Children’s Politics for Grownups

A dreadful mass sentimentality, compounded of anger, fear, resentment and self-pity, replaced the customary politics of decency, property and reason. Belief, faith, feeling and obedience to instinct routed debate, scepticism and compromise. People voluntarily surrended to group or herd emotions, some of a notoriously nasty kind. Among committed believers, a mythic world of eternal spring, heroes, demons, fire and sword – in a word, the fantasy world of the nursery – displaced reality. This was children’s politics for grownups, bored and frustrated with the prosaic tenor of liberal democracy, and hence receptive to heroic gestures and politics as a form of theatrical stunt, even at the expense of their personal freedom.

— Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich.

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