“Functionaries Ready to Believe and Act Without Asking Questions” Trump’s Orwellian Administration

 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

As I have thought about the actions of President Trump of the last week or so that I remembered the words of historian Timothy Snyder. He wrote in his book The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America:

“Authoritarianism begins when we can no longer tell the difference between the true and the appealing. At the same time, the cynic who decides that there is no truth at all is the citizen who welcomes the tyrant.”

Sadly it seems that there are many Americans, a vocal minority who can no longer tell the difference between truth and what they find appealing. Much of this cannot be ascribed to any other motive than racism, admitted or not. Likewise, there is probably a larger number of Americans who have become so cynical that they have made the decision that there is no truth. They are the people who really make authoritarian regimes possible.

Hannah Arendt wrote:

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction ( i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false ( i.e ., the standards of thought) no longer exist.

That is a big part of the danger that we face today. Such people become the willing functionaries who drive the machine of the criminal state.

The late and great Auschwitz survivor, Primo Levi wrote:

 “Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” 

Last night I quoted from the book The Participants: the Men of the Wannsee Conference in the chapter dealing with Friedrich Kritzinger, State Secretary for the Reich Chancellery, whose job it was to make the bureaucracy of the Third Reich run as smoothly as possible. The writers of that chapter noted:

“Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?” (St. Augustine). This might not be a quote from Kritzinger, but it serves as a reminder that, by working as a lawyer for a regime, which he has known from the start to be criminal, he made himself a stooge.” (The Participants p.217”) 

I wonder how many like Kritzinger are currently serving in the Trump Administration, or in Congress defending his every misdeed. From my perspective I could name more than a dozen without blinking an eyelash, men an women who purposely subvert the law and Constitution in the name of Trump, as if loyalty to him is more important than their oath, or if his word “trumps” the law and Constitution. In the Third Reich it was said by many leading Nazis that Hitler’s word was above the law and that it was the law.

Be it whether they are true believers of lies, or cynics who have stopped believing in truth, they make possible the existence and functionality of the criminal authoritarian state. Both the true believers and the cynics refuse any personal responsibility and commit themselves to a system that knows no bounds of cruelty or lawlessness. Hoffer wrote:

“There is also this: when we renounce the self and become part of a compact whole, we not only renounce personal advantage but are also rid of personal responsibility. There is no telling to what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations, doubts and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgment. When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom—freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse.”

So anyway, I am tired. It has been a long day.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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3 Comments

Filed under History, holocaust, laws and legislation, leadership, Military, nazi germany, News and current events, Political Commentary

3 responses to ““Functionaries Ready to Believe and Act Without Asking Questions” Trump’s Orwellian Administration

  1. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    Very powerful – must read.

  2. Excellent job. This is a message that needs to reach people who will not listen to it. Their fanaticism allows justification of racism, patriarchy, religious intolerance, economic terrorism, hatred of outsiders & those who are “different” (disguised as patriotism) and violence toward all groups who refuse to join their insanity.

    Our most important job today is to figure out how to reach the hearts and minds of those people. They have wrapped countless layers of fear and hate around their hearts and minds. They live chained in prisons of fear. It must be a horrible existence.

  3. Steven

    I wish it were always about “fanaticism”. The people who are the most numerous supporters of this quasi-legal coup are people who cannot follow dense, heavily-worded arguments about economics or historical trends, and who will never see an Evil Monster like Adolph Hitler in Trump.

    Arguing against “fanaticism” to them is as pointless as the whole Hitler analogy, and probably as inert. Donald Trump is not Adolph Hitler. The Padre dwells on the similarities between Trump and his **boasts** and Hitler and his accomplishments because that is the lens the Padre knows best. But a better comparison is one that most of you wouldn’t grasp—Kaiser Wilhelm II. The bluster, the need for approval, the psychotic narcissism, they are all present. Hitler played his subordinates against one another—he only rarely removed a political subordinate (it was the Army he wanted kept off-balance); the Kaiser’s subordinates played him. There was no place for a strong, loyal subordinate like Bismarck. Instead, nameless, petty, career-climbers and hangers-on. And it wrecked the German Empire and the Republic that followed it.

    No….problem is as it has always been; the people who stand to lose the most by Trump simply do not see it, because they are extremely vulnerable to simple, logical, plain-spoken explanations of ordinary facts. They don’t believe all the “fake news” silliness; they don’t feel Trump is a “good” person. But they don’t feel that the news is fair or fully reported, either. And they no longer care about being “good”—they feel that they have given and given and given, and they have gotten nothing in return.

    Focus on that message, because it is the one where he is absolutely vulnerable. These people ***see themselves*** as Middle Class—even though many/most of them are what I would call Working Class; living from pay check to pay check, one (used) car, paying rent, two jobs in the family, kids going to an overcrowded, understaffed, poorly-maintained public school, one unforseen bill from disaster.

    But they pay their taxes, year-in, year-out. They avoid military service (why serve if you don’t have to?). If they get a $10 in change instead of the $1 they were due, they keep it. They take extra drinks, extra plasticware, extra sauces; and their reasons are always the same: big companies have it coming; those things are free, so why not; they shouldn’t leave them out there; etc.

    This is not the Middle Class as most of us understand it. It is tow truck drivers, print shop supervisors, and other hourly-wage earners who make well past minimum, and don’t really understand how money works, or economies function, or why anybody gives a shit about the stock market. But it is a big slice of the electorate who actually do pay taxes and vote.

    They are “For” Trump because they believe he is “for them”, while “the Democrats” (all of them) are “only for Poor People”.

    As foolish as that sounds, that’s a truth I hear again, and again, and again. Yes, he’s an asshole. Yes, he’s stupid. Yes, he’s corrupt. Yes, he’s weak. But so what. “I am tired of paying for poor people to get stuff for free when I paay my taxes and don’t get anything…”.

    What they actually want is not at all clear. Jobs that don’t go away, certainly. But more than that, they want the world to be other than it is—and Trump can deliver on that any time, any where. He will conjure a world where they, too, can own a Mar-a-Lago. Never mind their mother crossed the Rio Grande illegally and lived on foodstamps. They don’t like that “all these people” get “government stuff for free”.

    The people they should be angry with are, of course, the very people they see as “for them”. But the Democrats have failed at their own messaging so badly that a working poor guy whose life is toil and need now thinks a spoilt rich sissy is going to save him from poverty.

    So forget the fanatics. Fix the message. Stop explaining things with pie charts and pdfs. Maybe explain some things with ordinary words that the people who built the modern Democratic Party—working class amd middle class people like me and my tow truck driving buddy—understand.

    Nobody, NOBODY, can promise anybody that their job is safe—except **maybe** Mitch McConnell a Republican Senator for the right fee—and that needs explaining. Not by an economics professor, but by some one who has worked for a living. The opposite of Mitch and Donald.

    Then the Turnip can have his crazy racist fanatics.

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