The Nazis who posed as intellectual heavyweights read National Inquirer-type literature as they decided on death camps: Anti-intellectualism in America
George W. Bush liked to spout off and boast about how he did not like to read the newspaper or even read at all. Sarah Palin could not tell a piece of literature from a Facebook blog. Yet they all pretend that they somehow have received or earned some intellectual status as they banter about regarding race, culture, economics, war, and society. Glenn Beck, for example, tells his audiences how well read he is when it comes to the ‘founding fathers’ of which he picks and chooses the sections that will help him distort historical reality. Well, the news is these anti-intellectual, check-out at the register magazine frauds are not alone in both their disdain for intellectualism and their own heightened embrace of ant-intellectualism under the guise of wisdom and sagacious policy proposals.
A new book published this week in Germany exposes the ‘literary-lite’ reading tastes of Hitler and his cronies during the Third Reich (Allan Hall In Berlin, Revealed: The lightweight reading choices of leading Nazis who loved to pose as intellectuals, September 6, 2010. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1309468/Revealed-The-lightweight-reading-choices-leading-Nazis-loved-pose-intellectuals.html##ixzz0ymPEvaBH). The book notes that the Third Reich criminals really liked to read pop-corn novels and had no clue about intellectualism or historical and contemporary reality. Take Hermann Goering, the fat architect of the Blitz on London. According to the new book, he feasted on detective novels and sci-fi books by Jules Verne. His Fuehrer, however, was a devotee of the works of Karl May, a writer of western pulp fiction books centered on a gunslinger called Old Shatterhand and his Tonto-esque sidekick Winnetou. Heinrich Himmler, the lord of the S.S. behind the murder of the Jews, also liked Jules Verne and Alexander Dumas, particularly ‘The Man in the Iron Mask.’ He also read a lot about breeding German Shepherd dogs.
Academic Christian Adam, who researched the reading habits of the elite of the regime for his book entitled ‘Reading under Hitler; Authors, Best-sellers and Readers in the Third Reich,’ said the need for escapist literature increased as the war went on. Of course it did, for the brutal reality could hardly be even spoken of let alone allowed to come to consciousness and when it did it could hardly be stomached. According to Adam:
“….the demand for shallow material increased, escapism proving more valuable than ever before as the war went on” (ibid).
But as Adam notes in his new book, the mood of the fascist leadership was reflected not just in the simplistic reading lists of the murderous Third Reich’s reading collections, but was mirrored in the people and the subjective colonization of their minds as well. Although obliged to buy Hitler’s tedious autobiography Mein Kampf and turgid works on race by the Reich philosopher Alfred Rosenberg, the hoi poloi in Germany at the time also sought solace in the mindless fiction of the day. How could one cope with mass murder if they chose not to resist?
We see the same thing today in the United States, but not just among the right wing Christian fascists who constrain their reading material to Timothy LeHay, but we also see it within a population so dummied down, so ill-informed and so blistered by anomie and apathy that many people now can rarely be seen without clutching a People’s Magazine (or the more salacious and sexist Women Magazine)or the most recent edition of James Patterson’s or Patricia Cromwell’s detective novels. Take any flight from any airport in the US and you will find the majority of passengers clutching the same manufactured corporate weapons of mass distraction that allowed Hitler, his regime and many people to turn the other way when confronted with the truth about their society and the killing machines they employed and condoned.
Reality TV is the US Bread and Circus now. As the ravages of capitalism ratchet up to redefine culture, reality, dreams, aspirations, hope and resistance, the culture of idiocy now likens itself to Germany under Hitler, but this time on steroids. For with corporate media, propaganda has now found a contemporary and powerful visual cannon that manufactures consent and manages perceptions 24/7. Couple this with the increased use of psychotropic drugs, hand-held toys like cell-phones, and on-line life and the prescription is deadly.
The lists of the Nazi hierarchy’s preferred reading material were found by Adam in archives in Koblenz and Munich, Germany. According to Adam, often the movement’s leaders ordered up hundreds of educational and historical books, only for their aides to chronicle how they only ever saw ‘entertainments’ stacked in their studies or on their bedside tables. These fascists never read literature, nor were they the intellectuals they told their public they were. They were common killers who liked a bowl of popcorn and a good ‘don’t have to think’ novel before they turned out the lights, both on the evening and the lives of millions of people.
We can only imagine what ‘books’ or other literature, if there is any, occupy a prominent place on the nightstands of the Glenn Becks, the Sean O’Hannity’s and the Sarah Palins. We do know that Bill O’Reilly loves to write about ‘crack kids’ and sexual escapades between pimps and young 13 year old girls. Scooter Libby, the formidable ‘good German’ and fall guy for the Bush regime, loved to write novels about pederasty and bestiality — little girls having sex with bears. I kid you not.
These are the same people that tell us they should take power in the name of the Lord. Their Lord. They are also the same people, who no matter what they read, are mere puppets and trollips for the real ruling class, the class that pays them. The intellectual heavyweights promoted by the corporate media and fraudulently pawned off on the American public while reaping billions as sophists belie the fact they prefer one-handed fiction to anything having a resemblance to literature.
An anti-intellectual dummied down society is dialectically connected to an anti-intellectual dummied down culture and nowhere can this best be found than in a glimpse of the ‘fiction and Newszak’ the new Christian fascists read and the seamy magazines, mostly women magazines read by the general public. The anti-intellectual parallels of America to Germany and the Third Reich should give cause for concern. But don’t tell that to Oprah or the purveyors of celebrity coverage magazines, the sexist women magazines and romance novels.
It seems that thinking is hard work, which is why so many would rather not do it.