“The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter…: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.”
The tools of a demagogue are relatively few and timeless, for example, regarding the writing gin Mein Kampf:
Pride in Anti-Semitism
Hitler loved foreign words, repetition and superlatives. For him, parliaments were not only dishonest, but in fact “most supremely dishonest,” and his party didn’t just face a struggle, but an “enormous struggle.” And then there is the constant vituperation of his enemies as “profiteers,” “poisoners of the people,” “deceitful assassins,” “smug little men” and “riff-raff.”
Another noticeable feature is Hitler’s inflated use of terms that would ordinarily be negative, such as “ruthless” and “brutal,” in a positive context: “From being a soft-hearted cosmopolitan I became an out-and-out anti-Semite,” Hitler reported in “Mein Kampf” — and he was clearly proud of the transformation…
Apparently, most readers did not find Hitler’s strange style off-putting. Reviewers in the right-wing press praised the work. A pastor even thanked God “for the hours in which I was able to study Adolf Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf.'” The diplomat Ernst von Weizsäcker, whose son would later serve as president of Germany, was apparently so impressed by the book that he praised Hitler’s “warm-heartedness toward social suffering” in a letter.
Literary scholar Helmuth Kiesel, a professor of German literature in Heidelberg, notes that the book is — linguistically, at least — better than its reputation. In the summer before last, Kiesel performed an experiment and read “Mein Kampf” in its entirety during a vacation. He found the content disgusting, but Kiesel reached a surprising conclusion in an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, where he noted that Hitler had a “broad range of rhetorical and stylistic tools” at his disposal. He was “not incompetent, but a writer with an awareness of his impact.”
Hitler’s choice of words, the IfZ team notes, was certainly in keeping with the period. Some terms that are frowned upon today as being of Nazi provenance — such as Volksgemeinschaft (ethnic community) and Entartung (degeneracy) — were also used by democrats at the time.