by Katherine Nilsen
May 8, 2018
In the 1939 article The Rhetoric of Hitler’s Battle, author Kenneth Burke elucidates the blueprint of his analysis method for Hitler’s rise to authority by dissecting the mechanics of Hitler’s metaphorical panacea in regards to treating Jewish peoples as a malignant blood-borne disease.
Ultimately, he implores, these figurative representations function to show us the intense pathological response of our own psychological partitioning as we connect these symbols to the subsequent historical horror that sprouted from this prescription of power.
The faux-naif brew of palliative ingredients included: a symbolic rebirth to guide the hope and vision from current reality, a projected Scapegoat to allay the pain and distract from deeper concerns, an internal view of dignity in racial superiority, and a Svengali scheme to capitalize upon these materializations.
Burke's realized explanation was
drawn solely upon the dissection of
the roots of Hitler’s propagation of
this psychographic morass.
Possibly the most pernicious root of all it seems, was the acutely misinformed demagogue himself who believed he had tasted Enlightenment, yet he operated beneath the rancorous devilish functions of his own psyche, environment, and political subjugation. Instead of considering the totality of the landscape, Hitler viewed his routes through a constricted scope, for example: his perpetuation of theorized propaganda that was riddled with holes.
The author pinpoints these holes as the void in which they, and we, will habitually yet inadvertently consent for symbolism and pathos to cloud our vision. As he based his rendering of reality solely upon cognitive analyses, Hitler achieved his ultimate goal upon the common trope of human behavior: to unify, against odds, under the guise of a common enemy.
Burke leads us to beg the question as a society, how have our own ideals and division painted the political landscape an inflammatory shade of red? Whether it’s concentration camps then, or homeless encampments and drone-commissioned slaughter right now - are these the symptoms of the root problem of our own myopic promotion of misinformation? And if that is the case, who then, is banking upon our response, and where are they leading us to?
As Burke promotes the methodical approach to our analysis, we are prompted to endeavor in our review processes with open minds. Additionally so, his meticulous measure of the fundamental singularity of Hitler’s strategic Tao of power advocates that we as a collective can best avoid delusions in contemporary centralization by first ensuring that we fully understand how to identify and deconstruct the subversive malady that keeps the piles of bodies hidden in plain sight.
Which bodies do we as a contemporary society turn a blind eye to?
How do the ingredients of dignity and superiority keep this apparatus in place?
"Burke leads us to beg the question as a society, how have our own ideals and division painted the political landscape an inflammatory shade of red?"