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This diary began as a comment on Turkana's Nazis story today, but my response to Stevensnell's comment seemed to need its own diary.

I will preface this all with a note that I am researching on the Nazi era for a historical novel, in particular an episode at the end of World War II that caught my attention.  I don't want to mention the exact topic, but will say that to get the story right, I had to go all the way back to before the beginning of World War I, in order to find the seeds of my story.  30+ history books later, I am still a long way from having the book completed, but wow have I learned a lot about history.

It begins after the fold...

Stevensnell wrote:

I think the motivations for the Hiroshima bombing

...are still a bit mysterious.  Hiroshima was a major military center, but the bomb was aimed at the civilian population - at the center of the city.  The official explanation has always been that our use of the bomb was intended to force a quick surrender, but there's quite a bit of evidence that a Japanese surrender wasn't far off anyway and that the bomb probably wasn't the only was to bring it about -- there's also some evidence to suggest that the generals at the time knew that.  Here are two alternate explanations:

  1. The military was thinking of the post-war period, in which the United States was already imagining some type of standoff with the Soviet Union, and felt that a demonstration of massive US firepower at Hiroshima would act as a major bargaining chip against the USSR.

  2. Some in the military, fascinated by the power of the new weapon, desperately wanted to try it out.

I responded with the following (not actually posted when I decided it had gotten too long and chose to go this route instead)...

The Japanese DID want to surrender

...if they could keep the Emperor.

No big deal, right?  Stop the war, let them keep the guy on his throne, save a few hundred thousand lives.  It sounded like a no-brainer, yes?

Nope.  The US said no.  No Emperor.  Dump him or be invaded.

* * * * * * *

There was precedence...

In the closing weeks of World War I, the German General Quartiermaster (not misspelled) Erich Ludendorff, after his Operation Michael offensive in the west had failed, realized he'd weakened the German position to the point that Germany itself was in imminent danger of being invaded, and there wasn't a damned thing the German Army would be able to do to stop it.

Ludendorff contacted the Allies, attempting to sue for peace.  The terms came back an included a demand that the Kaiser step down and the Hohenzollern Empire come to an end, to be replaced by a democratic form of government.

Ludendorff's pleas to keep the Kaiser were the not accepted.  That term was an absolute must: Wilhelm must abdicate or the Allies overrun Germany.

(As an aside: the Allied terms presented to Ludendorff were so harsh, he could not bring himself to be a party to it, so he did the only thing he could do: He passed the buck.  He handed over governmental authority to the civilians in the Reichstag, on November 9th.  Recall that the Armisitce was signed on the 11th, only two days later.  Ludendorff dumped it on them at the last possible moment.  The German signers had not only a difficult time getting TO the signing, but when there, they had no government yet set up in Berlin to advise them, when they all realized they couldn't sign the damned thing.  They were given 24 hours to sign, or else an invasion would commence.  They signed.

For the next 27 years Germany would react to that signing and be brought to its knees, anyway.  Some guy named Hitler (originally in cahoots with some coward named Ludendorff), fed off the lie that the civilians had stabbed the soldiers in the back, that the war was not lost on the battlefield, that it was treachery on the home front that sold out the German nation.  Ludendorff knew it wasn't true; Hitler did not.  He believed it right up until the end.

In 1918, the Germans accepted the ousting of the Kaiser as part of the Armistice.  They succeeded in forestalling an invasion.  It did them little good, though, as the Treaty of Versailles was so punitive anyway which VERY much was a part of why Hitler was able to come to power.  The Stab-in-the-Back Legend and Versailles, taken together, were a potent mix.  They were the reason Germany was susceptible to a demagogue.

In 1945, the US was just as adamant with the Japanese: Hirohito MUST abdicate.  But Japan - unlike Germany - could not bring itself to dump the Emperor.  So the only options for the Allies were invasion or the A-Bomb.

Absolutely, peace could have been achieved if Truman would have allowed the Emperor to remain on the throne.  It was really the only term the Japanese insisted on.  Like I said, what difference would it have made?  Just a couple of hundred thousand dead from the blast and the radiation...

...There was an anti-monarchy mentality in the 20th century that defied logic.  Looking back from the brink of the second decade of the 21st century (YES, it is upon us), it is difficult for people to realize that ONLY ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO - when my own grandparents were voting already - MOST OF THE WORLD'S GOVERNMENTS WERE MONARCHIES.

We take it for granted that democracy is the only sane way to run countries.  Yet up until 100 years ago, democracies were the rare exception.  Somehow the world had gotten by for thousands of years with monarchies, if not without the odd country that thought people could make their own way in the world without some intercession from God's anointed monarchs.

Democracy is such a new development, really, and it remains to be seen if it is the best of the lot.  Churchill famously said in 1947,

Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.

History in the last 100 years show that wars, if anything, are more cruel, more vicious, and more pernicious, since democracy has become the required means of rule.

Am I writing this because I support monarchies?  Hell, no! I think of Republicans as monarchists, so, NO, I am not in favor of them.  But there is a perspective: WE ARE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS.

"Dictator" is just a modern term for monarch.  It is monarchy that repels us - the idea that some people are better than others.  That is the part of Republicanism that I abhor.  But as long as there are Republicans and right wingers, we will be dealing with the idea that some people are more important and more privileged than others.  We continue the principle in our businesses, almost all of which defy democratic principles.

And, in many ways, those monarchist GOoPers are still trying to take us back to 1909.  

In 1918 the Germans allowed the Kaiser to fall, but many of the Germans of that time were part and parcel of Hitler's rise to power.  They still had the whiff of monarchy in their noses, and Hitler fed into that thinking.

In 2009, that thinking is prevalent in everything the Republicans support and continue: - Low taxes on the rich - Opposition to anything having that helps the masses (e.g., unions, Social Security, National Health Care, Medicare, welfare, public schools) - Worship of militarism - The trickle-down theory - The idea of an investment society - The idea that wealth makes right, that if you are rich, you did well - The idea of colonialism, which still exists within the American "Territories," and that the powerful nations have the right to dictate to the weaker ones - The continuance of the Senate is just a form of the House of Lords and the idea that an aristocracy should have a say in the affairs of men (we can't trust that House of Representatives of the people to do what is right) - The hierarchical structure of nearly 100% of corporations and companies (when every company is a fiefdom, how democratic IS western society?)

We still have emperors and kings, barons, dukes, earls and lairds.  Nowadays we call them CEOs and Senators.  

And Presidents.

Believe it or not, democracy is not the final say in governing... at least not the American version of it.

In 2009, listen to what they say, and in every sentence is the argument that people who believe in little people are deluded, while anyone believing the rich should not only get to keep 95% of the wealth produced but that we should all be GLAD they get to - because (as they believe) IT IS THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.

They will fight to the end - as Japan was prepared to do in 1945 - the right to have emperors and kings (by whatever name), and there is little we can do to talk them out of it.  But we will be stuck with dealing with the attitude for a long time to come.  Just as Germany had a demagogue come along spieling half-truths and ignorance, we in America have demagogues doing the same thing.  

In some ways, we are at a similar junction, with our Rush Limbaughs and dittoheads replacing Hitler and the SA.  In SOME timeline going off into the future, a Beck or Limbaugh feeds the ignorant Red Staters who want to follow their Führerprinzip, a powerful leader.

There is danger here, folks... evil, lies just around the corner.  We are one crazy away from chaos.  The chaos of post-WWI Germany brought forth a madman.  A leader who has strength is one thing.  A people who want - who NEED - a strong man is another story, altogether.

What DO we do, with people like that?  When they will accept the destruction of their nation (like the Japanese were willing to do in 1945), when it is "better dead than Red," when they will act in complete opposition to their OWN well being - how do you deal with people that out of their minds?

Talk of Nazis, by crazies that can't even see their own fascism, applied to those on the opposite end of the spectrum from Nazism - waking people up who are in that mind set, I don't think is possible.  And yet, those people are freaking dangerous...

With all due respect to the moderate churches out there, I have to put a lot of the onus on them.  Teaching people that thinking is a no-no, it has gotten us where we are right now.  Billy Graham and all his like, they are dangerous, dangerous people.  Europe has become a cemetery for churches, and in their wake (no pun intended) the no-secularism has brought about a humanism that is decent, tolerant and reasonable, and is good for the average man and woman on the street.  When America can leave behind its religious anti-rational-thinking leanings, we will manage to find our way to some better world.  We were already well on our way there, until Nixon decided to bring the religious people into the political fray.  And once he did, the GOP has sucked up to them and their willfully ignorant ways.  Now, the GOP is being devoured by them.  When their monarch is a man who's been dead for 2,000 years, and they still suck up to the guy, thinking he is "the cure for everything what ails us," what they might do may be off the charts.  I've come to the conclusion that too much religion is an insane choice for anyone.  What might they do next?  

I don't know.  Thinking about it scares me...

(I expect exactly zero thumbs-up on this monologue, but I had to write it...)


Originally posted to TravelerDiogenes on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:47 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Don't Think Democracy Works Any More (0+ / 0-)

    I think ours in particular has proven spectacularly ignorable.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:00:41 PM PST

  •  well, you get a thumbs-up from me (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronBa, ninkasi23, bfitzinAR, Kiku, yaque

    Monarchies did offer a relative amount of stability, fewer transitions than democracies. I think that, regardless of the power structure in place, there are always going to be people competing for influence and advantage.

    I feel that democracy was in some ways "branded" during the cold war as a strong opposite of communism, when in reality, the two systems share many aspects. Once the good/evil dichotomy was mapped to capitalism/communism, it distracted from problematic aspects of democratic governments, which has been a drawback.

    Same thing's going on today, in various ways...

    I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this. (Emo Philips)

    by erratic on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:02:31 PM PST

    •  And me! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, erratic, yaque, Beardface

      Contemporary conservatism as a form of monarchism seems to me like an apt analogy.

      When the United States becomes a low wage country, only bobbleheads shall go forth from American soil.

      by amyzex on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 02:02:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is my POV, exactly (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, ybruti, erratic, kurt, bartcopfan, yaque

        I originally thought of that when reading about royalists in the 1700s and 1800s.  They sounded an awful lot like Republicans.  The more I let it soak in, the more apt it seemed.

        "Republicans" - even the name is a lie.  They should be renamed the Royalist Party.  Even though we don't have a king for them to put in place, look at how they defer to the President when it is one of their own.  

        "Unitary President."  Wow, how monarchical can you get?

    •  Agreed, about the drawback (4+ / 0-)

      Instead of being able to say, "Our system can be improved," they distracted everybody with, "OH MY GOD! Look at what they are doing over there!"

      No system is without flaws, and as long as we don't ADDRESS ours, our system will degrade, until some day it will fall apart - perhaps with as little warning as the communist block did.

      It would be lovely if we could simply start to fix it - especially without the damned money outvoting us all.

  •  Retention of the emperor was not the only (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rimjob, ninkasi23, citicenx, Lazar, yaque, RALM

    demand the Japanese during the brief negotiations AFTER the first bombing.  The Japanese ignored the Potsdam declaration ultimatums.
    They also wanted no occupation of the Japanese home Islands and several others...and the right for war criminals to be tried in Japanese courts.  And, wost of all, they wanted the demilitarization of the Imperial forces of Japan to take place under the direction of itself...

    Believe me I have tried to look for historical justification for thinking Hiroshima and Nagasaki unnecessary and immoral...but the simple fact is that they were necessary to save millions of lives.

    Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?

    by DawnoftheRedSun on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:03:51 PM PST

    •  Thank you for your correctinos... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ninkasi23, yaque

      The Germans, of course, wanted no occupation after WWI, and that is about all they got.

      All that Japan asked for were what any country would ask for.  If, after the Iraq war, the UN determined that the US had illegally waged a "War of Aggression," and had a list of demands for the US, most of what you say Japan wanted, the US would have on their list.

      The bullies of WWII, the bullies of the post-war era - the only way to tame them is to beat them into submission and MAKE them obey.  We haven't seen the last of Russia bullying people. And the US - will our government ever learn?  China - they will probably become a bully, too.  It comes with economic power, eventually.

  •  I was with you until the religion part - (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Halcyon, Cassandra Waites, Satya1, yaque, RALM

    and even then you have a certain amount of truth on your side.  I'm not a Christian, by the way, and most assuredly not defending the incredible variety of churches around America.  You are correct that most of them teach "believe and obey" and deplore reasoning.  But it's just too easy to point fingers at "the" church.  All totalitarian groups work the same way.  The pseudo-militias pretending to be "true patriots" may or may not have an officially religious component.  Ditto the teabagger groups.

    Schools are - and have been for a long time - teaching "read and regurgitate" rather than thinking.  Critical thinking is suppressed in the home from the get-go.  When the answer to "why" is "because I said so" - or worse, a slap for being a "smartass" - well, by the time they're adults they know better than to question.

    I've always considered it an issue of self-esteem.  If you are confident in yourself, you think, make decisions, and deal with the results.  If not, you want somebody "strong" to tell you what to think and what to do so you aren't responsible for the results.  How to fix that, I don't know, but we won't do it with the adults.  It's too late.  Only thing we can do about them is try to keep them isolated enough that they can't hurt us while we try to do the work that needs to be done for our selves, our families, our country, and our planet (in as much as humanity can lay claim to it).

    •  I put in the word "moderate" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bfitzinAR, yaque

      or at least I think I did.  I do not include all the churches, not at all.

      If I left out that qualifier, you are right to correct me.

      Not all churches teach their people to discount the thinking process.  Those that do encourage reason, comparative thinking and critical thinking, I applaud.  It is no guarantee of sanity, but it sure heads in the right direction.

      After all, whatever Being(s) created all this, He/She/It/They was/were almost certainly rational and clear-thinking - look at how long it is taking our scientists to ascertain what the Universe is about.  We are what? - 1% of the way there?...LOL

      •  I guess I wasn't clear with my point - (0+ / 0-)

        whether it's all of the churches or just some of the churches, focusing on religion is a distraction.  The "believe and obey" issue is much bigger than that, as big as religion is.  It's in our accepted/acceptible child-rearing practises.  It's in our accepted schooling - public and private - practises.  Religion is only a subset of the problem.

  •  I think you're a bit blurry on concepts - (5+ / 0-)

    monarchy and democracy are not mutually exclusive. By the dawn of the 20th century, most of the European monarchies had elected parliaments and were either democratic or semi-democratic.

    "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

    by Lazar on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:23:26 PM PST

    •  My main point was (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That the monarchies existed, and no they don't.

      There is no doubt that the monarchies were in decline, and being assailed on many fronts, and were giving over some of their power to legislatures.  At the same time, quite a few still retained strong autocratic rule.

      Germany's Kaiser RULED that country.  The Reichstag was an impotent creation.  The military was the real power, with the Kaiser closely aligned with them.  BIG TIME.  The Reichstag was a rubber stamp for what the military - and thus the Kaiser - wanted.

      Austria-Hungary - the Emperor RULED that country.  The same was true of all the subject countries under the Empire - Romania, Bulgaria, Czech, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Balkan states - royalty, royalty, royalty.  There were rumblings in the provinces (witness Sarajevo, 1914), but until WWI, the monarch ruled.

      Russia - at the beginning of WWI - total control.  The Duma was FEEBLE, in the extreme.

      China - I don't know much about it, but it sure as hell wasn't a democracy.

      England was what you describe, yes.

      Greece - you are correct.

      France was an out and out parliamentary democracy (no monarch at all) - probably the model for most others on the continent.

      In most countries with monarchs at that time the monarchs ruled.  They weren't just figureheads.

      If you count the Latin American countries as democracies, yes, they had the outer form of democracies.  But within those, they were all oligarchies - which is the same as monarchy, except it wasn't necessarily inherited within one family.  Within the oligarchs, yes, it was totally inherited.  Most of those countries it took them almost forever to elect anyone representing the majority of the people.

      Asia - Most of them I don't know about.

      Europe - a mixed bag.  Italy, Spain - confusion, weak legislatures, which led to dictators.

      Only after the world wars did democracy firmly establish itself and get a more firm grip.

      •  Quite a few, but by no means all. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timbuk the Second, yaque

        I'm fully aware that Russia and the Central Powers were autocratic. But you're leaving off the Low Countries and the Scandinavian countries - all solid democracies alongside Britain and the British dominions. My point is that you're contrasting monarchy with democracy, when in reality those things didn't contrast.

        "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

        by Lazar on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 03:05:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would not really agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          In point of fact, I actually wasn't even contrasting them; I was just pointing out that how different the world is today from 100 years ago, and then pointing out how monarchistic the Republicans are - or at least want to be.

          But since you brought in the contrast issue, let's deal with that:

          When monarchs were forced to give up powers, that in no way can make the argument that monarchies and democracies don't contrast.  Every power wrenched from a monarch was done almost over his dead body, or the powers his progeny were due to inherit - and  they were all very aware that the powers of their fathers was being taken from their sons.  Make no mistake about that.  They did not give up power easily, and certainly not willingly.  The power TAKEN by the people, inch by inch, was at the expense of the monarchs and their children.

          The two power bases are absolutely mutually exclusive - either power is concentrated in a monarch or it resides in the people.  That monarchical families relented is a historical fact.  But that relenting was not done in one fell swoop.  So your point about sharing of powers is accurate, but the monarchs WERE still in existence 100 years ago.  Look around now.  

          But while those powers were being eroded, they didn't all skip around the garden together with rose-coloured glasses, sipping afternoon tea all the while and kissing behind the roses.

          Monarchs did not float about the room like Eric Idle, saying "I'd rather just. . . SING!" and just give up their power.

          •  Well, I got the impression (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that you were contrasting them. But it seems like you would be better served to refer to "absolute monarchies" rather than merely "monarchies" - the latter term definitely includes constitutional monarchies, of which there were quite a few a hundred years ago. And if we advance to the interwar period and look at its liberal republics, fascist republics, Soviet republics, liberal monarchies, conservative monarchies and fascist monarchies, you wouldn't get the impression that monarchy (the presence of a hereditary ruler as head of state) had much correlation with democracy one way or another. The phenomenon that you're referring to is absolute monarchy, which is a subset of the broader concept. Your sentence, "ONLY ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO... MOST OF THE WORLD'S GOVERNMENTS WERE MONARCHIES." would be more meaningful and useful if it were less vague.

            "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

            by Lazar on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 03:49:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  MP reference too important to make a mistake on! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Timbuk the Second

            Assuming you're referring to Prince Herbert in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you'll find he was played by Terry Jones, not Eric Idle.

  •  Hiroshima and Nagasaki were basically revenge (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, kurt, ninkasi23

    At the Atomic Bomb Museum in Nagasaki, General Eisenhower is quoted discussing the atomic bomb (though it wasn't called that at the time) with the Secretary of War. Eisenhower walked away from the discussion feeling that using the bombs were entirely unnecessary, but that the military and the War Department wanted to use them just because they could. It is true too that the Japanese wanted to surrender, and desperately. Prince Konoe, who had not wanted to start a war with the US in the first place, was worried that if they didn't make peace with the US soon, there would be a Communist uprising inside Japan. The entire society was crumbling in the Home Islands. Most of the major cities had already been destroyed by firebombing, and tuberculosis had reached such a pandemic level that the government simply stopped counting the number of deaths by that terrible disease.

    The notion that Japan would not have surrendered without an invasion, and that that invasion would have cost the US a million men, is, I think, wildly inaccurate, and is another example of generals either being misinformed or lying to the President, or the President being misinformed or lying to himself. That, or just giving in to bloodlust. But it's not like we haven't done that before now, is it?

    •  A million US casualties in an invasion of Japan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is not only may in fact be a conservative estimation.
      I say this due to the insane number of casualties incurred in taking numerous volcanic atolls, some of which were only a few square miles in size.  The Japanse were masters of defensive fortification.  We aren't just talking about the initial landings here...we are talking about the subsequent months of combat it would take to subdue an entire nation.
      Furthemore, the death toll from Hiroshima and Nagasaki would pale in comparions to the nightly firebombing and saturation bombing that would have preceded or even occured without an invasion.

      See the death toll from the May 1945 firebombing of Tokyo for a point of refernece.  Those one hundred thousand deaths were from ONE raid...
      Imagine months of that.

      Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?

      by DawnoftheRedSun on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 02:04:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to mention all of the people in Asia (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that were being killed by the Japanese war machine.

        "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy

        by Lazar on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 03:23:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  People do not realize how FEW Americans died (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The best estimates for US soldier deaths in World War II was 290,00 - 300,000.

        That includes deaths in Europe AND in the Pacific.

        While that is a lot of deaths, the number pales when compared to the 12,000,000 the Soviets lost, and the 8,000,000 the Germans lost.

        I would not disagree with your estimate of 1,000,000 dead Americans in trying to take Japan.  If anything, it might be far too low.

        When Hitler planned the invasion of Russia, he and his generals thought the war would be over in less than six months.  (In fact, anything longer they knew would end up being a problem, due to supplies, etc.)  Everything was predicated on the blitzkrieg working.

        The US may have expected certain realities on the ground in Japan, but as Hitler found out, reality is a mother.

        Yes, the US had air superiority.  That is another one - Hitler had air superiority in both Russia and England, and it didn't end up doing him any good.  A committed, intransigent foe can find ways of doing all kinds of things to thwart advantages.

        The one million may be too low by a factor of one or two.  We'll never know, but that is my guess.

        •  "Blitzkrieg" (1939) = "Shock and Awe" (2003)? (0+ / 0-)

          Everything was predicated on the blitzkrieg working.

          I hadn't really made this connection before.

          •  Yes, the High Command . . . (0+ / 0-)

            Knew that the German weakness was logistics.  That was what bit them in WWI, creating great hunger at home, trying to sustain the war.

            YES, Shock and Awe is a direct copy of the Blitzkrieg.

            Logistics IS what bit them in Russia, after the blitzkrieg was stalled outside Moscow, at Stalingrad, and with the siege of Leningrad.  Up until then Barbarossa was incredibly effective.  The Germans simply could not believe the Russians had not already capitulated.  They took the best the Germans could mete out, and then much more, before the tide turned.  

            The whole war turned on the factories in Russia turning out tanks and planes.  (As far as I know, the factories were built by Americans, far from the ability of the Germans to bomb.  Armand Hammer was a big part of that.)

            For the Germans a long war was not good.

            When Hitler wanted to attack in the west, in late 1940, the High Command and the Abwehr (foreign intelligence) were prepared to take Hitler out, because they thought an autumn campaign would be slogged down by the weather.  Hitler finally relented, saving him from a coup he didn't even know about, and he decided to attack in the following spring instead.  Deciding that got the High Command behind him.  They didn't mind quite so much his atrocities (which they were well aware of but didn't think they could do anything about) as they did the possibility of another defeat like in 1918.

            (That is the short version...)

  •  high thumbs up (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ninkasi23, prettygirlxoxoxo, sumo, yaque

    for this monologue of yours. It became more fascinating and better as it wore on. you make very interesting points, wish this would be discussed more among more people here. I would be listening attentively. I think you´re on a hot trail when you lay a lot of the blame for the apparent decline of your republic at the doors of this peculiar place that you allow religion to occupy. would that you hadnt that problem. Religion should be a private thing and that means a thing hidden from public view (and it should be of no concern to voters if or not a candidate believes into which kinds of gods. They´re not there to perform rites, theyre there to serve a secular community in worldly functions).

    Ici s´arrète la loi.

    by marsanges on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 02:00:38 PM PST

    •  I am humbled by your praise, seriously (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ninkasi23, yaque

      Your last sentence brings to mind a book on the Scottish Enlightenment, in which the author almost blithely mentions that later in the 18th century professional governmental workers appeared.  (This was after the Scots in 1700 mandated universal education, for children and adults alike; in a few decades it began to change the world.  The ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment were taken by some people west of the Atlantic later in that century, who created a hell of a nation, which was to become a model for others.)

      There are, in fact, many such people in the world today, running the workings of our governments, rationally, sensibly, with all kinds of mixtures of beliefs that are held down as those officials ply their trade and make the infrastructure of our modern world function.  These people get far too little recognition.

      Government itself is the most basic of all infrastructure, since it is the one charged with maintaining all the various infrastructures, whether those are physical or societal, or aiding people.

      You're absolutely right - "they're not there to perform rites."  I love that.  I can use that in another context, if you don't mind...

  •  If you aspire to do history.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nospinicus, Beardface

    it must be in the service of objective analysis, not simply castigating Republicans.  It quickly vitiates any seriousness of purpose.  

    You see Monarchy as inherently less just than rule of the left.  And you're also not to thrilled about democracy.  The Tsar of Russia may have been an autocrat, but he allowed a Duma to have some input into government.  

    This was replaced by a leftist peoples party, the communism of Lenin, soon to be that of Stalin.  This was the ultimate dictatorship,  where some 30 million Ukrainians, among others were murdered because they refused to accept a government based on absolute equality.

    Republicans have their excesses, and this site is dedicated to feed on them.   But to assume that this validates a Manichean world view of current or past American history, just may be accepted by some, or even most on this site.

    But it eventually makes your work propaganda, the forming of historical narrative to promote a point of view, which is a different approach to reality than an historian.

    Other than this little problem, your diary is rather interesting.  

    •  Thanks for the criticism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and for appreciating it.

      Manichaean?  You know, I used to really respect the Republicans, when they had rational people like Nelson Rockefeller, and Henry Cabot Lodge, and especially my own Senator Everett Dirkson.  I could deal with the fact that they were conservative, that business interests needed to be considered, that frugality and balancing a budget were important.  They took government seriously.

      However, when the current brand of Republicans came out of the closet and admitted that they wanted to close down government altogether, that government was an evil thing, that unfettered markets were a good thing - those positions I cannot agree with, nor respect.

      I do not hate Republicans, though I would never marry one.  Their royalist leanings are, in fact, one of the least odious things about the current bunch.  But royalism IS one of their features, as I see it.  I was just drawing attention to that.

      I am glad it got some people's attention and appreciation - and some really intelligent comments. I LOVE intelligent exchanges of ideas.

      BTW, the Germans had a big hand in the overthrow of the Kerensky government in Russia, allowing Lenin to cross Germany and get there.  They had ulterior motives - they wanted Lenin to sue for peace so they could redeploy 1.5 million troops to the west.  The decision to let Lenin cross was the second of a series of reasonable decisions by the Germans that ended up backfiring on them and costing them the war in 1918.  It all came within an eyelash of succeeding, but in the end, led to defeat.  And paved the way - almost directly - to a Corporal named Adolf rising and causing a lot of trouble.

    •  I guess I'd say that Communism is so dead (0+ / 0-)

      we're essentially looking at a one-tailed (extreme capitalism) random distribution curve.  The second tail defining the other extreme option (communism) no longer exists in any meaningful form, i.e. no one wants their economy to follow North Korea's or Cuba's.

      Which reminds me of a distinction that is useful, at least to me.  Communism v. Capitalism are economic systems.  Democracy/Republicanism v. Monarchy/Dictatorship are systems of government.  And the two systems (economic and governmental) are basically independent choices.  

      China has a dictatorial capitalist system; we've got a democratic capitalist system ("if we can keep it", as Ben Franklin supposedly said).  NK/Cuba have dictatorial communist systems; much of Europe has democratic capitalist systems, though not as extreme on the continuum as our capitalist system.

  •  Republican Mind Set (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you're worried about the Republican mindset now, better fasten your seat belt. Once they actually clue in to the reality that the United States is a declining world power, they will become much more radicalized. President Obama's visit to "Zhong Guo" (PRC) is but a hint of what's to come. He is not the first "Pacific President" but rather the first American president to accept the reality that the balance of political power, influence and economic might is now shifting in earnest to the Pacific far east. Imagine Republican hysteria when the first state-of-the-art Chinese nuclear aircraft carrier group does a friendly port-of-call to San Diego or Norfolk. I can easily see that happening in the next 10 years or so. Our military-industrial empire has reached it's limits of sustainability while the Chinese are only now gearing up. Republicans (along with Glen Beck) are going to have a hellova lot more to be worried about than the current Democratic lock on Washington power. We are living in interesting times.

    •  Agreed, on all of that... (0+ / 0-)

      The most dangerous thing is a world power whose only remaining greatness is military power.  It is a terribly precarious balance, which can only lead to bullying (which we've seen).

      If we think the USSR collapse was sudden, ours could easily be shorter.

      Our military-industrial empire has reached it's limits of sustainability while the Chinese are only now gearing up.

      You are astute as to the reaction on the right.  They simply cannot imagine a world in which America is not #1.  It goes well beyond hubris.  It is essentially racism, and when it dawns on them for certain, the messenger needs to beware.  

      And that messenger is Obama.

      While we need Obama to be doing what he is doing (because there will be a post-American-lone-superpower world), they are too pea-brained to understand that world powers come and go.  They believe (like the Nazis) that it will last a thousand years, if not forever.

      Interesting times, yes...

      They will become less and less dangerous internationally, but very possibly more dangerous within the US.

  •  I think you mean NEO-secularism here.... (0+ / 0-)

    the no-secularism has brought about

    While I'm not a huge fan of nitpicking, I think this one affects your meaning pretty directly.

  •  Walled off (0+ / 0-)

    The Republican noise machine has been very good at walling off there audience from the polis.  They are commiting the sin of separation, on purpose.

    John Dewey speaks to this:

    Let us apply the first element in this criterion to a despotically governed state. It is not true there is no common interest in such an organization between governed and governors. The authorities in command must make some appeal to the native activities of the subjects, must call some of their powers into play. Talleyrand said that a government could do everything with bayonets except sit on them. This cynical declaration is at least a recognition that the bond of union is not merely one of coercive force. It may be said, however, that the activities appealed to are themselves unworthy and degrading -- that such a government calls into functioning activity simply capacity for fear. In a way, this statement is true. But it overlooks the fact that fear need not be an undesirable factor in experience. Caution, circumspection, prudence, desire to foresee future events so as to avert what is harmful, these desirable traits are as much a product of calling the impulse of fear into play as is cowardice and abject submission. The real difficulty is that the appeal to fear is isolated. In evoking dread and hope of specific tangible reward -- say comfort and ease -- many other capacities are left untouched. Or rather, they are affected, but in such a way as to pervert them. Instead of operating on their own account they are reduced to mere servants of attaining pleasure and avoiding pain.

    This is equivalent to saying that there is no extensive number of common interests; there is no free play back and forth among the members of the social group. Stimulation and response are exceedingly one-sided. In order to have a large number of values in common, all the members of the group must have an equable opportunity to receive and to take from others. There must be a large variety of shared undertakings and experiences. Otherwise, the influences which educate some into masters, educate others into slaves. And the experience of each party loses in meaning, when the free interchange of varying modes of life-experience is arrested. A separation into a privileged and a subject-class prevents social endosmosis. The evils thereby affecting the superior class are less material and less perceptible, but equally real. Their culture tends to be sterile, to be turned back to feed on itself; their art becomes a showy display and artificial; their wealth luxurious; their knowledge overspecialized; their manners fastidious rather than humane.

    Is this not the Tea Party crowd?  If so, what is the antidote?

    Dewey again:

    The Democratic Ideal.  The devotion of democracy to education is a familiar fact. The superficial explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful unless those who elect and who obey their governors are educated. Since a democratic society repudiates the principle of external authority, it must find a substitute in voluntary disposition and interest; these can be created only by education. But there is a deeper explanation. A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. The extension in space of the number of individuals who participate in an interest so that each has to refer his own action to that of others, and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his own, is equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men from perceiving the full import of their activity. These more numerous and more varied points of contact denote a greater diversity of stimuli to which an individual has to respond; they consequently put a premium on variation in his action. They secure a liberation of powers which remain suppressed as long as the incitations to action are partial, as they must be in a group which in its exclusiveness shuts out many interests.

    Add to this meme the subscriptions of Jefferson, Adams, Paine, Cardinal Newman.  This is the antidote and it must be delivered with an equal ferocity as the the Right spews fear and separation.

    If we could get a few of our brand name Democrats to convey these and other basic principles loudly and frequently, we will beat back the Tea Bag Anti-lectual Express (to nowhere).

    Thanks for a great follow-up to a great diary.

  •  Now that I've picked all my other nits: Nice Job! (0+ / 0-)

    I think it's a very interesting diary, TD, one I'm glad I took a chance on checking out.

    While others took issue w/ bringing religion into it, I'm not so quick to say it's not an issue.  You sound like you're surely aware Sam Harris that has said similar things regarding "moderate" v. fundamental religions.

    The commenter who said it's not just religion, but anti-intellectualism throughout society, including at home and in school is perfectly correct.  (I always wonder where else on earth are the classrooms' brightest derided as "nerds" or some other epithet, instead of celebrated?)  But I think we've gotta start somewhere and there are plenty of authoritarians who take their marching orders from their "Good Book".

  •  Can't wait to read the book! (0+ / 0-)

    Let us know when its finished!

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