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Trump, Hitler and
Joshua at the Battle of Jericho

March 3, 2018
by William P. Meyers

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And the Fiction Came a Tumbling Down

The world is in a tumult, but there is little most of us can do about it. Will the world muddle through a few more decades or a few more years, or will it collapse in an atomic war or unprecedented climate-change induced storms? I don't know.

I do know some things about the present and its relationship to the past. I also know that the past is our best guide even in unprecedented situations.

Donald Trump knows luxury hotels and he knows reality tv and he knows how to pressure women and crooked politicians, but like many specialists, while impressive within his specialty, he can be as stupid as anyone when dropped into a strange environment like the Oval Office. He's no Hitler. Hitler actually served in the German army during World War I, and Hitler was a political (evil) genius. I'll come back to this comparison, maybe, further down, but first a trip into history.

"Joshua at the Battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho,
Joshua at the Battle of Jericho, and the walls came a tumbling down."

I just finished reading Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? by William G. Dever. It is a scholarly book and claims to represent the consensus of archeologists, or at least archeologists specializing in ancient Palestine, as of 2003. It is the only book on the subject I have read; I don't claim expertise, or that Dever is right and those Biblical scholars and archeologists who argue fine points with him are wrong.

But basically, all of the books of the Bible until you get to Judges are just propaganda. They were made up, simply fabricated, in order to create a national myth to support the power of kings and priests from about 800 B.C. onwards. Jews did not multiply like rabbits in Egypt and then march into Palestine and conquer it.

Jews were mostly Canaanites who survived the apocalypse that ended the Bronze Age and began the Iron Age. They escaped the oppression of their Bronze Age rulers, the Egyptians and local Canaanite elites, and set up farms in hilly country that had been relatively unsettled. They prospered and eventually created their own elites, king and priesthood, that would oppress them in turn.

So reading the Bible, from Genesis to Joshua, is about as valuable a history lesson as reading Lord of the Rings. By setting the commandments (not just the famous Ten; there are hundreds of them) in a mythical era, when miracles occurred and God walked the earth, the new elite cemented their power and made their bullshit unassailable by ordinary people.

The collapse of not just Canaan, but much of the Middle East, at the end of the Bronze age is worth noting. It is up there with the collapse of the Roman Empire. The details are not entirely clear, but the basics, as stated by Dever, are:

1. The decline was not instant, but happened over about 3 centuries.

2. A society characterized by large cities lost much of its population, with many cities destroyed or abandoned.

3. The society had become very oppressive for most people, with a small, powerful elite confiscating most of the wealth (and land), then fighting among themselves.

Sound familiar?

Trump and Hitler both are thought of as propaganda experts, but Hitler has become almost as mythologized as Moses and Joshua. Leftists like to characterized both Trump and Hitler as stupid to mediocre. Such leftists are themselves stupid to mediocre. Underestimating one's rivals is a fundamental error of the stupid and mediocre.

Both Trump and Hitler came to power telling people what they wanted to hear. They also based the fictions they sold on a skeleton of facts that helped make them believable. Going back to the Bible, when its earliest books were written the history they made up was just a few centuries old. There was no written history of the Jews from the early Iron Age because they were farmers coping with the collapse of civilization.

When the Bible writers made up Joshua they could find plenty of Canaanite city ruins in the Palestinian landscape. These ruins still had names, and so the claim was made that they were destroyed by the mighty Jewish army that had fled out of Egypt. Archeologists have concluded these cities fell to ruin in a variety of time periods, none probably corresponding to when Joshua was allegedly campaigning. In fact the Jews occupied the land peaceably. They were mostly Canaanites fleeing the oppression of their elites, forming communities on unpopulated hilltops.

Hitler in uniform

Hitler's big lie, which he did not invent but was a genius at exploiting, was the Stab in the Back Theory. As usual, there were some facts that did seem to support the theory. Germany did not start World War I. German armies still occupied part of France when they agreed to an Armistice, courtesy of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. The armistice was supposed to broker a peaceful return to the pre-war borders, without any blame or consequent war reparations. But British Empire and French Empire politicians reneged on their pledges, grabbing parts of Germany and imposing massive reparations payments on Germany.

The Big Lie was that German socialists, communists, and Jews were responsible for allowing this to happen. True, these groups dominated the German government after the armistice. But the German army had essentially collapsed, while Britain, France and America were well set to keep fighting. For the German government to insist on continued war would simply have resulted in the conquest of Germany. The German generals did not want to take responsibility for their defeat, and blamed the new government for the final outcome.

Trump's brain is a muddle of small lies. The only big lie is that he is Great, and that he is capable of running the United States and by implication the world. Given that he rewrites history on a daily basis, I would expect that 20 years from now his supporters will have created a Trump myth that sounds good to them, and blames all of America's troubles on his detractors. Trump may not have the genius of Hitler, but he doe know the one trick common to CEOs and politicians: Dodge the Blame. If something goes wrong, blame it on your enemies.






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