In this exclusive interview for Asia Times Online, the economist Guido Preparata reviews how in the first half of the 20th century Anglo-American policy was designed from the beginning to eliminate Germany as an obstacle to Western domination aspirations. The result: a division of Eurasia along a specific major fault line. Preparata also talks about critical aspects of the current state of affairs in global finance, economics, and politics. He says: "It is the quest for power that drives history, not economics."
"Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it."- H L Mencken
Lars Schall: Mr Preparata, could you give our readers some basic idea about the main thesis of your book Conjuring Hitler, and also why you took the step to write it at all?
Guido Preparata: Originally, when I began to work at the Bank of Italy, I chose to investigate Nazi finance as a fancy topic, some kind of divertissement to add to my future publication projects. Eventually the whole subject of Nazi Germany took up a life of its own, and I became engrossed with it for nearly a decade. The whole project ended up being very much shaped by the turn of events following 9/11.
What was happening to the collective psyche of the West under the aggressive leadership of the USA filled me with revulsion. And thus I drafted Conjuring Hitler also as an anti-war, anti-imperialist treatise. I somehow thought that if we debunked one by one the most militant myths of Liberal imperialism - the sudden and allegedly inexplicable rise to power of Hitler being the chief one - one could pull the wool off people's eyes and fashion thereby, and gradually, a clime of informed dissent against the terrible mayhem of this "War on Terror".
LS: At the beginning of your book you are stating that "there is something far worse than Nazism, and that is the hubris of the Anglo-American fraternities, whose routine is to incite indigenous monsters to war". (1) How did you come to this conclusion that has very little in common with the perception of the general population, particularly in Great Britain and the United States?
GP: It's the old dilemma. What is worse: being a criminal or putting deliberately an arsenal into the hands of a known criminal? I think the latter is worse, hence that statement.
LS: If one does accuse you of being a "conspiracy theorist" or a "revisionist", what do you reply to those critics?
GP: It is notorious and beyond dispute that the Anglo-American elite - along with the Soviets - financed and supplied the Nazis before and even during the war. This fact is obviously so disturbing and confusing for all those who have been raised with the complex of Anglo-American moral superiority that the Establishment has been at greatest pains to rationalize it. The only rationale it has been capable of advancing - whenever it cannot avoid the issue altogether, which is what it logically prefers to do - is to assert that a few rotten corporate apples did business with the Devil (ie the Germans) behind everybody's (ie, the state's) back. This "explanation" is clearly untenable, yet anyone that dares to challenge it is ultimately bound to face what expresses itself as the wrath of devout believers. Their instinctive repartee is that anyone doubting the vulgate is self-evidently an unreasoning "fascist-revisionist-conspiracist".
The tactic is so inane that it would be risible if the propagandistic stakes of this discursive set-up were not as decisive as they really are. It is their standard inquisitorial trump. Indeed, it is not directly aimed at the critic but at whatever audience might be listening to the debate: it is meant to scare away readers and potential supporters from the critic's warnings by tarnishing him with the most unsavory label the system has devised for the purpose, that of the truculently stupid crypto-fascist. In the general arena of public opinion, any skeptical attack - carried out outside any conventional party line or schema - on the abuses of the power structure is likewise resisted by its discursive custodians (at all levels and of all political shades), who have been conditioned to brand reflexively the dissenter as an insufferable "conspiracy theorist".
The fact that there is indeed out there a slew of amateurs who churn out a profuse amount of extravagant pamphlets full of wild speculation, referenced by threadbare bibliographies, certainly helps their case. But the question at hand does not pertain to those conspiracy theorists, but to the trahison des clercs: if you are perceived as breaking ranks with your former brothers-in-arms, they will make you pay. I am an Italian bourgeois who was raised in what used to be a staunchly pro-American household during the late stage of the Cold War; it has taken me 30 ears to detox myself (9/11 was the turning point) - that is what it's about, allegiance, not "conspiracy theory". Truth be told, moreover, this game is not without its comical undersides: I remember once hearing a rant on Italian TV by some mainstream intellectual who was pouring scorn on the paranoid imbecility of these eternal dolts who see complots everywhere, people, that is, who cannot think in nonlinear terms while fathoming the work of "the great forces of history". "There is one in every family", he concluded with a sneer. Very funny, I must concede.
So to respond to the question: what does one reply to the accusation of being a "conspiracy theorist"? I would answer the following: let the inquisitors 1) be prepared to take paper, quill and ink bottle and refute, black on white, my thesis point by point without the cover of anonymity, and allow me to reply, point by point; and 2) be subsequently prepared to argue their case, facing me, in a public debate. Then let the audience acclaim the winner.
LS: By and large Otto von Bismarck is still seen as a genius of foreign policy in German history. However, at the beginning of your book you point to the year 1887 and a very crucial mistake done by von Bismarck related to Russia. What has this mistake been all about and how was it exploited by the British going forward?
GP: If there is a spiritual future for us continental Europeans who believe not in "free" corporate markets, the prophet Darwin, and the iPad, but believe in Mozart, peace and cooperation, it can only come through a rebirth of an alliance between Germany and Russia (ideally a Paris - Berlin - Moscow - Beijing axis), and one approved by the Catholic and orthodox Churches. And, of course, none of this will come to proper fruition without the input of our like-minded brethren in Anglo-America - minorities all of us everywhere for the time being.
Bismarck, despite his strategic genius, failed to see that the Russo-German embrace was the key: in 1887, for instance, it seemed that Germany had a decisive chance of tying Russia's fate to its own by underwriting the czar's debt. But, again, some kind of damned, damning myopia made all such attempts abort; even on the eve of the war, in 1905 - when Bismarck had been long gone - Wilhelm and Nicholas attempted one last time some kind of pact, which also came to nothing. One missed opportunity after another. The rest, as they say, is history.
LS: At the beginning of the 20th century, Halford Mackinder from the London School of Economics stepped up on the scene with a remarkable geopolitical concept. What was this concept and why is it important to understand?
GP: As far as I can infer, Mackinder did not pioneer or invent anything; he just committed to paper what was plain to see, namely England's maritime preoccupation: the imperial fear to lose control of the world if any kind of extensive political alliance coalesced on the Eurasian landmass. Mackinder's, in effect, was but the academic statement of a notion that had been in the air for some time: a whiff of England's imperial spirit, so to speak.
LS: Was Hitler's "Drang nach Osten" ("Drive towards the East") inspired by Mackinder's concept?
GP: It's a confounding issue, I cannot say, I doubt it. In any event, it was the triumph of British strategists, namely that they could sway the Germans against the Russians - twice in a row, most perfectly the second time around.
LS: Is Mackinder's concept still relevant today?
GP: Of course, the agenda still stands, unaltered: just look at the ongoing deployments of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Northern Africa, Middle East, Persia, Central Asia, China, and, as always, Eastern Europe and Russia: viz the late missile controversy). This is the age-old strategy of the British Empire, pure and simple. Very little's changed. NATO, quite obviously, is the chief aggressor, not the so-called rogue nations. But half the effort consists of staging these theatrics by which the Western psyche comes to believe that it is the constant victim of plots hatched by savage, fanatical brown/yellow people. Nonetheless the dynamics are subtler.
This game of persuasion is best effected when 1) the target - the ever-mysterious public opinion - is itself subjected to a studied process of spiritual debilitation: that is to say, when, as has conspicuously been the case for the past decade, it is barbarized by poor education, vanishing opportunities for self-realization, etc; and, no less importantly, when 2) the "rogues" lend themselves to the charade through bombastic grandstanding and televised bluster, without which the Anglo-American elites could in no way produce the show: eg, North Korea's barnstorming and Mahmud Ahmedinejad's cretinous anti-Israel and homophobic tirades are, alas, material from the same miserable screenplay.
So, in a sense we are in an Orwellian scenario once again. Possibly, we have never abandoned it. What is certain is that in this pornographic power-play, we, the Westerners, are the most obscene thespians of all - and this is because, if we so wished, we would have the wealth and the means to bring Eden to this planet. But, apparently, we do not wish it. And if that is really the case, maybe we do not deserve this earth after all.
LS: The path to the two world wars was never a straight line, but resulted partly from strange detours - for instance, caused by terrorists. You call them "useful idiots". Why so? And did you discover a certain pattern at work that is still pretty much alive and kicking in our time?
GP: From Gavrilo Princip (the Black Hand in Sarajevo) to these bogus Islamists by way of, say, the Montoneros in Argentina, the RAF in Germany or the Red Brigades in Italy, all of them are useful idiots, by definition. The terrorist's psycho-sociological typology is fairly consistent across time and space: s/he generally is of low middle-class/upper proletarian status, very young (well below 30), not particularly intelligent, and death-prone. S/he is by definition, again, an expendable: or, more specifically a manipulable mediocrity. These useful idiots may come at certain junctures to play a critical role, of course. Terrorism is (elite) politics, never the weapon of the voiceless, but the very opposite.
LS: Was the reason for the First World War basically a trap laid by the British and Russian elites - and the German leadership was stupid enough to step into that trap?
GP: A siege, yes, a mouse-trap. Yes, damningly stupid, indeed. Von Moltke's (German) Chief of Staff had been invested in 1900 with political authority it did not know how to wield - and, in truth, it was not its role to exercise such power in the first place: it was as if by surrendering all might to the (dynastic and thus unfit) warrior caste of Prussia, Germania as a whole had spiritually abdicated. And by doing so it has cursed the whole of Europe ever since. A tragedy.
LS: How did Germany finance the war effort - and did this had some grave consequences later on?
GP: With its wealth, through debt, which the Allies left standing at Versailles - as [Thorstein Bunde] Veblen had understood - deliberately. And that was done with a view to causing an inflationary tsunami, which would have in turn occasioned a major, and strategically critical, bailout.
LS: Had the entry of the United States into the war something to do with the debts of the Triple Entente?
GP: Yes, but not primarily: the US intervened to play the imperial game as England's junior partner - as the brawny, eager apprentice; the preservation of its credits was a solid incentive to embark on this path, but not the actual cause.
LS: At the end of that war both Germany and the Anglo-American allies were heavily influencing important events in Russia. Which of those forces gained more benefits from the Bolshevik revolution that took place in October 1917? And could you also tell us about the major players involved, please?
GP: The whole story of the USSR is a deep mystery, especially its beginnings. Official (Liberal) historiography has it that the birth of Bolshevist rule was for the most part a spontaneous - and wonderful, according to the Lenin-revering dinosaurs of Western academia - Russian affair, with just a little bit of (somewhat embarrassing, but easily dismissible) German gold. Nothing more. Any intimation that the Anglo-Americans had been involved in major "puppeteering" in the Bolshevik theater - to favor them, that is - is hissed away as conspiratorial speculation....