by Ahistoricality | 10/20/2008 07:55:00 PM
In response to a funny post at Terry's blog, I got serious
Stalin was a low-key, low-charisma party functionary who parlayed administrative responsibility into strategic superiority; he wasn’t as much an ideologue as he was a power-hungry S.O.B. (he ended up adopting large portions of Trotsky’s program after hounding Trotsky out of the country for programatic heresy!)

Palin, on the other hand, reminds me more of a non-military version of Juan Peron or Francisco Franco: someone who plays the demogogue in democratic terms until the game isn’t working for them, then they bring the hammer down, having laid the groundwork for accusing their opponents of subversion, treason, etc.
In response to a Sam Crane comment on Maoist guerrilla tactics as a metaphor for McCain's rural strategy (which has intensified, since), I said
More to the point, it resemble's Mao's use of rural peasants as "authentic" and politically pure, whereas urbanites and educated citizens were suspect and required retraining. This woman really does worry me.
I still wasn't going to make a big deal of it, but this attempt to claim that the recession is just "some regions of the country not doing as well as others" has a direct parallel in the Maoist obfustication of the Great Leap Forward Famine:

At that time, official reports claimed that the Great Leap Forward was going very well, producing record amounts in both agriculture and industry, while the reality was that both agricultural and industrial production were dramatically undercut by the Maoist program. Famine across most of China resulted in roughly thirty million deaths, but the vast majority of the Chinese people believed -- and many still believe -- that the Great Leap Forward was generally successful except in their districts. This propoganda sleight of hand effectively shifted the blame for the famine away from central planners (or planner) to local officials and a "failure of revolutionary zeal" among the population. That gave the regime cover for the Cultural Revolution, a political purge and self-destructive "renewal" that killed millions more and set Chinese intellectual and cultural life back decades.

Blame shifting is a natural human act, not a particularly fascistic or Republican one. But the cumulative effect of the specific tactics is suggesting to me an affinity with extremist politics which is deeply unsettling:
  • shifting blame away from the center
  • blaming minorities (especially for the mortgage crisis; also immigration issues and Islamophobia)
  • calling for a renewal of lost "authenticity"
  • excluding large segments of the population from membership in the "the nation"
It never ceases to amaze me that right-wing radicals can get away with much more than left-wing ones, but there has to be a line somewhere....


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Anonymous Sam on 10/21/2008 7:01 PM:

And don't forget the Soviets! The CCP blamed them as well for pulling out technicians, etc. But who, now, plays the Soviet role for Palin, et al? David Brooks and other turncoat "conservatives"?


Blogger Ahistoricality on 10/21/2008 7:14 PM:

Hi, Sam!

I'm not really trying to make a full-bore analogy here -- it's more of a collage/pastiche than a metaphor -- but if they really need someone to play the role of communists whose support was important until it was withdrawn, it might well go to the Chinese, actual communists, of a sort, who are starting to take protectionist measures and pull back their investment in our debt instruments.

If you mean politically, I think they're just going to stick with blaming egghead intellectuals, who are secret liberals even when they're paleoconservatives.