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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

November, 2004

 

Goering's Law
By Jim Scanlon

   In "Mystery in the Heartland" in  the October 7, 2004 edition of The New York Review of Books, Jason Epstein, the founder of the NY Review, quotes the German World War I war hero, and World War II war criminal Hermann Goering as follows:
   "... People don't want to go to war ... But, after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same in any country. "
   Epstein notes that the process in our country is called "wagging the dog" and that "Americans ... in the heartland and elsewhere can usually be relied upon to submit to Goering's Law most of the times like the present of cultural transformation, anomie and fear."
   Epstein is to be thanked and applauded for formulating "Goering's Law" and thus avoiding an illogical metaphor deriving from  the proverbial "tail wagging the dog", clichˇ that has things backwards as in "having the cart before the horse".
   Furthermore the canine metaphor implies the lesser part influencing the greater. Since all governments are expected to direct and lead their citizens, the smaller should actually lead the greater. The tail wagging things confuses and obscures the basic issue of truth or falsehood.
   Goering's Law illustrates clearly the deception, the deliberate sustained deception involved.
   Goering as head of the German Luftwaffe in the beginning of the war was believed to have  said, "If an English bomb should ever fall on Berlin, my name is not Goering." Later in the war, when entering an air raid shelter filled with ordinary Germans, Goering, easily recognized by his huge bulk, took off his hat and said graciously, "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my name is Meyer" He later killed himself in prison at Nuremberg.


 

 

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