(a response to the article Humanity’s Curse in the National Post, Saturday, April 30, 2005)
Well, here is another fine article pondering the mystery of Hitler. Weighty words, post-modern musings, looking for the silver lining in the very blackest cloud – all of which obscures the real point in a very dangerous way.
Hitler is irrelevant. Stalin is irrelevant. Mao is irrelevant. These men were mere individuals, who had no power whatsoever to kill millions of people. Hitler did not start a war all by himself. He did not personally murder millions. He did not run concentration camps. All he did was sit around and issue orders. He sat on top of a vast and brutal social fiction called the State – the State which had violently educated him when he was a child, forced him into war when he was a youth, and then destroyed the economy when he was a man.
And why were Hitler’s orders obeyed? For three main reasons: first, because if you didn’t obey his orders, a State representative would shoot you. Second, because the State paid you to obey Hitler’s orders, and you had to put food on the table. And third, because the State had educated you as a child, filling you with propaganda about how obeying the State was the greatest virtue. Are we seeing a pattern here?
Hitler was a brutal nobody, unworthy of close examination. The atrocities of World War Two occurred as a result of a poisonous fantasy – the fantasy that the State should rule over society. The fantasy that any group of individuals should have the power to force others to do their bidding has been the cause of most social horrors throughout history.
“Humanity’s Curse” is, therefore, the State itself – and corrupting effects of arbitrary power, as we have lately seen here in Canada, were not confined to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th Century alone.