As elucidated in an earlier posting, it had become fairly common during the thirties and forties to blame the rise of German statism on German philosophy. "The popularity of the opinion that German nationalism is the outcome of ideas of German philosophy is mainly due to the authority of George Santayana," wrote Ludwig von Mises in 1940. There is a problem, however, with this view of the matter. Santayana never actually claimed that German idealism logically brought about (or caused) German nationalism and Hitlerism. His claim was much more modest. He believed that German nationalism and German philosophy were both expressions of the German character, so that philosophy, far from being a cause or a logical precondition, was merely a symptom. But conservative intellectuals were eager to blame German idealism, which they despised, for German aggression; and so they assumed as Mises assumed.
Santayana's book Egotism in German Philosophy , originally published in 1915, was seen as a prophetic explanation of the rise of militarism and Nazism in Germany. Of course, it was no such thing, but once the notion had entered the intellectual culture, there was no getting it out. In 1943, Hayek published Road to Serfdom, which was the first book to popularize the idea that there existed parallels between what had happened in Germany around the turn of the century and what was happening in England and America during the thirties. Hayek's book focused almost exclusively on politics and economics; he did not try to put the finger of blame on German idealism. His friend Karl Popper, however, once more played the German Idealism card in the second volume of his The Open Society and its Enemies, which focused on the deleterious influence of Hegel.
Popper's book was published in 1945. The Anglo-American intellectual milieu had undergone a transformation in the thirties. Nazism had forced many of central Europe's most important and influential scholars and intellectuals to emigrate to England or America. Many of these expatriated scholars and intellectuals had studied Hegel under the most advanced Hegelian scholars in the world, and they simply could not accept Popper's view of Hegel as the forerunner of German totalitarianism. There was something of a critical backlash inspired by Popper's Open Society that marks the waning of the view that German idealism caused the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. By the time Peikoff, under the direct tutelage of Rand, began embalming the notion in his book The Ominous Parallels, it had become largely discredited. Extensive research in pyschology, sociology, and history all demonstrated that social change was not determined by abstract philosophy. The belief in the simple causation between philosophical doctrine on the on hand and social crisis on the other belongs to a less sophisticated intellectual milieu.
The trouble with Objectivism, particularly in its ARI manifestations, is that it seems trapped in a kind of time warp: its main notions have their source in ideas Rand was exposed to in the conservative circles she travelled in during the thirties and forties. By the fifties, Rand rarely ventured outside her own hermetically sealed circle of young Objectivist enthusiasts (the "collective"). She knew little--and evinced hardly any interest at all--in developments in cognitive science, psychiatry, neuroscience, historical scholarship, and philosophical scholarship. Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels has its roots in a very shallow, intellectually impoverished soil. It stems from misrepresentations and over-simplifications of the works of Santayana, Hayek, Popper and a few others, as filtered through the unsophisticated conservative intellectuals of the thirties and forties.