“The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error. The assumption of infallibility, moreover, is based not so much on superior intelligence as on the correct interpretation of the essentially reliable forces in history or nature, forces which neither defeat nor ruin can prove wrong because they’re bound to assert themselves in the long run. Mass leaders in power have one concern, which overrules all utilitarian considerations– to make their predictions come true.”
– Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
You can call this unending need to be unendingly infallible the hallmark of every overbearingly toxic type: the blowhard, petty tyrants of all stripes, bullies, unrepentant jackasses, stern overseers, vengeful teachers, viciously demanding bosses, bullied weaklings who grow up to get — and abuse– any measure of authority over others, small time authoritarians of every kind. The rule for infallibility is simple: never admit an error.
It is not that hard to insist on your own infallibility, if you are prepared to pay the cost to be the boss. For one thing, there is always somebody to blame: a liar who has it in for you, a thousand liars, a million liars, petty, mean bastards, the corrupt, the jealous, the weak, losers, insubordinate subordinates, traitors, leakers, blabber mouths, disloyal assholes, elites who claim they’re better than you are– hah! The list is limited only by your own infallible imagination.
Hannah Arendt makes this observation about mass leaders like Hitler and Stalin, the main subjects of part three of her treatise on totalitarianism. It is obvious, once pointed out, that every tyrant insists on his infallibility. Hitler was a great case– if Germany lost the war of aggression he started, and imbecilically prosecuted, overruling his generals and shouting that he was the smartest man in every room, until German defeat was a certainty, well– it only fulfilled his prediction that if the German Volk was weak that they deserved, every last one of them, to die. In the end he ordered German boys to man the barricades as the vengeful, brutal Red Army closed in on his bunker in Berlin. Every last German must die, because they had let their infallible selfless Fuhrer down. Nothing more he could do, he poisoned his idiot girlfriend, after hastily marrying her, shot his beloved dog and turned the gun on himself.
Which brings to mind the same thought I have every time some sick fuck kills a bunch of people and then “turns the gun on himself.” The thought: why didn’t he fucking turn the gun on himself BEFORE he murdered all those people? Makes me want to holler, although, of course, hollering doesn’t help much.
Another example Arendt gives of this infallibility/prophecy pathology is Hitler thundering to the Reichstag in 1939 that if international Jewry insists on forcing Germany into another world war, it will result in the annihilation of the “Jewish race”. You see how this prophecy business works among the infallible?
I’ve really got nothing more to add on this note, except to say that it appears those who most desperately claim to be to infallible are weak, vain, stupid, insecure, resentful, entitled, incompetent, jealous, petty, vindictive, hopelessly inferior feeling, empty, blindly hating, shallow, incurious, uninformed (yet supremely opinionated), envious, grasping, self-ignorant, desperate, persecuted, vicious types. Very fine people, fine people, no doubt, the finest people, if you know what I’m saying, but heaven help the nation that falls under the power of one of these headstrong, never wrong creatures.