Thursday, February 23, 2006

Utterly Baffled

As Howard Zinn says, if you don't know your history,

well you get the idea.

Here is a small slice of a good piece from the Crisis Papers.

Slicing Away Liberty: 1933 Germany, 2006 America
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers


What happened in Germany in the 1920s and '30s can teach us much about how a nation in a few years can lose its freedom in incremental slices as a result of a drumbeat of never-ceasing propaganda, strong-arm tactics, government snooping and harassment, manufactured fear of "the other," and wars begun abroad with the accompanying rally-'round-the-flag patriotism.


In the beginning of their rule, the Nazis would announce restrictive policies aimed at marginalized citizens (the mentally handicapped, for example), and if no great uproar of objection came from any power centers such as the churches or hospitals or political parties, the

Nazis would proceed to the next slice aimed, say, at Communists or homosexuals or Jews or Gypsies. All of these moves were carefully couched in terms of saving the "national security" of the Reich or purging the country of "non-productive" or "destructive/dangerous" elements in society.

The Nazi propaganda machine was clever, intense and all-pervasive, using the Big Lie technique masterfully -- endlessly repeating its falsehoods until the drummed-upon populace came to accept them as truths.

Many ordinary "good Germans" and moral arbiters went along with these violations of civil rights and liberties either because they inwardly agreed with the propagandists or because they were afraid to disagree in public.

Those few leaders in academia, the church and the press who courageously or even tentatively demurred or asked too many questions tended to be punished -- demoted, fired, their honors revoked, etc. -- and so more and more citizens got the message to "watch what you say."

The Nazi juggernaut pushed on, widening its list of what was forbidden, issuing harsher and harsher edicts, and treating any dissidents roughly.Hitler, leader of the rabidly rightwing Nazi party, was installed as Chancellor in 1933, even though his party was not in the majority, in the hope that he could bring some order and stability to a society still reeling from the horrendous economic/social Great Depression that had devastated the country during the '20s and early-'30s.

Given the reins of power, Hitler felt free to unleash policies that most citizens earlier had rejected as way too extreme. He had written about them in his book "Mein Kampf," but many thought he would modify his demented views once he was inside the establishment corridors.

The "Enabling Act" that gave Hitler total control of the organs of power in Germany was passed in 1933, following the burning of the German Reichstag (Parliament), an arson that was blamed on Communist "terrorists." Hitler "temporarily" suspended civil liberties during this "national emergency," which of course never ended. Hitler lied to the Reichstag about his true intentions in order to obtain approval of the Enabling Act.

Shortly after its passage, Hitler began rounding up tens of thousands of political enemies and sending them to concentration camps. Democracy was dead in Hitler's Germany.

The corporate titans, seeing that there might be profit to be gained from Nazi economic and military policies, supported Hitler's rise and rule; those who had objections to what he was doing thought they could tame his passions through their immense influence.

But slowly, and then quickly, the Nazis took over one institution after another;

totalitarianism was in full force."

What if Hitler had accidentally shot a man?

What if the ministry of truth said it occurred on Saturday,

but the victim said he was shot on Friday?

What if they said he was at a good distance away,

but the wounds showed he was shot at a much closer range?

What if Hitler was stone drunk when he did it?

Would the media pick it up?

Or would Hitler be above the law?

The Crisis Paper piece begins with these words.

I must confess that I'm utterly baffled by the lack of sustained, organized outrage and opposition from Democratic officials and ordinary citizens at the Bush Administration's never-ending scandals, corruptions, war-initiations, and the amassing of more and more police-state power into their hands.

If you know your history.

You won't be baffled.

You will know the future.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder if the capitalist system itself isn't some giant ponzi scheme, and that addiction has become as ubiquitous as hubris. I join this writer in being utterly baffled by the state of political and media ennui while the horrors emanating from this administration continue to unfold.

As a loyalist Democrat I deplore it when ideological progressives perfer to split hairs over trivial issues or, even worse, refrain from voting at all in a primary election so they can be signators on petitions to get novelty candidates, grammas and comedians, on the ballot.

It is as if they cannot see the forest for the trees, or even worse, that they crawl out on a limb, pull out a magnifying glass and examine the veins in the leaves oblivious that the branch is nearing the breaking point.

Some seventy state offices in the last general election were won by Republicans by default since that many offices went unopposed by an absense of Democratic candidates. At every level the judicial offices now are overwhelmingly occupied by Republicans.

Politics has become so down and dirty that it is becoming increasingly difficult to encourage idealistic young people to aspire to a career in public service.

If there was ever a time for opposition party unity it is now.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baffled? The script was written before 9-11. The question is why are we letting this happen? The Weimer Republic failed by being weak and having to deal with a serious depression. The people were duped into believing that the Nazi way was going to make the world better and for a short while it did for those who bought into the process. Roads were built and trains ran on time.

What are we in for? I am not all that surprised however only baffled by the people that don't see what is happening.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And there is no civil unrest in Iraq. The government told us so.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look here and see the truth of the matter...

8:52 AM  

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