The best show on television right now features a major city, the capital of an unsteady government, that is gradually being pulled apart by two competing political parties. The center can’t hold; it’s being steadily overwhelmed by a pair of rival Socialist groups who don’t hesitate to take their conflicts into the streets as they sweep away their country’s past and head into a glorious future.
Meanwhile, the citizens of this increasingly fractured metropolis take refuge in a variety of vices, including transvestitism, casual sex of all permutations, part-time prostitution, blackmail, drug addiction, financial speculation and, when necessary, murder — and these are just the cops trying their best to hold the Republic together. Meanwhile, outside the elegant halls of authority, armed gangs roam the streets, setting upon each other with abandon in the ultimate game of thrones.
Washington, D.C., in 2021? No, Berlin in the late 1920s.
“Babylon Berlin,” now in its third season on Netflix, isn’t only brilliant storytelling for grownups, but a cautionary tale for our times. …
The problem now is that the incoming Biden administration has no intention of going after its digital brownshirts and manufacturing partners, any more than Hitler would have gone after Krupp or Thyssen while they were supplying the means to rearm Germany, or punishing reporters for the Völkischer Beobachter, the Nazi Party newspaper. Getting the media on their side was crucial to both the success of the National Socialist movement in Germany and in its erstwhile ally, the USSR, where Pravda and Izvestia provided all the news that was fit to print according to the party commissars.
Like the journeymen who quickly adopted the party line in Germany after 1933, the American media has plainly chosen sides. Dissenters from the new orthodoxy will not only be kicked off social media, they’ll be branded as ideological lepers and denied further employment. Anyone so much as associated with or supportive of the Trump administration will henceforth be deemed an outcast, and headed for the re-education camps or worse.
“Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie,” wrote that magazine’s chief content officer, Randall Lane recently. “We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet.”
At a time when the Democrats are begging for a peaceful transition of power, this would seem an odd way to heal the country’s divisions. But who’s going to call them on it?
A country that prides itself on the fiction that we’re a nation of laws, not men, is finding out the hard way what repressive ideologues have known not only since Weimar and Berlin, but since Babylon itself: power is all that matters, and the laws will follow.
Who’s going to stop them?