13 August 2009
Fascists are people too
by Larken Rose
»Politics - General
Imagine that one of the thousands of “law enforcers” of any one of the various tyrannical regimes throughout history–under Stalin, Mao, Hitler, whoever–was on his way to “work,” where he was going to harass, assault, oppress and murder people. And imagine that you could intercept him, and he had to listen to you for an hour, before you let him go. (No, you’re not allowed to just kill him in this hypothetical scenario; that would be too easy.) Do you think you could say anything to him that would make a difference?
What would you do to try to appeal to his humanity, to try to convey to him the idea that what he is about to do is bad, even if he’s “just following orders,” and even if what he’s doing is “legal”? Could you persuade him to quit, to give up his job of authoritarian thug? Could you at least make him be just a little bit nicer to his potential victims? What difference could you make, in an hour, in the mind of that guy who values blind obedience as some great virtue? Think you could change his world view? Think you could make him see the light, and convince him to respect the rights of all individuals?
I’ve spent quite a few years trying to figure out how to best convey to people the fact that true human freedom for everyone is not just the best practical idea, but is the only civilized, human option. However, given an hour with a Nazi, I doubt I could make much of a dent in his indoctrination. Give me a whole day, or a week, however, and I think it’s a lot more likely, even if still a long shot.
Of course, in the heat of battle, when the authoritarian mercenary is charging at you with guns blazing, or when the fascist pig has his jackboot on your throat, your chances of using logic and reason to make him see the error of his ways are pretty much zilch. So it’s convenient if you can start a dialog before things get to that point. (As a backup plan, it’s also convenient if you equip yourself so that you can kill him before his jackboot ever finds your neck.)
Still, what does one say to a fascist? Calling him names, however well-deserved they may be, isn’t going to win him over (but it might be fun anyway). Telling him he’s stupid and evil, even if true, is also unlikely to cause any honest self-examination on his part (and might cause some unpleasantries to be inflicted upon you). So, assuming you could even get his attention for a moment, what should you say to Mr. Order-Obeying Statist Enforcer? (My apologies to the noble American moose for the unfortunate acronym there: M.O.O.S.E.)
Unfortunately, any message which sounds like, “You’re the bad guy,” or even, “What you believe is wrong,” will almost always be met with resistance and defensiveness. People don’t like to hear that they are stupid or bad, even if they are–ESPECIALLY if they are.
(I must admit, however, that I found it quite entertaining to watch a guy I met in prison politely informing the “guards,” on a regular basis, that they were agents of evil for assisting in the imprisonment of lots of people who had not committed any force or fraud. Whether it made them think or not, at least it made them occasionally squirm.)
So maybe telling the fascists that they’re evil won’t accomplish much. On the other hand, saying nothing seems like a bad idea, too. Some of us can already imagine, without much effort, when the day will come when we find ourselves at odds, in a very drastic way, with the enforcers of so-called “authority.” If, for example, the American tyrants decide to disarm the public, or seize all gold and silver, or arrest as “potential terrorists” anyone critical of the government, things are likely to get very unpleasant. So, before that day comes, is there any way we might get through to some of the state’s mercenaries, to nudge them in the direction of NOT blindly obeying orders to oppress everyone?
Yes. Give a copy of “The Iron Web” to your favorite (or least favorite) fascist.
And no, I’m not kidding.
It would be an interesting (albeit impossible) experiment, to see how many American “law enforcers” would change their ways, whether a little or a lot, if they were all forced to read the book. Of course, most probably wouldn’t change at all, but I bet some of them would, and when they were next called upon to oppress their fellow man, they might look at things a little differently, and might act a little differently.
For those who haven’t read “The Iron Web” (first of all, go to http://tinyurl.com/theironweb and order a copy!), one of the main characters in the story is an ATF agent, and, despite what you might expect from me, he’s not a bad guy. Obviously, he doesn’t believe what I believe (I don’t think there are many anarchist federal agents out there), but he has good intentions, wants justice to be done, and is capable of a bit of actual thought.
And then scary stuff happens. (How’s that for a plot summary?)
For those familiar with Stanley Milgram’s psychological experiments, which I often reference, you may recall that Dr. Milgram found that the one thing most likely to make someone refuse to obey a nasty command from a perceived “authority” is the person seeing someone ELSE refusing to obey. For whatever strange psychological reason, hardly anyone wants to be the FIRST to disobey “authority,” but many don’t mind being the SECOND to do so. (After that, lots of otherwise obedient people seem perfectly willing to rebel against a malevolent “authority.”) I think the reason is that there is huge mental inertia against even the POSSIBILITY of disobeying ever occurring to most people. But once that barrier is broken, by someone suggesting that disobedience could even be an option, suddenly a lot of people are able to at least consider it.
When the fascists are at your front door, with guns drawn, at that point I don’t think hurling a copy of “The Iron Web” at them would be very helpful. But if a week, a month, or a year before that happens, they happen to read it, I believe it might really have an impact. The book was NOT just written to make pro-freedom people feel good (although it seems to do that, too). It was written for a far more important reason: to try to get everyone ELSE–the general public and even those in “government”–to see that “government” and “law enforcement” is not something good people should look to, to make society peaceful, prosperous and happy.
I know it seems strange to start giving out free gifts to fascists, because a lot of us view them as our enemies (which, in a very real sense, they are). But wouldn’t it be convenient if we could talk some of them out of being our enemies before things get nasty? No, I can’t guarantee that reading the book will make a Nazi into a saint, but you never know if you don’t try.