There is an on-line forum, Timebomb 2000, that I participate in. Billing itself as “A World Events Focus Group and Forum”, it’s actually a lot more. Things at work have been rather slow today, and I was browsing there when I ran into a post that struck a nerve. In part, it reads
…the thread about the black kids being kept out of a club swimming pool… reminded me of something that might be in the Turner Diaries. For the heck of it I went back to reread the beginning of that book (it went downhill pretty quickly after that), and found this:
“For a second thing, I am sure now that we were overoptimistic in our judgment of the mood of the public. What we mistook as general resentment against the System’s abrogation of civil rights during the Gun Raids was more a passing wave of uneasiness resulting from all the commotion involved in the mass arrests.
“As soon as the public had been reassured by the media that they were in no danger, that the government was cracking down only on the “racists, fascists, and other anti-social elements” who had kept illegal weapons, most relaxed again and went back to their TV and funny papers.
“As we began to realize this, we were more discouraged than ever. We had based all our plans-in fact, the whole rationale of the Organization-on the assumption that Americans were inherently opposed to tyranny, and that when the System became oppressive enough they could be led to overthrow it. We had badly underestimated the degree to which materialism had corrupted our fellow citizens, as well as the extent to which their feelings could be manipulated by the mass media.
“As long as the government is able to keep the economy somehow gasping and wheezing along, the people can be conditioned to accept any outrage. Despite the continuing inflation and the gradually declining standard of living, most Americans are still able to keep their bellies full today, and we must simply face the fact that that’s the only thing which counts with most of them.
I wrote this in reply, and reading it again after hitting the post button, I decided that I wanted it here as well.
The Turner Diaries is a pretty repugnant piece of writing. But I think that the thing that really bothers me about it is just how much truth (of the sort that we really don’t want to admit to ourselves is actually true) is in there. The quote you mention is one of those truths.
There is another book I’ve recently read, Neither Predator Nor Prey, that makes a very similar point. That book is about gun confiscation, and it makes the point that there are only a relatively few people who would actively be involved in either confiscating or in resisting confiscation–the vast majority of the population simply would not give a crap and would watch from the sidelines.
Map that to what you see in the real world every day, and you really start to understand that both authors have some keen insight into people.
In our own history, the Revolutionary War was only fought be a fraction of the population. Ditto the French Revolution and the population of France. Most “wars of revolution” are like this. Some people just want to be left alone. Many seem to lack the capacity to be concerned about things greater than themselves. Some just don’t care.
But the inaction of this vast majority emboldens the “bad guys”–rather than 80% of the population being against them, it’s only 5% or 10%. They realize that if they can beat those and throw the rest a pizza and a six pack, they’ll stay on the couch.
That’s the danger of a large, complacent population. It why our Founders did everything they could to both get people to be involved with their government and to restrict the franchise to those who were most likely to get and stay involved.
Now, we’ve made it so easy (motor voter, absentee balloting for everyone, etc.) to vote that we’re getting people who’s idea of original thought is what was on the last bumper sticker they saw voting en masse, and with predictable results. It’s all about “What free stuff can I get out of the government?” rather than “What’s good for the US and my descendants?”
We’re going to pay for this. It’s just a question of when.
Firestorm at swim club
The Turner Diaries (This is a description, not the book itself. If you want to read it, Google it yourself. I don’t want to associate myself with “those sites”, even with just a link.)