We are currently somewhat less than halfway through the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun, one of the longest and costliest battles in the history of warfare.
The battle began in February 1916, when the Imperial German Army launched an offensive with the objective of capturing the system of forts and fortifications centered around the Citadel of Verdun in northeastern France. The fighting went on for ten months, until December of the same year, with gains and losses measured in terms of yards. When the battle petered out near the end of the year, the front remained more or less where it had been. Verdun was still in French hands, so the French were said to be the victors. But it was a pyrrhic victory if ever there was one: between 750,000 and a million casualties, depending on whose estimates are used, roughly half of those killed or missing. More French soldiers were killed than Germans, but the difference was not enough to make Germany believe it had gained anything resembling a victory.
Verdun has come to symbolize the madness and futility of trench warfare on the Western Front during the Great War. Most battles along the Front were of a similar nature, perhaps with fewer casualties, but always expending an enormous quantity of blood and treasure to make a line on a map move imperceptibly in one direction or another, and then return to its original position.
Like all those other battles, the ten-month offensive at Verdun devastated the landscape. Heavy artillery completely destroyed all the forests and villages in the areas adjacent to the front. Exploding shells created crater after crater, superimposed upon one another until no square yard of the terrain was left untouched. The ground was churned up and rained on and churned up again, becoming a malodorous pockmarked mire, embedded with broken-off trees, dead horses, shattered equipment, and above all human body parts from the hundreds of thousands of men who were blown to pieces trying to cross the shell holes of No Man’s Land.
The enduring legacy of the battle is the ruined terrain around Verdun. Forests have been planted over the battlefield and grown to maturity, but the area remains a maze of hillocks and holes that pond with water after every rainstorm. And the landscape is a vast open-air mausoleum, an ossuary of anonymous bone fragments still embedded in the soil a hundred years later.
The current political situation in the United States brings to mind the Battle of Verdun. Huge, well-armed forces are gathering for an offensive that will cause innumerable casualties and devastate the societal landscape, leaving the culture a sea of stinking genderized multicultural mud. The fortifications have been built and the trenches have been dug in preparation for the climactic battle scheduled to take place next November.
The failure of the analogy between the Western Front and the Culture War is this: only one side in the current war is aware that there’s a war on. The Social Marxists are armed and ready. They know exactly what they’re fighting for, and how they plan to win. The average American, on the other hand, has virtually no inkling of what’s going on. The twilight struggle of the 21st century is just the yapping of talking heads on TV, something to be ignored while he goes about his day-to-day business. He doesn’t realize that the War to End All Wars is about to turn his cultural landscape into a mass of churned-up muddy shell craters.
And the battlefield is not confined the United States. The same fortified and garrisoned front loops and twists through all the Western democracies. All along that line the gathered forces of Multicultural Progressivism stand on the parapets with their bayonets fixed, looking out across No Man’s Land towards the ranks of their enemies, who are blissfully unaware of what is about to be unleashed upon them.
Last night, while I was editing Christian Zeitz’s essay about the Austrian election, I noticed the striking similarity between what he was describing and the current presidential campaign in the USA. Just change a few proper nouns, and the verbatim descriptions could be easily applied on this side of the Atlantic.
To prove my point, I’ve taken excerpts from Mag. Zeitz’s article and adapted them to an American context. With the exception of one phrase (regarding the date of the election, now shown in square brackets), the only changes I made were these:
- Hofer —> Trump
- Van der Bellen —> Hillary
- Austria —> America
That’s it — otherwise it’s the same text:
As is traditional, the in-crowd of top media and entertainment people played a special supportive and defensive role. For decades, they have been the public face of leftist activism; they set up seas of light. Light chains, protest marches against the right, commemorations and other formats which have proven to work as companion measures in securing the neo-socialist cultural transformation. A permanent task of this closed society is the “stopping of the Right”, i.e., the securing of the power and influence of the ruling elite…
…The election of Trump would endanger jobs and foreign investments, reduce international tourism in America and even endanger peace. Anyone who seeks to qualify such statements as dangerous threats is a rabble-rouser…
The aim of this massive offering of “significant personalities” from public and civic life is naturally the unmistakable communication of a simple, but effective message: Everyone with standing and reputation in the areas of culture, the economy and the intellectual world is supporting and voting for Hillary. The successful, the fashionable and the popular of this world have nothing to do with Trump and are battling against him as a risk factor and threat to the sacred order. Anyone who votes for Trump is joining the failed, the enemies of progress, the chewed up and spat out of society. So anyone who does not want to be “out” must join the elites, to become one of them.
The message is blatantly obvious. Whoever does not go with the flow is an enemy of the system and is endangering his own existence. This is not mere posturing. The complete absence of prominent Trump supporters is a reality. And yet precisely this allows for substantial conclusions about the state of the American political system. The vote for Trump [in November] will — regardless of win or loss — be abut one-half of the voters. Absent the absurd assumption that this half of Americans are part of a plebeian project, the assumption must be that the social levels of this group are not dramatically different from those of the Hillary voters. The fact that no conservative, Christian or classical-liberal chief physician, university professor, general manager, top diplomat, sports figure, artist, police official, military general, etc. has announced as voting for or supporting Trump is the result of the intense fear of the consequences. And this fear is by no means the result of a pathological phobia, but of a realistic assessment of the personal consequences for any potential supporter.
Trump supporters should reckon not only with being called populists, rightist radicals or even Nazis, and being shamed in their field. They know or have good cause to suspect that they would be hindered in their careers, curtailed in their professional or business progress, or otherwise materially or personally damaged. This assumption is based on experience and on the knowledge of the control over many of the relevant resources by public, semi-public and syndicalist sectors.
So the formally documented right of freedom of expression is, for all practical purposes, no longer guaranteed in broad swathes of American society. People who criticize the ruling system or the use of power by individual office-holders must expect to be existentially threatened, or even liquidated.
A political system which systematically and pointedly works against the exercise of the freedom of expression for the purpose of individual preference cannot be called a liberal democracy. At the very least, America has assumed pronounced characteristics of an open dictatorship. The one-sided, even exclusive, engagement of allies and celebrities for the election of Hillary is more than just an indication of that. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Evaluation of the object lesson offered by the presidential election campaign of 2016 yields a deplorable picture of the American state and American society. With the quality of an empirical study, this campaign provided in concentrated form insights into the progress and status of a historical development which can only be designated as the final qualitative disintegration of the political system. Meta-politics and the political culture have deformed the political consciousness and make grassroots consensus impossible at this time. A policy-specific esoteric language corresponds to the age of growing irrationality. Following the old principle of divide-and-conquer, a division of society along ideological lines is being accomplished. This is the basis for the replacement of the formal constitution of the democratic republic of America — which is now only a facade — by the real constitution of a new totalitarianism. Freedom of expression gives way to an open dictatorship. And a neo-syndicalist order is levering the rule of law, the separation of powers and democracy out.
The one place where the analogy wears a little thin is the assertion that Donald Trump has no prominent supporters among the cultural elite in the USA. This is not entirely true — there are a few, here and there — but America is a huge country compared with Austria. There are large pockets — whole states, even — where it is socially acceptable to be “right-wing” or a Trump supporter.
By and large, however, the description fits. We’re a little ways behind Austria, but we’re heading rapidly towards the same complete polarization of society.
After that the new totalitarian order can kick in. Those steely-eyed guys with their machine guns and field glasses peering at us from the other side of the wire — that’s what they have planned for us.