The one thing that stops politics

A politician was talking about the unfortunate condition of his government:

Since the economic had begun…

…growing numbers of Agrarians maintained that the state was ungovernable without their participation, and that their party was the only one capable of managing the state…In the summer of 1933, Beran himself was of the opinion that the rising root of aggravation was an exaggerated school education, and (that), for a child subjected to education, a country person ‘began to stink of horse piss.’

‘We have the most educated proletariat…the government has to perform miracles, so as to be able to maintain an army of tramps who mainly despise work…so that an unemployed worker would not have to leave town for the countryside and ask a farmer for a job.’

The state would never get out of its difficulties without reducing lavish unemployment benefits, ‘this social monster which the socialists have created…’

The politician who presented this position was Rudolph Beran, a leader in the Agrarian party of Czechoslovakia during the 1930s. His assessment was supported largely by rural folks who populated a region known as Sudetenland. Many of the these Agrarians were ethnic Germans whose loyalties were gravitating, during the ’30s, toward support for German occupation of their region of the Czech lands. The passage above was quoted from The Life of Edvard Benes, 1884-1948, by Zbynek Zemen with Antonin Klimek (Oxford, 1997)

However, after a while the extremist rhetoric didn’t really produce much benefit to anyone. In 1939, all the polarizing politics that had been cranked out between fascist and communist extremes in eastern Europe went up in smoke, because Hitler’s war blew all the manipulative politics to smithereens.

Europe in the 1930s was a festering boil of political infection and belligerence that eventually erupted as World War II. At the  core of the contagion was a warm-up war of opposing ideologies:  fascism and communism. Fascism was being force-fed by Germany and Italy.  Communism was perpetrating through the nascent Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, led by Russia.

Pretty much the whole developed world was suffering through an economic depression. The democratic nations, primarily France, Great Britain, and their smaller allies, were grasping at security straws. In their faltering attempts to preserve peace and what was left of prosperity, the liberal democracies were attempting to follow a political course between the two extremes of fascism and communism. This was no easy agenda, given the extremities with which Nazi Germany and the Soviet Russia were polarizing their own internally bloody pathologies along with the other nations under their influence.

The most fervent expression of these death-wish ideologies was being hammered out in eastern Europe. Czechoslovakia and Poland, two regions or “nations” that had long been areas of exploitative manipulations between the larger powers, were destined to become the flash points of the world’s next “great war”–the one that the last “great war” (1912-1918) had purported to avoid.

Czechoslovakia was a fledgling democratic republic during the ’20s and ’30s, having been established in the remnants of the Austria-Hungary empire that had dissipated after 1918 and the end of World War I. But this new Czech nation was a fragmented check-list of ethnic groups: Czechs, Sudetan Germans, Slovaks, Hungarians, and a few others.

A multiplicity of political identities in 1930s Czechoslovakia generated a swirling frenzy of discontents. The most intense Czechoslovakian rivalries were in the western border districts,  the Sudetenland, where a  plurality of ethnic Germans held to Deutschland traditions and loyalties. This hotbed of opposing discontents is where World War II found its first militarized eruptions.

During 1938, Hitler’s impudently pagan will-to-power intimidated British and French politicians into submissive strategies of appeasement. The Munich Pact conceded Sudetenland to the third reich, and assigned the Czechs to an impotent role as pawns in the game. Czech leaders had not even been consulted; nor were they present when the sellout deal with the devil was signed in Munich in September. The Nazi wehrmacht‘s ensuing occupation of Sudeten Czech lands set the terrible stage for Hitler’s invasion of the Czech lands in March 1939.

But Czechoslovakia was just a wehrmacht warmup for the full-scale blitzkrieg of Poland that came in September of ’39. That’s when the Allies finally woke up to smell the smoke of hitlerian deception and destruction. Then they began to mobilize the Allied resistance that ultimately became successful by 1945. But World War II was no walk in the park.

A lot has changed in our world since then. Today our politics and war rationalizations display a few discernible parallels with those turbulent times past. Now the players on the stage are the same, but different. European ideological extremities have synthesized somewhat, a la Hegelian dialectics, morphing to “the West.” Meanwhile in Eurasia the old kid on the world block–Islam–rises as a newly energized force-field. It will exert  polarizing effects to religiously neuterize our old ideologies into kaffirific irrelevance. Could be a volatile situation, especially if you factor in the spark-breathing dragon in the far East.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

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