Friday, March 03, 2017

Excuse me while I get this Reichstag reference mode out of my system.

I'm no expert on cognitive theory, but it seems obvious that ideas arise in the noggin from all manner of cross-germination.

Ever since the Great Trumpolini was installed, the Reichstag fire of 1933 has come back into fashion. The article linked here explains exactly why.

Given this information, added to the chronic condition of being a history buff, considering Team Gahan's congenital secrecy, and spiced with pungent Breakwater toadstools, the fire at Breakwater has made for a wonderfully satirical stew.

They can't hand me great material and then criticize the results.

All this said, for one to oppose municipal corporate welfare subsidies isn't the same as wishing to block the apartment complex's construction -- only that risks should be borne by private developers, not the city's tax base.

Similarly, once we've arrived at the point of fait accompli, one isn't wishing for fires, floods or explosions to destroy what's been built.

The fire at Breakwater loosened some of the demons suppressed by Jeff Gahan's top-down, non-transparent and undemocratic management style. As such, something otherwise unfortunate can still be a valuable teaching tool.

The Reichstag Warning, by Timothy Snyder (The New York Review of Books)

The Reichstag fire shows how quickly a modern republic can be transformed into an authoritarian regime. There is nothing new, to be sure, in the politics of exception. The American Founding Fathers knew that the democracy they were creating was vulnerable to an aspiring tyrant who might seize upon some dramatic event as grounds for the suspension of our rights. As James Madison nicely put it, tyranny arises “on some favorable emergency.” What changed with the Reichstag fire was the use of terrorism as a catalyst for regime change. To this day, we do not know who set the Reichstag fire: the lone anarchist executed by the Nazis or, as new scholarship by Benjamin Hett suggests, the Nazis themselves. What we do know is that it created the occasion for a leader to eliminate all opposition.

In 1989, two centuries after our Constitution was promulgated, the man who is now our president wrote that “civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins.” For much of the Western world, that was a moment when both security and liberty seemed to be expanding. 1989 was a year of liberation, as communist regimes came to an end in eastern Europe and new democracies were established. Yet that wave of democratization has since fallen under the glimmering shadow of the burning Reichstag. The aspiring tyrants of today have not forgotten the lesson of 1933: that acts of terror—real or fake, provoked or accidental—can provide the occasion to deal a death blow to democracy.

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