared in the WWII was clearly the myth of the natural nation. Germany and Italy were only recently unified compared to the rest of the Western world, but both had a mythology of their language groups as unified dominant 'peoples' going back to a sort of purposeful misconstrual of the Holy Roman Empire and of the Roman Empire itself. Japan had controlled its region by harsh intervention and held a similar tradition of racial exceptionalism.

The notion of the natural state goes back at least to Kant, whose political philosophy tried to afford the 'will' of the natural inhabitants of a region the same kind of autonomy that his ethics expected of individuals. There are obviously threads of it in more basic tribalism throughout the world, but Kant had a clear vision of a modern nation-state with a thorough monopoly on violence and economic cohesion.

The leading countries on the other side were amalgamated, appropriating nations, either multicultural or colonial in focus. England was a composite 'layered' nation by origin, and was vastly colonial. France and the other Atlantic coastal European powers had been influenced by their strong colonial presence. Russia had long been a Moscovy/Kievan/Kazakh merger and was in the process of annexing her neighbors and becoming the federated poly-nation of the USSR. They ultimately dragged in the United States, which was implicitly multicultural and already federated in the way Russia hoped to be.

Our colonialist past goes back at least to Rome, which readily annexed other civilizations and elevated locals to run things. Rome set a new standard for the idea that you could have both elitism and meritocracy -- that the pride of a people in their national identity could be constructed as needed and could even be modulated for political advantage.

If this is the proper set of distinctions, then the war disproved the supposed internal weakness of 'mongrel and cliented States' that Napoleon thought he had proved. It opened up the world to the possibility that the West outside the Mediterranean could achieve the kind of cosmopolitanism of Rome and the Byzantine and Caliphate powers without first having to have someone amass an Empire.

We have definitely followed those pointers away from the genius of a people and toward accommodation to mixed cultures. Repulsed emotionally by the drama of German and Italian governmental collapses (one in suicide, the other in murder) and ritual opacity of the Japanese surrender, Western nationalism has ceased to be nearly as openly racial for the last several decades.

  • Do you have any references to support your answer? – David Blomstrom Nov 2 '18 at 0:06
  • @DavidBlomstrom The basic approach about the tension between 'ethnos' and identity, specifically about solidarity and minorities is reflected in 'The Fear of Small Numbers" by Arjun Appadurai, analyzing how the ethnic cleansing of the '90's recapitulates the run-up to WWII in Europe. The contrasting features of the other states are simply recorded facts, from which I am drawing the corresponding contrasting conclusions from his about states that are weathering greater internationalism better than those that are failing. – user9166 Nov 7 '18 at 16:32
  • You seem to want this analysis to be a lot more metaphorical and figurative than it is. For instance, you previously complained about the reference to suicide with some reference to Libya. The suicide and homicide indicated is not of Germany and Italy, but are the literal fates of their respective leaders. The idea that Nazism, Fascism and reassertion of the Emperor are about national identity is not a surmise, it is something that those acting in favor of those forces openly stated. – user9166 Nov 7 '18 at 16:38