The Dispatches of Hira Singh: Hermann Said.

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come home in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England  nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a communist dictatorship….

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Hermann Goering, as told to Gustav Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials.

Ladies and gentlemen, before you proceed, read the above quote. Then, read it again, and ponder upon it.

There is much human insight in that statement, and a perverse wisdom and shrewdness in it.

Our natural reaction would be to curse Goering, and call him something like a Nazi pig. But, hold on, I say. Hold your horses. Hira Singh, my old friend, would ask you to pause, consider and ponder.

Propaganda is nothing new. It is just that, with the advent of media – traditional and social – the messages have become more intrusive, if you may.

As the world has become a busier place, we find ourselves stretched for time. Gone are the quills and ink with which we would write. Gone are the long letters, in elegant hand.

This has been replaced by byte sized communication, and we often do not have the time to pause and think. We react emotionally.

Back home, in India, Prime Minister Modi said, “Good Days are coming…” We voted him to power. We were in a mad rush to get anyone but the Congress.

Indira Gandhi, in the seventies, spoke about “Roti, Kapda air Makaan” – “Food, Clothing and Shelter”. Yet, almost half a century on, we have possibly the highest rate of malnutrition and homelessness in the world.

We worry about cow slaughter, and not about the humans who would die of starvation.

In the US, George Bush sent American troops to Iraq, and Obama spoke about “Change we can trust”.

We need an enemy, it seems, to distract us. We need Pakistan, as they need us, so that the leaders can divert attention to the well being of people.

The same, it seems, applies to Putin.

We are on the road, worrying about the traffic, and the piled up WhatsApp messages. Do we have the time to think?

Leaders need propaganda – whether they are corporate leaders, or political leaders.

Let me go back to school. I was in St Joseph’s College in Nainital, and we were nicknamed ‘Sem’, because our school was a seminary in the 1880’s

Our rival school was, is, Sherwood.

We would have inter-school matches at the Flats. The “Flats”, by the way, have been ruined by tourists and converted into a giant parking lot.

Anyway, we would have the school boys practising the “Go Man Go… SJC” chant right up to the match, so that the footer team could be cheered on. It was wild, and it was fun.

Replace the cheering crowds at a school match, or a Manchester United match, and put them into  corporate situation, or when they cheer Trump or Modi or Putin or anyone else.

Goering was not that far off, I think.

What say ye, Hira Singh, my friend?




  1. I enjoy watching post apocalyptic films, where there is some global disaster and we have to start again, it seems almost inevitable that may happen – so its curious the films are popular!

    Goerings attitude is despicable, but to my mind Nazism is just an extreme of Capitalism and has not been fully eliminated, far from it!

    1. Goering’s attitude, and what he did, was despicable. But then, the same applies to many others. What he said, rings true, no matter how despicable

  2. Every society ensures that it has enemies; it gives them a reason to build up their armies, and diverts the peoples’ attention away from what their governments are doing. And if they decide they want to attack another nation, it can be dressed up as defence.

  3. I’m hoping that with access to information (internet) and people from other countries we can get at the truth more readily. The media, TV, radio, newspapers are owned by the few and most people know that they will not find the truth there. War is the mechanism by which the politicians and the 1% distract the rest of us from the truth. If it weren’t for the wars we wouldn’t have this enormous human misery and migration of people trying to escape it.

  4. I wrote a reply yesterday from my phone and it wouldn’t let me post it, which goes to show that you were not allowing any knee jerkers that day! I read it and immediately wanted to comment. But 24 hours later, I saw that my thoughts had not changed so knee jerk on this occasion was correct
    Its a bloody good piece. A great collection of thoughts ( yours and The Nazi) And I love it. I have read it out twice now.. each time I get a different response but they agree with your thinking. What Goering said was true – what you said was also true and the reason Maggie Thatcher got in again was on the wave of patriotism – lets get together and save the Falklands. Wars… Politicians love them!

    1. Thanks. They do love ’em.. I remember reading and following the Falklands issue for a while, but my memory is foggy at best

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