Twitter Titan Elliott Lusztig recently tweeted out a linked tweet-set (I realize there are probably proper nouns for such things, but please forgive my sad lack of Twitter slang savoir fair) that simultaneously serves as a nice introduction to the work of Hannah Arendt (for those who don't already know of her), an important historical lesson, and an ominous warning for the future.
As you read it, it might be a good idea to take notes for future reading and research. In fact, it's probably a good idea to be doing that from hereon out. I'll be publishing a little something about how to go forward from here soon, but I want to get my ducks in a row, my blogs organized, and my readership in order first.
In the meantime, keep your eyes and mind wide open, be careful out there, and take the lesson outlined below to heart. I think Elliott's distillation of Arendt serves as a great lesson as to why let your righteous fury get the best of you, no matter how justified.
LUSZTIG ON ARENDT ON DECODING FASCIST LANGUAGE
- Hannah Arendt in her book The Origin of Totalitarianism provides a helpful guide for interpreting the language of fascists.
- She noted how decent liberals of 1930s Germany would "fact check" the Nazis' bizarre claims about Jews like they were meant to be factual.
- What they failed to understand, Arendt suggests, is that the Nazi Jew hating was not a statement of fact but a declaration of intent.
- So when someone would blame the Jews for Germany's defeat in WW1, naive people would counter by saying there's no evidence of that.
- What the Nazis were doing was not describing what was true, but what would have to be true to justify what they planned to do next.
- Did 3 million "illegals" cast votes in this election? Clearly not. But fact checking is just a way of playing along with their game.
- What Trump is saying is not that 3m illegals voted. What he's saying is: I'm going to steal the voting rights of millions of Americans.
- Fascism is the opposite of conservatism because it refuses to acknowledge reality as a limitation on the scope of human will.
- Unfortunately most conservatives in America today only have an eye for that phenomenon when they see communists doing it.
- No harm ever came from overestimating the danger of a political situation. Whole civilizations have been lost from underestimating it.