underlankers (underlankers) wrote in talk_politics,

A story:

Once upon a time there was a country which had been run by a small group of people who abrogated to themselves disproportionate power, excluding people from running the state they theoretically had a say in.

They regularly targeted religious minorities and socialists to unify their state, but in the first case produced the largest religious party in any state of their time and in the second the most massive socialist movement in any modern country. Adding to this further record of amazing, brilliant success these people inaugurate a general war on a continent where they keep their country entirely in the dark about what's really going on, flounder from battle to battle, spend most of the war scheming how to give each other the Dolchstoss and get away with it, and four years later everything's gone to Hell in a handbasket and now their unpatriotic traitors are in charge and they're relegated to the shadows, left with a power base less than a thirtieth the size of what they'd started out with.

So this smaller base sends an illegal immigrant to infiltrate a socialist-sounding movement, and he proves to have a silver tongue, taking over the movement, and tries and fails to overthrow the republic imitating a guy in a country south of him who'd done the same thing. He goes to trial, and once again the new system utterly fails to punish those dedicated to its own destruction. This ex-soldier traitor is given a propaganda boost, a slap on the wrist, writes memoirs blaming everybody for his failures but himself, and advocating repeating what failed the first time, but without any restraint for pure advantage. He gets out of prison with his party in shambles and everything's gone to Hell.

So this guy ultimately benefits from the bottom falling out of the new system a second time running, he starts running and gaining a greater base of support. How does he do this? Times are horrible, so he'll give jobs. His country is weak, so he'll make it stronger. Politics consists of gun fights between the Bloods and the Crips? He'll bring an artillery battery to a gunfight. So he goes from 2.7% of the vote to 18%, and then to over 40%, all with willing collaborators. He then sweet-talks the nobility and the generals into approving of him, too, and takes power in a pattern that is the most democratic that his country has ever seen to this point, the first man to ever do the whistle-stop tour, using the new media and new transportation of his day to create a massive media-saturation PR spin machine.

In the process, he paves the way for 12 years of Hell and the creation of the most ironic kind of failure his twisted worldview imagined. Because in the end, all it takes for the triumph of evil is not for good men to do nothing, but for evil men to be encouraged by those in authority to see their moral responsibility as being abdicated, and in a real-life version of GIFT to go and wreak utter, unrestrained horror.

This is the real lesson of Hitler. To paraphrase Carl Denham, it wasn't apathy slew the Republic, it was his willing collaborators who enjoyed three squares a day, an end to anarchy, disorder, and gangs in the streets engaging in running gun battles, and all the Jew-haters who viewed Jews as Communists, Communists as Jews, and both as a race with disproportionate power and influence, and who refused to admit any kind of responsibility for the defeat the German had had in 1918 who made Hitler. It was his millions of willing servants who slaughtered cities like Lidice and engaged in slaughters of 30,000 in Babi Yar and 300 in the Ardeatines Cave. It was his great gift to ensure Germans had steady food, water, shelter, and growing pride and prosperity that made him the most popular leader Germany had ever had, perhaps in fact the *first* popular leader it had across classes, depending on what Hindenburg was qualified as.

The real kicker is that Nazism offers a lesson that can't be historically exported. World War I and the Great Depression created an ethos of collectivized slaughter by the carload lot and an attitude that democracy was dead and capitalism with it that no longer exist in today's post-Soviet world. We can no longer capture the spirit of the 1920s and 1930s in this regard, we have instead today's issues of climate change progressively creating impending catastrophes on a global scale and the inability of elites in the rich and the poor countries to agree on unified solutions, the issues of neo-colonialism in the Third World retarding its political strength in its own right, the rise of new fanaticisms that are stateless and as such present a much more dangerous quandary for democracies, not much of one at all for dictatorships, and we have the ongoing credit crunch caused by states refusing to tax appropriately to the systems they have and being incapable of making hard decisions.

The issues of our time do not have the kind of singular charismatic focuses that were prevalent in the 1930s/40s. The world is a much bigger place than it used to be, it's back to being a single interconnected bloc, and the major crises are economic and environmental ones. Subjective, in other words, not visibly parading massive Freudian testaments to.....political potency. Let's leave it at that. These are problems requiring long-term solutions that transcend previous gaps, the kind that invariably only see too little and too late of a solution, if a solution appears at all. Focusing on the horrors of a long-vanished time whose spirit is long-dead does not provide the answers we need.

The 21st Century's problems need 21st Century solutions. The 1940s are dead and must at some point become as obscure in terms of references as things like the Battles of Varna and Pruth, or the Battle of Myriokephalon, or the Battle of Cajamarca, or the Chu-Han Contention. We need new rhetoric for a new era.
Tags: dictatorship, fascism, history
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