Monday, October 10, 2016

Government Will Defend Its Power to the Last Dollar and the Last Soldier

I was reading John Mosier's Verdun: The Lost History of the Most Important Battle of World War I, 1914-1918 last week. And one item shot out at me.

Mosier has made a career as a contrarian historian of the World Wars, starting with The Myth of the Great War. His line is that the Germans really knew what they were doing, militarily, and solved the problem of the "lethal battlefield." They did it with their infiltration and storm-trooper tactics. Instead of storming across No-mans-land in serried ranks into the teeth of the machine guns they infiltrated in small squads, bypassing strong points if possible. Only the entry of the US into the war allowed the allies to win.

In Verdun Mosier returns to the Great War and the incompetence of the allied generals and politicians, and the basic German strategy in attacking Verdun in 1916. The German idea was not to "bleed France white" but to destroy French morale by engaging the French army in a dispiriting fight for an iconic border town. This strategy failed in the short term; by the end of 1916 nothing had changed.

The strategy failed because the French army and government lied about the battles on the front line, so people really didn't know what was going on. What the German general von Falkenhayn had not taken into account was that
governments frequently lie to their citizens, generally when the lies are necessary to keep the members of the government in power[.]
In other words, to stay in power in World War I the French army was quite happy to lie to the French government, and the government was quite happy to lie to their people and keep fighting, down the life of the last Frenchman, if that was what it took.

So even though the French army was abominably led right through the war it took until 1917 for the soldiers to say: enough, and until 1918 for the people to say: enough.

I am waffling through all this to get to a point. World War I was not the last gasp of the old order, as we are carefully taught. It was the first cock-up of the new world order. Britain and France were democracies, led by average elected politicians, and Wilhelm II was a a less-than-average constitutional monarch, even though we have been carefully taught to think of him as a militarist monster. Germany had the most advanced welfare state in Europe in 1914.

Whatever had been the point of the old European wars there was certainly no point in the richest countries in the world getting at each others' throats like competing robber bands.

Today we are a century on after the First Cock-up of the new world order, and the educated ruling class seems to have learned nothing.

Of course not. That's because, as Mosier wrote above, the ruling class is composed of people that are interested in power, and will do and say anything to stay in power. And they will do it with your money without a qualm.

That's why we have Trump. Because the GOP base is fed up with its leaders. Because the white working class has finally given up on the Democrats. Of course Trump is no better than the established rulers. He is lying about bringing back those good manufacturing jobs at good wages. Etc.

I didn't watch the debate last night but here is the item that spoke to me. One commentator faulted the pathetic questions from the audience, that all seemed to be saying: show that you care about me.

That's the problem, folks. They don't care about you. They only care about your vote. And they are quite happy to keep bribing you with your own money so long as you keep falling for the con.

The first step to political sanity is to tell the politicians to take their free stuff and the taxes that support it where the sun don't shine.

But we don't, and we never will. Because when we, e.g., face big medical bills after an accident, our first reaction is to think that "single payer" is the answer. Our first instinct is to get other people to pay for our problems.

Because, I guess, we are human.

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