To his credit, Chris has responded to an email he received from someone who had the same concern about all this that I have. But sadly, his response doesn’t convince me he understands the gravity of recommending Goebbels. In particular, both the podcast and Chris’s response suggest that John and Chris fail to see the distinction between marketing segmentation and the “artificially dividing people into groups” that was the linchpin of Goebbels’s work. Distinguishing between cost-conscious and style-conscious consumers is hardly the same as dividing humankind into a master race and a people worthy to be stuffed into ovens.
Goebbels isn’t about market segmentation as much as it is about using fear to market. That’s a really, really important distinction. Fear is one of the most primal emotions and one of the easiest to market with, as well as one of the easiest to transmute into anger and hatred. That’s what makes understanding his work so important – to know how this is done, so that you know when it’s being done TO you.
Lest we think this is consigned to the dustbin of history, it’s happening right now, all over the world. Georgians vs. Russians, the Janjaweed and Sudanese in Darfur, and even Republicans and Democrats in the United States, if you listen to some of the election rallies when partisans are screaming “Kill him!” about the opposition candidate.
We are always only a small step away from bringing Goebbels out of the grave and making use of his ideas again. If we don’t study them carefully, we’ll all fall victim once more, and the cost will again be unthinkably inhumane.
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