India’s best-selling management handbook

This is truly rich: copies of the light classic Mein Kampf are flying off the shelves in India as business students seek to learn the “secrets of the author’s success.” There’s a lot they can learn from him about winning friends and influencing people, not to mention problem-solving.

Dressed for Success?

Dressed for success?

On a more serious note, this is thoroughly repulsive. I can see going through the torture of reading this stultifyingly turgid tome if you wanted to better understand one of the great aberrations of human history.

But the idea of emulating any of this beast’s “thoughts” and looking to him as some kind of role model is literally sickening.

The Discussion: 22 Comments

The article in the Telegraph is complete garbage written by some idiot. I am an Indian and can assure you, nobody but a lunatic reads Mein Kempf in India. You can’t find it in any self respecting book store. I’ve never heard greater nonsense.

May 6, 2009 @ 5:56 pm | Comment

Ramesh, I certainly hope you are right. Do you really think the reporter could have just made it up?

May 6, 2009 @ 6:06 pm | Comment

Mein Kampf was in my school library. As I recall it was a rather rambling, incoherent piece of writing, irrespective of its lunatic and evil ideology. I am not sure how anyone could make much sense of it, let alone use it as a management guide.

It reminds me of a story I once heard of the Japanese snapping up The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Apparently they were not doing this as a part of any anti-semiticism, but as a how to manual on taking over the world by stealth!

May 6, 2009 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

Even if Hitler had managed to create a successful business model, Mein Kampf doesn’t contain any specifics useful to management students. Maybe this is why Indian MBAs aren’t highly sought-after.

By the way, I’ve heard that Mr. H got his “stultifyingly turgid” writing style from imitating the prose of Richard Wagner, although I don’t speak enough German to confirm this.

May 6, 2009 @ 6:58 pm | Comment

boo, there is no evidence that Hitler ever read a single word Wagner wrote. He constantly referenced the music, never the writing. Either Goebbels or Himmler once referenced Wagner’s vile essay Judaism in Music in an internal pep rally for Nazi leaders and that’s the only reference to Wagner’s prose that I know of in the context of Nazi Germany. His musical works, on the other hand, were Hitler’s obsession, though few of his fellow Nazis shared this passion and frequently snuck out of the operas that were mandatory after the first act.

Totally agree that there is nothing whatever in Mein Kampf that could be at all useful to business students. Incredibly dull, repetitious and shallow – although I have no doubt Hitler meant most of what he wrote; and the book spells out most of H’s goals that would frame his 12 years in power, i.e., dismantling the ToV, ending reparations, taking back the German territories lost in WWI and ridding Germany of its Jews.

May 6, 2009 @ 8:51 pm | Comment

Believe it or not, I’ve read Mein Kampf. I recall that is was a very strange book replete with cook book-like rules for seizing power. Hitler’s main thesis, as I recall, is that to lead a successful political movement you need (a) a strong idea + (b) force. For Hitler, the strong idea was the idea of the German nation (volk). Hitler said that it’s very difficult to defeat a strong idea + force. To do so requires a massive use of overwhelming force ruthlessly applied; hence, the brutal war against the Soviet Communists. Hitler’s theory suggests that the US will lose its war against fundamentalist Islam.

Hitler’s description of the bankruptcy of the German state in his time seem to parallel the wholesale collapse/bankruptcy of US institutions now.

May 6, 2009 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

I read it, too, a long time ago. What you describe is accurate enough. I can get the point in one short paragraph. Hitler’s editors should have hacked off 200 of its 300 pages. Even then, it’s god-awful reading and an exercise in depraved egomania. Not to mention huge portions of it are out and out false, especially about his upbringing, when he first became anti-Semitic, etc.

May 6, 2009 @ 10:10 pm | Comment

I fingered through it at school. It, just like everything else Hitler wrote – including, despite his reputation as an orator, the content of his speeches – was boring, turgid old tosh.

Of course,it would be pretty stupid if a country with a huge population were to seize upon the writings of a maniac and declare them to be universally true and a guide on how to do everything . A good thing that never happened.

May 6, 2009 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

However, there is no doubt Hitler was a great orator. True, the content was turgid and deranged (no surprise there). But his build-up, his crescendos and decrescendos and sudden climaxes were astonishing examples of rhetoric. Hitler was nothing, a empty shell of a human being who had two great skills, oratory and ruthless brinksmanship. The notion that he was a “genius” has long since been laid to rest. Shrewd, calculating, cunning, yes.

Fair point about the Cultural Revolution. But next to Mein Kampf, Mao’s Little Red Book reads like a great work of art. And I don’t put their evil in the same category. (But that’s getting way off the topic of India.)

May 6, 2009 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

Although I have no knowledge of the specifics of this, I’m rather sceptical when the Telegraph goes it alone on Asian affairs. So far I haven’t found any other articles that independently report on this – just the Times of India reporting that the Telegraph ran the story.

I remember some years ago it wrote a nonsense piece about a supposed huge surge in extremist nationalism in Japan, which of course the fenqing leaped upon. Yet I never came across anything to believe that was the case – the nationalist propaganda vans in Tokyo still had no one (and I mean no one) stopping to listen to their drivel, opinion polls showed views of Chinese and Koreans improving, etc.

So there might be something to the article, but if you consider the size of India’s population the numbers cited are not impressive in the least even if you take them as being correct.

May 7, 2009 @ 7:21 am | Comment

I remember at one time the book Third Rich was very popular in China, but never Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Hitler’s dramatic rise and fall is a very appealing story but Hilter’s binge on hating and killing Jews never made sense to Chinese people. Not that Chinese really that much care about Jews, it’s just the mass extermination of Jews really does not make any sense.

May 7, 2009 @ 7:39 am | Comment

From a management magazine today:

Even if you can stomach the vitriol, paranoia, militarism and crude racism, the book is so long and tedious that even Hitler’s ally Mussolini didn’t manage to plough his way through it, once apparently dismissing it as ‘a boring tome that I never been able to read’ (Churchill concurred, calling it ‘turgid, verbose [and] shapeless’). So its credentials as a management text seem rather dubious.

However, one local bookshop owner (who clearly has absolutely no qualms about selling the book to students) told the Telegraph that buyers saw it as a good example of someone forming and executing a strategy. ‘They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it’. Now our grasp of history is not quite Simon Schama-esque, but it wasn’t really that successful, was it?

If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit unlikely, you’re not the only one. Indian academic Dr J Kuruvachira, who has previously written about links between the Nazis and Hindu nationalists, told the paper that he suspected the book’s popularity was actually political. ‘It could be the case that management students are buying the book, [but] my feeling is that it has more likely influenced some of the fascist organisations operating in India and nearby,’ he said. Sounds a bit more plausible to us…

That makes a lot more sense. If so, the reporter was way out of line.

May 7, 2009 @ 9:18 am | Comment

Mao Zedong said before that there’s no unexplained love and no unexplained hatred. I don’t believe a man would be driven to do the extreme things without the extreme circumstances of his country. This is especially relevant to today’s financial crisis.

Don’t rush to conclusions.

May 7, 2009 @ 9:19 am | Comment

“I fingered through it at school. It, just like everything else Hitler wrote – including, despite his reputation as an orator, the content of his speeches – was boring, turgid old tosh.”

My guess is that Hitler didn’t in fact write Mein Kampf, or, at least, many of its ideas came from elsewhere. Most powerful people don’t do their own work and just take credit for what others do.

In any case, Hitler’s thesis that a political movement requires a Strong Idea + Force is an important one since it has many important implications, such as: passive resistance is a non-starter, unless, as Gandhi stressed, those practicing passive resistance can easily overwhelm their opponents with force if they choose to; the U.S. is now in a period of steep decline and will lose the fight against the fundamentalist muslims since despite its military might the U.S. has turned its back on the traditional strong idea underlying the U.S. Constitution, i.e., Liberty. It also suggests that since the American people are heavily armed that by reasserting the powerful traditional American idea of Liberty that they can take power back from the fascists.

May 7, 2009 @ 10:18 am | Comment

I think Hitler wrote it, or at least dictated it, maybe with some embellishing by Rudolph Hess, his cellmate. It is in line with everything Hitler said and did, stylistically and content-wise.

Morgan, what conclusions are you referring to? And yes, Hitler did operate under the most extreme of circumstances, and only rose to power because of an incredibly perfect storm of economic and political chaos. That doesn’t make him any less dreadful

May 7, 2009 @ 11:01 am | Comment

Hitler lost the war, so it’s easy for us to look back and dismiss his ideas now and wonder how anybody could have thought they made sense. But they obviously made enough sense to have irresistible appeal to Germans (and many non-Germans) in the 1930s. I’d like to believe that we’re smarter than them and wouldn’t be seduced by a “strong idea backed up by force” today, but I don’t think there is any reason for believing that.

IMO Nationalism was the key ingredient of Hitler’s ideology and it still has plenty of appeal.

May 8, 2009 @ 6:06 am | Comment

Have you ever noticed how Kim Jong Il, Mussolini, Himmler, Hermann Goering, Dick Cheney, most managing partners of law firms and most CEOs of major corporations all seem to enjoy the same things?

May 8, 2009 @ 8:06 am | Comment

“I’d like to believe that we’re smarter than them and wouldn’t be seduced by a “strong idea backed up by force” today, but I don’t think there is any reason for believing that.”

What is the “Strong Idea” that the elites now believe in? It’s becoming more-and-more apparent, but not yet explicit. What I find most disturbing is that many Jews participated in “The Final Solution” (like Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski). They called them the “Kapos”. In other words, people of your own group may want your destruction. I think Freud called this “The Death Wish”.

May 8, 2009 @ 9:11 am | Comment

You have it wrong about the Kapos. They were not part of ay death wish. They were singled out to help with the daily tasks that were beneath the SS and they joined in, sometimes with appalling enthusiasm, for one reason – it delayed their visit to the gas chamber. So far from being a death wish, this was a pure survival tactic. It didn’t matter much; kapos were periodically gathered together and killed, replaced by fresh blood from the arriving cattle cars. Under situations like this, it’s not surprising that one will do anything humanly possible to stay alive, including descending into barbarism.

May 8, 2009 @ 11:13 am | Comment

“You have it wrong about the Kapos. They were not part of ay death wish.”

One interesting aspect of fascism is the impulse towards self-destruction. For example, Hitler’s order to starve the German people at the end of the war in Operation Clausewitz, the useless sacrifice of German youth at Stalingrad, the Japanese mass suicides at the end of the war and the kamikazes.

Now we have the U.S. seemingly going off the deep end in 3 fruitless wars (Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan) and financial catastrophe. Death Wish….

May 8, 2009 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

Afghanistan and Pakistan are not locales of fruitless wars, but sites of great consequence in terms of moral fortitude.
The U.S. lost credibility by only attacking Afghanistan for selfish reasons (revenge for 911, and “protecting” itself and the world from terrorism). But the terrorism (like fascism in the 1930’s) had started long before. In the present case, it targeted not Jews or some minority group, but women – and still does. The U.S., and the world united with it, should have attacked Taliban Afghanistan (which is, fundamentally, for all the derided Bush-ism of it, it is fundamentally, an Islamo-Fascist haven, as are parts of Pakistan). I used to call myself a pacifist. But we are living in terrible times. The Taliban regime parallels Franco’s Fascists, Mussolini’s Fascists, and Germany’s Nazi’s. If the world can fight against these thugs (including in Sudan and Somalia) as committed freedom-fighters, rather than for material, venal, and selfish means, so much the better for us all.
Anyone who has read Eric Hobsbaum can see clearly how we are repeating (complete with world economic collapses, impending world wars, etc.) the past again and again. We are living the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s all over again.

May 12, 2009 @ 12:50 am | Comment

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