Falling Off a Cliff
It gives me no pleasure to quote Cromwell, but so apposite was his dismissal of the Rump Parliament in 1653 as it relates to Trump and his cronies today-
You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!
The paroxysms of the last 4 years — the utter debasement of society, the assault on language and rationality, the undermining of any semblance of viable democracy — these are not wounds that heal immediately when the weapon is removed but progress cannot be made until it is.
It is time to go. In the name of anything decent, go!
But the will to power is too great. As it turns out, rarely if ever do people go. At times they are removed but they do not suo moto leave.
The will to win too is great, certainly in this country, and peace can only be seen as an outcome if it’s a Carthaginian one.
If I can’t own the institutions fully, say the revanchists, then the institutions have to be destroyed. Such is the Hitlerian stand being witnessed today. The rest of us are bearing witness to an unprecedented historical moment- this is not the Bastille being stormed or millions of hungry farmers coming to New Delhi to fight for the right to feed their children — this is an attempt at open sedition in the most powerful and destructive nation in the history of the world. What happened today, January 6, 2021, was the predictable outcome of a junta-mentality: One is reminded here of Chile with regard to the “other 9/11.”
In the late days of April, 1945, Hitler’s most sycophantic henchmen stood by him. Goebbels, Bormann, and the like didn’t flinch in their Hitler worship. The former- Goebbels- and his wife Magda even poisoned their own children to die as one with Hitler. The analogous characters in the US- Pence and McConnell — even they finally said enough is enough. What does this say about Trump?
Yes despite the decent utterances of the media talking heads- utterances of despair at the sight of their capitol being ransacked and its rotunda occupied, one can only say this: The ostrich has no right to be surprised.
Masha Gessen reminds us that should you want to know what the plans of an autocrat are, well then just listen to what he says he will do. In the 1930s, the “hero that wasn’t” Maksim Litvinov, narkomindel of the Soviet Union was rebuffed in European capital after capital as he warned of the Nazi menace and sought “collective security” against the coming tide. When chided about his overreaction to Herr Hitler, he simply reminded the so-called leaders he encountered that they could read Mein Kampf if they wanted to know what Hitler planned. That they either didn’t read it, secretly admired it, or were just too pre-occupied with their anti-Bolshevism to care, had devastating consequences- and not simply for Europe.
A hammer hitting a nail should hardly surprise the wood.
What happened today is many things but it hardly un-American. It is time to let the myth crumble, to understand that the bi-partisan collusion/consensus that has allowed the monster to grow has turned to stone, brittle and breakable. And it broke.
We’ve reached in many ways the logic conclusion of what we’ve wrought. Winning- at any cost- is the ethos of America. The land we occupy was won at the cost of genocide. US capitalism was birthed by slave labor and the stolen bounties of nature. The US attacked scores of countries when they didn’t play by the rules dictated by Washington. Cheating, stealing, and violence are the three pillars of America’s unprecedented growth. The culture of winning undergirded all of this. We win against others, we even win against nature.
We wonder how indeed so many people can be so loyal to a madman. But when we are asked to recite a pledge of allegiance we do so, often without question. We are frighteningly conformist when it comes to the protection of our pocketbooks, law and order, and obeisance to corporate elites. So why the surprise when some take it just a little further?
Does this mean that all of us are equally to blame? No, it doesn’t. But what it does mean is that we need to shed the mythology and tired metaphors, the pillars on which we rest. When we suggest that the hooligans on Capitol Hill are acting “un-American” do we ever reflect on the fact that no history book refers to the Nazis as acting “un-German” as though Nazism was but a temporary aberration, with no past and no future. People still hold the Germans to account for two world-wars. Why should we be exempt from such scrutiny?
For now they must go. But they won’t disappear. And if we continue to play the ostrich until we are almost on the brink then next time, maybe even just four years from now, we might just fall off the cliff.