Dystopian Visions: Orwell vs. Huxley?

Aldous Huxley and George Orwell were two of the great prognosticators of the last century. Both men feared dystopian tyranny, albeit via different methods. At this point in history, who looks more correct?

In Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World, citizens are controlled by placating them. In Orwell’s 1984, the government controls citizens via constant oppression and mass surveillance. Both dystopian visions are fearful and ring true in today’s world although I’d give the slight edge to Huxley. Here’s a good summary on the competing dystopian visions from Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared we would become a captive audience. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

(Read the rest via Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)

The Threat of Happiness Research?

Two days ago, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) relaunched its “Better Life Index.” According to it, women are generally happier than men and Australia is the happiest country (assuming all categories are equally-weighted). But does happiness research pose a threat to society?

What is Happiness Research?

Happiness research has exploded over the last few decades. The idea is to quantitatively measure happiness as well as what makes people happy. This allows for all sorts of comparisons between groups as well as nations.

Happiness research tends to treat individuals with a broad brush. But happiness is entirely subjective. Different people have different preferences. Some people value money derived from work more than leisure time and vice versa. The Better Life Index attempts to deal with this fact. It allows users to personalize their indexes based on how much they value eleven separate categories: community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, housing, income, jobs, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance. So, this would appear to be a marked improvement.

Cardinal Utility – The Fatal Flaw of Happiness Research?

Unfortunately, the Better Life Index doesn’t deal with the underlying problem. Happiness research depends on something known as cardinal utility. Cardinal utility holds that personal preferences can be accurately measured by a third-party. However, cardinal utility is an outdated view. No one believes it…no one except happiness researchers that is.

Take the Better Life Index. It asks people to self-report how much they value various categories. However, a stated preference don’t necessarily equal a demonstrated preference. What’s the difference? A stated preference is saying you’d take a pay cut to have more leisure time. A demonstrated preference is actually following through on it.

“The concept of demonstrated preference is simply this: that actual choice reveals, or demonstrates, a man’s preferences; that is, that his preferences are deducible from what he has chosen in action. Thus, if a man chooses to spend an hour at a concert rather than a movie, we deduce that the former was preferred, or ranked higher on his value scale.” ~ Murray Rothbard, Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics

Actions speak louder – much louder – than words. There are several ways stated preferences can mess up happiness research. First, people alter their preferences all the time. So, even if a person creates an “accurate” Better Life Index, he might change his mind when it comes time to make an actual choice. Second, a person might think they prefer doing one thing. But when presented with a choice, that same person might do something else entirely.

“In vacuo, a few consumers are questioned at length on which abstract bundle of commodities they would prefer to another abstract bundle, and so on. Not only does this suffer from the constancy error, no assurance can be attached to the mere questioning of people when they are not confronted with the choices in actual practice. Not only will a person’s valuation differ when talking about them from when he is actually choosing, but there is also no guarantee that he is telling the truth.” ~ Murray Rothbard, Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, maybe happiness research isn’t all that accurate. So what? It’s just for fun right? Well, maybe not. It might seem innocuous, but there’s a dark side to it. Politicians and bureaucrats from around the world are taking a page out of Jeremy Bentham’s book and claiming public policy can be used to engineer societal happiness.

“The most commonly cited statistic in happiness economics is the rule that somewhere between $40,000 and $110,000, a higher salary doesn’t buy much more joy or satisfaction. Many people draw the bright white line at $70,000. This provides a strong utilitarian impulse to raise taxes on the rich, who apparently can’t buy much happiness with their extra millions, and to funnel the money to the poor to bring them closer to $70,000. … But one reason why incomes differ is that some people care more about making money than others.” ~ Derek Thompson, The New Economics of Happiness

We barely understand happiness. And we certainly can’t measure it with any type of accuracy. So, the idea that politicians and bureaucrats can engineer it is an illusion. But that won’t stop them from trying. In the end, the research that is supposed to be improving lives might just end up ruining them.

“Apologists for Marxism have made myriad excuses for their ideology’s failure to provide the same standard of living and liberty as was enjoyed in capitalist nations. Until recently, few have been so brazen as to claim that lowering living standards and curtailing freedom were the intended consequences, let alone that people would be happier with less of either. … Limiting choice, reducing wealth and lowering aspirations are now openly advocated as desirable ends in themselves.” ~ Christopher Snowdon, The Spirit Level Delusion: Fact-Checking the Left’s New Theory of Everything

For Further Reading: The Trojan Horse of Happiness Research by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

The Anti-Conspiracy Conspiracy Theory

The Internet has given a voice to millions of people, allowing for a Golden Age of information that is unprecedented in history. But not everyone likes an unregulated marketplace of ideas. Is there a conspiracy to control the Internet and thus, rid the world of conspiracy theories?

The Conspiracy to Control the Internet?

The answer, at least in certain quarters, is yes. For several years now, various high-profile academics, government employees, and reporters have called for the U.S. government to control the Internet by regulating or assuming control over its information. But how does one control the Internet? Some people call for indirect measures. For example, Cass Sunstein, the current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, once recommended that government agents go undercover on the Internet and raise doubts about conspiracy theories and the like.

Some individuals call for more direct measures to control the Internet. The other day, Evgeny Morozov published an article on Slate complaining about sites that “undermine scientific consensus, overturn well-established facts, and promote conspiracy theories.” He wants browsers to mark “disputed information” in red (danger alert!). He also suggests Google manipulate search results so people won’t be able to find “sites run by pseudoscientists and conspiracy theorists.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis


Whenever someone wants to limit your options on what to think, look out. At the core of Morozov’s paranoia is the collectivist idea that individuals are incapable of thinking for themselves since they might arrive at so-called wrong conclusions. Thus, we need a guiding hand (presumably, belonging to the government) to help us sort out right from wrong. And to do that, government must control the Internet.

Of course it’s all bunk. Sometimes consensus science gets overturned, well-established facts get called into question, and conspiracy theories are shown to be true. That’s the brilliance of the Internet. It’s the greatest marketplace of ideas ever invented. We would be wise to keep it free.

You can read Morozov’s bizarre thoughts on government’s so-called responsibility to control the Internet here:

[The Internet] has been tremendously useful, giving us Wikipedia and Twitter. But it has also spawned thousands of sites that undermine scientific consensus, overturn well-established facts, and promote conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, the move toward social search may further insulate regular visitors to such sites; discovering even more links found by their equally paranoid friends will hardly enlighten them. Is it time for some kind of a quality control system?

People who deny global warming, oppose the Darwinian account of evolution, refuse to see the causal link between HIV and AIDS, and think that 9/11 was an inside job have put the Internet to great use. Initially, the Internet helped them find and recruit like-minded individuals and promote events and petitions favorable to their causes. However, as so much of our public life has shifted online, they have branched out into manipulating search engines, editing Wikipedia entries, harassing scientists who oppose whatever pet theory they happen to believe in, and amassing digitized scraps of “evidence” that they proudly present to potential recruits…

(See more on government’s so-called responsibility to control the Internet here)

Thomas Jefferson’s Secret Bible?

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson put the finishing touches on a strange modified Bible entitled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. The work, which took him over a decade to complete, was not published until 1895, 69 years after Jefferson’s death. What was the purpose of the Jefferson Bible?

Thomas Jefferson & the Jefferson Bible?

Thomas Jefferson was a great admirer of the “Christian System.” However, although he had tremendous appreciation for Jesus’ moral philosophy, he had little patience for stories about miracles, the virgin birth, or the resurrection. So, using a razor, he cut out selected sections of the books of Matthew, Mark Luke, and John. Then he arranged them in chronological order and pasted them to sheets of paper. By the end, he had created his own unique and private account of the life of Jesus Christ, sans supernatural elements.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Afraid of what other people might think, Jefferson never published the book and in fact, only mentioned it to a few people. It was finally brought to market in 1895 and then again by order of Congress in 1904. For many years afterward, “it was presented to all newly elected members of that body.” Jefferson’s secret Bible is not well known today. However, it would appear that his desire to craft his own unique faith informed his views on why religion needs to be protected from intrusion by the state.

“…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1802

Here’s more on the Jefferson Bible from Mitch Horowitz at CNN:

Imagine the following scenario: A U.S. president is discovered to be spending his spare time taking a razor to the New Testament, cutting up and re-pasting those passages of the Gospels that he considered authentic and morally true and discarding all the rest.

Gone are the virgin birth, divine healings, exorcisms and the resurrection of the dead, all of which the chief executive dismissed as “superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.”

Such an episode occurred, although the revised version of Scripture remained unseen for nearly seven decades after its abridger’s death. Thomas Jefferson intended it that way…

(See the rest on the Jefferson Bible at CNN)

Egyptian Heritage Under Attack?

On Sunday, a fiery inferno claimed Egyptian maps and historical manuscripts, some of which were over 200 years old. Is Egypt’s heritage under attack? How can ancient books be protected?

Ancient Books: How can Scholars Protect Egyptian Heritage?

The Cairo-based fire was seemingly part of the anti-government protests which currently engulf the nation. And now, there is some talk of “foreign entities” (most likely UNESCO) taking sovereignty over historic Egyptian sites for preservation purposes. Fortunately, much of these ancient books and other works had been digitized. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I support the digitization of ancient books and rare historical documents such as Sir Isaac Newton’s papers. Eventually, all ancient books, maps, and other documents will succumb to the ravages of time and violence. A digital copy might not be as good as the real item…but it’s the next best thing and it can be stored in many places. Anyway, here’s more on the story from the Guardian:

Volunteers in white lab coats, surgical gloves and masks stood on the back of a pickup truck along the banks of the Nile in Cairo, rummaging through stacks of rare 200-year-old manuscripts that were little more than charcoal debris.

The volunteers, ranging from academic experts to appalled citizens, have spent the past two days trying to salvage what’s left of some 192,000 books, journals and writings, casualties of Egypt’s latest bout of violence.

The Institute of Egypt, a research centre set up by Napoleon Bonaparte during France’s invasion in the late 18th century, caught fire during clashes between protesters and Egypt’s military over the weekend. It was home to a treasure trove of writings, most notably the handwritten 24-volume Description de l’Egypte, which began during the 1798-1801 French occupation. It includes 20 years of observations by more than 150 French scholars and scientists, was one of the most comprehensive descriptions of Egypt’s monuments, its ancient civilisation and contemporary life at the time.

It is probably now burned beyond repair…

(See Cairo Institute Burned During Clashes for the rest)

The Debate that Rocked the World?

It was the most important debate of its time, maybe of all time. It single-handedly changed the world and led to a “war” of monumental importance. So, what was this debate of ideas? The Lincoln-Douglas Debate? The Scopes Monkey Trial? No…it was the Socialist Economic Calculation Debate led by the esteemed Ludwig von Mises.

Ludwig von Mises & Economic Calculation?

By 1920, even ardent admirers of socialism (defined as a society in which the government owns the means of production) knew they had “an incentive problem.” A society where man was supposed to produce “according to his ability” yet only consume “according to his needs,” left that man little reason to work hard or perform unpleasant tasks. Socialists attempted to sidestep that problem by declaring that a socialist society would somehow cause people to become less selfish and more willing to work for the “greater good.”

Then in 1920, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises published Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth. In the process he dropped a bomb on the heretofore unchallenged socialists and thus, launched the Socialist Economic Calculation Debate. As Murray Rothbard put it in The End of Socialism and the Calculation Debate Revisited:

“Mises in effect said: All right, suppose that the socialists have been able to create a mighty army of citizens all eager to do the bidding of their masters, the socialist planners. What exactly would those planners tell this army to do?” ~ Murray Rothbard

Ludwig von Mises didn’t bother with socialism’s problematic incentive issues. Instead, he argued that “rational economic calculation” couldn’t exist in a socialist economy. Since the government owned all productive resources, there were no market-generated prices. And without prices, it was impossible to know the best use for a piece of land or machinery. That made it impossible for central planners to make rational economic decisions.

The Socialists Strike Back

The socialists knew they had a problem. In fact, the problem was so serious that it vexed them for almost two decades. However, 16 years later, the so-called definitive response was published by the neoclassical economist Oskar Lange. Although he, along with Abba Lerner, acknowledged that prices were essential, Lange argued that they didn’t have to come from free markets. A Central Planning Board could tell “managers” of socialist companies to fix prices. These prices could then be adjusted by the managers via complicated equations and trial and error. Lange’s reply was widely applauded by his fellow Neoclassical economists and considered a damning refutation of Ludwig von Mises.

Around this time, Friedrich Hayek, a pupil of Ludwig von Mises, joined the debate. Hayek essentially conceded that Lange was correct in theory. However, he argued that the scheme was impossibly complicated and based on a “perfect world” that looked nothing like the real one. There was just too much information and too many equations that would need to be solved on a continuous basis. But Hayek’s arguments were largely dismissed by mainstream neoclassical economists as mere practical problems. And with that, the Austrian economists were considered defeated…at least for the moment.

“…there can hardly be any room for debate: of course, socialism can work. On this, Lange certainly is convincing. If this is the sole issue, however, one wonders whether at this stage such an elaborate theoretic demonstration is in order. After all, the Soviet planned economy has been operating for thirty years. Whatever else may be said of it, it has not broken down.” ~ Professor Abram Bergson, Socialist Economics

The Soviet Union Problem?

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. And afterward, the grim reality of the situation in that country became apparent to the world. The Soviet Union had falsified its GNP and production numbers for decades. Its citizens lived in abject poverty. Black markets and bribery were rampant and indeed, these markets were often the only reason that basic needs were met.

So, who won the debate between the socialists and the Austrians? Well, Hayek’s criticisms of Lange’s theories were valid. But if these problems could be overcome, perhaps through computers, then it stands to reason that “market socialism” could work. However, if that’s the case, then why did the Soviet Union collapse?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

I would argue that neither Lange nor Hayek really won the debate. Instead, I’d give the honor to the economist who started it…Ludwig von Mises. Lange and his supporters were focused on proving that they could duplicate prices for consumer goods. Hayek agreed this was possible, at least on a theoretical level. But that was never Mises’s key problem with socialism.

The real problem with socialism isn’t finding prices for consumer goods. The real problem is finding prices for land, machinery, and other means of production. In a socialist economy there will be endless transactions of capital goods in which the government is both the buyer and the seller. Without real markets, there’s no way to determine the value of these things. This is, as Murray Rothbard put it, “where calculational chaos…reigns.”

Ironically, the only reason the Soviet Union lasted as long as it did was because of free markets. The Soviet Union wasn’t a pure socialist economy. Instead, it “borrowed” prices for its capital goods from nations with free economies. Without those prices, it would’ve never lasted as long as it did.

In the end, Ludwig von Mises won the debate. In fact, no one ever successfully challenged his original position. Instead, the Socialists seized on Hayek’s contention that market socialism was feasible, focused their attacks on him, and ignored the arguments posed by Ludwig von Mises. Today, the ideological battle between the Austrians and the socialists continues. While neither side has conceded, its difficult to imagine the socialists ever being able to counter the problems posed by the brilliant Ludwig von Mises.

Does History Control the Future?

History, we are often told, controls the future. One common refrain is that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But which history? Do “actions speak louder than words?” Or is “the pen mightier than the sword?” What are the lessons of history? Do such lessons even exist?

Control the Past, Control the Future

Many modern historians yearn to do more than just chronicle the past. They wish to be prophets of a sort, using the past to tell us how we should live. This involves compiling historical facts and then using those facts to generate “lessons of history.” And since history is viewed as an overwhelming force with predetermined outcomes, politicians are encouraged to use the giant size of government to combat those outcomes. All in all, since politicians often make decisions based lessons of history, historians are able to wield tremendous power by, in effect, “controlling the past.”

One example of this scenario is historian Michael Bellesiles. Bellesiles’s incredible downfall is recorded by Lew Rockwell in his piece, “Bellesiles: the Larger Context.”

“That is why Michael Bellesiles’s book Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture seemed so notable. The thesis…was that gun ownership was not widespread before Lincoln’s war. Individual gun ownership is really a modern obsession; indeed it is an invention. The thesis seemed counterintuitive, but what scholars call the apparatus was there: immense footnotes and citations suggesting massive research. What really mattered was the subtext. It implied that the gun control advocates had history of their side, that personal ownership of firearms is no more necessary now than in frontier times…Once the original sources were checked out, it turned out that at all crucial junctures, the book was a hoax. His research…didn’t check out. His quotations of first-hand accounts were altered. He trimmed and cut the evidence to match his thesis.”

In other words, Bellesiles constructed false lessons of history in order to influence the present gun control debate. So, how are we supposed to learn from the past? How do we weed through the competing idioms and falsified research to come up with the true lessons of history?

Do Lessons of History Exist?

I would argue that the question is moot since history has absolutely no predictive power. In other words, there are no lessons of history.

“The notion of a law of historical change is self-contradictory. History is a sequence of phenomena that are characterized by their singularity. Those features which an event has in common with other events are not historical.” ~ Ludwig von Mises, Theory and History

Events in history are dependent on an exact sequence of very specific events involving very specific people with very specific emotions and ideas. Thus, Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 appeasement, which failed to stop Hitler’s advance, tells us nothing about how such a strategy would work elsewhere in time. Heck, we can’t even be sure that appeasement was the worst possible strategy.

“The favorite “alternate history” of the interventionists involves World War II and what “would” have happened had Chamberlain not “appeased” Hitler at Munich. “History teaches us,” so the common refrain runs, “that appeasing tyrants only leads to more killing and suffering later. If Hitler had been stopped in 1938, millions of deaths would have been averted.” History teaches us nothing of the sort. It teaches us that an agreement was reached with Hitler in 1938, which Chamberlain famously boasted would guarantee “peace in our time.” The next year, Germany attacked Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany, and a long and bloody conflict ensued. History says nothing about what would have occurred had Britain and France gone to war in 1938. Nor does it teach us what might have happened had they not gone to war over Poland.” ~Gene Callahan

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

History is not a natural science. It doesn’t allow for the creation of lessons and rules that serve to govern the future. Thus, the only time history can truly control our lives if when we let it do so. However, just because the past can’t inform the future doesn’t make it useless. Gene Callahan says it best:

The Great Holocaust Mystery?

Broadly defined, the Holocaust is a catchall term used to describe the deliberate murder of as many as 17 million Jews, disabled people, homosexuals, Freemasons, political prisoners, POWs, and other so-called undesirables by Nazi Germany. How could ordinary Germans let this happen? Were they unaware of it? Or did they turn a blind eye to it?

The Mysterious Diary of Friedrich Kellner?

On September 13, 1939, a rather extraordinary man sat down to write. It was his first entry in a secret journal that would eventually encompass six years of his life, ten volumes, 861 pages, and over 500 newspaper clippings. That man was Friedrich Kellner. And his diary has ignited a controversy about the role of ordinary Germans in the Holocaust.

Prior to World War II, Kellner campaigned against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis while working for the Social Democratic Party of Germany. After Hitler came to power, Kellner refused to join the Nazi Party. Instead, he took a position as a mid-level justice inspector in and started his now-famous diary which he entitled Mein Widerstand, or My Opposition.

“I could not fight the Nazis in the present, as they had the power to still my voice, so I decided to fight them in the future. I would give the coming generations a weapon against any resurgence of such evil. My eyewitness account would record the barbarous acts, and also show the way to stop them.” ~ Friedrich Kellner, 1968

Kellner’s diary is particularly interesting to Social Historians. It provides incredible insight into the information that was available to ordinary Germans about the Holocaust and other atrocities.

“The decisive thing is that he is not an intellectual, he is an ordinary employee sitting in the provinces who reads the newspapers. He is full of anger about what is happening.” ~ Sascha Feuchert, Head of the Research Unit for Holocaust Literature at Giessen University

What did Ordinary Germans know about the Holocaust?

Through “personal conversations, news reports and keen observation,” Kellner educated himself on the horrifying crimes committed by the Nazis. His diary is chilling to read. Check out these two entries…

“In the last few days Jews from our district have been removed. From here it was the families Strauss and Heinemann. I heard from a reliable source that all Jews were taken to Poland and would be murdered by SS brigades.” ~ September 16, 1942

“Ten years in the penitentiary for a ‘radio crime.’ According to the newspaper that was too little for the chief justice. He sent back the verdict to the original court and demanded the death penalty. Just think: the death sentence for listening to a foreign broadcast on the radio.” ~ April 14, 1943

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most infamous entry. It’s dated October 28, 1941 and is at the heart of much of the recent controversy.

“A soldier on vacation here said he witnessed a terrible atrocity in the occupied parts of Poland. He watched as naked Jewish men and women were placed in front of a long deep ditch and upon the order of the SS were shot by Ukrainians in the back of their heads and they fell into the ditch. Then the ditch was filled with dirt even as he could still hear screams coming from people still alive in the ditch.”

Why didn’t Ordinary Germans try to Stop the Holocaust?

That entry in particular has been cited by Holocaust experts as proof that ordinary Germans were privy to the horrors being conducted by the Nazi regime at concentration camps throughout Occupied Europe.

“These diaries … represent a towering refutation of the well-worn refrain of so many Germans after the war — ‘We knew nothing of the Nazi horrors’.” Elan Steinberg, The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants

Kellner’s silent opposition did not go unnoticed. He came quite close to being sent off to a concentration camp himself. According to a Nazi official from 1940, “If we want to apprehend people like Kellner we will have to lure them out of their corners and let them incriminate themselves. The time is not ripe for an approach like the one used with the Jews. This can only take place after the war.”

Kellner’s diary has reopened a longstanding debate among historians about the role of ordinary Germans in the Holocaust. After World War II ended, these people separated themselves from the Nazis by claiming they had no knowledge of the atrocities. Of course, Kellner’s diary doesn’t necessarily prove anything. Still, it shows that information about war crimes was accessible to his countrymen. They read the same newspapers he did and it’s reasonable to assume they heard similar first-hand accounts of the horrors. And yet, they did nothing.

But why? Why didn’t more people speak up?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The answer to that mystery may lie in a book written by Milton Mayer in 1955. It analyzed the lives of ten ordinary German Christians during the War and their peculiar relationship with the Nazi government. After World War I and the stupendously wrongheaded Treaty of Versailles, Germany was ruined. As such, the ten men eagerly joined the Nazi party, which seemed to offer economic improvement, a sense of community, and national pride.

The Nazi regime encouraged them to, in essence, become one with the state. Love for their country was carefully manipulated into love for their government. This became an issue of absolute importance. Opposing the state meant one was a traitor to his country and thus, to its people. It led to societal exclusion, which was unthinkable to many civilians. Unfortunately, the alternative was to essentially accept the government’s activities as good and righteous. And that meant turning a blind eye to Nazi atrocities or even participating in them.

Mayer’s work gives us valuable insights into the nature of fascism and the role it played in causing ordinary people to embrace hatred, violence, and murder. Incidentally, Mayer conducted his interviews eight years after Nazi Germany had fallen. He discovered that the ten men continued to idolize Hitler as a sort of Savior of Germany. They missed the sense of community, security, and national pride. When he asked them what it was like to live under tyranny, they provided a universal response, which informed the title of his book. And what was that title you ask?

They Thought They Were Free