Friday, October 26, 2007
It's easy...
As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought this quote might provide some relevant food for thought...

“Naturally the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

- Hermann Goering, Hitler’s Reich Marshall, at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II


posted by Mike Clawson at 10:43 PM | Permalink |


At 10/27/2007 12:26:00 AM, Blogger Andrew

Wow! That quote is amazing....and chilling.


At 10/27/2007 09:31:00 PM, Anonymous James

Lets compare the Third Reich with the United States. Thats just sick and disrespectful to all the millions of people that were killed at the Nazi's hands. I'd don't agree with a lot that the United States has done as you do as well, but this is sick.


At 10/27/2007 09:40:00 PM, Blogger Andrew

Hmmmm... I did not read that as a comparison. To me, it was a commentary on human behavior. Specifically in terms of leaders to followers. I think it is a truth stated that there are key phrases and concepts that can move a populace and it is immoral for a leader to use that kind of manipulation rather than reason to accomplish an objective.


At 10/27/2007 10:46:00 PM, Anonymous James

Just the fact that it was posted I think was went to be a comparison. Should we really pay attention to anything the Nazi's said?


At 10/28/2007 12:01:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Regardless of whether you find the comparison disturbing or not, the important question is whether the comparison on this one particular aspect is accurate. Have our own leaders utilized this same tactic that Goering describes? And if they have, what then? Do we have the humility to admit that even we may be susceptible to the same faults that have plagued other societies in the past?

I remember one of the most important spiritual insights I ever had was when I toured the death camp at Auschwitz and saw the pictures of the young men in the SS who oversaw all the death and atrocities committed there. And I suddenly realized that even these Nazis were people like me, young men who thought they were doing the right thing, who thought they were being loyal to their country. And I realized that the same darkness that led them to do what they did and call it "good" and "patriotic", also lived in me, and that if the circumstances of my own life had been different, I can't guarantee that I might not have committed similar kinds of evil.

And if that is true of me personally, why couldn't it be true of my own country as well? And shouldn't I therefore keep my eyes open for signs that we might in fact be moving in that direction and do whatever I can to prevent it?


At 10/28/2007 12:59:00 AM, Blogger Andrew

"Should we really pay attention to anything the Nazi's said?"

James, I am not trying to be argumentative, but considering the massive destruction the Nazis were able to accomplish, I think when one of them says "and this is how we were able to pull it off", I think that becomes something we should take note of.


At 10/28/2007 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Derek Berner

Mike, I do believe you have just fulfilled Godwin's Law.

IMHO making a comparison to Nazi Germany is a nice cheap way to get people's attention, kind of like swearing, but it may or may not produce fruitful conversation.

Though it is a cardinal mistake to look at the various atrocities committed throughout history and go "that could never be me" about the perpetrators. They say those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. I say those who rewrite history from the perspective of "good guys" and "bad guys" effectively give the good guys carte blanche to repeat past mistakes in the name of various noble-sounding ideals.


At 10/28/2007 05:11:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

No Derek, Godwin's Law only applies to inappropriate comparisons. But the wikipedia article also states:

"Godwin's law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one's opponent) with Hitler or Nazis or their actions... However, Godwin's law itself can be abused, as a distraction or diversion, that fallaciously miscasts an opponent's argument as hyperbole, especially if the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate. A 2005 Reason magazine article argued that Godwin's law is often misused to ridicule even valid comparisons."

The whole point of my post is to raise the question of whether this might actually be an appropriate comparison since it seems like it very well might be. Therefore it doesn't invoke Godwin's Law.


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