The Propensity for Ignorance
July 3, 2005 11:59 PM   Subscribe

Nazis in America? This teacher analyzes his experiment years before, showing the fallibility of the human being and the analogs that can be drawn to Fascist Nazi Germany.
posted by Lockeownzj00 (34 comments total)
i also misspelled analogue.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 12:03 AM on July 4, 2005

Doppelter Pfosten

Also, you didn't mispell analog/ue.
posted by Navek Rednam at 12:12 AM on July 4, 2005

But, so far as I can tell, this attempt to deconstruct/debunk the Third Wave did not appear in the earlier thread.

I was relieved to hear that Jones was sacked by the school.
posted by TimothyMason at 12:43 AM on July 4, 2005

I remember seeing this as a TV movie. It freaked me out, but good. Then again, I was young.

More info here.
posted by brundlefly at 12:45 AM on July 4, 2005

I read this book a couple of years ago. Thanks for the link; I didn't know it was based on a true story.
posted by interrobang at 12:58 AM on July 4, 2005

Congratulations. This thread godwins itself.
posted by telstar at 1:07 AM on July 4, 2005

When will people shut the fuck up with the Godwin business?

You're not using it in the way it means, like everyone else who mentions it, and you aren't adding anything to the discussion of this very interesting post.
posted by interrobang at 1:13 AM on July 4, 2005

TimothyMason: Thanks for the debunking link. Haven't finished reading it yet, but pretty interesting so far.
posted by brundlefly at 1:17 AM on July 4, 2005

I saw the book about this on sale at Barnes and Noble the other day. Perhaps I should go pick it up.
posted by mrbill at 1:22 AM on July 4, 2005

Interesting story, never heard of this before. If this is real, I'm not very impressed by the teacher's technique. It's emotional manipulation, not teaching about history.
Also, that's so not how nazi Germany or any other genocidal dictatorship worked. That's how a hoax on a class of young and eager students worked, duh. If anything it's a lesson on how to not take anything or anyone too seriously.

(Reminds me a bit of the kind of tricks Derren Brown plays, only his are actually entertaining, and they don't pretend to be anything else)
posted by funambulist at 1:26 AM on July 4, 2005

When will people shut the fuck up with the Godwin business?

Niemals, mein furher!
posted by telstar at 2:11 AM on July 4, 2005

Godwinning is the new fascism.

Also: Verbing weirds language.

I first read the "Third Wave" story in either one of the Whole Earth Catalogs, or The Whole Earth Kids Future Catalog.
posted by loquacious at 2:17 AM on July 4, 2005

I'm going to do this.

If anything it's a lesson on how to not take anything or anyone too seriously.

Or perhaps that no one takes anything seriously anymore
posted by Rubbstone at 2:27 AM on July 4, 2005

> Or perhaps that no one takes anything seriously anymore

Oh I wish. We wouldn't have so many fanatics of all kinds in the world.

If the students hadn't taken the teacher so seriously, the whole thing would have been a lot more fun, wouldn't it?
posted by funambulist at 2:43 AM on July 4, 2005

The fella Timothy Mason links to is pretty full-on.

The Holocaust is the religion of our time, and heresy is not taken lightly. Anyone who questions the gas chamber story can get in serious legal trouble, and may be physically attacked or even killed. And yet THEY have the gall to lecture US about resisting conformity. The hypocrisy of this is just mind-boggling.

And from another of his essays.

If a black tried to “turn out” a Mexican, the Mexicans would riot and try to kill him. Blacks also defend each other from white or Hispanic rapists. It is only whites—unless they are known members of white racialist gangs who do stick together—who are on their own and can be raped with impunity. It would be hard to think of a more cruel consequence of stripping whites of racial consciousness.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:56 AM on July 4, 2005

Sorry, that's very unfair. In the second instance I quoted someone he quoted. (But he did agree with it and his reasons are interesting.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:59 AM on July 4, 2005

Even in the page on this Third Wave thingy there's this revealing bit:

> There are reasons for questioning whether the most notorious part of the Holocaust happened. Nevertheless everyone, including the revisionists, acknowledges the obvious fact that the Holocaust, in a general sense, did happen.

And the whole thing about the "connection between the War on Nazism and the War on Drugs" is just insane.

Definitely a lesson on the dangers of taking drugs too seriously.
posted by funambulist at 3:18 AM on July 4, 2005

I apologize for linking to that page; I should have checked more carefully.
posted by TimothyMason at 4:59 AM on July 4, 2005

In high school in 1984 one of our instructors did something similar for a few weeks. A student was appointed "imperial leader" and they all got to wear armbands, etc. An acquaintance of mine and his friend staged a coup with cream pies. They were invited to read in the library for the remainder of the course.

The former assassin now works for Microsoft and is *really* conservative.

posted by craniac at 5:22 AM on July 4, 2005

I have no opinion, nor do I care much, about The Third Wave. But this criticism of it has been posted before and it was nonsense the first time. Now it's longer and makes even less sense.

"In the Nazi era, most Germans went about their business. Life in 1936 wasn't that different from what it had been a generation earlier, before the war."

I'm sorry, that's bunk. I love how he thinks he knows what life was like in Nazi Germany during the 30s because he's seen 19 Nazi movies. I've seen dozens of war movies, do I know what it's like being in a war? I've read a handful of SciFi books -- I guess I know what it's like living on other planets.

That movies in Nazi Germany made for adults were aspirational light romances or comedies is not a sign that life in Germany was normal, it's a sign that romances and comedies are effective as entertainment.

Living under the Nazis was an excercise in fear and manipulation. Citizens were given the form of normal lives but the substance was a totalitarian dictatorship.

"Nevertheless everyone, including the revisionists, acknowledges the obvious fact that the Holocaust, in a general sense, did happen."

Also untrue. There are many revisionists and they say a lot of different things. Some say there were no more Jews than anyone else in the camps; Others say there were no death camps, that no one was mistreated at them. He's just wrong here.

" As I said on the No-rap page: a lot of people get very upset about "cults," without realizing that they are already in a cult. America is a cult. TV is a cult. Our thoughts are already controlled."

Why am I wasting my time -- this person is crazy.
posted by raaka at 5:24 AM on July 4, 2005

Eek! I wish I had finished the "debunking" article before saying anything about it...
posted by brundlefly at 5:50 AM on July 4, 2005

Godwin is tiresome. The people who refer to it almost always fail to understand the difference between a direct comparison and a full or partial analogy used to make a valid point.


"You're acting no better than Hitler would have".

Perfectly acceptable:

"Well, the Krays may have been crooks but they kept their neighbourhood safe"

"Yeah, and Hitler made the trains run on time"

I swear, people just parrot "Godwin" every time anything to do with Nazis is mentioned. I wish they'd think instead.
posted by Decani at 6:06 AM on July 4, 2005

The server is slow as hell, but you can download or stream what I believe is the tv movie from here.
posted by mr.marx at 7:01 AM on July 4, 2005

Decani— No, "Godwinning" would be:
"Well, I think that anyone who enjoys the Backstreet Boys should be banned from programming radio."
"Whatever, you nazi."

The law states that as a threaded discussion continues, the likelyhood of one party being called a Nazi approaches one.
(The linguistic descriptivists would argue that it now applies to any reference to a Nazi in any discussion, because that's the way it's used. But they're wrong, and, like, worse than Hitler, who at least used grammar properly.)

I'm glad that other people picked up on the fact that the guy "debunking" was a lunatic. And I encourage anyone interested in this to read Hannah Arentd's On Totalitarianism.
posted by klangklangston at 9:39 AM on July 4, 2005

Hey, loonie or not, he made some good points, plus found some primary sources which contradict the teacher's account.

Are you saying his points are all invalid just cause he's nuts?
posted by Edible Energy at 1:40 PM on July 4, 2005

TimothyMason, as you can see in the original thread, I also linked to the Burkhead piece and was unprepared for the in-thread debunking of the debunker. I think it's a shame that this is the most cogent critique of the Jones work out there, because I found it unbelievable for many of the same reasons -- though obviously I think Burkhead, in his zeal, overly deconstructs Nazism. There is a social construction of Nazism in Western culture (for instance, that Nazism was a special case rising above -- or below -- all other instances of ethnic violence and totalitarian control), but he takes it a step further into historical revisionism that is not warranted by the historical record.

I don't disagree that there are points -- good points -- made by the "Third Wave" story, but as Jones presents it, it must be a fable, exaggerated far beyond what really happened. If Jones would simply acknowledge this and cop to the less dramatically interesting story, I wouldn't be nearly so annoyed. But Jones -- even in recent (1990s) interviews -- seems to believe his own hype now.
Reading the story I have far too many questions about logistics, and logic, to take it at face value.

Call me a philistine, but I don't think it serves anyone to use a lie to criticize fascism.
posted by dhartung at 3:14 PM on July 4, 2005

Decani— No

posted by Decani at 5:58 PM on July 4, 2005

Hey, loonie or not, he made some good points, plus found some primary sources which contradict the teacher's account.

He said the account was counter to his own life experiences. From a holocaust denier this means little.

His 'primary sources' backed up parts of the teachers' story, and showed our denier was smoking crack. Or at least a lot of pot.
posted by delmoi at 7:29 PM on July 4, 2005

dhartung: a holocaust denier denying the third wave experiment should only serve to corroborate the third wave.

In any event, his entire debunking consists of him saying it seems unlikely to him. That's ridiculous. You can see a photograph of the banner that he claims couldn't have hung even after the rally was corroborated by a correspondent.

The fact that it seems odd to you dosn't mean it didn't happen.
posted by delmoi at 7:35 PM on July 4, 2005

Also, yes, goodwin's law does not apply when discussing facism. It certanly shouldn't mean that nazis should never be discussed.
posted by delmoi at 7:39 PM on July 4, 2005

Nor comparisons never drawn. It actually doesn't say anything negative or positive about the application of such comparisons either.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:16 AM on July 5, 2005

The 'debunker' is fascinating because, it's always interesting when someone can control their insanity long enough to draw in otherwise sane people. I thought he was a bit overwrought about the "This is all a fable" part," but was still reading until I got to the Holocaust denial.
posted by OmieWise at 11:29 AM on July 5, 2005

I'm curious whether white supremacists/neo-nazis ever call "godwin."

...and if so, does the recipient say "Wow, I'm like Hitler? Cool. Thanks!"

"In the martial atmosphere of the class they seemed stunned and pensive.... They watched the activities and participated in a mechanical fashion."
Pretty much me all through high school. If this started happening I'dve been lobbing molitov's.
...come to think of it, I did cause a lot of trouble in high school as it was.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:01 PM on July 5, 2005

Delmoi: No, what you're doing now is an ad hominem attack. His debunking of Jones is pretty cogent; on that he is a reliable source. His views of the holocaust are clearly deranged; on that he is an unreliable source.

Not that reading it didn't give me the slow creeps, watching his orbit go further and further from earth...
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 PM on July 5, 2005

« Older Big, Big Bang   |   Corpses on the Moors Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments