Tuesday, September 19, 2006

An Unfinished Essay

George Bush, the greatest proponent of the ‘Big Lie’ technique since Hitler, is now the head of a movement that accuses Clinton of ‘stabbing us in the back’ by allowing 9/11 and claims that anyone who questions the wisdom of Bush is a traitorous ‘appeaser’.

Considering that Bush has led the nation well down the path of secret prisons (remember when he claimed they didn’t exist?), torture, unprovoked aggression against nations that had no intention of attacking us, and a dictatorship in which he regards the Constitution as a "piece of paper", maybe we should look at what happened to the Germans when they traveled down a similar path.

There is general agreement that Hitler rose to power because the Germans came to believe two Big Lies- one, that they had lost WW I because their army was ‘stabbed in the back’ by civilian politicians, and two, that a worldwide conspiracy of Jews had attacked and subjugated Germany in accord with their secret plan, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In the spring of 1918 the Allied powers believed it would take another two years to invade and defeat Germany, and were massing huge armies for this final task. What they could not know was that Hindenburg and Ludendorf, by then the de facto rulers of the German military, would gather the remaining German troops and waste their lives by sending them directly into the firestorm of Allied artillery and machineguns. When the final German offensive on the Western Front had ended, the German army was totally destroyed. This is the truth about who stabbed the German army in the back.

After the Armistice American firms rushed to invest in German industry and take advantage of the helplessness of German workers. As an illustration of their success, in WW II a full half of the vehicles used by the Wehrmacht were constructed in Ford and GM factories in Germany.

Henry Ford, an anti-semite who hated unions as much as he hated Jews, soon realized that Hitler could be his best friend. (Ford was so pro-Nazi that he actually employed a Nazi to head his company secret police in Dearborn.) Ford paid for the distribution of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Like the ‘confessions’ exhibited in the show trials of Stalin, or the ‘evidence’ gathered by U.S. torturers in our modern "War on Terror", the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were completely bogus. Many Germans, however, could not face the fact that Hindenburg and Ludendorf had destroyed their army, and they felt the desperate need for a strong figure to protect them and make them feel safe.

And so they turned, from the great German history that brought forth Einstein and Thomas Mann, to the pitiable drug-addicted slime that constituted the Nazi party. To these Germans it seemed entirely believable that the Jewish cobblers and tailors and butchers, who were their neighbors, were part of a hidden world conspiracy to defeat Germany, a conspiracy that could only be defeated by attacking, first, Austria, their former ally in WW I, and then, many other countries. Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, France, England- all of these were nations in which "international Judaism" plotted to overthrow innocent Germany.

We can see a pattern here- a pattern of outright gibbering insanity that rested its case on two Big Lies, lies that never had a shred of evidence to support them. A pattern of naked aggression, at first unchecked because Germany had secretly rebuilt the most powerful military in the world at that time. A pattern that finally united the people so the world in a hatred of Germany so strong that, 60 years on, the Germans still walk with their heads held down in shame.

There are striking parallels between the German worker of 1939 and the American worker of today. In 1939 the German worker thought their standard of living had risen under Hitler. It hadn’t, just as our average wage has not risen since 1970. The German worker could buy no more butter in 1939 than he could in 1930, but he could buy ersatz butter made from coal-oil (we call it ‘margarine’), just as the American worker today thinks the daily combo from a fast-food restaurant is better than the fresh fruit and vegetables we can no longer afford.

Like today’s American, who worships the cargo-cult of the freeway, the German worker believed the building of the autobahn proved the superiority of German culture. The Germans, like us, lacked the oil resources to power their economy, and, like us, were ruled by nincompoops who actually might, at several points of the war, have seized the most strategic oil fields, but failed to do so.

So, at this critical moment, when we have the grandest military and the grandest roads in the world, but lack the oil to power them, when the standard of living has stagnated for 30 years and Americans are beginning to ask why workers in other countries live better than we do, what is to be our fate?

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