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Nobel Winner Says Internet Might Have Stopped Hitler 290

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-can't-it-do dept.
There can be little doubt that the internet has changed everyday life for the better, but Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio has upped the ante by saying an earlier introduction of information technology could even have prevented World War II. "Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded — ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day," he said. I have to agree with him. If England had been able to send a "Stop Hitler Now!" petition to 10 friendly countries, those countries could have each sent it to 10 more friendly countries before the invasion of Poland, and one of history's greatest tragedies might have been averted.

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Nobel Winner Says Internet Might Have Stopped Hitler

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:18PM (#26040055)

    this discussion is done now.

  • what about darfur? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:19PM (#26040071)

    it's been happening well into the days of the Internets Revolution and nobody's done a god damn thing about it

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      no-one like furries.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cyberax (705495)

      The reason is: nobody cares about Darfur.

      It's nowhere powerful or/and resource-rich to be interesting for the West powers.

      • I thought it was because the US was too wrapped up in two other wars and no other western powers really give a shit.
        • by bonch (38532)

          I hate to break it to you, but the U.N. hasn't done much better, my friend.

          As a matter of fact, they literally rape people in the countries they help--look it up.

      • The reason is: nobody cares about Darfur. It's nowhere powerful or/and resource-rich to be interesting for the West powers.
        Tell that to the Chinese who recently signed a deal to get lots of oil from Sudan(you know the country the Darfur region is part of).
    • by moo083 (716213) on Monday December 08, 2008 @06:41PM (#26041187)
      Thats because there is no internet in Darfur. At least, not easily accessible. Germany was a high tech country at the time of WWII.
      • by stephanruby (542433) on Tuesday December 09, 2008 @04:19AM (#26044613)

        And even if there was an internet in Darfur, it would have been shut down. In Ethiopia, the text messaging cell phone network was being so effective for protesters, that the government basically shut it down (that was over eight years ago, I don't know if it was ever turned back on). And we say that the internet can't be shut down, but if a government is really intent on shutting off electricity, barricading the roads, and bombing civilians, it's effectively shutting down the internet in at least the region it controls.

        Now, would have that Nobel laureate been an historian, an engineer, an economist, or whatever, may be I would have taken him more seriously, but since he's just a Nobel poet with no other apparent expertise/experience on this subject, I think I'll just ignore him. Poets can say whatever they want. They're not required to make sense.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      There are lots of reasons to care what happens in Europe, and few to care what happens in Darfur.
      Not many people want another awkward African intervention with the potential for incidents like that in Mogadishu which inspired "Blackhawk Down".
      I'll be really blunt. They aren't my people, they are backward and have no value to me, and I don't care what happens to them.I can choose to ignore it with no ill effects. It's pretty damn obvious that millions of other people feel precisely the same way, or there wou

  • Of course! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dexmachina (1341273) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:21PM (#26040101)
    Obviously. The minute Hitler saw how many members the "We dont lkie ppl kiling jewz!!!" Facebook group had, he'd have thrown in the towel right away.
    • Out of what? Depression at how small the number really is?

      I know I find it depressing just how many people still hate the Jews.

  • by ActionJesus (803475) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:21PM (#26040103)
    Im sure that many aspiring dictators are foiled by the internet. Rather than stage political coups, they're all too busy trolling and participating in 4chan...
  • hum... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:21PM (#26040109)

    Im in ur internet, stopping ur warmongering mustache

  • I think there's a lot to be said about just giving something news coverage. My coworker made the comment that sometimes it's ok--maybe even better--to just ignore the news and relax. I had to disagree with him. I pointed out that even today a lot of things happen and giving them coverage on the news would be fighting half the battle. Being in the minds of the general populace is indeed a powerful thing.

    Take for instance Mark Twain & King Leopold of Belgium destroying the Congo Basin. Mark joined a group and tried to just inform people of what was going on. He wrote a pamphlet King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule [google.com] in which a monologue dripping in satire of the King defending himself was designed to inform not only Americans but by and large his own people--who were unaware of the campaigns as they never saw the money. Were it not for a few brave people that could not be bribed, that information might never have gotten out! And think how easily this pamphlet might have been distributed across the internet!

    And yet today, the campaigns were run so well that we don't know for sure how many millions were killed or had limbs hacked off and I don't recall it being mentioned in my primary or secondary school history books. Left largely unknown to me until relatively recently--much like the Philippine/American War [wikipedia.org] & Iran/Iraq War [wikipedia.org].

    To say the internet may have stopped Hitler may very well be an understatement. A Russian classmate of mine informed me that in some Eastern European countries, there are memorials for German soldiers who fought and died against the Russians. "But I thought they were Nazis!" I remember saying. And he laughed and asked me if I really thought that tens of millions of soldiers--some with Jewish friends/relatives--were really all killing Jews or knew of the extent of the camps. He told me that some soldiers had convinced the local people they were intending on liberating areas from Russian threat. What followed certainly did seem like a Russian threat ... Despite what I was told as a child, he assured me that very few German infantry fighting abroad were full fledged Nazis. He claimed there is evidence these soldiers with Jewish ties were moved away from the homeland for this purpose.

    So I am in no doubt the internet--an advanced dissemination of information--at anytime of war would help people collectively discuss and understand and do the right thing. I only wish I could have written a review of Mein Kampf for Germans to read before so many of them bought into it ...
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:55PM (#26040637)

      Two points to consider:

      1) Hitler actively embraced the newly emerging mass media technology called television. He also loved to make radio speeches.

      2) Hitler was effectively elected dictator.

      Hitler gained power through brilliantly capitalizing on the fear and discontent of inter-war Germans. He did that by USING mass media. If anything, the Internet probably would have helped him get his message out even more effectively.

      Would it have slowed him down after he gained power, started the war and started doing the really nasty stuff? Probably not. You don't think Hitler was going to post on his blog about his death camps, do you? Or let any other eye-witnesses post on THEIR blogs?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vux984 (928602)

        1) Hitler actively embraced the newly emerging mass media technology called television. He also loved to make radio speeches.

        And if you can't see the difference between a medium that lets a central authority send out messages and one that lets everyone else send messages, you missed the point of the internet.

        The only question that remains is if the modern internet existed at the time of hitler, would it have stopped him, or would he have managed to filter and censor it.

        "the great firewall of Germany"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          See point #2. Hitler enjoyed widespread and overwhelming support. If you'd been reading an Internet forum discussion at the time it would have been full of people talking about reasons why you should help vote Hitler in.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by vux984 (928602)

            See point #2. Hitler enjoyed widespread and overwhelming support. If you'd been reading an Internet forum discussion at the time it would have been full of people talking about reasons why you should help vote Hitler in.

            I agree he still would have been elected.

            However his support might have evaporated when news and photos and video of what he was actually doing in a lot of places after things got rolling were communicated to those people. He might not have gotten nearly as far as he did.

            There are lots that

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ceoyoyo (59147)

              Hm. Do we have an example of the Internet's influence on war? Say, Iraq? It stopped the US from invading under false pretenses, right? Nope.

              It might have helped stop the abuses at Abu Ghraib. On the other hand, the story was quite successfully suppressed by the US authorities until it was broken by a foreign news service. There weren't so many of those active in Nazi Germany.

              • by vux984 (928602) on Monday December 08, 2008 @07:57PM (#26041923)

                Hm. Do we have an example of the Internet's influence on war? Say, Iraq? It stopped the US from invading under false pretenses, right? Nope.

                No, but I think coverage of the war has made invading Iran a lot less palatable to American's.

                It might have helped stop the abuses at Abu Ghraib. On the other hand, the story was quite successfully suppressed by the US authorities until it was broken by a foreign news service. There weren't so many of those active in Nazi Germany.

                The internet helped get the news out. It did take a bit of time for the US mainstream to pick up the story (a delay at the request of the DoD according to wikipedia), but pressure was building up, they couldn't have kept the lid on it indefinitely.

                And the US media is generally still pretty 'free' and trustworthy all things considered, and if it were believed to be nothing more than a mouthpiece for the state, the population would seek out and beleive foreign reports -- something they can do thanks, in large part, to the internet. Nazi germany had no alternative... either you believed what the media said or you didn't, but there wasn't any other source of news.

        • Centralized or not, I don't think it makes all that much of a difference - it just requires a different set of tactics.

          With a decentralized net, you go with astroturfers to support your goals and you drown out the other voices with innuendo, appeals to emotion, out right lies, etc.

          On the net there is no truth, only words and fully editable media. Just look at how the obama birth certificate meme refuses to die, despite many news reports debunking it and actual high resolution photos being posted since at l

    • by c0d3g33k (102699) on Monday December 08, 2008 @06:30PM (#26041063)

      OMFG, YES!

      Thank you for this post. I'm a child of an American soldier and a German mother. My German relatives were good people in every sense of the word. Wouldn't hurt a fly - literally (my great grandmother would catch flies and put them outside rather than kill them. She would sneak food to a russian soldier captured in the town because she felt sorry for him, despite the risk of the crime of treason). My grandfather fought in WWII on the german side and had lots of stories to tell.

      I asked them all about WWII when I was a child and they said that honestly few people really knew what was going on with the concentration camps and such. It was as much a surprise to them as it was to the world at large when the story unfolded. I spent quite a few years conflicted because I thought they must be lying, until I decided the evidence available to me first-hand was superior to the much larger pool of second-hand evidence (ie. the popular media). They really didn't know what was going on, because they were just ordinary people living their lives as best they could.

      This is why things like Gitmo really bother me. I never really understood how Nazi Germany could come about until I was able to witness the GWB administration first-hand. Consider that in the modern age we probably know more about Gitmo than the German populace knew about concentration camps in their day. We have a "secret prison", yet it has persisted for years and nobody has managed to shut it down for the outrage that it is.

      This story really makes me wonder what the world would be like right now if it were not for the internet. Maybe all those apocalyptic sci-fi stories I read as a child would have been more prophetic than we thought at the time ...

      • by rainer_d (115765)

        OMFG, YES!

        Thank you for this post. I'm a child of an American soldier and a German mother. My German relatives were good people in every sense of the word. Wouldn't hurt a fly - literally (my great grandmother would catch flies and put them outside rather than kill them. She would sneak food to a russian soldier captured in the town because she felt sorry for him, despite the risk of the crime of treason). My grandfather fought in WWII on the german side and had lots of stories to tell.

        I asked them all about WWII when I was a child and they said that honestly few people really knew what was going on with the concentration camps and such. ..

        ...
        That really depends.
        Asking tough questions was never a good idea in those years.
        I just had to look up something myself: There's a fine distinction to be made: authorities never denied the existence of concentration-camps (AFAIK, the US had camps for most of the Japanese population in the US) and even used them as a deterrent. Death-camps, however, were top-secret.
        Rumors of the Concentration- and Death-Camps made the rounds all the time (mostly through soldiers home on vacation - many of them considering

    • I doubt that the internet could have stopped Hitler. Simple reason: Too much information is as bad as too little. And when people are flooded with information left and right, they simply don't care. Especially when they have better things to do.

      Especially Hitler and the WW2 is a bad example of a lack of information. It's not like it was any kind of surprise coup d'etat. Hitler actually seized power legally, through an election and by being appointed Chancellor. There was no overthrow, no revolution, no big

    • So I am in no doubt the internet--an advanced dissemination of information--at anytime of war would help people collectively discuss and understand and do the right thing. I only wish I could have written a review of Mein Kampf for Germans to read before so many of them bought into it ...

      You haven't browsed the internet much, have you (and I mean this seriously)?

      While it is true that the internet as a whole is great at disseminating even obscure pieces of information, it is also great at dissemi

  • Bullshit. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrMista_B (891430) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:21PM (#26040113)

    Nice sentiment, but we have the internet now, and yet still, right this very second, the genocide in Sudan and Zimbabwe is very active. Not to mention the fact that the internet existed in the 90's, yet the 90's saw the worst genocide since the Holocaust and Pol Pot, with the (very preventable) genocide in Rwanda.

    So, yeah. It's a nice fuzzy sentiment, but the recent and current active acts of genocide in the world are pretty clear evidence that it's just not true.

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      Yeah, Americans in the 1940s didn't give a shit about Europeans getting killed. Americans in the 1990s didn't give a shit about Africans getting killed. At least their consistent.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BytePusher (209961)
        Just Americans? Why doesn't the rest of the world stand up and do something sometime?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by QuantumG (50515) *

          Umm.. they did. World history.. it involves reading.

        • You know that three years elapsed between the beginning of World War II and the entrance of the US forces into the conflict, right? Pretty much everyone else was plugging the gap.

          Along similar lines, Rwanda had at least three different UN-member military groups in place, but couldn't get enough support from the US or several of her allies to grant the mission there Chapter 7 status in time to avoid genocide.

          In other words: the rest of the world does stand up and do things, all the time. It's just
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:22PM (#26040131) Homepage

    Yes, that would have stopped him and all his fanatical support.

    He is wrong, of course. If he was right, the Neo-Nazis and other such groups would also die under the heat lamp of the internet... the Scientologists would fail to gain traction and influence as well.

    I think the influence of the internet is over-estimated by this guy. Give me the nobel money... let'm keep his medal.

    • Scientology's rise happened long before the 'net became popular. These days, thanks to Anonymous, millions of people know what it really is all about.
  • Le Clezio sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Roland Piquepaille (780675) on Monday December 08, 2008 @05:28PM (#26040207)

    . If England had been able to send a "Stop Hitler Now!" petition to 10 friendly countries, those countries could have each sent it to 10 more friendly countries

    So an internet chain mail would have stopped WW2. Right...

    Newsflash : Hitler didn't cause WW2, he was the catalyst. The root cause of the war was the german people's resentment of the Versailles treaty, and particularly the war reparations and the way the French treated the Ruhr people when they failed to pay up. Hitler was considered slightly ridiculous and bizarre until he started to tap into the boiling anger the germans had inside them.

    • The Internet could have guided them to places where evil villains were spooking people into evil, dictatorial regimes.

      Before the Internet, they just had to cruise around in the Mystery Machine in some fog, until they found some trouble to get themselves into.

      Imagine an enraged Hitler, screaming: "I Vould half taken over ze Vorld wizout you meddlesome kinder!"

      Oh, for optimal performance, you would have to throw in some Skooby-Snacks, as well.

  • ... now everyone who has the same interests can find each other. IMHO it may have done the opposite, there were a LOT of people who thought like hitler in the era, it would have enabled people to find one another and support one another much more easily.

    The internet does as much to inform, as it does to verify what one already believes. I've yet to see any idealogue be convinced by great arguments that their idealogy is false/wrong/error prone.

    It takes intellectual honesty, something most idealogues don't

  • SO WHAT?

    doxycycline might have stopped the "Black Death". How is this remotely newsworthy, to postulate modern technologies might have affected the past?

  • But the specific examples given are a reach! An 'internet' at that time could have just as easily pushed it the other way too.

    I've always been fascinated by this, WW2 broke out while industrial technology was very high in comparison to the information and media technology of the time.

    IT was so low that the average person could be convinced that the other side were inhuman monsters, but industrial technology was good enough for us to bomb each other fairly easily.

    In the case of WW2 the problem fixed itself i

    • by Sique (173459)

      TV was invented and presented before WWII. Look when Phil Farnsworth and Manfred von Ardenne were showing their respective designs: 1934 and 1935!

      • by Sique (173459)

        Sorry to reply to myself:

        The Olympics of 1936 were already shown in TV (the box mostly sitting in a radio store and people watching through the window ;) ).

  • Hitler made extraordinarily effective use of mass media - newspapers, radio, film, even television in its infancy. You can scarcely speak of an organized democratic opposition to the rise of Hitler anywhere in a Europe - while in the states the Lindberghs were looking to Germany as "The Wave of the Future."
  • Godwin's law.. If anyone had tried to mention Hitler in a forum back then, all discussion would have stopped.
  • And while we're at it, is this lameness filter a fascist or what?
  • Earliest Godwin Evar!
    • by arotenbe (1203922)

      Indeed, if it weren't for Hitler, whose law would we invoke when someone mentions Hitler?

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Monday December 08, 2008 @06:07PM (#26040797)

    I can feel the internet as it stops repression in Russia and Belaurus. Oh yeah, I can feel it! It's really working!!

  • Naive rubbish. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Qbertino (265505) on Monday December 08, 2008 @06:18PM (#26040919)

    Hitler was Avantgarde. He and his marketing-message of merging socialisim and nationalisim was super-hip back in the day. And don't dare think for a moment that it only was hip with the Germans, no Sir. Aside from a sophisicated marketing machinery he was a breathtakingly unscrupulous dictator. He killed off the entire SA leader-cadre right after scoring the Machtübernahme. EVERYBODY knew he did it and ALL were scared shittless to even say 'Peep'.

    Goebbels would've built broadband to every home and casted speeches of the Führer to every household and make the web a cornerstone of some Kraft durch Freude programm and at least 50% of the people would've loved him for it. And the rest of the world would've admired the Germans.

    No, folks, Hilter, Himmler, Bormann and the Nazis were a very special type of evil people and they were outstandingly good it. Bin Laden, Ayatolla Comeni and Co. look like orphans compared. I have no doubt they would've use the Internet to their advantage and excelled at it.

    Think todays Republic China or a healthy version of North Korea with the brakes removed and fueled by a nation of well educated people known for their drive towards technical perfection in most aspects of life - very much as the Germans are generally percieved - and you get the picture of what the Nazi Regime was made of. If anything, something like the internet would've fueled their agenda. I have little doubt in that.

  • bush (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigJClark (1226554)

    didn't stop bush....
  • That is, if we were to have developed the A-Bomb 5 years earlier we could have saved over 62 million lives. Of course, by dropping it we would of course have caused German civilian casualties, unless we used it only in the war zones. But, as Spock said : "The good of the many outweighs the needs of the few"

    jdb2
    • Although I wonder who would have had the A-Bomb first. IIRC the Germans were working on it, too, and unlike the US, they really had to face a few setbacks due to Allied bombing.

      The question is, though, would that have changed anything? Hitler wasn't the reason why the war broke out. Germany had been severely shamed after WW1. To understand why this is important, let me take you down the German history for a bit.

      Germany, before WW1, had been an extremely militarized society. Military and its virtues (duty, o

  • Wow... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by travbrad (622986) on Monday December 08, 2008 @06:28PM (#26041045)
    What a random and unsubstantiated thing to claim. This reminds me of hippies who say the entire world would be peaceful if we all took LSD.
  • Based on the presumption that only one side of the conflict would benefit from more efficient widespread communications. There is no reason to believe that Hitler's message of hatred would not have benefitted at least as much.

  • really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by z-j-y (1056250)

    if Hitler had the technology we have today, maybe he would've conquered the whole world.

  • So how did the internet do in stopping Bush and the Iraq war?

    Sounds like yet another Nobel Prize winner musing outside his specialty.

  • if internet was around, there wouldnt even be a nazi party.
  • I wonder how many friend Hitler would have had on myspace.

    What i want to say: Hitler was not stupid. Goebbels was neither. To think about what somebody on Goebbels level of peruasiveness would have done on myspace - that *IS* scary.

  • WWIII (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PhotonicsGuy (1427245)
    I just hope the Internet can stop (prevent) World War Three

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