In the final chapters of his 2003 book “Hitler’s Scientists,” John Cornwell makes a revealing comparison between the science of 21st century and the science of Nazi Germany, in the 1930s and 1940s.
Let us see a few examples of similarity.
* Advanced techniques of propaganda, developed in “scientific” ways, lead public opinion and regulate a large part of social relations, now as then. Goebbels, the Nazi, has new generations of smart disciples. Minds are influenced in subconscious ways.
* Sophisticated weapons and undeclared wars are a top priority in global politics and international economy.
* Biological weapons are the object of expensive scientific research in rich Western countries in the 2020s, as in Nazi Germany, during the 1930s and 1940s.
* Euthanasia and other weird “medical” practices and experiences are fashionable in both periods.
* Machines are glorified, while human life is treated as something of no great value (think of abortion).
* Technology is a great source of fascination to everyone.
* Systematic, organized hatred is a central feeling in politics, side by side with a blind worship of “famous” people or supposedly powerful personalities.
As science is now largely used in ways similar to those of Hitlerian Germany, scientists behave as if they were irresponsible children who have no ethical obligations, and make their top priority to obtain high salaries.
John Cornwell writes:
“The tendency has been for scientists to ignore [ethical principles], as did Hitler’s scientists, by withdrawing into a cocoon of ‘irresponsible purity’.”
As a result, the members of the military scientific elite in Nazi Germany never lost their jobs. As soon as they were defeated as Nazis, they became “democratic”. Hitler’s scientists were never judged by anything they did. Nobody called them criminals. Just the opposite: they were immediately hired by the United States to go on with their military-scientific activities in highly comfortable positions in North America.
However, nations face moral choices and confront ethical dangers. Morality is linked to discernment, and therefore important to the defense of a country. As a warning sign, the opening page of Cornwell’s book shows this single sentence by Rabelais:
“Science without conscience is the ruin of the soul”.
The axiom is correct, and the ruin of the soul has several layers of consequences. First, it destroys lucidity and good sense. Then the absence of a strong sense of ethics and clear common goals produces the gradual ruin of nations.
Feverish periods in History as the 1930s and the 2020s may be recurrent. They may be highly destructive. Yet they cannot last long.
Human soul is still eternal, while illusions are short-lived. Truth prevails. Dishonesty uses to destroy itself, but the law of justice and equilibrium is central in life.
For those who care about the future, a calm discernment is of the essence. The book by John Cornwell has great usefulness for anyone who knows that true intelligence never separates from ethics. It is a valuable instrument for people of goodwill to better understand the world in our century, and to develop adequate actions.
 “Hitler’s Scientists”, John Cornwell, Penguin Books, 2003, 535 pp., see p. 461.