Good Americans

Since WWII behavior of the German people throughout the Nazi era has been a moral mystery to many Americans.  That party never won an election let alone a plurality of voters but with Hitler’s coup, representative government became a memory.  Hitler authorized his own tyranny and ruled by terror but the degree to which Germans abased themselves and embraced or cowered under that psychotically cruel dictatorship still appalls.

Under Hitler, Nazis became, as was promised, more repressive, politically punishing, and viciously racist, murdering leadership of the parties that had opposed them, the Communists—who had gotten nearly as many votes—and Social Democrats.  With those parties decapitated, organized resistance ceased in a nation divided between a minority supporting Hitler and everyone else.

What became of the will of that near two-thirds of Germans who had rejected Nazis and their Fuhrer?  Prevailing American opinion has mistakenly regarded in naive wonder their complaisance, their utter passivity and their genuflection to, and public adulation of, their dictator.  It’s as if most Americans have no idea what universally applied terror does.  Of course, they haven’t.

In absolutist regimes, the first order of business is to obliterate all possibility of public resistance, and redirect independent thought into its own propaganda channels.  This may or may not begin with widespread murder and torture, but that is how it proceeds.  It is not done in secrecy; it is done flagrantly, blatantly, with the terrifying intent to demonstrate the helplessness of its victims and the chilling indifference of its agents to human agony.  Soon the entire country knows and feels the dread of being powerless before remorseless and absolute subjection.

Black midnight vans and jackboots on the stairs, as well as many disappearances, assassinations, and horror stories took over the minds and souls of Germans like succubi because the terror was relentless and broad spectrum.  It was not only Jews who were its victims, but also Socialists, unionists, gypsies, homosexuals, aliens, and finally even priests.  Pastor Niemoller famously said when they came for Communists, Socialists, and others he didn’t resist because he was not one of them, and when they came for him, there was no one left to resist.  In the end, it rendered the entire people captive in a nightmare in which the only options for survival were hysterIcal worship or catatonic submission.

There was never a mystery about “Good Germans”; not to those with an understanding of terror.  A more provocative question is how “Good Americans” have been brought to their current state of deep and likely fatal spiritual, moral and psychological coma.

Of course, this is no mystery, either, once examined.  America is not an absolutism in the same sense that Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia were.  And yet, the extraordinary degree of control its ruling elite has established and maintained over the generality of the people is arguably greater because—as Orwell predicted— instead of being instilled by violence it has been inculcated by the perverted science of mental and psychological conditioning.

Ruling Capitalists developed a method of mind control light years ahead of the bludgeon, pistol, and dogs terror of the past.  The rudimentary work of Goebbels was greatly refined by Bernays, a nephew of Freud, in the 1920s.  He saw the mass of humans as irrational and stupid, and asserted that manipulation of their herd mind would enable precise control of their beliefs and behavior.

Walter Lippmann summarized his idea, saying “Their prejudices, notions, and convictions are used as a starting point, with the result that they are drawn…into passionate adherence to a given mental picture.”  What Bernays achieved in his work, Chomsky and Ed Herman fully elaborated in their epochal study, “Manufacturing Consent”.

The prejudices and convictions of the vast majority of ordinary, poorly educated Americans were clear and unequivocal, and not different in any significant way from people around the world.  The principle thing was to play to their battered, damaged egos to make them esteem themselves better than lesser breeds, and therefore to revere the power elite that molds and controls them.

In the insecurity of human life in which the alien and unknown seem mortally threatening, the same prejudices obtain: fear of the other, of his race, color, religion, force.  These are deeply imbedded in human nature, along with primal fear of the mystery and power of woman that men have smothered with patriarchy.

Playing on these fears, the Capitalist Power Elite in America has kept the people in a continuing state of anxiety, exacerbating their racism, sexism, jingoism, and cultural and political hatreds, while constantly dosing them with triumphant assurances of their own moral superiority and incomparable grandeur.  This tactic of praising the victim is not new.  Nazis told Germans they were the Herrenvolk: the Master Race; our rulers tell us that we are the Exceptional Nation.  What real difference is there between “USA, we’re Number One!” and “Deutschland Uber Alles”?

Hitler’s Nazis defied the world, stole the Ruhr and the Rhineland, mugged Austria, enslaved Czechoslovakia, devastated Poland, invaded Russia, and caused many millions of deaths before they were broken and destroyed.  The Germans supported it all.

Since WWII, America has devastated Korea and Vietnam, raped and destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan, dismembered Yugoslavia and Ukraine, pulverized Libya and Syria, funded murder in Yemen and Gaza, starved and crippled Cuba, Iran and Venezuela, and caused many millions of deaths in its brutal imperial psychosis.  And Americans supported it all.

Humanity’s doom is to be used as livestock, or worse, as things.

Paul Edwards is a writer and film-maker in Montana. He can be reached at: