16 Apr 2009
Leaders and Losers
I found this picture in a blog entry from Rudy Rucker. It shows from top left to bottom right the leading members of the Nazi Party: Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Göring, and Adolf Hitler.
There is some truth in this poster. They all were big losers before they became leaders. And they all had their difficulties with women:
- Goebbels was a cripple and limped, and he was a failed writer: his novel did not find a publisher and his plays were never staged. He took control of the media as Reich Minister of Propaganda
- Himmler was a cruel, antisocial and uptight chicken farmer with an inclination to mysticism. He took control of the police and security forces.
- Göring was a fat drug addict who effectively took control of the economy as Reich Minister of Economics
- Hilter was an unemployed, failed and paranoid postcard painter who became the dictator of Nazi Germany
Goebbels was perhaps the smartest of them, but he has physically handicapped. The others were more or less dumb, especially Hitler. He made it in the army to the lowest possible rank, and worked in WW I as an errand-boy. His application for the academy of arts was rejected, and as a postcard painter in Vienna (Wien) he failed miserably, and belonged to the jobless and unemployed. Instead of embracing failure as inevitable he tried to avoid it at all costs, and started to blame others. And instead of listening to others, he started to talk in public beer gardens and revealed everyone that he is a fool.
Although Nazis are the evil guys in Hollywood films, they were not evil. They were just some dumb losers, who happen to command a hierarchy of mindless bureaucrats. Hannah Arendt described this phenomenon by coining the phrase Banality of Evil. Those who dreamed of creating a new superior race were in fact severely handicapped themselves. They came to power by a series of accidents and lucky circumstances. I wrote earlier how losers can become leaders. In this case the lost World War and the economic depression helped a lot. The Germans had lost the first World War badly, and esp. in the following global economic crisis the average German felt like a loser: outraged, angry and frustrated. The leaders of the Nazi party represented the average German after WW I. The angry speeches of Hitler captured this mood perfectly. And he was excellent in blaming others – especially the Jews – for all bad things. This is what Politicians do, there is hardly a better campaign strategy.
Was this a reason why the Germans tolerated a group of losers at their top for so long? Well, maybe, of course there was also a dictatorship in the end. Hitler became a real dictator after the ‘terrorist attack’ on the national parliament, the Reichstag, which burnt completely down. Immediately a ‘dutch communist’ was found guilty and the communists were blamed to threaten national security. Civil liberties were suspended to increase national security. One could describe the situation as a frozen accident. The losers became accidentally the new leaders, and due to an accident they managed to stay there.