Friday, 30 March 2012

A quick thing about Hitler

There's a saying you often hear, when one group of people are neutral and another group of people want to take action, where the impatient people will allege that the neutrality and indifference of good people are all it takes for evil to prevail in the world.

This pearl of wisdom is, I think, a thinly veiled piece of doomsaying, in the style of a superhero movie. If we don't take action now, all will be lost. What the action-people might be hinting at, though they may dance around Godwin's law,  is that the slow-movers of the world paved the way for the rise of Hitler.

And it is, I think, a funny paradox of history, that the heroic destroyer of Hitler, at least to the anglo world, was Winston Churchill. That what was needed to save us all was a man who distrusted liberals and foreigners, a man who liked a good war every now and then. That if Churchill had ever listened to someone like me and played safe, things would have been very, very bad in Europe.

But there is more to the rise of the Nazis than the indifference of good people. There is, for instance, the desperate enthusiasm of good people to go along with anyone who sounds like they've got a plan. There is the blatant racism of good and, more likely, not-good people, to take scapegoats and blame problems on the "other." And there's the dangerous interest of bad people in asking for destruction and re-imagining the world for their own specific priorities.

It may be fair to blame neutral and inactive people for some part of the rise of Hitler. But it would be more fair to blame Hitler and to blame the people did all the Hitler stuff.

Brendan is a socialist but not a nationalist.

[Images lifted from and]

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