Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Godwin's Law And Obama's Warning About Hitler And Trump's Rise

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

It is a common and stupid fallacy that seems to have spread around the net that we are all to beware that "if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds." The corollary to Godwin's law  has been deemed even more canonical, i.e.  that "anyone who introduces Nazis or Adolf Hitler in a debate or discussion automatically loses by default". Of course,  this is arrant codswallop. If the comparison is applicable then we are enjoined to make use of it, and this is more and more the case with Donald John Trump. No, he hasn't launched concentration camps yet- but he is destroying norms and practices on a pace to what Hitler did - to Weimar Germany - from 1930 to  1933., ultimately leading to the Enabling Act, e.g.


The preceding provides a cautionary tale,  contrary to many pundits who beseech us to "chill"  because our Constitution is "too resilient"  to be trashed by a deranged authoritarian narcissist. . They are, of course, dreaming. History shows that even well-designed constitutions can fail. In this regard, the 1919 Weimar constitution was designed by some of  Germany's greatest minds. Its long -standing and highly regarded Rechsstaat ("rule of law")  was considered by many as sufficient to prevent any government abuse. But it could not have forecast the abnormal circumstances of the rise of Hitler, or his disrespect for German norms and laws that allowed him to use the very machinery of German democracy to overthrow it.

Thus, Godwin's Law does not dispute the validity of references or comparisons to Hitler or the Nazis. This is given (as I will show)  such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate in a discussion. What Godwin has really argued is that overuse of the Nazi comparison should be avoided as it dilutes the impact of any further analogies that might be even more valid. In other words, pick your Hitler (and Nazi) comparisons judiciously!

Over a year ago I drew parallels between Hitler and Trump in terms of consideration of their premoral characters,  see e.g.

In each case, I showed the gestation of the particular narcissistic authoritarian complex arose from the mistreatment by parental figures: Savage beating by his father Alois in the case of Hitler, e.g.


In the case of Trump, we learned (e.g. Ch. 2, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump) of his parents' abandoning him to the New York Military Academy,, thereby arousing a sense of parental rejection and incipient doubts in his self worth. This was after he was reported by Queens' cops for making  "all purpose"  switchblades and testing them on cats.  Perhaps even at that young age Dotard was honing his savage bullying and depravity.
Much of this was also   referenced in the book, 'Hitler:The Psychiatric Files'  by Nigel Cawthorne who  examined the detailed comparative  traits of Trump and Adolf Hitler..  I will go through a number of these traits shortly but first wish to point out the danger to democracy is not just destroying norms and government as a protective bulwark for citizens via regulations, see e.g.


But also creating degenerate support in a minority faction of the populace - who are severely propagandized to follow their leader (like the "Good Germans") - and also to despise their fellow citizens.  The dynamic enables easy identification with fellow Trumpies via their mutual hatred of  political correctness  and  "establishment elites"  Their narcissistic hunger (in some cases driven by a sense of inferiority) has also compelled them to identify with Trump in his destruction of norms, which has exacerbated political divisions in the country.  In a similar vein, Hitler's S.A. fanatics had no problem beating up socialists, Jews or labor leaders if they protested at Hitler's rallies.   The S.A. - many of whom were unemployed lower class workers seeking status-  felt they attained it by executing the Fuhrer's orders.

Now, as  Trump's extraordinary malfeasance and dereliction grows by the day, Barack Obama,  invoking the specter of Nazi Germany has warned against complacency..   Is this  "Hitler" excess? A violation of "Godwin's law"? Of course not. Obama's warning is very timely and apropos. Speaking before the Economic Club of Chicago, Obama said:

"The danger is "grow(ing) complacent.  We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly."
That's what happened in Germany in the 1930s which, despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate.   Sixty million people died. . . .So, you've got to pay attention. And vote."

Obama didn't mention Dotard Trump by name, but really he didn't have to. At the same time he didn't expatiate on very cogent comparisons to Hitler's and his Nazis' success in destroying Weimar democracy.  Perhaps he chose not to elaborate, worried that even the liberal media might invoke Godwin's law to criticize him. So be it.

He  didn't mention that even before Hitler and the Nazis assumed power, Weimar democracy was under assaultGerman tribalism was sown by Hitler's brown shirts (Sturm Abteilung) especially against Jews, socialists, and labor unions.  Historian and author Ian Kershaw in his magnificent account of Hitler’s rise to power (‘Hitler Nemesis’) showed that the pre-Reich Weimar Republic constituted a weak democracy which had little or no control over the most radical Rightists, especially Hitler. They were aggregated into gangs of thugs who would regularly beat Marxists, socialists, and any leftists on the streets while holding up signs that read: “Tot dem Marxem!” (Death to Marxists!)
The final piece to undermining German democracy was for the big business capitalists to fall in, believing they would be able to "control"  Hitler. Kershaw again (‘Hitler Nemesis’, p. xxxiii):

“Leaders of big business, though often harboring private concerns about current difficulties and looming future problems for the economy, for their part were grateful to Hitler for the destruction of the left-wing parties and trade unions. They were again ‘masters in the house’ in their dealings with their work force”

With the left wing, socialists and labor unions virtually demolished and in chaos by the 1933 elections Hitler and the NSDAP had a clear route to dominance in the Reichstag.  They only needed a simple majority of the factional votes and once that was achieved they could demolish the democratic edifice using Hitler's Enabling Act- which link I posted earlier.

Make no mistake our democracy is currently under vicious attack by Trump - though not  (yet) in as violent and daring a manner as Hitler. Though various voices,  like those of batshit crazy floozy Jeanine Pirro  on "Trump TV",  have called for Mueller and surrogates to be "in cuffs".  See e.g.

 Rabble rousing Trump brain slaves and Harpies like Pirro  are also stoking rebellious passions among their brain dead herd.  This is very likely to foment violence  in case indictments of Trump and family are handed down. (Which they very likely will be soon).

So one can definitely call it a slow rolling destruction, beginning with the undermining of the pillars of our democracy: calling out the press as " enemies of the people") and excoriating the judiciary for doing their jobs. Even castigating our constitutional  divided government - preventing a Trump dictatorship.

As referenced in a recent article in The New Republic ('How A Democracy Dies', Jan/Feb. p. 16):

"If 25 years ago someone had described to you a country where a candidate threatened to lock up rivals, and the government was accused of election fraud, you might have thought of Ecuador or Romania. It wouldn't have been the United States of America."

The piece also notes there were good reasons why no extremist demagogue ever won the presidency before. One was that parties themselves served as important gatekeepers, to prevent a "free for all" where one or more contenders might be authoritarian nuts (like George Wallace in 1968) or psychos.  The other was that the Electoral College would do its job if enough of the people - through ignorance, stupidity or misplaced passion - chose a demagogue. Then the Founders expected the electors to do their jobs and prevent the ascension of the unqualified screwball. But neither of these proved true in 2016.

Trump rumbled through all the debates and emerged on top after numerous instances of name calling and vitriol. Then, the electors turned into useless, inanimate props and just rubber stamped state vote tallies as opposed to acting like the adults, quashing them and concurring with Hamilton's take, i.e. in The Federalist # 68:

"The process of election (by state electors) affords a moral certainty that the office of President shall never fall to the lot of any man who is not to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications..."

Is Trump endowed with such qualifications?  Absolutely not! But one can certainly make plausible comparison to Adolf Hitler in terms of being a mentally deranged authoritarian. These include:

-  Hitler exhibited a pronounced absence of objectivity, which translated into his tendency to project his own ego on external reality "to the point of delusion" (HPF, p. 51).  Analyzing his speeches and writings, investigators found a disorganization of ideas and uncommon inability to express himself which at times verged on the pathological.  At one point (p. 52) we note that:

"Hitler operated on thalamic energy rather than rational planning"

All of these have been observed in Donald J. Trump as well, from his notorious ability to distort reality by projecting his own ego and wishes onto it ("biggest inauguration crowd ever",  "greatest electoral win since Reagan" etc.), to the inability to express himself as a rational, mature adult man ("Believe me you're gonna luv it!"), to his tendency to operate according to his "gut" and "instincts" (thalamic energy).

- Both Trump and Hitler share the attribute called "narcisensitivity" (p. 61) whereby the person  constantly exhibits a low tolerance for any depreciation, criticism, or contradiction - along with an inability to take a joke. Thus with Trump one beholds an almost pathological sensitivity such as displayed in his ranting tweets against attacking everyone who even mildly criticizes him, from Meryl Streep, to Joe Scarborough, to  Alec Baldwin for his Trump portrayal on SNL ("inability to take a joke")

- Among the most prominent characteristics of Hitler was self-exhibition, including self-display, extravagant demands for attention and obedience, desire for applause and vainglory. Recall Charles M. Blow's description:

"things had to be gilded to be glamorous. All modesty — either real or contrived to guard against exposure — was absent from the man. He was a glutton for attention and adoration. He chased the spotlight and pimped celebrity for profit. He valued flaunting over philanthropy"

Recall also Charles Krauthammer's comment:

"Trump's own instincts and inclinations (are responsible). A thirst for attention that leads to hyperactivity. He needs to dominate every news cycle which feeds a compulsive tweet habit. It has placed him almost continuously at the center of the national conversation and not always to his benefit".

- Verbal depreciation in belittling the worth of others, especially rivals and potential critics. (Fusion of verbal aggression and rejection).

As with Trump. e.g. during the campaign. Recall how he belittled a disabled NY Times reporter who criticized him about post 9/11 lies), as well as assorted others including the intel agencies, and the press. Also how he has chronically belittled women as "cows, pigs, dogs etc."

- Counteractive Aggression - always to repay in insult in double measure: A tooth for a tooth to avenge an injury perceived or other. Always to attack opponents, critics and frustrators. Inevitably the mandate is to: accuse, condemn, depreciate or mock an enemy - to his face or behind his back. Often by "unwarranted criticism, smear campaigns

All of which has also applied to Trump and his assorted tirades, and attacks on others. Once described by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer:

"Trump simply can’t resist playground pushback. His tweets gave Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes screed priceless publicity. His mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger for bad “Apprentice” ratings "
- The incessant craving for superiority" (winning at all costs, devil take the hindmost) that actually arises out of an unbearable feeling of inferiority".

Hitler derived his sense of inferiority from living in Vienna for four years as a destitute artist.  Also, even after attaining the Chancellorship he was keenly and painfully aware he himself came from peasant stock and there was not the slightest trace of the Nordic (Aryan) "superman" in him, that he came to obsess over and hold as a model to the German people.

NY Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow has also pointed out how Trump hasn't accomplished anything in his first year on the scale of Obama, hence his nursed resentment. Also, he's always been painfully aware of never having been accepted by NYC's upper class while Obama has been.  As Mr. Blow writes ('A Ticket To Hell'):

"With a hustler’s spirit and some sleight of hand, he made it, but not in total.  He made the move, made the money and made his mark on New York’s skyline, but he never quite made it into the inner sanctum of New York high society. I’m convinced that this is part of his obsession with former President Barack Obama. Obama was quickly granted the thing Trump never had: upper-class acceptance and adulation."

In like manner, Hitler never enjoyed the acceptance and appreciation allotted to Paul von Hindenburg, the previous Chancellor. This infuriated him just as the elites and intellectuals embrace of Obama has infuriated Trump. 

The new theme is Trump being infuriated with Robert Mueller and his investigation. Obama then is very right that we need to pay attention. This is not the time to doze, get bored or not keep our eyes on the "ball".   According to the latest TIME (with "person of the year') Trump has already undermined the respect for the office of the presidency by his wayward tweets and lack of self- control. Our democracy is the next target and it behooves us all to attend to what he's doing and find ways to mitigate the growing threat.

See also:






  • Psychiatrists sound alarm: Trump deteriorating by the day. We are all in danger.
  • No comments: