"Today Christians ... stand at the head of [this country]... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... (few) years."Since WWII, many people, groups and nations have been compared to the Nazi regime and the personalities therein. In fact, the analogy is overdone in American culture to the point of being meaningless. There is even a satirical law called Godwin's Law which states that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving the Nazis goes to 1." This is quite true. I've witnessed this law in action in online discussions, and it tends to be sardonically humorous when somebody calls it out. Despite the comedic value, the main point Godwin makes is that many Nazi comparisons tend to be baseless, and many others employ a good deal of pseudo-logic. A better understanding of history, while fostering a saner world, would probably prevent a good deal of invocations of Godwin's Law too.
- Adolf Hitler
When it comes to bad Nazi comparisons, few have been more boisterous and outright buffoonish than the vituperations of Tea Party mouthpiece and Fox News host Glenn Beck. One of Beck's recent Nazi comparisons involved taking a closer look at the concept of empathy in politics and - get this - how Hitler used 'empathy' to euthanize baby Knauer, a child born with significant birth defects in 1938 Germany, amid the debate over Hitler's eugenics policies. Beck's conclusion: "Empathy leads you to bad decisions every time." While Glenn Beck's logic is certainly twisted, I think we can safely say that he takes Godwin's Law to new heights.
In his first 18 months on Fox News, from early 2009 through the middle of this year, Glenn Beck and his guests invoked Hitler 147 times; Nazis, an additional 202 times; Fascism or fascists, 193 times; the Holocaust got 76 mentions; and Joseph Goebbels got 24 mentions. It has been the unwritten rule in American politics not to invoke a comparison of Hitler and the Nazis because at that point all rational thought seemingly stops (probably a big reason Beck does this). Glenn Beck has certainly let the cat out of the bag with his Nazi fetish; and given the paranoid, vitriolic rhetoric, one wonders if there isn't a bit of psychological projection going on too.
Of Political Movements and Reflections in History
The Nazi Party was considered just one of the many German fringe political groups prior to the 1930 elections. Few respectable citizens took Hitler's paranoid diatribe seriously at the time. Before Hitler came to power, he was regarded by many as a funny little man with a mustache, prone to emotional outbursts. As Ron Rosenbaum writes in his book Explaining Hitler:
"[t]he tone and tendency of prewar explainers was to condescend to Hitler, to treat him as a phenomenon beneath contempt, much less serious consideration. Rather than urge the necessity of combating Hitler, prewar explainers acted as if he could be wished away with words, belittled into oblivion."Unfortunately, this inattention never forced the issue of Hitler's pathology to the forefront, and the Nazi party was able to continue their criminal intrigues behind the facade of popular ignorance. By 1930, those who saw Hitler as a joke started to take his tirades seriously when the Nazi politicians went from 12 seats in the Reichstag (German parliament) to a whopping 107 seats -- this out of a total of 577 seats. This win raised them to the second largest political party in the Reichstag, just below the Social Democrats. Then, over the next 2 years from 1930 - 1932, they increased their number of seats to 277, placing them as the largest political party in the Reichstag. Germans were either ecstatic or dumbstruck, depending on their political or moral leanings.
In comparison, the 2010 mid-term elections in the United States today show a new fringe political group on the scene: the Tea Party. They seem to be making modest, yet significant headway, despite the fact that the US has not seen a viable third party for over a century. The Tea Party candidates have seemingly crawled out of the woodwork onto the center stage, garnering much press and attention. The New York Times identified 138 Congressional candidates for the 2010 mid-term elections with significant Tea Party support. Most of these candidates are ostensible converts from the aging Republican Party, while others, such as the anti-masturbation crusader Christine O'Donnell, are relatively new to politics.
To say that the Tea Party represents a virtual smorgasbord of so-called fringe politics in America would be an understatement. As Jonathan Kay, a reporter for Newsweek writes:
"After I spent the weekend at the Tea Party National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., it has become clear to me that the movement is dominated by people whose vision of the government is conspiratorial and dangerously detached from reality. It's more John Birch than John Adams."Although the Tea Party movement tries to present a veneer of conservative neo-liberalism, in the background we have everything from paranoid communist conspiracies to fire-and-brimstone end-times preaching, deriding Obama as the anti-Christ. Funny, that with all their talk of conspiracies, there seems to be little mention from Tea Partiers about 9/11 as an inside job, which would probably shake up the US government more than any of the New-World-Order-type communist conspiracies, but I digress. As is apparent from Jonathan Kay's Newsweek article - which is titled "Black Helicopters over Nashville" - there seems to be a tendency among some in the press to regard the Tea Party with ridicule instead of treating their brand of political pathology as a sober threat to the nation (and world). How little we learn from history, no?
Given this eruption of revolutionary politics in America, one wonders about the timing of a recent ruling from the Supreme Court allowing donations of unlimited corporate cash to political campaigns and the emergence of this Tea Party movement. Some have pointed out that the funding of Tea Party candidates is not coming from the 'people' so much as it is from billionaires and corporations such as media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers oil tycoons. Despite this, there is the continuing media presentation of the Tea Party movement as a movement of the 'people'.
It should be noted that the Nazi party did not come to power through popular support either. The Nazis had plenty of wealthy industrialists waiting in the wings to provide cash once Hitler proved that his interests coincided with the industrialists. One of these wealthy industrialists who played a large part in funding the Nazis was a man by the name of Fritz Thyssen -- a man who would later initiate a direct line to modern-day fascist America due to his financial dealings with Prescott Bush, the grandfather of George W. Bush. Prescott Bush, who worked as vice-president for Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co (the oldest and largest private bank in the US), helped finance the Nazi war machine once Hitler attained power. Fritz Thyssen played a major role in the rearming process of Germany, from which the industrialists reaped billions in new orders and contracts from Hitler's Reich. Would it be too much to ponder just what new policy changes these wealthy Tea Party donors are hoping to gain through their support of this movement? What maniacal demagogue will they bring to power in America this time around?
By most accounts, the beginnings of the Tea Party are ostensibly humble, and make for the tailoring of a well-crafted mythology. The Tea Party movement started with a series of nationwide protests on tax day of 2009. At the time, there was much attention paid to the TARP financial bailout given to those banks deemed 'too big to fail' in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The Tea Party capitalized on the popular sentiment bemoaning the unfairness of TARP when millions around the country had lost their jobs, lost their homes, or suffered unnamed financial hardships. Financial hardship for the average citizen continues in America with the unemployment rate hovering around 17% by 1930's standards. This, in itself, has given the Tea Party a broad base of popular support. Like the Tea Party, the Nazis were the ones to rise out of the ashes of the financial chaos in the Germany of that post-WWI, bygone era.
The Nazis were the Political Party of choice for Germans in bad times. Their popularity was indirectly proportional to the economic and social stability of the Weimar Republic. The early 1920s in Germany marked the hyperinflationary period where exponential decreases in currency valuation caused savings and pensions to go up in smoke, sometimes overnight. Other than the German stock market, there were few safe havens for wealth during this time. Many long-standing middle-class families were stripped of their social status; many also committed suicide; still others returned to the political scene and joined revolutionary groups such as the National Socialists. The Nazis found some fame in a botched coup d'état in a beer hall (the famous Beer Hall Putsch) at the end of 1923 during the height of the hyperinflationary period. Despite the fact that Hitler was imprisoned shortly after this, his failed coup attempt did not dissolve the Nazis. They continued to lurk in the shadows throughout the twenties and learned to refine their rhetoric to establish themselves in the mainstream of German politics. The worldwide depression of 1929 was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back; riding the tide of social instability again, the Nazis scored big in the next year's election, as noted above. Then, as the depression subsided, their popularity was again on the decline, showing their affinity for 'bad times'. The fact that the Tea Party seems to be a reactionary phenomenon of 'bad times'
The Tea Party - as one can infer from the name - implies a platform of nationalism. The Boston Tea Party as a protest against British taxation is a well-known American myth that every American child learns in grade school. But instead of focusing on the liberal philosophies of the American founders, the Tea Party focuses on a platform of conservative authoritarianism - something the founding fathers were trying to escape! The Tea Party is basically a rehash of the Republican Party with a revolutionary twist of gun-toting nationalism. Likewise, it was by far the myths of German nationalism that captivated Hitler's audiences more so than any of the social ideologies he ambiguously professed. The loss in WWI to the Allies and the subsequent war reparations outlined in the Treaty of Versailles was a major ego blow to many Germans. With such hardship and collective psychological disintegration, many were looking towards the past; looking for somebody or something to take back their country and make it great again. They viewed the myths of their founding fathers such as Bismarck and Fredrick the Great with yearning nostalgia. They were looking for a strong leader and a savior. Does any of this sound familiar? Much of the constitutionalist rhetoric coming from the Tea Party and elsewhere has its roots in a nostalgia for a mythical time in American history that never was.
As far as political issues go, the Tea Party is pro-gun, anti-immigration, pro-military, anti-tax, pro-'values' (a catch-all term for non-issues of gender and reproduction), and pro-conservative. As stated above, one could essentially classify this as an offshoot of the Republican Party, rebranded under a new name. As far as comparisons to the National Socialists go, the Nazis were overwhelmingly anti-immigration, pro-military, pro-'values' and pro-conservative, to be sure. Actually, the Nazis dabbled in a bit of everything, and Hitler's speeches and promises varied depending on his crowd. His biggest, most popular themes were by far German nationalistic myths and the scapegoating of foreign immigrants such as the Jews, Communists and others. Those German citizens who fell under his spell and did not have the wherewithal to see through his blatant lies and hypocrisy joined the growing masses in their hive-mind attraction towards the man they would soon call the 'Messiah of Germany'. This is how many German people viewed Hitler, even while many others still classified him as a vile subspecies of human. It was certainly a polarized time in history during post-WWI Germany, just like it is in America today.
Lost in Myth: The 'Return' and the Coming Master Race
Now, to dive into this matter further, we have to look at the Tea Party from a broader perspective; not looking directly at what they profess, but what the undercurrents of this movement are. Many well-known Dominionist Christians on the conservative right have latched onto the Tea Party's revolutionary fervor, including John McCain's vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, to name one out of a long list. Jonathan Kay, whose article reporting on a Tea Party convention in Nashville is mentioned above, says in a related forum post:
"I think the one thing that really did surprise me was the high level of explicitly Christian social conservatism on display here. One of the "breakout sessions" featured a speech from Pastor Rick Scarborough [an ardent Dominionist] - who is most famous for trying to get America's preachers more politicized. ('I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. I'm a Christocrat.') After his speech, a middle-aged female delegate with a twang stood up and said, during the Q&A, 'All the media types are asking us why we're here. Here's what I say. We're all here for a little R&R - revival and revolt. If you're not a Christian, and a person of faith, you just can't understand what we're doing!!' She got a standing ovation."For those who don't know, Dominionist Christians are not a specific sect of Christianity. The label 'Dominionist' encompasses many different sects that have the same ideological interpretation of a specific line in the Bible. The Bible states: "God blessed Adam and Eve and God said unto them, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.'" But Dominionists take it to the next level, with overtones of social Darwinism, claiming that they (being Dominionists) have dominion over all nations and all people of the world. In other words, they believe they are God's chosen people, predestined for world domination. The similarities between the Dominionists' philosophy of being 'chosen by God', and the Nazi's philosophy of the 'master race' are striking.
The other side to this self-justifying set of beliefs involves Christ's supposed return to earth. In a nutshell, Dominionists believe that until they have dominion over all people and all nations of the world, Christ cannot return to earth - it's that simple. If and when this happens, there will be heaven on earth and all will be at peace again. As we can see from this brief sketch, Dominionists have a certain Machiavellian attitude regarding Christ's return, where any act or behavior is justified in order to attain power and thus bring about the return of the Messiah. Wars, support of tyrants, torture, brainwashing of children, and all manner of underhanded politics are justified in order to bring about this fated outcome. It appears that latching onto the burgeoning Tea Party is one such method of taking the US government by storm in order to usher in their particular brand of theocracy. Dominionist Christians consider the US their nation, under God, with liberty and justice for themselves and no others. In their mind, other people can either convert to their ridiculous beliefs or be exterminated when Christ arrives (if not sooner).
As surprising as this may seem to some, the Nazis were guided by similar mystical notions. Much has been said about Hitler's goal to propagate the 'Master Race' through a program of racial purging and selective reproduction. A lot less is said about the underpinnings of this philosophy and what the real motivation may have been. Many of the Nazis' mystical tendencies come from a book called The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Litton, a book which describes Aryan psychic supermen (supposedly the original descendants of Atlantis) living inside of the Earth, waiting for the right opportunity to surface and rule over the rest of man. Moreover, these super-beings, once among us, will foster a mutation in certain select humans that will create the 'new man' while other humans will be reduced to slaves. This was the Nazis' mystical undercurrent in a nutshell.
There is some controversy about how much Hitler actually believed in such dramas. It has been said that he outwardly expressed contempt for non-mainstream religious groups and even prohibited a number of such groups. However, standing in support of his view of such mysticism, there is an interesting set of quotes from The Dawn of Magic, a book by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, which shows just how much Hitler's extermination program may have been driven by this philosophy of bringing about a 'mutation' on earth. In talking with Hermann Rauschning, the Governor of Danzig, Hitler uses the analogy of an animal stock breeder, saying that all one can do is "assist Nature and shorten the road to be followed! It is Nature herself who must create for you a new species. Up till now the breeder has only rarely succeeded in developing mutations in animals". In this context Hitler goes on, trembling in a sort of ecstasy, to say that: "The new man is living among us now! He is here! [...] I have seen the new man. He is intrepid and cruel. I was afraid of him." Hitler wasn't the only high ranking Nazi suspected of believing in some sort of grand mutation. Rudolph Hess had a long history with the occult as did Heinrich Himmler. Himmler, as many know, was also in charge of the extermination program which was supposedly a necessary component to bring about this 'mutation' in man. That Hitler had some broader metaphysical goal in mind for his acts of pure evil is unclear, but it certainly should give us a sharp warning about the mixture of religion or mysticism and politics.
While most Dominionist Christians today would claim that their beliefs lie solely in the Bible, many are still influenced by popular Biblical interpretational works such as the Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, that relate a mythical drama for Christians during the tumultuous years of the beginning 21st century leading up to the 'rapture' (aka 'mutation'?). These books have incidentally sold 60 million copies. One must ask rhetorically just how this Dominionist emphasis on fantasy literature is any different than the Nazis' obsession with books such as The Coming Race and similar theosophical works. It is clear that both of these groups rely on the radical interpretation (actually misinterpretation) of religious mythology, which relegates fantasy to reality and vice versa. The fact that both Dominionists and Nazis put questionable metaphysical notions ahead of basic morality in their 'end justifies the means attitude' is another trait they share, and an important one to note.
A Common Root in Pathocracy
Hitler was definitely mentally deranged - possibly a psychopath - and so were a good many of his followers. History is replete with examples of leaders who show no conscience whatsoever. Some have been inclined to call this problem of conscienceless leaders a disease of corruption by absolute power, but the facts do not support this. On the contrary, it is power that attracts psychopaths. This isn't just a disease of rulers, but likely a genetic trait expressed in a certain percentage of humans (if one can call them that). Judging by the quotes from Glenn Beck at the beginning of this piece, we can see the hallmarks of psychopathology there as well. Beck's opinion that "empathy leads to bad decisions every time", is certainly telling, since a psychopath, by definition, is one who lacks the capacity for empathy. It certainly appears from his words that Beck doesn't grasp the concept of what empathy really is. Given some of his other utterances, this is not entirely surprising.
The psychopath is quite aware that they are different from normal people. Research shows that they are able to pick each other out in a crowd even as children. It is by this uncanny ability to recognize their own, that they learn to gravitate towards those corners of society where they might thrive. Whether in politics, religion or any other sphere of human society, they don a mask of normalcy, hiding those traits deemed pathological by the rest of humanity. When it comes to such things as politics and religion, they also choose their beliefs and ideologies as a part of this mask. No ideology is safe. Due to the inflexibility of ideologies as well as overlooked areas of knowledge within such belief systems, these ultimately become the tool of the psychopath. What tends to happen is that the outward ideals and altruistic nature of the ideology remains intact, while at the core, a new brand of thinking takes its place under the leadership of psychopaths. This slowly rots such a system of lofty ideals from the inside until it becomes a shadow of its former self. Psychopaths have no real interest in an ideology beyond a simple means to an end -- a hallmark we've seen now both in the Christian Dominionists within the Tea Party and the Nazis.
This is why no matter how many comparisons one finds between the nascent Tea Party movement and the National Socialist movement, one inevitably comes up short in understanding the true nature of this apparent time-loop of history that we're stuck in. We just see different masks, donned at different times in history by similar groups of psychopaths. Focusing on the details of the mask, we do not see the beast that lies beneath it. Instead, if we were to focus less on outward appearances of ideologies and more on the inner pathological traits of such a system, our comparison would be much stronger. If we focus on aspects such as: the division of people into in-groups and out-groups (us vs. them mentality); excessive paranoia and other schizophrenic tendencies; pathological lying and outright hypocrisy; the corruption of science to justify pathological aims; association of double-speak and layers of meaning with common words and phrases -- if we focus on these, we put our comparison into the realm of psychopathology. In that sense, the Nazis are no longer unique to history, but a natural outgrowth of psycho-dynamic factors acting on a macro-social scale; many fascist and dictatorial regimes throughout history can be compared to the Nazis. Maybe Godwin was on to something when he noticed how many times people would invoke the specter of the Nazis in online discussions. Still, we want to make sure we understand the pattern correctly and not use it as another form of double-speak like those of Glenn Beck's ilk. There is a noticeable pattern to a society overrun by psychopaths and that pattern is called Pathocracy.
Andrew M. Łobaczewski, in his seminal work Political Ponerology, describes many of the dynamic processes that take place between psychopathic leaders and those they rule. He describes a society where psychopaths and other types of deviants occupy the totality of leadership positions as a 'pathocracy'. The premise here is that power is like honey to a psychopath. They rise to positions of power due to their uncanny ability to lie and manipulate, while at the same time adopting a normal appearance. They have an advantage over normal people in this regard, since the conscience of a normal person prevents them from acting in such a Machiavellian manner. Over time, as psychopaths take positions of power, they appoint other sycophantic psychopaths and subservient yes-men beneath them so as to make their ego-based goals of domination and destruction more efficient. This is the basic process by which pathocracies form.
Pathocracies are never static; they are in a constant state of flux, and no society stays at the same level of pathocracy forever, although once thoroughly entrenched in a society, they can last for decades, centuries, and in the case of religious institutions, even millennia. In the everyday struggle, there is a tug-a-war between the pathologicals in power and those below them trying to juggle their basic needs and the demands imposed on them by psychopaths at the top. Ultimately, a society cannot exist in an increasing state of pathocracy forever. It is the psychopaths' own destructive nature that leads to the annihilation of the very power structure that supports them. The problem is that when this happens, they take a whole lot of normal people down with them, so preventing this infection by psychopaths (i.e. pathocracy) is ultimately the best course of action.
A Warning from History
As we've seen, there is a large pathological flavor to the Tea Party right now, and we believe this is an important trend to keep an eye on. Throughout history, revolutionary movements have flourished when people are hungry, poor, sick, subjugated to an elite class, and generally fed up with the regime in power. We only need to look at the rise of the Nazis, the French revolution, the Soviet revolution, or any similar example to see that the main way in which pathocracies have developed and taken hold of populations has been during 'bad times', with psychopaths manipulating the justified feelings of oppression of the masses for their own ends. But as Henry David Thoreau wrote, "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." In order to strike at the root of evil - the root of oppression, fascism, and pathocracy - we need to look behind the veil of ideology, at the pathological elements corroding those ideas that may seem to be benevolent, but hide secret motives that have never been adequately understood until now.
So, in light of this new science of evil - Ponerology - in the next issue of The Dot Connector, we'll take a closer look at the most current ideology that seems to be threatening to entrench the powers of pathocracy within the United States and the world: Dominionism. We'll show some of the pathological twists and veiled intentions hidden behind the doublespeak. We'll also peer behind the mask of who is probably the most dangerous woman in America: Sarah Palin. Her ties with Dominionism and the Tea Party do not bode well for life on the planet Earth.
Ryan X is an amateur writer and essayist residing in Wisconsin with a passion for seeking Truth. His reading and research interests include history, politics, the paranormal, and all areas of science.