The mythology of treachery – and its dangerous results

In the years after the First World War in Germany a particular view of recent history began to take hold in certain circles – the Dolchstoßlegende (or ‘stab-in-the-back myth’). This suggested that Germany was never defeated in the war, and that the punitive Versailles Treaty was only possible because German troops had been betrayed by the country’s politicians and others. It was this myth that helped to fuel the growth of rightwing fanaticism and ultimately the Nazi party and its takeover of Germany.

It was of course not the last time that some movement or other identified traitors and saboteurs in its demonology, but this has never had good results. It is one of the reasons why the current fashion for denouncing traitors in the United Kingdom needs to be watched with some considerable care. The whole Brexit conversation is full of such language, on both sides, with some quite sinister undertones. Politicians have been accused of treachery, and often threatened personally, for holding views that others disagree with. Most recently the Conservative MP Heidi Allen received an anonymous card in the post in which the writer wished her a ‘long and slow demise’, and calling her a traitor (it must be assumed that this referred to her sceptical stance regarding Brexit). The threatened violence might be abhorrent to all reasonable people, but the general tone is the logical extension of campaigns by widely-read newspapers.

But this focus on alleged treachery is not confined to extreme supporters of Brexit, it has become a common feature of internal Labour Party disputes also. Recently the alternative leftwing news blog, Skwawkbox, decided to suggest that Labour MP Stella Creasy, by attending a concert (Shed Seven, if you need to know) in the company of a Conservative MP and others, was displaying an inappropriate ‘cosiness’ with the enemy. At one level this is playground-like childishness on the part of Skwawkbox, but it also maintains the toxic narrative of treachery and betrayal.

None of this is good. It is time to recover a degree of civility within public discourse and to accept that, mostly, people do and support what they believe is right. We can argue with their views and their judgement, but we should stop making it personal. And for heaven’s sake, everyone should stop constantly being angry about everyone and everything. Lighten up.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: history, politics, society

Tags: , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

2 Comments on “The mythology of treachery – and its dangerous results”

  1. Vince Says:

    The Stab-in-the-back types are always there. They are the same people that think Irish farmers being as they are the only people with guns can shoot to kill. Also, they ones that keep the notion that countries are crime ridden when by any sane measure shows crime is non-existent.
    That shower would’ve been there in Germany too post WW1 and likely regardless of the reparations and inflation would’ve built up a following. But where that shower come to the fore is when the other main stream purveyors of political theory have been shown to be craven idiots.
    However, it’s not 1920s and 30s Germany that Establishments need to worry about, for while the conditions are there in a superficial way the cohort isn’t large enough. But the conditions are there for pre-Revolutionary Russia. Where Liberal theory in an attempt to ape GB and Germany left gigantic parts of the population behind, while the wealth was syphoned off to play the casinos of Europe and buy yachts to tootle about the Med for six weeks a year.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: