On the why of the rise of the ‘nativist government’ in Mitteleuropa read ‘Europe Since 1989’ by Phillipp Ther. Chapter 4. Getting on the Neoliberal Bandwagon and Chapter 5. Second-Wave Neoliberalism. These countries rejected any form, of what they considered to be ‘Socialism’, and as a result that Neoliberalism’s toxicity was all pervasive. And was the political precursor of those nativist governments. Applebaum uses this occasion to advertise her book!
I’d had a similar experience myself, in Poland a few years earlier — I’ve described what happened when a nativist government took over the country in my new book, Twilight of Democracy —
The reader has to cultivate patience when reading Applebaum, she is of the Leo Strauss School of self-serving rhetorical bloat, as a means to create an exploitable reader fatigue. That contributes to a wan acceptance, on the part of that reader’s surrender, to what was/is presented as somehow meeting argumentative standards.
After the preliminary cast of characters that establishes a verisimilitude, she has demonstrated her mastery of the politics of her own ménage. Applebaum is a Neo-Conservative and a friend/ally of the Bush Coterie, that has now appears in the political guise of The Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump.
A more rough hewn, as compared to a once Conservatism of a ‘genteel world’. As a person in her mid fifties, how can she ‘know’ of that world, except by study? She is not just a Political Historian, but an Historian of Sensibilities?
These organisations moved the argument away from the rooms in Washington and into a different sphere. In doing so, they recognised a changed reality: once upon a time, conservative politics was a genteel world where well-written articles for literary magazines or editorial pages could exert great influence. At least at the high end, voters as well as politicians listened to William F Buckley in the National Review or George Will in the Washington Post. The election of 2016 proved that was no longer true. Nowadays, real politics mostly happens somewhere else: in the swamps of social media, in the great battle for attention, in advertising wars and duelling YouTube video clips.
The Lincoln Project waded into those swamps, battles, wars and duels with gusto, drawing fire. Their breakthrough moment was an advertisement on the theme of “Mourning in America” — a direct reference to the famous Ronald Reagan advertisement and slogan, “Morning in America”. The video had sad music, Americans in hospitals and an ominous voiceover: “Under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country is weaker, and sicker and poorer.”
In this essay Applebaum self-presentation is that of outside commentator, when, again, she is a Fellow Traveler.
In its defence, the Lincoln Project’s founders are all former Republican strategists, their real target is Republican voters rather than the president, and they believe that much of the language Republicans are used to hearing from their party is already overwrought. The point is to give them familiar symbols, people and stories with which they can identify, and which will persuade them to turn against the president. Outrage is a tactic needed to break through what feels like a wall of indifference, even in the news media: “It’s not just the consumers of information that are numb,” Weaver told me, “It’s also the conveyors.”
More of Mr. Weaver:
None of these groups are affiliated directly with the Biden campaign, and they don’t want to be. “We’re just blowing up supply lines,” says Weaver. “We’re not responsible for winning the war.”
What reader can forget Mr. Weaver’s other self -congratulatory comment on the French Resistance and supply lines :
“We are like the French resistance. We are blowing up the supply lines,” said John Weaver, a veteran Republican political consultant and one of the co-founders of the group, which is named after President Abraham Lincoln.
This followed by more of Applebaum’s jejune political observations, the reader is then presented with this shameless political advocacy, or just call it propaganda!
Follow @projectlincoln and @RVAT2020 if you want to watch them try.