Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure.
-- White Rose letter no. 1
Never were truer words spoken, and they’re as vividly applicable to 21st-century America as they were to Nazi Germany during World War II. The transcendent universality of such a statement is, to my rather pickled intellect at least, another one of those gloriously weird and impenetrable dichotomies -- both motivationally inspiring and appallingly depressing. Inspiring, because it so beautifully expresses the core existential problem confronting us in the nightmare of Bushworld 2006, and it offers a simple starting point from which to move beyond this horror; depressing, as it’s been more than sixty years since the Scholl’s and their friends, the authors of the White Rose letters, had their heads hoiked off by the degenerate psychopaths of the Volksgerichtshof ... humanity obviously not having learned much in all the years since.
I assume that the story of the White Rose, the anti-Nazi student movement that sprouted briefly at the University of Munich in the early months of 1943, right around the time the German Sixth Army was being destroyed at Stalingrad, is sufficiently familiar to most thinking people as to not need recounting here. It’s enough to say how astounding it still seems, so many decades removed, that something like that could’ve possibly happened in the obscene dystopia of Hitlerite Germany; that a handful of individuals were able to maintain a sense of their own humanity in the midst of such a colossal mental and physical meat-grinder; that anybody managed to escape the disastrous effects of the monstrous apparatus of Nazi domination and control, and was honest and courageous enough to see the regime for what it was -- standing by their convictions to the bitter end. If there ever really was such a thing as the apocryphal “Good German,” Hans and Sophie Scholl, as well as the rest of their White Rose comrades, were certainly authentic examples of such a being.
OK -- so what does any of this have to do with us dumb bastards in the year 2006? I realize this will probably come across as a sad excuse for hyperbolic over-reach, but I’m convinced that those in the unsettled mass of the left-leaning end of Blog Land are the default inheritors of the White Rose’s hopelessly triumphant legacy, whether they realize it or not. It’s an arrogant assumption, to a certain extent, since it’d be tough to argue with the fact that the Scholl’s and their small band of compatriots were face-to-face with a far more ruthlessly formidable adversary, under conditions and circumstances we can hardly fathom. We have advantages they could never have hardly imagined, but there’s no denying that we are being relentlessly frog-marched toward the precipice of disaster by a totalitarian-minded gaggle of thugs who, particularly in intent, are not at all dissimilar from the Nazis. Indeed, considering the range and scope of the whole stinking Neo-Con project -- not to mention the sheer destructive capacity of the military power that forms its superstructure -- we’re probably in a much more precarious situation, relatively speaking, than the Scholl’s were. That’s not especially encouraging, when you consider that the members of the White Rose were all put to death by a tyrannical government that was, itself, only brought down after a catastrophic world war of its own making. That’s more than enough to give all correct-minded people serious pause.
Well, I’ve never been much of a believer in the either the utility or the efficacy of unbridled optimism, a confession that surely comes as no surprise to anyone. But when I spare a thought or two about the Scholls and the White Rose ... It’s strange, but I find myself somehow uplifted (the previous blog post notwithstanding). Such audacious, fuck-the-consequences bravery, the fortitude to pursue a course of action knowing full well that your sorry ass is doomed, plowing forward against the fear and loathing and the hopeless certainty that you can’t possibly succeed ... to have such unalloyed conviction in the face of all that. Admittedly, I’m still as conflicted and despair-riddled as ever when it comes to the earth’s terminally stupid human inhabitants, but the example of Hans and Sophie Scholl forces me to stop and think: I’m not quite ready to give up, not yet -- even if there is no hope. My only real goal now is to keep the contemptuous smirk firmly glued to my face and to keep laughing uproariously, even as the axe is falling on my own outstretched neck. Victories are rare, and it all ends in disaster in any event, so let’s get on with it already.
We are not in a position to draw up a final judgment about the meaning of our history. But if this catastrophe can be used to further the public welfare, it will be only by virtue of the fact that we are cleansed by suffering; that we yearn for the light in the midst of deepest night, summon our strength, and finally help in shaking off the yoke which weighs on our world.
-- White Rose letter no. 2