Die Lösung

There is something to be said for genius. Perhaps I should leave the saying of it to someone else. But as I am the only writer in the High Doganate, I’ll have a go. Consider Bertolt Brecht.

My German, which peaked about 1968, and has since been in decline, remains nevertheless unable to conceal from me the sheer, stupid genius of that man. I added the qualifier — “stupid” — to clarify that genius isn’t always wise. It is a gift from God, that we are apt to mismanage. Indeed, I won’t name a person I am currently thinking about, who has what I would call a genius for stupidity. He goes about being stupid so ingeniously, he leaves me with respiratory issues.

And yet, there is truth in him. A less controversial example would be Auden, or even Stevens, or Pound, to start running through my “rolidex” of great modern poets, in English. In poems, but also in essays, they utter absurdities that are brilliantly true, unknowingly. Or so I am convinced. I’m not going to write that book, however.

Since the world is now festering in politics, I was going to stick with Brecht for my example, political to his dirty fingernails, poet more than playwright, and always poet in his plays. Master of the double-irony, he hits triples, too, without even trying. (I would flatter Neruda in the same way.) A diligent commie at heart, he writes mottoes that could be used by libertarians — but ironically, because he is redefining freedom. While doing so, he then sounds accidentally “Tory,” or “feudal” in the Continental manner. But then he advances to the baseball equivalent of a home run. He exposes the satanic intention at the heart of his own revolutionary creed — unintentionally, I surely think.

Take this quite famous excerpt from his poem, Die Lösung (“The Solution”), written apparently to regret the East German uprising in 1953. A Communist Party hack said that the people “had forfeited the confidence of the government.” (A Brechtian irony, but completely unintentional.) “They could only win it back with increased work quotas,” this hack suggested. Brecht observed:

“Would it not in that case be simpler, for the government to dissolve the people, and elect another?”

He tours the bases with this savagely misleading satirical stroke, thus ending at home plate where he began. What may have looked a fluke to some, was meant all along. He was never trying to hit easy singles, if I may strain my baseball analogy even further. He was always trying to change the rules of the game. This is exactly the strategy Communists will pursue, and similarly, all “progressives.” Their intention from the outset is not merely to “get elected,” like any normal political party, riddled as it will be with concessions to what the people seem to want. It is from the beginning to alter society — like devils, using any means available.

We lost sight of that as the Cold War “progressed,” beyond plain old-fashioned Stalinism. We began to accept ideologues as “just another option” — as they established and promoted new brands of secularism, feminism, environmentalism, “anti-racism,” &c. These things can’t be advanced by government policy, or will fail, unless the people themselves can be altered. A monopoly of legislative power goes without saying: that is always the prize in politics, Left or Right. But the progressive seeks a monopoly forever; what the Leninists, even before the Stalinists, called the novy sovetsky chelovek, the “New Soviet Man.”

Even to seize raw political power, they always meant to cheat. That’s why e.g. Nancy Pelosi began playing with new mail-in balloting arrangements, the moment she recovered the House speakership, long before she could seize on the Batflu for her excuse. (Curiously, Trump was among the few who saw what was coming. Brecht would have admired “his ability to think crudely.”)

This is why progressives focus on infiltrating cultural institutions, including of course the institutions for voting, rather than on, say, staging a military coup. For such coups are superficial. They change only the government, and that only for a time. Indeed, most generals are unimaginative people, who seize power in defence of some threatened status quo. The revolutionist wants to change that status quo. He wants to change what human beings are.

A pity, to my mind, that he is succeeding.