Democracy decimated: can you imagine Hitler with a Twitter account?
Embrace of due process, empirical data and civilised norms is no match for the relentless march of the algorithm
It’s a good thing for those of us who live in liberty that the world’s epoch-defining struggle for freedom ended in 1945, and not in 2021. Quite apart from the now-mandatory show-spoiling emissions limits that would have stopped a decent military dust-up in its tracks, how would we wage real, merciless war when the troops are all on Instagram, or TikTok? Learning German phases, being multicultural, New Age? #D-Daylandings trending?
But the bigger reason the boring old Allies would have come short in 2021 is that if current social media trends were followed, misanthropes such as Hitler and Mussolini would have been internet sensations, amassing huge followings for the toxic stew of conspiracy, heresy and self-aggrandising rebelliousness that drives the internet. Hitler’s ability to expose the raw nerve of self-interested prejudice, his manufacture of an artificial yet galvanising outrage, and his sheer unpredictability and caprice, would have triggered an internet tsunami. #the-fuhrer would have been unstoppable, one fears. And Mussolini’s Twitter account wouldn’t have been far behind. #Il-Duce might have featured dodgy observations like the one he once made, apparently, as in: Folded arms emoji ... It’s good to trust others but not to do so is much better ... chest out emoji.
With such rabid and compelling Twitter accounts at their fingertips, the outsize tyrants of history might have been an overwhelming force, assuaging their personal psychoses and anxieties through division and destruction, much like morons of today who’ve been let loose on smartphones. They’d do less damage at the wheel of a Sherman tank...