The Art Of The Steal
Before the start of World War One, Germany was widely considered by many to be the most civilized European nation. Thanks to radical changes initiated by Chancellor Bismark, the new state had implemented far-sighted policies on education, had created the world’s first social security safety net, and was a leader in scientific endeavors. In the opening days of the conflict ignited by “the shot that was heard around the world” the German army brushed aside Belgian, French, and British troops and advanced hundreds of kilometers. Elsewhere the picture was similar: in what was then British East Africa the German army easily won the battle of Taveta, shattering the illusion of British imperial might.
So how was it that a mere four years later the might of Germany was shattered and the country that had been the shining star of Europe was brought to its knees and forced to accept the ruinous Treaty of Versailles? Obviously this could not have occurred except for perfidy. Those occupying the highest positions in Germany had no intention of accepting their own culpability and so they carefully constructed a myth that served them very well: Germany would have triumphed had it not been “stabbed in the back” by traitors, fifth-columnists, socialists, and Jews.
We humans have tiny ape-brains largely incapable of grasping reality. Instead, we gravitate to simple-minded stories that our limited intellects can vaguely grasp. This is why simplistic lies and infantile conspiracy theories spread across the Internet at lightspeed and are embraced by millions while truth and facts crawl far behind and are regarded by hardly anyone.
Not surprisingly therefore, the “stabbed in the back” lie was widely accepted. Right-wing politicians repeated it at every opportunity and right-wing newspapers and radio broadcasters magnified the lie until a very large percentage of ordinary Germans accepted it as absolutely true. This made it impossible for Germany to come to terms with what had really occurred and turned deep social divisions into unbridgeable lethal crevasses.
As a few people who’ve occasionally glanced at history books may vaguely recall, this widespread adoption of myth in preference to reality inevitably led to the rise of Hitler (who used the myth to great effect) and hence to World War Two.
Lies can have catastrophic consequences.
According to YouGov polls conducted over the last few days, an astonishing 88% of Republican voters believe the Biden victory is illegitimate. This means over sixty-three million US citizens are convinced that Donald Trump “really” won the 2020 election and is therefore entitled to use whatever means available to remain in power after 20th January 2021. It doesn’t matter to these sixty-three million US citizens that every single claim Trump and his motley army of craven sycophants have presented has been categorically rejected. It doesn’t matter that Trump is famous for lying compulsively about anything and everything. The fact is that more than sixty-three million US citizens are comfortably ensconced in a fantasy world they adamantly refuse to leave.
The fact that many of these delusional simpletons are heavily-armed and eager to “kill demorats” (as countless hand-painted signs and billboards across the Bible Belt testify) should make sane people think carefully about the future.
Instead, everyone is jumping up and down and squealing excitedly about “turning the page” and “returning to normality.”
Despite the Senate almost certainly remaining in Republican hands and thus blocking everything a Biden Administration would attempt to do.
Despite the Supreme Court now being packed 6:3 by right-wing Justices devoted to overturning civil liberties, equal opportunities, and Roe versus Wade.
Despite the fact Republican gains in the House have significantly eroded the Democratic majority there.
Despite the fact Republican governors across the country are more earnest than ever before in their gerrymandering and vote-buying.
Despite the fact Republican politicians at all levels are repeating Trump’s baseless assertions about a “stolen” election and thus creating socio-political rifts that can never be healed hereafter.
The hard fact is that the USA is experiencing its own Weimar Moment.
It may be a few years before the consequences are fully felt, but they are as inescapable as the consequences of German myth-making in the wake of World War One. The Republican Party has based the entirety of its political success since the 1968 Nixon campaign on telling simple-minded lies to ignorant stupid people. Trump is merely the most notable recent beneficiary of this strategy but he certainly will not be the last. The Republican candidate of 2024 will certainly proclaim that he’s there to make good the stolen election of 2020. Republican propaganda outlets across the nation will repeat this lie and more than sixty-three million Republican-voting dupes will believe it because they are too intellectually limited to see what patsies they are.
And so the USA’s version of the shouty little man with the funny moustache (circled in red in the photo at the top of this article) will sweep to power, elected by “patriots” who thereby secure the destruction of the nation they imagine they are saving.
Lies have terrible consequences.