Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden. Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual? We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young nazi, «to be free from freedom.» It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank and file Nazis declared themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed. They considered themselves cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not joined the nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility?
To our real, naked selves there is not a thing worth on earth or in heaven worth dying for. It is only when we see ourselves as actor in a staged (and therefore unreal) performance that death loses its frightfulness and finality and becomes an act of make-believe and a theatrical gesture.[...] Hitler dresses eighty milllion Germans in costumes and made them perform in a grandiose, heroic and bloody opera. [...]The indispensability of play-acting in the grim business of dying and killing is particularly evident in the case of armies. Their uniforms, flags, emblems, parades, music and elaborate etiquette and ritual are designed to separate the soldier from his flesh-and-blood self and mask the overwhelming reality of life and death.
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer