Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Friday 24 November 2023

Hooptedoodle #452 - All they that take the sword

 For the sake of my mental well-being I have been avoiding getting too caught up in the latest adventures of the 45th President of the United States. What I have seen suggests that there is something fundamentally flawed about the Constitution and the legal system, in the sense that it never seems to have occurred to any of the lawmakers over the years that there could ever be anything like the current situation. The courts and the government appear to be powerless to control someone who sets out to be sufficiently bloody-minded; the whole edifice is in thrall to that badly-behaved boy who is prepared to set fire to the classroom, here and now, rather than admit that he hasn't done his homework. The scariest bit is that he derives a lot of strength from the rapt applause which greets all this foolishness.

 
Spare us the tough face, mate - you're too fat and slow to hurt anyone

It is not particularly astute (or original) to see parallels with German politics in the 1920s-30s. I have been reading (again) about the interwar period in Europe, and one thing that I was struck by (again) was the enormity of the change in public opinion in Germany over a short period. From being a rogue troublemaker, viewed primarily as a temporary nuisance, Hitler somehow became an unstoppable force. Against the odds? OK - we could debate this in the pub, but was it inevitable, after all? It seems to me that there must have been some key moments in his progress where Adolf might have fizzled out - disappeared from view. Unlucky breaks? Complacency? Propaganda? There must have been some identifiable points where he was lucky to get away with it.

 
"Leider habe ich heute meine Ukulele vergessen..."
 
I'm not looking for a learned analysis of German socio-political history from the period, just some suggestions about where it could have worked out differently. Any thoughts? There were definite actions which no-one dreamed were possible - execution of Ernst Röhm and the leaders of the SA might be an example. That's just a start.

In his own career since his failed attempt to burn down the Reichstag on Jan 6th, the aforementioned 45th President, a known student of Hitler's speeches, seems to exhibit no awareness of how what goes around comes around. If he succeeds in normalising all this talk of violence, leaving vaguely expressed threats online to be fulfilled by the more stupid of his followers, I would have thought it might just occur to him that someone from the other side might, in turn, decide that the world would be a safer, better place without him. If I were in his position, making all those public campaigning appearances (in the fabulously glamorous school gymnasiums of the marginal States), I would certainly be a bit nervous.

Just saying.

15 comments:

  1. Where do you start? For me when Hitler attempted to stage a putsch and was put on trial, that was a great opportunity, but of course it was the Bavarian state that held the trial, so he had a lot of sympathy. Then there was the Czech crisis when the UK should have called his bluff, we failed. and then there was Poland when the army were allegedly ready to kill him, but the allies weakness let it all unfold. Unfortunately the lie created in 1918 undermined the Weimar Republic and the generals were determined to hide their culpability in the surrender. As for the USA, well basing the entire rule of law on a constitution created in the late 1700's was always fraught with risk. A constitution has to be a living thing. Allowing a man to stand who is facing numerous criminal cases is bad, but then allowing a man who is clearly too old to think he can continue to do the job is not good either. Russia, China, Iran and the other loonies must think all their birthdays have come at once.

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    1. Great comment Robbie. Failure of the other major European powers to stand up to the Czech and Polish situations was important (though I'm not sure what they could or would have done about it, and Hitler knew it). The earlier situations he scraped through are interesting, especially considering the opposition he got from the Old Regime officer class in the army. I guess the failed assassinations feature pretty large!

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  2. Interesting photo; is he channelling his inner Al Capone? From memory he had problems with taxes as well.....
    As to Adolphus, well percentage of the vote seems to range from 32% to 43%; another dodgy decision based on no clear majority, surely that couldn't happen again....?
    I wouldn't underestimate the combination of populism and stupidity. Easily assimilated slogans demonising one section of society blaming them for all the current ails and problems of the country....hmm. I see even the normally sensible Dutch are going down this road.....
    Democracy may be imperfect but the alternatives don't bear thinking about....
    Neil

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    1. Agree with all of that, I'm afraid. It bothers me that most of the vociferous complainers about problems seem remarkably unclear what those problems might be - I guess that is an international problem. I try to avoid the idea that this is a major downside of democracy, but why do these idiots become heroes? I've always assumed that Trump got the nomination in 2016 because Yogi Bear was no longer up for the gig.

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  3. Perhaps it is just too easy to give up and let someone else sort everything for you?
    Someone comes along, blames all your woes on another group and promises to take all the pain away and return you to your former glories.
    It seems to be working in The Netherlands I noticed today with that creepy James Bond villain type.

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    1. PS - I know what I would like to do with that bat......

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    2. I would like to think that even the populists eventually run out of support, but not if they change the voting rules! (or pardon themselves)

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    1. Smart move. We are not doing too well in the UK with our current political leaders, either, so my interest is not without empathy.

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    2. Our US politscene resembles a minefield set in a sewer.

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  5. I wish I could tell you this is all blown out of proportion but its not. And you are too accurate. These are terrible dark days here and show a side of my country and people I never thought I would see. I fear for the future as they are up front with what horrors they will unless if they get back into office.

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    1. I used to have an inner belief that things somehow work out OK - that the majority of decent people will not tolerate anything crazy happening. The rise of uncontrolled social media and the demise of truth have rather dimmed my belief, but the important bit of this post is probably the second half of the biblical quotation with which I headed it - the bit I didn't mention, since everyone knows it by heart. Just a pathetic little display of faith, I guess.

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  6. [nundanket sent a comment which seems to have vanished in the machinery, and Blogger won't let me publish it, so I've cut and pasted from the original notification I received by email; sorry Chris - I blame the Deep State:]

    Where do you begin? SOME Dutch seem to be of a similar mind. some. More Argentinians seem to think it's still 2016-19 - when that doesn't work out, expect sabre rattling over the Falklands.
    Disagree with Robbie. Slightly. I think it was the Saarland and Rhineland.
    As for the Biblical verse. Whilst it may be true, unfortunately lots of people who don't live by the sword also end up dying too.

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  7. Ah well Chris beat me to it - apart from locking Hitler up and throwing away the key in the early twenties, the occupation of the Rhineland was definitely the time Britain and France easily could have (and should have) smashed him back into his box.
    The proportional voting system and coalition governments it creates were also helpful to Hitler (if I remember correctly, his % of the vote dropped in the last free election before he managed to get himself made Chancellor?) - not that I am against proportional representation - it's certainly better than first past the post or the incomprehensible system of colleges they have in the US (again, if I am not mistaken, Hilary Clinton got around 2m more votes than Trump 6 years ago - in any sensible democracy, that would have made her the winner and the 45th president!)
    Back to the original question - if the Allies (French in particular) had not been so vindictive with the Versailles Treaty and "squeezing Germany till the pips squeak" (as Lloyd-George famously said he would do), maybe the Weimer Republic would not have failed and Hitler would have had as much electoral success as Nigel Farange...... mind you, he didn't need it to achieve his aims, did he (talking of populism and stupidity).
    It is the one downside of democracy - there are a LOT of stupid people out there and they all have an equal vote!

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    1. This is good stuff Keith. I confess I was thinking less along lines of how Hitler could have been defeated in the war and more about how he might have been stopped somewhere before he got that far. Being arrested after the Putsch was a chance for him to be gently "disappeared". Best of all would have been if he'd been laughed off the stand at one of his early political speeches. Sadly he had done his homework too well - he knew how to chime with his listeners.

      Digression, but I was reading on the BBC site about British citizens giving their views in Swindon High Street about the new government effort to make their plans for banishing of asylum seekers - or most other immigrants, for that matter - acceptable in the eyes of international law and public decency. Much reference to there being too many Asians in the doctor's waiting room, yet (paradoxically) also too many Asian doctors. I am not smart enough to unscramble that, but white supremacists seem to be in plentiful supply. If there are enough of them, maybe their views become correct. Would Hitler would have gone down well in modern Swindon? He might have been a bit foreign, maybe.

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