A Thomas Sowell column titled "Big Lies in Politics" and appearing in The American Spectator begins like this:
It was either Adolf Hitler or his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, who said that the people will believe any lie, if it is big enough and told often enough, loud enough. Although the Nazis were defeated in World War II, this part of their philosophy survives triumphantly to this day among politicians, and nowhere more so than during election years.
What follows is the usual superb commentary by Sowell. What interests me here, however, is a comment I saw on Facebook, in response to Sowell's opening paragraph.
A woman wrote, "This is important counter-information for Americans to consider, but how many will never hear it because they'll stop reading after the Hitler comparison?"
Let me therefore address the question of the Big Lie and Hitler comparisons.
The Nazis were experts in the practice of the Big Lie and its application to manipulate the masses.
And it is no secret that politicians today now routinely lie in their campaigns and in their governance, resting in the assurance that pointing out their discontinuities with reality will be met with social disapproval -- after all, truth-telling is just not polite in that genteel bloodsport AKA American politics.
To cast this in Schaefferian terms, secularized politicians today practice their art comfortably ensconced in the "upper story," basking in the assurance of their transcendent infallibility because political propositions function apart from reason, evidence, and discrete facts and therefore can never really be proven wrong.
Thus a press that protects the ruling class, and press officers who deliver the truth of the moment. And what you call "facts" raised in opposition are really just expressions of race, class, oppression, and structual bad faith.
You might call this phenomenon "faith" and those who drink and live by this Kool-aid "believers."
"Spin," perhaps, is the favored term of art to reconcile society to this enfeeblement of modern political discourse and decision-making.
However, we also hear about "Never again!" and about the terribleness of not learning the lessons of history, lest we repeat the bloody failures of the past, with special reference to 1930s and 1940s Germany, the Holocaust, and so on.
And yet, one might think that if a free and fearless people are to avoid the re-establishment of those dark days again, there surely must be a place for exposing current deceptions for what they are, including their ignoble geneology reaching back to the thunderous, awe-inspiring gods of National Socialism.
The technique of the Big Lie lives for at least two reasons: 1) it works and 2) it is well defended. These guys are too saavy to show up wearing jack-boots again.
Note: A similar version of these remarks first appeared on Facebook.