Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The totalitarian mindset

In anthropology, they speak sometimes of an "emic" and an "etic" perspective.   Since EM is close to IN, and ET close to OUT, that is how I remember them.

An Emic perspective is how people view themselves.  Every lunatic you have ever seen on the street behaves logically, according to his or her factual understandings, perceptual capacities, and emotional disturbances, known or unknown.

I am watching a documentary on Joseph Goebbels called "The Goebbels Experiment", in which against the backdrop of much very interesting documentary footage, Kenneth Branagh reads entries from Goebbel's diary.

Here is the thing: everything Goebbel's did and said made perfect sense to him.  He did not see himself as attacking the Jews: he viewed himself as defending Germany from THEIR attacks. They started it.  They started the global Bolshevik conspiracy.  They controlled the banks which ruined the German economy on purpose.  They were the ones who kept ordinary Germans down and caused so much suffering.  Hitler and Goerring both were very likeable, honest men with whom he greatly enjoyed spending time.  Propaganda was the natural concomitant of a well run State.

Likely inter alia, one of his own Rosebud moments seems to have happened when he became ill and contracted a permanent problem with his foot, which prevented him from playing with the other kids, and from being normal.  He drifted and was lost in his rly 20's, and National Socialism--Hitler seems to have emphasized the National, and Goebbels the Socialism (he called their Parliamentary success a "revolution" and used the word "bourgeois" quite often)--was his way out.

Sad and lonely people are often attracted to radical causes, which include them where they are otherwise excluded, which need them where they are otherwise useless.  In my own case, I have had a number of "enthusiasms" in my life, and as I look back at what a sad and lonely child I was--I was told by a girl in my late teens that I always seemed like an orphan to her, which is how I felt too, even though I had and have two parents--it seems logical.

There are a couple of points I want to make:

1) Many of the kids protesting Trump now would have been Nazis, had they been born in Germany in that era.  We have been conditioned since childhood to see those uniforms with hate and disgust, but there was a long time when they represented pride, purpose, honor, and self assertion in the face of global hatred.

There is no principled or psychological difference between the hate the Nazis felt for Jews, and any of the objects of hate the Left targets in  its own propaganda campaigns.  Why hate white people?  Why hate Christians? Why hate the rich?  Are we not a wealthy nation, and is there any reason to supposed that, say, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet do not deserve their money, or that they have not made countless other people rich, who in turn provided jobs and income to ordinary Americans?  Of course not.

But, they say, they are attacking our RIGHTS.  They are attacking US.

This is the same argument the Nazis used.  It is not similar: it is IDENTICAL.  What exactly and how exactly are they attacking?  You have no good answer, if you are honest.

2) Authoritarianism and violence are synonymous.  The essence of Authoritarianism is the centralization of  and "rationalization" of violence.

Who in our current public "dialogue", so called, consistently resorts to violence?   Who beats people up in the streets?  Who tells nasty lies continually?  Who goes into full blown hyperarousal the moment they hear a dissenting view?  Who starts insulting and name calling nearly immediately?

Who wants a One Party State?

True Liberalism requires self restraint, at worst, and benefits, at best, from openness, curiosity, and an attitude of exploration.  Where does one find curiosity on the Left? Granted, conservatives often have no interest in the ideas of the Left, either, but they are not the ones trying to impose their ideas and to radically reshape society.  They have a belief system and way of life they find congenial and just want to be left the fuck alone. What worked yesterday will work tomorrow, and stop trying to reinvent the fucking wheel.

I have work to do, but I would suggest that most modern academics share much more in common with Goebbels than they have the self awareness and capacity for honesty to admit.

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