Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Suppose Your Were a Kid in 1930s Germany...

One of the conceits of our time is that the baby-boomers were rebels, taking on the tired establishment of the time with their questioning and their critique of establishment hypocrisy.

Of course, this is rubbish. Young people are not brave warriors against the status quo but blind dupes of a cunning ruling class. That is the whole purpose of government schools and government universities, to make sure that young people learn the approved opinions and develop the approved enthusiasms. Baby-boomers went along with peace, love and all the rest because everyone else was doing it.

We may say, perhaps, that the baby-boomers were the dupes of a rising liberal ruling class -- but then the liberals had been in the ideological ascendant since the early 20th century: the federal income tax and the direct election of senators, passed as constitutional amendments, were at the center of the Progressive Era agenda.

And given the purging of conservatives and Christians all over the education system and culture industry, it is less likely today that any kid would dare to profess unsound opinions, or even know about them.

So it is salutary for me to be reading A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days When God Wore a Swastika by Alfons Heck. Heck was a kid in the Rhineland during the Hitler years, aged 10 in 1933, and of course he was an enthusiastic Nazi. That is what kids do; they inhale the sweet aroma of the new thing, and enthusiastically exhale it, joining the Hitler Youth and believing everything handed down from on high. Just like our modern social justice warriors know nothing beyond what they learn from their lefty "studies" teachers.

We conceited, enlightened folk like to lecture the Germans about their guilt, and we have been so successful that German women have mostly stopped having children. But really, what is an individual supposed to do? A ten-year-old is supposed to avoid joining the Jungvolk like everyone else? And then get into a sophisticated analysis of the Versailles treaty?

So, should a kid in our US government schools get into an argument with his unionized teacher about diversity and/or transgender rights? Or, for the really courageous, about climate change?

Nobody, but nobody is really in a position to challenge the ideological status quo at age 10, or 16, or 26 or indeed any age. Nobody challenges the status quo except foolish cranks, that have veered off the road by reading other cranks, who have gussied up critical political and cultural ideas not because they are geniuses, but because they are cussed.

If the crank turns out to be right, 20, or 30 or a hundred years in the future, it merely blind luck. The rest of us must keep our powder dry and make our peace with the current ruling class.

The best any secret rebel can do is keep a weather eye out for storms.

But then, how can you know the political weather when the ruling class is faking the weather reports? Put it this way. Right now, any ordinary American had better make pretty sure that nobody denounces them as a racist, or sexist or homophobe. Or they could lose their job. Suppose you think that the current policy of the United States government is in fact profoundly racist, in that it categorizes people by race and judges events not by how they benefit designated race categories? What do you do?

In other words, how do you fight government racism when to do so would subject you to denunciation as a racist?

First of all, you would have to be a ideological genius to see through the lies and propaganda of the ruling class, and how many of us are equal to that? Then you would have to be the kind of person that didn't give a damn about  people calling  you nasty names, and how many of us have the thick skin for that? You would be the kind of person that didn't care if they went to your boss and had you fired, and how many of us are willing to be that much trouble to our bosses?

How many people are like that? 0.02 percent? Or 0.01 percent? We humans are social animals, and that means that we go along to get along, because that is how social cooperation works.

I'd say that true genius is the ability to keep your powder dry and emerge at just the right moment, when the ruling class and its ideology are in trouble, and knock over its equestrian statue at just the right moment when it looks like you are incredible brave, but in fact the ruling class leaders just left town in the middle of the previous night. Emile Zola evokes that rather nicely with his Fortune of the Rougons, about how the successful coup of Louis Napoleon in 1851 played down in the provinces. The way it works is that you have to have back channels so that you know what is going down before the other folks in town.

For most of us, Candide's famous phrase applies: il faut cultiver notre jardin. We need to go work in the garden. Anything else will get us ground to dust under the wheels of history.

No comments:

Post a Comment