Thursday, May 13, 2004

Six Degrees of Godwin's Law

Intrigued? Been on the Internet long enough to know what Godwin's Law is? Ever subscribe to newsgroups? Here is a summary of the immortalized law enacted years ago:

Godwin's Law is a natural law of Usenet named after Mike Godwin ( concerning Usenet "discussions". It reads, according to the Jargon File:

As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

It pretty much means exactly what it says - as a Usenet thread goes on, the chances of somebody or something being compared to a Nazi approach one.

Stuff and bother! as Winnie the Pooh would say ... I think if the comparison to the decline of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Third Reich fits, we ought to wear the darned jackboot. So, in my universe today, I'm "suspendering" (esoteric Firesign Theatre reference) Godwin's Law to bring you something interesting to read. One simple page ...

They Thought They Were Free, but then It Was Too Late. The author is Milton Mayer.

An excerpt: "Once the war began," my colleague continued, "resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to fhow it in public, was "defeatism." You assumed that there were lists of those who would be "dealt with" later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever here too. He continually promised a "victory orgy" to "take care of" those who thought that their "treasonable attitude" had escaped notice. And he meant it; that was not just propaganda. And that was enough to put an end to all uncertainty."

I'm not sure Richard thought I'd be the "keeper of the tinfoil" at the ASZ when he asked me to blog at his place. I suspect he might have had an inkling. But then Richard has Orwell in two titles recently. No wonder I feel so much at home. ;-)

Enjoy your reading. Carry on.