I have a couple very good and very important books going right now, books I think every U.S. citizen should read as soon as they can possibly get their hands on a copy, or e-copy; “Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, by Ian Kershaw and On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder.
Hitler is a bit of a slow read (most definitely not due to interest, rather due to the detail one must pay very close attention to) both books are a vital read, given the political scenario in which we find ourselves and our nation today.
While reading “On Tyranny”, I kept thinking of the old B&W movie “The Wizard of Oz”. I’m normally not one who typically picks up on subtle symbolism in movies, or books. It takes books with the obvious, such as 1984, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, etc., the kind of books intended to engage our imagination via symbolic characters and scenarios.
But; for some reason “On Tyranny” kept bringing “The Wizard of Oz” to mind for me.
In Oz, there’s apparently symbolism in almost every character, blade of grass and flower in the story, symbolism that has been debated for generations unbeknownst to me :-)
“Hitler Hubris”, no symbolism whatsoever is attempted. It’s straight out in the open, even spelling it all out for the reader. However; what it does expose is an extraordinarily frightening parallel between Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump; two men who’s contribution to society will live in infamy as long as there is even but one human being left on this planet with either a memory or the ability to read.
There have been and will always be characters in the history of humanity who will forever live in infamy.
Some characters aren’t just equated with the worst of what society has to offer, but those who literally define the worst of the worst; sociopathic characters straight from Hell providing the very story of hate, deceit, treachery, ardent narcissism, arrogance, truculence, cruelty, dishonesty, aggression, pusillanimous, ignorance, ruthlessness, etc. etc. etc.
Most of those characters are already historic as of today; names such as Franco, Pinochet, Duvalier, Stalin, Pot, Amin, Mussolini, and of course Hitler.
However; one is creating his own repulsive story as you read this - Donald Trump; a “great and almighty wizard” who is certain he knows all and can even grant people’s most outrageous of wishes, simply by doing nothing but turning knobs, pushing buttons, pulling handles, and communicating from behind a curtain, in fear of dogs; dogs, like you and me, who have already pulled the curtain hiding his fraudulent existence.
Fortunately for the illiterate buffoon that he is, the curtain is limited to one-hundred forty characters or less, so his illiteracy, ignorance, and raw stupidity remain hidden to the less observant, and the foolishly devoted.
I always use quotes in my posts, but I rarely use one to the extent that I’m using this, but it’s reason and relevance will appear very quickly.
As you read the following, think of Charlottesville, Trumps campaigns wherein he gleefully threw voices of opposition out of his rallies and compared law abiding liberals to Right Wing hate groups such as the Alt-Right, KKK, and White Supremacists, a tactic used by ultra-nationalists to reduce to their level, all opposition, both in present and in historical pre-WWII Germany, as they rounded up all those they claimed were in need of elimination in order to cleanse the Motherland of racial impurities.
“Most governments, most of the time, seek to monopolize violence. If only the government can legitimately use force, and this use is constrained by law, then the forms of politics that we take for granted become possible. It is impossible to carry out democratic elections, try cases at court, design and enforce laws, or indeed manage any of the other quiet business of government when agencies beyond the state also have access to violence. For just this reason, people and parties who wish to undermine democracy and the rule of law create and fund violent organizations that involve themselves in politics. Such groups can take the form of a paramilitary wing of a political party, the personal bodyguard of a particular politician— or apparently spontaneous citizens’ initiatives, which usually turn out to have been organized by a party or its leader.
Armed groups first degrade a political order, and then transform it. Violent right-wing groups, such as the Iron Guard in interwar Romania or the Arrow Cross in interwar Hungary, intimidated their rivals. Nazi storm troopers began as a security detail clearing the halls of Hitler’s opponents during his rallies. As paramilitaries known as the SA and the SS, they created a climate of fear that helped the Nazi Party in the parliamentary elections of 1932 and 1933. In Austria in 1938 it was the local SA that quickly took advantage of the absence of the usual local authority to loot, beat, and humiliate Jews, thereby changing the rules of politics and preparing the way for the Nazi takeover of the country. It was the SS that ran the German concentration camps— lawless zones where ordinary rules did not apply. During the Second World War, the SS extended the lawlessness it had pioneered in the camps to whole European countries under German occupation. The SS began as an organization outside the law, became an organization that transcended the law, and ended up as an organization that undid the law.
Because the American federal government uses mercenaries in warfare and American state governments pay corporations to run prisons, the use of violence in the United States is already highly privatized. What is novel is a president who wishes to maintain, while in office, a personal security force which during his campaign used force against dissenters. As a candidate, the president ordered a private security detail to clear opponents from rallies, but also encouraged the audience itself to remove people who expressed different opinions. A protestor would first be greeted with boos, then with frenetic cries of “USA,” and then be forced to leave the rally. At one campaign rally the candidate said, “There’s a remnant left over. Maybe get the remnant out. Get the remnant out.” The crowd, taking its cue, then tried to root out other people who might be dissenters, all the while crying “USA.” The candidate interjected: “Isn’t this more fun than a regular boring rally? To me, it’s fun.” This kind of mob violence was meant to transform the political atmosphere, and it did.
For violence to transform not just the atmosphere but also the system, the emotions of rallies and the ideology of exclusion have to be incorporated into the training of armed guards. These first challenge the police and military, then penetrate the police and military, and finally transform the police and military.”
Snyder, Timothy. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (pp. 45-46). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.