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December 10, 2008

Could bloggers have changed the world?

Hitler460 Adolf Hitler has been getting his fair share of attention around here lately. But here's a question none of us thought to ask before: If blogs had existed in Hitler's time, could they have stopped him?

(Image © British Pathe PLC/PA)

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I'm a bit skeptical about this, since China and other totalitarian regimes manage to suppress Internet freedom of expression (so I'd imagine Germany would have taken the same tack).

Even so, every one of The Point's bloggers is a personal hero of mine. I see you as frontline culture warriors whose praises will not be sufficiently sung on Earth.

That's why I'm so mortified whenever my foot-in-mouth disease comes out of remission, or I post something that's overly familiar and therefore potentially offensive, or I commit some other random gaffe. My spirit wants to continually uplift and encourage all of you, since you richly deserve it. But sometimes my flesh mangles it.

Philosophically, we'll never know what bloggers could have prevented, or are preventing, since when you stop it we can't then assess its impact. But I hope every one of you takes courage to keep on doing it. You certainly are changing the world, today.


Left wing extremist response: Did they stop Bush?

Right wing retort: Did they stop Obama?

Serious response: A lot of people supported him. Permanent proof of both the depravity, and gullibility, of fallen humanity. He would have had lots of cute videos on YouTube, and the longest friend list of anyone on Facebook.


Remember also, it cuts both ways. China has tracked internet activity to identify, hunt down, and incarcerate political critics.

The one thing that would have stopped Hitler would have been a well-placed, and timely, bullet, long before the ill-fated assassination attempts near the war's end. There is at least one clear Biblical example of divinely sanctioned assassination (Judges 3:12-30).

Gina Dalfonzo

LeeQuod, you're too kind. You and many of our other commenters here are more uplifting than you know.

Kim Moreland

Perhaps it wouldn't have stopped Hitler, but it might have helped other peoples in other countries to see his perfidy sooner.


I'm afraid that Goebels and Homeland Security (GeStaPo) would have used the net to shut down the German Resistance rather effectively.

If Tamur could erradicate the Church so fully throughout central Asia and China where it had thrived for a thousand years, I suspect that modern methods of the survellance state could be at least as effective.

Remember too, that Hitler joined the already-existing National Socialist Workers Party. He didn't invent it, or its ideology, which was also held to by Margaret Sanger, Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg, Ezra Pound among Americans, and Europeans such as Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger and oh so many others.

Jason Taylor

Unlikly. Fascism was fashionable until it became unfashionable. Blogs are run by the well-educated and the well-educated have a weakness for political religion(no Nazi's are not an exception even though Nazis glorified jockiness and burned books: intellectuals aren't always rational).
The only power bloc that could have matched the Nazis in that area were the Communists. Non-communist anti-Nazis were often traditionalists and the chief counter to Nazi extremist nationalism was in fact everyone else's nationalism. Most people enlisted for country, and fought for Comrades, The Regiment, and Not Looking Like A Wuss. Whatever side they were on. World War II was in many ways a typical European war that was decided by national resources and as a corralary, the diplomatic skill of the contestants. The Germans lost because they convinced to many that they were an intolerable threat.
Moreover the trollishness of many bloggers seems more typical of Nazis then of their adversaries.
On the other hand, blogs could have been useful as a resistance tool and as useful for propaganda as Hollywood was. That is about as far as it went.


I really doubt that blogging would have had any effect on Hitler’s rise to power for many reasons. Someone said to me this morning that perception is everything, or as I like to say “marketing makes the world go round.” Hitler had at least two things going for him. I understand he was a very convincing speaker. It was this ability which helped him rise in power. The second thing he had was a great propaganda machine. I am sure many at the time saw him as the savior of Germany. Which can be seen the action of Goebbels and his wife, who, when they learned Hitler was committing suicide poisoned all of their children because they did not want them to grow up in a Germany without the Fuhrer.

Jason Taylor

I never could get his appeal as a speaker-the impression he gives me is of a drunk that is begging the bouncer to throw him in an ally. Nonetheless he attracted a lot of people so it can't be underestimated.
Hitler appealed largely to envy and pride. Stuart Miller in Painted in Blood gives a picture of how deeply ingrained hierarchy can get and how humiliating it can be going through life having to grovel before ones social superiors. In many parts of the world, including Germany at the time, hierarchy is not limited to function or to skill and luck but is sacralized in the social structure.
Amy Chua in World on Fire, supports this from a different angle, noting how in many parts of the world an ethnic group is perceived as gaining an unfair share. Germany was different in that there was also a gentile grandes bourgeois. However it was not so different that Hitler was incapable of appealing to this instinct.
Intellectuals have a special reason for their weakness for ideology. While a peasant might be able to admit that he wouldn't have power whoever ruled and wouldn't no what to do with it if he had it, intellectuals often, by virtue of their training, think they deserve power.

Gina Dalfonzo

I never got it either, Jason. Maybe you had to be there?

Jason Taylor

I don't think being there would have done it Gina. You would have had to be brought up there.

Jason Taylor

By the way, Gina, Swiss listening to the radio, found Hitler distasteful, funny, or scary but certainly not compelling. Despite having a similar language and culture. The reason is that Swiss were more content with their lot and had good reason to be so.

Jason Taylor

"...In many parts of the world, including Germany at the time, hierarchy is not limited to function or to skill and luck but is sacralized in the social structure."

In other words, in America Prof Jones is a professor. In parts of Europe he is a PROFESSOR.
And you better not forget that, you miserable little peon!

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