Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hello 2019 (Good-Bye Weimar)



As a history buff, I often feel like I'm living in a parallel universe, or living in two places at once, or something like that. I feel increasingly like understanding the history of a place, or just knowing about history generally, gives you another way to perceive the world, at least as important as forms of perception like seeing or hearing. It's the only way to give the world around you the dimension of time. Without history, the world only exists in three dimensions – far too few to allow us to understand it.

It often feels like I'm looking around me in the present day, but I'm like some kind of person who has traveled in time from the future, and I'm seeing people do things and I know what's about to happen, and I'm yelling at everybody but nobody can hear me because it's one of those forms of time travel where I can see them but they can't see me. But I'm not traveling from the future, I'm traveling from the past.

And it's a past that's so eerily familiar, I constantly feel like I've been here before, even though I only read about it in books that were written well in advance of my birth. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I have to try hard to remember what year we're in. I have to sort through some strange internal conversations in order to make sense of the morning news when I turn on the radio.

At first it was like “the Democrats have been in power for the past eight years, and although the cost of housing has risen by 50% during that time and the country has been thrown into even deeper poverty, everybody knows there's no real alternative to the status quo and they'll vote for the status quo again.”

That's when the out-of-phase experience started, I guess. No! I was shouting on Facebook (but people only saw the pictures of my baby that I posted). This is when the guy the rest of the establishment is calling a total idiot wins, because he's got huge popular support and the last government couldn't feed their people.

Then I hear the pundit saying, “The president is using his executive powers to withdraw from NAFTA, impose tariffs on imports, withdraw from the Paris Agreement, withdraw all US troops from Syria, and send thousands of soldiers to the Mexican border. His bizarre combination of policy choices prove that he is just making decisions based on the latest story on Fox News. But surely he'll soon be convicted for political corruption, thrown out of office, and the status quo will be restored.”

No wait a sec, I'm trying to respond. These things he's doing, they were all in his book. He's just fulfilling his campaign promises. These treaties he's withdrawing from, most of his people thought they were totally unfair, too. Calling the leaders of the former administration and the press 'the enemy within' may appear crazy, but there are millions of people really loving that stuff. Most people don't want the status quo back.

There's that talking head again. “But now he's shut down the government, exposing himself as a complete lunatic, a cornered animal, and soon the FBI will find him guilty, he'll be impeached, and everything will go back to normal.”

No, see, this is when he makes the gamble that all these laws only exist if we believe they exist, and if he says they don't exist anymore then they don't. He doesn't actually launch any invasions of other countries for another five years. This is just the point where he declares himself to the be the fuhrer.

1933 

History doesn't repeat, they say, but it often appears it does
Enough so that it seems like we should know just how it was
When in another time and place the party in the driver's seat
The Social Democrats ruled on behalf of the elite
And the next person who arose to lead the state
Said he'd stand up for his people and make his country great
He said everyone's exploiting us, and the reason why
Is we've been ruled by weaklings, and now it's time we must reply
Military spending and industry grew
And the razor wire tent camps did, too
He said we'll take the country back, and standing on the brink
He said it's anarchy or me, we can rise or we can sink
For Blood and Soil

From Budapest to London, from Chicago to Milan
There was the specter of all those so inspired by the man
He signed treaties that were broken before the ink was dry
He left the League of Nations and Prime Ministers would try
Appeasement, but whatever they would do
The fuhrer would just tighten the screws
Most of the news seemed real – at least after a while
The same propaganda, wherever on the dial
Germany was the victim – it would be victim no more
That's what he was saying years before the war
Years before the blitzkrieg, before extermination
Became the fate of so many then living in the nation
For Blood and Soil

He talked of enemies within and enemies outside
Who together had conspired and stolen and lied
He said they took us for a ride with treaties signed by those
Serving foreign interests, as every Aryan knows
But follow me, he said, you won't recognize the place
We'll be great again – we're the Master Race
People look back and wonder what could have been done
Many years before the war was won
When social institutions fell one after the next
And then faster than almost anyone expected
Few people could have even imagined the cost
Once it was too late, and the chance for peace was lost
For Blood and Soil

Joy of Life

There are a lot of different reasons why people like me tend to alienate others. On occasions when I'm spending a bunch of time attemp...