(Reminder: Godwin’s Law has been suspended for the duration.)
We all know Trump behaves like a Nazi, says a lot of the things Hitler said (though it seems Trump never did read Mein Kampf), and he certainly has the Nazi “big lie” trick down pat. But there’s another way in which Trump resembles the Nazis, specifically Hitler, which I realized while reading Tom Phillips’s new book, Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up.
Hitler was actually an incompetent, lazy egomaniac and his government was an absolute clown show. (131)
Hitler hated having to read paperwork, and would regularly make important decisions without even looking at the documents his aides had prepared for him. Rather than having policy discussions with his underlings, he’d subject them to impromptu rambling speeches about whatever was on his mind — which they dreaded, as it meant no more work could be done until he was finished.
His government was constantly in chaos, with officials having no idea what he wanted them to do, and nobody was entirely clear who was actually in charge of what. He procrastinated wildly when asked to make difficult decisions, and would often end up relying on gut feeling, leaving even close allies in the dark about his plans. (132)
Allies and officials of the government spend much of their time in backbiting and infighting, either try to win Hitler’s approval or staying out of his way according to his mood of the moment.
Historians wonder whether this chaos was just a clever tactic Hitler used to get his own way, and he was certainly effective at chaos and sowing division —
But when you look at Hitler’s personal habits, it’s hard to shake the feeling that it was just a natural result of putting a work-shy narcissist in charge of a country. (133)
When in Berlin, Hitler would usually stay in bed until 11, and then would spend much of the rest of the morning reading what the newspapers were saying about him. But he didn’t like Berlin much, and took every chance to go to his private retreat “where he would do even less.”
He was obsessed with his celebrity, and had terrible eating habits, like putting way too much sugar in his tea.
He was deeply insecure about his own lack of knowledge, preferring to either ignore information that contradicted his preconceptions, or to lash out at the expertise of others — he was said to “rage like a tiger” if anybody corrected him. . . . He hated being laughed at, but enjoyed it when other people were the butt of the joke (he would perform mocking impressions of people he disliked). But he also craved the approval of those he disdained, and his mood would quickly improve if a newspaper wrote something complimentary about him. (133-34)
This is beyond spooky!
Phillips’s point is that it doesn’t take an evil genius to cause trouble, “a parade of idiots and lunatics, incoherently flailing their way through events” have caused some of the worst disasters in history. And that’s part of what we’re seeing now: an incoherent idiot flailing his way around the world stage. But in addition to that, the parallels to Hitler’s personality are so eerie that Trump could be Hitler’s reincarnation (h/t to bdbd).
But being Hitler redux is just as bad. Is there something about the human race that nurtures this sort of slime to torment us with over and over?