Sunday, September 25, 2022

Appeasement Didn't Work Then. It Won't Work Now

     (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Much has been made of identity politics over the last several years. defines it as, "a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics".
     History has taught us that, in the short term, identity politics can be efficacious for a minority segment of a population. The women's liberation, gay rights and the black power movements in the 60s through the early 70s are three classic examples.
     It also teaches us that when identity politics becomes the mainstream, as in Nazi Germany and the not-too-dissimilar MAGA movement, hideous things happen. Let's take a trip down Memory Lane.
     Starting in the mid 20s when Adolph Hitler got out of prison after a ridiculously brief sentence for his role in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, National Socialism, or Nazism, began to take hold. One of the underpinning principles of Nazism was that reparations forced on Germany for its role in WWI and the 1919 Treaty of Versailles were unjust and onerous. Most virulently, Hitler and his most prominent apologists claimed the Great War was lost to the Allies through the efforts of Jewish elites.
     Through an act of democracy, a free and fair election, Hitler and his Nazi Party were swept into power on January 30, 1933. Before Germans knew it, by 1938 Hitler had annexed Austria (The Anschluss) then, five months later, the annexation of the Sudetenland, which Hitler had just promised British PM Neville Chamberlain he would not do in order to forestall a world war. Then on September 1, 1939, Poland was invaded.
     Obviously, this brought about WWII.
    This was the apotheosis of identity politics taken to extremes. The difference between Nazi Germany and latter-day America is that in Germany 90 years ago, Hitler had succeeded in supplanting the classic German identity for some pettier and more rancid version of it. It was the beginning of grievance politics and the little-regarded Chancellor within months had taken over and radically transformed the merely dysfunctional Weimar Republic into the most evil empire in all of human history.
    But, through a skillful propaganda campaign, dishonesty with the German people and a brutal intolerance for dissent, the surest hallmark of a totalitarian dictatorship, it's pretty safe to say most of the German people were onboard with the avowed agenda of a man who'd conned them into making his personal grievances theirs.
    That's not how Trump started out. Right after he came down that escalator in mid-June of 2015, he told a largely mercenary crowd he was making their grievances his. Then, long before he lost the 2020 election, when the impeachments and lawsuits began to pile up, he'd effortlessly succeeded in, like Hitler before him, transferring his grievances onto his base so they subsumed their own identities to that end. Slighting Trump and his agenda slights them personally.
    Unlike Nazi Germany, which had the White Rose Society and which utilized untrained German youth, and had little else in the way of an effective resistance, America is deeply divided. The current schism in political ideology here in the US won't start a world war but it can certainly foment and precipitate a Civil War.

In the Land of the Stupid, the Half-Brained Man is King
OK, you might ask, then why are we giving these people so much house room? Why are we letting them destroy school board meetings, entire school boards, LGBTQ+ events, raiding the Capitol like a bunch of brain-damaged, overweight Vikings to derail the Electoral College vote count? What is with this, dare I say it, policy of appeasement?
    The people who call us liberals "snowflakes" are nonetheless the first ones to squeal when they imagine their First Amendment rights are being trampled on. The liberal "cancel culture" takes the form of quoting them in their own words, lawsuits, firing or evicting them for their noxious positions and letting people challenge their palsied notion of reality.
     Just the very act of challenging these childish buffoons is likely to elicit a response akin to a brown shirt of the early 30s- churlish at best, violent at worst (Are you listening, Greg Gianforte?) Microphones get ripped off shirts, interviews rudely terminated, ad hominems are flung at reporters and right wing lawmakers threaten violence against them.
     These are the people we're treading on eggshells around lest we, God forbid, anger them somehow. The problem is, as with Hitler, there is no appeasing these assholes and it doesn't matter whatsoever if they're private citizens, candidates or elected officials. They will find something to be offended over because they are the very definition of people who won't be pleased. They will persist in believing everyone's out to get them, to keep them down, to marginalize them, however they may deserve that marginalization.
     So, the aphorism in the lead image is absolutely spot on. We live in an age in which intelligence is censored and suppressed to not risk the outrage of the stupid, which is an inevitable thing. Or, to paraphrase Charles Bukowski, the intelligent are too timid while the stupid are overly confident. And, in the act of not challenging them, we're complicit in giving their hysterical and delusional assertions legitimate political value. Overton's Window moves slightly more to the right and, by 2022, it's barely if at all to the left of Nazi Germany.
     Hitler's enormous Nuremberg rallies, when shown in ultra-wide angle shots on newsreel films, gave the German public and the world a pretty compelling case for national consensus because Hitler vowed to Make Germany Great Again and they trusted and believed him. MAGA might as well stand for Make America Germany Again. But Trump's rallies are pitiful descendants of those Nazi rallies, relying on tightly-focused shots and a sprinkling of misguided black people behind him to give only the most gullible the illusion of any level of consensus and racial unity.
     A recent "Truth rally" in Washington a couple of days ago drew a couple of dozen people, even though their big draw was Mike Lindell. The trucker's convoy from this past spring and summer succeeded only in creating traffic jams, noise pollution and bolstering the sale of eggs. Looking at these isolated, unrelated stories, one could easily laugh them off but that'd be a mistake.
    These people are nonetheless part of Trump's base. One of them attacked an FBI field office in Cincinnati and had to be put down in a corn field like a rabid dog. And 1-2000 people in a nation of 330,000,000 was all it took to bring the government's business to a complete standstill. And this is how we got here. By appeasing the cruel and stupid.
     And we need to put a stop to it. Now. Before we bet and lose the farm on appeasement.


At September 25, 2022 at 9:38 PM, Anonymous It's ON said...

Meloni's Right-Wing Alliance Wins Clear Majority In Italian Elections

The rolling populist tide against leftist policies just claimed its biggest European scalp yet.

Buckle up, cupcake, things are about to get real again.

At September 25, 2022 at 10:41 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Yes, because it eventually worked out so well with Mussolini when he took power a century ago.

At September 29, 2022 at 7:07 PM, Anonymous CC said...

Didn't realize the left was such a force to be reckoned with in Europe before all these right wing governments took over or became major political players.

More likely, it was neoliberal policies that gave the extremists an opening to get their message out to some receptive ears.

Even so, Meloni won with only 26 percent of the vote.

Which shows that if you don't vote, you don't count.


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