The Ease of Evil – Kate Paulk

The Ease of Evil – Kate Paulk


This morning I read Marina Fontaine’s review of Downfall (, yes, including mention of that scene, the one that’s been recaptioned several gazillion times, some with more humor than others. In the review, she asks why the fascination? What is it with the Nazis and Hitler?

I have a theory. It is purely mine, based on reading a metric crap-ton about all manner of things (and don’t ask me for cites because this stuff has stewed so long in the back of my head I no longer remember where I originally read whatever triggered any particular piece. You can get most of the raw facts off Wikipedia). It is also a very broad generalization. Coming years will determine whether or not it is correct in the big picture. I’m not optimistic (I hope I’ve got this horribly wrong. I fear I haven’t).

Okay. So.

The ongoing fascination with Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Simply put, it’s the most well-documented and acknowledged demonstration of the allure of evil and how easy it is for a more or less civilized people to descend into utter brutality. As such, it holds an unclean fascination not helped by uniforms that were designed to look good as well as be practical (or by the simple fact that evil, when done effectively, is sexy. Because it is invariably power, and untrammeled power at that. We’re human. Power attracts and corrupts us. The wiser among us acknowledge this so we can fight the effect).

The various Communist regimes can be dismissed as “not counting” because to the minds of those who do the dismissing, Russia, China, North Korea, and Eastern Europe “weren’t civilized”, and so Communism/Socialism would work just fine implemented by civilized people (they usually point to one of the Nordic nations when they do this). These same people are a big part of why the wrong lesson keeps being drawn from Nazi Germany.

The problem was not nationalism. It was not even the disgusting racial laws. Those laws could never have been passed, much less enforced, without the one big thing Socialism, Communism, and yes, Nazism have in common.

The supremacy of the state.

In the case of Nazi Germany, it started towards the end of the First World War, with the combination of Communist agitation and an Empire tired of a war that was draining the nation dry. The Communist agitation had rather more to do with the Kaiser’s abdication than is generally admitted – and frankly, it was disastrous. Instead of keeping the royal family as a symbol of national unity and reforming the German government into something more like the British model, Germany emerged from Versailles with a weak government run by people who had no idea what they were doing, a crippling war debt, some self-inflicted, and a lot thanks to a vengeful France, and, on the part of the average German, a shit-ton of bitterness over having been betrayed.

Hitler’s “knife in the back” rhetoric was grounded in reality. If it had been purely fabrication, it wouldn’t have resonated nearly as well.

The Weimar regime proved incapable of managing what little economy it had. Between the hyper-inflation and the kind of turnover of leadership that left the government looking like a ping-pong match, the entire situation was a pile of tinder by a cloud of flour dust just waiting for that one spark.

Enter Prussia. Or rather, exit Prussia. Prussia had the most stable of the Weimar-era state government, and was slowly – and painfully – grinding its way back to something resembling stability. During the late 1920s and early 1930s there was a lot of unrest, most of it between the German Communists trying to foment a revolution and bring Germany into the Soviet fold and the Nazi Brownshirts. Both appealed to the average German, who knew very well they’d been sacrificed for someone else’s ideals.

Prussia’s constitution at the time didn’t allow a new state government to form without a majority. The 1932 elections left the ruling coalition without a majority, and the Nazis and Communists forming large enough minorities to effectively block any coalition forming a new government. When one of the clashes between Nazis and Communists left 18 people dead in a shootout, the German Chancellor used the opportunity to claim that Prussia’s government was incapable of maintaining order, and pushed the President (who was senile) into dismissing the Prussian Cabinet and – the main purpose of the exercise – placing the entire Prussian government under direct Federal administration.

With the largest German state under direct federal administration, that state had no way to prevent – or even protest – the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor. The rest, of course, is general knowledge: Hitler creating crises and using them to give himself absolute power, abolishing the German state governments, and of course, bringing everything he could under state control.

That bare listing of facts accounts for the rise of Hitler, but not the continuing notion that the Nazis were conservative (only if you define ‘conservative’ as ‘nationalist’). That one comes from two sources. One was Soviet propaganda aimed at making Communist and Nazi ideologies seem much more distinct than they actually were. The other was Allied propaganda aimed at much the same thing. It wouldn’t do, after all, to have people realize they were allied with a dictator every bit as vile as Hitler.

So in American and British media, the evil of the Nazis was played up, while the evil of the Communists was minimized where it couldn’t be silenced altogether. The Communist plants and fellow-travelers in both nations helped.

They were – and are – almost the same. Both demand an all-powerful state. The state determines who is deserving and provides for the deserving. The state dehumanizes the undeserving prior to eliminating them. The state determines the direction of industry (in the case of the Nazis, by requiring business owners to support the regime where the Communists took over the businesses). The state cares for you – but if you’re no use to the state, your care will be an unmarked grave in a prison camp/work camp/concentration camp/gulag. All hail the state.

And both regimes started by targeting those who were seen as deserving targets – criminals, Gypsies, degenerates, homeless… all while dehumanizing their other targets.

The biggest difference? The Nazis didn’t dehumanize everyone. They may have, if the regime had lasted. The Communists did. People belonged to their group. If it was a good group, they got better choices, better lives. If not, they got orders that their entire harvest was requisitioned and they didn’t eat.

In my view the real lesson to be taken from the rise of the Nazis is that evil is seductive and people will flock to power and happily dehumanize their neighbors if you sell it right. And, as Pratchett put it (via Granny Weatherwax), evil always starts with treating people as things.

Especially treating people as things.

349 thoughts on “The Ease of Evil – Kate Paulk

  1. National Socialism is evil.

    International Socialism will work if we just do it right.


    1. weirdly national socialism, as Dave Freer puts it, works a little better.
      He said it does that by extortion, and sure, nazis did. In Portugal though, it was just by keeping poverty at a tolerable level and gaslighting the population. BUT no progroms, and no one starved. Just lived close to it.

      1. In theory national socialism uses the group identity of a nation. Just as the US allowed and survived all the govt meddling between the new deal and WW2. If you thought you were going to help against an ‘other’ or that you were helping your countrymen you were more willing to follow thru. Pure socialism, by replacing the nation with the party changes the intangible that drove work and made the ‘us’ and ‘them’ much more defined since you could see the social stratification.

      2. It makes sense, really. People are wired to be tribal. No matter how much they try and teach people otherwise, someone who looks and acts differently is the “other”. The more homogenous the population the fewer possible points of conflict.

      3. Sarah, the other reason it works better is that little word “national”. As the novel “A Damn Fine War” (alternate history where Stalin just kept going west after the end of WWII; stopped by Patton), the various components of the “Red Army” could see fighting to drive the Nazis out of Russia / Ukraine / etc., but dying for the Comintern was just a leap they couldn’t make.

      1. Nah, Star Trek’s federation works because the show’s writers are (probably) dogmatic Statists and unwilling to even consider the manifest impossibilities inherent in the claimed sociological and economic organization of said federation.

        1. I seem to recall something about replicators and holodecks enabling a the Federation to be a post-scarcity society. Then again, the Ferengi are clearly still capitalists in that Universe – or a caricature of capitalists (maybe served with a side of Jewish stereotypes) – with their desire for latinum (which magically could not be replicated, of course). In short, even when playing in a fictional universe, the claimed sociological and economic organizations require believing six impossible things before breakfast – the hallmark of through-the-looking-glass type magical thinking.

          1. This could actually work within the frame of the Star Trek universe. Even on Earth there was still a market for wine, and the Federation knew crime. So here we have plentiful energy and replicators, but suppose replicators are the base level. That would mean Star Fleet chow is the 22nd and 23rd Century equivalent of MREs. If you wanted something really good, like a glass of wine or a good restaurant meal that wasn’t a replicator program, you pay for it. The same if it’s illegal and you don’t want your replicator squealing to the cops.

            Even the Ferengi could have a base level that would be astounding, and still support acquisition. Granted they quickly became a caracarture, but it could still work.

            1. In my mind, the replicator provided a decent array of decent quality options. But for food, it probably didn’t have every chef’s version of every recipe of every culture. It might have a few generic versions of a wine, but not necessarily this vintage or that. Not every artisan’s and artist’s variation of every pot, blanket, musical instrument, or piece of clothing may be available in the replicator. Maybe there’s still some concept of “intellectual property rights” and only some things are made available to replicators. And even now there’s already the people who prefer “handmade” over “factory-made” – this could easily continue into a post-scarcity society where people want the unique, the special, and the rare rather than the cheap/free versions that are commonly available. Whether this is because of ideology, a desire for variety, virtue signalling, or what may vary.

              1. Quite possibly replicators do a perfect job but in the future snobbery will still exist. The important thing is that we know Picard to be a winer from a long line of winers.

              2. Post Roddenberry, Star Trek wandered off the socialist utopia reservationby quite a lot, but I think they got the major chunk of their ‘post scarcity civilzation’ wrong: As the physical assembly of pretty much anything becomes commonplace via replicators, the intellectual property represented by the design (down to the atomic level) becomes the item of scarcity – and thus the quantum of currency.
                Basic foodstuff is scannable and reproducable, but as you go further into the combinations and sequencing that make great food, you get into very complex designs, probably not easily reverse-engineerable from scanning.
                The Federation’s intellectual property law was never even touched on to my recollection, though I did not see all eps of DS9 or Voyager – if addressed in the Roddenberry STTNG era it would likely have been in a “we have to seize this from the greedy inventor for the good of all” morality play; If later on, say, on DS9 after the Great Ferengi Rehabilitation, perhaps it would have actually explored the issues. But probably not. “Forget it, Jake, it’s Star Trek.”

                1. There was an episode where Geordy had the Enterprise computer “create” a hologram of the inventor(?) of the ship’s drive in order to work out a solution to an engine problem (very loose description) … and a later episode where he actually meets the lady in question.

                  One thing that would remain scarce in the Federation is FAME, is notoriety. Scientists would still science if only for the attention they could gain.

              3. Star Trek Online still has chefs and cooks, replicators notwithstanding. There is a duty officer mission string where you can have your chef prepare feasts featuring cuisine from different sectors or planets. And yes, bartenders.

                There was a player-made mission in the foundry where a former Tal Shiar agent agrees to help you. She apparently carries more information that could present a danger if the Romulan Repubic finds out, so the other Empire Tal Shiar steal her back at one point. The agent comes back to you and tells the raging commander that she wasn’t traitor, and she assures you that she still wants to help but she allowed herself to be stolen back because she wanted to get copies of the … imprints? of the Romulan food replicators, simply because she couldn’t bear what the Federation thought passed for Romulan cuisine any more.

                1. That’s completely understandable. What the Federation tries to pass off as Bajoran or Cardassian food is criminal, too.

                2. She should have just started shrieking about cultural appropriation of Romulan cuisine. I’m sure the horrified Federation SJWs would have accomodated her thereafter…

              4. Ironically, the first factories that made consumer goods as we now think of consumer goods tried to produce the quality of high-end goods at a price affordable by everyone. Problem was, they found they could lower the quality and still sell everything they made, so… Some years ago at a craft fair I told a leather worker that his products were so precise they looked machine made; it was the highest compliment I could have given him.

              5. This came up on ST:Voyager. The holographic doctor wrote a hologame but lost control over it to the publisher because he was not legally a person. The publisher invoked the example of a non-sentient who could write simple books, but was not a person and held no intellectual rights to the works.

              6. OR — you could get a premium for non replicated stuff, just as you can now for hand-made.

              1. But according to like the second episode of TNG, the federation doesn’t use any money, so i guess they gave away the food for free.

                1. It’s implied, all the way back to TOS, that the Federation uses a symbolic currency called credits. If it’s completely symbolic, then there’s accounting, but without exchange of material. So in no longer having to exchange a physical medium, they don’t have money, but with credits they have currency.

                    1. When comics first started being published in books they were considered a highly discardable item and the idea that someday some [expletives deleted] would worry about their continuity would have been cause for ridicule the discernment of said [deleted expletives].

                      It came as quite a shock some thirty years later when the anal retentive complained about breaks, contradictions or other flaws in continuity. Nobody* was expected to read those things for more than two, three years.

                      The same rules applied to television shows prior to [a period to be determined]. Even the vaguest usage of handwavium was an unexpected sop.

                      *Nobody except the [expletives deleted].

                2. If replicated food is inferior to “the real thing” … where would the restaurants get their ingredients? Are there farmers in the Federation, growing wheat, producing vegetables and spices, raising cattle, pigs and chickens?

                  “Well forget it! I’m not doing it! This episode was badly written!”

                  1. Possibly, but with the exception of animals. Riker mentions in one episode that they “no longer enslave animals for food.” He goes on to explain that the replicators can essentially just create it.

                    1. “no longer enslave animals for food” IOW, chickens, turkeys, cows and all domesticated animals except maybe pigs are extinct.
                      Good lord, the stupid it burns.

            2. There are several portrayals of wanting to eat at ‘good restaurants’ – at least in the novels; in the series, there’s the Siskos. I also recall Nurse Chapel making Spock plomeek soup – it’s implied that she cooked it – when he ‘wasn’t feeling well’ (I think this was Amok Time?) – and although it didn’t end well for her in that instance, the impression I got was that something made by hand was still more effort and thus appreciated.

              Riker’s abortive attempts to try cook reflected his relatively ‘rugged’ background, I think.

              Physical books still carried a sense of appreciation and weight; even though things like digital versions and holonovels existed.

              1. Isn’t it interesting that we try so hard to fit all the little differences different writers have brought to the Star Trek universe into some coherent whole, when it’s really just that many of them couldn’t be bothered to make their work fit with the rest of the canon.

                1. If there’s no coherent whole the believeability is quite degraded. This is what bothers me about comics. The thing that irks me the most is how fragmented each issue is.

                  1. Isn’t that just reflective of reality? It’s not like our current societies are all that coherent. We have more subcultures, cliques and preference groups than we know what to do with.

                2. Or that a parsec is a measurement of distance instead of speed/time. A mistake no self-respecting ships captain would make, smuggler or no. Oh the pretzel logic used to worm their way outtta that one! 😀

                  1. Wish I could introduce you to my sister, oy the routes she’ll take to cut a mile off of her route…

                    “It’s a road!”
                    “It’s a COW PATH! You drive a CHEAP CAR, not an army tank! Mudboggers wouldn’t use that thing!”

              2. Mrs O’Brien angst a little over not being able to bring herself to actually touch raw meat, while Miles (from memory) does the best impression I’ve ever seen of a guy who hunts and cleans his own catch trying to convey to his wife who just can’t!!! that it’s really OK, he still loves her.

        2. Admittedly I haven’t looked too deeply into the federations economics, but I always thought that the replicator technology created a post scarcity civilation.

          Which led to the question of why the Klingons, Romulans etc didn’t become federations, since they had access to this technology.

          1. I always thought the concept of post-scarcity as shown in Star Treck to be utterly rediculous. Having resources readily avaialble to all does not magically make human society more enlightened. Removing the struggle for resources from society will not make bad men good and good men better. It does not force anyone to deny their more base nature. Rather, the opposite is far more likely to occur.

            1. I’ve hears it speculated that the crew of the Enterprise iis the cream of the crop, while the average Fed citizen is a besotted hedonist.

              1. I fear Japan points us the direction the Federation is likely taking.

                OTOH, what if all the shows are mere holosuite presentations provided by the Borg to keep its units complacent?

                1. I like the theory that the good Federation in Star Trek is the product of high-budget official propaganda, and the evil Federation in Blake’s 7 is actually the same entity as reported in cheap samizdat videos.

                2. My version has the ENTERPRISE(tm) as engines, weapons, sensors, and a holodeck. The crew consists of Picard, Data, and an AIR.

                  The AI runs the ship and generates the rest of the “crew.” Data is the mobile emitter for the Away Teams. Picard is all the crew they could manage–it’s that hard to pull anyone away from their soma-I-mean-everyday-life. The rest of the “crew” is just there to keep Picard from going crazy in solitary confinement.

                1. The first Culture book I read was The Player of Games. I remember a discussion early on in which it was implied that while the people of the Culture have sex (and lots of it), they don’t have marriage. In fact, early on when the protagonist asks a woman (a friend of his) to spend the night with him and she turns him down (he asks often, and she turns him down every time), he finally asks her why she doesn’t want to sleep with him. Her response is, “Because it matters to you. I feel you want to… take me, like a piece, like an area. To be had; to be… possessed.” Which she, and everyone else in the Culture, regards as a bad thing.

                  I kept reading past that point to the point where the protagonist is persuaded to cheat in an important game, then blackmailed by the person who persuaded him to cheat — but that scene was, in retrospect, the point at which I bounced hard off the book. Because that was when I went from “I’m going to enjoy this setting” (the ship names, like Of Course I Still Love You or So Much For Subtlety, were what made me want to read the series in the first place) to “Oh dear, the author has no idea how human nature works, does he?” An entire culture with lots of sex, but without ANY marriage, or even semi-permanent arrangements? Um… NO. That’s not a utopia, that’s a dystopia, and the fact that Mr. Banks apparently can’t see that is why I have no more desire to read his books.

                  1. There is a subtext in some of the novels that the Culture’s Contact and Special Circumstance branches solely exist to give bored Cultureniks something a bit more thrilling to do than extreme sports or sex.
                    And in my opinion “Look to Windward” is a better starting place.
                    I like “Player of Games”, but usually skip over the cheated on game part.

                  2. That’s the only Banks I’ve read too, and apparently I was sufficiently bored that I neglected to notice the attitudes toward sex. I did notice that we were informed the Culture is Good and everyone else (that means righties, individualists, libertarians, and the like) are stupid barbarians. That, and the plot being just an extended game of Reverso, are why I am cured of Banks.

                1. It was also addressed IIRC in the foreword to the novelization of the first Star Trek movie.

                  1. The part where the Klingons ask the Vulcans why they don’t conquer the Humans killed me. *rofl*

                  2. There’s a whole series of posts like this, along the lines of “this is why humans are weird.” One was a series of vignettes about alien groups hiring humans as assistants, because we’re so good at wrangling our way out of bizarre situations; a second was about how humans bond with anything (“heck with it, I’m gonna hug it,”); and yet another was about how humans grew up on this insanely dangerous planet, at least from the POV of aliens. They’re a lot of fun.

                    1. BAHAHAHAHAHA the “HUMANS MUST HUGS THE EVERYTHING” was hilarious.

                      …kind of true though. Someone showed me a picture someone took, saying “AW, LOOKIT THIS LITTLE CUTE OCTOPUS I’M HOLDING!”

                      Replies under that were more or less a bunch of “That’s a blue ringed octopus. They’re deadly. WTF ARE YOU DOING”

                      Of course there was “WTF ARE YOU DOING IN AUSTRALIA?!” (everything kills you!)

            2. Even in Star Trek, there was something that continued to be sparse: dilithium crystals, their energy source.

              That, and technically, time will always be sparse too. You can only do so much with your life!

            3. There is a TNG episode where a character, who was to have been Harry Mudd but the original actor died just before filming, was revived from suspended animation. When asked what they strove for without money Picard gave a long speech about struggling to be better humans.

              I didn’t watch much TNG after that.

              1. Thus, Mudd learns immediately how to monetize virtue signaling in a post-scarcity world??

                (Seriously, he’d take that as a challenge…)

                1. Yeah, he would. And despite the claim that there is no money I recall various instances of ‘credits’ or ‘energy credits’ being mentioned, and there being something of a healthy barter trade as well.

                  In fact, trade missions was a frequent reason for peoples and planets to want to or refuse to join the Federation.

            4. “Removing the struggle for resources from society will not make bad men good and good men better… Rather, the opposite is far more likely to occur.”

              Cf. Damon Knight’s late-fifties novel “A for Anything”, in which the invention of the replicator leads directly to the resurgence of slavery.

        3. Also, I give DS9 credit as the series that showed all the faults in the Federation, including the revelation of section – 31 I think was the number – a hidden ‘deep state’ accountable to no one, working behind the scenes to keep this idealic looking ediface propped up.

          1. After the idiocy of “We signed a treaty that prevents us from having a “weapon” that our enemies/potential enemies have”, I’ve come to the idea that Section 31 are the Good Guys (or at least the Smart Ones).

            1. Yeah, after that, you had to guess there was somebody in the background making sure everything went like clockwork.

              1. Yet, the US hasn’t given up its Nukes while allowing other countries to keep their Nukes.

                Basically that’s what the Federation did with the “we can’t have cloaking devices” treaty. 😦

                1. Actually in some areas they have. Severely handicapping aircraft because scary, space based defense, and ABM are all good examples.

                  1. Even those treaties nominally restrict all parties. The Russians are limited in the number of nuclear-capable bombers they can have and nobody is supposed to weaponize space. The now-defunct ABM treaty allowed both the US and USSR to build ABM systems to defend, IIRC, two missile sites so as to preserve MAD. The US chose to protect its missiles in North Dakota and Montana, Russia chose to protect the missile fields around Moscow.

                    1. The Outer Space Treaty says we can’t put WMDs in space, it doesn’t prohibit weapons at all.

                    2. Perhaps the solution is to follow the prior White House Administration’s linguistic lead and re-examine the meaning of “Mass” … or even “Weapons” and “Destruction”?

                      Presumably no treaties preclude laser weapons targetting devices?

                    3. Presumably no treaties preclude laser xxx targetting devices?

                      “Oh, that three petawatt UV laser – that’s not a death ray, it’ just a rangefinder.”
                      “A rangefinder.”
                      “Yeah – we decided we needed to rangefind Pluto in ultraviolet.”

              2. I remember several different times while watching that show going “There is just NO WAY that anybody would be that stupid!”

                And then I ran into the IRL agreement it was based on, usually with the US as the idiot…..

          2. They would have to have something. The Instrumentality of Mankind is a more probable interstellar government.

        4. Who says the Federation works? We never actually see it working, do we? And such glimpses as we get are clearly from a highly skewed perspective, either a military officer (usually Kirk) butting heads with civilian leadership too idealistic willfully blind to recognize a threat when it points a phaser at them.

          By the Next Generation we are presented with the components of a totalitarian state that has raised a Klingon(!) to chief of ship security and installed a political officer (Counselor Troi) on the Bridge of its most powerful warship.

          The weltanschauung of Trek works because, like the Amerika of the Fifties we never look beneath the surface to see the lives of the suppressed. It is a Stepford scoiety in which everybody’s material needs (but none of their spiritual needs) is “satisfied” — or at least, sufficiently provided for that resistance is futile.

          Notice that we are never presented with the art of the Federation, and even such popular media as holodecks are presented only from the perspective of the social elites? How accurate a picture of contemporary America would one get from such a through-the-keyhole view?

          1. Small wonder Wesley Crusher abandoned the Federation when the Traveler showed him the man behind the curtain.

          2. Somehow I never figured out that Troi would fill the “political officer” niche, but she totally would. She herself is too idealistic and nice to be an effective political officer, but her counterparts on the other ships? Most of them are probably far more effective at their jobs. Which is why the Enterprise is the only ship that actually gets things done.

            The more I think about it, the more sinister posters like this one start looking:


            1. I don’t know how much sinister that could get, if you’re familiar with the turnover rate for security and yeoman positions on Star Trek.

          3. And by the time you get to Voyager, you are dealing with rebels (if the society is so idealistic why would anyone want to rebel?) Chakotay, B’Elana, etc.

            1. The Maquis weren’t exactly rebelling against the Federation. They were settlers on planets handed over to the Cardassians at the end of the Federation-Cardassian war who refused resettlement offers from the Federation. They were technically rebelling against the Cardassian Empire. They were a Federation problem because they used Federation space for supplies and staging areas, complicating Federation foreign policy.

            2. Because they made a dumb treaty with the Cardassians– who, predictably, DID NOT TREAT THE FEDERATION CITIZENS WHO HUNG AROUND VERY WELL, while the Federation treated the Cardassian citizens just fine.

              I’m not sure who they meant to base that on, but it reminded me most of some of the land deals Israel made…they hold up their side, the other guy doesn’t. (Rather different personalities, though; probably someone with a better grasp of history can figure it out.)

              Seriously. “Hey, we have Soviet Space Japanese in Space who don’t treat those who aren’t party members, and who aren’t Japanese, very well! Golly, what a shock!”

        5. And yet the best secondary characters and many of the best episodes have their roots in capitalism or at least non-socialism: Harry Mudd, “The Trouble with Tribbles”, “A Piece of the Action”, and so on.

          1. That’s the Original Series which is before Roddenberry went kooky Liberal.

            1. Went? I’m sorry, but Roddenberry was never anything other than “kooky Liberal”, in my opinion. Go digging through all the crap he wrote or was involved in back in the days before Star Trek, and tell me that’s a sane, balanced individual.

              He presented himself as what he needed to, in order to get work. After he had it…? That was the “real Roddenberry”. I don’t think he was ever anything but a fuzzy-thinking leftwing idealist of the most dedicated sort.

              That said, the man did have some integrity and balls–His history with regards to portrayals of race and ethnicities were way ahead of their time, and he willingly took the heat on more occasions than are generally known.

              1. Roddenberry produced a series just before Trek, called The Lieutenant that was about “The trials of a young US Marine Lieutenant and his comrades at Camp Pendleton.”

                I think it might refute your assertion, although I acknowledge the definition of “a fuzzy-thinking leftwing idealist of the most dedicated sort” has morphed over the intervening decades.

                1. I’m going off his writing… There’s a collection of his papers, going back to when he was still just a cop, and not a writer. You can see what I’m talking about–Total blue-sky “wouldn’t it be nice, if…” kinda stuff that I tend to associate with really sophomoric college kids.

                  With what he was selling, he was doing what he needed to do in order to sell–Although, he had his limits. When the USMC refused to let him do a race-based episode of The Lieutenant, he stuck to his guns.

                2. Bit o’ trivia from the linked article, The protagonist of the series was William T. (yes, for Tiberius) Rice. Hmm . . . Rice and Kirk – somebody looking to promote a wedding?

            2. Roddenberry did not have complete and total unquestioned George-Lucas-level control of STTOS, as he did for STTNG at inception. And he had Gene Coon acting as what is now called “show runner” keeping a sane head in the ongoing script writing process for the 1st and most of the 2nd TOS seasons, where the by far better scripts were produced.

              When STTNG was coming together, what happened was a strong forshadowing of the Lucas-as-unquestionable-godling effect on the Star Wars prequels, with all of Roddenberry’s inner whackadoodle weirdness (to quote Shatner’s great STTNG documentary) flowed right through into the first couple seasons of scripts completely unchecked. Only Roddenberry’s departure from directly running the show as his health failed allowed it to get any better.

            3. Roddenberry spoke at my university about a year before The Motionless Picture came out (he was doing a promo tour). Trust me, he was already kooky liberal, and clearly believed that if only he was in charge and the world ran just like ST, everything would be utopia.

              I credit this lecture with seeding my horror of utopias.

              1. [C]learly believed that if only he was in charge and the world ran just like ST, everything would be utopia.

                Humans remain fallible and incapable of running the world, and such delusion as even considering Star Trek technology possible is evidence of Roddenberry’s megalomania.

                It is clear that a well run world requires the genius only wallabies (and some of the less parochial dragons) possess.

                Wallabies Wule!

                1. One of the now-ditched subplots for my work-on-the-back-burner was going to be how Star Trek is a socialist hellhole, but ehh… decided to make a commentary on Republics 😀

              2. yes, the real kooky generally started becoming really visible in the early 70s with all the Great Bird of the Galaxy fanspew.

              3. Not excusing Roddenberry for his “kookiness” but after TOS, he may have considered himself a failure in his chosen career.

                TOS was his last successful show and his income after it came mostly from fees to appear at Star Trek conventions.

                Basically Star Trek became his life because he didn’t have other shows to point to as “successes”.

                I hated the kookiness of Next Gen but in some ways I felt sorry for him.

      2. The Federation didn’t work that way when it was first imagined, however. It seemed modeled like a galactic UN more than anything else, one in which the US (Earth) and England (Vulcan) essentially did the heavy lifting when it came to fighting the cold war against the Russians (Klingons) and Chicoms (Romulans).

        And of course, most of us recall the ToS episode “Patterns of Force,” where John Gill basically creates Space Nazis because he thinks that he can pull the hatred and objectifying out of it and just instill the positive traits that helped pull Germany out of bankruptcy and disaster in mere decades. (Spoiler Alert – not so much.)

        As ham-handed and clunky as the episode was, it still more or less works because it was telling the truth about things, where much better-written episodes ultimately fail because they try to sell us a bill of goods about human nature.

        1. Good luck finding a showing of “Patterns of Force”. Most stations censor it from their list. Not sure if BBC America will show it or not.

          1. Netflix kept it in their rotation, and I actually have the series on DVD, where the Gatekeepers can’t monkey with it unless they actually break into my house.

      3. My pet theory is like Europe after WW1. The world war prior to warp destroyed all the aristocracy and most of the remnants were the folks that didn’t swallow every drop of BS. Socialism can work, but only in groups where power is not as critical or where the members agree to submit to an outside ruler (religious orders for example) Odds could probably make it work but only for so long. And even then it would function more as barter than what we identify as socialism.

  2. Exactly, Kate. As I’ve said many times before, the real difference (and conflict) isn’t between the left and the right, the “progressives” and the “conservatives,” or any other dicotomy du jour that you care to name; it’s between Statists and Individualists. The Statists are those for whom ultimate power resides in some organization to which people are only replaceable cogs, whether that organization is a government, a religion, a corporation, or anything else. They can be found on both the left and the right (although they seem to gravitate to the left when possible). The Individualists are those who want to decide how to live their lives for themselves without being dictated to by their soi-disant “betters.” They are almost never found on the left, and only sometimes on the right, as they tend to not be great joiners (as you would imagine). But if the Statists piss them off enough (as appears to be happening), the State may find itself with an increasingly uncontrollable hoi polloi.

      1. Agreed– it’s too easy to show how, taken to extremes, it destroys itself. Reducto ad absurdum, the individualist who recognizes no authority besides himself– including “moral authority.” There’s only things to get around to get what is desired. Bad movie psychopath. 😀

        Humans can’t be total individualists, as a matter of biology– same way we can’t be total collectivists. There’s a happy balance in there SOMEWHERE, and it probably changes by individual by situation. Just as being a child forever doesn’t work, we can’t be a healthy 20 something forever.

        That’s the thing with subsidiarity– you do things at the lowest effective level. Humans need families to make babies and raise them; that family is the lowest effective level to do that.
        We need a military– 20 of them won’t work just as well as 1, divide and destroy is a thing.

        ETC Etc.

        ETC is, of course, these guys:

        1. That’s the thing with subsidiarity– you do things at the lowest effective level.

          That’s why ‘communal property’ works at a family level, and sometimes at a tribe/village level; you have an emotional bond with those around you that doesn’t extend to those you rarely if ever interact with from the next town over, much less from the other side of the country. The failure of communism is the belief that somehow, people will magically become such that they regard everyone equally as family to allow those bonds that allow families to act as communal groups to work on a larger scale.

          The problem is that sometimes even the bonds of family don’t work. People are human. Some people will always be complete and total jerks. Others will be jerks if they think they can get away with it. Communism requires everyone to not be a jerk to have the state go away, and because they can’t stop people from being jerks, the process towards ‘true communism’ always will get stuck at an authoritarian part of the process unless the group in question is so small as to not have any jerks (and in that case, it will break down as soon as a jerk enters the picture).

          1. Do things at the lowest effective practical/possible level.

            Effective is too readily gamed by those who get to define what “effective” is.

            It seems likely the intent is to accept the harm done by abuses of small power in order to limit the ability to abuse great power. It is as if the “designer” understood that Humans are simply uplifted apes and prone to abuse power when given the opportunity.

          2. People, alas, are imperfect. Any social system which is predicated on the assumption that people are perfect is bound for failure. Either people must be forced to be perfect by the system — or those who don’t wish to play must be let go from it.

            1. Ditto one that presumes people can be perfected.

              Thus far the only ones that have worked with any degree of success are the ones that build in incentives to turn people’s darker sides to the service of their fellow-humans.

              1. The thesis of Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions. He claimed the real axis is Those Who Think We Are Perfectible vs Those Who Don’t. And that most of the right-wing/left-wing shibboleths can be deduced from it.

                1. I must look that up. It pretty sums up where I see it falling.

                  Perfection is something some of us aim at for ourselves. That’s a good thing. Those who try to force others into their notion of perfect (which is inherently imperfect anyway) invariably wind up doing evil.

                  1. Perfection is something some of us aim at for ourselves, in order that we might improve upon what we are, not out of any expectation we can achieve it.

                    For “you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

                2. There’s one category that doesn’t quite fit neatly into that axis, and that is the Christian worldview. Christianity teaches us that man is perfectible ONLY by God dwelling in our hearts, which only comes about when we freely accept His gift of salvation. So we don’t* try to force others into our vision of perfection, and we mostly fit on the “people are NOT perfectible” side of the axis since we believe that people can’t be perfected on their own, we need God’s help to do it.

                  Though there’s such a wide variety of political views among Christians (all the way from literal communists to extremely conservative folks) that maybe I shouldn’t be trying to fit the category “Christians” on the political spectrum at all…

                  * Or shouldn’t, though of course history records that there have been times when forced conversion was attempted. It ALWAYS ended badly, usually VERY badly.

                  1. Note, please, that He does not promise to perfect us in this world.

                    Rather explicitly otherwise, in fact.

                    1. No, the end goal is not reachable in this world — but we should be going through the process of becoming more like Him (2 Corinthians 3-4). So there are two mistakes, opposite to each other, to avoid: the idea that we can reach perfection in this world, and the idea that we should not even be trying to be more like Christ (with the help of the Holy Spirit). Both are errors.

                  2. General rule of thumb: don’t include “and then a miracle happens” in political planning.

                    ( *big grin* It was too fun of a line not to use… politics would be the means that folks try to make it as easy as possible for people to accept that gift, so it really shouldn’t be fit into the profile, but it will strongly be involved.)

                  3. Sowell covers that. He sees Christians as having an Unconstrained Vision of God, and a Constrained Vision of everyone else. So until God sees fit to step in personally…

        2. The only thing I would argue with, though, is the notion that being an individualist automatically means that you believe that no human interaction should occur at all — to whit, that no charity would exist, nor would roads be built, nor children be education, etc, etc. It’s the claim that “if you don’t want government doing it, then you don’t want it at all!”.

          That isn’t to say that there exist no libertarians that take individualism to such an extreme (I’m sure they exist), but the type of “collectivism” that individualists prefer is the type that is protected as “freedom of association”. Individualists seek to strengthen their families, to create organizations small and large to produce things for a profit, to create clubs for awareness, charities for helping others, and religions for worship — or rather, if someone wishes to worship, they are free to join a religion they believe their God(s) have established. If a given association determines that a given individual isn’t behaving appropriately for their organization, they are free to “disfellowship” or “excommunicate” the person; alternatively, if the individual is convinced that an organization isn’t addressing the needs and desires that led them to join the organization in the first place, they are free to leave.

          And the difference between an individualist authority and a collectivist one is that the former authority has to earn their right to be viewed as an authority by a demonstration of knowledge and ability (mere appointment or certification is neither necessary nor sufficient), whereas a collectivist expects someone to be accepted as an authority largely based on appointment and credentials (which is both necessary *and* sufficient).

          1. The “free to join” problem is exactly the issue– did you get a choice about what family you joined? In almost all cases, they made the choice to invite a random human infant, but it’s involuntary for the kid.

            It simply, flatly, cannot work on a society-wide level full of humans, same way that communism can’t work society-wide with humans.

            1. Foxfier, you’re being specious. “Choice” in any politics implies “capable of making one”. And we do tend to leave our birth family. The degree of leaving is variable, of course.

              1. *wry smile* The “capable of making one” thing is exactly the problem for the philosophy… folks fall so in love with the idea of everything being explicitly volintary that they start chopping rights off of people who don’t have a choice in the matter.

                1. But it doesn’t mean that putting the emphasis on the individual is the same as denying every ability to make/be part of a functioning group. And as you d*mn well should know, I am by nature and choice an individualist. Making the group more important than the individual, against the individual’s say-so is the beginning of making people into things.
                  And I have been part of and rather efficiently run groups.
                  So you’re painting with a large paint roller there.

                  1. It’s an axis– too much of anything is bad, so we have to have an idea of the ways it looks when it goes bad.

                    Same way that every time someone goes “but we must have public health care to take care of people” you’ve got to point out that it means deciding what people do not get health care.

                    1. Why don’t we stick to what the Constitution enumerates for government and leave the rest to the people.

                    2. We’re seeing specifically that THAT’S no longer true, because there’s no legal mechanism that hasn’t been corrupted.

            2. Yes, it’s true that initially children don’t get to choose the family to which they are born; however, the older children get, the easier it becomes to cut off ties from family, to whatever degree that cutting off ties may be necessary.

              One doesn’t have to be permanently tied to a particularly crazy or dangerous family.

              I haven’t seen much libertarian literature address the issue of what to do about children who don’t yet have the capacity to choose, but are in dangerous situations — and some of what little I’ve seen scares me. This may be one of the few reasons we need some form of Child Protective Services. However, Child Protective Services can be a particular evil in and of themselves, because as a society, we tend to give them more power when a child gets abused, and a social worker was powerless to stop the abuse despite being aware of it; however, there have also been cases where Child Protective Services were as abusive with their power, causing as much harm to a healthy family as what might be caused to a child by a dysfunctional one.

              At some point, at least, we need to recognize that the ultimate responsibility of the well-being of a family rests on the parents, and any abuse (or even murder) that might have come as a result of that, rests solely on the parents who commit the abuse, and not some random social worker who might have had some cause to be concerned, but didn’t have enough evidence to do anything.

              1. Great! We do agree that no, the Individual Choice theory isn’t a grand unified theory of How Things Work, so it’s a decent axis, even though we need some work on the name for recognizing various groups, too….

      2. Agreed – you have statists and individualists on both the left and the right, historically. That being said – Draven, you may need to call out what you think the other axis is as a Statist who supports Free Markets would seem to me to be a inherent contradiction in terms.

        1. Singapore is the usual go-to example of a state that is relatively economically free yet also strongly restricts other individual liberties.

          It’s also possible to consider a lot of the gulf states as being ‘free market’, at least compared to the social welfare states of Europe, while at the same time not particularly big on a lot of freedoms.

          1. So you could probably thumbnail it as “right-wing statist” = appears to be economically free with heavy government intervention in social matters and “left-wing statist” = appears to be socially free/permissive, with heavy government intervention in economic matters.

            Of course, in both cases the apparent freedom is an illusion, as people discover as soon as they fall foul of the overarching agenda.

            1. They are great fans of what might be termed “Henry Ford Freedom” — they could get their new [Model T] in whatever color they wanted so long as it was black.

        2. it is another interpretation of the “State as ultimate evil” —-> Statism axis on Dr, Pournelle’s diagram

          (posted again threaded correctly)

    1. > Statists and Individualists

      In the end, all political and social movements resolve to “do as I say” vs. “leave me alone.”

      1. The problem is that even statements that apparently fundamental have unspoken surprise twists. “Do as I say” looks malevolent until one adds “for this greater good” (which is not always wrong). “Leave me alone” looks benevolent until one adds “unless I want something from you” (which is also not always wrong). Even something as impartially benevolent as “I’ll help you if you’ll help me” has the distressing potential corollary of “If you can’t help me, I won’t help you”.

        I prefer to think of movements as resolving not to positions but to answers to a single overwhelming question: “When can the community justly coerce the actions of an individual within that community, and how?”

        1. Funny, once you set the community over the individual, a civic community doesn’t look much different than an organized criminal community…

  3. And in today’s society, there is one side, wanting government domination in all areas of human endeavor, who loudly and continuously calls the other side – which just wants to be left along and leave other alone – communists, fascists, nazis, neo-Hitlerites ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

    All helped by a socialist education system that teaches trivia at the expense of logic and reasoning.

  4. I discuss the idea of evil as “treating people as things” a LOT because despite some progressives’ best efforts to skew heroism towards Heroes of the Collective, it’s still one of the best metrics to judge villains in superhero stories by.

    Essentially, villains always want to make everyone else like them, and if you can’t fit in their world as projections of themselves, then you must be eliminated.

    1. The Sith weren’t interested in making everyone like them; and the Emperor and Vader both made great villains. That’s one thing that George Lucas hasn’t explored (much), and that’s just how attractive being a soldier of the Empire was, and how little choice draftees had in the matter.

      The Nazi’s weren’t nice people. But they were effective. And few of them ever considered themselves to be evil. Extreme Machiavellians; the end always justified the means. I admire Hitler for several of his traits and good things he accomplished; but I’m under no illusions that he was anything other than a monster at the head of a pack of monsters. The scary thing is, a forehead comb down, and a dark square mustache, and I can look like Hitler’s grandson, if he ever had any.

      And there is definitely darkness in my soul. Hopefully with enough chains on it to keep it under control.

      1. ” The scary thing is, a forehead comb down, and a dark square mustache, and I can look like Hitler’s grandson, if he ever had any.”

        IIRC, Hitler’s family all took oaths never to have family of their own, in order to end the line. Most of his own brothers and sisters died in infancy or childhood; the surviving sister either had no children or her children are the ones who took that vow, I don’t remember which… if I’m even remembering something real. Could have sworn I read it somewhere though.

          1. After reading the Wiki article, the thought about a nephew’s descendants trying to end a bloodline…how far should you go back to do that? Should you just limit it to Adolf Hitler’s father (which is the only way a nephew should be involved)? If you go up high enough, you would have to eliminate the entire human race!

            Which is a reminder: everyone is descended from people who have done horrible things. For that matter, everyone is descended from people who have done fantastic things. It’s the nature of being human.

            1. “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”

              Chapter Fifteen of Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

        1. It may just be a leader thing. It seems that there are a lot of kings, historically, that didn’t have children who survived to adulthood, as well as a lot of leaders (George Washington comes to mind) who either had no children, or who barely have a line of descendants.

          In some ways, I’m sad that George Washington didn’t have any descendants; on the other hand, by not having descendants, it probably helped reinforce the idea that the Presidency isn’t some sort of hereditary prize (the Bushes and the Clintons notwithstanding).

          This effect may be related to an effect similar to what Sarah was talking about in an earlier blog post, with Odds and their (lack of) children.

          1. Martha Washington had children from a previous marriage; speculation is that George Washington was rendered sterile by a bout of smallpox.

      2. Every man has their darkness. There are daily occurrences where I scare myself.

        But on a positive note, you could cosplay the producers easily if you want people’s heads to pop.

        1. “Every man has [his] darkness.” Isn’t this the essence of Original Sin?

          “…you could cosplay the producers easily…” The Gene Wilder/Zero Mostel movie?

      3. “The Nazi’s weren’t nice people. But they were effective.”

        That’s actually more than a little debatable. If you look at the parts of Nazi Germany that actually worked, almost all of them were in place before the Nazis came to power. Nearly everything that was uniquely Nazi impaired Germany’s rise to power.

        1. Yeah… I was just going to say this, myself.

          The Nazis were incredibly delusional. And, incredibly dysfunctional, even at the whole “war” thing that they’re supposedly so good at. I could go on for a couple of hours about how incompetent and stupid they were, in almost every area. The only reason they got as far as they did? They were substantially better at the small tactical and operational scale than the Allies were, and the Allies were incredibly, abysmally bad. Every tank the Germans took into France in ’40? Basically inferior to the French versions–Same-same with the Soviets. If the Allies had been half-way militarily competent, WWII would have ended in an extreme stalemate and an utter collapse of the German economy, probably sometime around ’41 or ’42.

          Adam Tooze has an excellent book out on the Nazi delusional economy. They were so bad at what they were doing that they basically had to loot the Jews internally, and when the money ran out from that… It was time to go to war.

          Most of what happened in WWII in Europe is traceable back to Nazi incompetence, I’m afraid. If they’d been halfway competent at actually managing the economy of Germany, the war would not have been necessary. Nor would it have been necessary to loot the Jews of Germany, which was the primary impetus behind that whole deal–The Nazis had to pay off the promises they made, and the quickest, easiest way to do it was by looting one of the more successful parts of the economy.

          1. It was completely a socialist economy, so of course they had to loot. If they’d managed not to lose, they’d have eventually wound up in more or less the same situation as the USSR: bankrupt, with a really big propaganda division.

          2. “They were so bad at what they were doing that they basically had to loot the Jews internally, and when the money ran out from that… It was time to go to war.”

            Pretty much what Margaret Thatcher said about socialism.

            And please note, I specifically said effective, not efficient.

          3. Delusional indeed, I think, and I have heard that there was a lot of amphetamine involved, probably opiates as well. Do enough and you can get pretty world-conqueringly delusional I betcha.

            1. I don’t know about opiates, but I’ve heard Hitler’s doctor was an incompetent who gave him meth and cocaine.

            2. When he surrendered Goring had a foot locker full of synthetic opiates. He would put a handful in his jacket pocket in the morning and eat them like breath mints. I have that first had from one of the soldier responsible for guarding him.

          4. Most of what happened in WWII in Europe is traceable back to Nazi incompetence …

            Be fair: there was plenty of Allied incompetence, too.

        2. Few of Germany’s WWII military successes came from Hitler: all of their failures were a result of Nazi meddling and stupidity.
          The Parti was good at one thing: propaganda. But the reality was quite different.

            1. Myth: the Nazi’s turned around the bad Weimer economy through Teutonic efficiency and central control
              Reality: Not really. Mostly the spent money they didn’t have, ignored debts, and pretty much wrecked their economy- as Kirk points out above

              Myth: the Nazi military machine was man for man the best the world had ever seen
              Reality: The Nazi party had very little to do with the early successes of WWII, and went on to actively cripple, starve, hinder, and just plain bungle during the rest of the way.

              Myth: Nazi supersciene produced all sorts of cool weapons
              Reality: Most of which were lemons, vaporware, and useless distractions from what they actually needed to fight the war successfully.
              Supergiant tanks are neat, but better if one produces quality tanks in quantity.

              1. Yup yup yup. But they had cool uniforms, so everything balances out (puts the sarcasm dozer away)

                  1. Which, to be fair, wasn’t entirely a bad thing. If Prussians hadn’t been good at war, the kingdom wouldn’t have lasted long enough to form the German Empire.

                    The closest thing it had to natural borders was the Baltic Sea and it started out surrounded by powerful empires.

                1. Wasn’t one of their uniforms based off a Massachusetts State Police uniform or similar? (I remember, years ago after some high-profile crime in that state hit the media, noticing various police standing near the spokesdroid and found myself wondering when the Nazis took over the state because of one of the uniforms a cop was wearing.)

              2. The German military successes in early WW2 were the direct result of the reforms Hans von Seeckt instituted in the early 1920’s. He created a highly professional officer/NCO corps that put tactical decisions as far down as possible, right to the squad level and encouraged freethinking among the higher officers on strategic decisions. He also made the secret deals with the Soviet Union that allowed them to develop and practice their ideas away from the prying eyes of the allied treaty commissions.

                When Hitler decided to abandon the Versailles Treaty and re-start conscription, the army had a solid skeleton they could immediately flesh out and almost immediately had a very good medium size army that was good enough to keep the French from interfering while a larger officer/NCO corps was built upon the previous model. By the time he sent them into the Rhineland in 1936, the Army combined with the relentless Nazi propaganda machine cowed the French and British into appeasement mode.

                1. Mmmmm… I’d hesitate to credit von Seeckt with everything, myself. And, the man had astonishing blind spots–You’ll look long and hard for any real evidence that the German military grasped the essential lesson of WWI, which was that the industrial power of the civilian economy had to be integrated into war planning and conduct. The Germans established no equivalent to the US Army Industrial College, and their industrial planning was childishly inept.

                  von Seeckt was heir to a tradition; he oversaw the refinement of that tradition, and created the force that expanded into the wartime German military. In some ways, he did very well for the Germans; in others? Hooh-boy, did he have some blind spots–Not the least of which was grand strategy. The Nazis only got as far as they did because they were working off the foundation that von Seeckt helped nurture and continue, but… You can also make a damned good case that he sowed the seeds of their eventual destruction, as well.

                  The Nazis were delusional parvenus, when it came to economics and grand strategy. They set themselves on an economic course that forced war on them far before they were ready–Everything the German professional military had planned and prepared for had been predicated on a 1945-ish start date. Coming six years early, the war left them consistently on the back foot, and they never overcame their initial lack of real preparation–The fact that 90% of their forces were still reliant on horse-drawn conveyance? Mind-boggling, when you compare that to just how far they got with those sorts of fundamental disadvantages. Not to mention, the far smaller population base, and the utter lack of effective plans for utilization of the conquered territories and industrial base. Other than in Czechoslovakia, the story of German utilization is mostly one of inept looting, and a lack of practical common sense in such matters.

                  When you step back from the initial military successes, and look at the whole situation, the entire enterprise starts to look incredibly foolish, as though it were planned and operated by not-so-bright high-school students that had limited common sense or exposure to the realities of the world.

                  1. When you step back from the initial military successes, and look at the whole situation, the entire enterprise starts to look incredibly foolish, as though it were planned and operated by not-so-bright high-school students that had limited common sense or exposure to the realities of the world.
                    Or a failed art student with just enough military experience to be dangerous.

    2. A few priests back*, our church had the priest give a homily about how the reduction of people to things was the first part of sin. Interestingly enough, he had never heard of Pratchett.

      *Catholic churches get priests swapped out by the diocese every so often. The local diocese seems to have an upper limit of about five years before they decide they need him somewhere else. It’s a bit fast.

      1. That is fast, our diocese usually keeps their parish priests around for eight or ten years before they get replaced. Part of that is the fact that there are so few priests around to replace them, though.

        1. We are a large diocese, so even though some of our priests have multiple locations, there’s a lot of people to move around. Plus we have a lot of Filipino priests on this side of the country.

          For a while my mom was joking that her parish kept getting the new priests, so they were the “test church”—and she didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

          *doing the mental math* I’ve been here about a dozen years, and in that time there have been three new priests in charge. (Plus assistant pastors swapping out as well, not always at the same time.) The most recent one replaced a priest who had been sent back to university for a doctorate. 😉 So yeah, it works out to about every five years, given the bookends only being a year or less.

          1. *chuckle* My mother had to look up the church where my youngest brother was baptized, back when we lived in East Berlin. I’m vague about whether the church was on the West or East side of the wall though.

            She told me that the parish was headed by a Filipino priest. We kinda seem to end up everywhere!

        2. Wow…I think we have had Father Michael since the 80s…long, long before I joined the parish. Perhaps that is an Orthodox versus Catholic thing. I wouldn’t know as this is my first Orthodox parish.

          1. Most Orthodox hierarchies (that I know of) don’t move priests around on any set schedule, even a loose one. Orthodox priests are expected to be married with families, which makes moving them a bit more difficult than moving celibate Catholic priests. But every Orthodox church I’ve been a member of (except one, and that one was riven with enmities, which is why I left) has had a rector of long standing.

            1. … has had a rector of long standing.

              What, they couldn’t get him a chair or at least a pew?

                  1. They pretty much run around unfettered, unless their parents take them in hand. But their parents generally do keep them pretty well in hand.

          2. Depends entirely on the Bishop and the priest– the cult of personality issue is rather major, but our area seems to have head priests as second to last stage of the priesthood– you’re young, you get moved around a lot to learn a bunch of situations, if you’re good at it you’ll get promoted to running a parish, and eventually you’ll get promoted to guiding the next guy as you slowly retire.

        3. We Baptist usually pick our own pastors. Our current pastor has been there since 2008, and his predecessor started in the mid 70’s (he retired to work as in itinerant minister).

          1. My father got a divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, but never got called to a church. So he went into insurance claims.

        4. The ones I grew up in would switch out every year or so– satellite parishes, with some really high maintenance personalities, so it’s where you either sent trouble or someone that was new so you could figure out what they’re made of before you move them somewhere you actually care about.
          (….just a little bitter/annoyed….)

    3. [laughing] My Epic’s overarching villain finds himself stuck overnight in the wilderness, and his old bones ache for a bed. He notes his several guards are about the right size, has them lie down next to each other… and yes, this will be _quite_ comfortable.

      Yep. When he wants, he stops thinking of the target as a person.

  5. Good post, especially the simple truth about treating people as things.

    I wondered too, honestly, about how this is also turned inward; to the identification of the self. They stopped talking about the person as a whole person but instead seem to push for the ‘boxing’ of a person into a single-statistic identity.

    And as I type this, it feels… like an intentional crippling of the self. Because a whole person will not need the crutch of The Group if they did. Finding that self is part of growiing up… and ‘children’ will always need guidance.

    1. You’re right, and they actively try to prevent the “growing up” of those under their sway. This forced infantilization of the masses is one of the worst (and most distinguising) characteristics of the Statist mentality.

    2. The hardest box to escape is the one you put yourself in. Just as a free man can only be killed, so can someone in a prison of their own making only be freed if they, themselves, allow it. It is difficult to treat people who see themselves as people as things, but get the individual to jail themselves in their own mind…

    3. This, so much this.

      I have yet to understand how single point identities are so consuming of people. Why does: what gender expression (not sex, but social gender markers) you prefer or politics you endorse or fiddly bits you prefer to play with or even faith you profess have to completely and without exception define you?

      I am not swapped out for another straight man, Orthodox Christian lay person, or “conservative” (actually, I lack a political label at all to the point I’m tempted to fall back to “third quadrant” which is not third way…almost the opposite). No one that fits any of those labels will be the same friend, employee, or even opponent I will be.

      Yet so many today want me to know they are gay, black, white, Christian, pagan, whatever as if that is all I need to know.

      1. That may be all the “self” they have to show.

        Some people just don’t… have much self, I guess. So they’ll grab onto a label and identify with it, because they need something to define who they are.

        I’ve known people whose selves were defined almost entirely by their jobs, their religion, etc. Most of them weren’t stupid, ignorant, or nuts; they just had that need to identify with *something*. And they seemed happy enough, so who am I to criticize?

        1. Yeah, if that’s all they have, they clearly feel the lack of their complexity.

          Which, I really don’t understand. Being a very complicated person has its’ own problems and issues.

          Being a simple person is not a bad thing. Just as there is joy in the simple, quiet things, there is joy in the complicated things. I’ve never understood the idea that just because it’s complicated, it’s ‘better’.

        2. *pokes that a little*

          Or it might be the only face they’re willing to show, the one that’s safe. I hide behind “ditz” sometimes.

      2. I also object to their attempt to impose mono-identities (unidentities?) upon those of us who, by our embrace of nuance, choose to embody complexity! I am a Whitmanite: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

        Besides, having been born a Gemini their efforts to deny my duality constitute a major act of aggression.

        1. Google: Hey, we can link all your account together in one unifying single identity. Isn’t that cool!

          NearlyEveryoneIKnow: YOU FSCKING IDIOTS! WE DON’T WANT THAT!

  6. …evil always starts with treating people as things.

    And it’s scary to see some treat people as radios or music players, things to just shut off.

  7. And both regimes started by targeting those who were seen as deserving targets – criminals, Gypsies, degenerates, homeless… all while dehumanizing their other targets.

    And, as Pratchett put it (via Granny Weatherwax), evil always starts with treating people as things.


    One of the things about the progression in society to such evil positions is that they start with what is reasonable. Take the proposition that the individuals who employ violence to take things belonging to other individuals from them should not be allowed to do so. Would reasonable people agree with this proposition?

    We can discuss where the line crosses from that which is necessary for a society to function, but if we think that people are things it is a sure thing that the line has been crossed.

  8. Excellent post. Reminded of a book I read last year, 1924THE YEAR THAT MADE HITLER by Peter Ross Range. It goes into how Hitler’s imprisonment allowed him to become a folk hero and set the stage for his ascent to power.

  9. I’ve long said that the distance between democracy and tyranny is one good advertising campaign. Obama pretty much proved that, IMHO. Look at the condition of the Republic today. Demonstrations -protesting- a free and open election.

    The reason I’ve always said that, of course, is that we had ours in Canada back in 1972. Trudeau the Elder changed the nature of Canada from weak democracy to soft tyranny. There’s nothing about Liberal (or Conservative or NDP) policy that Hitler would have much of a problem with. State control of industry, nationalized health care, ecology, windmills, provincial and national parks, he’d love it.

    Canada is a fascist state, if you ignore the propaganda and look at things by their definitions. We lost the war.

    What the Liberals have done that makes them smarter than the Nazis is they kept themselves restrained. No flashy uniforms, no militarism, no big show. Everything is -nice.- It works better. There’s nothing to push against.

    1. “I’ve long said that the distance between democracy and tyranny is one good advertising campaign.”

      That is not really true. Germany was f***ed up before the Natzi party came to power. The last emperor was a piece of work, the largest party in the late empire and early republic was the SDP, and Erich Ludendorff was ideologically actually more totalitarian than Hitler.

      In the Anglosphere, think of the long intellectual campaigns by socialists and progressives respectively that have lead to our current state.

  10. > What is it with the Nazis and Hitler?

    Everything the Hitler and his Nazis did, Mussolini and his Fascists did *first*.

    But the Germans did it bigger, and the Italians changed sides, and it was inconvenient to dwell on the past (if extremely recent) history of an ally.

    I think a big part of it was that our grandparents and great-grandparents thought of Germans as “us”. To see Germany go feral so suddenly was a shock. How could this happen to a civilized, forward-thinking nation? And that whatever, could it ever happen to us?

    1. There but for the grace of God go I.

      And yep. Especially when you see the admiration of these third way politicians in the depression. None of the atrocities of Communism or Fascism are unique to them. They are all human reactions that have passed thru history. But once they made the west they got mechanized and efficient.

    2. My students get tired of being reminded that fascist =!= Nazi. They also do not like the American Progressive contributions to fascism, or discovering that Hitler was not a bad artist. I pull up two or three of his landscapes and street scenes to use at the start of the lesson on the rise of the NSDAP. Discovering that Adolph Hitler was, well, human and not just a mythical embodiment of evil rocks a few of them hard.

      1. Hitler was a painter, Churchill was a painter, Chimpie McBush is a painter. Stalin was not a painter. Draw the logical inference.

          1. The Roosevelt before at least wrote books. So did Churchill and Hitler, come to think of it. But I think TR and WSC were both better writers, in additional to being better human beings.

      2. A lot of people have immense difficulty with the idea that any human can do evil under the right (wrong?) circumstances. Those folk actively resist anything that would make the evil person seem more human, such as Hitler’s art or his concern for animal welfare.

        They don’t have the mental toolset to accept that everyone carries the capacity for evil as well as for good. Reminders of this fact hit them viscerally because if everyone can do evil, *they* can do evil.

        For people who have been raised to believe they’re good people and who don’t have the toolset to think through the issues, that’s just a tad traumatizing.

        1. Exactly – if you have the deep awareness and accept that you, yourself, have the capacity for doing evil (as well as good) then you are, I think, somewhat armored against that temptation to do evil and rationalize it as anything else. It means taking to heart the words of the Lutheran Confession – “…we are in bondage to sin, and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone…”
          Knowing that you might be tempted to do evil, is in some small way, a protection against walking blindly into committing evil while still believing yourself to be stainless and above it.

          1. Quite – a concept that’s sadly absent from the thought processes of those who style themselves our best and brightest.

          2. This is a fundamental component of such regimes’ hostility to Christianity; they don’t fancy the consequences attendant on the premise that we are all of us fallen and can’t get up.

            “Experts” are particularly averse to such doubts about their capacities.

        2. I wonder if they just weren’t taught to empathize without approving?

          It’s not fun, but it is an important skill for anything above a small tribe.

      3. Jordan Peterson was on the Honey Badgers a couple months ago, and they somehow got on the topic of Hitler. Dr.Peterson said something to the effect that Hitler had severe OCD of the germophobe variety, which is to say, had a pathological fear of outgroups, and naturally one thing led to another.

        He was a fair artist, tho; the works I’ve seen are pleasing, if unmemorable.

        1. Hitler had severe OCD of the germophobe variety?

          Trump has extreme germophobia! He also hates immigrants! That settles it — (altogether now) Trump = Hitler!

  11. I blame pop culture, comics, tv, etc: for 60 plus years Nazis have been a go -to source for villainy in science fiction and fantasy. No wonder the allure: they were the closest thing to real supervillains in modern history, and popular culture has made Nazis and Nazi analogues supervillains in fiction.

    It didn’t hurt that since Nazis are a safely defeated ideology, they could be the go to group for evil. In the sum of all fears movie they switched out the Islamic terrorists for Nazis.

    1. Particularly frustrating in some cases. I’ve got a friend and fellow writer who flat out refuses to use Islamists as villains in her fiction on the grounds that it might encourage attacks on Muslims, but won’t hesitate to use Nazis, even now when calling someone a Nazi is just a prelude and justification for using violence on them.

      She also cracked a couple jokes about the joy of punching Nazis. I quickly changed the subject. I’ve lost too many friends already in the last year or so to argue the point.

    2. It’s also that pop culture made the American GIs that fought the Nazis as go-to examples of good guys, where they tend not to treat American soldiers in other wars the same way. If they did, we could end the arguments from the ‘anti-fascist’ left very quickly.

      If it’s okay for them to punch what they think is a Nazi because we fought the Nazis in World War II, it’s okay for us to punch someone we think is a communist, as we also remember Korea and Vietnam.

    3. This might be some of why, as low-end as the effects were, I liked the old Flash Gordon serials more than Star Wars – the baddies weren’t Nazi Mk.VI or such.

      Similarly, I once read some fiction about underhanded goings on in Washington D.C. and was pleased to find the date of publication was very early 1970’s and thus the suffix -gate never appeared.

    4. As far as I can tell, the only movie that has ever made good use of Neo-Nazis as villains was “The Blues Brothers” (“Illinois Nazis. I hate Illinois Nazis.”), a movie that at least saw the inherent comedic potential in a bunch of losers dressing up in parade uniforms and prattling on about “The American White People’s Party” while everyone screams at them. Movies that try to treat them seriously need to explain why a group so unpopular could be an actual threat to anything other than a particularly weak street gang.

      Actual historical Nazis fair somewhat better, but even there they tend to be overdone.

      1. Mel Brooks once claimed he was one of the few Jews to have made money from the Nazis.

        “Springtime… for Hitler… in Berlin…!”

    5. I think one other reason why Nazis are such a common villainous group is that it gives writers an easier excuse to play around with speculative fiction settings. Consider the sheer amount of crazy-ass military technology they were testing and prototyping during the war, not to mention the obsession with the occult that many of the higher-ranking officials and leaders within the party had.

      1. In the tech thing, the Nazi’s were one of the early promoters of vaporware. Lots of cool ideas (and even more really, really stupid ideas), but they weren’t that good in actually making them work.
        Which is why most of their troops fought with obsolescent rifles, flew obsolescent aircraft, and still used horses for logistics.

        1. Hacing worked on German cars and firearms, I’m pretty sure there’s a German penchant for complexity for its own sake. And the Nazi leadership had a magpie fascination for shiny technology, cutting resources for desperately-needed conventional equipment to go haring off after the New Greatest Thing, only to abandon it before it was complete.

        2. Actually, their equipment was often very good.

          Except for the little problem that there were so many varieties and stuff that it was hard to keep the necessary parts to repair it.

    6. No the real problem is that fascism WON the ideological war, though it lost the physical one. State, business, labor corporatism, call it what you like: progressivism, democratic socialism, the new deal, etc., was the dominant ideology of the 20th century.

      It was thus necessary to make Nazism into a freak system like thunderbolt from the blue. Not to be compared to all those very similar systems. This is also why the left in the US became very liberal for while. They had seen what their ideas could do.

  12. “Statists vs Individualists”.

    I strongly dislike the term “statist” as it has the implication that if you’re willing to work with a group, that you’re not a “True Individualist”.

    The real dichotomy is between “the individual” and “the group/tribe”.

    Unless a human is living alone away from other people, humans have to deal with the “group/tribe” even if it is just their close friends or close relatives.

    Humans are social beings because from our beginnings, to survive in a hostile world we depended on support of the tribe.

    Yet, the Tribe would only survive if everybody in the tribe worked together and humans (I suspect even then) don’t like to be treated as things.

    So while the Tribe was Important so were the members of the Tribe.

    IIRC Sarah has said that the “Strong Man form of government” is likely the earliest form of government.

    Yet Strong Men only stay in power as long as they have the support (active or passive) of other Strong Men in the Tribe.

    Those other Strong Men would be quick to oppose the Strong Man if his actions endangered the Tribe and/or threatened them.

    So IMO it isn’t about “Statists vs Individualists” but it is about “dealing with others as people not things”.

    Group Leadership isn’t “evil” when it thinks as the Group as Important.

    It is evil when it thinks of members of the group as things.

    Of course, the Group Leadership could be considered evil when they see those outside the group as things even when they treat members of their group as people.

    1. Paul, it’s just a shorthand term for referring to those to whom the Collective is always prioritized over the Individual. Would you be happier if we termed it Collectivists vs. Individualists? And yes, I know that neither pure collectivism nor pure individualism are workable; as Draven said, it’s an axis, like any other non-quantum dicotomy.

        1. Some folk will confuse anything with what they want it to be. We can’t stop them. All we can do is refute them and show our work (and the facts)

    2. You object to the dichotomy between individualist and statist, but then you draw the lines between them in a place where nobody actually draws them. The categories you describe are not individualists and statists; they are hermits and everybody else. Of course that is a silly way to divide people, but you don’t get to redefine the terminology to claim that other people are being silly when talking about something vastly different.

      The group and the tribe are not the State. Groups are generally voluntary; tribes are based upon kinship. It is the State that demands compulsory participation in an organization composed of strangers with no readily discernible blood ties.

      1. Government has always “grown” from the group.

        The group decides that it needs an “enforcer” that most members of the group agree is the legitimate enforcer of the rules that the group feels it needs.

        The larger the group, the more it needs a government.

        Since you want to “limit” the term “group”, perhaps “society” is the better term.

        IE a large number of people associating among themselves are a society.

        A small society (IIRC under 1,000 people) may get along with non-government social interactions but eventually the society will grow too large for the informal social interactions to work.

        Even a “small society” like AccordingToHoyt can need an enforcer.

        Here, the enforcer is Sarah (or whoever she appoints).

          1. What army instituted the various local/state governments of the US?

            Sorry, but that’s a narrow view of government.

            1. The U.S., as you should very well know, is a rare exception.

              Sorry, but generalizing from the American experience is a narrow view of anything whatever.

              1. Sorry but “changes in government” have often been done by armies.

                But IMO “government” itself grows out of the needs of societies.

                To ignore this, is IMO to have a distorted view of the relationship between humans and government.

                “Government” isn’t something that is always created by “outside forces” but is a tool that societies develop to fulfill a need.

                And just as all societies are imperfect, government is an imperfect tool.

                If you really believe that you can have a large society without a government, then go out with like-thinking people and create that society.

                1. The idea that government grows out of the needs of societies is wishful thinking at best.

                  I never said you could have a large society without a government. Don’t attribute obvious stupidities to me for the convenience of your own argument. I am not a strawman for you to beat. But despite the universal cant about ‘the consent of the governed’, most of the actually existing governmental systems of the world, both now and in the past, have been imposed upon their populations without their consent, and most often by force.

                  Your own country is flanked by two examples. The government of Canada was imposed forcibly upon the population by the British army; that of Mexico was imposed by a series of violent revolutions, before which there was a system imposed by the Spanish army, which replaced the system imposed by the Aztec army. Name a country; the odds are exceptionally good that its system of government was originally imposed by the armed force of a small minority upon the general population.

            2. The term you’re searching for is “militia”. And I guarantee that Salem Massachusetts (as a handy example) had one, made sure it’s members were members in good standing of the local church, and deployed them to arrest whoever needed arresting. See also Massachusetts Bay, Roger Williams, and the founding of Rhode Island.

              State and local governments are still governments.

  13. One other differential between Nazis and Commies: decades of pop culture. Nazis remained a staple of pop culture villainy for … well, forever. Commies have never been so readily employed.

    Sure, there were the occasional Manchurian Candidate and Iron Man fought Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man, but Nazis were much much more popular, especially once Indiana Jones made the scene. There were simply NO defenders of Nazism, it was simply accepted that they. were. EVIL. Nice simple dichotomies go down well in American pop culture.

    1. And the SS and company had cool uniforms. They are eye-catching, easy to recognize, and by now, a full package of ideas and implications comes pre-packaged with every outfit. The USSR or ChiCom PLA? Nope, too blah. Movie people want eye-catching, comic book artists likewise I suspect.

      1. The Nazis were smart enough to get a fashion designer (back before fashion designers started along the road of misanthropy-via-fabric) to design the uniforms. They wanted them to look good, so people would want to join up and have the cool uniforms and be the cool dudes on the block.

          1. I haven’t seen anyone mention the charisma Hitler displayed. I’m no longer fluent in German, but the newsreels of his speeches are still enough to give you chickenskin.

            1. That too, yes. I gather he was quite powerful when addressing crowds. I don’t know enough German to follow his speeches, but I can see the effect of them on his audience.

    2. I remember about ten years ago seeing an internet discussion of the Honor Harrington series with most commentators saying it was pretty good, but clearly Weber had to be an extreme right-winger because his villains were, gasp shock horror, Space Communists. I tried to ask why it was, given the historical record, that Communists should be immune from ever being the inspiration for a sci-fi villain, but the rest of the community just took pity on me as someone who clearly didn’t understand and went back to bashing Weber for his “right wing views.”

      1. Oh come on. With their leader’s name being Rob S. Pierre (Robespierre) it is obvious that they were not Communists, they were French Revolutionaries. Do these people not know any history or literature at all?

          1. Actually, St Just was an actual figure in the French Revolution.

            “Louis de Saint-Just, in full Louis-Antoine-Léon de Saint-Just (born August 25, 1767, Decize, France—died July 28, 1794, Paris), controversial ideologue of the French Revolution, one of the most zealous advocates of the Reign of Terror (1793–94), who was arrested and guillotined in the Thermidorian Reaction.”


        1. The French Revolutionaries were proto-Communists. The only thing that stopped them being real communists was about 100 years.

        2. I mean, he even had his Napoleon analogue named Esther McQueen, for crying out loud!

          … Which is why I was totally caught by surprise when St Just pushed that button. Because I had known where the plot was going, because Weber was telegraphing it miles in advance. But now the plot was heading off into unfamiliar territory, where the maps are marked “Here There Be Space Dragonnes*”…

          * Also known as Manticores, of course.

        3. No. Next question?

          It’s one of the things that makes living in a society with them such a doomed enterprise.

      2. I don’t suppose anybody entertained the idea that Weber was an apolitical prankster who just enjoyed jerking their chains?

  14. Excellent summary. The only quibble I have is the Germans were not “betrayed” in 1918. They were only in the sense their leaders had led them into a foolish war they were unlikely to win and they were in the process of getting the crap kicked out of them when they agreed to an armistice in November, 1918. The “stabbed in the back” or Dolschstosslegende was largely advocated by the German right (including later the fascists) as a way to demonize the Jews and absolve themselves from having got Germany into a disastrous war in the first place.

    1. I would object to your characterization of the so-called German “right” as being behind the Dolschstosslegende. Applying that term is highly questionable, because by any reasonable reading of the actual political positions of the people who were the most prominent advocates for that fairy tale were predominantly… Socialist.

      The German “right” you’re assigning this stuff to was only “right” in relation to the Communists and the Nazis. There were effectively no real “right wing” types in Germany, in the sense that the typical US citizen would relate to. They were all ‘effing socialist statists, going back to Bismarck. You want real “right wing” Germans, in the actual sense of what an American would understand as being “right wing”, you’re going to have to go to the really fringe Christian parties and so forth that had no real relevance to the mass of Germans.

      Germany has always been a majority-socialist nation, with pretensions of free-market capitalism. Even back during the Kaiser’s era, the state had a hell of a lot more impact and influence than in the US and UK–Best analogy would probably be post-WWII Japan, with the effect that the Ministry of International Trade and Industry had. The German government clearly picked winners, and then supported them. Krupp, for example? Huge amounts of that company’s success comes from friendly relations with the government; likewise, the German railway industry was always a creature of the various German governments, going back to the founding of it all.

      Calling a German anything “right wing” is a real disservice to any discussion, because on a strict scale of what that term means internationally… There were no real “right wing” Germans. Period. They’ve always been statist, whether monarchists or socialists.

      1. Probably the closest to “right wing” Germans would have been the monarchists – since at that point, the old meaning of right wing as the established, traditionalist set would have held.

        Which is one of the reasons I think if Hitler had been conservative, he would have been agitating to return the monarchy in some form. Of course, he wasn’t. He was more interested in his power.

        1. By my reading of the history, even the monarchists were what I’d term “opportunistic socialists”, in that Bismarck shortstopped the unrest of the ’48 era by the wholesale adoption of a lot of the Socialist platform.

          The Germans have always been statist dummkopfs, all too accepting of authority and worshipful of the almighty State, no matter how it was personified–Hitler was a natural outgrowth of the Hohenzollern/Hapsburg mentality, and even today, the Germans assign the government unthinking obedience to a degree that the average “real American” would find repugnant. The Germans are not an inherently free people, I’m afraid–Somehow, along the line, they picked up a very strong strain of authoritarianism, to a degree I find rather disgusting. Quite like the Koreans, in that regard–It is rather awkward to recognize the inherent similarities or discuss them with natives of either nation, but they are most emphatically there.

          North Korea could easily be transposed to Prussia, without much in the way of changes. Indeed, there’s a disturbing amount of similarity between the two…

          1. Sadly, true. I suspect it’s not coincidence that the German atheist communities in 1800s America called themselves “freethinkers”.

            1. It does make you wonder, when you look at it: What was the actual effect of the mass migrations to the US and elsewhere? Did our unintentional provision of an escape valve for the “freethinkers” allow and enable to takeover by the statists?

              Sometimes, I wonder if America is really a good thing, in terms of the whole human race–It’s like we’re concentrating all the Odds here, in one place, so that we can either dominate the world or for them all to be destroyed more easily by the rest ganging up on us.

              You look at Germany, and pay attention to all the emigres who left during the 19th Century, and you wonder: Would the nightmares of the 20th have happened, were those people to have stayed there and contributed to the culture, fighting the insanity?

              Or, did we provide an escape, a means of preserving that which would have been destroyed in futile struggles against fate?

              1. I don’t think the “good of the whole human race” is a thing that can be measured– if your feet are in ice, and your head’s in the oven, on average you’re fine. It would be much better to just stand up, although your feet would still be cold and your hair might be on fire, you’re improving the situation.

            2. That might be an interesting case for a counterfactual alternate history: Say that the Americas were not available for colonization, for whatever reason: What happens in Europe, and the rest of the world when all those masses of people that emigrated here… Didn’t.

              I think the biggest recipient of the “change” would have been both Germany and the UK–The UK, because they’d have had to do something else with all those displaced Scots/Irish, and the Germans, because they’d have been stuck with all those freethinkers, who weren’t at all in love with the militarist passions of the rest of the German experiment.

              I suspect that France wouldn’t have had much of a different trajectory, while the UK and Germany would have seen tremendous differences from what we experienced of history.

              1. The UK had New Zealand and Australia to send people to, and they did. There’s be more of an effect on Germany.

                1. I’ve had fun contemplating an alternate 19th century history for Texas, in which the Adelsverein actually managed to fulfill their 1840s ambitions of filling a large segment of Texas with good, loyal German citizens … essentially a German colony. And imagine that a French proposal of the same era (which was along the same lines) of another entrepreneur grant which filled another large tract of empty Texas lands with French settlers. (It failed, BTW, because the French Consulate to the State of Texas was an idiot who manage to offend everybody!). Now – imagine a large semi-independent German settlement, cheek by jowl with a French establishment … and have it carried over to the early 20th century into WWI.
                  This might have given a whole new meaning to the phrase “The Western Front”!

                  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the majority of that German colony from the part of the German population that wasn’t too hepped up on militarism, in the first place?

                    I don’t recall that they were particularly interested in either Kaiser Wilhelm’s BS, or the Nazis. Of course, I’m also unsure how they got treated, in comparison to the later, more diffuse immigrants up north, when it came to Wilson’s anti-Teutonic BS. My grandparents had some rather interesting stories about what went on up here in the Northwest during that period, particularly with regards to the IWW, which was seen as a German-related thing, in some quarters…

                    1. Hi, Kirk – In Texas, the first waves of Adelsverein immigrants were economic migrants, leavened with a quantity of nonconformist intellectuals (Freethinkers, mostly): they came for the land first, then out of idealism and being able to avoid the German draft laws were a part of it. The second wave, the ’48ers were revolutionaries whose revolution karked it – but they had plenty of fight left in them (demonstrated during the Civil War on various fronts), as well as a certain superiority complex. The did rather look down on the native Anglo-Texans.

                      The original Adelsverein sponsor/investors were noblemen, who expected to do good, and do well out of it; they planned to have a substantial Texas-German element with strong ties to the Homeland, which would benefit the homeland immensely. Which way would it have gone, if the Verein had been able to carry out their long-term plan? They imported a very cohesive element; in Texas, the German areas were German-speaking almost exclusively until WWI, and irregularly until WWII. The ties to Germany remained very strong – for the purposes of Alternate History, I believe that a lot of German militancy would have seeped over into the Texas German settlements.

    2. I think the “Stabbed In Back” idea came more from the idea that Germany while hurting toward the end of WWI still controlled large parts of France along with what happened at the peace conference.

      The Germans had “kicked out” the Kaiser and were willing to discuss peace.

      The Germans really didn’t see themselves as defeated.

      They saw the war as a mistake and wanted to end it.

      At the peace conference, they were treated as if they had been completely defeated (ie invaded) and were completely at fault for WW1.

      Plenty of people in the US (and elsewhere) thought Germany had “gotten a bad deal” at the peace conference.

      Heck, part of the reason that people were that concerned about the “violations of the peace treaty” by Hitler was that they agreed that it was a bad peace treaty.

      By the way, the Allies during WW2 decided that they would not accept a “conditional surrender” by Germany because of how the Germans were treated at the end of WW1. IE They wanted the German people to “feel” that they were defeated.

      By the way, from my reading of history the “Germans started WW1” is a very narrow reading of the events leading up to WW1.

      German politicians made bad mistakes leading up to it but so did the other politicians involved.

      1. As I understand it, removing the Kaiser and the peace terms got effectively conflated rather quickly, and the Germans weren’t in any position to argue.

        Germany did not start WW1 and forcing the nation to take full blame was a very bad idea. In a lot of ways, WW1 was the culmination of the succession of smaller wars and crises that followed the collapse of the Napoleonic empire.

        We’ve been spoiled. When you look at European history, it becomes rather obvious that the continent has been in a state of more or less continuous war since the tribal conflicts got big enough to justify calling it a war. The beginning and ending dates we’ve been taught are pretty arbitrary when you look at how each conflict cascaded into the next one.

        1. The Germans were pretty well fed up with Kaiser Bill’s stupidity by 1918. He had demonstrated himself to be an unstable clown well before WWI; the allies surrender demands gave Germany the excuse to throw the bum out. A few officers suggested that he commit suicide by Allied machinegun.

          1. Kaiser Willi was an ass, yes. The entirety of Europe would have been better off if he’d done exactly that in 1914.

          2. What’s ironic is that Wilhelm was the only high-ranking figure in Germany who tried to stop the war, at the last minute, or at least, re-direct it at the Russians. Instead, he got overruled by his ministers and military.

            That he got the blame for it all? Highly unfair, but fully in keeping with the bombastic BS he’d been up to before the war. He tried stopping the train, there at the last switch, but he’d been the engineer for a lot of the crap leading up to making it all inevitable.

          3. … fed up with Kaiser Bill’s stupidity

            Which is why they swore to never again make that mistake.

    3. I’d also point out that, towards the end, the Germans did experience incidents like left-wing organized mutinies–the Sailors’ Revolt being the primary example–it should also be noted that the Social Democrats were the primary party in the government that signed the armistice. (That this was because the monarchists and nationalists deliberately arranged this was considered largely irrelevant. Yes, that’s sarcasm.)
      And yes, the German army was disintegrating in early November 1918–however, most Germans never got to see that, seeing as the armistice line was almost entirely still in France and Belgium.
      Under those circumstances, the stab in the back theory becomes much more believable than most people today are willing to give it credit for.

      1. And Communists like the groups going through Munich breaking into town palaces and apartments and killing members of the nobility. Elizabeth von und zu Gutenberg talks about it her autobiography.

    4. Everyone knew that the Fascists and Nazis were leftists until Stalin declared that anyone who opposed him was right-wing, and all the useful idiots fell into line.

  15. And both regimes started by targeting those who were seen as deserving targets

    The one thing I will cling to if the leftists get their way is this: as a programmer and mathematician I will be of more use to their state than most of them. I may be imprisoned but won’t be liquidated if I am “just in case” I’m needed. As such I’ll get to listen to a succession of cell mates claiming they believe in the revolution as they are lead out to be shot in the back of head.

    I think it won’t be nearly as tasty as Trump Schadenfreude has been but at least I will be alive to see.

    1. Don’t count on it. Stalin sent his census bureau to the Gulag for the crime of ‘conspiring to diminish the population of the Soviet Union’. What they actually did was report the number of people they counted instead of the (larger) number Stalin wanted to publish for propaganda purposes.

      When the Party requires that 2 + 2 = 5, a mathematician is no longer safe.

      1. Stalin also sent pretty much every single aircraft designer to the Gulags as well, until WWII broke out and they were needed.

    2. How many programmers will the collective need? I wouldn’t count on surviving because you’re an IT guy.

  16. This account is somewhat garbled. There was a government crisis in the State of Prussia, but that was not what brought Hitler into power. Rather it was the federal government crisis. In the two 1932 elections to the Reichstag (the German federal parliament), the NSDAP and KPD won over half the seats, making it impossible to form a government without one of them. Hindenburg disliked Hitler, and pledged never to appoint him Chancellor. But the emergency governments under Schleicher and von Papen lost votes of confidence, and Hindenburg’s cronies were worried that Hitler might launch a revolution using the SA, which greatly outnumbered the Army.

    The hyperinflation of episode of 1923 was a damaging, but hardly fatal; the Nazis went nowhere until 1930, when the Depression hit.

    1. This is what happens when I draw a very broad brush to highlight the part that matters to me: the increasing power of the German federal government. The State of Prussia was a rather large roadblock to von Papen’s attempts to consolidate power to the federal government.

      With Prussia (and possibly more importantly, Prussia’s relatively efficient bureaucracy) under direct federal administration, it was much easier for the Nazi party to leverage their relative power in the federal government.

      The minutiae of how that worked is a novel-length post all by itself.

        1. Being known as “the dude who paved the way for Hitler” has to be its own special hell.

          1. It’s just he spent so much time bumbling in his North American sabotage efforts here in America during WWI. Not that I’d have liked a blown up bridge or refinery here in the US, but in as compared to the number of US dead because Hitler got power, may have been a better trade.

      1. “broad brush”? Idunno. It looks to me like a very detailed focus on a particular detail of the Nazi takeover. That detail is interesting, but the accounts of the event that I have read have mentioned it only in passing, if at all, which calls into question why it should be considered a key element.

        AFAIK, under the Weimar constitution the Land governments had nothing to say about the political formation of the national government – that was entirely up to the Reichstag and the President. So I don’t see how von Papen’s Preussenschlag affected Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor.

        I see that it is argued that it made it easier for Hitler to establish control of the country – having direct control of police in Prussia (half the country) facilitated Nazi intimidation in the 1933 election. But the Nazis in 1933 did worst in much of Prussia. In any case, once he was Chancellor, no opposition could last long.

  17. As to who would survive – remember the accountant’s answer to “what is 2+2?”
    “What do you want it to be?”
    (Forgive the flippancy, I just couldn’t resist.)
    Lots of good thought-provoking points made.

  18. it is another interpretation of the “State as ultimate evil” —-> Statism axis on Dr, Pournelle’s diagram

  19. An interesting piece of alternate history…Dr Hugo Eckener, head of the Zeppelin company, was enormously popular in Germany…and was anti-Nazi. He was urged to run for President in the 1932 election..TWO parties (the Social Democrats and the Central Party) both wanted him as their candidate, but ultimately, he decided not to run. Apparently the determining factor was that he did not want to run against Hindenburg, either because he thought it would be impossible to win against him or because he thought it would be disrespectful to the WWI hero.. Of course, no one then knew that Hindenburg was going to appoint Hitler as Chancellor.

  20. By 1918, there wasn’t a choice about getting rid of the Kaiser. To keep their people fired up and willing to go on with the war, the French and especially the English-speaking countries had painted the Kaiser as the Antichrist, or the Antichrist’s black-sheep brother. They had also painted themselves as selfless crusaders for democracy, and so even a constitutional German monarchy surviving the war would have resulted in a lot of French and Anglosphere politicians getting kicked out of office at the next election. Anatole France, a socialist himself, commented bitterly that he wished that France had had a king. “A king could take pity on his suffering people and call the war off; a democratic regime has to fight on and fight on.”

  21. Communists are so bad that, by comparison, they make Nazis and the old Russian autocracy look preferable.

    Which is why, as wrong as Vox Day is on racial determinism, he’s spot on that the cultural Marxists are driving the United States into increasingly awful choices.

    Pray for your leaders. And speak up when you can. I know it’s gut-sickeningly scary, but if not us, then who?

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