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July 16, 2006


Dave Van Domelen

It also strikes me that some of this may just be personal issues of those in power, rather than a grand scheme. I've known a lot of what I call "betrayal junkies" in my life. These are the people who place such a high premium on personal loyalty that it's inevitable that everyone they know betrays them at some point or another. A subset of drama queen, I suppose, since they seem to need to have that righteous anger in their lives, so they can rant about how they've been betrayed.


I think psychologizing the issue lets the principals off the hook. The stab in the back is first and foremost a very cynical, very powerful strategy, one that conservatives have relentlessly exploited for at least sixty years. Some of them might also be drama queens about personal loyalty--Bush certainly is--but the myths will stay in circulation as long as they remain effective with the general public.

Harvey Jerkwater

That article made me shriek in both recognition and horror. It's all true.

I always took the dolchstosslegende as a textbook example of double-think. Those who espouse it both believe it wholeheartedly and know it's only a cynical ploy at the exact same time.

They spout it because it works as a political strategem; but they know that if they don't believe it, they'd be bad people for spreading such lies. However, they are also convinced that they are good people, and therefore, the strategem can't be a lie. Working backwards from this logic, it becomes true to them because they speak it. When you define yourself as good and honest, anything you say is true. Because dammit, you're good and honest!

They're liars who believe what they say because the internal consequence of facing their lies is too great. It requires honesty and courage to look at one's self and one's actions clearly. Neither "honesty" nor "courage" are bywords for these clowns.


If Baker made you shriek, you should check out Jonathan Schell's story in the most recent Nation. Schell also unravels the fantasies of "impotent omnipotence" that have steered our foreign policy since Vietnam--our need to believe we are all-powerful and our need to believe we are treacherous and weak as the only possible explanation for why we don't get exactly what we want when we want it.

Apparently it's the season for diagnosing nationalist pathology and tracing it back to its roots. I hope that means our leaders' delusions have gotten as bad as they're going to get; we could really use a turning point.

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