(written at Cold River)
Like many folks in my age bracket, I’m still fascinated by Hitler and how he captured the support of his nation and held it for a surprisingly long time. My novel, WILL’S WAR, began with my wondering why there was no German underground. (Research revealed that there were several.) Recently, I read ALL THE LIGHT THAT NEVER WAS, a Pulitzer prize winner and watched some documentaries featuring the 1936 Olympics. Both enhanced my understanding of the Nazi era.
My take away: Hitler succeeded largely through the use of propaganda, designed by Joseph Goebbels, a veritable genius who promulgated rules still in use today. But, to paraphrase Mark Anthony, I come not to praise Hitler….
We, in the United States, are floating on a sea of propaganda, and it didn’t start with the current campaign.
Many of us are aware of the stream of half-lies and selective reporting that we are subjected to when it’s coming from those with whom we disagree but we’re more forgiving when it comes from ‘our’ side and tend to use ‘the ends justifies the means’ kind of rationalization.
So, who’s to blame for all of this? The media? Our politicians? Ourselves?
I say, ‘Follow the money’. Who benefits when it works, and where do they get the money to pay for it?
But first, why bother; it’s always been this way, and I can’t do anything about it?
There is the little matter of costs. Paraphrasing Isaac Newton, ‘A democracy collapsing will tend to continue collapsing.’ And voting is becoming increasingly pointless.
The media: To succeed every business needs to satisfy its customers, and very few media can afford to produce original content. And why bother when so much, skillfully written, material is available—for free? Naturally, the media managers will choose that most desired by their customers and regurgitate it to look like their own work--in print, online, or on TV.
Our politicians: Ah, those wonderful folks who brought us a housing bubble, financial meltdown, war in the middle east, a tax code so complicated that we spend billions in compliance costs, an expensive but 2nd rate educational system, a non-existent immigration policy, unsustainable debt, and growing inequality I could go on. But who can blame them? The incentive system in place causes them to spend almost all their time raising money for reelection and a prosperous retirement. Who has time to govern? The money pays for propaganda necessary to build hatred for the opposition.
In the Twentieth Century, the American people forced fundamental change in government four times: Suffrage, Prohibition (not good), Civil Rights, Vietnam. We need an anti special interests’ money movement that is not easily distracted by other worthy issues.