Poll It Ticklish

Harry Drabik

German troops goosestep through Warsaw after invading Poland on Sept. 1, 1939.

To delight those who fuss about English usage the above title and “order word matters do” are today’s offerings. However, in order to annoy a larger body of volk I aim at a political target, one sure as religion to rile (theocracy doubling that troubling). But because I’m not suicidal I sagely tuck the politics of near a century past as hopefully being out of splatter range today. We’ll see.  

To do this I’ll lean into those parts (in this case European) of the globe where politics is seen as polite debate. Westerners (including the nons who criticize it) have a cushy view of political life bedded in certain assumptions that many another society follows not.  

A recent (risking thin ice I tiptoe out) example is Russia and the Ukraine. To the west it’s “What? What” while to the east it’s “Of course, why not?” The easygoing west doesn’t see what most central Europeans knew long ago – east and west, different rules. The West, heaven embrace them, didn’t twig on the basis of the EU being the plan for Europe put forward by (guess who) the National Socialists, the Nazis.  

What’s wrong with that? Well, again, much of central Europe could tell you the most doctrinaire, staunchly people’s dictatorship followers were in Paris and Brussels, home of the EU. A little bit sticky that element, but stickier yet by that particular inclination being strongly Leninist prone to party authority.

But we don’t have THAT. Don’t need to if the basis and operation can be done by indirect or hidden means. And believe me – that works.  

Step back a few generations for perspective. Four nations precipitated WWII.   The Japanese Empire was a monarchy bent on invasion and expansion, which Imperial Japan was doing before the war was began.    Italy, following the fascist form of socialism, was adventuring in Africa.   The National Socialists and Soviet Socialists, not wanting to be left out, signed a secret accord to split Poland between them, conquest considered a good way to gain land and resources. The invasion, begun September of 1939 started the war in Europe and ultimately (for reasons clouded and not) around the globe. (National Socialism supported fascist revolution in Spain, which stayed out of the war.)  

Three of the four protagonists of WWII had socialist visions to improve the world. Improvement hanging on point of view.  

Paddle back to earlier point of what works. Having shared with the Nazis in the spoils of Poland the Soviet Socialists played innocent babes insisting on the moved border and appropriated land as correct all along. Those borders stood because the Soviets insisted, insistence that bulldozed the lives of many.   As much of Central Europe experienced, lawlessness wasn’t a lack of laws, but rather selective, politicized, legal application. How?  

Some examples. Roughly 20% of the fliers in the Battle of Britain were Poles. Likewise, Polish forces were employed in the Italian campaign against the Nazis. On returning home after the war these soldiers were regularly arrested as being criminal imperialist agents for not having fought under Soviet colors. Besides, if you could put soldiers into work camps (happened more often than you’d think) where they might die, the state was saved paying their pensions. The same worked for any partisan fighter not sanctioned by the Soviets. They were criminals subject to trial and punishment. Lawlessness uses lots of laws.           

There are some interesting quirks in pre- and post-WWII Europe. The revolution was predicted to begin with industrialized workers, but instead grew in peasant-dominated Russia as an urban versus rural movement. My simple explanation is that social-ism not economic-ism, making it primarily about people rather than economies. Human reform was the goal, one already so pronounced by the soviets they had experienced cadres of reformers ready to place in all their satellites.  

The revolutionary “new man” had to be taught many lessons by ever-ready leagues of activists. Economies and production went to hell while suppression and punishment thrived under policies rewarding submission and punishing deviation. Once denounced favoritism was renamed friendly cooperation.  

I add a further risk by looking at current Russia and the Ukraine in light of the above. (I mean governments of, rather than people of those nations.) With easily a thousand years of movement and dispute, both sides have ample material for border games. Lacking from both sides is much attention to what the population of contested areas wishes.  

Keeping with the tradition of top-down imposition of favored views, the governments of two nations behave in single-minded ruthless fashion that would make Lenin, staunch proponent of people’s dictatorship so long as he ran it, proud. What we in the West neglect to see (or prefer to ignore) is a replay of prior versions of perfect societies going to work on anyone within range.  

Soviet socialists and national socialists got WWII off to a bang, dividing Poland three generations past while socialist Russia and socialist Ukraine keep the dream alive today. The fight is over control of resources each state wants for its own. Some workers or farmers might benefit here and there, but the larger concern is governmental control of valuable resources. People’s dictatorships, so it seems, are not very kind to people.  

Look at what might be a root cause. Reject the notion of God creating everyone equal footing in favor of laws to do the same or make up for inequalities. Equality under God’s eye might seem to us useless, that is until we glance at notions that out-god the almighty with expanded views of equality where burglar, squatter, renter, resident, occupant, visitor, guest, intruder and owner have similar rights but unequal responsibilities. Good intent behind such categories has, however, hellish side effects as if exchanging God for Satan.  

Another factor, perfecting plans run afoul of one another. Soviets clashing with Kulaks brought starvation. Soviet perfecting needed a part of Finland. Spanish Republican views differed from the socialist, neither being willing to jump in when Soviet and National Socialists kicked off WWII.   The battle over picking perfection is built in. Marx saw some nations as worthier to exist than those lacking what he called a historic past.