Heinz Guderian was a German general who played an important role in the development of Blitzkrieg tactics. He was also a highly effective field commander, known to his men by the nickname “Hurrying Heinz.”
Also not a bad writer–here’s his description of the character of Adolph Hitler:
He had no real friend. His oldest Party comrades were, it is true, disciples, but they could hardly be described as friends. So far as I can see there was nobody who was really close to him. There was nobody in whom he would confide his deepest feelings. There was nobody with whom he could talk freely and openly. As he never found a true friend, so he was denied the ability to deeply love a woman. He remained unmarried. He had no children. Everything that on this earth that casts a glow of warmth over our life as mortals, friendship with fine men, the pure love for a wife, affection for one’s own children, all this was and remained for ever unknown to him. His path thru the world was a solitary one and he followed it alone, with only his gigantic plans for company.
There is an interesting parallel between the above excerpt and a passage in Thomas Carlyle’s review of Faust, published in 1822:
Mephistopheles is not the common devil of poetry, but one much more adapted to his functions. It is evident that he was a devil from the first and can be nothing else. He is emphatically ‘the Denyer’, he fears nothing, complains of nothing, hopes for nothing. Magnanimity, devotion, affection, all that can sweeten or embellish existence, he looks upon as childish mummery.
(No, I’m not accusing Guderian of plagiarism…there are things a lot worse than plagiarism of which he could be justly accused! But it is very likely that he read Faust in school, and I wonder if he might have also been exposed to early commentary on the play, including the Carlyle piece.)
While searching for the Guderian quote (in conjunction with my recent Faust post), I ran across this blog post, which attempts to draw parallels between Guderian’s description of Hitler’s character, and…the character of Donald Trump. The blogger does this by interspersing passages from the Guderian quote with comments about Trump made by Mark Shields and David Brooks in a PBS Newshour appearance.
(Now, personally, I don’t see why anyone would consider a man who evaluates presidential candidates by the quality of the crease of their trousers as a particularly good source for analysis and insight, but whatever…)
Something is missing from the linked blog post, as it is from many similar Trump denunciations….and that is the name Hillary Clinton. Because Trump isn’t running in a vacuum, he isn’t running against, say, JFK or Harry Truman or even Jimmy Carter; he is running against Hillary Clinton, and barring some unlikely event or events, one of the other of them is going to be President.
And I would assert that whatever degree of match there might be between Trump’s character and the character outlined in the Guderian piece, the match is considerably stronger in the case of Hillary Clinton.
There is practically a cottage industry…heck, not a cottage industry, but a major well-financed industry, so large that it should probably have its own SIC code…devoted to producing denunciations of Trump…via magazine, newspaper, blog post, and television..without considering the realities of the alternative.
Here, for example, is a long article with the title How President Donald Trump could ruin his enemies’ lives. The writer points out the vast array of leverage points that a President can bring to bear to destroy an individual or a business. While discussing the hypothetical tyrannical acts of a Donald Trump presidency, however, she neglects to discuss the actual, real, non-hypothetical things that have actually been done by the forces aligned with Hillary Clinton and by Clinton herself. The IRS persecution of conservative political organizations and their principals, for example. The Hillary Clinton response to Benghazi: “We are going to have the filmmaker arrested.” The college students who are being persecuted by star-chamber proceedings in the name of political correctness.
(And as Grim notes, there would be “much institutional resistance…to a Trump attempt to turn a bureaucracy made up very disproportionately of Democrats against his enemies. A Clinton attempt, by contrast, would be as happily embraced as the Obama attempts have been.”)
There appears to be much fear that Trump would unleash mob violence. For example: writing in Commentary, James Kirchick says, “Donald Trump is the candidate of the mob, and the mob always ends up turning on the Jews.”
There are certainly some unpleasant characters among Trump supporters. But the actual mob behavior over the last decade and a half, including especially mob behavior targeted at Israel and at Jews in general, has been largely driven by the “progressive” Left. Is Kirchick really unaware of the huge number of outbreaks of leftist thuggery, of which I described a small sample in my post The United States of Weimar??
I believe that much of the willingness to support Clinton, even by people who are opposed to most of her policies and don’t much care for her record, is driven by matters of verbal style…that is, the fact that she talks in a way that Americans have grown accustomed to having their politicians talk. This has led to a great over-estimate of her competence. Someone at Ricochet quoted Jonah Goldberg as saying Hillary is the competent pilot that wants to take us to a bad place. Trump wants to take us to a place that doesn’t exist (maybe never existed) and on top of that doesn’t even know how to navigate or even fly a plane.
I do not see the slightest evidence that Hillary Clinton is a “competent pilot.” Is she an effective executive? When questioned about the failures that led to the Benghazi debacle, she said “I AM the Secretary of State, and the ARB (Accountability Review Board) made it very clear that the level of responsibility for the failures that they outlined, sat at the level of Assistant Secretary and below.” And also, “1.4 million cables come to us each year, all of them addressed to me.”
As I argued in my post excusing failure by pleading incompetence, these responses clearly demonstrate that Hillary Clinton has no idea at all of what executive management is all about. An executive is not only or even primarily responsible for his or her own individual tasks—he or she is responsible for the work of the people in the organization, and for organizing that work properly and effectively.
These responsibilities include establishing an information and decision-flow architecture…including clear assignment of responsibilities…to ensure that the right things are seen and acted upon by the right people at the right time. Failure to do this..and to maintain and tune the system over time…will predictably result in catastrophes. There is no indication that Hillary understands any of this.
In what other aspects of “flying or navigating the plane” has Clinton demonstrated competence? Is she an effective negotiator? Is she a good motivator of subordinates? Does she understand modern warfare? Does she have any understanding of how the economy actually works?
If one wants to use the “pilot” metaphor, I’d argue that Clinton is like someone who has taken a lot of airplane rides and hung around airports a lot, and picked up quite a bit of jargon, but has no idea of how it all fits together or what most of it actually means.
Look, we have a bad choice this year, two terribly flawed candidates. But focusing on and amplifying the flaws of one candidate, while ignoring and covering up those of the other, is not a very wise way to proceed.
Personally, I’m far from thrilled with Trump. But I think Hillary is so terrible that her election would likely lead to policies and to a social milieu so bad as to be unrecoverable for decades, if ever.
35 thoughts on “The General, the Devil, and the Election”
My earlier post makes a similar point, I think. Our elites are not competent and the 2008 financial crisis was one bit of evidence.
One bit is this article from Wired in 2009.
A year ago, it was hardly unthinkable that a math wizard like David X. Li might someday earn a Nobel Prize. After all, financial economists—even Wall Street quants—have received the Nobel in economics before, and Li’s work on measuring risk has had more impact, more quickly, than previous Nobel Prize-winning contributions to the field. Today, though, as dazed bankers, politicians, regulators, and investors survey the wreckage of the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, Li is probably thankful he still has a job in finance at all. Not that his achievement should be dismissed. He took a notoriously tough nut—determining correlation, or how seemingly disparate events are related—and cracked it wide open with a simple and elegant mathematical formula, one that would become ubiquitous in finance worldwide.
Except it led to the Mortgage backed securities disaster.
Then there is Nicole Gelinas explaining how it happened.
My review of her book is here.
Hillary and Obama have both led us into a cul de sac which might be malice or more probably incompetence. From the linked Fernandez piece:
However in Western constitutional democracies presidents and prime ministers are merely agents of the state, they are not the state themselves. Treason is a much greater danger in these circumstances because when the agent acts, he does not always act on in the best interests of the principal. If America is to play the game of hybrid warfare the ability to sanction treason is a sine qua non because without it the loyalty of the agent cannot be ensured. A situation where traitors to Russia are punished while traitors to America are exalted is unsustainable.
I could add traitors with regard to Iran, as well.
Hillary will quickly replace Obama as our worst president.
Guderian had extensive personal contact with Hitler from which to make a judgement on the man, not one of the people who write about Trump has ever seen more of him than a brief bit of chit chat at a cocktail party. I wouldn’t trust their judgement on his core personality for one second.
As I argued in my post excusing failure by pleading incompetence, these responses clearly demonstrate that Hillary Clinton has no idea at all of what executive management is all about.
David, we live in a new era. Competence is irrelevant, hence the phenomenon of failing upwards. What we’re dealing with here is a RICO organization/movement.
Truman had it right – the buck stops here. Simple and accurate. I can’t remember the last time I saw a government official, or corporate for that matter, resign a position as atonement for failure. What was quite insulting to me was to see officials go to the public, proclaim that they take responsibility for some failure and then continue with business as usual. Appearance matters more than substance. The appeared to take responsibility and changed nothing, suffered no personal consequence.
Failure to do this..and to maintain and tune the system over time…will predictably result in catastrophes.
We’re likely to see more catastrophe from out elites due to cultural momentum and due to how our elites are chosen and developed, there is a schism between competence/excellence and elite status.
In what other aspects of ‘flying or navigating the plane’ has Clinton demonstrated competence? Is she an effective negotiator? Is she a good motivator of subordinates?
Good questions but they don’t matter. The standard wisdom on Clinton is that she is the most qualified candidate to run for the Presidency. Why? Not because she excelled at numerous jobs but because she held numerous high-level jobs. That she was a miserable failure, the embodiment of the Peter Principle, is orthogonal to the issue. As per elite culture, she ticked the correct boxes and so she fails upward.
“much institutional resistance there would be to a Trump attempt to turn a bureaucracy made up very disproportionately of Democrats against his enemies. A Clinton attempt, by contrast, would be as happily embraced as the Obama attempts have been.”)
There need to be PATCO level mass firings in most bureaucracies. Employment churn would probably be a good thing. We really need to disrupt Liberal Redoubts. Liberals infesting academia and the public sector corrupt both institutions. Recall the news from Canada about their Foreign Affairs civil servants corresponding with their American counterparts and trying to get the Americans to put pressure on Canada’s Conservative leadership to change a policy. No one was fired. I would have swept the entire bureaucracy out. Same thing with the IRS. Same with DOJ. Same with EPA. Departments and agencies captured by the Left, heck, they’re all captured. I hope Trump holds true to his statement that he will shut down Education, Energy and (?) – that would be a refreshing change.
Here, for example, is a long article with the title How President Donald Trump could ruin his enemies’ lives.
A wise man would object to abuse of power by his faction because he would recognize that his faction will not hold onto power forever and the abuse which is legitimized today will in the future be turned against one’s own faction. Seems that there are few wise men in the Democratic Party faction. Only now that Trump is on the threshold of winning do they become concerned about how he will abuse the power of the office. Too late, morons.
To a larger point, conservatives need to reorient our thinking. No more Marquis of Queensbury rules. The liberals play dirty and for keeps and ratchet up their gains, year after year. There is no upside to Trump, or any Republican, playing fair. This is a death match. Liberals need to feel pain and scream. Their gains need to be erased. Their movement needs to be pushed back. Play by their rules. Hey, that’s an Alinsky principle. There will be a strong desire to stop such hardball, punitive, behavior but I doubt that Liberals will reciprocate once they regain power.
To an even larger point, with government being so large in terms of power and riches, the stakes are very high for much power and largess can flow to particular factions once they get into control. Look at how the DOJ is funneling settlement money to favored Leftist groups, preparing such groups to be a form of government in waiting which provides sinecures for key political figures and operatives. The reason these groups are funded as generously as they are is because the power of government was bent in a direction to make this so.
This entire environment is corrupt. It needs to be burned to the ground and we need to salt the ground. The question is what to do about the people and culture who will simply plant their ways in whatever successor we develop.
“Donald Trump is the candidate of the mob, and the mob always ends up turning on the Jews.”
I no longer have any tolerance for these “professional Jews” which is quite a change for me. Be Americans. Period.
I believe that much of the willingness to support Clinton, even by people who are opposed to most of her policies and don’t much care for her record, is driven by matters of verbal style…that is, the fact that she talks in a way that American have grown accustomed to having their politicians talk.
Governor Palin. Very impressive record in Alaska. No one cared. Her accent, lack of elite credentials, and lack of elite accoutrements, set people off and amplified the damage of her flubs.
Heinz Guderian was a German general who played an important role in the development of Blitzkrieg tactics.
Minor trivia. The PC game “Hearts of Iron IV” can be an effective tool for personalizing all of the major generals of the major players in WWII. Kind of history by accretion. Learn something by reading the bio of each general, bit by bit.
Hillary Clinton has now said that 50% of Trump supporters can be put in what she calls the “basket of deplorables–Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”
That would be about 22% of all Americans that she puts in her “basket of deplorable”
PEOPLE ARE FOCUSING ON THE “BASKET OF DEPLORABLES” LINE — which is an awful line because it’s simultaneously memorable without being evocative — but the worst part of Hillary’s speech was where she called opponents “irredeemable” and “not America.” That’s pretty much eliminationist rhetoric, right there.
Hillary’s remarks dovetail nicely with Obama’s head of the Civil Rights Commission.
>”The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” Castro, a Democrat appointed by President Obama, said.
>He added: “Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others.”
Reward your friends and punish your enemies… which now apparently include a quarter of the population.
The price of ammunition is holding surprisingly steady. I urge everyone to salt away as much as they can.
There may be a market for Guillotines in a couple of years.
Although, I thought that the Russians would be hanging their rulers by now. Corruption poisons the soul, I guess.
“Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others.”
Think about his statement and now treat Leftism as a religion. Now what?
Basket of Deplorables.
Jeb! Bush – Tells the press that Mexicans are better people than Americans.
President of EU – Tells press that the problem is not with the elites, it is with the people.
Those guillotines are looking pretty good right about now. Elites need refocusing and there’s only one way to do that.
Leaving out Hillary is like all those people (including Obama repeatedly, lately in his new apology tour) who look at what America did during the Cold War and leave out the fact there was an enemy – an enemy who was infiltrating our State Department, sending its own citizens to the Gulag, etc. It became a habit, but it is an easy one to acquire. Who wants to think? We’d rather kvetch.
I happened on an introductory anthro lecture from one of the scholars across town – his argument, after noting the discrepancies in amounts of money per person in different continents – was that people thought capitalism was the only way. It wasn’t. Of course, he off handedly remarked, communism and fascism don’t work, but there are better ways – none of which he mentioned, let alone described or defended. I’m sure he was thinking of northern European choices, but obviously such comparisons also use narrowed arguments.
This narrowing of choices & straw men & smearing have long been popular and all the blather about teaching “critical thinking” in our schools seems to be opportunities to lead students to create these fallacies.
I’m always skeptical of post-war accounts of Hitler from Germans who had powerful reasons to turn him into a unique figure and themselves into the lone voice of reason in the third reich.
When it comes to charismatic leaders with no friends, Trump’s not the best analogy, the current president is.
As has been noted here before, these Trump=Hitler comparisons are pretty overt pleas for someone to please shoot this man.
Brian….I don’t think Guderian’s analysis of Hitler’s character makes him (Guderian) look better, I think it makes him look worse. If Guderian accurately perceived the true character of the man, that makes his willingness to put his talents at Hitler’s disposal all the more deplorable.
Isn’t it the workers vrs the smirkers? Did I pick that up here?
I see the Globalists and Financialists as the paymasters and the pols, bureaucrats, pundits, consultants, academics, activists as the servant class, paid to deceive and for whom glibness is a primary skill set. These people nominate and promote each other for awards to pad their resumes while they have round robins of self congratulations. They are not long on self awareness or humility. Reference Gruber and Rhodes.
I know I repeat myself, but my lot has been in Chicago since the 1850s. I was born knowing that government is a form of racketeering, albeit sanctioned and necessary. It always has been, from the time that the first prehistoric elders cajoled/coerced the first chumps to build the first stick stockade to keep the live stock in and the two legged and four legged predators out. Add graft, nepotism, protection rackets, featherbedding, extortion, and voila, you have Chicago, but, of course corruption is not at all unique to Chicago; it’s part of the human condition. By my reckoning, until recently in the US, we managed to keep corruption down to a dull roar, at least enough so as to not crush the commercial private sector, which depends, on stable currency and enforcement of contracts, a somewhat level playing field, some agreement on standards and measurements, financial infrastructure, and some relief from the significant criminal class ……. I recall the names and faces of the Chicago pols of my childhood, and though they were cynical, sneaky and greedy, they were not nearly as perverse, malignant or stupid, as today’s coiffed, and credentialed suits. They mostly knew better than to kill the golden goose, or eat the seed corn, or kr@p in their own nest; survival imperatives, No? Certainly, they weren’t taken in by silly, fantastical, utopianist malarkey, like running a complex economy on unicorn farts; though they might use it to con the saps. If yez vote for the machine, yez deserve to be screwed, cuz yous is a chump, and dats what chumps is for.
The evil invalid is running on a fine old American premise: she should be President because her husband once was. True, it’s a South American premise, but what are you, a racist or something?
By my reckoning, until recently in the US, we managed to keep corruption down to a dull roar,
I don’t think that was it. Government was just not big enough or powerful enough to kill off the private sector. Even the Soviet Union was being fed by the small private plots they eventually allowed peasants to farm.
We see something similar with fracking, that has ended our dependence on Muslim oil in spite of Obama and the left’s attempts to kill it off.
Congress, corrupt as it is, has been subject to local influence and elections although the “Donor Class” has had too much power on social issues.
Obama is now, with weak resistance from Congress, ruling by decree.
“But the actual mob behavior over the last decade and a half, including especially mob behavior targeted at Israel and in Jews in general, has been largely driven by the ‘progressive’ Left.”
And although David Foster’s focus is on recent events, such this has been true for far more than a decade and a half. And all that time the supposedly peaceful and tolerant liberals have ignored this–when they weren’t making excuses.
Pst314…it has indeed been true for longer, but I believe that thuggish Leftist activity took a big upswing after 9/11.
The ‘progressives’ were absolutely terrified of a possible outbreak of terrorism among Americans.
David Foster: Partly agreed:
1. The election of Obmama, with his numerous associations with radical leftists and even terrorists, and his violent rhetoric, emboldened them.
2. The left was not so much terrified of right-wing terrorism as of any sort of resistance to the left’s very definitely tyrannical intentions.
“2. The left was not so much terrified of right-wing terrorism as of any sort of resistance to the left’s very definitely tyrannical intentions.”
Depends on who among the left. I think there are quite a few of them who actually believe that the worst threat to America is pickup-truck driving redneck Christians (southern, rural Christians) becoming so enraged that they being to slaughter gays, feminists, atheists, Muslims, and college professors.
“Although, I thought that the Russians would be hanging their rulers by now.”
Why would you hang the people who brought you out from under the crushing defeat of communism? The people, well man mostly, who gave you back your pride. No, about 80% will follow him, and his government happily. I can’t think of any country with a more onside population.
Great post, David.
“Why would you hang the people who brought you out from under the crushing defeat of communism? ”
Many of the present rulers are also members of that “crushing defeat of communism.”
I was referring to the previous regime, though.
She is not well — not at all. Interesting how this all blew up today. Even some of my otherwise neutral Book of Face friends are taking note. This thing today is not something that the Clinton-adoring press coterie can ignore.
Clinton-adoring press coterie can ignore.
If not for the cell-phone video of a bystander, the Clinton adoring press would not have covered this and would have white washed it away.
“the cell-phone video of a bystander”
If I were that guy, I would be very careful crossing streets.
If not for the cell-phone video of a bystander, the Clinton adoring press would not have covered this and would have white washed it away.
If I were that guy, I would be very careful crossing streets.
I am reminded of a recent incident in Venezuela, which also featured citizen dissemination of news that some would prefer to not be spread. Several days after the September 1 oppo march in Caracas, President Maduro went to Margarita Island. After performing some ceremonial duties, he went out on the streets, and got surprised by a pot-banging protest. Francisco Toro, chief blogger for Caracas Chronicles, wrote about the incident in The Atlantic. An excerpt follows.The Beginning of the End for Maduro?How protesters banging kitchenware marked a turning point for a country in chaos.
Goverment operatives confiscated cell phones in an attempt to prevent news spreading of the incident, but to no avail. They later arrested a journalist who wrote about the incident on trumped-up charges of money laundering.
Maduro may be looking at a Ceausescu moment one of these days.
I’ve meet several Russian ex-pats in my travels outside the US and they all gave Putin the thumbs up. They see him as having a big improvement in social order after the chaos of the Yeltsin years and having given the country its pride again.
Looking from the outside, we may think his metrics aren’t so hot but pride in one’s country counts for a lot. Look how much it is sliding under Obama for Americans.
That image of the Ceausescu’s last stand is quite popular these days, I’ve seen it around the net a good bit. Maduro being rather low on the list of “leaders” it associated with, though. The guillotine, the noose and ol’ sparky, once again part of the lexicon.
People who compare Trump to Hitler tell us a lot about themselves (specifically, that they are deranged on the subject of Trump) and not a whit about Trump or Hitler.
I forget where I read it, but a few months ago when people were comparing Trump to Mussolini, someone observed how that is all wrong (which it is), but if you want to go with Italian comparisons, you could make a case that Trump is a lot like Silvio Berlusconi.
They went on that, sticking with Italian models, the Clintons are the Sicilian mafia.
Those comparisons are a lot more apt.
Maduro may be looking at a Ceausescu moment one of these days.
There are several differences between Maduro and Ceausescu. Ceausescu was All Powerful Fearless Leader, while Maduro is a stooge. Support for Chavismo is wider and deeper than support for Ceausescu was.
There are a lot of upper echelon Chavistas who know that if there is a regime change, they will be jailed or hung, due to the countless billions they have stolen. This realization prompts the upper echelon of Chavismo to support Maduro. As Benjamin Franklin once said, if they don’t hang together, they will hang separately. Whereas the upper echelon of Ceausescu’s regime was supporting All Powerful Fearless Leader out of fear of what would happen to them it they didn’t support him. When the speech showed that the masses no longer feared All Powerful Fearless Leader, the upper echelon had no reason to continue supporting him. The shouts of dissent at the speech showed that All Powerful Fearless Leader had lost his power.
The Tree of Liberty is not just thirsty, it is parched, it is crying tears of blood, its leaves have long turned brown and its trunk withered. But what of it? It is just a tree written about by ‘old white men’, it is not? So what relevance does it have in our enlightened age?
We have oft asked the question why so many good German served Hitler and the Nazi’s without rebellion… do we now not see the answer? That the tool of political correctness is more powerful a sword than any other? It is what keeps us all as bricks in the wall of Babel, it is the “sweet words on the tongue, like honey, that grow bitter in the belly”, it watches us and maintains our souls in proper fear of ‘society’. Who is this person Society? I’ve never met him, or her, but he/she/it is very effective in controlling minds through the power of emotions.
The Hive Mind is growing, the only way to stop it is to kill the queen.
My sister and I have split over this, she “doesn’t like the way HE talks”, so after being a life long Republican, she is now a Hillary ‘independent’. “Jeezus girl, have you lost your mind? Do you actually WANT a civil war or a war with Russia?” “Well its better than having to see that hair on TV every day.”
My only response “That is exactly why women were never allowed to vote.”
Enlightenment, ain’t it wonderful?
The Stars and bars baby.
September 10th, 2016 at 11:40 pm,
Well yes. Russia/Soviet was sending Americans to the gulag. But these days America has a bigger prison system (actual numbers and per capita) than the Soviets ever did. Things began picking up steam around 1972.
Land of the Free? Really?
I think both Hillary and Obama have PTSD. As did Hitler.
Uncontrollable Fits Of Anger
September 12th, 2016 at 10:39 am
If you consider Trump’s current wife you are spot on with the Berlusconi comparison.
September 10th, 2016 at 8:27 pm
This entire environment is corrupt.
Funny enough the right fails to notice the Big Drug Companies backing for Drug Prohibition and their reasons for it.
A medicinal plant is a threat to their profits.
Comments are closed.