This phrase summarizes what I hold to be a psychological truth (for Western culture, and probably for most cultures, but I am not going to fall into Freud's generalization trap).
You will occasionally hear me harping over there in the jungle about the facts that WW2 was fought on European ground, (for the part of WW2 which is constantly browbeated, that is) that our international institutions rose out of the ashes of WW2, and that the final survivors of WW2 are now dying off.
These are facts. No interpretation involved on my part.
Some 15 years ago I got curious about "Mein Kampf." (I am a rather provocative person, as you have certainly noticed.) So... I went to my local library and checked it out, and photocopied several sections of it, with the idea of reading it from a spy perspective.
As I may have already mentioned, when I brought the book back to the library, the librarian looked at me furtively, looked to both sides, and whispered that she had got flak for having let "Mein Kampf "out of the reserve (yeah, well, we can understand that it is NOT on the shelves, right ?). That her superiors wanted to know WHO had checked it out, and why... Of course, I reassured her that I was not a candidate for the national socialist party. (We are good friends, the librarian and I...)
In the ensuing years, I have OCCASIONALLY mentioned that I have read several chapters of "Mein Kampf".
And the reactions are... very interesting.
An old friend and colleague (over 70) looked at me with distaste, and said that he would not be caught dead with it in his hands... Something along the lines of consorting with the enemy...
This weekend, in a Geneva bar, an American man residing in Belgium looked to both sides before telling me confidentially in a low voice that he had a copy stowed away behind other books in his home.
Last night, my theater prof's actor husband laughed dismissively before recounting an anecdote where a high school student brought the book to class to show teacher and classmates...
Here is how I present MY conclusion :
If 14 year old Adolf, father dead, and mother suffering from terminal cancer, had met ONE (or two...) BENEVOLENT souls during his flight to economically depressed Vienna in search of a vocation, a meaning for his life, the face of the world would have been different. (Yeah, Thai, this means, if Adolf had found someone to PROTECT his vulnerable 14 year old self from economic exploitation.)
I firmly believe this.
And my belief, I have found, makes a lot of people uncomfortable...
Some seem to think that my belief is an accusation that is adressed to them : like, THEY are responsible for what happened. (Ridiculous, they weren't even BORN at the time ; how could they be responsible ?)
What this state of affairs highlights is : the structure and the role of scapegoating.
Here is how it works : "Adolf was a MONSTER. This means that he was NOT HUMAN."
When we create monsters, we encapsulate them, and their acts in such a way that we are isolated from them.
Making THEM monsters reassures US that under no circumstances could we BE like them, or do what they do (or did).
Creating monsters is designed to destroy empathy and identification, thus separating the world out into the categories of "us vs THEM".
It is becoming more possible to open up this Pandora's box, these days. It is becoming more possible to talk about "Mein Kampf" and Adolf Hitler. (For those interested, not many people know that "Mein Kampf" was first published in France right after Hitler was elected. The French editors prefaced it with an introduction stating that they felt that it was their DUTY to inform the French public of the content of the book. Hitler himself tried to PREVENT publication of "Mein Kampf" in France.)
But there is still enormous resistance.
Why am I bringing this up ?
Because the SAME mecanism is at work when we DEMONIZE the banksters, our political leaders, and the many other categories we demonize/exclude in the U.S. : pedophiles, schizophrenics, criminals, you name it, we demonize it....
One of our major motivations in the demonization of our economic/political leaders is our "infantile" disappointment that the one whom we have... ELECTED to be Superman (yeah, Thai, you may THINK that Barack Obama is a President, because that is what the political structure of the U.S. suggests, but... I think that the American people in the last election CHOSE a KING.) is just as human, as fallible as we are.
Instead of harping on all the time about making sure that history does NOT repeat itself, in propaganda style fashion, we would do better to open up "Mein Kampf" and try to understand what happened...
I'm not sure that we're really ready for it, though.
It would maybe be a good idea to GET ready, considering the current economic context...