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Evil Triumphs when Good Men do Nothing

old man emu

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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” is a saying that is often kicked about in analyses of historical events, especially those dealing with the rise of dictatorships. It is a paraphrasing of the words of eighteenth-century Irish philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke. Burke did say something resembling the quote in his “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents” (1770): “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”


Imagine if all the Outlaw Motorcycle gangs decided to associate, and gaining a degree of political control, banned the ownership of all makes of motorcycles, except Harley-Davidsons. Imagine if they actively searched out the owners of other Makes of motorcycle and beat and imprisoned them. If they posted a bikie outside every other Make's dealership to warn off potential buyers. If they stripped motorcycle magazines of all advertising relating to other Makes, and only allowed advertising and stories extolling Harley-Davidsons. Where would you stand?


There are three places you could stand.

  1. You could support their actions because, although you are not a bikie, you ride a Harley.
  2. You would object and try to keep your other Make hidden away, and support resistance fighters.
  3. You wouldn't care because you don't ride a motorcycle.


What then, if the bikies started setting more of the rules? What if they banned the music relating to the other Makes? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwWaPOlzWnI and only allowed their type of music.



So, what about the saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,”? The thing that strikes you about this saying, on a moment’s reflection, is how little sense it makes: the silence of good men isn’t the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil. The persons advancing the evil, whether in command or the rank-and-file, must be strong and determined; and the lukewarm must be either cowed into submission or willing to go along because the evil seems to prosper.


We have seen many occasions during the 20th Century when bad men have risen to power by these means. The Russian Revolution, Hitler's Third Reich, Mao's China, Saddam's Iran, Afghanistan's Taliban, Pol Pot's Cambodia. There is little written about what the third group thought. However, in 1939, a German journalist, who was one of the third group and had left Germany for England, wrote of his experiences from 1914 to 1933. His manuscript was left unpublished until after his death, but once published in 2000, became a best-seller, especially in Germany. The book offers answers to two question that the German post-war generation have been asking of their parents: "How were the Nazis possible?", and "Why didn't you stop them?". The account makes the rise of the Nazis understandable, and why resistance was well-nigh impossible. 


The book, "Defying Hitler" by Sebastian Haffner, English publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson of London, ISBN 0 297 60762 6 was originally published under the German title Geschitchte eines Deutschen (Story of a German). You will probably need to get it on inter-library loan. There is a copy in the Gilgandra branch of the North Western Library.

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The biggest ' motorcycle ' club / gang !.

Are the Police motorcycle club, (  l forgot their name ). 

But it is huge. Met them once when they were on their way to Canberra for a police funeral, stopped all traffic to ' drone photo ' their members going through a twisty  bit of road.


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Sebastian Haffner was the writing non-de-plume of Raimund Pretzel. He was a German with a Jewish wife who escaped from Germany in 1938, no doubt to save both his wife and perhaps himself from incarceration and the gas chambers.


It's interesting to read how Hitler and his band of criminal thugs gradually altered German laws and German thinking with inflammatory speeches and mind manipulation, whereby Hitler ended up with adequate support to continue ruling the country. I say "ruling", because Hitler didn't govern - he was a dictator who jailed anyone he despised or who opposed him - and that included members of his own Party and even former friends. Many Germans were distrustful of the Nazis and only gave them tacit support - because to oppose the Nazis meant personal ruin, financially, physically and mentally.


As Haffner outlines, once the Nazis had manipulated a majority of the German population into accepting the Nazi doctrine, it was then easy enough to conquer adjoining countries. One also has to remember that HItler gave Germans good jobs, employment, superb highways, encouraged manufacturing and engineering prowess, and generally adopted domestic policies that gave the Germans hope that they would once again rise to their former economic and military greatness, as they were in the early 1900's. 


Many Germans only tacitly supported the antagonism against the Jews, and I believe only a relatively small percentage of the German population understood that the Nazis were intent on Jewish genocide.

The Nazis kept up the pretext for years, that concentration camps were merely "work camps" for undesirables.


However, the greatest level of concern re the rise of the Nazis was Hitlers and his underlings belief in Darwinian theories that selective reproduction greatly benefited the herd - and that somehow, German racial bloodlines were superior to all other bloodlines.

In relation to human breeding, the term "eugenics" came into favour in the late 1800's and early 1900's and the Nazis believed in eugenics fastidiously - thus the accent on the "pure Aryan race", and every attempt to accordingly improve the Aryan bloodlines.

First, it was the pyschologically and psychiatrically disturbed, the deaf, the dumb, the disabled, who were subject to medical experimentation - then euthanasia. It was all about "improving the gene pool".

It was only a small step further, to then pick on Jews - universally disliked for their greed for money and untrustworthiness - and their inclination to gather in ghettoes, and to breed up in sizeable numbers.


The disturbing part of Nazi Germany is how many well-educated scientifically and medically qualified Germans willingly went along with the Nazis theories and aims on "gene pool improvements", by carrying out euthanasia and medical experiments on all of the forementioned "substandard" individuals.


There is currently great concern that Trump and his followers are reading from the Nazi's playbook. "Bending" laws to suit their crooked aims of staying in power undemocratically. Creating great division in society by creating an "Us and Them" mentality amongst the people. Setting up subtle arrangements to overthrow democratic institutions by violent force - armed if necessary.


We have yet to see how Trumps crooked and divisive methods will be treated by the U.S. Courts, and hopefully the Supreme Court Judges will find that Trumps actions were largely undemocratic, and often criminal.

It was initial acts of pure criminality that established the Nazis as a potent force. Americans would do well to read up on the establishment of the Nazi State, and how to recognise similar criminal activities amongst their so-called "leaders".






Edited by onetrack
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10 minutes ago, onetrack said:

Americans would do well to read up on the establishment of the Nazi State, and how to recognise similar criminal activities amongst their so-called "leaders".

Agreed, but the ones who most need to read it are tuned in to Fox news and Qanon. 

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What I found interesting in the book was what the author had to say about the years 1914 to 1918, when he was a pre-teen, following the war in the same way as many British pre-teens did. He followed the war in a way similar to that in which later generations followed their national sporting teams in international competitions.  Then the next stage of his life was living through the hyperinflation of 1923, something that was caused by poor economic understanding of the government. Once that phase of German history had passed, there was the time of struggle between the various "isms" of political thought. 


These were the things that set the foundations for the persons advancing the evil, whether in command or the rank-and-file, to be strong and determined. It's true that from 1933, unemployment numbers dropped, but that was due to a lot of fiddling of the books, just as in Australia now, if you work one hour per week you are not unemployed. A lot of employment was of the "work for the dole" type, and if you didn't go where you were directed and do what work you were allocated, then the gates of the concentration camps swung open for you. Hitler's mob didn't start the mending of the German economy in 1923. That was the work of Hans Luther. Luther became minister of finance in October 1923, a point where the hyperinflation crisis was reaching its worst. He acted immediately by implementing a plan to increase tax revenue, reduce the budget deficit and reform and stabilise Germany’s currency. Luther ordered the formation of a new reserve bank (Rentenbank) and a new currency (the Rentenmark). The value of the Rentenmark was indexed to the value of gold – though it could not be redeemed in gold because the government had no gold reserves. One Rentenmark was initially valued at one billion ‘old’ Reichsmarks while foreign exchange was pegged at 4.2 Rentenmarks to one US dollar. At the worst of the hyperinflation in late 1923, the exchange rate for one US dollar had skyrocketed to 48,000 Reichsmarks (January) then 192,000 (June) 170 billion (October) and four trillion (November).


But I didn't want to begin a discussion of Hitler's and the Nazi Party's goals. That's the history of the leaders. If the regime had conquered Britain, and Germany had not declared war on the USA, then we would be reading history as written by a different victor. What Haffner's (Pretzel's) book conveys to us the experience of the Common Man, and a view of history from the grass roots.

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  • 4 months later...

Like dictators throughout history (and especially Putin) Hitler was a damned fool, not only destroying his own country, but deporting some of his best people; we have benefitted.



In 1882, a Jewish baby was born in Germany named Max Born. He grew up to be a physicist at Gottingen University. In 1935, Adolph Hitler personally terminated him from his position because he was born Jewish.
Max immigrated to England. He became a professor at Cambridge University. Later, he began working at the University of Edinburgh. There, an amazing nine of his students went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics. He himself won the Nobel Prize in 1954. Max is known as one of the parents of Quantum Mechanics.
His daughter, Irene, gave birth to his granddaughter, Olivia, in 1948.
Olivia later went on to win five Grammy awards, be named a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Programme, and be named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
She played Sandy Olsson in the movie adaptation of the Broadway Play Grease.
Today, our hearts are sadder because his granddaughter, Olivia Newton John, has died.
May we all be inspired by her forging her own path to find enormous success and along the way becoming an advocate for animal rights, the environment, and people with cancer.
Her memory lives on as a blessing.
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I have just finished reading Hanna Reisch's book " The Sky My Kingdom". She was a good woman yet she worked for the 3rd Reich.

I think she didn't believe the bad things that Hitler etc did really happened.

Anyway, it explained to me how ordinary people could support such monsters.

There is a bit about her meeting some ww1 soldiers in the early 1930's , who were treated very badly in Germany. They were blamed for losing WW1.

It is very understandable that they would support Nazi's.

Well at least the US didn't make the same mistake after ww2....  the Japanese and Germans are allies these days.

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Give many an opportunity to steal and few will resist the temptation if no one's looking and it's not made punishable. Crime often DOES PAY. The system has to make that too risky to do as much as possible..  There's as much corruption anywhere amongst all types of societies as THEY can get away with. Look at Myanmar. and TRUMP. Where is it free from it? Tell me and I'll go there. Australia has dropped down the list on the corruption scale. Nev

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I'm more optimistic than Nev. I agree that we have corruption here but it is not as bad as many other places. Gosh, you can get 15 years in prison in Russia for calling Putin's war a war and not a special military operation.

Take Casino licenses as another example. I really believe that to get one of these, you need real but totally deniable links to criminals.

The last such license sold was by the NT govt. The bureaucrat who pushed hard and got a particular outcome apparently got a senior job with the winners soon after. Personally, I would rescind the license when they did that.

AND where can you go to if you honestly put in a tender for govt work and it was won by a higher bidder?

How about a thread of examples of corruption here in good old oz?

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