Gandhi Meets the Barbarians
When it comes to analyzing what lays out there just around the next corner, Glenn Beck is probably one of the best political analysts there is. He’s almost as good as me, for Glenn has one problem. He can’t bring himself to connect that last dot of logic. Even in the looming gun control battle now working its way through Congress, Glenn sides with the NRA and his adopted home Texas, urging people to “fight to save our gun rights,” yet, once it’s time to say just what “fight” means, to Glenn Beck it isn’t exactly what I’m sure 90% of all the Texans think it means. Not even Ronald L Dart, my favorite radio preacher, from White House, Texas would agree with him.
You see, Glenn Beck favors passive resistance, a la, Mahatma Gandhi, and later, Rev Martin Luther King, as the best way to beat back political tyranny in our country.
Gandhi and the Barbarians.
Here’s my problem with the Gandhi approach to America’s tyranny problem.
Had Gandhi lived in Russia in 1924, and had 100 people laid down in front of the big steam locomotive at Kievsky Station in Moscow, as they once did in Calcutta, it’s almost for certain that the locomotive would have run them over. Worse, had Dzherzinsky seen the film footage of the carnage, he’d have said, “Hey, that’s not such a bad idea. Get me another thousand volunteers. What sport!”
It’s true. There were never mass protests against the Soviets…that we’ve heard about. And that may be point. Hated by three-quarters of the Russians, and feared by all of them, by 1930 any hint of protest against the Communists was unthinkable, knowing as they did of the forced starvation of two million souls in the Ukraine…while the rest of the world, with the help of Walter Duranty and the New York Times, never even heard about it. Only rumors, uncorroborated rumors, in an age when only the “free” press could verify anything. And they didn’t.
Stalin may as have well killed those two million in his bathroom.
Likewise in Germany. The looming holocaust was known inside Germany as early as 1934, but by 1939, the war curtain surrounded Europe, so again, the only recorded mass protest against the Nazis was one in which guns were involved. It was called the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
You see, what both Gandhi and Dr King relied on was the known civilization of their oppressors. The British arrogantly proclaimed themselves to being the most civilized people on earth. And as Gandhi saw it, this grand self-opinion was the Brits’ greatest weakness. So, he pushed British sense of fairness and civility to its limit, the history of their several lapses chronicled by an ever-growing and sympathetic world press. All because of Gandhi. And Britain, from the King to the Prime Minister to the Viceroy hated a bad press, especially one that showed off the worst of British managerial skills in dealing with off-colored people. For Gandhi, it was a cake-walk of sorts, albeit a slow one, for he also had time on his side, his struggle lasting 32 years. India finally won its independence in 1948.
In truth, the outcome was never in doubt, and I think Gandhi knew it. In the end, the Brits responded as their true nature dictated . It was Jinna and the Muslims who were hard, it turned out.
Dr King was no different. A Georgia southerner, and a Christian minister, he knew very well the contradictions between the South’s deep religious convictions and the way whites had treated blacks throughout the Jim Crow states. He knew he could force the ugliest of the south (Bull Conner and the KKK) to step forward and embarrass the general population before the eyes of the whole nation, simply by using Gandhi’s methods of pushing their humanity to the limits; simply by getting in the way. The dogs and water hoses would do the rest.
One person in Mississippi told me years ago that Mississippi mothers changed their minds on a dime about race after they saw their sons on national TV spitting on James Meredith as he entered Old Miss in 1962. They didn’t raise their kids to behave that way. They were humiliated, and they made their husbands pay dearly for it. (There’s nothing worse under the sun than under-cooked okra.) In the South, within five years, it was over. (Not so the north.) That outcome too was pre-ordained.
Both Gandhi and King built their strategies around the known foundations of their tormentors. Not the posturings of civilized manners, mind you, but their reality. And they were right.
There are all sorts of lessons to be learned from this simple realization. But had Gandhi confronted either the Soviets or the Nazis I suspect he would have organized his resistance a little differently.
And that appears to be the case with our current occupants of the seats of power in America. They seem to cozy up to barbaric thug-like behavior around the world and snub civilization as we know as somehow being the trappings of colonialism.
What we know is that barbarians do not suffer mass resistance even one little bit.
Still Gandhi was correct on his overall strategy. He found his enemy’s greatest weakness and then provoked it, with a more or less good idea how they would react.
Provocation, not passive resistance, is the operative word that drives the strategy of resistance. This is where Beck misses the point.
But to be justified we have to determine if we are indeed confronting barbarians today.
Consider this. By 1936, three years after Adolf Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany, the Party, originally a bunch a nihilists and thugs, had taken on the trappings of royalty as their absolute power and fear of their power, swept over Germany. In three short years, they had gone from cutthroats and rapists to well-mannered, groomed aristocrats.
You may wonder how they could pull that off. One word, Power. Plus a little optics and oratory in obtaining it, Adolf Hitler being that optical illusionist.
By 1936 the German leadership owned several houses and apartments, in the city, in the Alps, plus their offices in Berlin were like royal antechambers, the walls filled with great art such as Picasso, Titian, Cezanne… all stolen from Jews. They may as well have been dogs playing poker for all they knew. Even the furniture was commandeered. A ranking Nazi didn’t need to know the difference between a Louis XVI desk, a Queen Anne dresser and an overturned peach crate. All he needed was a well-informed $5/day factotum to tell him, a type which hangs around Power like green bottle flies.
Not native to their upbringing, Nazis had learned to affect the manners of aristocrats, from reading a French menu, to holding the tea cup with the proper fingers, to sniffing Gouda on the block, to never slurp or belch, and exchange pleasantries with ladies, all much like John Kerry, while still forgetting to do all sorts of things once out of the public eye, such as washing off a bit after forced sex, depending on where it occurred; the bedchamber, the barn, the back of truck, or even who it occurred with (many Nazis were notorious pillow-biters, not to mention friends of many animals and children), none of which John Kerry did, I think.
I think Nazi passions interfered with their proper reading of history, for somehow, in their private orbits, and with that awesome Power, they were able to turn gross perversions into near-religious observances. (I’m not kidding here. I read some stuff in Russia that would curl your spine. Every powerful Nazi had become a virtual religion unto himself, complete with moral justifications, all the way down party ranks.)
Moreover, they had adopted a special language, the language of their politics, with the help of toadie writers in university, much as the Soviets created their own Marxian theoretical class, (Yuri Andropov one of the last), so that they could speak to each other, or on the podium, and give the impression to all others not in on the scam that they were philosophically deep in both thought and in deed, when in fact they were third rate dilettantes. Cliff’s Notes academicians. Real Germans close to them didn’t have to count the corpses in the gas chambers or sleep with them to know just how brutish they really were. “Is this the last train to Leipzig? Or is their Ary’an?’ (A little Teutonic-Appalchian humor.)
All this sound a little familiar? I do see this same make-up in the current government and the sycophants and factotums they hire. I can’t speak to sheep romances, but the drugs, wink-and-nod pedophilia, perversion, sadism, paranoia, nihilism, self-worship and cutthroat fear-mongering are all in evidence. Even their understandings of fashion and good manners requires a walk on the wild side. In every category of human existence they are lacking certain skills sets ordinary to a child raised in a once typical middle-class, two-parent home, who only occasionally went to church. And when caught with an open mic, or off-script, behind closed doors, they display all this in technicolor. In a word, they are pigs.
So, for me, I have to go with Door Number One with this crowd in Washington. You can choose Doors 2 or 3 and hunker down if you choose. But Wenn es wie ein Barbar führt, Wenn es wie ein Barbar spricht, Es ist ein verdammt Barbar! (If it walks and talks like a barbarian, it is….)
To draw them out and beat them, we don’t have to blow up any bridges, but we do have to provoke them. Gandhi was right. And we have to provoke them from such a distance that they can see the fires against the dark sky. And hear the tom toms. We don’t have to shoot them or break their legs, but we do have to make them wary and unable sleep well at night.
And we do have to break a few eggs to make this omelette, Mr Beck. Just not serious ones. We have to hold onto our humanity.
And I think Gandhi would approve, for what we want to accomplish is for people who have tuned out to see with their own eyes, right outside their front doors, just down the street, all those fires being lit. When they understand that the resistance and provocations are local, many will come, some to start fires, others to reload the bushel baskets with corn cobs and cow pies.
And the barbarians won’t be able to find them. Or even know who they are.
Things like this tend to take on a life of their own. Take my word for it.
It’s how we win, when all the other doors are shut.