September 2, 2020
Following a Madman
In a book of his memoirs, Albert Speer warns the reader of the dangers of technological advances in an authoritarian state. His advice to future generations and the world in general: Individual liberty is a paramount check from technology becoming a danger to society. This may seem like elementary counsel, but carries a timeless message we cannot afford to ignore.
The advances in technology of Speer’s time seem rudimentary compared to our world of high speed internet, social media, smart phones, smart meters and smart everything. Our high-tech world is ever changing and grows at an exponential rate. Terabytes of information can not only be transmitted close to the speed of light, but can also be stored in a space measured in microns. Drones, stealth bombers, global positioning and weapon delivery systems far exceed anything ever implemented in the past. Not even the Third Reich could have imagined such an advanced military complex.
So, what can we learn from a man whose name is eternally branded into the archives of history as part of Hitler’s inner circle?
Nearly a quarter of a century after the Nuremberg trials, Albert Speer published writings he had pieced together while in prison. Here was a seemingly decent man who just wanted to be a renowned architect, but ended up a tool in the kit of one of the most evil empires in modern times. He became a key member in what can only be described as a force led by Satan. As the minister of armaments, he was part of a technocracy controlled by the diabolical mind of Adolf Hitler. Recognizing the role he played, Speer makes no excuses, but rather ends his book with a valuable lesson on technological advances and the role of government. When the state becomes superior to the individual, death and destruction are its inevitable companions. What begins with social engineering and control ends in the massive confiscation of life, liberty and property. Individual liberty is the key to safeguarding those precious blessings.
We must heed the warnings. Speer, like thousands of others, followed the vision of a mad man who took a whole nation down a very dark path. Germany, whose majority identified with Christianity, looked away while a brutal regime committed horrific acts. With the exception of a very few, as was the case with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German people failed to take a stand against tyranny. They ignored the political shift, compromised their moral values and watched while an iron-fisted dictatorship developed. We may want to study how a constitutional Weimar Republic, at a time of increasing debt, became a collective machine of tyranny. The parallels to America today are frightening; however, we have the greatest counterpoise in our arsenal.
We are extremely fortunate to live in a country where the blessings of liberty are guarded in the words of our founding documents. All we must do is stay true to those great fundamental principles our forefathers so brilliantly transcribed for us. The Declaration of Independence, along with our Constitution, stand as the greatest written plan for keeping human nature from spiraling down the path of power and control. Keeping our Republic alive in our hearts and minds is instrumental in securing freedom and prosperity. Our responsibility rests in holding one another accountable, especially those in government to whom we lend power. As individual architects of liberty, we must be vigilant in following that great blueprint.