Darrow Miller and Friends

The Rise of Tyranny: How Did We Get Here?

Our world is in turmoil, nations in lock down, economies tanking, schools closed in the age of Coronavirus. The United States also reels with spreading anarchy and growing tyranny. The world is changing rapidly; perhaps “devolving” is a better word.

How did we get here? Rod Dreher has written a perceptive and troubling piece, “Totalitarianism By ‘Hundreds Of Little Steps.” Dreher begins quoting from Milton Mayer, a Milton Mayer documented the rise of tyranny in Germany Reformed Jewish journalist who lived through the Nazi era and wrote a book on the rise of Nazism, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945.

How does tyranny arise from freedom?

Mayer writes of the sometimes imperceptible changes in Germany and the German culture during the rise of Hitler to power. How could a nation ostensibly with a Christian heritage give birth to the Nazis? While the German people thought they were free, they were changing so slowly they did not realize it. Mayer explains:

But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked — if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

Milton Mayer documented the rise of tyranny in GermanyAnd one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jew swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.[1]

Tyranny in Germany then, tyranny in the US now

As a culture shifts from a Judeo-Christian worldview to an Atheistic-Evolutionary worldview, societies will change. Ideas have consequences. But it takes time to move from the universities to the streets. Mayer has described that movement.

In the streets of the United States, we are witnessing behaviors and events born, ironically enough, in Germany at the Frankfurt School over a hundred years ago. (See also Cultural Marxism: The Root of Trans Rights, etc.)

If you are concerned with rising tyranny in your part of the world, you will want to read Dreher’s piece. As we have said many times in this space (see Biblical Language and the “Pregnant Man” or Whoever Controls the Language Controls the Culture or The New Fascists Use Words As Weapons), if you want to change a culture, you need to first change the language.

The graphics Dreher has referenced dramatically illustrate this point. I urge you to read his article, Totalitarianism By ‘Hundreds Of Little Steps.

May we move from living by feelings to walking in truth.

  • Darrow

[1] Milton Mayer, They thought they were free: the Germans, 1933-1945 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017 [1955])

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).