Who DOES Get to Say???

I haven’t had a chance to return to Escape from Freedom which is too bad because I left it very curious about where Erich Fromm was going next with his evaluation of the psychology that leads people to choose fascism. I’m also curious to see if his theory and mine are similar or widely divergent. My theory has always been that many people get frustrated with a system that’s necessarily slow and messy, and (sometimes out of desperation) they jump on a band wagon that offers quick fixes, like making something great again. The question I think Fromm is going after might be related to that, but I think it’s deeper; it’s WHY.

As I look at my own country right now, I remember some of the black and white movies about WW II and the rise of the Nazis we were shown weekly when I was in high school. One sought to explain the rise of Nazism and for me, it kind of did. I see the ultra right pushing some of the same things — notably inflation, from which we’re all suffering to some extent. It was interesting that in the not-very-good restaurant where the ladies and I ate the other day there was an “inflation cost” added to our bills. Why? So they didn’t have to change the prices on their menus. In a way that turns the menus into false advertising…

Yesterday I happened to see MTG talk to a reporter on the steps of some building. The reporter asked why MTG used the term, “Christian Nationalism,” and supported it. She pushed MTG into a defense of the term which MTG did not, at first, attempt. MTG (who lives in a dream world in which TFG is still president, likes putting others on the defensive and deflecting ideas) asked, “Who gets to say what words mean?” The reporter — who was (besides being Black) intelligent, informed and articulate, armed with excellent questions — had brought up the term in the context of its origins in Nazism. MTG argued in circles and never seemed to see she undermined herself with her own words and revealed her abysmal ignorance of history. Not surprising. But I was disturbed by “Who gets to say what words mean?”

History “gets” to say some of that, history, the context of language and human institutions. That took me back to Georges Santayana’s much quoted statement, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905. But, for me, more resonant are the words carved over the library entrance (old library entrance) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child.” It wasn’t meant in a good way…

8 thoughts on “Who DOES Get to Say???

  1. Remember Bill Clinton and ‘it depends on the meaning of the word ‘is’?
    MTG arguing in circles…that seems to be the world she lives in.

  2. Studying WWII European history in college, I read Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, as well as many other books on the rise of Nazi Germany. The takeaway that stuck with me from those studies, thanks to Arendt: the bigger the lie, the more believable it is to the masses, who think, “Surely he wouldn’t lie about that.”

  3. I just can’t understand the willful ignorance of some people (MTG and TFG) or maybe it is malicious stupidity? I have to eat Tums every time I read about their latest verbal assault on my intelligence.

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