posted on 26 December 2016
There is such a thing as the Fascist trap. It snaps innocently at first. It is caused by a misunderstanding of the function of disagreements; and it leads to disastrous consequences for individual persons as well as nations.
President-elect Trump should be constantly aware of it. If he falls into it, our country will be ruined; our economy will be ruined.
The trap snaps over and over again because it is rooted in misconceptions at the highest level of the intellect.
Its foundations lie in the banishing of the uncomfortable logical principle of non-contradiction. You cannot say things that are contradictory. Since you are liable to confuse yourself and others, contradictions were not allowed in civilized discourse for thousands of years.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a major German philosopher, came along a couple of centuries ago and asserted that we can do without that principle. Ever since then, the world has entered an age of turmoil: everything goes. See “Understanding, Tolerance, and Systems of Logic."
Confusion might have been confined to the world of the intellect if it had not taken hold in the political discourse. There it was transformed into this maxim by Giovanni Gentile, an Italian philosopher. He was a Fascist. He said: You cannot contradict the speaker; the speaker is always right.
The practical reason is evident: If anyone is allowed to contradict the speaker, the speaker loses face in front of his followers. He loses legitimacy.
If the speaker is a political figure, he will use a set of increasingly strong measures to avoid being contradicted: neglect, silencing, threats of any sort, beatings, incarceration, homicide.
Clearly, at that point the majority of the people realize that saving the “face" of the dictator is not worth the candle; opposition gets organized; violence is answered with violence; civil war ensues. The dictator is deposed. But at what cost to the dictator and to the nation?
Was all the mayhem ever justified?
Mayhem is what Mr. Trump can expect; mayhem is what America can expect, if Mr. Trump does not learn to control his first instinctual reactions through a more reasoned approach.
Mr. Trump ought to advertise that disagreements are the spice of life; the nation ought to celebrate that disagreements are the spice of life.
Can we imagine a world without disagreements? That is a world of clones. That is a world of silent unreality.
The near-term penalty imposed by the Fascist trap of not tolerating dissent is that Il Duce, the Fuhrer, the Dictator will surround himself with plastic yes-men. Yes-men are increasingly forced to disguise their own opinions; and, once they are discovered by the people, they become more and more separated from all living and vital aspects of the country.
Once the reality of disagreements is accepted, their fundamental function is revealed. It is through disagreements that we build a better world. They generally lead to innovations and new life.
One of my mottos is: Thank God for the critics. They uncover errors that are better avoided at the earliest opportunity, because they will certainly surface downstream. I wish that this motto will be shared by many people. I send this wish as a Holiday gift to all.
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