The Big Lie is critical to understand what is happening in the United States. It is at the heart of the turn towards radicalism and open political warfare we are experiencing. Most Americans are familiar with the process because we learn about it in history classes. Mind you, not American history, but as it pertains to the rise of the Third Reich. Alien forces stabbed the German soldier in the back; These were the Jews. This big lie set the ground for the holocaust and genocide.
We have our modern version of the big lie. Donald Trump won the election 2020 election. It was stolen from him by Democrats and others. In this case, globalists and statists, which are mostly Jews. This big lie is behind recent legislation in Georgia to keep some people from voting in ’22, chiefly African Americans. It is also what is behind the Arizona recount, which is happening as I type.
The big lie increases grievance politics from mostly white Republicans, who feel their world is coming to an end. Instead of expanding the party’s appeal and getting some of these diverse people into the party, they are going full-on racist. The Anglo-Saxon caucus that is taking shape within the House is a response to this. It is not just nativist; it is exclusive. For many minority Americans, who are conservative, this is off-putting. It is also a problem for people who are Republican but want to grow the party into a diverse, competitive, governing coalition. This, to paraphrase former President George W Bush, is a way to commit party suicide.
However, this I hardly the only big lie in American history. We need to confront the other big lie. This is the reason for the civil war. The legend made heroes of people like Robert E Lee and the common Confederate soldier. In some respects, it is a lie that is repeating as we confront the events of January 6, 2021, which are quickly fading in their horrors into the memory hole. The present is a big lie where half of Republicans believe Joe Biden is not legitimate.
The far-right maintains this and feeds it. Given that Americans are self-sorting into different news ecosystems, many people are not hearing opposing views. Or, for that matter, facts. Also, it is the common soldier on J6 that is facing some consequences. Like the Civil War, the leaders so far have avoided them.
The Lost Cause
The first big lie in American history revolved around the Civil War. It is a big whopper, not unlike the Nazi stabbed in the back lie. It survives to this day, and one reason it took hold was that the North was generous with the defeated South. Nobody faced the music for treason and open rebellion. People went on with their lives. While the 14th Amendment said participants could not run for political office, they did within a generation.
There were few consequences for the leaders of the worst war the US had faced. Yes, the war destroyed the southern economy, and hundreds of thousands died. But in time, the caste system that underpinned the social order returned. Whether a trial could come is a good question. Moreover, President Abraham Lincoln wanted to show mercy.
The big lie took form before the war officially ended. Jubal Early understood that setting up a storyline to justify what happened was critical. He also understood that talking about the political causes for the war was a potential minefield. This is how the war became a war between the states and not about the root cause, slavery. Ever since the end of the war, many in the South deny this reality. Never mind that the reason for the war was slavery, which the South wanted to keep. We know this because the founders of the Confederacy told us as much.
The Cornerstone Speech is clear on this:
But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution of African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted.
The speech has a few other remarkable lines that go to the current conservative thinking on freedom or the federal government’s power. They were prescient to current ideology, but much of this never faced a reckoning and festered. This is also part of white supremacy and libertarian thought that places the individual above anything else. The same speech contained principles that could be added to many libertarian or right-wing speeches today.
We allow the imposition of no duty with a view of giving advantage to one class of persons, in any trade or business, over those of another. All, under our system, stand upon the same broad principles of perfect equality. Honest labor and enterprise are left free and unrestricted in whatever pursuit they may be engaged. This old thorn of the tariff, which was the cause of so much irritation in the old body politic, is removed forever from the new. Replace tariff by taxes and you will get how this is very much in the vein of far right ideology. It has not gone away. It is part of who we are.
Followers of the Lost Cause do not bring up political leaders. The reason for this is clear. While the war was over slavery, t the last thing they want is to admit this. The military prowess of Lee
The South never lost the war. What Robert E Lee and others did was a spectacle of military prowess. And if anything, it was the political class that betrayed the armies in the field. This has a lot in common with the German Big Lie. In time it would grow in legend and justification. This included the idea that the South would rise again. That Northern Generals were incompetent and that the South never lost an actual battle is toxic. It is also ahistorical and ignores plenty of defeats, including the fact that the army suffered high desertions from ordinary soldiers. Speaking of those soldiers, they have become something outside of myth. They became the perfect soldier the world has ever seen. Many in the officer corps came from the South. This is why it became part of the legend even within the military. Army posts named after these generals is a consequence of this.
The reality in the field was different. There were many desertions, and Lee did not have the forces at times to fight. He was well supplied, though, and he suffered major defeats. The legend of Lee grew after the war. There were excuses as to why this military genius, at times compared to Napoleon or Julius Caesar, lost the war. It was not due to his inability, or lack o
The overwhelming industrial power of the North
The first of the many excuses why the South lost was that the North was not just well supplied but was an industrial powerhouse. Her generals threw troops to the meat grinder with absolutely no care. This was the first modern war. That the war began with Napoleonic tactics and ended in tactics that we would see in World War One, including trains, telegram, the first aerial recon, and trench works, is also true. We could even say that the North adapted to the evolving needs of the war faster than the South. It ultimately engaged in a total war that included civilians.
We might argue this was sufficient, but in reality, most veterans, in high and low posts, moved on with their lives. In time, some reached places of honor once again. With the rise of the lost cause, we even saw the rise of monuments to Southern. Generals and the average soldier, starting in the 1880s, with a high point in the 1920s. This included statues of Lee, who opposed these statues.
The Lost Cause radically undermined the job that northern generals, particularly Phil Sheridan and Ulysses S Grant, did. They used their resources adequately and defeated the southern armies in the field. They, like Lee, entered the war with very green troops and also faced desertions. But once they got their bearings and resources, they prosecuted the war in a way meant to win it, and in the end, they preserved the Union.
The war was about States Rights.
The reason for the war, as I wrote above, was slavery. But southerners were not going to admit it; they could not face being equals to former slaves. To be fair neither did northerners. So this little bunk story about the fight being about state’s rights was comforting to both sides. It also led to black codes and later Jim Crow. Racism was not limited to the South, but it was most evident in the South.
However, let’s not tell lies. Red Lining and other practices to keep blacks down were systemically used in the North as well. Chicago is one of the most segregated cities I the country, for example. Northern whites feared the competition of blacks in the job market and did not offer banking services to blacks. Why we saw the rise of black-owned businesses and institutions, none of this was accidental. In the view of many whites, it would have been best if blacks were deported after the war. This was something that even Abe Lincoln proposed at one point.
So in time, the accepted reason for the war moved from slavery to states’ rights. While this was far more prevalent in the South, it was not limited to the South. This led to the second resurgence of the KKK in the 1920s nationally.
The big lie had taken full residency in the minds of Americans. It took residence in Disney movies, in things like Birth of A Nation, and other cultural effects. It remains with us to this day, even if less obvious. However, the efforts to limit voting in many states, for example, Georgia, are very familiar. This is why that effort is called Jim Crow 2.0.
J6 Attack on the Capitol
The way the right is treating the assault on the Capitol has clear parallels to the Lost Cause. First off, the attack failed, but immediately the propaganda started. Like General Early, they knew they had to set the storyline in place. First, it was Antifa who wore Trump swag to disguise themselves as Trump supporters. This lie is still in circulation and has taken a life of its own in far-right spaces. You come across it every so often. It is the media’s job and the authorities to discredit this every time it rears its ugly head. We cannot allow this to take hold in the mind of Republicans and far-right actors.
There is some level of misinformation and active measures going on as well. They are successful. This is why so many Republicans do not believe Biden is the lawful president of the United States. From time to time, Donald Trump still airs his grievances to those who will listen. While most of the media is ignoring him, his lies are circulating on Telegram and other spaces.
Like the Lost Cause, it avoids responsibility. The attack came from Donald Trump, the former president of the United States, and it was a veritable effort from both internal and external forces. It continues to destabilize the United States. This is part of the active measures from foreign powers (particularly Russia, but not limited to them) who are interested in destabilizing Western Democracies, not just the United States.
The insurrection was planned in groups on Facebook Parler, GAB, 4Chan, 8Kun, and others, it was in the open, and we know that the authorities missed the blaring sirens and red lights. Partly because policing has always kept a light hand with far-right groups.
This is part of a pattern. While we know the far right, and militia groups, pose a threat to the country’s internal security, they are not policed as intensely as any left-wing groups. This is especially the case if those groups are primarily black and brown. The reasons are manifold, but the truth is, at this point, Republicans are claiming the J6 attack was not what it was, or ignoring it. This comes from Congressional leadership that is busy protecting Donald Trump, partly out of fear of a very radicalized base.
One exception is Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who will lose her leadership post or her seat. For her, this is about principle, not power.
These are parallels to the big lie after the civil war and Germany. In many of these spaces, there are claims that the elites abandoned the people who tried to prevent the swearing-in of President Joe Biden. In this list, of course, they include Donald Trump. He encouraged people to come to the Capitol, and his speech was full of appeals to violence, but it is the foot soldiers who are facing the music so far.
This may be a reason why Q fans are starting to see Trump as a New York Liberal, who they will not listen to in regards to things like getting a Covid-19 vaccine. If this base peals off, it will make room for even crazier to take hold. This could very well be Tucker Carlson of Fox News. He is the one who has led the way in mainstreaming far-right ideologies, using his perch in the media. Some of these are as follows.
The great replacement.
This brings me to the Great Replacement, which is not just a white grievance on steroids, but not unlike the Lost Cause, a big lie. This states that whites are going away; in fact, it is central to the ideas of white genocide. They (and by this, I mean Jews, of course) are bringing immigrants from the third world, replacing whites in national life. That this echoes the Camp of the Saints is evident to those of us who have read this material. This is not just grievance, but fear and hate.
“They will not replace us!” This chant at Charlottesville was about this. It is easy to control people who believe that they need to fight back, which the former president told them on J6, or they will lose their country. They are positive that there are actual races; never mind, we are all part of the same species. They also believe that Whites are superior to any other race. This grievance is at the heart of what led to the J6 insurrection.
The Green New Deal and Socialism
This brings me to another big lie from the far right. Many of these people are positive the Green New Deal will bankrupt the country and end industries where whites dominate. One of these truisms is true. If the goal is to decarbonize the economy, it means new initiatives and new opportunities. This is a lack of imagination, which goes to slavery. There was no imagination about ending that either, or a future without slaves. This is where the danger lies. More than one of these people is talking of secession, just as confederates did. They are also talking about state rights, the same way Jefferson Davis did in Congress before the civil war.
Why? They do not believe that economic change will benefit them. To be fair. Since the economy tends to be rather sticky, they have somewhat of a point. Unless we bring these new industries to the oil patch, many of these people will permanently lose their jobs and place in society. Most will not move. It just does not happen, and we know this objectively because the rust belt never recovered. Workers in the rust belt went from good factory Union jobs to Walmart. They went from the middle class to poverty because they would not move to places where factories went, even within the United States. Nor did they retrain, or to be brutally honest, we do not invest enough in retraining people.
One constant with the right is a fixation on the evils of socialism. Any policy they oppose, which means almost everything that benefits the people, is conflated with socialism and, at times, communism. Part of this is that red-baiting used to work, and we had two red scares that were successful. Many conservatives still live within the mental constraints of the Cold War, even when The Soviet Union disappeared over a generation ago. This is effective with immigrants from Cuba, Eastern Europe, and Venezuela, partly because they called themselves communist and socialist. Never mind, we have successful Social Democracies that are both Democratic and free. This is too sophisticated for most people. And it is easier to conflate even successful programs like Medicare and Social Security with control and dictatorship.
They also expected Republican presidents to dismantle programs like Social Security. That it never happened means that the base sees even their leaders as part of the enemy. Over the decades, this has only increased the sense of grievance. Why Donald Trump should surprise no one, he said aloud what many in the radicalized Republican and far-right base have been saying privately.
What is of interest is that the same people who scream the left want dictatorship and control to impose a form of autocracy. We know that more than a few in the far-right admire Vladimir Putin and the autocratic, totalitarian, white Christian society he set. White chauvinists say this often, for example. And it is spoken in whispers, and not so much, in other spaces. I suspect Trump never held Putin accountable for his attacks on the United States partly due to this. In some ways, the former president was the exact useful idiot the right claims whatever passes for an American left is for Cuba and Venezuela. That this is bunk is beyond obvious, but for a base full of resentment and not aware of what terms like authoritarian or police state mean, obviously the left wants to do this.
There is an element of projection, but this is not something we all speak off in polite company. Outside of the polite company, and after the J6 insurrection, it should be obvious. The right wants to impose on the United States a police state led by a supreme leader. This will be fine, as long as they can impose their vision, dystopian and all, on the nation.
The big lie is about resentment.
Let’s be clear. This is about resentment. People fear they will be left behind because it is happening to a blue-collar white person who rightfully knows that he will not have as good a life as his parents did. This is mostly a he. The movement is full of misogyny as well. Women have a place in society. It is not in the office, factory floor, or any other position where they will compete with men. It is in the home raising children, keeping house, cooking and maybe church. The world they knew, mostly a myth, is gone. However, that world included strong unions. This movement is also anti-union and labor rights.
The connection to the civil war is also resentment and privilege lost. In that case, they lost the right to own human beings. Worst, they had to compete with them, and some of them successfully ran for political office. The reaction was swift as the Black Codes took shape. Since northerners also had to compete, they quickly accepted a southern view. Racism was widespread, so was white supremacy.
The current big lie involves not just losing the election, which was stolen. It is about who voted to make that the case. It was black and brown people who gave the election to Joe Biden. It was them, why at present, we have a rise of new election laws that are nothing short of a new Jim Crow system meant to keep those voters away from the ballot box. This is also why they refuse to admit Democrats have a right to run the government. This is not new; it has gotten worst, though.