“It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship . . . That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” — Hermann Goering, quoted in an excellent Guardian article headlined Trading on Fear.
The article is illustrated with some of Micah Ian Wright’s posters from his book You Back the Attack, We’ll Bomb Who We Want. The book has a forward by Kurt Vonnegut, who talks about “psychopathic personalities (PPs), a medical term for smart, personable people who have no conscience. PPs are fully aware of how much suffering their actions will inflict on others, but they do not care. They cannot care. . . . A PP, should he somehow attain a post near the top of our federal government, might feel that taking the country into an endless war, with casualties in the millions, was simply something decisive to do today.”
I think Vonnegut’s on the right track here. It seems in today’s America, many people overvalue someone’s ability to act decisively, even if it is a decision they don’t actually agree with. Step forward, George W Bush.