Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

A Fable

Once upon a time long ago, there was a republic known for its civic tolerance, diverse cultures and passion for innovation. The glue that held it together was the people’s belief in an open political system and a tradition of civic debate. But hard times hit, and the republic went into a recession. The old communal bonds weakened. Parties purged their ranks of dissenters. Moderates became an endangered species. Demands for ideological purity triumphed over pragmatic efforts to build the coalitions required to govern in a pluralistic society. Voters increasingly turned out in support of extremists, and eventually the commitment to maintain the republic itself was called into question. There was plenty of blame to go around, but one right-wing group was especially relentless in pursuit of its agenda. Under the banner of patriotism, its members manipulated national symbols to vilify foreigners, non-whites, gays, Jews. They actively sought to shut down the government and ultimately to bring down the republic. Few took them seriously at first. They seemed a laughable bunch of bombastic buffoons, ranting against a society that was leaving them behind, shouting down their political opponents. One day powerful interests asked the leader of the party to become the leader of the nation so that order could be restored. And that’s where the fable ends. Because the rest is history: Immediately after being named Germany’s chancellor, “Hitler rushed to his headquarters and told Goebbels with tears in his eyes, ‘Now we are on our way.’”

(Drawn from Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman)

Sneak Attack

A Disturbing List