THE SMOKING CORNER: THE MYTH OF THE KHAN – Journal
In his book The Hitler mythBritish historian Ian Kershaw writes that a majority of Germans were aware of the racist atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler’s fascist regime, but they chose to rationalize them as “necessary” acts committed against “sub-humans” which threatened the existence of “pure” Germanic culture. races.
According to Kershaw, Hitler was intellectually lazy. In 1925 he wrote a wordy book Mein Kampf, in which he regurgitated the many racist theories that already existed in Germany. In the book, he blamed “non-Aryan” races for Germany’s defeat in World War I.
After several attempts to gain power, Hitler finally managed to capture the imagination of desperate Germans who gave his Nazi Party a majority of seats in the 1932/33 elections. But, according to Kershaw, Hitler’s ultimate success in this regard was the manual labor of his closest colleagues who created a “Hitler myth”. This process would continue to be deepened through Hitler’s totalitarian regime.
According to Kershaw, Hitler spent most of his time watching movies and hated paperwork. He was impulsive and unable to generate new ideas, instead relying on acolytes around him. Much of what happened in Germany between 1933 and 1939 was because its ministers did what they “thought” Hitler wanted them to do. Hitler was impetuous and vague, and left it to his subordinates to interpret his demands. Kershaw writes that the more “radical” interpretations impressed him the most.
The opposition’s efforts to try to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan are not only a brutal shock for him, but also for willing victims of the Khan mythos.
These included the construction of the autobahn, an ambitious federal highway, impressive new buildings, propaganda films and the expansion of the German armed forces, as well as the brutal extermination of Jews, gypsies, communists and mentally ill and/or “deformed”. people.
Some plans formulated by his ministers have enabled the country’s economy to rebound. For Kershaw, this helped the regime’s so-called Propaganda Ministry further entrench the Hitler myth in people’s minds.
What was this myth?
Kershaw writes that before Hitler came to power, the cult surrounding him had resonated with a few thousand followers. But with the breakthrough of the Nazi Party in the 1932 elections, the cult ceased to be simply the property of a fanatical fringe party. More and more Germans began to see in Hitler “the only hope for a way out of the crisis”.
Kershaw then adds that those who were now rushing to join the Nazi Party were already willing victims of the Hitler myth. Even for the German people who did not share such sentiments, there was a growing sense – encouraged by Hitler’s media profile – that Hitler was not just another politician. He was an extraordinary leader, a man towards whom one could not remain neutral.
The myth was, of course, much larger than that of the man who (at best) was a good orator, but a terrible administrator and quite mediocre thinker. This became much more apparent in 1940, when he plunged Germany into an unprecedented international conflict that left Germany in ruins.
He had started to believe in the myth that someone else had created around him.
Several leaders come to mind who have taken a similar path (and a consequent downfall). Take the case of Imran Khan. In 1996, he formed a small political party that considered all other parties to be “corrupt” and responsible for the misfortunes of the country.
The party was unable to win a single seat in the 1997 election and a single seat in the 2002 election. A former cricketer star and “handsome” man, Khan was a regular on television talk shows.
Suddenly, in 2011, he managed to organize a massive rally in Lahore. Many observers believe that some senior members of the country’s intelligence agencies have begun to use their influence on some TV presenters, pushing them to hold continuous one-on-one interviews with Khan.
The Khan myth had begun to take shape. He was presented as an “incorruptible” leader; a true “visionary”.
In 2011 came out his book Pakistan: a personal story, in which he describes how he spent most of his life playing cricket and socializing in England, but felt lost. Then, after retiring from cricket, he began to understand Pakistan better. There are no big ideas in the book that led him to better “understand” his country. His understanding of this is a hodgepodge of clichés found in standard Pakistani textbooks and in tomes written by intellectually lazy authors (locals and otherwise).
It is from these clichés – which see Pakistanis as a homogeneous mass of conservatives misled by corrupt and pro-Western elites – that Khan formulated his “vision”.
But as evidenced by his party’s campaign speeches and television ads for the 2013 and 2018 elections, the “vision” was what the urban middle classes often yearn for in their living rooms: a strongman who would unite the nation with a curious mixture of lifestyle liberalism and archetypal Islamism. A leader who could represent the country abroad in shalwar kameez, but through improvised English speeches!
This class is also not above prejudice against those who continue to vote for “corrupt” parties. The “masses” are understood to be either jahil [uneducated] or under the thumb of the corrupt elite. This class began to show frustration, wondering why couldn’t the jaahil realize that Khan was clearly the best (and only) choice?
The Khan myth was firmly rooted in this class. When Khan’s aides in the establishment helped him win the 2018 election, it became apparent that he hated paperwork and was only interested in ministers who were good at solidifying his mythos.
Khan rewarded sycophancy. A time has come when the Khan Myth, shaped by his former establishment supporters, sycophants and mainstream and social media, has become a reality. To him. In his own mind. And in his middle-class central constituency.
The results were disastrous.
Hitler, at least, had sharp economists in the first five years of his regime who revived the German economy and helped the superfluous myth of an otherwise intellectually mediocre tyrant flourish. The Khan myth could not be fattened by any significant economic achievement. It therefore never proliferated beyond the middle classes.
Khan received a brutal shock when the opposition garnered enough support to attempt to oust him. He hit back, saying he was doing it to “save the country from corruption” and “evil foreign powers”.
The truth, however, is that he was saving the Khan mythos. After all, how can an incorruptible, pious and beautiful visionary be ousted?
Posted in Dawn, EOS, March 20, 2022