Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).

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The Attractiveness of
Neo-Nazi Ideologies

Root Causes and Effective Countermeasures

Frank Visser / ChatGPT

Me to ChatGPT:

  • The phenomenon of neo-Nazi sympathy is widespread in many countries around the world. Please explain in an essay of 2000 words the attractiveness of these ideas for certain groups. What provides fertile ground for these ideas? How can we best deal with these groups?

Follow-up questions

  • Putin has argued that Ukraine needs to be "denazified". How strong is the neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine and how does it relate to its government and military? Does it have strong historical roots in Ukrainian history?
  • The same, however, can be said of Russia. In this context, a group of Russian mercenaries fighting in many different wars around the world is called the Wagner group. Please give examples of Russian forms of neo-Nazism.
  • Given the role played by the Nazis in World War II in fighting against Russia, Putin tends to call his enemies Nazi's with a broad brush. However, Hitler and Stalin worked together to divide Europe before the war started. Please elaborate on this complicated connection.
  • Is there a historic parallel between Hitler's "defense" of Germans living in Sudetenland, and Putin's "defense" of Russians living in the Donbas? Or was and is this only a pretext for conquering neigbouring land?
  • Is it helpful or unhelpful at all to use the Nazi label for current geopolitical conflicts? Or is it a generic put down of the "enemy" that obscures and hides one's deeper motives?



Neo-Nazi sympathy is an alarming phenomenon that persists in several countries worldwide, posing a significant threat to social cohesion, democratic values, and individual rights. This essay delves into the factors that contribute to the attractiveness of these ideas for certain groups. By exploring the fertile ground that fosters neo-Nazi sympathies, we can gain insights into the underlying causes and develop effective strategies to address and counter these extremist ideologies.

I. Historical Context:

To comprehend the allure of neo-Nazi sympathies, it is imperative to acknowledge the historical context. Many nations have experienced socio-economic disparities, political instability, and societal divisions, leading to grievances and disillusionment among certain groups. Economic recessions, cultural clashes, and perceived threats to identity can create conditions where extremist ideologies, such as neo-Nazism, find fertile ground.

II. Identity Crisis and Social Alienation:

Neo-Nazi ideologies often exploit individuals' identity crises and social alienation. Certain groups may feel marginalized or disenfranchised due to factors such as economic inequality, cultural clashes, or ethnic tensions. These individuals seek a sense of belonging and identity, and extremist groups prey on these vulnerabilities, offering a distorted sense of empowerment and purpose through a toxic narrative of superiority.

III. Propagation through Propaganda:

The attractiveness of neo-Nazi sympathies is also fueled by the dissemination of propaganda and the use of online platforms. The internet has provided a powerful tool for extremists to recruit, radicalize, and organize. Social media algorithms, echo chambers, and encrypted communication channels create echo chambers that reinforce extremist beliefs and isolate individuals from diverse perspectives. Through carefully crafted messages and manipulation of emotions, neo-Nazi groups amplify their ideas and appeal to susceptible individuals.

IV. Societal Fragmentation and Polarization:

The fragmentation and polarization of societies can contribute to the attractiveness of neo-Nazi sympathies. Divisions along ethnic, religious, or ideological lines can create a breeding ground for extremist ideologies. Socio-political events, such as immigration crises or acts of terrorism, can intensify these divisions, leading some individuals to gravitate towards extremist ideologies as a perceived solution or expression of anger and frustration.

V. Economic Insecurity and Disillusionment:

Economic factors play a crucial role in fostering neo-Nazi sympathies. Economic insecurity, unemployment, and poverty can fuel resentment and despair, making individuals susceptible to radicalization. The promise of economic stability, protectionism, and scapegoating of marginalized groups provides a seductive narrative that blames others for their own economic struggles.

VI. Countering Neo-Nazi Groups:

Effectively dealing with neo-Nazi groups necessitates a multi-faceted approach, involving preventive measures, legal frameworks, and societal initiatives.

a. Education and Awareness:

Promoting education and awareness at multiple levels is essential to counter neo-Nazi sympathies. Educational institutions should emphasize critical thinking, media literacy, and teach the values of tolerance, diversity, and respect. Community outreach programs, public campaigns, and grassroots initiatives can raise awareness about the dangers of extremist ideologies and promote inclusive values.

b. Strengthening Social Cohesion:

Building strong social cohesion is crucial in countering neo-Nazi sympathies. Governments, civil society organizations, and community leaders should work collectively to foster dialogue, understanding, and cooperation among diverse groups. Promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue, organizing community events, and investing in programs that bridge societal divisions can help undermine the appeal of extremist ideologies.

c. Legal Measures and Law Enforcement:

Strong legal frameworks are necessary to address hate crimes, hate speech, and extremist activities. Governments should ensure that laws are robust, effectively enforced, and provide adequate penalties for those involved in neo-Nazi activities. Law enforcement agencies need to receive specialized training to detect, monitor, and investigate neo-Nazi groups, disrupting their activities, and prosecuting individuals engaged in hate crimes or incitement to violence. Collaboration between law enforcement agencies, intelligence services, and international cooperation is essential to combat the transnational nature of these extremist groups.

d. Rehabilitation and Reintegration:

Efforts should be made to rehabilitate individuals who have been radicalized by neo-Nazi ideologies. Rehabilitation programs should focus on providing psychological counseling, social support, and education to help individuals disengage from extremist beliefs and reintegrate into society. Cooperation between government agencies, NGOs, and community organizations is vital to ensure the success of such programs.

e. Countering Online Radicalization:

Given the significant role of online platforms in propagating neo-Nazi ideologies, concerted efforts are required to counter online radicalization. Social media companies should take responsibility and actively enforce policies against hate speech, extremist content, and the promotion of violence. Collaboration between tech companies, governments, and civil society is essential to develop effective strategies to identify, monitor, and counter online extremist activities.

f. Addressing Root Causes:

Addressing the underlying root causes of neo-Nazi sympathies is crucial for long-term prevention. Governments should focus on reducing socio-economic disparities, promoting inclusive economic policies, and addressing issues of inequality. Investing in education, employment opportunities, and social welfare programs can help alleviate grievances and diminish the appeal of extremist ideologies.


The attractiveness of neo-Nazi sympathies for certain groups is a complex phenomenon rooted in historical context, identity crises, social alienation, propaganda, societal fragmentation, and economic factors. Effectively dealing with these groups requires a comprehensive approach that includes education, strengthening social cohesion, legal measures, rehabilitation, countering online radicalization, and addressing root causes. By implementing these strategies, societies can mitigate the appeal of neo-Nazi ideologies and work towards a more inclusive, tolerant, and peaceful future.

Putin has argued that Ukraine needs to be "denazified". How strong is the neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine and how does it relate to its government and military? Does it have strong historical roots in Ukrainian history?

The issue of neo-Nazi movements in Ukraine is a complex and contentious topic, often subject to political manipulation and differing interpretations. It is important to approach this subject with nuance and recognize that not all Ukrainians or the Ukrainian government can be characterized as neo-Nazis. While there have been instances of far-right and nationalist groups in Ukraine, it is misleading to label the entire country or its government as neo-Nazi.

Strength of Neo-Nazi Movements in Ukraine:

Neo-Nazi movements in Ukraine do exist, but their influence and strength should not be overstated. These groups are generally small in numbers and lack broad public support. They are often associated with extremist ideologies, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism. The presence of these groups is more pronounced during times of political upheaval and conflict, such as during the Euromaidan protests in 2013-2014 and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Relationship with the Government and Military:

It is important to distinguish between the Ukrainian government, the military, and extremist groups. While some nationalist and far-right organizations have participated in protests and occasionally clashed with security forces, it does not imply an endorsement or affiliation between the government, the military, and these extremist groups as a whole. The Ukrainian government has condemned extremism and has taken measures to combat far-right ideologies.

Historical Roots:

To understand the context, it is necessary to acknowledge the historical complexities within Ukraine. Ukraine has a long and diverse history, and its relationship with nationalism has been shaped by various factors. During World War II, Ukraine experienced both collaboration with Nazi Germany and resistance against it. The complexity of Ukrainian historical narratives has led to different interpretations and controversies, which some extremist groups exploit to propagate their ideologies.

Political Manipulation and Propaganda:

The issue of neo-Nazism in Ukraine has been politicized, particularly in the context of the conflict with Russia. Russia has used this narrative as part of its disinformation campaigns to undermine Ukraine's legitimacy and justify its own actions. While there are elements of far-right extremism in Ukraine, it is important to avoid painting the entire country or its government with a broad brush.

Ukrainian Government's Response:

The Ukrainian government has taken steps to address far-right extremism and combat hate crimes. Legislation has been introduced to prohibit hate speech, Holocaust denial, and the glorification of Nazi symbols. Furthermore, the government has cooperated with international organizations to combat extremism and promote human rights.


While some far-right and nationalist groups exist in Ukraine, it is crucial to avoid generalizations and recognize that they do not represent the entire country or its government. The strength of the neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine should not be exaggerated, and it is important to separate legitimate concerns about extremism from political manipulation and propaganda. Engaging in nuanced discussions based on accurate information is essential to understand the complexities of Ukraine's historical and contemporary context.

The same, however, can be said of Russia. In this context, a group of Russian mercenaries fighting in many different wars around the world is called the Wagner group. Please give examples of Russian forms of neo-Nazism.

While it is true that Russia has witnessed the presence of far-right and nationalist movements, it is important to note that not all Russians or the Russian government can be characterized as neo-Nazis. There have been instances of extremist groups and individuals in Russia with neo-Nazi ideologies. Here are a few examples:

Russian National Unity (RNU):

The Russian National Unity is a far-right nationalist organization founded in the 1990s. It promotes a mix of ultranationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and anti-Semitism. The group has been involved in violent attacks against ethnic minorities and has been labeled as a neo-Nazi organization by some observers.

Russian March:

The Russian March is an annual nationalist demonstration held in Moscow and other Russian cities. While not all participants are neo-Nazis, the event has seen the participation of far-right and extremist groups displaying symbols associated with neo-Nazism, such as the swastika and SS runes. These symbols are used to promote a nationalist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic agenda.

The Rise of Football Hooliganism:

In recent years, Russia has witnessed the rise of football hooliganism, with some groups displaying neo-Nazi tendencies. These hooligan firms have been associated with far-right ideologies and have been involved in violent clashes with rival groups, immigrants, and individuals from ethnic minorities.

Online Neo-Nazi Propaganda:

The internet has played a significant role in the propagation of neo-Nazi ideologies in Russia. Online platforms have been utilized by extremist individuals and groups to disseminate hate speech, promote racial superiority, and share neo-Nazi propaganda. These online communities often target vulnerable individuals and seek to recruit and radicalize them.

It is crucial to emphasize that the examples provided represent specific extremist groups or individuals within Russia, and they do not reflect the entire Russian population or the Russian government's beliefs or policies. The Russian government has taken measures to address extremism, hate crimes, and hate speech, including legislation targeting extremist organizations and propaganda.

It is worth noting that the Wagner Group, while a controversial entity, is a private military company (PMC) rather than a neo-Nazi organization. The group has been implicated in involvement in conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, and other regions, often operating in a murky and unaccountable manner. While some individuals associated with the Wagner Group may hold extremist views, it is essential to distinguish between the actions of specific individuals or groups and the broader societal or governmental context.

Given the role played by the Nazis in World War II in fighting against Russia, Putin tends to call his enemies Nazi's with a broad brush. However, Hitler and Stalin worked together to divide Europe before the war started. Please elaborate on this complicated connection.

The relationship between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, the leaders of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union respectively, during the years preceding World War II is indeed a complex and historically significant topic. While it is true that Hitler and Stalin engaged in a diplomatic relationship and signed a non-aggression pact known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, it is important to examine the context and motivations behind their collaboration.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact:

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was signed on August 23, 1939. This agreement included a non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, along with secret protocols that divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence.

Motivations and Objectives:

Both Hitler and Stalin had their respective motivations for entering into this pact, which appeared to be contradictory considering their later confrontation during World War II. For Hitler, the pact allowed him to secure his eastern flank and avoid a two-front war, giving him the opportunity to launch his invasion of Poland without fear of Soviet intervention. Stalin, on the other hand, sought to buy time to prepare for a potential conflict with Germany, strengthen the Soviet military, and gain territorial concessions.

Dividing Europe and the Outbreak of War:

The secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which remained undisclosed at the time, aimed to divide Eastern Europe into spheres of influence between Germany and the Soviet Union. This led to the Soviet Union's annexation of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and the subsequent Soviet occupation of parts of Poland after Germany invaded the country in September 1939.

Barbarossa and the Breakdown of Cooperation:

The Hitler-Stalin collaboration started to unravel when Germany violated the pact by launching Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, on June 22, 1941. The attack caught Stalin by surprise, and the Soviet Union became one of the major targets of Nazi aggression. The German invasion led to a drastic change in the Soviet-German relationship, transforming them from temporary allies to bitter enemies.

Impact on World War II and Europe:

The Hitler-Stalin collaboration and the subsequent breakdown had far-reaching consequences. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols allowed Hitler to consolidate power in Eastern Europe, paving the way for the start of World War II. The Soviet Union suffered immense human and material losses during the war, but ultimately played a significant role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

It is important to note that while Hitler and Stalin engaged in temporary cooperation, it does not diminish the crimes committed by either regime or the suffering caused by their actions. The actions and policies of both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during this period had devastating effects on millions of people and reshaped the course of history.

It is also crucial to distinguish between the historical context and the contemporary use of Nazi comparisons by political leaders. Applying the label of "Nazi" to political opponents without sufficient justification can oversimplify complex situations and undermine meaningful dialogue. It is important to critically analyze historical events and their implications, recognizing the nuances and complexities involved.

Is there a historic parallel between Hitler's "defense" of Germans living in Sudetenland, and Putin's "defense" of Russians living in the Donbas? Or was and is this only a pretext for conquering neigbouring land?

Drawing historical parallels between Hitler's "defense" of Germans in the Sudetenland and Putin's "defense" of Russians in the Donbas is a complex matter that requires careful analysis of the respective contexts and motivations involved.

Sudetenland Crisis:

In the late 1930s, Adolf Hitler used the issue of protecting ethnic Germans living in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia as a pretext for territorial expansion. Hitler's propaganda machine portrayed ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland as oppressed and threatened, providing justification for Germany's aggressive actions. The Munich Agreement of 1938 allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland, leading to the subsequent disintegration of Czechoslovakia.

Donbas Conflict:

In the case of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, the situation is more complex. Following the Euromaidan protests in 2013-2014 and the ousting of the pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, Russia annexed Crimea and supported separatist movements in parts of eastern Ukraine, including the Donbas region. Russia claimed to be protecting the rights of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking populations in the region, similar to the narrative used during the Sudetenland crisis.

Key Differences:

While there are some similarities in the rhetoric used by Hitler and Putin regarding the protection of ethnic kin, there are significant differences between the two cases:

a. Historical Context:

The Sudetenland crisis occurred in the lead-up to World War II when Nazi Germany was aggressively expanding its territory, driven by imperialist ambitions. The Donbas conflict, on the other hand, took place in a post-Cold War era, with different geopolitical dynamics and a different global order.

b. Intent and Motivations:

Hitler's intentions were to secure territorial gains and promote Nazi expansionism, leading to the eventual occupation and domination of Czechoslovakia and other European countries. Putin's motivations in the Donbas conflict have been subject to debate, but they likely include a combination of geopolitical interests, influence over Ukraine, and the desire to prevent Ukraine from drifting towards the West.

c. International Legitimacy:

In the Sudetenland crisis, the Munich Agreement was reached between major European powers, effectively enabling Hitler's territorial ambitions. In contrast, the international community, including the United Nations and most countries, has not recognized Russia's actions in Crimea and the Donbas region as legitimate. The annexation of Crimea, in particular, was condemned as a violation of international law.

It is important to note that while there are similarities in the rhetoric used, making a direct historical parallel between Hitler's actions and Putin's actions is a complex matter. Each case has its unique historical context, geopolitical dynamics, and motivations.

Ultimately, the question of whether the defense of ethnic populations is a genuine concern or a pretext for territorial conquest is subject to interpretation and analysis. Different perspectives exist on the motivations and intentions of Putin's actions in the Donbas, and the geopolitical context should be considered when evaluating such situations.

Is it helpful or unhelpful at all to use the Nazi label for current geopolitical conflicts? Or is it a generic put down of the "enemy" that obscures and hides one's deeper motives?

Using the Nazi label or comparisons to Nazis in current geopolitical conflicts can be a complex and sensitive matter. While historical comparisons can sometimes provide insights and help in understanding certain dynamics, it is essential to approach such comparisons with caution and consider their potential consequences.

Overuse and Dilution of Historical Significance:

Labeling one's opponents as Nazis or making frequent comparisons to Nazi Germany can dilute the historical significance and gravity of the atrocities committed during the Nazi regime. The Nazi regime was responsible for genocide, war crimes, and the systematic persecution of millions of people. Using the label too loosely can diminish the severity of these historical events and undermine meaningful discussions about the complexities of contemporary conflicts.

Oversimplification and Lack of Nuance:

Drawing direct comparisons to Nazis or using the Nazi label as a generic put-down can oversimplify complex geopolitical conflicts. It may ignore the unique historical, political, and social contexts of each situation and fail to capture the intricacies and motivations involved. This can hinder efforts to address the root causes of conflicts and find meaningful solutions.

Deflection from Deeper Motives:

In some cases, labeling opponents as Nazis may serve as a rhetorical device to divert attention from one's own actions or motives. By invoking the Nazi label, one may seek to discredit or delegitimize their opponents without addressing the underlying issues or engaging in substantive dialogue. This can lead to a breakdown in communication and hinder efforts towards conflict resolution.

Impact on Diplomacy and Cooperation:

The use of the Nazi label in diplomatic relations and international discourse can escalate tensions, damage relationships, and impede cooperation. It can evoke strong emotions and provoke defensive reactions, making it difficult to foster meaningful dialogue and find common ground. Constructive dialogue and diplomacy are crucial for resolving conflicts and promoting stability.

While historical comparisons can sometimes offer insights into patterns of behavior or ideologies, it is important to approach them thoughtfully and with careful consideration of their potential impact. Constructive dialogue, nuanced understanding of the specific context, and addressing the underlying issues are often more productive approaches to resolving conflicts and fostering cooperation.

It is essential to recognize the historical significance of the Nazi regime and the need to preserve the memory of the victims while engaging in responsible and informed discussions about contemporary conflicts.

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