Significant transitions within nations can he subtle and often unnoticed, especially by a distracted citizenry. Also, as decent individuals can behave poorly, in a hostile crowd, many of good moral persuasion may act similarly in a nation that influences them with pernicious schemes and policies.

Ancient Rome, deliberately distracted its citizens from their dystopian lives with huge stadiums, seating as many as 250,000 and providing 159 holidays for entertainment. Violence in the stadiums was customary and the young were nurtured in this context. Of course, millions of Americans hardly need the packed stadiums or numbered holidays. They can receive the same distracting optics in their homes, year long, via TV, or anywhere, with cyber devices.

In the 1930s, Germany was coping with the Depression and its people were experiencing hardship and discontent. A convincing speaker, absent other creditable attributes, was able, nonetheless, to eventually transform Germany’s democracy into a fascist state. He accomplished this by improving the economy through a military build-up, aided by industrialists and a sociopathic cadre. This was done by March 1933, despite his party receiving only 37% support in 1932.

Lloyd Holmberg mug

Lloyd Holmberg

Using legislative emergency powers, similar to our president’s executive orders, he was able to retain that power permanently through the Enabling Act (1933).

He alone could now alter their constitution and enact any law he wished, which would take effect the following day.

Germany had become an autocratic, one-party, militaristic government that glorified war and displayed a belligerent nationalism. Most citizens were passive acolytes, but aggressively intolerant toward the weak, “unworthy” and dissenters.

It was an atmosphere in which strength, force and violence was inculcated into a whole generation of young Germans, from 1933, onward. Despite their war conquests, including torture of millions, the Germans began to suffer and, in the end, experienced a miserable fate themselves.

Torture is a new consideration for Americans. That decision was made for us and evidence exists it was carried out in at least 20 “Black Sites,” all out of country, for almost a decade until prohibited by an executive order in April 2009. Torture conducted so secretly and for that length of time should be disconcerting.

During World War II, our nation engaged in war to defend our allies from Germany and ourselves, after an attack from Japan. After the war, we improved our infrastructure and began correcting social needs with good leaders, who also provided international care to war-torn countries, including Germany and ]apan.. Much has changed, however, with powerful financial motivations for all sorts of military action that President Eisenhower warned us about, now including growing military security services businesses.

Powerful methods of indoctrination also seem to be more operative, including words and terms to unleash them, similar to those used in Germany in the 1930s.

  • The hailed cheers of “Shock and Awe” from the White House promoters for the assault on Iraq, loses its glory in the context it occurred. Now, deemed unwarranted, this pre-emptive attack, the first in our 214-year history, violated international law and fell outside the values of our nation.
  • The word soldier is no longer adequate, apparently being replaced by the argot ‘warrior, ostensibly having more pictorial value. The achievements of the soldiers identified in the Charles Province poem, “lt is The Soldier,” were accomplished by bravery, not nomenclature.
  • A portrayal of a compassionate or kind act, has for years, been summed up in a power context by a TV newscaster as “America strong,” presumably to render it more valuable. Recently, a newscast replacement described it as “kindness matters.” Hopefully, she replaces him more often.

These miasmic steps will remain viable with so many who are distracted or abetting the process. A superlative study [John Jost, 2003) involving 23,000 people from 12 countries, employing psychological tests, found some very inclined toward authoritarianism, a form of fascism. A study in London using MRIs (2010) had results supporting Jost’s conclusions.

Anyone who casts a wise vote is part of a pillar of democracy. Always, the discerning voter is essential for the survival of democracy.

This seems especially true today with so many citizens distracted (only about 57% vote in presidential elections) and an unknown number receptive to authoritarianism who will be lured by think tanks against their own best interest.

A final caveat seems timely: “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” (Voltaire 1765)

Get News Alerts delivered directly to you.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Lloyd Holmberg resides in Onalaska.


(4) comments


Don, No doubt. But with most media, the options are limited and pragmatism painted by their patina or news area rules. Only so many paste-up on so many pages for "x" revenue.

The old days have been eclipsed by the -Net, seems to me.

Don Steele

Our media offers too little content when reporting on significant troubling issues, and that lack of information allows those issues to remain unresolved. This is a result of allowing media owners to own other entities which pose flagrant conflict of interest.

Our President has removed many government regulations during his short term, yet there's almost no public awareness of which regulations and of the after effect of such.

Amidst all of the media coverage regarding immigration reform, there is almost no mention of how it's affecting anyone other than illegal immigrants.

Media coverage regarding healthcare continually focuses on the insurance, in spite of America being way behind many other nations in regards to the quality of care and cost of care.

These revelations could go on and on. Our greatest mistake has been removal of the government ban on large media ownership by those whose control poses flagrant conflict of interest, and today's media ownership is awash in conflict of interest. Restoring that government ban will relight the shining torch which once drew much of the world to admire American government and values.

Media describes us as a divided nation. Their product today appears to be responsible for much of that. Should we believe that the titans of large industries who've purchased so much media did so because of a desire to spread the news or to serve their many special interests which consist of manufacturing, healthcare, energy and almost any industry you can think of. What fools we've been! Media reform will herald better government and politer society as a result of better informed citizenry.

Thomas Jefferson 1787" Were I had to choose if the nation were to have government and no newspapers or newspapers and no government, then I should not hesitate to choose the latter"! Jefferson recognized that the wide spread of information forced Congress and citizenry to act better. Which do you think Jefferson would choose today with so much media in the hands of so few, in consideration of who those few are? Want better government and a reduction in our national violence? Who doesn't? Would improving our daily sources of information be an important step in that direction?


Biden has told us to “choose truth over facts."


Are we willing to abide the facts?

Are we a "banana republic" experiment, or, are we an American, "We, the People..." experiment being tested?

What too many of us forget are the consequences of ignoring "smoke," which always means fire; and lassitude is precisely what the "Framers" feared would happen.

Is America up to the challange? Guess we're gonna find out!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.