In the 20s, the Weimar republic – post WW I Germany – had hyperinflation; wheelbarrows of money, widespread penury. The Allies had imposed vengeful and immoral reparations. Most people suffered. Austerity reigned.
There are system effects; consequences. Suffering creates resentment. Resentment wants a target. It wants to hear that it was someone else’s fault. Who did this to us?
That target might become the Establishment, and most of the Establishment have a sense that that is a possibility. They remember when Versailles lost its glow and the people turned. So they work to become an ally of the resentful, lest they cast the veil from their eyes and look to the Dukes – of commerce or Orleans or creed. The self-appointed Dukes cause much of the misery, and wrap it in myth. “We are worthy. We represent the values of the folk. Look over there, there is your villain.”
But there is still resentment. A sense of a deeply unfair world. A lack of hope that things will ever get better. The Establishment must protect themselves by refocusing that resentment on to others, to those outside of society – outside the sense of ‘nation’ of those who suffer.
You can manufacture that idea of Nationhood, of ‘folk’. You can embellish the myths of foundation and destiny. A Great Nation that can be great again. Having an enemy is always good. Wave lots of flags. Put on parades. If you can, go to war; Orwell’s constant state of war in his 1984. Using such Nationalism to hold the people in check is always popular. Argentina goes to war over the Falklands when the Junta gets a bit wobbly. Invade Iraq – Operation Iraqi Freedom (nothing to do with internal politics or oil of course). Turn it into really bad movies.
Another tactic is scapegoating *within* society. Divide. Set the divisions apart from the Nation and Folk. Make it the fault of some ‘other’ part of society that you like to think is not part of *your* society – those outside yourselves – those with whom you do not identify. Separate them from the idea of ‘nation’. Depersonalise. Reduce them to ‘resources’ or ‘costs’. Those that are poor or sick, wrapped up in the myths that they deserve it because they are inferior. Or they ‘choose’ their lot. It wasn’t us. It wasn’t me. It was them.
Differentiate and label: those with different ethnicity or over the political border stones someone defined in our minds. Those in the towns and cities, or those in the country. Those over the river. Those who dare to be different and shine a spotlight on the truth through art. Those that worship differently.
And one of the best tactics as the Ring to Rule them All is developing a cult of leadership; a ‘Leader’ synonymous with ‘going forward’ and other vile clichés – with making your lives better. Surround the leader, Das Fuhrer, in a mystique of destiny and belonging and hope – because people call out for hope and belonging. Because we are social before we are rational, and reaction against a symptom is so much more satisfying and adrenaline pumping than actually considering, let along identifying and addressing, what is the root cause. Thinking is hard, and one of the first things the Establishment attempts to control.
Das Folk, Scapegoat & Blame, and Build Das Fuhrer
Build a cult of Nation, Divide, and develop the mystique of Das Leader. And so you get Stalin, Mussolini, Tojo and people named Adolph, and Donald, and our very own John.
There is a very great problem with this recurring theme of the subjugation and ‘othering’ of people and place. At some point, someone gets carried away with their own delusions of grandeur and decides to invade a metaphorical Poland. And then the unraveling begins after a brief spurt of triumph, and you end up in a bunker or strung up from a lamppost in Milan.
It is a far better strategy in the long run to simply care about people, now and into the future. And to shine a light on the delusions of entitlement the Establishment can foment in their own minds.
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I didn’t notice many comparisons being made between trump’s agenda and nationalism/fascism. Not that odd I spose, Americans being notoriously self-referential
Naomi Klein made mention of that very point this morning https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/rise-of-the-davos-class-sealed-americas-fate?CMP=fb_gu
Amen! Well put, Chris. Thank you. As my brother points out, the Republicans now have control of the Executive, Legislative and soon the Judicial branch, with 2 or 3 Chief Supreme Court appointments next year. So now there are no excuses for not tackling, in their way, unfettered, the pressing financial/ economic, environmental and social problems in the USA. Weâll all see whether theyâre capable of creating as opposed to simply blocking âprogressâ. Be careful what you ask forâ¦..
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Hi there Chris,
I often read your blogs and think ooh I’d like to share that on Facebook – but being a busy mum writing this one handed with can’t Tim ( did you know about him??!!) one other side, I can’t find a way to do it. Are you able to get one of those little Facebook links at the bottom of your blog for technically struggling mums like me….promise you’ll go viral!!!
Keep writing, I love your views and insightful reviews.
Ps we still in uk But returning to nz 2017….. Let’s catch up!
Tim? Is there another little life?!! That’s so wonderful for you Katherine. And Robin of course (say hi). I promise I’ll look into a link thingy. I’ll have to google. In fact there are a number of things I have to upgrade, but all that admin stuff bores me to tears. I would so love to see you guys. Spare bed here. Hugs.
Reblogged this on Chris Perley's Blog and commented:
Written when Donald Trump was elected President. And now he is there and it isn’t just a dream. And he hasn’t stopped the knee jerk, foolish rhetoric. He really is that unsuited to preside.
So-called “Strong Men”. So many times have people been fooled by them, and still many never learn that lesson of history. It is an illusion, a fiction, “Strong Men” almost always only make things worse. Think Pinochet, think Franco, think Pol Pot, and all the rest of them, including Muldoon.
So, what does work? Maybe a dose of humility, and empathy, like Gandhi, but, the punters seem to largey despise that. The fate of poor old Bill Rowling is testimony to that, and Jimmy Carter. The punters preferred Muldoon and Reagan.
And, I should also add, the fake “ordinary bloke” is another illusion. There have been a few genuinely great “ordinary bloke” leaders, Norm Kirk was one. But, the likes of Key and English are fake ones, they are wolves in sheeps clothing. As for Trump, he is a “wolf in wolf’s clothing”, and that is even worse.