Course for Fall Semester 2020
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." (Source uncertain)
Professor: "Greetings, students. I don't know what they say about this course in the Course Catalog, but I call it by a four letter word: Hell. We will probably all be glad this is a remote only course, since if you are on mute, if you feel the need to vomit, it won't bother anybody else. There is a long reading list and films too, but you don't need to read or watch anything. It's all optional. There will be no homework. Attendance at my lectures is strictly voluntary; I don't take roll. You have one assignment, due in my email inbox as a PDF file or in the mail, by the last class day: Submit a horror story essay. Your story must include some reference to the Covid-19 pandemic. I'm an old military man, but I'm not a sadist. Every student whose submitted paper demonstrates he or she did not waste the semester playing video games or twittering or other crap gets a B. That shouldn't ruin anybody's GPA. I, your Professor, and you can just call me "John", have my own exam at the end of the semester: a colonoscopy. I like to think I'm like Lyndon Johnson; you know where I do my work. To earn an A+ in this course what you have to do is help me with my exam prep.
The only paper I remember from last semester is a student, he or she (or other, these days), wrote up a visit to a house of ill repute where they wore a mask and maintained social distancing. Nobody caught Covid-19 in doing the research. Great work! I think that pretty much covers everything. Any questions?" Smart-ass student who always wants teacher's attention raises his or her hand. Prof: "You in the front row. Speak up!" Student: "Are you for real, Sir?" Prof: "I am. Any other questions?" Silence. Prof: "OK. That's it for today. Go to the bookstore or do whatever you want, students. Please, I don't want to see any Big Gulp cups on Zoom. Next week's lecture will be: Professor's War Stories, Part I: We searched for Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction and played gin Rummy with a DOD Wanted Iraqis card deck. Wear a mask. Keep social distance. Everybody, keep well and have safe fun (there's a reference for this from NYCHealth on the reading list). Remember that just because you are sitting on your asses you don't have to be slugs! Class dismissed."
I'm going to rewrite the history of The Third Reich and the rest of the 20th Century.
We start with reworking Adolf Hitler 卐. My Hitler 卐 is not any racist (he knows which side of the bread his a-bomb is buttered on). He really believes in science and technology. (The real-life Hitler 卐 had a jewish family doctor, Eduard Bloch, whom [again, the real] Hitler 卐 had placed under special protection.) My Hitler 卐 doesn't do drugs, either, although he too is a vegetarian. He is the horrific epitome of Realpolitik: Henry Kissinger without any scruples and a lot more brains. He plays little sycophants like Himmler and Goebbels like keys on a piano. A piano has a lot of keys. He plays it well. He really instantiates Douglas MacArthur's dictum about FDR: "a man who would never tell the truth when a lie would serve him just as well." He's the ultimate cynic.
My Hitler 卐 knows that people are dupes. They need something to give them hope. Lebensraum is indeed a good idea, since Germany, like most of the world in the 1930's, is in the midst of a financial catastrophe. He plans a Great War. But he is also smart. He has studied history, and knows about the problems people have had in past with trying to conquer Russia. He has a favorite song, which he himself wrote and which he doesn't share with anybody except his girlfriend (he doesn't get married, just like the real Hitler 卐 also did, because he knows the People want to see their Leader as married to his Country, not to a woman). His song is: "Quartiermeisterkorps (Quartermaster Corps) Über Alles!" He has a single-minded military strategy: No soldier advances one meter without a supply line that can provision two soldiers advancing two meters. He knows what the world thinks of The Soviet Union, and he knows where there's a lot of Lebensraum: My Hitler 卐 plans well and launches a surprise Blitzkrieg on The Soviet Union, and, before Uncle Joe knows what's happening, the Swastika is raised in Vladivostok. German forces move so fast that Stalingrad does not need to be reduced to rubble. The SS makes district headquarters in The Lubyanka. In case anyone is interested, Josef Stalin was preoccupied with sending Army Generals and other unreliable persons to the Gulag. The SS captured him, and, like the wimp he not eponymonsly was, he begged not to be killed.
Now, for the lived happily ever after part of this story. My Hitler 卐 had secretly negotiated with Imperial Japan. In exchange for Germany supplying Japan with oil and other resources, the Japanese High Command agreed to not attack United States at Pearl Harbor or The Philippines, and The United States of America never was engaged in a Pacific War (we will deal with the other ocean in a couple sentences). Japan continued to ravage China, and, with German help, the Maoists were defeated. China was destined never to become a World Power, at least as of 2020. Why The United States left China will also shortly be explained. My Hitler's 卐 secondary strategy was to not wake sleeping tigers.
Back to Europe. My Hitler 卐 never split his forces or opened a disastrous Western Front. He never dropped a single bomb on London. Never invaded France. After crushing The Red Army, he had enough Lebensraum. He was a clever kitten. He understood that the only real Evil in the whole world was: ☭Communism. He surmised, and this speculation proved correct, that Roosevelt and Churchhill would be smugly happy to see The Soviet Union erased from the earth, and if the price for that was a Swastika flying over most of Eurasia east of the Alps, it would be worth it. After conquering The Soviet Union, my Hitler 卐 never started any other war, and was entirely happy to not participate any, because he had more interesting things to do at home (see below). He did indeed construct concentration camps, after he won his Big War. Himmler was thus allowed to have some sadistic fun: killing ☭Communists. The only inmates in my Hitler's 卐 concentration camps were ☭Communists, and since ☭Communism is the root of all Evil, all the good folks who had fought against the Bolscheviks, if they were still alive, were finally happy
The British Empire thrived or at least sputtered on. The United States of America never became quite the World Power it in fact was after the real World War II. There was no reason to hyper-industrialize the USA because nobody attacked her. Safe from The Red Menace, America fast-forwarded from 1940 to 1946, and the country got on with everybody moving into Levittowns, and buying new automobiles to see the USA in their Chevrolets. Americans were preoccupied for the indefinite future with mowing their lawns, including losing interest in China. Colonel George S. Patton continued benignly to hallucinate being History's great generals, but saw no further battle service and lived to a ripe old age, dying peacefully after studying Sun Tzu.
The computer revolution was delayed by a decade because digital computer research was not driven by cryptographic and other war work.
Well, what about my Adolf Hitler 卐? Germany prospered. Lots of infrastructure, like Autobahns to build east of the Urals. My Hitler 卐 pretty much lost interest in politics, except to keep the Third Reich on course for its projected thousand year lifespan. Therefore he continued to appear in public to keep his "base" stirred up and his Mad[ison Avenue] man Dr. Joseph Goebbels busy. Hermann Göring, not needing to design new fighter and bomber aircraft, beat the Brits to providing the first trans-Atlantic jet commercial airplane service, with the Messerschmitt Meteor. Karl Dönitz's U-boats protected shipping from pirates and, like dolphins, were a welcome sight to sailors of all flags.
In private, my Hitler 卐 was a silent partner in the new corporation Speer AG. He finally realized his childhood dream of being an architect. Germania was built! In 2020, the main world capital was Germania, followed by London, Washington DC and, of course, Tokyo. That's not exactly true: Ronald Reagan built his shining city on a hill formed from compacted industrial sludge, coagulated effluents and New York City (or was it Newark, New Jersey?) garbage, with a public university that eschewed "intellectual luxuries" and taught basic job skills, and no unionized labor. So
SodomWashington DC was replaced by FreeMarketopia.
There was Universal Peace, i.e., no Warsaw Pact Iron Curtain. Nothing was regulated and all voodoo financial schemes were permitted (outside Germany, which continued to coordinate corporations with Social Welfare programs; they didn't call it National Socialism for no reason). Everybody except the Chinese and other colonial subjects, was happy to consume more consumer products. The People's Car savings scheme made good its promises. Oh, yes, All the Officers and enlisted persons in the Wehrmacht Quartiermeisterkorps were liberally decorated, because an army marches on its stomach, and that's how my Hitler 卐 changed the world.
OK. In 2020, Germany, like most other countries on earth, caught Covid-19. Asymptomatic spreaders flew into Germania and circulated around the world's largest country before anyone knew. The German government had not expected this. But my Hitler's 卐 successors followed his recommendations and studied history. (Aside: They learned about Chernobyl and the submarine Kursk, and therefore were able to prevent those things from happening.) They had read their Bibles, and knew about fat and lean years. So The Reich had wisely stored up during fat years provisions for lean years. The Wehrmacht Quartiermeisterkorps continued to be honored. When public health officers became aware that the enemy was inside the borders of The Reich, they advised a total lockdown everywhere, and the politicians mandated this. Borders were closed. The Quartiermeisterkorps officers, remembering The Great Anti-Communist War, mobilized to provision a civilian army that was going nowhere.
The German people, through a few months' long lockdown, were kept happy with beer and sausages. Because the Volk went nowhere, neither did the virus go anywhere, either. Asymptomatic spreading was stopped in its tracks. A few thousands got ill and a few humdreds died before the virus itself died out in The Reich. As always, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. As the ☭Communist Lenin said, to make an omelet you have to break eggs. The Reich's chickens did their duty, and the Quartiermeisterkorps distributed eggs, too. After a few months, Covid-19 was eliminated from The Reich, and Germany, along with New Zealand, declared itself virus free, and kept it that way by continuing to keep its borders closed, especially to persons attempting to enter from The United States of America, where the pandemic was largely out of control.
This success of a fascist regime in keeping its people safe caused a problem for United States of America President Donald J. Trump, who was ranting about his success defending America's statues honoring Confederate Generals from anti-fascist (Antifa) desecration. Most of the American people seemed more interested in their children not getting sick than in protecting statues of white people who were already dead. But Mr. Trump wanted to win reelection in the coming 2020 election. He found he could not motivate the American people with the noble ideal of saving the Dow Jones Stock Average.
There is an old Zap comix story about a man who tries to murder a hamburger by eating it. All the utensils in the Greasy Spoon restaurant where the endangered hamburger lived, come to the hamburger's rescue and chase the man, his hunger not assuaged, out into the street to avoid getting killed by the aroused knives, forks and spoons. The man figures out how to solve his problem: He runs back into the Greasy Spoon restaurant and orders: another hamburger.
Donald J. Trump, who was interested in hamburgers only to the extent he could buy them cheap and sell them dear with Deutschebank loans, tried to distract the American people from the Covid-19 pandemic by a preemptive launch of all America's nuclear weapons to destroy the neo-Evil Empire (The
USSRReich). The Germans, not having developed atomic weapons themselves because my Hitler 卐 had seen no need for them, was unable to retaliate, and every city in The Reich was obliterated.
Meanwhile America continued to be ravaged only by Covid-19. But Trump's chickens came home to roost. The poisoning of earth's atmosphere by the detonation of thousands of hydrogen bombs, brought about a nuclear winter. When skies cleared after several years, Ludwig Wittgenstein's observation was stood on its head: Because no man was left to open his seeing eye, the universe remained filled with electromagnetic radiation but there was no light. Even Donald J. Trump presumably had died, whether from cancer or because The White House's bunker's provisions had run out is not known, again, because there was nobody left to know it. If my Hitler 卐 was anywhere in an afterlife, he was not happy, because The Third Reich, devastated like Curtis Lemay never would have been able to do with B-29's and napalm, would not reach its 1,000th birthday. As Mr. Trump had prophesized: "It is what it is." As Mick Mulvaney, also now dead, had urged: "Get over it."
Sorry for how long my essay was, Professor John. But I didn't read your instructions all the way to the end until I checked my work one last time and saw I had to include Covid-19 in my story. How'd I do, Prof?
Professor John's comments to BMcC course submission:
Not sure exactly what the horror is here. But that's just my opinion. Clearly, you "did not waste the semester playing video games or twittering or other crap". You also show some knowledge of history and military science. A-. You will note that the model paper I cited at the beginning of the course exhibited fieldwork, not just words. Maybe you'll want to sign up for my next semester graduate seminar on Bertolt Brecht, or St. Bertolt, as I call him -- if you know some German. Keep well!
Thanks, Professor John. You have inspired me to do some further work on my own, even if it's too late now to ask for extra-credit. I've written a little piece about the Iranian Ayatollahocracy, Read it here. Thanks, Professor John. Keep well.
Homage to Adam Curtis
"Iran is always up to no good; that's the kind of regime it is." (U.S. Intelligence officer)
Please, my reader, watch Adam Curtis's BBC Documentary, available free on YouTube: "The Power of Nightmares". Also, all fundamentalist Islamists: Please be advised that there are no Charlie Hebdo cartoons or anything else disrespectful of The Prophet (PBUH) herein. I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) originally wrote this piece as satire but it may be more like the truth, only the truth is raunchier: Click here to find out.
Once upon a time, and in a country anywhere but here (NIMBY/NIH), there was a nation statist NeoConservative war monger, or maybe he was an orthodoxifying Ayatollah who instructed his people to become suicide bombers to go to Heaven to enjoy all the pleasures of the flesh he commanded them to eschew on this earth. Anyway, after a long day at the office, scheming with his fellow smiling faces what they wanted to do with his nation's citizenry the next day, he came home and took off it was either his suit or his robes -- it was definitely his robes --, and relaxed with his family. And well they could relax, for there was no dyspeptic Coca-Cola® or Bud Lite or any pulp propaganda sheets in their great climate controlled private library cum liquor cellar. Only the best would do for himself and his immediate family. He had even acquired a small Leonardo da Vinci manuscript and something so esoteric that not even art history scholars could imagine anything like it could ever have existed.
Ah! What a pleasure to turn over vellum leafs in the fading autumn evening light, meditating on the sun setting on The Evil Empire [USA] and more bloodied corpses in the Kurds' never to become a homeland. [Translating from Farsi, but these people also speak very competent English, German, French....] "
Nancy Mansoureh, will you call the servant to have him bring us some Napoleon brandy -- no, not the Corvoisier, but the real thing that Bonaparte did not live long enough to enjoy himself? Thank you. Yes, dear, I know, martyrs are so touching. But now it is time for some peace and quiet before we retire for the day." "Daddy!" "Yes, my sweet." "Daddy, I think I made a mistake today." "Really, child? What did somebody do to you?" "Daddy, I forgot to take my birth control pill and I think, well, you know, daddy, what people are not supposed to do because all life is sacred, especially the unquickened." "Ah! I see, dear. We must stop this problem before it starts. Secretary! Secretary! Come here!" "Yes, my lord!" "Go down to the dispensary and get some Plan-B, please. It's in the triple locked safe marked ☣BIOHAZARD☣. No, you'll be OK; it's just to keep people who shouldn't know what's in it from finding out. My wife will get you the keys and the combination for the safe. And if we're out of it, Have one of our Gulfstreams at Liberty International fly us some ASAP. One is always on stand-by, in case nobody's told you. And we can make it nonstop without refueling if the U.S. Air Force tries to give us any trouble with landing rights. Just stick to your course. They won't dare do anything but if they shoot you down, you're a holy martyr and you will go to Paradise where you will have a thousand virgins to deflower." "Thy will be done, your Excellency." "Good." [Secretary departs to work the night shift.]
"Now, sweet daughter, tell me about what you learned from your tutor today." "Of course, daddy. We studied matrix transformations. It's really neat, daddy, how the same thing can be seen in so many different ways." "I know, dear, everything in this world depends on how one looks at it, but it's all the same in the end. What else did you learn today?" "Well, daddy, as I respectfully alluded to a couple minutes ago, we did have a lovely break in the garden." "The weather was perfect today, sweet daughter, wasn't it?" "Indeed so, daddy, And then we read about some silly people who worked in an engineering office and wore -- what are they? -- ties and they affix their ties to their shirts with -- tie tacks? -- with little horses' heads on them?" "Yes, dear, I know that book. There are lab exercises for yourself and your brother later on." "Really, daddy? I'll be looking forward to that." "You have much to look forward to, my dear daughter, for I work very hard in the office three days each week except for holidays, to make sure you will have a world-class Air Force and miniaturized atomic bombs to deploy against The Evil Empire when you are older, if you know what I mean." "Of course, daddy. Brother and I really do like those SR-71 surveillance planes you stealthily -- Is that an OK bon mot, daddy?" "Of course, my sweet. Mommy and I like them too. One of your cousins is very keen on piloting one. He's a brave boy, you know?" "Yes, daddy." "Well, here's our brandy. Thank you, Bonaparte. Of course you will have some, child, yes?" "Thank you daddy." [Daddy hears another Secretary interrupt something.]
"Hold on a minute, darling. Yes! You say Solei, who (right)? Poor man. You mean he got hit by one of those nasty Hellfire R9X missiles that boorish man Donald Trump's people decided to use? That's a shame. I'll have to get my PR guys in the office on that first thing in the morning. No, I'll ring up their manager before I go to bed. No big deal; we have good cellphone service here in our Holy city. But, now, sweet daughter -- And, hello, my luscious wife, back to our 1812 brandy -- or is it getting too late for that and you'd all rather have some Chareau -- I apologize, daughter, I meant Chateau; I just can't get off my mind if somehow we could swing that old gynecologists's Glass House in Paris → d'Yquem? Yes, I agree, daughter, it is a nice touch that our sweet wine d'Yquem, and our fair and Holy city Qum both have the unusual letter 'q' in their names."
And History continues (ref.: Elsa Morante, op. cit., p.686, and passim).