[Marxism] Stabbed in the back
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jul 17 08:08:07 MDT 2006
Stabbed in the Back!
The past and future of a right-wing myth
Posted on Friday, July 14, 2006. Originally from June 2006. By Kevin Baker.
First drink, hero, from my horn:
I spiced the draught well for you
To waken your memory clearly
So that the past shall not slip your mind!
Hagen to Siegfried
Every state must have its enemies. Great powers must have especially
monstrous foes. Above all, these foes must arise from within, for national
pride does not admit that a great nation can be defeated by any outside
force. That is why, though its origins are elsewhere, the stab in the back
has become the sustaining myth of modern American nationalism. Since the
end of World War II it has been the device by which the American right wing
has both revitalized itself and repeatedly avoided responsibility for its
own worst blunders. Indeed, the right has distilled its tale of betrayal
into a formula: Advocate some momentarily popular but reckless policy. Deny
culpability when that policy is exposed as disastrous. Blame the disaster
on internal enemies who hate America. Repeat, always making sure to
increase the number of internal enemies.
As the United States staggers past the third anniversary of its
misadventure in Iraq, the dagger is already poised, the myth is already
being perpetuated. To understand just how this strategy is likely to
unfoldand why this time it may well failwe must return to the birth of a
* * *
The stab in the back first gained currency in Germany, as a means of
explaining the nations stunning defeat in World War I. It was Field
Marshal Paul von Hindenburg himself, the leading German hero of the war,
who told the National Assembly, As an English general has very truly said,
the German army was stabbed in the back.
Like everything else associated with the stab-in-the-back myth, this claim
was disingenuous. The English general in question was one Maj. Gen. Neill
Malcolm, head of the British Military Mission in Berlin after the war, who
put forward this suggestion merely to politely summarize how Field Marshal
Erich von Ludendorffthe force behind Hindenburgwas characterizing the
German armys alleged lack of support from its civilian government.
Ludendorffs eyes lit up, and he leapt upon the phrase like a dog on a
bone, wrote Hindenburg biographer John Wheeler-Bennett. Stabbed in the
back? he repeated. Yes, thats it exactly. We were stabbed in the back.
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