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December 28, 2014



Hi Sir - This brought to mind something on Ta-Nahesi Coates' blog at The Atlantic. He had been reading "Bloodlands" by Timothy Snyder and asked for some feedback from his readership. At any rate, at some point he said something along the lines of (and I'm very much paraphrasing here) "I want to understand Stalin" to which one of his readers responded in the comments something along the lines of "I'm not sure that he's actually to be understood" (heavily paraphrased, again). I regret that his is only so much of a contribution to your post, but it did bring this to mind.

Thank you again for a great year of material, and please keep it up.


Correction: I wrote "I regret that his is..." when I meant to write "I regret that this is..."

priscianus jr

I don't want to go all Godwin on you, but the Hitler phenomenon is only the worst known combination of elements that are typical of the 20th (and 21st) century. Extreme ideology, technocracy, chauvinism/racism. mass culture/mass media, demagoguery, psychopathology with enablers,"groupthink", and so on.

Peter G

I'm not much of a fan of Freudian psychoanalysis as a cure for anything but I always thought his structural model of id, ego and super ego had the merit of defining terms and providing the framework in which human behavior could be discussed. I think Hitler spoke to the Ids of a great many people and not just Germans. He seemed to connect completely with people or not at all but when he did it was at a level that completely by-passed the cerebrum and went right to the cerebellum. The German industrialists and the German military seemed to view him as a useful tool but one for which they had little respect. Who wound up being the tools?

Many words have been expended in trying to explain the phenomena of Hitler with quite a lot of them trying to link his existence and success with unique aspects of German psychology that some how made them more susceptible to Hitler's arguments. That is bullshit I fear. His arguments were never founded in reality and there is nothing at all unique about Germans in their susceptibility to grievance and hatred. We've all got that.


I too have wondered about *how* Hitler did it. We'll never know, of course.

But I can say that what enabled Hitler was tapping into the dark side of humanity: resentment, envy, pride and entitlement. Mix in some dolchstoss and racism.

I sure am glad that no one in U.S. politics would never, ever use the same playbook.

David & Son of Duff

"the Hitler phenomenon is only the worst known combination of elements that are typical of the 20th (and 21st) century."

He was a mere dilettante compared to Stalin and Mao, but then they are the sort of thing you get when the loony Left take over.

(And, oh yes, Hitler *was* a socialist!)

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