Subject: Re: Societal differences and rudeness calibration
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/09/29
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Erann Gat
| Here is the exchange that started it all:
| Erik:
| > but I gotta give Bill Gates this: not since Joseph Göbbels has
| > any one man been able to lead so many people right into such a
| > disastrous future.
| Me:
| > Your continued comparison of Microsoft to the Nazis diminishes the
| > horror of the Holocaust, and I find it quite offensive.  Unethical
| > business practices, no matter how egregious, do not deserve to be
| > compared to even a single murder, let alone millions upon millions.
| Any sane person competent in English can see that I did not accuse Erik
| of anything more serious than making an unwarranted comparison.  In all
| our subsequent discussions I never accused Erik of anything except being
| insensitive, hypocritical, and rude.  I stand by those accusations.

  for some reason, my news server doesn't have this article, anymore, so
  I'm following up to Lars Lundback's quotes from it.  (thanks, Lars.)

  Erann and I have been exchanging some e-mail privately, and it has
  suddenly dawned on me why he keeps saying that I introduced the Holocaust
  into this debate: he believes that Joseph Goebbels' propaganda had the
  Jews as their _audience_.  that is to say, it should be fairly obvious
  from reading what I wrote that I was talking about the German people, for
  which Joseph Goebbels produced propaganda films and other materials that
  subtly and very effectively made them accept the political stance of the
  Nazis to exterminate Jews and gays and the handicapped.  the disastrous
  future that Joseph Goebbels led the _Germans_ into was prolonging the war
  at least a year beyond the natural point of defeat, at enormous loss to
  those who believed the propaganda for many hard years to come, and
  _that's_ my comparison: the believers in propaganda are made to pay.

  however, I'm constantly amazed by how some Jews fail to grasp the losses
  and suffering that were inflicted upon other people during that war.  an
  enormous number of Russian soldiers died under horrible conditions.  an
  incredible wound was inflicted on Germany.  the whole German psyche has
  suffered 50 years of gnawing guilt for the fact that their people could
  _do_ something like that.  people who have been abused and who have been
  made to believe that they accepted it and is therefore to blame have the
  kind of individual problems that the whole German culture is oozing with.
  this happened, not because Germans are despicable, loathsome people, but
  because Joseph Goebbels was the greatest mass marketing genius the world
  has probably ever seen.  he sold ideas through entertainment!  it's so
  simple, yet so _deviously_ deceptive.  he formed people's opinions by
  giving them _his_ words to express them and _his_ imagery, and he made
  all the care in the world that he did not _push_ opinions on anyone.  you
  should be _enjoying_ his productions and think as little as possible, it
  should be _relief_ above all to watch the movies, and they you absorbed
  the ideas effortlessly because they were only a tad more specific than
  what you had in mind yourself.  you can all imagine how truly effective
  this is, and how guilty someone who has been tricked by it will feel.  a
  lot of people will do _anything_ to keep from realizing they have been
  duped, and that's the beauty of good propaganda: if you're smart enough
  to figure out that you've been had, something goes on within people that
  makes them work _for_ the propaganda machine, as if to make what it says
  true.  for whatever we ought to hate Goebbels, he really understood what
  makes the human mind tick when in large masses.

  meanwhile, in comp.lang.lisp, Erann Gat has consistently written about
  what I have been saying in the same kind of just-a-little-worse words
  than I have used, and you'd have to be _unconscious_ not to notice the
  effect over time, but that's just what people are.  that's what search
  engines are, too.  by setting up his own propaganda machine, he proved
  not only to object only to Goebbels in _name_, because he adopted his
  theories with a passion.  that's what I have been trying to stop: we
  should learn from Goebbels precisely because we should remember what it
  led to.  instead, we ignore the lessons because they came with a lot of
  pain, and then we set ourselves up to be hurt again.  I've said this
  before, too.  it annoys me to repeat it.

  obviously, and I mean this is _really_ obvious, Bill Gates doesn't hurt
  the people who don't believe him much -- it's the fools who do that are
  going to pay, and pay so much I predict a _very_ significant crash in
  technology stocks.  (now, I'm not Ballmer, so you won't see Dow Jones or
  NASDAQ take a dip today or tomorrow...)  it is also bloody obvious that
  Bill Gates is not favoring _killing_ any particular group of people,
  unless you take his pathological competitiveness and predatory behavior
  to be a dire threat to decent businessmen and smart people everywhere,
  but I don't see him as favoring such things _literally_.

  that Erann Gat responded as if the Jews were under attack again may very
  well be due to his personal cultural background (he mentioned that he's
  from Israel and few non-Jews are, so I'm guessing here), but I've worked
  with Jews who have not been on this 50-year-long victim trip, and I have
  worked with Jews who have been, but the latter appear few, although very
  vocal, like Erann Gat has been here.  only the latter see the Holocaust
  wherever it might be possible to introduce it.  I must say that I have
  about as much respect for people who conjure up ghosts like that as I
  have for people who can't get over being defeated at a battlefield 700
  years ago, which is apparently what ignited the masses on the Balkans,
  and I don't even consider people who at least appear to be smart to
  suffer from such debilitating delusions.  therefore, I didn't even cross
  my mind that anyone could read what I wrote to be about the "disastrous
  future" of the _Jews_.  (but _what_ future?  the Jews were robbed of both
  past and future, damnit!  Germany was left with their new legacy.)

  now that I have been the subject of so much fucking insane abuse from a
  whole bunch of deranged lunatics, I'm going to ask Erann Gat to speak up
  and state his assumptions (ever noticed how I keep carping on this? can
  you _finally_ guess why it's so important?): Joseph Goebbels' audience,
  which is what I was talking about, just like I wast talking about Bill
  Gates's audience, were the Jews, and that the disastrous future was that
  of the Jews.  then I can say: NO, Erann, the Jews were never the intended
  audience of Joseph Goebbels' propaganda.  Joseph Goebbels manipulated the
  _German_ people, so that the other Nazi leaders and Hitler in particular,
  could kill their enemies.  I don't expect anyone to believe me after
  Erann Gat's despicable smear campaign to have his assumptions turned into
  my intention (propaganda indeed!), but if he expects to set the record
  straight, let it be straight:

  Joseph Goebbels were _not_ concerned with propaganda towards the Jews.
  this is an historical fact.  Joseph Goebbels himself kept all explicit
  references to the Jews out of his material and his films, much unlike
  Hitler's shots at propaganda, where he explicitly likened Jews to rats,
  which Joseph Goebbels found utterly disgusting and counter-productive,
  which it turned out to be, so he was left alone.  I have studied the man
  (the first modern mass marketing and propaganda genius deserves a serious
  study, if for no other purpose than to avoid the third, now that Bill
  Gates is the second), and I have been much influenced by Noam Chomsky's
  works on necessary illusions and manufactured consent during my study.
  what I found was that (1) a whole bunch of nutcases thought that only
  neo-Nazis could be interested in Joseph Goebbels' works and movies, and
  (2) the vast majority of the people who are opposed to what he did, buy
  the same dirty propaganda from today's politicians and mass marketing
  people for the simple reason that they don't know what Goebbels _did_:
  only that he was an evil man that nobody should touch.  we're letting
  history repeat itsel because we shut our eyes to the past, instead of the
  only possible thing we can do with it: learn from the past through study
  and eternal vigilance against the warning signs of cultures that are
  likely to be influenced by the same kind of propaganda machinery that
  once killed many millions of people (and far from Jews, only).

  Germans, destitute and starving, flocked to the theaters to see Joseph
  Goebbels' last movie, an incredibly extravagant movie with so many
  effects and soldiers and horses that he had to convince Hitler to let him
  use the equipment and people intended for battle at the front to finish
  it.  on screen, Germany was still a great power (although this, too, was
  an historic movie, where the great military leader was made analogous to
  Hitler in very many subtle ways), and if they could make this movie, of
  course the off-screen suffering was only temporary and was only caused by
  the enemies and it could be blamed on the Jews.  soon they would win and
  regain their glory.  it's a great movie by all standards, but its history
  is grim indeed: because of the soldiers taken out of active duty to ride
  and fight before camera, thousands of their comrades died needlessly, and
  many civilian lives were lost.  because of Goebbels' insistence that this
  movie run everywhere, a huge proportion of the country's last breath went
  into chearing in a movie theater, only to hold the inevitable off for a
  few months.  his brilliant propaganda led the German people to accept the
  ongoing atrocities, not the least those sent to the battlegrounds.  I'm
  not exonerating him for anything: he knew what he was doing, and there
  can be no excuse for it, which he knew, too: he poisoned his children and
  committed suicide after killing his wife when he knew that Germany could
  never win this war.

  such, however, is the end result of successful propaganda: destruction
  from within, and a very prolonged destruction at that.  Bill Gates is
  setting us up for the same kind of self-destruction: the more people
  believe his propaganda and the more people continue to buy his products
  and maintaining the beliefs he wants us all to have, but which he himself
  doesn't have at all, the longer he stays in power, and the longer it
  takes to bring that evil man down, the harder society will be hit.  and
  who knows what he'll take down with him.

  no, Erann Gat, I wasn't talking about the Holocaust.  your willingness to
  ignore the disastrous future of the _German_ people made you obvivious to
  their fate and suffering.  that's what I was talking about, and that's
  why I vociferously rejected your idiotic claim that I had brought up the
  Holocaust.  you did, Erann Gat, and you're fully responsible for what you
  did.  at this point, I will not concede that a rational man would have
  thought I had meant the Jews if you had not brought it up.  that's why it
  was important to stop you: because the more you brought this up, the more
  work I would need to dispell the notion that I was indeed comparing Bill
  Gates to the Nazi atrocities, when I was comparing Bill Gates' propaganda
  machinery with Joseph Goebbels' propaganda machinery.

  yet, let me repeat this: the similarities are so frightening if you care
  to look at what means these two evil men employ to reach their goals when
  they stare defeat in the eye (and from what we know of Bill Gates, he has
  always believed he would be found out and brought down at any time),
  which is why he's staging his own mythological figure as a visionary (in
  reality, he's quite dense -- just read his The Road Ahead, if you're not
  crying, you should be laughing at this nincompoop with so much money),
  and which worked pretty well for a while when he invited all sorts of
  disgusting suck-ups and other journalists to make him so great.  Bill
  Gates is his own Joseph Goebbels the way he's doing exactly the same
  thing Goebbels did for _his_ "great leader".

  if you still think I'm comparing Bill Gates to Hitler or talk about the
  Holocaust in any capacity, let me know, because I have compared him to
  Joseph Goebbels, which I repeat was the first modern mass marketing
  genius and the father of modern propaganda: he manipulated and duped the
  German population in ways frighteningly similar to the way Bill Gates
  dupes and manipulates the American population.  this has nothing at all
  to do with the Holocaust -- I'm frankly much more interested in how the
  propaganda destroyed the lives of those who were its _audience_, because
  Gates will lead his devout believers to the brink of disaster, if not
  beyond, just like Goebbels did with those who believed him.  Bill Gates
  will probably hurt a lot of innocent people, too, in the last stages of
  _his_ crumbling empire.  I'll just say it with a tip of the hat and an
  apology to Woody Allen: "I'm not afraid of to see Bill Gates die, I just
  don't want to be there when it happens."