Obedient Americans Will Make Good Nazis

English statesman Benjamin Disraeli once said, 'It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.' Well, if not in the nursery, a public school system would suffice. Get them young, get them early, and get them often. Although it is doubtful that the forefathers of mass public education openly took their cue from Disraeli, they certainly saw the benefits of taking children away from their parents and massing them in factories of 'education.' Finally, utopia could be created, good citizens molded, and maybe even Catholicism eradicated. As the 20th Century has demonstrated, creating utopia has proved elusive and very destructive, and Catholicism has even survived itself. At least the public education system has done its part to create generations of 'good' citizens.

What exactly makes a 'good' citizen? Here in Arizona , the Department of Education's website declares that students in grades 9-12 (State Standard 2SS-P10) will 'Demonstrate skills related to the duties and obligations needed to participate in America 's government.' To clarify how a student is to 'demonstrate' those skills critical to being a productive and responsible citizen, several 'performance objectives' follow. According to one, students acquire these skills by learning the importance of 'obeying the law, serving on juries, paying taxes, voting, and military service.'

Assuredly, many Americans would consider these objectives noble. After all, many of them went through the same training during the impressionable years of their lives. As adults, all that was needed by the state to maintain obedience to the same was periodic and pointed propaganda. Every few months there is some national holiday that honors veterans, war dead, the state, and past Caesars who ruled over the American Empire. Should holidays fail to provide the catalyst to trigger national obedience, dates marking significant events, battles, or the vanquishing of past enemies serves the same purpose equally well.

Citizenship 'training,' whether in or out of school, wherever and whenever it has been practiced, is nothing more than an organized conspiracy to make children and adults exactly what the state wants them to be: stupid, compliant, tax-paying slaves, easily led to believe that voting makes a difference and serving as cannon-fodder for imperial adventures is a patriotic and moral calling. Trained to do what they are told, not complain, and not ask questions, law-abiding Americans have been aptly honed to be perfect Nazis.

We are certainly not the first people to be molded this way. Early Christians were molded like modern Americans. Obey the dictates of Caesar, they were told. Despite Caesar's persecutions, they did. After the Caesars had fallen from power, national obedience was paid to Rome and the Catholic Church. Although the Reformation fractured the Church's power, the people of Europe were not freed from the shackles of an institution claiming a monopoly on regulation, coercion, and murder; many became pawns of the various Protestant sects favored by the secular authorities. The Brits, Spaniards, and French all had their world empires, the citizens of which traded their loyalty and unquestioning obedience for death, destruction, and eventual historical obscurity.

Now, it might well be our turn. Although the 20th Century can rightfully claim to be the period in all of history where national obedience went to the greatest extremes--the United States played more than a peripheral role in contributing to 20th Century excesses of enslavement, impoverishment, destruction, and murder--our national tendency to bow before authority precedes Woodrow Wilson's crusade to make the world safe for democracy.

In a recent article, Lee Harris discusses what he considers to be an unhealthy and dangerous attribute of many Americans--complete and unquestioning respect for the law. Speaking of Americans in general, now and throughout much of their history, Lee says, 'the general populace continues to adhere to the view that those who have been entrusted with the task of interpreting the law . . . must be deferred to, no matter how absurd or capricious their rulings may appear when approached from the perspective of sheer logic.' Whether it's a pronouncement from the Supreme Court or an executive order from the current occupant of the White House, whoever that may be, Americans just shrug their shoulders and say, 'The law, is the law.'

Perhaps the greatest example of obedience and state-worship necessary for full-blown nazification in America is the irrational respect paid by historians and lay people alike to the person and 'leadership' of FDR. The testament to his influence is all the government programs still surviving in name or philosophy, crisis generation and response by the government, top-down solutions to economic and social problems, and how we still bludgeon the rest of the world to do our bidding.

'Well,' some might say, 'Americans were in need of leadership and help. The Great Depression had sapped many of them of their jobs, homes, savings, and spirit. He gave them hope that the future would be brighter.' Any demagogue stepping into office on the heels of such a government-generated economic calamity could have pulled that off. A couple of guys named Hitler and Mussolini come to mind. The instinct to grovel was already there.

Ralph Raico, describing Roosevelt biographer Finis Farr's reaction to FDR's first inaugural address, said, 'Farr wrote of a troubling characteristic of his countrymen, namely, the American public's canine desire to fawn on authority and crawl before the whip. This dog-like aspect of our great nation is its least attractive and also perhaps most seldom-mentioned trait.' A survey of American history since reveals that not much has changed. Americans still demonstrate an irrational tendency to 'fawn on authority.'

'Education' has done its part to turn out good citizens. Even real smart people are stupified through unquestioning obedience to laws and authority in general. The intensity of tyranny we are all made to bear in the future will be dependent on us. We need only look to Germany in the 1930s for our fate and the world's; we have been prepared for that journey.

As Hannah Arendt wrote in The Origins of Totalitarianism, 'Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.' Better pay attention to that next big explosion in a U. S. city or government installation; don't be too quick to believe the authorities when they assign blame. But, then again, that's asking too much of Americans. To accept any other explanation would contradict the totality of training they've received all their lives: 'Remember the Reichstag? What are you, some kind of nut?'

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Columns on STR: 40

Harry Goslin lives in eastern Arizona.