Posted by: Millard J. Melnyk | October 16, 2014

Reality Nazis

I’d like to single out a special category of authoritarians for criticism: Reality Nazis.

These are a kind of Truth Nazi, just like religious fundamentalists are; and just like religious fundamentalists, they believe that they know The Truth That Applies to Everyone. And just like fundamentalists, they believe that they can tell others what the truth is and that others should listen and agree with them on pain of Being Wrong. Little do they realize, fools that they are, that wise people love being wrong. It’s not a pain at all but rather the way we find opportunities to improve. Without admitting error we fail to learn. Well, believing that being wrong is bad isn’t the only thing they get backwards. Very often, Reality Nazis refer to “Science” (with no real clue what science actually is) in just the same way that religious fundamentalists refer to their Gods or churches or Holy Books, as The Authority of All Valid Truth. Both kinds of Truth Nazi are born of authoritarianism. What a messed up family.

The difference between Reality Nazis and other Truth Nazis is their attitude towards imagination. They’re scared shitless of it. A little dab here or there is no problem, of course. Confined to a two-hour movie or between the covers of a book or even the allotted time for some secret role-playing complete with safe words (although they’ll never admit doing it) — no worries. But suggest more than just a tiny crack in the lid of that Pandora’s Box and watch their discomposure erupt.

It’s easy to flush out Reality Nazis. Just mention something imaginative as if you take it seriously. I like faeries for this: beautiful and sexy enough to make any Reality Nazi want them to be real, but totally fantastic. Without all the authoritarian overtones of something like “God” to muddy things up, the idea of faeries demonstrates the fact that imagination alone scares Reality Nazis half to death. Just say something like, “Aren’t faeries cool?” Well-adjusted people will get curious, not edgy. They’ll key in on you — what led you to like faeries, what you think is cool about them, how they first became interesting to you — without even broaching the “reality” question, even if they wonder about your tether to normalcy. In contrast, Reality Nazis forget about you as a person and go to work on you as an aberration.

Faeries involve belief in something that’s beyond belief, which is precisely and wholly the point: that’s where the fun is. To a secure, reasonable person, whether you think faeries are “real” or “imaginary” is secondary, but what you think about them is interesting, because that says something about the truly important part of the picture: you. People who are secure in their sense of reality appreciate the fun of venturing outside it. And really honest people realize that we know so little, even the most fantastic ideas likely contain golden grains of truth. Rather pick out the gold, Reality Nazis simply don’t get it, they don’t like it, and they can barely rest until they rectify it. Until then, they treat your opinions on faeries like they would toxic biological waste and you as its source.

The sad truth is that Reality Nazis, just like religious fundamentalists, don’t really care about you at all — not compared to their crusade for Truth, Order, and the Realistic Way. They don’t actually want to get to know your thinking unless they’re sure it’s safe. Unless you comply with their predefined parameters for reality, possibility, plausibility, and credibility you’re suspect, a potential threat. If they have any question about this, the first thing they must do — and it’s a compulsion, even an obsession — is to make sure that everyone knows where the lines are drawn between “real” vs. “fantastic”, “credible” vs. “outrageous”, “fact” vs. “fiction”, and “possible” vs. “impossible”. They refuse to proceed until those lines are clear, firm, and agreed upon to their satisfaction. The fact that this is your thinking that they are co-opting and redefining for you never crosses their minds.

If you’ve ever watched an R-rated movie with an ultra-moral, ultra-pious religious person, (lots of families have ’em,) you’ve probably seen a similar kind of I-can’t-handle-this-awful-stuff agitation and discomfort when a sex scene starts. (Strangely, the same uber-moral people give ultra-violent scenes a pass — go figure.) Like they’re being exposed to moral Ebola, they can’t rest until they ward off or neutralize or condemn the unrighteous virus in rants that last as long as exposure continues — exorcistic incantations against capture and occupation by spooks of digital defilement oozing from the screen. Or else they just up and leave. It’s a primal contagion reflex, a mental/emotional immune reaction. Morality Nazis are allergic to the “unclean”. Reality Nazis are allergic to imagination.

Everyone has a sense of what is real and what isn’t or what’s possible and what’s not. For healthy, well-adjusted people, that’s something to honor and respect, not make an issue out of. Everyone has different ideas about where those boundaries lie. That’s not a problem, either, but rather a source of interesting variety and fascination. Not only do our senses for those boundaries and where they lie vary from person to person, our own ones change over time as we learn and develop competence. Petrifying them into Ultimate Universal Truths that dictate what is and isn’t real has little to do with the truth and much to do with aversion to discovering truth.

I have no trouble talking to children who believe in the Easter Bunny or teenagers who believe in superheroes, or adults who every night dress up like superheroes and wander the streets to keep them safe for the rest of us. I can even relate with those who believe that God is an old man with a long, white beard, floating on a cloud in the sky, or that 75 million years ago an intergalactic ruler called Xenu drugged, froze, and shipped a bunch of aliens to Earth, fried them in volcanoes and blew them up with nukes, preventing their newly released Thetan souls from escaping this planet by means of cosmic electric fences, so that they were forced to attach to emerging humans, bedeviling and demonizing us ever since. (Yeah, Scientology is all kinds of fun!) These people and their beliefs do not threaten me. I don’t argue or force them to change their minds before I can comfortably interact with them, engage with them where they’re at, as they are, believing what they do. Reality Nazis? Not so much.

Truth Nazis of all kinds have a fundamental weakness: they can’t operate in foreign environments. They can’t even allow foreign elements into their native environments without putting up a fuss. That’s why they clique up, shut the foreign and foreigners out, and if they’re forced to let the “ridiculous” abide, cage them and their nonsense and put big signs over them (they so love to label, with -isms being among their favorites) so that they’re properly identified and everyone will know how to handle them. Truth Nazis all suffer from conceptual xenophobia. Any idea too strange is a threat and must be expelled or neutralized. They have no choice. They must keep things clean, pure, free from contamination. They literally can’t help themselves. A few have admitted as much in moments of vulnerable honesty, using the very words: “I can’t help myself.” Nor did they seem to think that help would be possible.

Reality Nazis think that the most important issue is to make sure that people’s ideas, thinking, and beliefs don’t stray too far from authoritative definitions of “real” and “possible”. They also think that they have the inside line on what “real” and “possible” are. Passionate, even vehement, they make sure that everyone toes those lines, ridiculing you if you don’t, threatening you if you persist, and turning their backs on you if you refuse. How is this different than fundamentalism? Strike that. Apart from a centralized organization devoted to parting you from your money, how is this different from a cult?

Reality Nazis will look at you with a straight face and tell you that they are different than cultists and fundamentalists because they are right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. They sincerely don’t get the irony and hypocrisy in this, not any more than cultists and fundamentalists get their own. Nor do they have a clue what’s important. Ideas and beliefs and principles are important only because the people who hold and observe them and the people who can benefit from them are important. Apart from their effects on people, ideas and beliefs aren’t much more than brain farts — curiosities that dissipate quickly, leaving no lasting result. Ideas and beliefs and principles are the least important part of the picture, but Reality Nazis and their kin can see little else, exaggerating them to occlude and debase people as underlings fit only to serve and adore the idols of authority. This isn’t missing the forest for the trees — it’s missing forest and trees for scary eyes peering out from the darkness between the branches. A bit like evil faeries would.

Reality Nazis and other kinds of Truth Nazi judge the worth of people — inestimable human beings (and who appointed them as judges, anyway?) — by whether their beliefs do or don’t match the Authorized Version of The Truth That Applies to Everyone. They see living, breathing, precious individuals as specimens, examples of the abstract ideas and beliefs and principles that are so important to authoritarians. They don’t see Mary or Frank or Suzie — they see a liberal or a supernaturalist or a materialist or some other category, like they once saw only Aryan, Jew, gypsy, or infirm (some of their major categories back then). It’s just what Nazis do. Like all authoritarians, including historical Nazis and modern day neo-Nazis, they demote people to vassals by elevating beliefs above all — with themselves, of course, as the eyes, ears, and mouths of the Authoritative Mind and its Universal Truth that dictate all Justified True Beliefs. Subordinating people to concocted categories is the essence of bigotry, the basis for profiling, it’s dehumanizing, and it’s just what Nazis do. Reality Nazis, Truth Nazis, and political Nazis dehumanize not just others but themselves as well — the first and crucial step towards violence, always. No surprise that Nazism often ends in emotional or physical violence. It’s just what Nazis do.

Reality Nazis and the rest of their authoritarian family not only don’t understand what’s important — they get it exactly backwards in every which way they could. There are no fools so foolish as this.

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Responses

  1. I skimmed quickly and I liked what I saw… There is something wrong with persons that calls sex porn and kiiling ok…

    • Thanks! Yeah, that incoherence never made much sense to me.

  2. This is actually VERY thoughtful and can be TOTALLY right on. I find that indeed, I can at times have a tendency to be ALL those things. But it is ALSO right that a person can be full of shit, and they need to be told how, and why, and called on their bullshit. We can’t just let arseholes be arseholes. Then they imprison US and make US arseholes too, part of their act so even trhough they get THEY’RE arseholes, they might as well make YOU one too. Sorry. Sink to the bottom on your own.

    • Chris, I agree completely, *especially* that THEY is US. We live in an authoritarian culture spawned by a long string of authoritarian cultures, raised in authoritarian micro-cults we call “families”, brainwashed by authoritarian programming we call “education” (read a little John Taylor Gatto), and subjugated to it all our lives in dictatorships we call “companies” under the auspices of The State. No wonder we pass it along more or less, even if we’re trying not to.

      Is there anywhere we aren’t subjected to authoritarian pressure and threat? Yes. We call it friendship. This has become my mission (I’m first publicly declaring it here, lol — didn’t crystallize before): shift society from an adversarial basis to a friendship basis. All of it. I think it’s going to be far easier than anyone expects.

      Thanks for your comments, man. Glad to have you with. 🙂

      • Thanks, Millard. As I said, hugely informative and entertaining exchange between you two gents; loved the informed and wise discourse.


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