Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pissing On Hitler

I was going to title this post, "Hitler Had A Buddha Nature," which is of course quite true, but this post is not about Hitler. This post is about the singularly media enabled, psycho-technologically supported culture of hatred we have been creating for the past few generations.

It is a political characteristic of human beings -- and most particularly those human beings who seek to have power or control over other human beings --  to create, dehumanize, and demonize figurehead enemies. 

As an example, the Office of Strategic Services once paid a psychoanalyst -- it was Walter Langer -- to do a remote personality assessment of Adolph Hitler, and conclude, for historical consumption,  that  Hitler's sexual preferences included what are euphemistically known as "golden showers." According to Langer, Eva Braun's exclusive role in Hitler's life was to pee on him. Whether she did or not is immaterial. Obviously, the relationship between Hitler and Eva Braun had at least some bourgeois elements: they chose to marry before committing double-suicide. 

These were human beings, but OSS had a brief to diminish them in the minds of the German people.

This is in fact a very process of statecraft: we create national enemies, making them the locus of all our energy and effort, the over-arching excuse for every national excursion and adventure. This has been going on for centuries -- the ancient Romans used it to crank up excuses for hegemony -- it has been going on for the whole of modern history, and it is going on right now, so I don't think anybody finds this a particularly novel or unfamiliar notion. 

Indeed, hatred of a commonly acknowledged enemy is a way we reaffirm our hive mind. Do you hate Hitler? Good! You're decently one of us! You don't hate Hitler? Something wrong with you? You want an ass-kicking, or what? There is a social penalty for not hating, you see?

What makes our historically recent episodes interesting is the role, beginning with the World War of 1939 - 1945, of state-managed mass communication. Our grasp of mass communication, and strategic influence -- I think they might call that "public diplomacy" these days -- has greatly enhanced our ability to crank up and vilify enemies on a scale that would make ancient emperors drool with envy.

What used to be called psychological operations have become so deeply informed by the masses of behavioral data now available that tactical persuasion of target populations is downright easy: a mere technical exercise in selective use of media organs and subliminal triggers. If you want an example, order up the lightly fictionalized motion picture Wag the Dog from Netflix, and give yourself a crash course in how it really, really is.

It is my thesis that America teaches its citizens to hate on command. Further, that we have so confused ourselves, we mistake our hatred for nobility. What a terrible weakness! I wish I did not feel this way. I wish I could feel that America teaches its citizens to love. What a wonderful strength!

Or, what is so much better -- reach a point beyond love, hate, confusion, control, and the figurehead enemy that renders one impervious to the seductions of dualistic thinking. Just toss notions of weakness and strength right out the window.

Cults also use the figurehead enemy as a means of inducing self-sustaining group loyalty. In this corner, we have Fearless Light Leader. In the opposing corner, we have Hated Dark Enemy. Throw the rule book out the window: we're on a Divine Mission. Look how heroically Fearless Leader struggles to overcome Dark Enemy! An inspiration to us all!

So, if today, you have the chance to take candid inventory, how many figurehead enemies will you find? Well, there are the overt, national enemies: Bin Laden jumps to mind. Then, there are the covert, class enemies: Big Oil, this or that political party, and whatever. These are followed by the infidels: all those who don't believe as we believe. Close on the heels of the infidels are people we don't know but just don't like because we're not supposed to like them. Bringing up the rear are personal enemies: people we do know, and hate for a wide variety of general and specific reasons.

You know, in Buddhism, we are taught to line up all our friends and beloved relatives on one side underneath the refuge tree, and then all our enemies under the other side of the refuge tree. We sort of equalize the whole matter in one fell swoop, by taking everyone along with us to refuge in the Triple Gem. 

In some nominally Buddhist cults now operative in America, the teaching is a little different. Adherents are taught to go on Twitter and mercilessly attack cult enemies morning, noon, and night, ridiculing their deceased parents and so forth, making up all sorts of nonsense. If they don't have any enemies, they just craft them up, and proceed to argue with themselves.

Naturally, to enforce all of this hatred takes a great deal of energy and deception. But, why bother to deconstruct what we already understand? To point at the deceiving haters is one thing -- tantamount to being a deceiving hater one's own self -- but to recognize the root of a general process that is taking place in every corner of our lives is quite another.

By dividing the world into "them" and "us," we are setting the stage that allows us to be manipulated. It is no use whatsoever to blame Fearless Leader for any of this, when we, ourselves, are directly responsible. Pissing on Hitler is just a symptom: a sneeze of the cold. 

Pissing on Hitler is not the underlying cause of anything save more pissing and more Hitlers in the bewildered prison of Castle Samsara.

I wish we could begin to eradicate the deeply rooted culture of hatred in this country, and replace it with something a bit more kind. But, I am not naive enough to think that change will come in result of philosophical paradigm, or social movement.

That change will come one at a time, when we finally tire ourselves sufficiently enough to pause, and see the real enemy: the false friend who has lied to us for so long.

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7 reader comments:

Anonymous said...

- over simplification -

A very respected Lama, one of the closest to HH Dalai Lama until his recent death, once affirmed very clearly to me personally that the United States should have responded to HH Dalai Lama's request for help prior to the Chinese invasion and militarily defended Tibet and never let the Chinese invade at all.

This failure to act was a great sin and great point of karmic downfall. Point being that passivity and "non dual" thinking is not always proper in Samsara.

Furthermore, examples exist in the Buddha's teachings of his use of force to help others (greatest good for greatest number, etc.). One of his past lives I believe is where he killed a man to save 500 more on a ship (I do not recall the details of the sutra).

With the right motivation, as HH Dalai Lama states frequently in various public teachings, even allegedly violent looking actions can be the highest bodhicitta for the greatest good.

And, apparently peaceful looking actions can be horrid sentimental frosting over sins and delusions...

What is more disturbing at times is the demand in many Western Buddhist communities to "group think" politically especially and hate various political leaders and groups - usually "right" wing, etc. without really caring about the truth.

Hate no one, yes, but still defend what is right clearly and strongly and with great wisdom and compassion. This includes the use of the military at times! Its not simple.

And, at the same time pray and send blessings to the wrong doers, the deluded followers of false barbaric primitive teachings, etc. and include them in the refuge tree.

Padma Kadag said...

I see anonymous's point. But I am less than in agreement. HHDL was not only Chenrezig during the invasion; he was also responsible for ordinary lives of flesh and blood. His example being unsurpassable in this day and age will never be seen again. I am for finding Bin Laden and and cutting the head off of the serpent to stop his own self delusion...but would never make war against an entire nation or it's army. Are we not Buddhists? ...Mara is Mara no matter who the watcher is.

Anonymous said...

One more point...not necessarily directed at the present company...but in the short time I have received teachings...there is a high probablity that any Lama is misquoted by disciples and the public. I have seen it. Meaning is lost or misunderstood. Or simply it was meant for that one student to hear. This is in reference to quoting the Dalai Lama or any lama.

Richard (Yeshe) said...

I applaud your courage in writing this because it is very definitely something that needed to be said and something we all need to think about. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

i don`t like how hitler`s pic is above Guru Rinpoche. i am not good at seeing things nondualistically...yet.

J.Crow said...

from Leonard Peltier_Don't forget, not ever
http://derekmarkham.com/statement-from-leonard-peltier-dont-forget-no
snip:
This is a story that goes all the way back to the day a
misguided fool, whose name I won't even mention, led his troops in
an attack on innocent people at the Greasy Grass, and in the process
got himself and over two hundred of his troopers killed. And while
the victors on that day had no choice but to defend themselves,
we have been the victims of a genocidal revenge that continues
until this very moment. So don't forget. Not ever.

It is vengeance that preoccupies the mind of the colonizer. It
is this fervor to show us who is boss that led to the massacre
at Wounded Knee, the theft of the Black Hills, the establishment
of boarding schools, and the criminalization of our languages
and traditional ways. It is vengeance that armed the GOON squads,
killed our leaders, and surrounded our people at Wounded Knee again
in 1973. Revenge is why they today prosecute Indian people for the
crimes they know the government committed during their murderous
campaigns of the last generation. Vengeance is what killed Joe
Stuntz, Anna Mae Aquash, Buddy Lamont and so many others. Getting
even is what keeps me in prison. So don't forget. Not ever.

Learner said...

A petra, a rudra. Isn't that what individuals like Hitler are refered to as? Just written off as something else.