Good Americans and the Good Germans under Hitler

by John Rhys-Burgess, February 5, 2005


After the unutterable barbarity of the Nazi era, the question has often been asked as to how the people of a nation that had hitherto been such a pre-eminent contributor to western civilisation, could have been so deluded.

More than half a century later, the same question needs to be asked of the American people. Having become aware of the death, destruction, violence and misery inflicted upon millions following the unlawful invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the iconic images of cruelty and depravity at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, how could they, as a supposedly civilised nation, not only fail to condemn those reposible for such crimes against humanity, but actually endorse and reward such conduct by returning them to power?

Bearing in mind, also, that the Bush Doctrine represents the very worst aspects of U.S. foreign policy, but which however have been their most consistent feature for many decades, is it not self-evident that the world should look askance at the notion of "the good American" as of "the good German" during the Nazi era? What then, are the common denominators? What similarities exist between the popular attitudes of "ordinary" Americans under Bush, and of the German people under Hitler?

Surely, the first consideration is the indoctrinated chauvinism of the American people itself, the inherent self-belief in its own superiority over other, poorer and weaker nations, inculcated by infantile oaths of loyalty, the idolatrous reverence of flag, nation and the person of the President and, that spurious historical perspective of its supposed achievements of which the reductio ad absurdum is the preposterous neocon fantasy of world domination implict in the Project for the New American Century. At the heart of the Bush Doctrine's strident xenopobia and bellicose nationalism, the fascistic origins of Amerika über alles are clearly to be perceived.

Indoctrinated by the coercive traditions of it educational system, an ignorant but well fed and watered, crass and bovine society, increasingly intolerant, conformist and fearful, craves the moral certainties of an authoritarian, hierarchical leadership that will act like Superman in the suburbs, Robocop in the inner cities and Judge Dredd abroad. In particular, the President is a "Big Brother" figure. If he did not exist, he would need, as with Orwell's "Big Brother", to be invented. The President is merely an actor, a puppet or dummy. The hands of his advisers and speech writers are concealed, but they are there, at the President's back, manipulating the teeth and making it appear that the presidential dummy is actually capable of thinking and speaking for himself. The role of the President in American society with its predominantly anti-individualist, corporate and collectivist mentality is to be the apex of its hierarchical social pyramid before whom all shall serve. The President is also the Golden Calf to be adored by the bovine masses. In the truest Orwellian sense, his principal function is to provide the "...focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an organization."

Despite the best efforts of their educational system, their political, religious and business leaders, propagandists and opinion formers, the Good Americans, are not however, inherently stupid. It's just that they know which side their bread is buttered on. In their innermost hearts, they remain fearful and uncertain. But to guard against heretical thoughts, they will read or listen to the opinions only of those who will propitiate their flattering and comforting self-image as champions of freedom, justice, democracy and righteousness. Theirs is a craving which a venal and self-serving media is more than happy to indulge. And, most essential to the moral equilibrium of the Good American is the "...stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to..." whatever they want to believe, which is whatever their President tells them "...and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction... in short, ... protective stupidity."

Accordingly, among the Good Americans there prevails a settled disposition to uncritically swallow and regurgitate, the most patent absurdities, blatant lies, glib excuses, pretexts and justifications, even when the administration's self-serving mendacity and hypocritical cant, is exposed, as indeed it is, time and time again. The enemy is demonised as both psychopathic and evil, actuated solely by malice and an unprovoked, irrational hatred. This is however, immediately contradictory since evil and malice, by definition involve a deliberate and conscientious choice to do that which is malignant. On the other hand, an irrational and unjustified animus is entirely psychotic, by reason of which it cannot be wholly evil, since moral, as well as legal responsibility is thereby diminished.

Moreover, whenever any explanation as to why the United States itself should find itself the object of such unjustifiable malice, there is only angry and indignant denial for protective as opposed to solely intellectual stupidity is essential to the peace of mind of the Good Americans. They dare not look into themselves. Their indignation, for example, when told that the indelible images of Abu Ghraib with their distinctly pornographic, sado-maschostic milieu, are icons indicative of the depravity of their society and culture as a whole, is to be compared only to the rage of the monster Caliban upon seeing its own reflection. In helping to form the opinions of the Good Americans, the U.S. corporate media has performed its task well. They are the true inheritors of the spiritual mantle of Josef Goebbels.

The events of September 11, 2001, were indeed terrifying for the American people. But these were acts of terror which America's political elite lost no opportunity to exploit, so that the power of hierarchical society in America could be greatly enhanced and the widespread curtailment of individual liberty justified. In particular, the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, which the U.S. administration and those advising it, had contemplated well before the 9/11 attacks, could, however implausibly, be justified.

As in Nazi Germany, the ruling elite, its supporters and collaborators, have lost no opportunity to curtail dissent to its policies. The official U.S. position was declared at an early stage. No less an authority than the president of the United States himself, asserted that those who disapprove of whatever the government wishes to do, must be considered no better than the terrorists themselves. No divergence of opinion is possible. Grotesquely, outspoken thinkers and writers like Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal or Seymour Hirsch have even been accused of "sedition" and "treason". The customary response to those of us who are vociferously opposed to Bush and his allies, is not rational argument, of which no pretence is made, but ad hominem abuse, puerile insult, hate mail and even death threats. Unbelievably, some of us, including me, have in all seriousness been warned that we could be extradited to the United States to face trial and imprisonment. Even now, the Blair government is considering the introduction of new laws that would permit its citizens to be arbitrarily and indefinitely detained without trial or charge, if considered to be a danger to national security by those in power.

America today, tomorrow the world?

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