October 8, 2012

Hitler's Rhetorical Power

After reading Burke's "The Rhetoric of Hitler's Battle" I can see the power that rhetoric truly has over an audience. The statements that Hitler makes in his manifesto, Mien Kampf, are completely mad, but the way he presents them to the public, German people, is mesmerizing. Hitler followed a formula that has succeeded throughout history to claim power and pull the most over used super villain move in the book, try to take over the world. Burke states that, "an important unity in the Middle Ages (an ingredient that long did its unifying work despite the many factors driving towards disunity) was the symbolism of a common enemy. Men who can unite on nothing else can unite on the basis of a foe shared by all" (Burke 193). As you know by now the enemy Hitler created was the Jewish people.

I also find it interesting since we know that Hitler seduced his audience through his rhetoric, but Burke breaks down the way Hitler seduced them in a Freudian way. The German people are "feminine" and since they are, they must be led by a dominating male, and this male essentially is Hitler (Burke 195). It seems that taking over a country is quite easy if you have a decent knowledge of rhetoric/public speaking and of course a scapegoat that one could blame all problems on.

When Burke showcased a passage from Mien Kampf that he feels showed his spontaneous rise of his anti-Semitism, it clearly shows how crazy Hitler truly is. He turned idiosyncrasies of some people that happen to be Jewish and used that as his foundation to hate and eventually kill as many of the them as possible. Even though we can clearly see that Hitler's statements are irrational and over the top, he actually based them under a slogan of "reason" (Burke 199). His thoughts are of those of love and happiness, but only for the so called Aryans that he actually does not have any similar characteristics to. He does not have blond hair or blue eyes and if he wanted to build a super race, I would think he would be one of the first people to be killed if he did not create the notion that the Aryans blood is the purest. Burke also sees a similarity between religious views, in a warped sense, through his breakdown of the perfect race. The features of his perfect race are inborn dignity (Aryan race over all), projection device (the Jews are the cause of all problems), Symbolic rebirth (if you believe in the first to you are saved), and commercial use (Jewish finance is bad finance, but Aryan finance is the answer).

Burke sees that Hitler does not classify under his own standards of the perfect people, but since he has voted himself a new identity, the persecutor, he is able to pass by the brutal solutions he implemented (Burke 215). Hitler later on in his power campaign saw that his speaking ability was the true cause of power that allowed the Nazi party to take control of Germany and justify the hostile takeover of most of Eastern Europe. "The efficiency of Hitlerism is the efficiency of the one voice implemented throughout a total organization. The trinity of government which he finally offers is: popularity of the leader, force to back the popularity, and popularity and force maintained together long enough to become backed by a tradition" (Burke 213). Hitler himself insisted the revolutions are made solely by the power of the spoken word, which basically sums up how he so easily seized control of Germany in its depressionn era.

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