The Failing of Nations


Momentarily, your correspondent peruses material about terror, Nazi and Soviet mass murder, and the GULAG-system. At their outset one finds the frailty of nations. Therefore, it is rather consequential that, the case of “France 1940” came to mind as a pressing theme.

It might not fit current assumptions, but once France enjoyed a top rating in the power game. She was assumed to have the best army and to hold formidable defensive positions. That impression collapsed when, in 1940, Germany lunched her “real war” against its overrated neighbor. Nowadays, when no European state can be a great power, quick defeat, followed by years of occupation and an imposed puppet government, appear to be self-evident outcomes.

Regardless of what actually happened, France did not have to collapse. At least the purely military balance did not pre-ordain the stunningly quick defeat. Isolated Poland, smaller, less well armed, and attacked conjointly by the Wehrmacht and the Red Army, resisted as long as France did. Then there is tiny Finland that fought the USSR for months. Looking for the “real cause” is more than a search for historical wisdom; the inquiry points to our own time. For Americans, the matter is more than an intellectual exercise. Viet Nam is part of the story about unwarranted defeats, and some presidential candidacies provoke associations.

Power, and by implication security, is the product of a web of interacting factors. Yes, having faced the Red Army in 1956, it is clear to the writer that material features are important. Small countries seldom win against large empires, the lack of weapons is hard to compensate by last minute efforts, and stones against tanks, do not prevail. Slingshots against dive bombers do not score and, untrained men will not win even if they have good marching songs.

If that would be all, then conflicts would be unnecessary. One could just compare material factors, add up the numbers and proclaim a winner. However, power is more than the sum total of numbers. Whether it is military power or political influence, getting what you want, involves more than just physical power enhanced by mass, and the ability to replace losses. By that criterion, Germany lost the second world war because she lacked the means to fight and win a protracted conflict. Put in boxing terms, it was either a first round KO or downfall.

Obviously, when the powerful fail against midgets or the technically backward, the cause is not to be found in the quantitative element that figures express.

In conflicts, whether carried out by arms or in the political arena, “size” matters but it is not everything. Assuming that comparable entities clash, the one that prevails will do so because of his system, the commitment of its population, and its political culture. Weak countries are the ones that, like France in 1940, are unable to mobilize and use assets that give strength. “Marx, Mao, Marcuse” might have sounded good in Berkeley in ’68, even when few of those chanting understood what dish results from the recipe. From there a straight line can be drawn to the fall of Saigon, the Sandinistas, the Taliban, the Ayatollahs and their ilk. America might be history’s greatest military power. Regardless of that, she is vulnerable, easily paralyzed, and confused. All these are not sores implanted by a foe, but are of her own making. Which is the reason for the damage they can cause.

When attacked and defeated, France cannot be said to have been the victim of a surprise. Formally, a state of war existed for months before the blow hit. Moreover, ever since the conclusion of the Versailles peace treaty, its provocative provisions made it clear that France will need to defend her war booty. French policies were cognizant of the coming conflict, and immense sums were invested to prepare for the reckoning. Indeed, militarily this happened to be the case.

However, politically, France was unfit to war against a resolute enemy. While an unconcerned majority occupied passively a middle ground, the country’s politically mobilized elements were divided. Both activist camps rejected the political system, wished for its defeat, and advocated divisive solutions that proved that “a house divided cannot stand”.

The Left and the Right agreed that the system failed to pursue the community’s interests. To them, the government lacked legitimacy. For the Left it served the “exploiters” and international capital. For the Right, an international, largely Jewish conspiracy, exploited the nation. Both went beyond criticism and moved from the assertion of illegitimacy to allege treason. With that point made, there followed the advocacy of an overthrow in order to right wrongs by destroying the “system”.

Small wonder then that, when the country needed to be defended the dissident camps found that their connection to an idealized foreign system was more compelling than the integrity of the land of their formal citizenship. The hate of the domestic enemy prevailed over the sacrifice needed to rebuff foreign conquest. France’s integrity commanded less loyalty than the authoritarian dream associated with the Reich -or salvation by Stalin.

Analogous self-liquidating confusion, rooted in imbecility and the ignorance of the historical record, continues to prevail and gain ground in our day. Disloyalty as a virtue, a bold struggle against a past, and currently negligible, therefore “safe” foe, are part of it. So is the discovery of the “hope of mankind” in any system as long as it fights, in the name of an ideal, an admittedly imperfect, democratic political order and its matching economic system. Anything is endorsed that can confer power on elites to exploit doctrines that serve their waning clout. Elites are easily bribed by the attraction of their own illusions. To abolish free market democracy, actors that would otherwise be rejected, are extended support.

Accordingly, if they would not be anti-western, the Mullahs would be dismissed as “clerical reactionaries”. Castro, Maduro, Che and the like be labeled as “primitive leftist deviants”, the Palestinians categorized as “racist”, while national liberation movements would be tagged as fascistic “nationalists”. The classic case of this “flexibility” has been the Stalin-Hitler Pact of 1939 and its acceptance by disciplined followers. The matter sunk it into the “memory hole” once Hitler attacked the USSR.

The language we are to use, is another area in which the moral flexibility of the decay’s learned cultivators is displayed. Words are made into taboo terms, and new phrasing are imposed. If it would not be a sign of collapse, then the best new joke would be the proposal of a major dictionary to replace “women” with “womxn”. Small wonder that the circle widens that disrespectfully dismisses the “cultivated” that let their fanaticism to take them into the swamp of the ridiculous.

It is a favorite theme of self-proclaimed enlightened cliques that crave supremacy, to predict doom. Since the first millenium, the writing-preaching-reading class is attracted to theories that forecast the “coming end” caused by the “sinful” worldly order. Not accidentally, the ruin could be avoided if only the uncouth masses would live according to the dictate of their moral leaders who alone are enabled to save the world. Malthus, Marx -especially as amended by Lenin- and now the frenzied Greens, are symptoms of the instinct to rescue mankind by leading it out of sin. No wonder then, that the new Maid of Orleans is impersonated by Greta.

It is true in the case of nearly every country, that it can be best defeated with the help of its own people. Entities like Russia, the US, China cannot be routed without Russians, Americans, and Chinese. In modern times, with the emergence of “confused democracy”, mortal cooperation with an idealized enemy against an imperfect prevailing reality is often available. Without wanting to plead for unreserved obedience, and not intending to equate criticism with treason, certain popular forms of protests appear to be criminally naïve.

Fashionably, understanding is given to the allegedly morally superior detractors of the civilization that is the foundation of advanced countries and especially of the “West”. The simple, the rudimentary, is often primitive and by no means necessarily superior by being “authentic” as the sophisticated claim. A hunting and gathering economy might be interesting during vacation; it does not make its practitioners morally superior. It is not an optimal response to backwardness and poverty, to attribute virtue to its victims -which safely remote outsiders like to do. Not living as did our ancestors does not make us or our culture inferior.

The main trait that supports predictions of the doom of our “decadent” way of life is our “confused democracy”. My term insinuates that a segment of the public is trained to be oblivious to the fact that they are members of a natural community with unique traits. It is ignored that this community, without claiming chauvinistic superiority, has the function of protecting the interests of its members. To do that is legitimate, not aggression. For these reasons the community deserves loyalty and that it be served by its constituents. Returning to our “roots” is not possible, and the “noble savage” is a creation of fiction. Also, be cognizant, that expecting to receive from others what we are not willing to create and to defend is a fantasy. What will remain of it in practice is an idle dream that converts into a nightmare.

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