TBT: The Brutal Truth

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rise and Fall of The Republican Dolchstosslegende

Kevin Baker at Harpers takes us on a history lesson that details the rise, demogoguery, and fall of Dolchstosslegende -- a political propaganda tool used originally by the fascist Nazi regime of Hitler and adopted by the Republican Party here in the USA for the same purposes -- to bullshit Americans into believing in conspiracy theories of treachery; of getting "stabbed in the back" by one's own people. The last few paragraphs of the piece speak volumes on the exactly how the Bush's War in Iraq has rendered the "stab in the back" propaganda tool completely useless by the Rightwingers for generations to come:

What has really robbed the conspiracy theories of their effectiveness is how the war in Iraq has been conducted. Bush and his advisers have sought to use the war not only to punish their enemies but also to reward their supporters, a bit of political juggling that led them to demand nothing from the American public as a whole. Those of us who are not actively fighting in Iraq, or who do not have close friends and family members who are doing so, have not been asked to sacrifice in any way. The richest among us have even been showered with tax cuts.

Yet in demanding so little, Bush has finally uncoupled the state from its heroic status. It is not a coincidence that modern nationalism dates from the advent of mass democracy—and mass citizen armies—that the American and French revolutions ushered in at the end of the eighteenth century. Bush’s refusal to mobilize the nation for the war in Iraq has severed that immediate identification with our army’s fortunes. Nor did it begin with the Bush Administration. The wartime tax cuts and the all-volunteer, wartime army are simply the latest manifestations of a trend that is now decades old and that has been promulgated through peace as well as war, by Democrats as well as Republicans. It cannot truly be a surprise that a society that has steadily dismantled or diminished the most basic access to health care, relief for the poor and the aged, and decent education; a society that has allowed the gap between its richest and poorest citizens to grow to unprecedented size; a society that has paid obeisance to the ideology of globalization to the point of giving away both its jobs and its debt to foreign nations, and which has just allowed one of its poorer cities to quietly drown, should choose to largely opt out of its own defense.

Anyone who doubts that this is exactly what we have done need only look at how little the war really engages most of us. It rarely draws more than a few seconds of coverage on the local television news, if that, and then only well into the broadcast, after a story on a murder, or a fire, or the latest weather predictions. Even the largest and angriest demonstrations against our occupation of Iraq have not approached the mobilizations against the war in Vietnam, but a close observer will notice that we also have yet to see any of the massive counterdemonstrations that were held in support of that war—or “in support of the troops.” Such engagement on either side seems almost quaint now.

Who could possibly believe in a plot to lose this war? No one cares that much about it. We have, instead, reached a crossroads where the overwhelming right-wing desire to dissolve much of the old social compact that held together the modern nation-state is irreconcilably at odds with any attempt to conduct such a grand, heroic experiment as implanting democracy in the Middle East. Without mass participation, Iraq cannot be passed off as an heroic endeavor, no matter how much Mr. Bush’s rhetoric tries to make it one, and without a hero there can be no great betrayer, no skulking villain.

And yet, a convincing national narrative, though it may be the sheerest, most vicious fiction, can have incredible staying power—can perhaps outlast even the nation that it was meant to serve. It is ironic that, even as support for his war was starting to unravel in May of 2005, George W. Bush was in the Latvian capital of Riga, describing the Yalta agreement as “one of the greatest wrongs of history.” The President placed it in the “unjust tradition” of the 1938 Munich Pact and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which together paved the way for the start of World War II in 1939. Bush’s words echoed his statements of three previous trips to Eastern Europe, dating back to 2001, during which he had pledged, “no more Munichs, no more Yaltas,” and called Yalta an “attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability,” a “bitter legacy,” and a “constant source of injustice and fear” that had “divided a living civilization.”

The ultimate irony of Bush’s perpetuating this ageless right-wing shibboleth is that for once it wasn’t intended for home consumption. The Yalta myth has finally lost its old magic, here in historically illiterate, contemporary America. Nor did Bush make any special attempt to let his countrymen know he was apportioning them equal blame with Stalin and Hitler for the greatest calamities of the twentieth century.

Bush’s pandering was directed instead to the nations he was visiting, in a region that still battens on any number of conspiracy theories. Why he should have so denigrated his own country to a few small Eastern European nations might seem a mystery, until one considers that this is the “new Europe” that Bush has solicited for troops for his Iraqi adventure . . . and where he appears to have found either destinations or conduits for victims of “extraordinary rendition,” en route to where they could be safely tortured in secrecy.

An American president, wandering the halls of Eastern European palaces, denounces his own nation in order to appease his hosts into torturing secret prisoners. Our heroic age surely has come to an end.

Bush and the Republican "ownership society" can not dream up some anti-American back-stabbing pariah to milk and castigate for their own political, fiscal, and moral salvation precisely because they're the fools that snookered and backstabbed us into another worthless, pointless, immoral war ... and, of course, botched it completely because they themselves are just as immoral as the war itself. There are no Straussian scapegoats to pass off blame and responsibility for their reckless incompetence.

Another reason is because the American people have woke up and now see Bush and the Republican Party for what they truly are at heart -- goosestepping, tow-the-line, Dear-Leader-Is-Always-Right, fake Christian fascists.

But those American people also see the Democratic Party for what they trully are well -- spineless, ineffective, "go-along-to-get-along" jellyfish whose own corruption in the face of The Decider's fascist Neo-Nazi Republican, pro-Capitalist, pro-business cretin regime is made manifest by their lack of defiance.

They knew these rotten rightwing fascists were raping lady Liberty and pillaging America of her values, principals, and her coffers ... and did nothing. Our Democrats, at best, turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to it all or, at worst, went along with the Republicans with enough wink-wink and nudge-nudge culpability just as long as they themselves weren't totally left out of the unmitigated rougery being committed underneath their beaks by the Republican criminal enterprize.

Which noose hangs our Democratic Party -- the complacency noose or the complicity noose? I can shorten those choices by reminding you that Democrat Pelosi gleefully showered the Republicans with 13 "privileged" resolutions instead of ten times as many formal ethics complaints, reminding you that Democrat William Jefferson stuffed $90,000 in his freezer and joined Pelosi and Hastert's caterwauling and outrage, by reminding you that Dick Durbin weeped on the Senate floor in applogizing for telling the truth, and by reminding you .... wait - hold on just a sec ... Okay, just needed to check your spinal collumn to make sure Joe Lieberman hasn't collected it yet for hanging over his fireplace.


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