As I noted in this space last week, I have frequently written about the lessons we opponents of Georgitism and their inexorable drive towards overthrowing US Constitutional democracy and establishing a theocratic fascist state in its stead can learn from the historical experience of previous fascist states, especially that of Nazi Germany. (Once again, to make sure that readers know what I mean when I use the term “fascism,” and that I am not simply throwing it around as an epithet, I append my short definition of it at the end of the column.) This column is part 2 of this essay on lessons that the US fascists could learn as well, that is if they want to succeed. Not that I want them to succeed, mind you, but at the rate they are going, they need all the help they can get.
There are a number of explanations that historians have offered over time for the initial success of Hitler and the German Nazi Party in taking power and then keeping it from the day they did so, Jan. 30, 1933, well on into the Second World War. As I noted last week, some historians have attempted to provide a unitary one, that is, THE reason for Nazi success. I, and many other historians, do not hold to that view. For a complex event like the conversion of a major capitalist country with a very well-developed industrial base and a well-educated population of 67,000,000 into the second major fascist power in history (Italy was the first major one, although Hungary is considered to have been the very first, from 1919), it seems to me that one cannot rely on one cause to explain it all.
Reviewing the major components of the causal set, not necessarily in order of importance, first, the Nazi Party was extremely well-organized and highly disciplined. It was also extremely well-financed, both from domestic sources and foreign ones as well. Second, the Nazis had several private armies at their disposal. A third factor was Hitler’s force of personality, his messianic vision for Germany, and his personal charisma. The final major factor previously cited was of course the Nazis’ rampant anti-Semitism. It was a principal part of the ideology of the Nazi Party, one of its major propaganda weapons. At one level or another, it had a major impact in attracting and keeping popular support.
Previously, anti-Semitism has been considered mainly a psychological tool, a powerful one to be sure. Now there is a new book, from Germany, that shows how it was major economic one too. Reviewed in The New York Times Book Review on February 18, 2006, by Dagmar Herzog, is the English translation of Goetz Aly’s “Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racist War, and the Welfare State.” As I noted, with a good deal of original research, Prof. Aly shows how both the preservation and expansion of major aspects of the traditional German welfare state and the use of property stolen from Jews, first in the home country and then abroad in the conquered ones, were major factors in the success of the Nazi’s in getting the German people to go along with their ride to hell.
For example, it happened that Germany was the first country in the world to establish a form of national health insurance, under the Prussian Empire in the 1880s. Hitler maintained and expanded it, for all “true” Germans. Hitler also maintained the other major components of the German social insurance system, from old-age pensions to sickness insurance for work days lost to illness. The world’s first anti-smoking campaign was started by Hitler when German epidemiologists became the first in the world to become convinced of the connection between cigarette smoking and lung disease. Hitler actually raised taxes on the wealthy and the large corporations to help pay for the services provided. While he wiped out the trade unions for political reasons (the major ones had belonged either to the Socialist or the Communist Party), he did manage to get/force employers to provide reasonable wages and a good standard of living for their employees. And then, as the persecution of the Jews took hold and spread, especially after the adoption of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, Prof. Goetz shows, apparently convincingly, that it was stolen Jewish property that more and more funded the standard of living that many Germans achieved during pre-war period and even into the early years of the war until Allied bombing began to take its toll.
Now let us look briefly at the policies being followed by George “The Decider” Bush, Dick “Who Cares What the Constitution Says, Let’s have a Unitary Executive” Cheney, John “Torture is Fine, just as long as I get to decide who is tortured” Yoo, and Alberto “the Geneva Conventions are quaint so I’ll just unilaterally change them even though they are part of the Constitution, and that goes for any other part I don’t like” Gonzales. Expanding social insurance programs? Hardly. They are totally against any kind of national health insurance and want to trash Social Security n the bargain. Maintaining high wages? Hardly. Their policies have totally opened the doors to the export of American capital to low wage countries, driving down American ones. Raising taxes on high incomes and corporate profits (which in Nazi Germany presumably kept the gap between the rich and everyone else at some reasonable level)? Hardly. Just the reverse. And they don’t have that domestic source for plunder, at least not yet. They are plundering the economies of numerous foreign countries, and they are trying to get their hands on as much oil as they can, but it is not quite the same thing as “The War Against the Jews,” as Lucy Davidowicz famously termed it.
On the other hand, like the Nazis, our fascists are furiously promoting permanent war. In the armed forces, they are training cadres of brutal prison guards and experts in torture; they are trashing the US Constitutional protections for personal rights and liberties. They do advocate thought control on such matters as belief as to when life begins, backed by the force of the criminal law. There are very busy creating and expanding their domestic spying network. They are developing their private army, from the “private security companies” working in such disparate places as Iraq and New Orleans. So the terror/repression wing of the Nazi machine is under development.
The PMoP does work very well for them. They are working hard on homophobia (and after all, the Nazis went after the gays, in 1934, before they went after the Jews with a vengeance in 1935) and who knows to what heights they can take it. So they have or have in development some of the sticks the Nazis had. What they don’t have is any of the carrots the Nazis used to win such wide-spread support that they had from the German people once they had gotten rid of the Socialist and Communist leadership and made the Jews “non-Germans.” And of course, they hardly have a charismatic leader, although dear old Rudy might just fill that bill if he can get past all of his negatives.
Further, the Nazis were in essence driven to unleash the Holocaust upon the Jews of Europe and other ethnic minorities and “inferior” peoples like certain Slavs by the infernal internal logic of their virulent version of anti-Semitism and “Aryan” racial superiority. If the “inferior races” were A) so inferior and B) so damaging to the social, economic, and political security of the “German Nation,” then it became quite obvious that they had to be eliminated. (Obvious to people like Hitler, Reinhardt Heydrich, the first director of the Final Solution, and Adolf Eichmann, that is. Josef Goebbels, on the other hand, knew exactly what they were doing and that it was it was evil.) So, Georgites, be careful what you wish for.
In our time, the myths of “Islamic Jihadism,” of “Pan-Islamic terrorism,” of the “al Qaeda-inspired Caliphate,” of “Islamofascism,” of a “Muslim-Christian War to the Death,” are being promoted both inside and outside of the Georgite Administration. Major attempts are being made to develop and promote a broad-based Isalmophobia among the American people. The message of just how damaging to the social, economic, and political security of the “American Nation” is beginning to be promoted by people as highly placed on the Right as Newt Gingrich (who talks openly about “World War III” against the [mythic] “Islamofascists,” lasting for 50 years, no less). There is no certainty at all that this somewhat inchoate coolection of politico-ethnic mythology will ever grow into the dominant feature of future Georgite ideology that anti-Semitism was for the Nazis. But it could.
A final word of warning for the American fascist. It could be said that one reason the German Nazis lost the war in the manner that they did, complete destruction of their nation and of themselves as a political force, was the virulence of their anti-Semitism that drove them to come to the Final Solution adopted at Wannsee on Jan. 20, 1942. From that point onwards the Nazis devoted significant resources to murdering Jews and other ethnic minorities, resources that they took from their conventional war effort. It is well known, for example, that from 1943 onwards major railway capacity was diverted from moving men and supplies to the Eastern Front to moving Jews and others to their deaths in the Eastern Death Camps. Further, when the Germans were retreating before the onslaught of the Red Army in 1944 they actually devoted major transport resources to moving Jews out of the camps back to Germany, so that they could kill them there.
And so, US fascists, I suggest that you read Prof. Aly’s book. For you there is much to learn there. As there is too for us who want to make sure that indeed it never happens here.
“Fascism is a politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of both the legislative and administrative powers of government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent personal rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; and total corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy.” (If you want to see my longer definitions, please refer to my “The Political Junkies” columns of May 27, 2004 “On Fascism — And The Georgites,” Jan 27, 2005 “Comparing George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler”, and February 10, 2005, “The Georgite Version of ‘Freedom and Democracy’.”)
Author’s note: This column was originally published on The Political Junkies.net on March 7, 2007. It is Column No. 140 in his TPJ series, by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH.