Streetwise Professor

August 19, 2023

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices of the Ruling Classes

Filed under: History,Politics — cpirrong @ 4:27 pm

A current topic of debate by allegedly serious people in Germany is whether to ban Alternative for Germany (AfD), a nationalist political party which has been surging in opinion polls. Surging to such an extent that it currently out-polls the ruling Social Democrats and is in shouting range of the Christian Democrats. Those mooting the ban include Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier. These elite worthies label the AfD as extremist, enemies of the constitution, and threats to democracy.

The utter moral panic is palpable.

The irony of banning a political party in the name of “democracy” is beyond obvious.

Midwits defending a ban make arguments like, well, the Nazis came to power by democratic means, so it is necessary to protect democracy against the new Nazis–which they obviously believe the AfD to be.

This is historical idiocy. For one thing, the Nazis were declining in popularity when Hitler was invited by German President Paul von Hindenburg to become Chancellor, at the behest of Franz von Papen. Von Papen was a member of the conservative elite, which despaired of defeating the left without the Nazi base. He came up with the brilliant plan of bringing the Nazis into the government on the theory that the conservative elite would dominate Hitler and use him: “We’ve hired him” von Papen told Hindenberg.

Yeah, that worked out great!

Moreover, Hindenburg had to exercise his emergency powers under the Weimar Constitution to install Hitler as Chancellor since the Nazis did not have a majority or a majority coalition in the Reichstag. Again, he did so under the theory that by doing so he would prevent the left from obtaining power and install a puppet that his minority faction could control.

So no, the Nazis did not take power by democratic means. They had a considerable voting bloc, yes, but it was the arrogant and blundering machinations of a faction of the German elite that put them in power.

Soon thereafter, Hitler ran roughshod over those who thought he was their hireling. One of his first acts, in the aftermath of the Reichstag Fire, was to persuade Hindenburg to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended most civil liberties. This was followed by the passage of the Enabling Act that effectively allowed Hitler to rule by decree, and which ultimately resulted in . . . the effective banning of all political parties other than the Nazis.

More irony for you.

Other historical facts fundamentally differentiate the AfD from the Nazis. The Nazis had a vast paramilitary organization (the SA, and the SS, which was much smaller when Hitler took power) that could intimidate opponents and carry out violence against those that posed a political threat to the Party: the AfD does not. The Nazis obviously had a mesmerizing and messianic leader who attracted a mass personal following. The AfD does not.

The AfD are not my cup of tea, in large part because they are anti-American, although I can understand and sympathize with some of the positions that have made them a political force, namely their anti-EU stance, and their anger over the immigration policies that Merkel and the German political elite forced on the country.

But that’s neither here nor there. What’s particularly fascinating about this to me is how it validates something I pointed out before the 2016 election in the United States, namely, the utter inability of the western “elite” to comprehend–or even consider the possibility–that they created the thing that now terrifies them to the point of wanting to ban it.

AfD’s popularity is due completely to the failure of the German ruling class of all parties–SPD, CDU, Greens. Or maybe not its failure, but it’s Borat-like success of imposing its will despite popular opposition, and its demonization and cancelation of those who express their dissatisfaction.

In other words, the German establishment is reaping what it has sown, and doesn’t like it one bit. But instead of stepping back and asking why supposed Nazis have re-emerged in modern Germany, and considering whether maybe, just maybe, the enemy is them, and that they are primarily responsible for this malign development, they presume their righteousness and react by attempting to demonize and crush what they have created, Sorcerer’s Apprentice-like.

And again, this is not a phenomenon unique to Germany. It is ubiquitous in the west, where populist fires lit by the ruling classes are burning, and the ruling classes cannot even countenance the thought they they are the arsonists.

The Trump phenomenon in the US is one example. Brexit in the UK. (Both of these were prominent in my 2016 post.) But not just them. Look at France (Le Pen) or the Netherlands (Farmers’ Party) or Meloni in Italy.

Or Melei in Argentina. This clip is wildly entertaining, but not just for Melei’s volcanic rant or his Austin-Powers-Meets-the-Late Elvis hairdo: the look on the interviewer’s face is priceless:

A smaller example is the freak out over “Oliver Anthony” (real name Christopher Anthony Lunsford), whose “Rich Men North of Richmond” dominates iTunes –along with several of his other songs. Anthony’s (who would be a spitting image of me at his age if he was about 15 lbs. lighter–I mean, a near doppelgänger) success has caused a moral meltdown among the establishment. Yes, the left in particular, but also the elitist right (e.g., National Review).

Again, the Other frightens these people no end, but they cannot come to grips with the fact that the Other is a reaction to them, 10000 percent.

In a typically supercilious and condescending way, New York Times columnist David Brooks (whom I have a vague recollection of encountering a few times during our shared time at the University of Chicago) tiptoed up to the precipice and looked over. But in the end he chooses to be a “card-carrying member of his class” (his words).

The populist forces shaking virtually the entire west will not abate until the ruling classes engage in self-reflection, self-criticism, and humility. But that is not in their nature. They KNOW they are better than you, and if you disagree with them that’s because you are the unwashed reprobate who doesn’t know his/her place. Which means that the populist backlash will not abate. Especially in Jacksonian America.

And when it does not abate, authoritarian responses are inevitable. Germany’s serious consideration of banning the AfD is just the harbinger of such responses. And that will look mild compared to what is brewing in the United States. The Sorcerer’s Apprentices of our ruling classes have unleashed forces that they cannot control, and are indeed redoubling their spells. Chaos is inevitable.

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  1. Talleyrand’s quote about the Bourbons perfectly captures the modern (and self-appointed) elites: “They have learnt nothing, and forgotten nothing.”

    Franz von Papen — Klaus Schwab MkI?

    I’ve had a lot more respect for Jackson as president ever since reading Paulsen and Paulsen, “The Constitution: An Introduction.” That book was a real eye-opener.

    Comment by Pat Frank — August 20, 2023 @ 8:51 am

  2. Add Pakistan to the ‘Comedy for Democracy’ drive

    Step 1: Remove Imran Khan from power (per US ‘request’)
    Step 2: Stick him in jail and basically ban his party
    Step 3: Blinken congratulates Pakistan on the runup to ‘free and fair elections’

    Imran ain’t no angel to be sure. But still gotta laugh (at a safe distance)

    Comment by Simple Simon — August 20, 2023 @ 11:26 am

  3. Midwits? You’re too kind, Professor.
    It is the height of stupidity to try to win in the courts instead of the ballot box. (So far.) Actual Trump or AfD supporters won’t be deterred by any sanction short of assassination and many floating voters will gravitate to them out of sympathy for the democratic process, nothing more.
    As for Trump, he’s been in thousands of court cases and probably regards the law as a cost of doing business, and as Hunter has shown, politics is a business.

    Comment by philip — August 20, 2023 @ 2:14 pm

  4. worried about what kind of chaos…..commies thrive on chaos. See Lenin.

    Comment by Jeff Carter (@pointsnfigures1) — August 21, 2023 @ 6:24 am

  5. Some topics within the background of the situation in Germany:
    – Non-voting was always framed as supporting the far-right and fascism. But after WW2 no ultra right party ever played a role in Germany. Parties and people do not like to look into the mirror and accept, that the troubles Germany ran into were caused by the majority of voters and established parties in the traditional left-middle-conservative spectrum.
    -AfD was only framed as far right, in many positions they just represent normal positions were classical parties adapted extrem agendas, or AfD just plays the ‘opposition theme still in the parliament’
    -in Germany, excellerated since Corona, every non-conformist view nowadays gets framed as right-wing, fascist, anti-semitic or ‘open to the rightwing’…
    -the ‘established party spectrum’ has adopted rightwing views as never before, the ‘green party’, once pacifist, is the fiercest pro war in Ukraine and pro weapons supporter in Germany
    -it comes within the context that the president and others emphazise that Germany is a ‘representative democracy’, not a ‘direct democracy’: Germans can vote people as representatives into the parliament, but not influence politics directly and the voted for don’t keep their promises and parties from left-middle-conservative spectrum stand for the same agendas ( of WEF etc.).

    But I’ve read, also in the US jewish foundations and the daughter of Leonard Bernstein need to defend the actor and producer of a biographical movie about Bernstein against ‘the leftist’, just because he did wear a nose prolongation in order to match the looks of Bernstein better…

    Comment by Mikey — August 21, 2023 @ 6:05 pm

  6. accelerated…(it’s 2:15 am here, typing on the phone and when I close my eyes, my typos come to mind…)

    Comment by Mikey — August 21, 2023 @ 6:20 pm

  7. “the ‘green party’, once pacifist, is the fiercest pro war in Ukraine and pro weapons supporter in Germany”

    There we go again, Mikey broadcasting the Kremlin propaganda. Being (if moderately) pro weapons delivery to Ukraine, the Greens are clearly pro peace, as peace requires kicking out the aggressor, which requires weapons. Alas, no political party in Germany is fiercely pro peace.

    Comment by Ivan — August 22, 2023 @ 12:48 am

  8. @Ivan: You are just pre-occupied and absorbed by that geopolitical conflict and this with a very limited view. And you are not German I suppose and give a damn shit about people in Germany. See, I am German even though I’m not living there and I refused to go to the army and refused to go to the so-called civil service (had to work in a hospital for over two years with a normal emoloyee contract). So, I’m ‘pacifist’ in a sense that I’m not for any war, wherever it is and Germany has a specific history, where they should not support war against russia and it’s against the ‘constitution’ (it’s got only a basic law). And many people in Germany do not see Russia as enemy and like to have frienfly relations and trade with it. The point is: the ‘green party’ was pacifist in that sense. Now they are pro- war and pro spending 100 Billion in weapons (that don’t go to Ukraine) plus increase yearly military spending. The Ukraine conflict, it’s a Non-EU and Non-Nato country, has got nothing to do with Germany, and including sanctions etc did cost Germany so far 600 Billion EUR is estimated and harmed it’s general economic position. And energy and living costs increased. And the German tax payer shall pay for it, including for guarantees of investment returns of corporations investing in Ukraine. But pensioners etc in Germany do not get any money on top, for this there is no money, poverty is increasing. And many people think the politicians and parties do not serve the interests of the German peoples, but different agendas. And that explains in part why the established parties in Germany loose support. And apart from this: do you want to say, there is only Kremlin propaganda, no US and NATO propaganda. When you’d open a newspaper in Germany, would you read rather Kremlin or Atlantic Alliance propaganda? And how much money officially spent on Ukraine and weapons for Ukraine, also in the US, did actually go to Ukraine? And what went to Ukraine, what was used in the conflict? Didn’t install the ‘West’ a regime in Ukraine, originally already in 2014, that is against the interests of the peoples of Ukraine? They just abolished democracy there instead of defending it, or? They are privatizing Ukraine and selling it to Western corporations and oligarchs. They are using it as a pretext to increase military spending in the West and looting and laundering public money. They use it to dump old Western weapons. They just sacrifice Ukrainian soldiers for their own interests. Didn’t a US Republican politician recently say ‘what do you want? It does not cost US soldier’s lifes and we spent most of the money in the US for new weapons that we’ll need later on’? But I say just that now, beause you touched ipon it. I was just refering to an inner German view, whether the conflict is in the Ukraine or elsewhere was not the point of it.

    Comment by Mikey — August 22, 2023 @ 2:30 am

  9. @Mikey

    “I’m ‘pacifist’ in a sense that I’m not for any war, wherever”

    Are you just saying you support any dictators wherever arbitrarily murdering anyone they choose? Yourself icluded? Because if the chosen victims resist it would be, you know, that scary “war” thing.

    “Germany has a specific history, where they should not support war against russia”

    Yeah, that specific history is called Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, where the Germans and the Russians in close cooperation destroyed and enslaved the “Zwischenlaender”. The pact is no longer binding and so the Germans do not strictly have to support the Russian attempt to repeat the whole thing.

    “The Ukraine conflict, it’s a Non-EU and Non-Nato country, has got nothing to do with Germany”

    Unfortunately it does. The war is a rather direct result of decades of German establishment’s blatant disregard for the security of its eastern neighbors, including EU/NATO allies, despite repeated pleas (more like desperate screams) from the latter. Schroederization is not a new concept, nor is it non-German. Sometimes free-riding turns out not to be free, and in such circumstances claiming idiocy only works if it is believable. It is not.

    “When you’d open a newspaper in Germany, would you read rather Kremlin or Atlantic Alliance propaganda?”

    I thought the history of the Berlin Wall (specifically the prevailing direction of the movement across it) had answered this question. But some apparently want the experiment back.

    “Didn’t install the ‘West’ a regime in Ukraine”

    Nope. Neither did Poland attack Gleiwitz. The actual facts did not stop a prepared military aggression, though.

    “But I say just that now, beause you touched ipon it”

    Indeed, I turned over a stone of Kremlin propaganda and it opened a geyser of Kremlin propaganda.

    Comment by Ivan — August 22, 2023 @ 6:26 am

  10. @Ivan: so, the topic was, what is going on in Germany? So, many Germans do not share your views, and they would like to see their views represented by the representatives they are voting for, so far we could clarify it.

    But they hear, e.g. talking about the ‘green’ party, that the German ‘green’ party politicians are proud, that they get ‘high fives’ from Polish politicians or that Baerbock ‘does not care about what her voters say’…apart from other things like Barbock asking for a ‘360 degrees change in direction’ or that people should not just think about their homecountry and neighboring countries, but about those ‘hundrets of thousands of kilometers away’…

    Apart from this: the neocons and ‘F*** the EU Nuland’ care about the security of Ukraine, Eastern Europe and Germany, that’s what it’s about? C’mon…

    Comment by Mikey — August 22, 2023 @ 7:51 am

  11. @Mikey

    Yes, the topic was “what is going on in Germany”, and you misrepresented the Greens as being pro-war whereas they are clearly pro-peace. It’s not like I’m a Baerbock fan or something, so you can spare the list of her gaffes.

    None of which invalidates the Professor’s point that political establishment in major “western” countries are sh*t and we are all gonna pay the price of it. Which is also normal 😉

    Comment by Ivan — August 22, 2023 @ 8:23 am

  12. And Ivan, what I forgot: your dictator scenario – that’s like a war I’m not for. But it’s just supposed to give an idea. I don’t wear a label ‘pacifist’…

    But your scenario has got nothing to do with the general situation of the conflict in Ukraine, nor with my life. Instead of doing 12 months of military service or 15 months of civil service I refused to do so and worked for 27 months in a hospital with an employee contract. This way I did not have to follow military orders, that would leave me without a right to decide for myself. I prefer to decide for myself…I’ve learned some Kung Fu, none to speak of, but I’d defend myself if necessary, but more so, I’d rather be in the right place at the right time, which could mean not within the reach of the ficticious dictator. Once in Jerusalem I did not buy into the fear or reports about daily terrorism…I once did a guns ‘exercise’ (was not bad at it)…did get along well with ex-officers (one once the head of allied forces in Mogadischu)…and ‘scary’ or not, I’d avoid wars and war regions where I can…

    …and I’m not sure whether there is something like an undeclared (economic) war against Germany (also thinking about Nord Stream), but I’ve never voted in Germany and I’m not living there…nor do I pay taxes there…

    Comment by Mikey — August 22, 2023 @ 8:52 am

  13. Didn’t use to think this way but life is quite a teacher.

    Can germans be fixed? I doubt it. There’s something rotten in them.
    Can arggies be fixed? I doubt it. There’s something rotten in them.

    Both germans and arggies prefer to live in a cesspool complaining about the smell but doing nothing to change things.

    Let’s not forget that german nazism was imported into Argentina in the 1930s and never left.

    It’s a nazism-light, banana “republic” style, but Argentina is a country governed by nazi mafias. You won’t see the swastikas (mostly) but the nazi mafias are there as also the descendants of thousands of nazis that were fleeing there even before WW2 had ended. They fled with fortunes in gold and other treasure taken from their dead victims and are doing quite well for themselves like the ghouls they are.

    Chaos ought to be inevitable here but I’m afraid it is not.

    nazism took over germany because the german soul was already into it and they swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

    Gleichschaltung is german and german is gleichschaltung.

    Why didn’t germans have a moral immune system that made nazism impossible?

    Because the german soul is the soul of a collectivist cannibal.

    The same is happening in AINO-Venezuerica. The very same.

    Do we have a moral immune system to make leftoxenomorphism-nazism impossible?

    I’m not sure.

    1775 happened for much less that what is being shoved down our throats, right now

    Comment by FRONT_TOWARD_ENEMY — August 25, 2023 @ 1:51 am

  14. @13 — we’ll see what happens in November 2024.

    Comment by Pat Frank — August 25, 2023 @ 11:22 pm

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