Essential skills for dictators

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March 20, 2017 by AK

Thomas Mann wrote in his 1939 essay Brother Hitler:

And then he — who had learned nothing, and in his dreamy, obstinate arrogance never would learn anything; who had neither technical nor physical discipline, could not sit a horse, or drive a car, or fly a plane, or do aught that men do, even to begetting a child — he develops the one thing needful to establish a connection between him and the people: a gift of oratory. It is oratory unspeakably inferior in kind, but magnetic in its effect on the masses…

Mussolini could ride a horse, drive a car and pilot an airplane. He was a good fencer. Needless to say, he had several children. He had the discipline to successfully run a newspaper for years. In all of that, he was Hitler’s opposite. Like Hitler, Mussolini was an effective speaker, but his speeches were more traditionally structured and he did not appear exceptionally feral compared with some other Italian firebrands.

What does it prove? Probably nothing at all.

[Turns out I wrote about it in 2015. Bonjour sénilité.]


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