While at the Lexington Sheepdog Trial this past weekend, I came across the following passage in the book. Okay, I'll admit that this was new information to me--I like history, but it was never my focus in school. So as I was reading this footnote, I couldn't help but think how apropos it is for political issues today.
"It was in a conversation with Gilbert* in Goering's jail cell, on the night of April 18, 1946, that Goering offered what became a famous observation of mass psychology: 'Why, of course the people don't want war,' he said. 'Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, 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.'
Gilbert remarked that in a democracy the people have a say in the decision to go to war. 'Oh, that is all well and good,' Goering replied, 'but voice, or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for their lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.' "
*G. M. Gilbert was an Army captain and psychologist who interviewed Nazis at Nuremberg in an attempt to understand their motivation.
Hmmm...it seems that our political leaders really have learned from history--just not necessarily the lessons we might have liked them to learn.