Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Life is a Cabaret but tomorrow belongs to Mein Fuhrer!

German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote a fable that sums up the slow death that Bush and his NEOCON partners in crime have cooked up for the American people. It goes something like this:
A man living alone answers a knock at the door. When he opens it, he sees in the doorway the powerful body, the cruel face, of The Tyrant. The Tyrant asks, “Will you submit?” The man does not reply. He steps aside. The Tyrant enters and establishes himself in the man’s house. The man serves him for years. Then The Tyrant becomes sick from food poisoning. He dies. The man wraps the body, opens the door, gets rid of the body, comes back to his house, closes the door behind him, and says, firmly, “No.”

- Howard Zinn, Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology

Submission to a tyrant takes many forms. Most people just muddle through when forced to choose: either your life or your soul. Few are so dramatically challenged. Most of us live our lives in the grayish hinterland of compromise. Most of us seek and find, for awhile anyway, safety in the no man's land of "no affirmation" and "no denial".

But that is not the stuff of high existentialist drama. Poets and playwrights, rather, find in tyranny the seeds of personal crisis. In this crucible is sometimes born a hero's death ala Sir Thomas More as portrayed in "A Man for All Season". Submission is not a choice, though some may think so. But neither is living when life becomes but slow death from a thousand cuts. If not the body, the soul is bled to die quickly or slowly, but like ashes, it simply melts away in gray rain.

Here's the official description of tyranny:
A tyrant is a single ruler holding vast, if not absolute power through a state or in an organization. The term carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who place their own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population which they govern or control. This mode of rule is referred to as tyranny. Many individual rulers or government officials get accused of tyranny, with the label almost always a matter of controversy.

- Tyranny

That description applies to many tyrannies including that of Adolf Hitler and, more recently, George W. Bush.

As we are told, life is a cabaret but never more poignantly, tragically than in times of repression, times in which your life is thought by power to be expendable in service to some higher, ideological ideal. German cabaret, for example, blossomed in post-war Germany just as a young Adolf Hitler exploited the angst that birthed cabaret. Americans' best exposure to cabaret came to us in the form of Bertolt Brecht's "Three Penny Opera"

Through a cultural filter, we absorbed the Cabaret version of I Am a Camera, a 1951 play by John Van Druten.

By the 30's Nazis had begun to repress criticism. That included journalism and popular forms of entertainment including cabaret. In 1935, Werner Finck was briefly imprisoned and sent to a concentration camp. Kurt Tucholsky committed suicide while almost all German-speaking cabaret artists fled into exile in Switzerland, Scandinavia or the US.

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