Animal farm revisited
In 1975 I had an idea. I cannot say exactly where it came
from. It was the idea that Europe might have the formation of a united standing
army, which would be an example of a more broad totalitarianism. Total control
of Europe under a united government.
I had read in the Scriptures that Jesus had said in the last
days "men's hearts will fail them because of fear" and I had been
describing to my students how Adolf Hitler's evil reign became possible
because of the fears of the German people. The collapse of the Weimar Republic,
the devaluation of the money, the loss of land and privilege and the propaganda
of the churches against the Jews all fed into the climate of fear. Ordinary
people felt helpless, but they quickly warmed to the idea of a saviour. When men
are frightened and lost -– they will follow almost anyone who seems to think
they know where they are going!
Hitler and Nazi beliefs did not exist in a vacuum. Race
prejudice was already in the heart. Ignorance and prejudice were already being
fostered and produced by shallow thinking church leaders for generations before
he came along, but by the time he did, conditions were ripe for the 12 years of
his reign of horror. Now he is gone, and his Reich that he boasted would last a
thousand years has also gone. But the Hitler attitudes within our own hearts
might not be so dead.
I remember a violent black man I met in the USA saying to me
'all I know is SOMEONE HAS TO PAY!" So he lashed out in pain and in
frustration at strangers. I see this same attitude in bigoted white ignorant
right wing people. An eagerness to believe a certain group of Jews or some other
race are "holding them back," or it may be a government conspiracy. "This
group has to be stopped," they say, and so drastic measures are suggested
because of the supposed urgency of the need. The result is extremism and an
appeal for an extreme form of Government control of individuals to "stop the
rot." But the result is real dictatorial powers and a loss of freedom. All the
predictable fruit of fears.
Both the extreme left and the extreme right end up in the
same place. State control and dictatorial powers over the individual all done in
the name of freedom. The nearest thing I ever saw to Hitler's goose-stepping
armies was the May Day parade in Moscow of the Soviet Union. Communist Leaders
are renowned for their talk of workers rights while they themselves live like
Kings or feudal Lords dominating the people they pretend to be liberating.
"The good of the people" is the cry of every dictator,
but the good of the individual is the work of every saint. I see a danger in
looking for conspiracies where they don't exist or becoming fearful because of
some imagined plot. As it is written "You shall not call a conspiracy what
this people call a conspiracy or fear what this people fear, but your fear shall
be of God himself." Isaiah 8.
My fear, if I may use that word, is that people afraid of
dictatorships are the very people who usher it in with the support of extreme