MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Revisionism for Our Time

Posted by M. C. on May 25, 2022

For revisionism, in the final analysis, is based on truth and rationality. Truth and rationality are always the first victims in any war frenzy; and they are, therefore, once again an extremely rare commodity on today’s “market.” Revisionism brings to the artificial frenzy of daily events and day-to-day propaganda, the cool but in the last analysis glorious light of historical truth. Such truth is almost desperately needed in today’s world.

silencing

https://mises.org/library/revisionism-our-time

Murray N. Rothbard

Revisionism as applied to World War II and its origins (as also for previous wars) has the general function of bringing historical truth to an American and a world public that had been drugged by wartime lies and propaganda. This, in itself, is a virtue. But some truths of history, of course, may be largely of antiquarian interest, with little relevance to present-day concerns. This is not true of World War II revisionism, which has much critical significance for today’s world.

The least of the lessons that revisionism can teach has already been thoroughly learned: that Germany and Japan are not uniquely “aggressor nations,” doomed from birth to menace the peace of the world. The larger lessons have, unfortunately, yet to be learned.

The United States is again being subjected to that “complex of fear and vaunting” (in the brilliant phrase of Garet Garrett’s) which drove us, and the Western world, into two other disastrous wars in our century. Once again, the American public is being subjected to a nearly unanimous barrage of war propaganda and war hysteria, so that only the most searching and rational can keep their heads. Once again, we find that there has emerged upon the scene an Enemy, a Bad Guy, with the same old Bad Guy characteristics that we have heard of before; a diabolic, monolithic Enemy, which, generations ago in some “sacred texts,” decided (for reasons that remain obscure) that it was “out to conquer the world.”

Since then, the Enemy, darkly, secretly, diabolically, has “plotted,” conspiratorially, to conquer the world, building up a vast and mighty and overwhelming military machine, and also constructing a mighty international and “subversive” “fifth column,” which functions as an army of mere puppets, agents of the Enemy’s central headquarters, ready to commit espionage, sabotage, or any other act of “undermining” other states. The Enemy, then, is “monolithic,” ruled solely and strictly from the top, by a few master rulers, and is dominated always by the single purpose of world conquest. The model to keep in mind is Dr. Fu Manchu, here trotted forward as an international bogeyman.

The Enemy, then, says the war propaganda, is guided by but one purpose: conquest of the world. He never suffers from such human emotions as fear—fear that we might attack him—or belief that he is acting in defense, or out of self-respect and the desire to save face before himself as well as before others. Neither does he possess such human qualities as reason.

No, there is only one other emotion that can sway him: superior force will compel him to “back down.” This is because, even though a Fu Manchu, he is also like the Bad Guy in the movie Western: he will cower before the Good Guy if the Good Guy is strong, armed to the teeth, resolute of purpose, etc. Hence, the complex of fear and vaunting: fear of the supposedly implacable and permanent plotting of the Enemy; vaunting of the enormous military might of America and its meddling throughout the world, to “contain,” “roll back,” etc., the Enemy, or to “liberate” the “oppressed nations.”

Now revisionism teaches us that this entire myth, so prevalent then and even now about Hitler, and about the Japanese, is a tissue of fallacies from beginning to end. Every plank in this nightmare evidence is either completely untrue or not entirely the truth. If people should learn this intellectual fraud about Hitler’s Germany, then they will begin to ask questions, and searching questions, about the current World War III version of the same myth. Nothing would stop the current headlong flight to war faster, or more surely cause people to begin to reason about foreign affairs once again, after a long orgy of emotion and cliché.

For the same myth is now based on the same old fallacies. And this is seen by the increasing use that the Cold Warriors have been making of the “Munich myth”: the continually repeated charge that it was the “appeasement” of the “aggressor” at Munich that “fed” his “aggression” (again, the Fu Manchu, or Wild Beast, comparison), and that caused the “aggressor,” drunk with his conquests, to launch World War II. This Munich myth has been used as one of the leading arguments against any sort of rational negotiations with the Communist nations, and the stigmatizing of even the most harmless search for agreement as “appeasement.” It is for this reason that A.J.P. Taylor’s magnificent Origins of the Second World War received probably its most distorted and frenetic review in the pages of National Review.

It is about time that Americans learn: that Bad Guys (Nazis or Communists) may not necessarily want or desire war, or be out to “conquer” the world (their hope for “conquest” may be strictly ideological and not military at all); that Bad Guys may also fear the possibility of our use of our enormous military might and aggressive posture to attack them; that both the Bad Guys and Good Guys may have common interests which make negotiation possible (e.g., that neither wants to be annihilated by nuclear weapons); that no organization is a “monolith,” and that “agents” are often simply ideological allies who can and do split with their supposed “masters”; and that, finally, we may learn the most profound lesson of all: that the domestic policy of a government is often no index whatever to its foreign policy.

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