Feckless Weasels

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the Moscow Trials set the course of 20th century history.  If you want to be a dictator in peacetime, this is pretty much how you have to do it — see e.g. every other Communist regime ever.  The downside, though, is that you cost yourself a lot of irreplaceable technical expertise.  I’m not saying Hitler would’ve called Barbarossa off if Stalin hadn’t purged all his generals — Hitler was, of course, crazy — but he surely would’ve thought twice about it, the plan relying as it did on the utter incompetence of the now-leaderless Red Army.

The show trials also gave birth to “Kremlinology,” the art and science of reading Soviet tea leaves to find out who’s really in charge.  Stalin didn’t invent “elimination by promotion,” but he was a master of it.  In Stalin’s USSR, being “promoted” to some big, important-sounding position was an all-but-guarantee that you’re going to get shot.  Seemingly minor functionaries, on the other hand, really ran things in the countryside.  E.g. Khrushchev, a Red Army commissar — not an unimportant position by any means, but hardly a glory post either.  Stalin’s generals knew who he was, but few outside the Red Army’s high command did.  And since Stalin liked to signal major policy shifts with articles in obscure publications — he once wrote an article on lingustics that previewed some huge change — you had to be very wired in to figure out who was really a comer.

Let’s imagine, then, that somehow the Moscow Show Trials failed.  That Zinoviev, say, was acquitted, because (take your pick) he’d obviously been tortured, the charges were ludicrous, there was zero hard evidence against him, or any combination of the above.  Stalin staked his entire position on the outcome of the Trials.  What if he’d lost?  How long do you think the Boss would’ve remained Boss?  A few weeks?  A few days?  Hours, maybe?

Nancy Pelosi is no Stalin, of course, but whoever survives November’s electoral bloodbath had better start working on Secret Speech 2.0 the very second the last vote is counted.  I was doubtful about the 2020 presidential election until they actually decided to show-trial Donald Trump.  Since there’s no way in hell they’re going to get a 2/3 majority to vote to convict, the whole thing looks like not just a witch hunt, but a botched witch hunt.  No one, not even Koba the Dread, is politically strong enough to survive one of those.

See e.g. the last two times American political parties botched a presidential witch hunt.  Andrew Johnson’s acquittal cost the Radical Republicans not just Reconstruction, but their legitimacy.  Ulysses Grant won the 1868 presidential election pretty handily in the electoral college, but he only edged Horatio Seymour by 300,000 popular votes… in a campaign in which the Democrats were quite openly attempting to “win with the ballot what they failed to win with the bullet,” as desperate Union Army vets put it.  And the GOP was dumb enough to try it again a century and a half later, with the same results — 1994’s “Contract with America” gave the Republicans a bulletproof Congressional majority of actual conservatives, who forced Bill Clinton to e.g. “end welfare as we know it.”  By 1998, though, all that was gone, thanks to the botched impeachment, which in turn gave us the Florida Recount, W.’s entire reign of error, and a goddamned Kenyan Marxist as President of the United States.  Twice.

And 9/11, of course.  Because these failed witch hunts don’t just affect domestic politics.  The Clinton impeachment showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the American political class is deeply silly.  It doesn’t matter what the definition of “is” is; once you’ve got the President of the United States musing about it in a room full of United States senators — and nobody laughs — the rule of law is effectively over.  How could Al Qaeda Saudi Arabia possibly take us seriously, when we obviously don’t take ourselves seriously?

So it will go with President Trump’s inevitable acquittal.  If we’ve learned anything from this mess, it’s that the feckless weasels of the bureaucracy are really in charge… and that those same feckless weasels are utterly fucking incompetent.  Henceforth, why would anyone believe a word any American official says, about anything?  That’s all fine and good, Mr. President, but have you run it by that tubby Jewish junior staff officer who really runs foreign policy?  What do the mid-level dweebs at the FBI have to say about it?  It’s Kremlinology for retards.  So-and-so may be a high American official, but some guy who went to Sitwell Friends with some other guy’s side piece is the one who’s really making the decisions.  And since everyone in government on both “sides” of politics went to the same schools, attends the same cocktail parties, and sleeps with each other’s spouses, who the hell can possibly know?

Hamlet knows a hawk from a handsaw when the wind’s southerly, but it’s asking a bit much of Xi Jinping et al to figure it out…. so they won’t bother.  That can’t end well.

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9 thoughts on “Feckless Weasels

  1. MBlanc46

    Random points: If memory serves (and it might not, as it’s been more than forty years since I read my Russian history), Zinoviev confessed. All, or most of them, confessed. But no matter, the point stands. There was at least of shred of a case for the Clinton impeachment: Revenge (sweetest thing in life). It was boneheaded, but the motivation was understandable. It was less than twenty-five years ago, you’d have thought that a political operator (congresscritter or person-behind-the-congresscritter) who had the nous to get to Congress would have learned the lesson. I wonder whether they thought there were enough Repub Trump-haters in the Senate that they could at least make it look close. I’m still expecting Romney to defect. An American Kremlinology. They’ll have to start doing big parades in DC, so that we can decipher the power structure by checking out who is standing next to whom. Will they be wearing those Russian fur hats?

    1. Severian Post author

      Yeah, they all confessed… under torture. Which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to imagine the Moscow Trials failing. Say what you will about Uncle Joe, he knew how to stage-manage a farce.

      I haven’t followed this idiotic “impeachment” very closely, but one thing was obvious from the get-go: Schiff was all-in on “the transcript.” It never occurred to him that Trump could simply release the thing. It’s a head-bustingly obvious move, but because Schiff is dumb and mentally ill, it never crossed his mind. So he’s still making up fables about this mysterious Ukrainian phone call. This is the equivalent of putting Zinoviev (et all) on the stand un-tortured. I mean, this is Legal Procedure 101 — if you don’t know every word your witness is going to say on the stand, you don’t put him on the stand. Ever. Stalin knew Zinoviev would confess, because he’d ordered him beaten within an inch of his life. Schiff had no idea what his “witness” was going to say, so he has to just make it up as he goes.

      That never ends well. And this guy is on the Intelligence committee. Gee, I wonder if that’s going to come back and bite us on the ass anytime soon…

  2. contrariandutchman

    The democrats called a deer a horse and the GOP senators went all “uh, you sure, does look like a deer to me, yeah, I definitely think its a deer, maybe you need better glasses?”. Imagine what would have happened to Zhao Gao if that had happened to him. And yet, the democrats will suffer nothing and just seek revenge with another caper.

    Meanwhile, few men have been as lucky with their enemies as Trump. The democrat Iowa debacle really kicks off this week for him. If only he knew how to use such good fortune.

    1. Severian Post author

      There it is. That should be the simple, obvious, deadly rejoinder to anyone who even thinks about voting Democrat: Your people are imbeciles. See exhibits A-Z, currently bloviating in a Senate near you.

      Same principle applies for Republicans. Every single politician in this country is an utter fucking moron, and now everyone knows it. Trump may not know what to do with this information, but I’m sure the People’s Liberation Army does.

      1. Pickle Rick

        That’s where the analogy breaks down a bit. The Bolsheviks in the early days of Lenin and Stalin were true believers, to the last man and woman. Orlando Figes wrote something stellar books about life in the nomenklatura class, and even in the gulag, they were believers. Clinton, Biden, and her ilk (Including the Republican old guard) aren’t believers in anything but themselves, money and power, but this new crop of politicals, Left and increasingly Right, are the real ideological dogmatists. That’s going to change politics really fast.

      2. contrariandutchman

        An elite whose incompetence is matched only by their contempt for the people they rule over. Any questions on how stable that will be?

        1. Pickle Rick

          70 years, in the case of the Soviets. That’s the same span of time for China and North Korea at this moment, but they don’t seem ready to implode like the Soviets yet. Cuba is irrelevant as a nation state so I’m disregarding the banana socialists.

          1. contrariandutchman

            The Soviets were competent at oppression, brutality and show trials if not much else. Current Western elites?

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