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Movie Review: Sophie Scholl

I recently watched a 2006 German movie “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days.”

Sophie was a 21-year-old university student in Munich. In 1942, She joined her brother’s resistance group known as “White Rose.” This organization’s intent was to non-violently inform the German citizenry of the affairs of the Eastern Front, which Germany was losing badly. They sent letters, placed pamphlets in public places, and wrote graffiti. Their goal was to convince the German people to challenge the Nazi regime on its politics.

All their work had to be done clandestinely. The Nazi regime tolerated no “bad news” about their actions. White Rose members were not overly active members of their cause, just spending a few spare hours here and there in their political work. They were occupied with their studies, work, family life, and just surviving in these hard times.

Sophie, her brother, and one more White Rose member were caught by the Gestapo on February 18, 1943. They were executed four days later.

From all tangible results, the work of Sophie and the White Rose went nowhere. Right up until the end of the war, German citizens dared not challenge the regime, even though many of them understood that the fall of the Third Reich was inevitable. The German people were psychologically defeated, and the regime was changed out only by several advancing armies, not by political activists.

But throughout Europe, there were all sorts of resistance fighters. French, Czechoslovaks, Greeks et al engaged in sabotage, espionage, partisan fighting, and minimal work effort. Other citizens were helping Jews and Allied airmen to hide or move to safer places. There were likely more White-Rose-like organizations throughout continental Europe spreading anti-Nazi messages. While White Rose had little effect in Germany, these other resistance movements consumed resources the Nazi regime could have used elsewhere.

Why Bring this Movie Up?

There are strong signs that the United States and other western nations could succumb to an oligarchic rule within a decade. That rule will likely not be wise or kind.

Would it not seem prudent to start thinking about how we will participate in this future?

There are several ways of participating in the resistance.

First is the usual “informing” of the public that the regime is not as good as it says it is — similar to what White Rose was doing. Today, we have the internet. And we have the culture of free speech ingrained in us. It will be hard for the oligarchy to shut down all the dissenting voices. But the new regime will be pretty good at ignoring or deflecting the dissenting voices as the future players of the new regime are already ignoring and deflecting current dissenting voices. They just don’t care what 70% of us think. As well, more than a few dissenting voices could expect visits from the “informal police” whether freedom of speech is or is not officially curtailed. But is this resistance really necessary? Most people will already understand this new regime is neither wise nor kind.

Passive resistance would be a calling for many citizens. Just do enough work to earn a paycheck. Maybe engage in a little sabotage now and then. That will take a whack out the economy. A decreasing economy breeds resentment of whomever is in charge. Hopefully there will be some changing of minds from the regime’s many initial supporters.

Justice warriors will be a necessary calling. If they work behind the spotlight, they will find opportunities to help maligned people out. Or the warriors could remind the officials of the regime to behave less arbitrary. The warriors’ success depends on not seeking public attention for their work. The warriors should still have some effect and not face too much persecution.

Next are the militia groups that are likely to arise. While they will be outgunned, they will get good at surprise attacks, hitting hard and fast, then disappearing — just like the partisan fighters in WW2 Europe. The militias may believe that they are liberating their people; they willingly take on this stressful occupation with a much shorter lifespan to save us. But their unintentional function will be to keep the focus of the oligarchy on them. Then other citizens can do their resistance work without as much persecution.

One thing I gleaned from the movie was how the Gestapo surgically identified the perpetrators in White Rose. They made sure they had enough evidence to arrest and convict the right people. In that manner, the rest of the German people knew they should not suffer a similar punishment if they kept clear of activities similar to White Rose. Even a Nazi oligarchy could not afford to have most of the citizenry actively fighting it.

There will be many citizens who just want to keep their heads low and families and communities safe from harm. Even though they know the oligarchy is bad for them and society, they don’t want to suffer a bad fate. While they won’t be supportive of the new regime, they won’t be trying to defeat it. They will be waiting for better times. If nothing else, this demographic will be providing the cover for the resistance fighters blend into. For those of us somehow in the fight, let’s not pass too much judgement on this group.

Like the White Rose fighters, many of us will lead seemingly normal lives to the authorities and their spies. It will be hard to flush more than a fraction of us.

I have just one more act of resistance for us to consider.

Let’s build a new democracy!

I posit that our current system of democratic governance had a lot to do with our current political psyche. If we insist on using the same system of governance as we had before, then we are not really accomplishing very much, are we? In other words, we will have only gone through a lot hell just so we can go through hell again.

I have been working on my invention Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG) since 1997. In Chapter 2 of my book, I outline 12 flaws of western democracy. These flaws will remain if we insist on being governed by political parties. In Chapter 3, I describe how to govern without political parties. I also explain how all those 12 flaws are no longer part of this new system.

To build this democracy during an oligarchy, some of us will gather with our neighbors to build a local TDG. It will only take about 10 hours a month. Because we are working mostly face-to-face, we will not leave any kind of internet trail for oligarchy to track our work. If we are questioned, we will show the oligarchy that we are not directly opposing their rule. We cannot give them any useful information as there is no real central command for the TDG. And the oligarchy will have more important enemies to fight.

When the dust finally settles — somehow, someway, sometime — maybe the TDG will be ready to assume governance.

But if we don’t try something new, then we’ll just get what we had before. Can you imagine the new USA, arising as a phoenix — with Democrats, Republicans, and documents from 1789?

Sophie Scholl and her movement faced incredible persecution in 1943 — and paid the ultimate price. As I am writing this article, protesters in 54 Russian cities are challenging their government about the invasion of Ukraine. Many are getting arrested. If the Russian regime does not change, many of those arrested are going to suffer personal consequences, like life-long, poorly paid employment or denial of social services.

Building the TDG in the time of an oligarchy will be quite a bit easier than what these Russian resistance fighters are facing today. And we just might be building something useful for when the dust finally settles.

Published on Medium 2022

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