Throughout history we have seen the results of governments run by psychotic and cruel heads of state. Frankly, history is awash with the blood of human misery suffered at the hands of these “people.” The use of quotes here is intended as ironic, in case anyone missed this. It is a stretch to view the wretches who inflicted this much cruelty on their fellow man as actual people. They were in a class by themselves.
But we also see versions of them in our present day lives reveling in versions of the same cruelty as those notorious examples of the near and far past.
None of these psychotics could have been as successful as they were without the active support of others who had an equally dim view of their fellow man. Hitler didn’t act on his own. He had the support of an active cadre of enthusiastic wielders of knives, guns, meat hooks, camps and ovens—people like Reinhard Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann, Himmler and a host of others. Stalin had the support of Lavrentiy Beria, Nikita Khrushchev, Vyacheslav Molotov, the NKVD, later the KGB, to murder more Russians than Hitler could ever have imagined.
Today we see the stark examples being set by Vladimir Putin in his failed but ongoing efforts to destroy Ukraine.
One of the reasons for the apparently intractable success of these people is that they did not act alone. Their efforts were, and are, cruel and inhumane to levels that are so hard to confront that we sometimes go numb to the results. The numbers are just too large, the pain and suffering too hard to visualize.
The thing we need to learn from the insanity chronicled in history is how to prevent recurrence of the same kinds of excesses. And we’ve been doing a very poor job so far. The wholesale slaughters of both world wars have been both preceded and succeeded by other similar large-scale genocides. Not in any particular order we have the Boer Wars of South Africa (which brought the concept of concentration camps into “modern” thinking), Rwanda, Bosnia, Armenia, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, the extermination of native tribes in the Americas—and this is far from a complete list. To say history is a river of blood that makes the Mississippi seem like a dried up trickle is probably an understatement.
Underlying each of these holocausts are the same cast of characters: a cruel tyrant or dictator and a crew of henchmen who took pleasure in cruelty of it all. To them the cruelty was the point. It is hard to overstate the importance of this factor.
We have all experienced the schoolyard bully who just had to pick on those who he thought could not defend themselves. And more often than not, that bully was surrounded by a “loyal”—lest they find themselves on the receiving end—crew of fools that would echo his taunts.
At their core, these people are cowards, scared to death of anyone around them that is more intelligent or capable. And frankly, that’s just about everyone because these craven souls are incapable of accomplishing anything personally and thus depend on others to do their bidding. All they bring to the party is fear and the ability to incite misplaced anger.
The Real Takeaway of History
There is more that we need to learn from history than the fact that there are cruel tyrants who want most people around them dead. There are plenty of cruelty addicts who will happily serve them. It is those people who in some way show that they enjoy cruelty and the suffering of others who we truly need to beware of.
You can see examples of these cruelty fans in the news every day. Greg Abbott in his stunt of shipping immigrants to a freezing neighborhood in Washington, D.C., Russian forces raining missiles on civilians in Ukraine, Stephen Miller ranting against immigrants on FOX News, members of the Treason Caucus—what I like to call the “America First” far right wackos in Congress—jeering the Ukrainian president for his clothing, all the while endorsing Putin’s war on his country. No need to belabor the point, though it could be carried on for pages.
It is important to point out that cruelty is the calling card of the far right, the KKK, militias and propaganda operations like FOX News, OAN, Breitbart, Newmax and Alex Jones—another incomplete list.
By their active or passive endorsement of cruelty you will know them. These are the present or future henchmen of actual or wannabe dictators.
What can we do about them once recognized? First, cease to give them even the time of day. There is no liability to cutting off communication with people who would happily do you in at the mere suggestion of someone they look up to—someone who gets even more personal pleasure from cruelty than they do.
These folks not only want your attention and your upset, they crave it. This is why they complain so loudly about the so-called “cancel culture.” Frankly, the only way we will continue to have a culture is to cancel giving attention to these fools.
Cruelty-oriented people want you to feel like they are inevitable and that they are everywhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are a tiny minority of humanity. And if you really want to piss them off, continue living your lives and becoming successful while giving them no actual f_cks at all.
Marty Kassowitz is co-founder of Factkeepers. As founder of Interest Factory and View360, he brings more than 30 years experience in effective online communications, social media management, and platform development to the site. He is a writer, designer, editor and long time observer of the ill-logic demonstrated by too many members of the species known as Mankind. After a long history of somewhat private commentary on a subject he totally hates: politics, Marty was encouraged to build this site and put up his own analyses as well as curate relevant content from other sources.