The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 April 2005

Salami tactics

You cut a little here, you cut a little there, and sooner or later what's left won't hold together.

The Passing Parade applies this meatmanship to the Papacy:

The problem the Sandinistas had with the Pope was that he was not some mush minded gringo dolt who couldnt get past his romantic notions and the Sandinista propaganda about the glories of the Revolution; he was a man who saw the Sandinistas for what they were: Communist totalitarians out to turn the Nicaraguan church into an arm of their regime. And the Pope was having none of it. The Pope lived through the Soviet occupation of Central Europe and knew the tactics the Russians used to get their way in such countries as Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the salami tactics, as people called those tactics back in the day. The tactics are relatively simple to understand: the Communists would make a series of non-negotiable demands and threaten civil disorder if they didnt get their way. Once in the government they would demand control of certain ministries, especially those controlling national security and the police, and then would use that power to systematically destroy their political rivals. Hence, slice by slice, like cutting up a salami, the ability of the government to resist the Communists would weaken with every concession until the Communists, with the help of the occupying Red Army, could overthrow the government.

And this experience was put to use in John Paul's spiritual leadership as well:

If the Pope resisted even so-called minor reforms in the Church, I think he did it because he questioned the ultimate motives of those making the demands for change, knowing that if he backed down on one item then the pressure to back down on other items would be all the greater, for having made one concession would only convince the detractors that [they] could have their way.

There's no way to know for sure, but this makes sense to me: what would they ask for next?

Posted at 6:30 AM to Immaterial Witness