Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Are Republicans/the right-wing Comparable to Nazis?

I’ve been thinking about this post ever since I wrote the post about the differences between Communism and Fascism. There is inherently a danger in asking such a question, because at this point the Republican administration and regime have not committed anywhere near the atrocities of the Nazi regime. However, asking the question and making the comparison is legitimate since the right consistently calls the left communist.
Of course, I’m waiting for the right to scream in unison ‘Godwin’s Law!’, but they have through their words forfeited that protection. We on the left have tolerated being called communists by the right for a long time because frankly, how can one respond to such uneducated and infantile accusations? The right of course has taken it a step further and begun to call us fascists and Nazis. In his book, Tom Delay (or more accurately, his ghost writer) compares his struggle against the accusations against him a big lie comparable to the tactic used by Hitler. I could go on about how Republicans consistently get their history wrong, but it is more important I think to show them how they are wrong in labeling the left as Nazis/fascists/Hitler. In fact it is my hope that by pointing out the similarities between Republican ideology and policy and that of Nazis, the entire back and forth over who is a fascist and who is a communist will end. I won’t hold my breath though.
Without further rambling, the comparison:

Ultra-nationalism and superiority: Nazi ideology was obsessed with the position of its country. Their country was superior to all others and all citizens must support the country, any criticism of Germany was anti-Germanic and in fact treason. On the right in America one often hears how the left is un-American for criticizing the actions and policies of this country. The religion of the right is loyalty to the nation, and any words that disagree with that are blasphemy.

Obsession with the Military: Nazi ideology placed prime importance in military renewal and dominance. Defense spending came first, and every Nazi political leader made sure they wore military paraphernalia. The American right is similarly obsessed with the military, decrying any attempts to cut the bloated defense budget. Also, Bush has used the military as a political prop, and even showed up in a fighter pilots uniform for his mission accomplished speech.

‘Traditional Family Values’: Nazi ideology placed great importance on traditional family values, which would place the woman in the home and make it her duty to produce more German babies. The right in America has decried the fact that the birthrate in this country has gone so low and often blame the independence of woman for that. They would like nothing more than to have women back in the home.

Racism: Nazi ideology proclaimed that theirs was the dominant race, that of the Aryan folk, and that it was being diluted by lesser races and therefore those races had to be excluded and the German people cleansed. In America, the anti-immigration right uses similar terminology, claiming that our country is of Anglo-Saxon decent and that by allowing all these Mexicans in we are diluting our culture. They also comment on how Hispanics are out breeding whites and that is another reason why they support Traditional Family Values, because they are afraid that Hispanic immigrants are going to come here in droves, out breed us and take over. One also needs to believe that their own race is superior to another in order to view the other race as a threat to their existence.

Obsession with Security: This extends to both economic and physical security, and overlaps with many other points. The Nazis used the Jews and blamed them for many of the problems facing Germany. The Jews control all the money they said, and thus keeping the true German down. The Jews were part of the international secular communist conspiracy they said. Now we have the Muslims to be fearful of. The right here thinks all Muslims are terrorists and detrimental to the security of this nation and many, such as uber-ignoramus Michelle Malkin, believe all Muslims should be rounded up and put in camps for our own security. Now there is a slippery slope. After that we can round up all Mexicans, because they are a danger to our jobs. I’m also willing to bet that people like Malkin would have no problem having all liberals rounded up and put in camps also since we are a danger to their ‘reality’.

Extra-legal prison camps: As everyone knows (except for idiotic/racist holocaust deniers) there are two basic categories for the concentration camps of Nazi Germany: death camps and prison/work camps (where people still died, but were not killed outright). The prison/work camps were questionably legal, but were less detrimental to public support in Germany. All the death camps which applied murder on a factory/mass production scale were outside of Germany. All prisoners who were to be exterminated were taken outside Germany since technically German law did not apply there and it could be done out of the sight of the German people. Similarly, the United States has Gitmo where it can hold prisoners labeled ‘enemy combatants’ indefinitely, whether or not they are US citizens, the citizens of an allied country or citizens of an enemy country. Also, torture is used as an interrogation technique at secret CIA bases around the world, away from public scrutiny and away from US legal jurisdiction.

Need for a single, powerful leader: The Nazis in their campaign leading up to the seizure of power in 1933, claimed that a single powerful leader was what would pick the country up and that all the different groups only led to bickering and the floundering of the country. Same with the American right, they have put all their faith in Bush as their president and the only power of this country such is seen by how the republican congress just rolled over for this administration. They also decry any opinion contrary to their own as supporting the terrorists, supporting the enemy and making us look weak.

Pure Capitalism: Nazi ideology supported the role of business and the free market over the rights of the individual worker and consumer. Regulation was near nonexistent and Unions were illegal. In fact, before the Nazis came to power, businesses had come into the habit of hiring Nazis and firing their other workers because Nazis would not join a Union. The right in America has come to believe a total free market without regulation is what is needed, and that Unions are dangerous. In many cases different groups that do not trust Unions have been hired by businesses to undermine Unions. Also, businesses will close down rather than accept unionization which Wal-Mart has done in some instances. The laws on the books since the Reagan administration have taken a pro-business stance and an anti-worker one, thus limiting the rights of unions and often leading to their destruction.

There are many more points I could probably go through, but I think if anyone has gotten this far in the post, they get the idea by now. Fascism/Nazism is a right wing ideology, so stop labeling the left as fascist. Now I must also state that the right when it is moderate has very noble ideas. However, the right in this country and the Republican Party are dangerously far to the right. They have gone so far right that, I think, they put a greater value on security and money, than they do on humanity and life. That in itself is a threat to our country and the planet.


Anonymous said...

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

Anonymous said...

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and proto fascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

Anonymous said...

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Anonymous said...

This article presents a list of 14 points that define fascism as seen throughout the 20th century. I am not surprised to see how closely the GOP and evangelicals match the list point by point.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. How often have we seen the GOP wrap themselves in the flag and suggest they are the real Americans? Just in the last election they questioned the patriotism of Democrats in general and Barack Obama specifically for lack of lapel pins.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. Bush's use of torture and warrant less wiretaps and Patriot Act.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. Terrorists and Illegal Aliens to name two examples.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. The GOP is know for increasing military spending and adventurism. Bush and the Iraq and Afghan wars. Increased use of independent military contractors like Blackwater.

5. Rampant sexism. The Right has always been against women in the workforce. And they are opposed to birth control and abortion. A male dominated view of family values and sexual freedom. While men continue to have affairs without much outrage, Mark Sanford is still Governor.

6. A controlled mass media. While its true the Right attacks most mainstream media as liberal, they now have their own Right Wing media like Foxnews.

7. Obsession with national security. The Right for decades and most recently Bush have used fear of another attack to scare Americans. And to explain away restricting liberties as a requirement of "national security".

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. The GOP domination by the Religious Right. No sex education, anti abortion, prayer in school, teaching creationism as science along with evolution. Public display of ten commandments on government property

9. Power of corporations protected. Bush's rescue of Banks too big to fail, no public option in health insurance reform. AIG bailout and general disdain for role of government regulation of business.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Hatred of organized labor and the minimum wage by GOP as bad for business. Against employee protection like Family and Medical Leave and Employee Free Choice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Hatred of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Attack of Public Broadcasting and the NEA for liberal bias and obscene art funded by grants. Hatred of higher education and the supposed liberal bias of college faculty.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. The GOP has long positioned itself as party of law and order, harsher sentences even for juvenile offenders, attack on President Obama for even suggesting police over reaction in Prof. Gates arrest. Liberals generally soft on crime and criminals.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Many Bush close friends and conservatives appointed and career hiring bias in Department of Justice and throughout government for decades to come. And the political firing of nine U.S. Attorney's for not following orders.

14. Fraudulent elections. Bush v. Gore, Ted Stevens, and Franken/Coleman Minnesota Senate court conflict. Using the courts in an attempt to control outcome or delay Democratic win. False vote fraud cases against liberal groups like Acorn. The Birthers and false claim Obama not Born American.
David MA

Rich said...

The campaign tactics of Republicans certainly suggest that they are laying the groundwork for one party government. Consider McCain's campaign statement, "Either you vote for Obama or you vote to put America first. Talk radio and Fox News continues to degrade and label Democrats as evil, socialists. Republican congressmen and senators cannot work with Democrats or support anything for which they fear Democrats might get credit. In short, the right wing has postured itself as the only group which cares about America and they are labeling everyone else as unAmerican. Thinking peope really have to question what these folks will do with the rest of us (whom they regard as enemies to God and America)if they ever get the power.

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