In a recent article I wrote, “The Nonsense and Delusions People Believe As Truth,” I talked about the irrational and nonsensical beliefs people have about Donald Trump, and that it’s almost as if people are brainwashed into these beliefs.
Well in fact, people are brainwashed. It’s called propagandizing, and it’s nothing new. History is replete with demagogues who have brainwashed, through propaganda, the citizenry of a nation into going along with what the demagogue says.
A new book that just came out, “Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939,” by the German historian Volker Ullrich, is a cautionary tale of a narcissistic demagogue’s rise to power that has eerie and chilling parallels to our modern times and the rise of Donald Trump, and it shows that Hitler and Trump are soul brothers.
Hitler, like Trump, rose to power through demagoguery, showmanship and nativist appeals to the masses. Hitler came to power by saying he would make Germany great again, and was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth.
Hitler specialized in big, theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus, and he adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist and anti-Semitic listeners and peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers.
Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds’ fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.
Hitler knew that propaganda must appeal to the emotions — not the reasoning powers — of the crowd. Its “purely intellectual level,” Hitler said, “will have to be that of the lowest mental common denominator among the public it is desired to reach.” Because the understanding of the masses “is feeble,” he went on, effective propaganda needed to be boiled down to a few slogans that should be “persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”
Hitler’s supporters believed that the country needed “a man of iron” who could shake things up. “Why not give the National Socialists a chance?” a prominent banker said of the Nazis. “They seem pretty gutsy to me.”
Hitler had a dark, Darwinian view of the world and often harked back to a golden age for the country, the better to paint the present day in hues that were all the darker., as he put forth that
Germany was in a state of decline and decay and that he, and only he, could lead Germany to a new era of national greatness.
Be forewarned, this biography of Hitler will only need names to be changed if Trump is elected President.
Here’s a book review of the book that appeared recently in the NY Times – Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939
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