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    • Know Your Enemies
      An enemy is someone who means you harm and has the means to inflict it. A friend is someone who has wants to do good for you, and has the means to bestow it. I once wrote primarily to predict and to change the world. I now write to help a few people, those who […]
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What will it take? I’ve got some bad news.

So, a lot of you are wondering what it will take to break the base’s cult like support of Trump. I think I have some clue about this after listening to The Death of Hitler on Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast. The clue came from the life and death of Magda Goebbels, wife of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s right hand man, in the last days of the third reich.

Magda was in the bunker in Berlin with Hitler and what remained of his command people. She knew the end was coming. The soviets were closing in on them. Hitler threw everything he had left at the Red Army but it wasn’t going to be enough. In this frame of mind, Magda looked back at her husband’s role in the third reich with remarkable clarity. Magda was woke:

We have demanded monstrous things from the German people, treated other nations with pitiless cruelty. For this the victors will exact their full revenge…we can’t let them think we are cowards. Everybody else has the right to live. We haven’t got this right—we have forfeited it. I make myself responsible. I belonged. I believed in Hitler and for long enough in Joseph Goebbels…Suppose I remain alive, I should immediately be arrested and interrogated about Joseph. If I tell the truth I must reveal what sort of man he was—must describe all that happened behind the scenes. Then any respectable person would turn from me in disgust. It would be equally impossible to do the opposite—that is to defend what he has done, to justify him to his enemies, to speak up for him out of true conviction…That would go against my conscience. So you see, Ello, it would be quite impossible for me to go on living. We will take the children with us, they are too good, too lovely for the world which lies ahead. In the days to come Joseph will be regarded as one of the greatest criminals that Germany has ever produced. His children would hear that said daily, people would torment them, despise and humiliate them. They would have to bear the burden of his sins and vengeance would be wreaked on them… It has all happened before. You know how I told you at the time quite frankly what the Führer said in the Café Anast in Munich when he saw the little Jewish boy, you remember? That he would like to squash him flat like a bug on the wall…I couldn’t believe it and thought it was just provocative talk. But he really did it later. It was all so unspeakably gruesome…

As you can see in the above quote, Magda knew right from wrong and she wasn’t stupid. She didn’t take Hitler seriously just literally, or whatever that nonsensical statement is the MAGA heads are always saying. In other words, the Nazi’s plans were provocative. They got her juices flowing. Being in power was intoxicating and ratcheting up the propaganda was thrilling. But she knew that what they were doing was unspeakably cruel. There was not going to be some insanity plea available to Magda.

That quote was written a month before Magda died. Just before she killed her children and committed suicide, she wrote another letter where she lamented that she could not bear to live in a post war world where the Fuhrer and all his plans were destroyed. She couldn’t bear the condemnation of the world and the humiliation to her children who would never live it down:

Our glorious idea is ruined and with it everything beautiful and marvelous that I have known in my life. The world that comes after the Führer and national socialism is not any longer worth living in and therefore I took the children with me, for they are too good for the life that would follow, and a merciful God will understand me when I will give them the salvation … The children are wonderful … there never is a word of complaint nor crying. The impacts are shaking the bunker. The elder kids cover the younger ones, their presence is a blessing and they are making the Führer smile once in a while. May God help that I have the strength to perform the last and hardest. We only have one goal left: loyalty to the Führer even in death. Harald, my dear son—I want to give you what I learned in life: be loyal! Loyal to yourself, loyal to the people and loyal to your country

Her values and priorities are pretty clear. If her leader can’t be in charge, if he doesn’t have power, she wanted no part of it. She’s very concerned with her image, humiliation and shame. And she prizes loyalty above all else.

So, she murdered her children and then killed herself. She didn’t ask her children if maybe they were willing to try to come to terms with what their parents had done. After all, they weren’t guilty of anything and children can be rehabilitated. No, she made the decision.

I know you’ve heard it before that religious cult members are like this. A good example of this is Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal of blood transfusions. Loyalty to Jehovah’s organization is paramount and salvation depends on not taking blood no matter how much you may need it. And that’s fine if you are an adult and you are old enough to make your own decisions.

It’s not fine when you take that decision away from your children who are already sentient human beings. They do it anyway and pressure their kids to die for their religion to the point where a guardian has to be appointed by the court.

We live in a country where there are millions of voters who are militantly loyal to Trump. The alternative to a Trump governed country is unthinkable. It would be not aligned with their vision of having unlimited power. Losing that power is the ultimate humiliation. They couldn’t live with the damage to their worldview. For them to change their minds about Trump, they would have to change their minds about the worldview that was created for them over the last 40 years. I’d like to believe that could happen but history and my own experience shows that it is very difficult.

The only people I can think of who have come close to breaking the grip is Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu with their truth and reconciliation commission. But note that they had to win elections first and that took years of struggle with very determined people. If we win back our country, it will be pretty broken. We will need a similar commission or the cycle will repeat.

They already know that what’s going on in the country is horrific to many people. They know about the cruelty. They’ve been shocked at the stuff Trump says and does. But he exercises power and no one has been able to stop him.

A few of them might change their minds. They will need to be personally affected in a way that they can’t claw their way back to the top. Then some of them might fall away. The pandemic *might* be a tipping point. But I suspect that a lot more of them will cling to their vision right up to the point when their war is lost.

11 Responses

  1. “Magda was woke” yikes.

    • In this context, realizing that all the monumental artifacts of the third Reich couldn’t disguise how evil and cruel its war policies were.
      Magda was like the First Lady. In a way, she became the iconic aryan woman with lots of children. (Never mind that she was probably part Jewish) She set an example of domesticity. Women wrote to her for household advice. She was the Joanna Gaines of the Nazi regime. That’s fame, attention and thousands of adoring fans.
      It’s just that when she looked around her she couldn’t blind herself to the horror and cruelty. She woke up and realized genocide was going to be their legacy and knew how awful it was.
      I think she killed herself out of shame. But she had no right to take the kids with her.

      • (Never mind that she was probably part Jewish)

        So was Hitler himself.
        Which is mind boggling, the why of his hatred and disdain for the Jews and their culture.

        Haven’t heard -or read too many discourses, elaborating on Hitler’s particular behavior.

  2. Hitler and the Nazi dictatorship were only removed from without, by Allied forces. Most tyrannical regimes today continue. It may actually be harder to overthrow a tyrant today than it was 400 years ago. The English parliament actually hanged Charles i, and the French Ancien Regime was overthrown by the French Revolution. Various monarchs and emperors followed, but at least there was some hope of revolution in Europe during those periods. Russia had a brief burst of democracy, but now Putin controls everything; and there are autocrats and outright tyrants in power in many countries, including this one.

    We ostensibly still have a democracy, and hence an election, though Republicans do everything they can to game it and fix it, and to suppress votes. There is not going to be an outside force to remove Trump, Americans themselves will have to do it. And where I think Biden was wrong, is his wish to see Trump as a aberration, and a return to “normal” coming after him. I think that Trumpism is larger and more dangerous than even Trump. What would one imagine that a presidency of Pence, Haley, Cruz, Blackburn, Rubio would look like? I
    think that the policies would be very similar to those of Trump, just that the personification of them would be less vulgar. One of the problems of Trump’s obscene evil is that the reaction to them is mostly personalized, and so another Republican with similarly awful policies might well be just fine with the Never Trumpers and most of the media. The expressed nostalgia for the presidency of
    George W/ Bush really upsets me, because his was a terrible regime, run mostly by Cheney. All we had back then was some chance that the Supreme Court might decide i the right way in one out of ten cases. Now it is fully stacked by the Far Right, making the power of any Republican President almost dictatorial, since every single case they hear will be decided in the right wing’s favor.

    As to the so-called Trumpers, they or their antecedents have been around for a long time, and the Evangelical movement, apparently a religion which tells them that anything they do or want is sanctified, while anything their enemies do is evil, has greatly grown. These people are essentially unreachable.. Many of them have guns. There are stories of insane right-winters plotting to kill Democratic officials. Trump goads them, but removing him does not remove the threat. Actually,, Pence may be more dangerous, because he talks softly, lies more smoothly than Trump, wants some kind of religious dictatorship, as do many of the big Trump donors like the Mercers. who predated Trump, and helped create him. These are not cultists who will kill themselves if their leader is removed, they will just find another one. What is desperately needed is some kind of a leader on our side who can give at least sufficient Americans to form a consistent majority, a better vision to follow. Maybe part of it needs to be charisma, which i am always wary of, but was helpful to JFK and Bill Clinton. We desperately need Biden to win, but we need someone who can start a new narrative, not just be a four-year respite from what seems like a relentless move to an America which could be a pretend democracy wholly run by billionaires and religious fanatics. Is there one conceivably electable Republican out there who would actually be a reasonably decent President, or even Congressperson? i would say, no, unless we count Romney, who has no chance of winning anything outside of Utah, in this insanely doctrinaire,corrupt, and avaricious Republican Party.

    • William, relax. The reactionaries are dinosaurs, and demographics is the asteroid.

      That’s if this evil bitch and her economic side effects don’t kill “conservatism” first. 😈

    • William, what do you think of Larry Hogan, Gov of Maryland. Second term Repub gov in a Dem state with i believe the highest approval rating in the country. He has rubbed trump the wrong way and stood his ground after negotiating, along with his wife, to get 500k much needed test kits for his state from South Korean companies. He appears to be a decent and honorable man trying to do what is best for the people of his state, not his party or its leader. Sounds good to me!

  3. Trump is Hitler and Trump’s supporters are Nazis? That sure is a novel comparison. I’m shocked that no one has ever thought of that before.

    • Hi Niles! We’re dispensing with that internet law regarding mentioning Nazis. What’s it called again?

    • Ah, yes, Godwin’s law.
      You will note that I took that example from a first hand account. It’s not me who’s making the Nazis look awful. It’s a Nazi admitting that they are horrible people.
      I sure wouldn’t like being compared to a Nazi or a white supremacist political system that ruled South Africa for decades.
      I don’t blame you for being pissed about that. But then, the solution is really easy- don’t act like them.

      • I notice the pest no longer comes around very often. Do you suppose he’s actually bright enough to know his Dear Leader is going down the toilet, and taking American fascism conservatism with him?

    • Thirsty, Niles? 😈

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