About a year ago I wrote a post entitled The Business of Fear that dealt with questions about the U.S. presence in Iraq and the whole “War on Terror” in general. As I was doing a little research for the column, I came across a quote that shocked me not only because of it’s arrogance and blunt truth, but also because of it’s source. The quote is below; do you know who said these words?
“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?
“Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a Parliament, or a Communist dictatorship . . .
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”**
Although the above quote specifically deals with manipulating people to accept, and even embrace, the concept of armed combat, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the concept can also be applied elsewhere.
All you need is a crisis – of any type – and you then have the means to rally the people around a common cause. It makes no difference that the people themselves did not cause the “crisis” in question (they never do, by the way); nor does it matter whether the “crisis” is natural or manufactured. In fact, it doesn’t even matter whether the “crisis” is real at all.
It only matters that the people believe the crisis is real so that their minds are all galvanized in a common unity. After that, each sheep in the herd will follow the others, simply because everyone else is also moving in the same direction.
The destination to which that direction leads is then entirely dependent on the shepherd leading the flock.
An allegiance is a duty of fidelity said to be owed by a subject or a citizen to his/her state or sovereign. Blind allegiance is the acceptance of that obligation without thought, question, or hesitation.
If it’s true that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, I would suggest that with whatever “crisis” we are currently being confronted with, we would do better to think, to question, and to hesitate.
History, should we care to study it, will show us again and again where we can be led if we do not.
Oh, and the source of that quotation? A man who – however despicable he might have been – was certainly in a position to know the truth of what he said: Hermann Goering.
** as told to Gustav Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials