The path taken to collective madness was
nearly identical in the case of Nazi Germany.
The Ayatollah Khomeini's regime in Iran is
based on the same premise, and secret police are dragging innocent people away in the
middle of the night in Teheran. In a world where racism is still a powerful and divisive
force in the minds of vast numbers of people, cultural revivals of the ancient and
glorious past variety must be viewed by the intelligent with a clear and critical eye.
We live in an age of cults which are in
themselves symptoms of the social and communal carcinoma from which modern civilization is
slowly but surely dying. Alienated individuals by the millions in the overcrowded urban
areas of the world crave a sense of community and turn to everything from punk rock to
religious despots. When economic conditions become what they are now, that is, critical,
masses of people who are not in the habit of thinking for themselves cast about for
something: a vision first of all to relieve the boredom of being unemployed and, second,
for someone to blame for the hard times. A dictatorship, if it wishes to emerge in a
society which has known democracy, must meet these first two requirements and add to them
a third: the promise of better times ahead. A well tried formula, therefore, is:
1 the vision of a glorious past
2 a scapegoat on whom to pin the indignities of the present, and
3 a vision of a glorious future.