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propaganda then and now
June 9, 2005 4:22 AM   Subscribe

Just a reminder: Living as we do in a highly politicized world, I think its worth reminding ourselves of what a past master at manipulating such a world had to say for himself
posted by donfactor (68 comments total)

 
It's already too late to Godwin this thread, huh?
posted by Balisong at 5:21 AM on June 9, 2005



My dear fellow party members!

Our theme this evening is hotly disputed. I realize that my viewpoint is subjective.


Don't worry, Joe. Subjectivity is objective!
posted by Floach at 5:53 AM on June 9, 2005


Goebbels was an absolute master at propaganda and this is really a fascinating piece. It seems to me that he sums up the basic message of National Socialism as putting the needs of the state (or the group) before the needs of the individual - with the implicit understanding that the state or group will take care of you in return. I had never read that before.

Was that, indeed, the selling point of for the Nazis? I had always thought it was playing on hate and fear. I find that absolutely chilling somehow to think that they sold it with a more positive message.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:54 AM on June 9, 2005


Bernays had a deeper understanding, and a similar impact.
posted by gsb at 5:56 AM on June 9, 2005


I would make a comment comparing the Bush administration to the nazis, but the first two sentences:
Our theme this evening is hotly disputed. I realize that my viewpoint is subjective.
really stand out; no Bush administration official would ever admit that there is debate over suggested (by them) policy, nor would they ever, EVER admit that their viewpoint could be subjective. After all, look at the triumvirate: Bush thinks he is commanded directly by God, Rove doesn't give half a f*** what anyone thinks, and Rove is like satan, anything is acceptable to get his way.
posted by modernerd at 5:58 AM on June 9, 2005


and Rove is like satan

if goodwin's law is invoking hitler or nazis in a discussion not about hitler or nazis, what law is it to invoke satan in a discussion about nazis?
posted by three blind mice at 6:03 AM on June 9, 2005


Flag for Godwin's law violation
posted by grouse at 6:03 AM on June 9, 2005


call it the three blind mice law. Rove is still Mephistopheles.
posted by modernerd at 6:09 AM on June 9, 2005


It seems to me that he sums up the basic message of National Socialism as putting the needs of the state (or the group) before the needs of the individual

Indeed.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:16 AM on June 9, 2005


Christ's goal was clear and simple: "Love your neighbor as yourself." He gathered his followers behind that straightforward statement. Because this teaching was simple, crisp, clear, and understandable, enabling the broad masses to stand behind it, it in the end conquered the world.

Uh, how scary is it that Goebbels understands Christ better than Bush does?
posted by OmieWise at 6:16 AM on June 9, 2005


For all of the posterss that come up with allegations of fascismtoward our current politics, this one showed what it really looks like. Remember, this is 1928, and look at his mastery!
Themes to notice: Fascism removes the individual and replaces him with the state. Goebbels' use of the Kantian arguments really sums that up well. And note his emphasis on applied power, an active and muscular state.
To Joey Mitchells: Yes, Fascism was overwhelmingly popular not because it was purely hateful, but because the average German saw it as beneficial. They were out of work, and had been screwed at Versailles. Their heavy industry had been seen as complicit with the banks in taking homes away from Germans. People were starving. While anti-semetism was a core part of the movement, the true goal of Fascism was to give everyone a movement to bind them together. The people become the movement, and the movement never stops. The movement becomes applied power for the state. In Italy, it was called corporatism, as the people became as tightly joined as one body. But Fascism, at least in the beginning, did greatly improve the life of the average German. The benefits were used to justify the hate, and the scapegoats were used to continue to motivate the people.
This is a great piece, Goebbels was a genius, thanks for posting it.
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 AM on June 9, 2005


modernerd your triumvirate only has two people in it. Unless the first Rove and the second Rove are two different people?
posted by beth at 6:30 AM on June 9, 2005


I think the first Rove is Cheney.
posted by Plutor at 6:35 AM on June 9, 2005


Every line a gem, which to highlight?

No one can say that your propaganda is too crude or low or brutal, or that it is not decent enough, for those are not the relevant criteria. Its purpose is not to be decent, or gentle, or weak, or modest; it is to be successful.


Pretty well sums it up right there. Ok folks, this way to the dark side...
posted by scheptech at 6:36 AM on June 9, 2005


BTW, what is Godwin's law?
What are tags?
I haven't sent a FPP in quite a while so these are new to me.
posted by donfactor at 6:50 AM on June 9, 2005


Ok folks, this way to the dark side...

No it's called marketing.
posted by bap98189 at 6:50 AM on June 9, 2005


"In his autobiography, titled Biography of an Idea, Bernays recalls a dinner at his home in 1933 where

"Karl von Weigand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, an old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Weigand his propaganda library, the best Weigand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Weigand, was using my book Crystallizing Public Opinion as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany. This shocked me. ... Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign."

Bernays is held in high regard by some and thoroughly despised by others even today, and was even named as one of the 1000 most influential people of all time."

From the Wikipedia article on Edward Bernays

___________________


Donfactor - Thank you for posting this.

Some on this thread seem to suggest that to post a link to a speech by Goebbels might be somehow inappropriate.

Why, I'm not exactly sure. Somehow about an alleged principle that it is bad to talk about anything related to Nazism.

But such a taboo raises the absurdity of a ban on the discussion of - among other things - the history of propaganda in the 20th Century. One cannot discuss that topic without mentioning Goebbels and the Nazi use of propaganda.

But gsb astutely mentioned Edward Bernays :

Bernays is usually credited ( sometimes along with Ivy Lee sharing the distinction ) as the father of modern PR.

Indeed, Goebbels is known to have based much of his propaganda campaigns - including the demonization of German Jews - on Bernays' theories. I

n one striking example of his visionary approach to PR - Bernays managed to convince ( or engineer others to convince ) the women of a NYC Suffragette's protest to march along the street holding lit cigarettes aloft ( Camels, or Lucky Strikes, if memory serves ) as a gesture of defiant feminist self-assertion. Bernays initial "branding", or marketing, of cigarette smoking as a badge of female independence probably persists to this day.

The central imperative of PR, Bernays felt, was to engineer public perceptions without betraying the presence of those behind the scenes who were pulling the strings.

Goebbels had - to be certain - a dark genius for propaganda and PR, but Bernays was always the master. Bernays lived to 104 and spent his final years living quietly in Camdridge, Mass.

_________________

Here, I defer to Mssrs. Rampton and Stauber, from SourceWatch :



The Father of Spin - "It is impossible to fundamentally grasp the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the past 100 years without some understanding of Bernays and his professional heirs in the public relations industry. PR is a 20th century phenomenon, and Bernays--widely eulogized as the "father of public relations" at the time of his death in 1995--played a major role in defining the industry's philosophy and methods......Bernays richly deserves the title that Boston Globe reporter Larry Tye has given him in his engagingly written new book, The Father of Spin.....

Tye writes that "Bernays' papers . . . provide illuminating and sometimes disturbing background on some of the most interesting episodes of twentieth-century history, from the way American tobacco tycoons made it socially acceptable for women to smoke to the way other titans of industry persuaded us to pave over our landscape and switch to beer as the 'beverage of moderation.' The companies involved aren't likely to release their records of those campaigns, assuming they still exist. But Bernays saved every scrap of paper he sent out or took in. . . . In so doing, he let us see just how policies were made and how, in many cases, they were founded on deception."

In an industry that is notable for its mastery of evasions and euphemisms, Bernays stood out for his remarkable frankness. He was a propagandist and proud of it. (In an interview with Bill Moyers, Bernays said that what he did was propaganda, and that he just "hoped it was 'proper-ganda' and not 'improper-ganda.'")....


Bernays....used psychological techniques to mask the motives of his clients, as part of a deliberate strategy aimed at keeping the public unconscious of the forces that were working to mold their minds.

Characteristically (and again paradoxically), Bernays was remarkably candid about his manipulative intent. "If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it," he argued in Propaganda, one of his first books. In a later book, he coined the term "engineering of consent" to describe his technique for controlling the masses.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society," Bernays argued. "Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. . . . In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons . . . who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.".....

During Bernays' lifetime and since, propaganda has usually had dirty connotations, loaded and identified with the evils of Nazi PR genius Joseph Goebbels, or the oafish efforts of the Soviet Communists. In his memoirs, Bernays wrote that he was "shocked" to discover that Goebbels kept copies of Bernays' writings in his own personal library, and that his theories were therefore helping to "engineer" the rise of the Third Reich.

Bernays liked to cultivate an image as a supporter of feminism and other liberating ideas, but his work on behalf of the United Fruit Company had consequences just as evil and terrifying as if he'd worked directly for the Nazis. The Father of Spin sheds new and important light on the extent to which the Bernays' propaganda campaign for the United Fruit Company (today's United Brands) led directly to the CIA's overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala. "

posted by troutfishing at 6:57 AM on June 9, 2005


Mark Danner's How Bush Really Won, in the January 13, 2005, New York Review of Books:
Of course whatever its virtues as a campaign theme, the picture the President offered was not especially "fact-dependent." Many well-known facts— on which Kerry, in his campaign, had laid such stress—were either irrelevant to it (the missing weapons of mass destruction, which went unmentioned) or directly contradicted by it (the failure to demonstrate connections between Iraq and the attacks of September 11). But the facts did not matter—not necessarily because those in the stadium were ignorant of them, though some certainly were, but because the President was offering in their place a worldview that was whole, complete, comprehensible, and thus impermeable to statements of fact that clearly contradicted it. The thousands cheering around me in that Orlando stadium, and the many others who would come to support Bush on election day, faced a stark choice: either discard the facts, or give up the clear and comforting worldview that they contradicted. They chose to disregard the facts.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:04 AM on June 9, 2005


okay I just discovered Godwin's Law. But like any such it applies mainly in the eye of the beholder. Does anyone doubt that Goebbels was, if not the inventor of propaganda, at least he was certainly the master?* "Propaganda derives from the Roman Catholic College of Propaganda circ 1622. But I am not making any comparisons here with the new Pope.

We all have a lot to learn from Herr Goebbels. Whether or not Karl Rove and his crew learned from him, I don't know. What I do know is that we need to be well aware of the way propaganda works because most of what we see/hear in the media, and what we see/here in actual conversations has already been mediated by the eponymous media. And that goes for every direction in which political commentary might lean.

Arbeit might not make us frei but knowledge certainly helps.
posted by donfactor at 7:07 AM on June 9, 2005


I think the Godwin's law comments were
1) Joking in some cases, Godwin's law would be curiously recursive/redundant in a thread about Nazis.

2) Pointing out that any discussion about anything other than the Nazis in this thread (e.g. BushCo) would have always already been Godwinned because of the topic.

3) Perhaps having some ontological problems with Goedel's theorem and how it might be understood in light of the above two points.

The link is good and worthwhile.
posted by OmieWise at 7:23 AM on June 9, 2005


No, marketing *is* the dark side.
posted by Zetetics at 7:24 AM on June 9, 2005


It seems to me that he sums up the basic message of National Socialism as putting the needs of the state (or the group) before the needs of the individual - with the implicit understanding that the state or group will take care of you in return. I had never read that before.

This is the basic nature of fascism, isn't it? Add in support of industry (fascism = corporatism).
posted by kenko at 7:31 AM on June 9, 2005


It seems to me that he sums up the basic message of National Socialism as putting the needs of the state (or the group) before the needs of the individual - with the implicit understanding that the state or group will take care of you in return. I had never read that before.

This is the basic nature of fascism, isn't it? Add in support of industry (fascism = corporatism).
posted by kenko at 7:31 AM on June 9, 2005


beth: good catch. The first Rove was supposed to be Cheney. I was typing faster than I was thinking. Oops.
posted by modernerd at 7:33 AM on June 9, 2005


The thousands cheering around me in that Orlando stadium, and the many others who would come to support Bush on election day, faced a stark choice: either discard the facts, or give up the clear and comforting worldview that they contradicted. They chose to disregard the facts.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:04 AM PST on June 9


Isn't that quaint.

"My guy loss, and my explanation of it is that the people voting for the other guy were just too stupid to know they were voting for the wrong guy. Any smart person, like ME, would have voted for the guy I voted for."

That is really all Danner (and many others) is saying. It is a rationalization and a defense mechanism. Danner talks about facts as if objective facts can only have objective interpretations. But Danner himself makes subjective interpretation of facts, and then blames other people for not seeing the world as he does.

What hubris it takes to suggest that the majority of voters are too dim to see things your way!

That are perfectly rational reasons to have voted for Bush. There are perfectly rational reasons to not vote for Bush (my reason: tort reform). There were also perfectly rational reasons to vote for or oppose (my reason: he would raise my taxes) Kerry. To sit here and act like the choice was absolutely clear to anyone who looked at facts is just plain hubris and sore loser nonsense.
posted by dios at 8:07 AM on June 9, 2005


highly politicized world

I've been thinking lately, of what's the way to depoliticize my life, as I have no intentions, nor have I ever had any, of a political career. So why should I be so personally politically active? Is it possible to become less political? If not for me, are there ways for people, in general, to be less political, if it would make them happier? Secondly, is it possible to maintain one's opinions about the world, at the same time? Finally, and I think the answer must be negative, at least now, is it possible to achieve all this and remain vocal about one's opinions?

I've come more and more to hate politics, as it seems to be some gigantic parasite set upon the often totally un-noticed, but more naturally mandated and real, entities of Society and Philosophy.
posted by nervousfritz at 8:07 AM on June 9, 2005


This Goebbels guy is a genius. Can we run him for president next time?
posted by fungible at 8:16 AM on June 9, 2005


It would be a stretch if not impossible to find a government that does not put a favorable spin on what it's trying to accomplish. At some point they're all guilty of stretching the truth. Does that make every government a producer of propaganda? My answer would be yes, but I don't think all propaganda is necessarily harmful.

I've always thought it was the job of the fifth estate to cut through the crap, but that seems to have broken down. So now the onus is now smack dab on the individual to determine truth. Problem is, where do you find it? The web? Not bloody likely.

By the way, if you go through the original post and substitute "marketing" and related terms for "propaganda" the concepts still make sense, but it sounds a bit less scary.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:26 AM on June 9, 2005


Troutfishing, thanks for the notes on Bernays. I have some reading to do!
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:29 AM on June 9, 2005


The 1, 2, and 5 million Mark notes were issued by Deutsche Reichsbahn in August 1923. The 10, 20, 50, and 100 million Mark notes were issued in September. And the 200 million and 5 Billion Mark notes were issued in October 1923.

When this is happening, propoganda is pretty easy to pitch. Don't give Goebbels more credit than he deserves.
posted by three blind mice at 8:31 AM on June 9, 2005


There is really little point to discussing propaganda. It is a matter of practice, not of theory. One cannot determine theoretically whether one propaganda is better than another. Rather, that propaganda is good that has the desired results, and that propaganda is bad that does not lead to the desired results. It does not matter how clever it is, for the task of propaganda is not to be clever, its task is to lead to success.
What's totally weird to me is how much the above quote reads like a something out of a book on Zen practice.
posted by moonbiter at 8:37 AM on June 9, 2005


Fruit of the tree:
" If you've retired, you don't have anything to worry about -- third time I've said that. (Laughter.) I'll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.) "

from: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050524-3.html
posted by Smedleyman at 8:37 AM on June 9, 2005


Re: Republicans
The state needs a worldview. Christianity also conquered the state, and in the moment that it conquered the state it began to carry out practical political activity. You can with justice claim: "Yes, but at the moment Christianity took over the state, it began to cease being Christian."

and

If everything is clear, one does not have to be an outstanding speaker. If he can say it all in a few words, he is a propagandist. If we have an army of such propagandists, from the littlest to the Führer President himself, and if each spreads our crystal-clear knowledge to the masses, the day will come which our worldview takes over the state, when our organization seizes the reins of power...

Re: Democrats
You can see that a movement needs an organization if it is to conquer the state — and it must conquer the state if it wants to do something of positive and historic significance. I have often met the kind of wandering apostle who says: "Well, everything you are doing is fine, but you really must also take a stand against foreign words in the German language." And another comes along who says: "Well, everything you say is good, but you must have a point in your program that says alleopathy is dangerous, and you must support homepathy." If the movement were led by such apostles, the Jew Dubya would end up in charge.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:03 AM on June 9, 2005


I'm also very impressed with how much this speech echoes the first writings on what a 'meme' is. All the talk about ideas living in people, moving from person to person, and becoming stronger under duress is very prescient.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:04 AM on June 9, 2005


All this talk of Godwin prompts me to mention my suspicision that Mike Godwin is actually a regularly posting MeFite. He has a very distinct posting style, and if my suspicions are correct his username is also a tipoff to anyone who has read Godwin's posts elsewhere, consisting as it does of one of Mike's favorite words.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:22 AM on June 9, 2005


echoes the first writings on what a 'meme' is. All the talk about ideas living in people, moving from person to person, and becoming stronger under duress

Well I do think this whole concept of memes is a little overwrought. If you catch a virus, you either have an antidote or not. If you have heard a new idea, you can, simply through force of will alone, reject it, prima facie, reason with it until you find a more favorable position, or pretend to accept it for a while, simply to amuse or irritate your associates.

All this free will and critical examination are not to be found in the world of biological virii. The idea of memes itself really introduces nothing new into the realms of debate and idealogy, as far as I can tell, except perhaps to make people more frightened of exciting, novel or interesting ideas.

"Oh holy shit, I think I've come down with a horrible case of the new advertisement on TV."
posted by nervousfritz at 9:52 AM on June 9, 2005


Isn't that quaint.

"My guy loss, and my explanation of it is that the people voting for the other guy were just too stupid to know they were voting for the wrong guy. Any smart person, like ME, would have voted for the guy I voted for."


I don't think that that is what he is saying, dios. It's more of a psychological thing than an intelligence thing. GWB appealed psychologically to a lot more people than did Kerry. Kerry tried (woodenly) to bring out facts but there was a complete disconnect with a lot of the voters who were too busy waving giant sandals and yelling "flip flop" to look beyond GWB's rhetoric. GWB played upon feelings and patriotism rather than looking at things coldly and dispassionately. GWB won. That, I think, is the point the writer was making.
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:07 AM on June 9, 2005


Dios, why are people always going on about taxes and Democrats? I'm way more concerned by Government overspending. If the USA spends more money than it takes in, that's not tax relief, it's tax suspense. Plus our individual household spending power gets hammered by dollar devaluation, which effects us as a regressive tax would.

I can see the point on taxes only if you are in the top bracket, or make most of your money through capital gains.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:22 AM on June 9, 2005


After all, look at the triumvirate: Bush thinks he is commanded directly by God, Rove doesn't give half a f*** what anyone thinks, and Rove is like satan, anything is acceptable to get his way.

[Kryten] Now, I realize that technically that is just two people, but Rove is such a big problem that I thought he was worth mentioning twice. [/Kryten]
posted by Happy Monkey at 10:23 AM on June 9, 2005


"My guy loss, and my explanation of it is that the people voting for the other guy were just too stupid to know they were voting for the wrong guy. Any smart person, like ME, would have voted for the guy I voted for."

That is really all Danner (and many others) is saying.


That is not what they are saying. All people are "stupid" unless they are carefully skeptical and very knowledgeable. Since most people have neither the time nor the inclination to carefully weigh all the facts and constantly question everything they know, they use shortcuts. One of these shortcuts is buying into a packaged philosophy, which is a bunch of ideas held together by some sort of worldview. One of the ways of getting elected is to offer the voters a coherent worldview which they can buy into.

Bush W. did so, brilliantly. "We're a moral but tough people who will defend ourselves." Kerry failed miserably. "We're also sort of moral, but we don't all agree with each other but that's okay and we want to defend ourselves but it's not clear whether we are really in danger or whether it is moral to defend ourselves in this way or whether this is the most successful way to defend our selves."

Clinton did it right, too. "We care about people and we're going to fix this economy. We can make the world a beautiful place." Clinton didn't win because people were smarter back then; he won because he offered the most compelling worldview. What was Bush I's? "Well things aren't as bad as he says they are and we believe in lower taxes even though I had to raise them."
posted by callmejay at 10:47 AM on June 9, 2005


Dios, why are people always going on about taxes and Democrats?

b/c they're told that not only are the democrats going to raise taxes, they're going to take the tax money and give it to:

- welfare queens
- lazy, affirmative action college spot and job position stealing, drug dealing, black people
- illegal mexican immigrants and their children
- homosexuals
- non-christians
- the mentally and physicall disabled (i.e., people who can't contribute to society)
- perverse artists
- "useless" scientific studies (e.g., studying the effects of urbanization on wild animal populations, the effects on the environment of drilling in certain places)

while underfunding:
- the military
- "decent" art
- "good" science (e.g., the cheapest way to get ores and oils from the ground, environment be damned)
posted by lord_wolf at 10:54 AM on June 9, 2005


Good on ya Happy Monkey.
posted by kenko at 11:03 AM on June 9, 2005


Where's the law that states that a discussion about Nazis will turn into a critique of the current political administration?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:09 AM on June 9, 2005


callmejay:
Well said. I can agree to your analysis, for the most part. I don't think it completely explains the election, but it has merit, for sure. In fact, methinks you should have Danner's job, because your points are better and better made than his.
posted by dios at 11:14 AM on June 9, 2005


grapefruitmoon, do we have a flow chart?

Nazis, Mussolini -> Fascism -> Bush Administration

Stalin, Soviet Russia, Communism -> Gulags OR KGB-> Abu Ghraib OR Homeland Security-> Bush Administration

China -> Human Rights Abuses OR Imperialism-> Abu Ghraib OR American Imperialism -> Bush Administration

Temujin, Sith Lords -> Evil -> Bush Administration

;-)
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2005


grapfruitmoon's law:
"As an online discussion about Nazis grows longer, the probability of a comparison equating the second Bush administration with the Nazis approaches one."

bashos_frog's corollary:
"As the Bush presidency grows longer, the number of similarities between the administration and the Nazis approaches infinity."

(Thank [insert deity] for term limits)
posted by bashos_frog at 11:21 AM on June 9, 2005


I've always wanted my own internet law.

Funny, I don't see much in common with Bush II and the brown-shirted goosesteppers myself, but I'm probably too hung up on that "hey, at least we're not killing [insert ethnic group here]... um, yet." detail.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:38 PM on June 9, 2005


I don't see much in common with Bush II and the brown-shirted goosesteppers myself

Time magazine, Mob Scene in Miami, Nov. 26, 2000:
In a Winnebago outside, GOP operatives orchestrated the ranks up to the 19th floor, hoping to halt the tally of the largest potential lode of Gore votes. Republicans, not usually known for takin' it to the streets, got what they wanted. Just two hours after a near riot outside the counting room, the Miami-Dade canvassing board voted to shut down the count. Yet the way the Republicans went after it, by intimidating the three-member board or by providing the excuse it was looking for, gave Americans the first TV view of strong-arm tactics in what was supposed to be a showcase of democracy in action. If Jesse Jackson can do it, the Republicans argued, so can we. But the GOP's march turned into a mob. The screaming, the pounding on doors and the alleged physical assaults on Democrats suddenly made a bemused public queasy. "I'm all for anyone's right to protest," says Miami-Dade Democratic chairman Joe Geller, who had to have a police escort. "These were Brownshirt tactics."
The protesters were provided by the Bush campaign and later rewarded with "plum" D.C. jobs.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:00 PM on June 9, 2005


an interesting read in light of Pat Tillman's family, and the shameful uses of his "heroic" death.
posted by amberglow at 2:10 PM on June 9, 2005


From the same essay I linked to before:
When Bush, in full rhetorical flower in Tinker Field, declared to his delirious audience that "Americans need a president who doesn't think terrorism is 'a nuisance,'" my neighbor Ms. Richardson-Pinto nudged me with her elbow and shouted over the laughter and cheers, "Do you believe Kerry said that?" Actually, I shouted into her ear, Kerry hadn't said that, and then I paraphrased for her the actual quotation:
We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution...[and] illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where...it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.
Hardly exceptional; indeed, Bush himself had only weeks before said something very similar. Ms. Richardson-Pinto, a well-educated, worldly woman--a doctor, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist in women's softball--listened to me intently, nodded politely, began to form a question, and then, thinking better of it, looked at me for a moment longer before turning back to the President. She'd had a choice what--or rather whom--to believe; and she'd made it.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:26 PM on June 9, 2005


This is a great post. My favorite quote:

"If an entire nation has become cowardly, and there are only a thousand left who want something great, and who have to power to transform the state, then these thousand people are the nation." If the others let a minority conquer the state, then they must also accept the fact that we will establish a dictatorship.
posted by NoiseTrader at 2:36 PM on June 9, 2005


Right, Bush uses propaganda, twists people's words and got into office by brute force.

Yes, comparisons on this basis could be made to Hitler, but he's hardly the first or the last world leader to do this sort of thing. Hitler is unique (and even then, just barely considering this century has also seen Stalin and Pol Pot) in how he carried out mass extermination against those he considered "degenerate", not in his assholism. I think referring to Bush as another Cromwell - conqueror and maker of absolute right - is a more apt comparison than to the Führer.

I'm waiting until [insert ethnic group here] is kept out of business, the press, and the school system before I start equating Bush II with National Socialism. Dictators and tyrants have always existed and yes, Bush may be among them. But genocidal maniac? Not from what I've seen.

(And no, racial profiling =! what was done to the Jews in the 1930s. Not even close.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:11 PM on June 9, 2005


I suppose gays don't count for you, since they're not an ethnic group. And as long as he doesn't kill them.
posted by Happy Monkey at 4:19 PM on June 9, 2005


Grapefruit: Hitler was elected. As was Mussolini. Fascism is a post-democratic movement.
posted by klangklangston at 4:29 PM on June 9, 2005


moonbiter: Unless I am mistaken (and I may very well be), the Nazi movement took many things from Eastern philosophy. Obviously, the swastika itself, which I think was a hindu symbol, but also a goodly size swatch of theory. Indeed, I thought the same thing about the relationship between the study of Zen and the Goebbels' speech.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:42 PM on June 9, 2005


What makes Goebbels interesting is the assumption, like with Nazism itself, that there was something special about it, when in fact, in context to Germany, and the world of the time, it was not only derivative, but disordered.

First of all, much of what Goebbels said was "preaching to the choir". Germans had long been sneered at in Europe as peasants, and it rankled. Unification of the German states was a major ego boost, soon shattered by WWI. But it was an easy pitch that Germans were not inferior, but were in fact superior, as a people. Hatred was likewise not newly created, just played upon and magnified existing hate.

Second of all, the Nazis were experts at gradualism. Even after drafting brutalitarian plans, such as at the Wannsee Conference, they were careful to introduce them slowly--sometimes even backing down for a while in the face of large scale public protest.

However, the terrible incompetence and mismanagement of the Nazis was of primary emphasis for the deceivers. The illusion that Nazism was efficient, rational, and unstoppable, had considerable appeal worldwide. It was not permitted to show the terrible waste, poor planning, and rotten execution that was all too common.

One of the biggest propaganda pitches was in the elevation of women to a position of honor instead of household servant, public health and welfare initiatives, and consumerism and normality in time of war. Since unlike other nations, Germany never went to a "total war" status, consumer products were still in relative abundance, and much was made of this.

Signal Magazine was the German equivalent of 'Life', and in a collection "The Best of Signal", it is startling to see Hitler doing such ordinary things as going shopping and awarding a Hausfrau a blue ribbon for her meatloaf, as examples of all the ordinary things most politicians do.
posted by kablam at 8:54 PM on June 9, 2005


kablam - nice. There's a lot there a few may miss.

Still, what of Goebbels' love of Bernays' work ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:21 PM on June 9, 2005


It also shows that the Bush crowd isn't doing too well with propaganda--the public's not buying anymore.
posted by amberglow at 9:25 PM on June 9, 2005


To defy my own point - calling Hitler "elected" is like saying George W. Bush won the popular vote. It's twisting the situation. His party got elected and he up and stole the chancellory and made himself leader when the people with sense had the misfortune of dropping dead.

And no - "gays don't count" until gay Americans are required to show identification of their gay-itude and the Constitution is ammended to say "You can't employ teh gays." Speaking as a queer American, I think that equating the discrimination faced by the GLBT community in the US with the legalized marginalization and subsequent extermination of the Jews and homosexuals under the Nazis is not only a weak argument, but in poor taste and shows a misunderstanding of what really went down in the 1930s.

Gays may have a rough time in the US, sure, but marginalization of a minority within a society is hardly new nor limited to the US and the Nazis. Saying "well, we repress so and so so we're just like the Nazis!" is a straw man.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:25 AM on June 10, 2005


The Nazis did not invent the tactic of singling out specific societal groups for vilification or even elimination.

But I fail to see the force of your "straw man" claim.

There are many parallels. Yes, there are many dissimilarities. But there are many parallels too. Historical comparisons are always rough.

The thing to bear in mind is this : for a number of years now, many leaders of the American right, and especially from the religious right, have been calling for the repression and even the elimination of entire classes of American citizenry. And, gay Americans have been targeted with a singular rhetorical ferocity.

I hope you don't choose to debate that point - it is well established in historical record.

"...marginalization of a minority within a society is hardly new nor limited to the US and the Nazis."

Well, sure : One could make many diiferent sorts of historical comparisons. Now, gestures towards historical examples where the targetting of specific groups culminated in mass killing are best understood as cautionary. In that spirit, we could look not merely to Hitler's Germany but also to pogroms against Eastern European and Russian Jews, The Khmer Rouge's mass killling of intellectuals and other "ideologically suspect" groups, The Rwandan Genocide.....

Do the specific examples really matter ? What is significant is the public vilification and targetting of specific societal groups and the use of eliminationist rhetoric that slides into sporadic violence and then eventually organized killing, and the complicity or the active involvement of states in such targetting and killing.

Such atrocity starts, typically, with a cultural climate that tolerates, and eventually enthusiastically endorses, eliminationist rhetoric. Such a climate has developed, or grown more acute, in the US over the last several years. For a sobering academic study on how average people become conditioned to carry out mass atrocities, see James Waller's book "Becoming Evil".

While determining changes in rates of hate crime is at best an imprecise business and so it is hard to say whether hate crimes against gay Americans are increasing or not, it is true that hate crimes against gays tend to be uniquely savage, and it is also true that the last several years have seen a dramatic increase in state level legislation targetting gays.
posted by troutfishing at 5:17 AM on June 10, 2005


Grapefruit: Once again, I have to correct you. Hitler was appointed to the chancellory after Schleicher's government failed. It had been the third vote of no confidence in two years, and the Nazis were the largest party. While no doubt there was politicing of a high degree, saying that Hitler stole the chancellor's office is simply no more true than saying that Paul Martin stole the Canadian Prime Minister's.
(Now, if you were looking for parallels, you'd note the Reichstag Fire as the contemporary 9/11... But I tend to think that looking for explicit parallels often results in unbalanced analogies).
posted by klangklangston at 6:14 AM on June 10, 2005


If someone had had the courage to strip the völkisch idea of its romantic mystery, if one had taken account of the hard facts, it would not look as romantic today as it does to some dreamers. But it would have kept millions of German children from starving.

*wipes tear from eye, joins the Party*

This thread sure was a lot more interesting before it became yet another excuse to yammer about how awful the current administration is. But thank for the post, donfactor.

trout, I appreciate the reasons for your concern, but it's ludicrous to compare state resolutions against gay marriage with concerted attempts to physically wipe out segments of the population. Not only is it offensive to the victims of such attempts, but you come off as the Boy Who Cried Wolf. If and when the Bushies actually do start killing people (which isn't going to happen -- they're interested in looting the economy, not murdering gays or other minorities -- but just for the sake of argument), you'll be too hoarse to speak out.
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on June 10, 2005


It also shows that the Bush crowd isn't doing too well with propaganda--the public's not buying anymore.

Poll: Bush's Job Approval Dips to New Low:
About one-third of adults, 35 percent, said they think the country is headed in the right direction, while 43 percent said they approve of the job being done by Bush. Just 41 percent say they support his handling of the war, also a low-water mark.

...

While Bush has gotten generally low scores for his handling of domestic issues for many months, most Americans have been supportive of his foreign policy. Not any more.

The poll conducted for AP by Ipsos found 45 percent support Bush's foreign policy, down from 52 percent in March.

...

Thirty-seven percent support Bush's handling of Social Security, while 59 percent disapprove. Those numbers haven't budged after more than four months of the president traveling the country to sell his plan to create private accounts in Social Security.

Support for his handling of the economy was at 43 percent.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:36 AM on June 10, 2005


languagehat - Correct, except that I wasn't making that comparison: "Now, gestures towards historical examples where the targetting of specific groups culminated in mass killing are best understood as cautionary. In that spirit, we could look...."

I snuck that one right past you... well not intentionally. But I did chose those words with cautious intent. I should have made it more explicit that I was making a parallel to an early stage in the development of a cultural climate that is becoming toxic and, if it should continue, might lead in a very ugly direction.
posted by troutfishing at 3:18 PM on June 10, 2005


Joey Michaels: Interesting. I knew that the Nazis were fond of tracing the lineage of the "Aryan race," which lead them make linkages to ancient India (thus the use of the swastika "Hakenkreuz"). I didn't know that guys like Goering were influenced by eastern thought in terms of philosophy, although now that I think of it there is no reason why they shouldn't have been, given the interest in Orientalism around that time.
posted by moonbiter at 5:02 AM on June 11, 2005


moonbiter: I may be overstating the case, since I can't quickly find any supporting links. I swear, I read a whole book on this subject once, but Amazon isn't giving me any clues. Sorry!
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:34 PM on June 11, 2005


OmieWise writes "Uh, how scary is it that Goebbels understands Christ better than Bush does?"

OmieWise prepares for an extended visit to "Camp USA".
posted by orthogonality at 10:38 PM on June 11, 2005


Kirkaracha - A new war would change those poll figures very quickly.
posted by troutfishing at 4:37 AM on June 12, 2005


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