America the beautiful and disunited

From the ever readable Scott Alexander

Just as humanizing the Nazis is a two-way street, so pointing out the bizarre lack of dissent in Nazi Germany is both distressing and encouraging. Distressing because – how could ordinary humans tolerate that? But encouraging because – well, it seems almost possible to imagine a world where something goes wrong and America ends up overtly fascist. Yet even in my worst nightmares I can’t imagine a world where America ends up overtly fascist and nobody is annoying and obstructionist about it. Arendt’s picture of Germany, where the ruling party has 90% approval and dissent is unthinkable – you can’t get there from here. We’re never unanimous about anything.

I thank G-d for the annoying obstructionists, for the nitpickers, for the devil’s advocates, for the people who hear something that’s obviously true and strain to come up with an absurd thought experiment where it might not be, for the reflexive contrarians, for the people who always vote third party, for the people who urge you to sign petitions on whitehouse.gov because “then the President has to respond”, for the people who have two hundred guns in their basement “just in case”, for the people who say “well, actually…” all the time, for the mayors of sanctuary cities and the clerks who refuse to perform gay weddings, for the people who think being banned on Twitter is a violation of their human rights, and for the people who swear eternal hostility to other people on the same side who agree with them on 99% of everything. On the spectrum from “totally ungovernable” to “vulnerable to Nazism”, I think that we’ve erred in the right direction.

I’ve long maintained that any time “America comes together” means that something absolutely terrible has happened, or we’re about to do something very stupid.

Do read the whole article – particularly about Denmark and Bulgaria

Leave a comment