Starting from the 2nd installment of the Godfather trilogy, right to the final episode in Godfather 3, we saw the chief mobster, Michael Corleone, vehemently attempting to legitimise his "businesses".
We saw how he bought the Vatican and consequently, an honorary award from the Church. We also saw his efforts aimed at justifying the murder - at his behest - of his own brother by insisting that "loyalty" was essential for the perseverance of the family.
In fact, the whole thing was, to him, about the family.
It is an irony of course that at the end he lost his family and died a lonely death.
That was of course a fiction. But fictions do often take their cue from real life.
In The Rhetoric of Oppression, I postulated that the oppressor often finds the need to legitimise or justify his oppressive acts. It is admittedly somewhat odd for an oppressor to do so. This is because of the untold powers that an oppressor normally has over the oppressed, making legitimacy of his oppressive acts totally unnecessary.
However, nature almost demands that an oppressor should do so. Whether this natural demand is precipitated by a guilty conscience is speculative. It is also beyond my intellect to know.
Whatever the motivation of the oppressor to legitimise or justify his oppressive acts might be, one thing is clear though. The rhetoric of justification or legitimisation is often a tired one. It is often a long rambling of some sorts. Incoherent sometimes. And at others it is so full of irony that one begins to doubt the sanity of the author.
In doing so, the oppressor clings to every single "fact" - even manufactured facts - which might lend credence to his arguments for legitimacy. And quite often - in fact, almost invariably - the oppressor is not about to blame himself or things which are or were under his control.
Umberto Eco, in "Turning Back The Clock" sums it up thus:
"In general, in order to maintain popular support for their decisions, dictatorships point the finger at a country, group, race, or secret society that is plotting against the people under the dictator. All forms of populism, even contemporary ones, try to obtain consensus by talking of a threat from abroad, or from internal groups." (emphasis is mine).
Recent events in the middle-east is a case in point. Just look at what Gadaffi was saying a week or two ago. He blamed the uprising on enemy countries who were supporting the "terrorists" in his own state. That he did to justify and legitimise the slaughter of his own people by the army which was supposed to protect the people in the first place.
Such is the warped mind of a dictator. And such is the trend of the legitimisation process of an oppressor or a political tyrant.
On 2nd October 1935, Benito Mussolini stood in front of Italians - which according to him numbered 20 million! - at Palazzo Venezia. That day he declared his intention to go to war with Ethiopia. He sought to legitimise his planned act thus:
"For many month destiny's wheel, driven by our calm determination, is turning towards its goal.....It is not only an army striving to attain its objectives but an entire people of 44 million souls, against whom an attempt has been made to commit the blackest of injustices: that of robbing us of a little place in the sun.....
We have been patient for 13 years, during which the circle of selfishness that smoothers our vitality has grown ever tighter. We have kept patience with Ethiopia for 40 years! Enough!....
And it is to this People (the Italians) that humanity owes some of its greatest conquests, and it is against this People of poets, artists, heroes, saints, navigators, and those who cross the oceans, it is against this People that they dare talk of sanctions!" (emphasis is mine).
Imbued in his speech were manufactured "facts" designed to legitimise a war. That war was necessary as it was a destiny for all Italians, according to Mussolini. It was also necessary because the Ethiopians have been robbing the Italians from what they obviously deserved. The Italians have been very patient and the time has come to fight back.
And of course, how can the great artists, poets, navigators and heroes - and even saints - of Italy be subjected to such demeaning treatment by Ethiopia?
In Malaysia of course we do not have dictators in our midst. We may have some benevolent absolutists who espouse democracy with "Asian values." (I have always wondered what is so special about Asians so much so that we should have democracy with Asian values. Do we, Asians, breathe different air or something?)
Be that as it may, in recent weeks we have seen a riot of attempts by Tun DrM at legitimising or justifying his legacy of oppressions. Those attempts culminated in the launching of his memoir, "A Doctor in the House."
That memoir has of course attracted a litany of scorns as well as balls-polishing statements. No less than Tengku Razaleigh has denounced the memoir for being a trash-bin of political lies. Needless to say Anwar Ibrahim pukes all over it.
As for me, well, let's just say I am in no hurry to purchase it. After all, my copy of the Malaysian Maverick was found to have crushed a poor lizard to death in my car's glove-box compartment sometime ago.
It is without doubt, in my mind, that A Doctor in the House is Tun DrM's attempt at legitimising his legacy. And he did so with the finesse of Paul Gascoigne in an English pub.
Mussolini's war speech reminds me very much of Tun DrM's greatest bogeyman for the Malays in Malaysia.
This country belongs to the Malays. It is the Malays' destiny to occupy and own this Tanah Melayu. The pendatangs have come to rob us, the Malays, of what little rights that we have here. The Malays have been patient. Enough with that! How can we the Malays, the heroes, warriors, Kings and Rulers of this land be treated like this?
Let's unite. Let's protect our rights. Or we will be beggars in our own lands.
How about Operasi Lalang? Oh, the police did that.
The ISA? Well, I wanted to repeal it but the police said no.
UMNO? Well, Tengku Razaleigh, whom I defeated in an election - where he (Ku Li) and his cohorts paid money to the delegates - fairly and squarely caused it to be declared as unlawful by the Court.
Tun Salleh Abas? Well the King had wanted to remove him because he complained that the renovation works at the King's house was too noisy for him. Anyway, I did not dismiss him. The tribunal did.
Anwar Ibrahim? He is a freaking sodomite. He is a sex maniac. I have seen four women who said they had sex with him. He just had to go.
Daim Zainuddin? He is the best thing to happen to Malaysia since Parameswara a/l Sri Vijaya.
Lee Kuan Yew? He is just a mayor of a small town.
Memali? Musa Hitam did it. I was away.
Of course, he is also not to be blamed for the Forex losses; the BMF scandal; the Proton debacle (hey, Proton is a success!); Maminco; Perkapalan Nasional bail-out; the one-way highway concessions; the independent power producer robberies; the various human rights abuses; the shrinking of the natives' rights; the AP porn; money politics in UMNO; the total subjugation of the judiciary to the Executives; the Royal Constitutional crisis; the weakening of almost every public institution and their consequent subservience to the Executives; rampant cronyism; blatant nepotism; the whatever else.
And the story goes on and on and on.
Everything he did, he did it his way. And he did it in the best interests of the country.
The bad ones by the way were not even done by him. Get it?
On April 29, 1945, a guy with a small moustache over his lips sat down and softly dictated a letter to his secretary, one Frau Trudl Junge. That man was one of the worst - if not THE worst - animal the Earth had ever had the misfortune of hosting.
Adolf Hitler was his name.
That morning he was not feeling too happy. The Allied Forces were pressing on and he sensed that his days were numbered. The sword of Damocles was hanging on his head and inching its way downward.
He had to legitimise his acts. He had to justify the nightmare which he had managed to enveloped the world with. The 6 million souls whom he had mercilessly forced out from the bodies of the olds, the young, the women and the children were screaming in his head.
He just had to legitimise and justify.
And so he wrote:
"It is untrue that I or anybody else in Germany wanted war in 1939. It was desired and instigated exclusively by those international statesmen who were either of Jewish origin or working for Jewish interests. I have made so many offers for the reduction and elimination of armaments, which posterity cannot explain away for all eternity, that the responsibility for the outbreak of this war cannot rest on me. Furthermore, I never desired that after the first terrible World War a second war should arise against England or even against America. Centuries may pass, but out of the ruins of our cities and monuments of art there will arise anew the hatred for the people who alone are ultimately responsible: International Jewry and its helpers!.....
But I left no doubt about the fact that if the peoples of Europe were again only regarded as so many packages of stock shares by these international money and finance conspirators, then that race, too, which is the truly guilty party in this murderous struggle would also have to be held to account: the Jews! I further left no doubt that this time we would not permit millions of European children of Aryan descent to die of hunger, nor millions of grown-up men to suffer death, nor hundreds of thousands of women and children to be burned and bombed to death in their cities, without the truly guilty party having to atone for its guilt, even if through more humane means."
Yes, Mr Hitler. The Jews started the war. And you were just defending yourself.
And finally the "truly guilty party have atoned for its guilt" through "more humane means." I suppose being gas-ed in a chamber and having their skin scaled out from their flesh and turned into a lamp shade was "humane means" to you.
We all know that.
And oh yes, Tun Salleh was rude to the King and so he was dismissed. Tengku Razaleigh destroyed UMNO.
Anwar Ibrahim has his brains in his crotch.
Quick. Call the Doctor.
The Doctor is not in.
Acknowledgement: Turning Back The Clock; Umberto Eco, Harvill Secker 2006.