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07/13/2010

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davidlosangeles

Pr. Essig,

You have not lost even half of your mind. This is nothing new. In the 1920's and '30's in Germany there were a number of right political organizations with left-wing sounding names, slogans, and even programs. They even had working class memberships. For example, the program of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (sounds pretty left-wing) had in its "25 Point Program" the following:

7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens.

9. All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

12. In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice in property and blood that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment through a war must be designated as a crime against the people. Therefore we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

13. We demand the nationalisation of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).

14. We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries.

15. We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.

Who could argue with that? It is entirely reasonable and

davidlosangeles

Pr. Essig,

(Sorry, I hit the "submit" button by accident).

It is entirely reasonable and even progressive. Of course I skipped some of the other points.

4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race.

5. Whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest, and must be under the authority of legislation for foreigners.

6. The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen. Therefore we demand that every public office, of any sort whatsoever, whether in the Reich, the county or municipality, be filled only by citizens.

8. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich.

So half did not sound so bad but the other half, especially in retrospective, is indeed bad. Many of the working class supporters of these parties actually believed the "workers power" stuff. Most notably Ernst Röhm, leader of the Sturmabteilung (SA), was a true believer that his good pal Adolf Hitler would radically transform Germany into a workers paradise through nationalization of industry (which of course was all owned by "Jews"). The SA had a very bad reputation in the business community as these armed thugs frequently took the side of strikers, fighting off strike-breakers and policemen. The SA was semi-autonomous and a great worry to many Nazi members who considered them to be beefsteak — "brown on the outside and red on the inside". This is what lead to the "Night of the Long Knives", the death of Ernst Röhm and other SA leaders, and the dissolution of the SA (it was absorbed into the SS).

Politically it is impossible for any political movement that seeks power within a democratic society not to appeal to the needs of the common people. The huge economic crisis is producing a popular reaction against "past practices" and people like Ms. Coulter must appeal to this or face rejection. This is as true today as it was in decades ago.

Laurie Essig

yes of course- the relationship between fascism in Germany and the growing fascism here is clear::

a rural and formerly privileged group that is manipulated by unscrupulous and power-hungry demagogues with notions of national and sexual purity as well as a nostalgia for a "lost" past.

but is there a way to break the cycle of history or are we doomed to watch it play out in the expected ways?

Laurie Essig

and of course the fact that Rohm was a big homo and although HItler was willing to "overlook" this fact at first- insisting that the Nazi party was not a lady's tea party, over time the need to utilize sexual "purity" became nearly as strong as the need to utilize racial purity.

At least that's what I recall from the book "Night of the Long Knives" on why Rohm was killed and the ensuing round up of sexual "misfits".

Michael Peck

Why is the Far Left as paranoid as the Far Right? Instead of black helicopters and UN stormtroopers, it's Republican helicopters and Wall Street stormtroopers. Maybe it really is the fluoride in the water.

For a society that's going fascist, it's remarkable how we have a black president, a Democratic Congress, an outspoken gay community, a huge and growing immigrant population, and a conservative portion of the electorate that's demographically shrinking. I am concerned that economic inequality will have serious social and political consequences. But if America didn't go fascist in the '30s, when Nazis really were Nazis, then I don't think we're going fascist now.

davidlosangeles

Mr. Peck,

I don't think that America is "going fascist" any time soon but you have to remember, fascism did not arrive full-grown one day, it arrived step by step, gradually. I think the key point here is not that there is a gang of brown-shirts about seize any beer-halls but there parallel developments that make for important lessons.

There is intensive economic instability and social stress and some groups are trying to tap this tension and focus it upon immigrants. The Anti-Semitic parties (the Nazis were just one of many) sought blame all of Germany's problems on Ashkenazic Jews who had immigrated to Germany from eastern Europe. Today in the US we have political parties doing the same thing except instead of Jewish immigrants, it is Latin American immigrants. The social base of both the anti-immigrant movement of Germany and the US are very similar, the professional classes in smaller cities and non-industrial working classes in the rural areas.

However, unlike in Germany, there is little in the way of a revolutionary left (the Socialist and Communist Parties were large and active) nor is there an active trade-union movement. Further, the Soviet Union is no more. Part of the appeal of the fascist parties was their determination to snuff-out trade-unions and Bolshevism. This is not an issue here or now.

While I agree with you that fascism is not on the horizon here, it is hardly unwarranted to note the parallels to the raise fascism.

davidlosangeles

Pr. Essig,

You are quite correct that Herr Röhm was indeed a homosexual, this was largely window-dressing, an afterthought. He, and other SA leaders, were well known to be a homosexual long before the events of Leipzig. He as eliminated not because he was a homosexual or in spite of it. Actually Herr Schicklgruber's animosity towards homosexuals lay in the fact that a very significant number of the leading members of the German Communist Party were homosexuals and, more importantly, there was a robust "Gay Liberation Movement" (obviously that was not what it was called - "The German Friendship League" was one leading group) in Germany which was allied with the Communist Party and other left-wing groups. It had had some serious successes, in the Reichstag repealed Paragraph 175 effectively decriminalizing homosexuality 1929.

Homosexuals were targeted not just out of prudishness but because they were seen as a threat to Nazi political power.

Michael Peck

The "fascism" card is as much cheap populism as the "socialist" card. Invoking the word is intended to suppress dissenting opinions.

America had had several periods of immigration backlash without turning Nazi or Stalinist. So have other nations like Britain. America 1923 is a more useful example than Germany 1933.

mozza

"hey are a class of people more interested in protecting their racial privilege with anti-immigrant sentiment and their sexual privilege with traditional marriage rhetoric than in protecting their economic interests."

Dead on the money, in a manner of speaking. Generally the lower-middle and working class folks don't have the higher levels of education which lends itself to studying and understanding economic influence and how to broadly counteract certain spend-and-save trends.

They are more concerned that they are not socially 'beneath' minorities and immigrants as their white-guy-working-for-a-living identity is basically all they have left.

Laurie Essig

What David Rodiger called "the wages of whitenss"- yes you're right.

Laurie Essig

Why is the "Center" so sure that their point of view is superior? Perhaps they should get a little more "paranoid" or at least realistic about what is going on rather than feeling as if they see the world more clearly than everyone else? The only way to not see a growing fascist movement in this country (not necessarily one about to seize power, but one that is already well represented by some elements of the GOP and Fox's "news") is by being so smug about a Black president and a vocal gay community that you forget to notice everything else. Um, do you know anything about Weimar Germany? Trust me- the racial minority - Jews- were quite vocal and the queers were having a blast as well as getting organized.

davidlosangeles

Mr. Peck,

You wrote:"The “fascism” card is as much cheap populism as the “socialist” card. Invoking the word is intended to suppress dissenting opinions."

My point was that right-wing groups in Germany in the 1920's and '30's covered themselves in many left-wing sounding names, slogans, and programs to appeal to the popular discontent of the times while turning that discontent towards immigrants. Right-wing groups are doing this today in the US as Pr. Essig has pointed out in her blog.

You also wrote: "America had had several periods of immigration backlash without turning Nazi or Stalinist. So have other nations like Britain. America 1923 is a more useful example than Germany 1933."

You are quite correct and no one here has suggested otherwise. However, again, the point is that then, as now, right wing groups who are anti-immigrant, Jewish then and Latin American now, are using left-wing sounding arguments to capture popular discontent for their political agenda.

Michael Peck

The Center isn't smug. It's just not alarmist because things aren't as extreme as the extremists paint. C'mon, Laurie. Fascism? The government is going to make our kids join the Boy Scouts? Concentration camps for gays? Rabblerousers like Limbaugh and Coulter have been around forever. Repugnance does not equal fascism.

What does concern isn't fascism but polarization. The far right is getting righter and the far left lefter. It's getting tougher to be in the center. Which is a good thing, isn't it? Polarization is a petri dish for class warfare.

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