Revised January 14, 2004Reading Alan Bullock's Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, it becomes evident that comparisons between Bush and Hitler as individuals do not yield much fruit. The similarities are not particularly striking, although that doesn't take anything away from the remarkable parallels between the political movements of the Bush administration and the Third Reich. It seems that someone behind Bush, Karl Rove probably for one, is well versed in the techniques of Nazism. Bush himself is little more than a front man who can put on an apparently amiable face, read a prepared text fairly adequately, and extemporize from a limited vocabulary of political platitudes.
Bullock says, "Hitler attempted to represent himself in Mein Kampf as the child of poverty and privation. In fact, his father had a perfectly adequate pension and gave the point the chance of a good education. After five years in primary schools, in September 1900 the 11-year-old Adolf entered Linz Realschule, a secondary school designed to train boys for a technical or commercial career... Adolf left the Linz Realschule in 1904 not because his mother was too poor to pay the fees, but because his record at school was so indifferent that he had to accept a transfer to another school at Steyr, where he finished his education at 16."
GWB was also an indifferent student. He also tries to portray himself as being from a more humble background than he really is. But Bush was born into power and American aristocracy, and Hitler was a lower middle class kid who really did have to work his way into power.
Both were uninterested in regular work. Hitler, however, had to do something to support himself, and Bush never did. Hitler worked some as a laborer, then, although he saw his art as too high to be commercial, he proposed faking pictures to his tramp friend Reinhold Hanisch. Hanisch said Hitler wanted to sell landscapes he made and "aged" by putting them in an oven and trying to sell them as "old masters." But Hanisch was afraid of the police and suggested Hitler try "an honest trade" painting postcards of views of Vienna. Hitler made a scant living at that for a while.
George W. never really worked, but just attracted money for investments bartering his family name and connections. In most cases the investments went bad and he lost far more than he ever made. But he was rich and didn't have to worry about it.
Hitler was solitary, had few associates and no interest in women. This is a far cry from George W., who, by accounts outside of his airbrushed PR biographies, was a playboy with an insatiable appetite for women, especially very young ones.
When World War I broke out, Hitler enlisted and served for six years, four of them as a runner, who carried messages at or near the front. It was a very dangerous job. He was wounded in the leg in 1916, then, after spending time in the hospital, returned to the front in March 1917. In October 1918 he was caught in a gas attack by the British and blinded. He was still in the hospital when the war ended in November.
When Hitler brought a slander lawsuit against a newspaper in 1932 for accusing him of cowardice, his commanding officer testified to his bravery. He was also awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class, as early as December 1914, and the Iron Cross, First Class, in 1918, which Bullock said was "an uncommon decoration for a corporal".
Also of interest, Bullock notes, "While not unpopular with his comrades, they felt that he did not share their interests or attitude to the war. He did not care about leave or women. He was silent when the others grumbled about the time they had to spend in the trenches or the hardships."
Bush, as the record shows, was not interested in interrupting the life of a young, rich playboy to go to war, so had his father pull strings to get him into the reserves ahead of a long waiting list. He enjoyed flying planes for a while until he was grounded for refusing to take a physical, probably because it would reveal the cocaine in his blood. "Leave" was not a relevant term in his military career because he only served in the reservist capacity, one weekend a month. In his last year of obligation, he asked for a transfer and then never showed up for duty. Very slick. And it couldn't be more in contrast with Hitler's military career, which whatever else may be said about him, was distinguished and showed some of the dedication that was later to manifest into fanaticism.
Hitler's rise to political power is also in great contrast to that of Bush. While Bush was AWOL, he was working on a political campaign, and he continued to dabble in politics from the fringes as he dabbled in business projects with other people's money. He tried running for Congress in the late 1970s and lost. He worked on his father's campaigns and became a hatchet man, the enforcer who brought down cruel vindictiveness on anyone he felt betrayed or ill-served his father. But his political career was as undistinguished as his business career until after the defeat of his father by Bill Clinton, at which time his vindictive nature turned his focus on the men who had defeated Poppy and drove him to submit to being groomed as the man to recover the mantle of power his father lost.
While Bush is clearly directed from behind, by shadowy brains like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, George Senior and James Baker, Hitler was the architect of his own rise to power. As Bullock writes, "Hitler was the greatest demagogue in history. Those who add 'only a demagogue, fail to appreciate the nature of political power in an age of mass politics. As he himself said: 'To be a leader means to be able to move masses.'"
The key to Hitler's rise, Bullock said, was the key to the parallel between Bush's New World Order and Hitler's New World Order: "Hitler's genius as a politician lay in his unequalled grasp of what could be done by propaganda, and his flair for seeing how to do it."
His talent for seeing how to do it was aided by his absolutely cynical way of manipulating through lies. Most of this is clearly explained in Mein Kampf. "The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare necessities and then must be expressed in a few stereotyped formulas."
Bullock summarized Hitler's methods, paraphrasing and interspersing quotes from Mein Kampf: "When you lie, tell big lies. 'The grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down.' Above all, never hesitate, never qualify what you say, never concede an inch to the other side, paint all your contrasts in black and white. This is the 'very first condition which has to be fulfilled in every kind of propaganda: a systematically one-sided attitude towards every problem that has to be dealt with...' Vehemence, passion, fanaticism, these are 'the great magnetic forces which alone attract the great masses; for these masses always respond to the compelling force which emanates from absolute faith in the ideas put forward, combined with an indomitable zest to fight or defend them ... The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of glowing passion..."
Hitler also perfected unscrupulousness. A quote from one of his speeches reveals his view of ethics. "Whatever goal man has reached is due to his originality plus his brutality." Bullock again paraphrases: "Astuteness; the ability to lie, twist, cheat and flatter; the elimination of sentimentality or loyalty in favor of ruthlessness, these were the qualities which enabled men to rise; above all, strength of will. Such were the principles which Hitler drew from his years in Vienna. He never trusted anyone; he never committed himself to anyone, never admitted any loyalty. His lack of scruple later took by surprise even those who prided themselves on their unscrupulousness. He learned to lie with conviction and dissemble with candor. To the end he refused to admit defeat and still held to the belief that by the power of will alone he could transform events. Distrust was matched by contempt. Men were moved by fear, greed, lust for power, envy, often by mean and petty motives. Politics, Hitler was later to conclude, is the art of knowing how to use these weaknesses for one's own ends."
Although Bush himself is clearly not a dark talent on the order of Hitler, those behind him have clearly learned the propaganda lessons that Hitler pioneered, and have systematized them and institutionalized them. They have in effect cloned Hitler by employing the methods that were Hitler's innovations, using technology and propaganda techniques refined to a level of sophistication Hitler could only have dreamed of.
Hitler today is a bureaucracy. It is a corporate network that coldly carries out the singleminded agenda of its own advancement without remorse, without reservation, without human inhibitions, a cold inhuman machine. It is fascism with a friendly face. And every bit as lethal, arguably much more lethal, than the earlier version with an ugly face. It can only be dismantled when it is recognized for what it is. It was very intelligently built up. It's going to have to be very intelligently taken down. The effort to stop it must be as relentless as this network has been in usurping democratic power in this country.