Monday, May 14, 2007
  Time Capsule: Isolationism

Listening to Bob Trout's CBS newscast on the day when Hitler took over Austria in 1938. Most Americans were isolationists at that moment, and the attitude was expressed powerfully by Senator Lewis Schwellenbach, Dem from Washington. As it happens, he grew up here in Spokane, and moved to Seattle when he chose to enter politics.


Here's a crude transcription of the main points, leaving out his poetic flourishes and emphasizing the parts I want to compare with modern thought.

Hitler's seizure of Austria demonstrates 3 things:

1. The futility of contracts with dictators.

2. Treaties signed at the point of a sword are useless. This invasion climaxes a series of violations of Versailles by Hitler. The other signatories never made meaningful response.

3. Demonstrates the futility of war as instrument for settling controversy. Twenty years ago we gave our blood, our treasure, to spread democracy across the world. Twenty years later we see the torch of world leadership being seized by Hitler. We cannot deny that Hitler is the leader of Europe. We tremble at what he will do next. We know what will become of religious liberty, both for the Jews and for the Catholics. It just will not exist. We know what will happen ... to other freedoms as well ...

Note the parallel mention of Jews and Catholics as Hitler's victims. This appeared repeatedly in news of that era. In 1938 it was common (and correct) knowledge that Hitler hated Catholics as much as he hated Jews. To be sure, he later focused mostly on Jews, but he killed plenty of Catholics as well.

This parallel hatred is a fact that our Communist cultural masters have tossed down the Memory Hole. Stalin 'rectified' the story after the war, as a way of tearing America and Europe away from the Church. And Stalin succeeded in America. Most Americans believe that Hitler was a Catholic, acting on behalf of Rome, in concert with Pope Pius XII. But the Stalinist version didn't play so well in Poland, its main target. Thank God.

Back to Schwellenbach:

Events are moving rapidly in Europe these days. ... England thought that by substituting the realistic actualities of Chamberlain for the idealism of Eden, it could stem the tide. Just two weeks later, England found it was too late. France thought it could rely on the "Steel Ring" it had placed about Germany. It now faces collapse of that ring. Even Mussolini looked with patronizing friendliness on his imitator; he now finds that the student has outgrown the master.

What does this mean for the average American? Certainly it leads to disillusionment with the instrument of war. We tried to preserve democracy in Europe once by going to war; we now know that war does not work.

Schwellenbach was exactly correct, given the information he had at the time. We had intervened in Europe only once, under Wilson. It failed mostly because Germany was not absolutely and utterly defeated, only worn down. But we didn't know all the reasons for the failure, and we had no experimental evidence for an alternate way to end a war with Germany.

Back to Schwellenbach:

[Quoting Emerson] Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Though no checks to a new evil appear, the checks exist and will appear. Nothing arbitrary, nothing artificial, can endure. Of all forms of government yet conceived, democracy furnishes the most useful agencies for fighting arbitary mismanagement. What we must do is preserve democratic methods in America. No doubt we will be importuned again to spend our resources in a futile effort to correct the failings of Europe. The inevitable law of which Emerson speaks will take care of Europe. What we must do is care for our own. Futility has ever been the nemesis of democracies. Never in the world's history has it been more necessary for democracy to work than here and now.

I like the line: "Futility is the nemesis of democracies."

[Later: I like it so much that I mounted it on top of the blog!]

In our present situation, we have more data. We cannot say that war serves no purpose, nor can we say that dictators will inevitably collapse of their own weight. Roosevelt proved that a well-managed war, plus a well-managed followup, can totally defeat an evil ideology, and the Soviet Union proved that a dictatorship can keep going for a very long time if nobody seriously tries to defeat it. Reagan then showed how a very different type of war, equally well-done, could destroy the Soviet style of dictatorship.

Modern isolationists may sound just like Schwellenbach, but they come from several different angles.

Some of them simply and straightforwardly agree that war never works: they are either uninformed or deliberately lying.

But futility is still our nemesis. A bizarrely mismanaged war still generates a fully understandable sense of futility in Americans. We see a mismanaged war that accomplishes nothing, and all of our politicians and enemy-controlled journalists tell us this is what a "hard-fought war" looks like. Our politicians give us only two alternatives: continue to "fight hard", or surrender now.

And the sense of futility is so powerful that it overwhelms even those of us who know better.

We know now that three choices are available: Fight fiercely and competently, fight softly and weakly, or surrender. Roosevelt, Wilson, Chamberlain.

Bush and the 'R' brand politicians are doing Wilson, while trying to fool us into thinking that they are doing Roosevelt. The 'D' brand politicians still haven't sorted out their position; a few are honestly talking surrender for the wrong reasons, but most are just plain befuddled.

Schwellenbach's sense of futility was perfectly simple and perfectly logical in 1938, given what he knew. Our futility comes from a different source. We have data that he didn't have and couldn't foresee, but we also know that our leaders refuse to act on the data. The path to success is known and available, but our leaders refuse to follow it. So our fatalism is deeper and more frustrating.

= = = = =

Later update: Since I've linked this entry from the Profile, I really should provide a concise summary of what Polistra stands for.

Basically, Polistra agrees with FDR. Not the caricature of FDR as the first modern liberal. That's another one of those agreed-on lies, used by both modern "sides" to serve their own evil purposes. Polistra agrees with the real FDR.

More explicitly: Why do we have a national government? To protect the ordinary family from the economic and physical depredations of various threats that are
too large for individuals to handle. What are those threats? Other nations that attack us physically or economically; transnational religious or political movements that attack us physically or culturally; and Mafia types such as financiers and speculators. When government has failed to stop the Mafiosi in time, government is obliged to provide the basic necessities and jobs that were stolen by the Mafia. Government is not supposed to protect the "rights" of criminals or foreigners, nor should it encourage ordinary people to be foolish or lazy.

Polistra's cri de coeur: Our government is responsible for our people. Our government should serve the cultural and economic interests of our people. If we ever reach the point when we've done absolutely EVERY FUCKING THING necessary to advance the culture and prosperity of our people, then we might be able to think about the internal affairs of other goddamn countries. Until that time, leave other goddamn countries alone.

<< Home

blogger hit counter
My Photo
Location: Spokane

Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

My graphics products:

Free stuff at ShareCG

And some leftovers here.

March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 / February 2012 / March 2012 / April 2012 / May 2012 / June 2012 / July 2012 / August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012 / December 2012 / January 2013 / February 2013 / March 2013 / April 2013 / May 2013 / June 2013 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014 / February 2014 / March 2014 / April 2014 / May 2014 / June 2014 / July 2014 / August 2014 / September 2014 / October 2014 / November 2014 / December 2014 / January 2015 / February 2015 / March 2015 / April 2015 / May 2015 / June 2015 / July 2015 / August 2015 / September 2015 / October 2015 / November 2015 / December 2015 / January 2016 / February 2016 / March 2016 / April 2016 / May 2016 / June 2016 / July 2016 / August 2016 / September 2016 / October 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016 / January 2017 / February 2017 / March 2017 / April 2017 / May 2017 / June 2017 / July 2017 / August 2017 / September 2017 / October 2017 / November 2017 / December 2017 / January 2018 / February 2018 / March 2018 / April 2018 / May 2018 / June 2018 / July 2018 / August 2018 / September 2018 /

Major tags or subjects:

Carbon Cult
Constants and variables
Defensible spaces
Experiential education
From rights to duties
Grand Blueprint
Language updates
Natural law = Sharia law
Patient things

Powered by Blogger