Consider the old bigoted canards of 19th and 20th Century psuedoscience suggesting a genetic underpinning to the tides of various ethnic thinking. Is their any truth to the Teutonic character? I would say no, on principle, since I think it a stereotype, considering even ones backed by some evidence as illusionary. . .
. . . However, I am not thinking particularly about the Teutonic authoritarian personality, but just the authoritarian personality. Maybe, the cultural ethos in this part of the world historically led to more people so characterized, maybe not. There may be some evidence that rigid upbringing might play a large role in the making of a racist expression of narcissistic rage endemic to such unempathetic worldviews. I would be loath to consider such evidence because the evidence itself rubs against the grain of my liberal view of how the world works. With that in mind, consider I must, the building of national characters with the rise of nationalism speaking more to the role of nurture rather than to nature.
So, given a child before they are three, can you make them a Hitler or an Einstein? Within limits. This, at least, moves the idea out of the genetic to the behavioral regime, a place where the more behavioral among us would be happy to consider. Flash. Dark. Though I fear any day now to hear about a study showing convincing evidence for the existence of a genetic predisposition for all sorts of very specific behaviors, not the least of which would be the fear of thunder.
The selective attention and reinforcement of what an in-group feels valuable to its survival can be quite over-determined by framing specific memories into the historic examples that prove simplistic bivalent beliefs. Flash. Dark. Given the right circumstances, the right narcissistic mirror could and did rise to power more than once to reflect all the rage that slumbers in the depths of generationally ingrained racist self fulfilling prophecies. Such is the manner that Hitlers are made, not born.
Those taught to not question authority, that duty and honor are more important than empathy and flexibility, and that property is more important than fraternity, all explain how nationalism has always trumped liberalism from the French Revolution onward. So what do you say of Milgram’s experiment? In just a simple setting with a person of authority asking you to shock someone to death on a lame pretext, over sixty percent complied. Does that not suggest that we, like in the Lord of Flies, live with just a thin veneer of civilization ready to explode into anarchy leading to a slavery promoted by the next demagogue that captures our imagination?
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