Weimar on the Potomac

Blogger’s note:  What follows is a slightly edited recycling of a post I wrote for my personal blog in September 2010.  I revive it here because I was prompted by a Sully post — really just this thought:

If the Republican radicals decide to destroy the American economy in order to save it in the debt crisis, and Obama simply cannot survive the depression that follows, Palin is poised. It’s all so very Weimar.

Historical parallels are always tricky.  The past, as the cliche goes, is another country.  They do things differently there.

But the argument in the piece below holds, I think:  what we should draw from the Weimar experience is not that we should worry about another Hitler seizing power.  Rather, it is that the fall of the Weimar Republic illustrates the kind of process that occurs with variations when an acute short term crisis collides with the anxiety that comes from a longer term dislocating transition.

As I wrote about in my book, Einstein in Berlin, in the case of German in the ’20s and early ’30s, the hyperinflation of ’22-23 and then the great crash of ’29 created a nation of desperate people capable of being persuaded by a charasmatic authoritarian.

But just as important, IMHO, the ground Hitler ploughed was prepared over half a century as traditional ways of both making a living and experiencing social relations fell apart — with the dislocation, uncertainty, and genuine sense of loss that attends such changes.

The connection between Weimar and the US now, then, is not that Jim DeMint or Rand Paul is getting measured for a black shirt.  It is that we’ve got a lot of angry people who’ve been feeling estranged within their own homes for a long time; people for many of whom the truly revolutionary technological shifts in the way we live and who gets rich may be very hard to parse; and a truly wretched short term economic situation — and that combination is, we know, explosive.

So — read on if you’ve a mind, and see what you think.

****************************

Yesterday I attended a fascinating, depressing talk by Andrew Bacevich (live blogged!) in which he discussed the way the Washington consensus on national security is (a) disastrous and (b) perpetuates itself by trading on the myth of Washingtonian competence and the willingness of those beyond the beltway to defer to the presumed superior expertise and access to hidden information of the national security elite.

He made a powerful case, fleshed out in his new book, Washington Rules, positing that American national security thinking (such as it is) rests on two poles. First there is a “credo”:  that “the US and the US alone should lead, save, liberate, transform the world.” (Bacevich added yesterday that his choice of verbs was deliberate — they are all those used by American policymakers.) And then there is his trinity  — the idea that the US should maintain a global military presence, configured for power projection, and used for that purpose as needed.  (And yes, Bacevich at one point did refer to his atavistic commitment to the Catholic Church of his raising, as if you couldn’t tell…;)

Go check out the live blog if you want more, or better, buy his book.  My focus here is on an answer he gave to a question late in the session, on what he made of the meaning of the rise of Tea Party.  Here, as close to a transcript as I could make it, is his answer:

My bet is that the Tea Party is an epiphenomenon. Despite all the hooptedoo (sic) and the expectations that the Tea Party will have an impact on the elections this November — don’t think that they will be around much longer .  The substance is so thin, and is so based on anger that it isn’t enough to sustain a lasting organization.

I think that’s right; or better — I hope so…

…but not all that long ago I spent a number of years immersed in the history of 1920s Germany as I was writing Einstein in Berlin.  The book was, as advertised, an account of Einstein’s years in Germany’s capital — 1914-1932, but the question I was really trying to understand was how the 20th century went to hell, using Einstein as my witness at the epicenter of the disaster.

So when Bacevich argued that mere rage and the vague and incoherent sensation that the aggrieved Tea Partiers have somehow been done dirt is not enough to propel a political movement to lasting impact, it immediately reminded me of this:

Asked in December of 1930 what to make of the new force in German politics, he [Einstein] answered that  “I do not enjoy Herr Hitler’s acquaintance.  He is living on the empty stomach of Germany.  As soon as economic conditions improve, he will no longer be important.” Initially, he felt that no action at all would be needed to bring Hitler low.  He reaffirmed for a Jewish organization that the “momentarily desperate economic situation” and the chronic “childish disease of the Republic” were to blame for the Nazi success. “Solidarity of the Jews, I believe, is always called for,” he wrote, “but any special reaction to the election results would be quite inappropriate.”

We know how that turned out — but rather than just make the facile juxtaposition, I’d add that Einstein was almost right, or should have been right.

There was nothing in 1930 to suggest that Hitler was more than just one more raving rightist whom the establishment would dismiss as soon as conditions improved even slightly.
__
And in fact, through 1930 up to the end of 1932 there remained (IMHO) nothing inevitable about Hitler’s rise to power.  He benefitted from all kinds of chance circumstances, all the while riding (skillfully) the larger and overt waves of economic dislocation and political crisis.  He was certainly helped by the incompetence of his opponents.

But, certainly, even if the attempt to draw exact parallels across historical space and time never work, the lesson of end-stage Weimar Germany is that it is surprisingly easy in moments of crisis for seemingly fringe movements to rise — and that in their ascent, to seize power that could never be theirs in any ordinary time.  And once seized, authority feeds itself — we don’t need to Godwinize the argument to see that; the rapid accumulation of state power by the minority Bush II administration offers plenty of object demonstrations of what happens once folks, however thin or nonexistent their mandate, get their hands on the mechanical levers of power.

All of which is to say I believe we should not wait for the ordinary flow of events to sweep the Tea Party from the stage.  Active opposition is what’s needed, rather than the passive certainty that they’re crazy, wrong, and so openly whacked out that no one could possibly actually hand them the keys to the car.

Above all, what the example of the rise of the Nazis tells us is that rage is enormously powerful, and real hardship combined with a sense of class or race or identity-based grievance is yet more potent.  Tea Partiers, on all the evidence do believe that something has been stolen from them, and plenty of them, including one running for the United States Senate in the state of Nevada (with a reasonable shot at getting in) have suggested that violence to retrieve their God-given right to rule is acceptable, perhaps required.

Bacevich did speak to that as well.  Despite his sense (wrong, in my view) of the minor, temporary danger posed by the rise of the nativist, crazed right, he still  painted a picture of establishment GOPers as analogues (my interpretation) to the elite bosses of the German right:

You may have heard Trent Lott the other day — “We need to co-opt these people.”  And I think that reflects the cynicism of the Republican party –but the GOP is not going to become the Tea Party.

Recall the former Chancellor of Germany, Franz von Papen, crowing at the deal that brought him the Vice Chancellorship to Hitler’s ascension to the top spot in a short lived coalition, replying to charges that he had been had: “You are mistaken.  We have hired him.”

Oops.  Whatever else happens, I think Mike Castle would beg to differ with Mr. Lott.

Just one more thing:  I agree entirely with Bacevich when he said this:  ty ’20s:

You can’t divorce subject of race from all of this — and it is the most troubling part of our current politics.  It seems to me that too many of our fellow citizens refuse to accept the legitimacy of this presidency because it is unacceptable to have a black man as President.  Republicans would deny this, but I think they are lying through their teeth.  Race has not been left in our rear view mirror.

Well, yes.

And if we needed any more glances in the 1930s rearview mirror, then I’d suggest that we have a pretty good idea why in times of crisis demagogues go out of their way to paint as less than properly human a minority group that historically has been corralled into segregated settlements and has been both disdained and feared (by majorities wielding disproportionately more power than their scapegoats) — and we have more than just one precedent of what can happen when they do.

Bacevich bets that the Tea Party cocktail of rage, entitlement, ignorance, viciousness and the studied, cynical attempts at co-option will evaporate as times get less fraught.  I look at the next few months, and think of the three elections of 1932 in Germany, and wonder…if enough of the madness slips into Senate and House seats this fall, how sure can we be the rump of the GOP won’t follow?  And if times remain as hard as they may well through 2012?

Do you feel lucky today?

Well, do you?

I don’t.  I’m finally waking up; my personal enthusiasm gap has closed — I’ve hit the “donate” button three or four times today, and as the election gets closer, I’ll be heading up to New Hampshire to see what I can do to help Paul Hodes get over the hump.  I urge you all to act similarly as your wallets and geography permit.

Images:  Albert Einstein in 1929, playing a benefit concert in a synagogue in support of the Berlin Jewish community.  This is the only photograph I’ve been able to find (and I’ve looked) showing Einstein wearing a yarmulke.

Francisco de Goya, “Courtyard with Lunatics,” 1794






162 replies
  1. 1
    Bulworth says:

    As I wrote about in my book, Einstein in Berlin,

    We have a published writer on this blog?!

  2. 2
    someguy says:

    The comparison of the Republicans to the Nazi party pre-1932 is pretty apt, though I wouldn’t expect the Republicans post-crisis to be as outward-focused (bent on territorial conquest) as the Nazis. I suspect their depredations would mostly be focused on quashing internal dissident groups – minorities, gays, women, librulls. The other thing is they don’t really have a coherent philosophy, although what they have does have hatred of the other at the center of it.

  3. 3
    Yevgraf says:

    Am reading the recently published piece on William Dodd – the language used to crush the urbane liberal tendencies of Berlin as Hitler’s goons consolidated in the 33-35 period is pure teatard, and those kind, sensible, conservative-but-not-radical Germans went along to get along.

  4. 4
    Yevgraf says:

    Name of it is “In the Garden of Beasts”.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05.....wanted=all

    “In the Garden of Beasts” has the clarity of purpose to see the Germany of 1933 through the eyes of this uniquely well-positioned American family. There are hindsight-laden books that see the rise of Hitler as a parade of telltale signs. There are individual accounts that personalize the atmosphere of mounting oppression and terror. But there has been nothing quite like Mr. Larson’s story of the four Dodds, characters straight out of a 1930s family drama, transporting their shortcomings to a new world full of nasty surprises.

  5. 5
    SteveinSC says:

    Obama is going to cave. It is as straight-up as that. In the mid 90’s, I was furloughed as well as many others. But Bill Clinton was prepared to fight. He started way before the actual crime and ordered furlough warnings and preps sent throughout the Government. When the deed was done, hundreds of thousands of Civil Servants were ready to raise hell. That is not happening with Obama aka Harold Ford Jr. Average Americans need to have skin in this game, and so far they don’t. He should start the shut-down process and say he will do his best in keeping SSI checks going out, commercial aircraft flying (ATC), the ports open, etc., and say he has to do that until the debt ceiling is raised so he can service the debt and only the debt. He is not preparing to fight. He is preparing to lose. The exquisite prigs on this blog will say, oh don’t bother with rumors, but cave types of rumors have been right in the past. The fucking pansy.

  6. 6
    Hal says:

    Am I naive to believe the majority of the American Public is not going to be fooled come November 2012? Yes, George W., but it seems so difference and far more transparent now. The current crop of candidates seem so far right, even Bush circa 2000 would be a hard sell, what with his compationate conservatism and all.

    I just hope there isn’t a continued meme of Obama worse than Bush up until Aug 2012, with the expectation that all of a sudden people can start really attacking Republicans for a couple of months with the “Oh well, Obama is better than (fill in the blank) so let’s vote for him” strategy.

    Also:

    Despite all the hooptedoo (sic)

    Hooptedoo has an official spelling?

  7. 7
    AAA Bonds says:

    Great post. Thanks.

    I’ve been watching all of this through the lens of Roger Griffin’s “The Nature of Fascism” and F.L. Carsten’s “The Rise of Fascism”. (The second is, incidentally, the go-to book if you want to argue with rightists who think the Nazis were actually socialist – much of the book is focused on how empty their halfhearted socialist rhetoric was and how completely the Nazis failed to co-opt the working class.)

  8. 8
    AAA Bonds says:

    Great post. Thanks.

    I’ve been watching all of this through the lens of Roger Griffin’s “The Nature of Fascism” and F.L. Carsten’s “The Rise of Fascism”. (The second is, incidentally, the go-to book if you want to argue with rightists who think the Nazis were actually s*cial*st – much of the book is focused on how empty their halfhearted s*cial*st rhetoric was and how completely they failed to co-opt the working class.)

  9. 9
    jl says:

    I think, should it all go wrong, it will head towards something more along the lines of South Africa under the United Party, but with less of the racial social control policies explicitly written down in official papers.

  10. 10
    Yevgraf says:

    The comparison of the Republicans to the Nazi party pre-1932 is pretty apt, though I wouldn’t expect the Republicans post-crisis to be as outward-focused (bent on territorial conquest) as the Nazis.

    Think Caribbean, Cuber, Venezuela. Gunboat diplomacy, but a lot smarmier, with healthy doses of ‘Murkan exceptionalism, occupations for commercial gain, pudgy grandstanding and pasty faced missionaries trying to get indigenous populations to sing candy assed, vile bullshit like “Rock o’ Ages” and “How Great Thou Art”.

  11. 11
    OzoneR says:

    He should start the shut-down process and say he will do his best in keeping SSI checks going out, commercial aircraft flying (ATC), the ports open, etc., and say he has to do that until the debt ceiling is raised so he can service the debt and only the debt.

    This isn’t a government shutdown, this is completely different than that

  12. 12
    AAA Bonds says:

    @Yevgraf:

    I noted this recommendation of yours in an earlier thread and it’s my next purchase.

  13. 13
    jwb says:

    The group to watch is the under 30s. As their disenchantment grows—economic circumstances almost assures that it will—the great question is what they do with it.

    Teatards on mobility scooters really aren’t a force to worry about.

  14. 14
    aisce says:

    If the Republican radicals decide to destroy the American economy in order to save it in the debt crisis, and Obama simply cannot survive the depression that follows, Palin is poised. It’s all so very Weimar.

    does prompted to respond mean “laughed at him endlessly, then felt bad for picking on the obviously retarded, then reversed myself again and felt previously unknown derision for his profession and the public who reads him as he has absolutely no fucking idea what he’s talking about?”

    if yes, then i too was prompted to respond to that human fencepost. his fucking dogs know more about the american political scene than he does.

    he might as well fear the red skull getting nominated. or hannibal lecter. or the hamburglar.

  15. 15
    freelancer says:

    Hooptedoo has an official spelling?

    No doubt, when Michele Bachmann aims for folksy, she says it as “CHOOP-tee-DOO”.

  16. 16
    OzoneR says:

    The group to watch is the under 30s. As their disenchantment grows—economic circumstances almost assures that it will—the great question is what they do with it.

    My experience and observation tells me they’ll lash out at old people (which is why I don’t think cutting SS and Medicare is that big of a deal), leave the country, or give up on stupid politics because it isn’t for them.

  17. 17
    Juicetard (FKA Liberty60) says:

    Haven’t digested the entire post yet, but my thoughts are in a similar vein, namely that we are living in truly radical times.

    When I was a Reaganaut in early 80’s, I thought lowering the capital gains tax represented a tremendous and radical reordering of the system;

    Today we have people seriously questioning the need for the very foundations of the New Deal, who are willing to default rather than raise taxes, who are eager to return to a 1890’s economy of plutocrats, and of course, the most terrifying expansion of government power I can remember in the form of the Security State and War on Terror.

  18. 18
    AAA Bonds says:

    @aisce:

    Well, what can I say? Read up on the big H, the Weimar Republic’s best-known clown.

  19. 19
    AAA Bonds says:

    “THOSE CLOWNS IN THE REICHSTAG DID IT AGAIN. WHAT A BUNCH OF CLOWNS”

  20. 20
    John O says:

    Best Godwin Violation Ever.

    BJ is one helluva blog.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    @16 Juicetard

    We have self proclaimed conservatives who say they represent olde timey morality and virtues and responsibility, and sanctity of private property and contracts, whose first major policy stand is that the country does not have honor its legally contracted financial obligations.

    It is unpleasant and nasty wonder to behold.

    A lot of these people are of original Age of Aquarius Summer of Love hippy age to ten or so years younger. Maybe the are having mid life crisis and getting their adolescent irresponsibility on, thirty to forty years too late. They should have let it all hang out way back then.

  22. 22
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    Balloon Juice: Still brought to you by Xanax.

    If y’all are hopelessly cynical to even think It Can Happen Here, then Lincoln’s, Roosevelt’s, and Kennedy’s dreams are deader than the men themselves.

    I, for one, refuse to believe that.

  23. 23
    AAA Bonds says:

    One thing that’s always nifty is how I keep running across a H.itler quote on the Internet that’s in F.L. Carsten’s book, one that more or less proves that H.itler saw Nazism as completely separate from Marxist s*cialism.

    But when I see it nowadays, it’s always got one word conveniently subtracted or changed and is used by rightists to prove the exact opposite.

    My guess is that this comes from a chain e-mail, which is the usual venue for that sort of crude right-wing propaganda in the United States, but it is interesting to see the contortions people will go through to prove that history is wrong and they are right, and how even more people won’t bother to fact-check something that is obviously incorrect.

  24. 24
    Canuckistani Tom says:

    FAA shuts down tomorrow if congress doesn’t extend its authorization

    http://thinkprogress.org/econo.....0-workers/

  25. 25
    AAA Bonds says:

    One thing that’s always nifty is how I keep running across a H*tler quote on the Internet that’s in F.L. Carsten’s book, one that more or less proves that H*tler saw Nazism as completely separate from Marxist s*cial*sm.

    But when I see it nowadays, it’s always got one word conveniently subtracted or changed and is used by rightists to prove the exact opposite.

    My guess is that this comes from a chain e-mail, which is the usual venue for that sort of crude right-wing propaganda in the United States, but it is interesting to see the contortions people will go through to prove that history is wrong and they are right, and how even more people won’t bother to fact-check something that is obviously incorrect.

  26. 26
    freelancer says:

    As someone under 30 (barely), this post is a little Naomi Wolff-y for me. I see the parallels Tom makes, but by and large, those who have a voice in my generation and younger tend to not espouse xenophobia and fascist leanings unless they’re morons living and talking within a complete community bubble of morons. More and more, that bubble is shrinking. It might be a vast generalization to say that young people have much less confidence in institutional organizations, not more, but it seems true. And if anything, we’ve internalized that and act accordingly. That said, who knows if we’re going to be as susceptible to populist authoritarian power grabs as those who came before us? Only time will tell, but those around me, at least, would rather stay in a mediocre but hopeful present than to wind the clock back to such a staggeringly bigoted mentality of no nuance and all hatred, 24/7.

  27. 27
    AAA Bonds says:

    What’s even funnier is reading Carsten’s quotes of Goebbels’s pre-Third-Reich personal correspondence, in which the propagandist reveals himself as a weird sort of proletarian socialist who repeatedly denounces H*tler as a weird lunatic and an enemy of the working class. Oh, the places you’ll go!

  28. 28
    SteveinSC says:

    No, it is a government shut-down over lack of appropriated funds to run specific agencies. The default can be avoided by shutting down specific government functions and servicing the debt. It is a government shut-down to avoid default. Try to think. It is a humongous hammer to use, if you have the balls of Bill Clinton. And by the way it worked, and in spades.

  29. 29
    AAA Bonds says:

    What’s even funnier is reading Carsten’s quotes of Goebbels’s pre-Third-Reich personal correspondence, in which the propagandist reveals himself as a bizarre sort of proletarian s*cial*st who repeatedly denounces H*tler as a weird lunatic and an enemy of the working class. Oh, the places you’ll go!

  30. 30
    Countme In says:

    O.K. Pretend it’s 1932 and we’re in Germany. You are reading a German blog, which has as many of its readers members of the Other whom an alarming national political movement is identifying and setting the stage in its rhetoric and political action to marginalize, harm and perhaps liquidate.

    Some loudmouth like, say, me, suggests killing the fucking murderous leaders and as many of the vermin followers of the Nazi Party in the media, the government, the military and other institutions before things reach a tipping point and the trains start running eastward a little too much on time.

    Except that I don’t cancel my comment like I did here the other day on another thread, conscience getting the better of me.

    Do you answer “Hey, bro, this isn’t Rwanda.”

    No, its’ Germany, the pillar of western culture, folks, the home of Goethe, Beethoven, and Einstein, turned rancid, beset by murderous, malign crazy people who intend to save the country from the Other and restore and purify the effing homeland via Auschwitz.

    You don’t think the fucking filth elected last November want the Other dead, bro?

  31. 31
    AAA Bonds says:

    @freelancer:

    Never underestimate the power of rage among the dispossessed.

  32. 32
    jeffreyw says:

    It’s hoop-de-do. I thought everyone knew that.

  33. 33
    AAA Bonds says:

    @Countme In:

    Agreed. If most people had been asked during WWI where a giant state pogrom would commence in the 1930s, they’d have answered “France” and then “Russia” and I doubt Germany would have made even the top ten in Europe.

    It can’t happen here, until it does.

  34. 34

    The real problem with the Weimar was the failure of representational government to govern. So some group succeeded in installing a different kind of government.

    The phrase “power vacuum” is grossly overused but it is appropriate in this instance.

    Is the US facing a failure of representational government? Good question. Will the deadlock[s] in Washington lead to material distress of the residents of this country? Dunno. If it does then we might be vulnerable to takeover by some domestic godwannabe.

  35. 35
    Steve says:

    “In the Garden of Beasts” is a great book. Fascinating subject matter.

  36. 36
    Countme In says:

    Chicken farmers run the Republican Party.

  37. 37
    Glenn says:

    Really excellent post. Not the least of which because, whatever the merits of what I’ll call the normative version of Godwin’s Law (I realize its initial formulation was merely predictive), it has had the unfortunate consequence of leading many to conclude that any attempt to draw lessons from the rise of the Nazis is necessarily invalid. And your post, I think, accurately demonstrates why that is a dangerous proposition to accept.

  38. 38
    cleek says:

    @SteveinSC:

    He is not preparing to fight. He is preparing to lose.

    he could have lost 8 fucking weeks ago, if that’s what his plan was. if his plan is to cave, he’s doing a pretty shitty job of it – in the real world, that is; i have no idea how or what he’s doing in the Magick Ponee World.

  39. 39
    AAA Bonds says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    No offense, but that’s a pretty dangerous tack to take, not even “thinking” about the possibility because it proves that we’re too cynical to survive. It sounds a lot like what happened in Germany, in fact.

    I think that Roosevelt was plenty aware that It Can Happen Here, and it guided a lot of his policy.

  40. 40
    General Stuck says:

    I honestly don’t know what is going to happen to us. As a country. My sense is that we are standing at a huge crossroads with wildly divergent paths. One leads to the light of a more better Union, the other into some darker place.

    It is not the first time we have faced this, from our founding conflict, and its uncertain days, to the abolition of slavery that needed a Great Civil War, to the depression and the dystopic morass that brought.

    Somehow we have managed to bounce along the higher road, for the most part. I can’t help but admit though, that this time, and not just the debt crisis, which is a proxy for a wider endemic conflict in this country, seems like a tunnel with no lights in it. Though still with a path available for a possible leap of social evolution for our democracy.

    But goddam, if we don’t have a shitpile full of problems, and a still 50 50 country. One side wanting to move into the future, the other, the past. Democracies, don’t stay in one place for long. They either move forward or backward.

    Wish I knew which direction we end up taking, but have a feeling that there is going to be some sort of reckoning, fairly soon, to break the logjam of the American experiment/

  41. 41
    SteveinSC says:

    Cleek, you forget it takes two to lose, the winner and the loser, and the winners weren’t finished demanding.

  42. 42
    PGE says:

    When I read Richard Evans The Coming of the Third Reich I was reassured by how different the circumstances were from USA 2003. I am rapidly losing that reassurance as the parallels become more pronounced. One that I find disturbing is that Evans says that the Weimar Republic was unpopular in itself; and there is a large and growing part of the public that does not care for American democracy. Most of them keep their rhetoric to nonsense like “government is the problem”, but they will happily enable whoever promises them that they’ll get rid of goverment, then fills that vacuum him or herself.

  43. 43
    jwb says:

    Linda Featheringill: So far we’ve been blessed that all the natural leaders of the teatards have been grifters and so can be bought off. That’s why Bachmann is particularly dangerous: she’s a believer not a grifter.

  44. 44
    kdaug says:

    @Bulworth:

    We have a published writer on this blog?!

    You don’t know who Tom Levenson is?

  45. 45
    cleek says:

    @General Stuck:
    a legislative disagreement over the appropriate level of spending, even a protracted and heated one, is not a novel situation. it happens all the time. the GOP is trying to play hardball these days, but this too shall pass.

    the real difference between the golden days of yore and today is that today, people can spend there days in places like this, talking themselves and each other into paroxysms of outrage and defeatism.

  46. 46
    BO_Bill says:

    Yes, the next thing these ratfucking Teatards will do is send young men into the streets with baseball bats, seeking to impose their political will.

    Oh wait, never mind.

  47. 47
    freelancer says:

    …whatever the merits of what I’ll call the normative version of Godwin’s Law (I realize its initial formulation was merely predictive), it has had the unfortunate consequence of leading many to conclude that any attempt to draw lessons from the rise of the Nazis is necessarily invalid. And your post, I think, accurately demonstrates why that is a dangerous proposition to accept.

    This x 1000.

    Godwin, as a rule, applies to labelling/linking your argumentative adversary with the #1, go-to, bad guys of recent human history. It means you got nothin’ and you lose the debate.

    As it applies to politics, to see parallel paths for the unexpected ascent of an angry, jingoistic populism with a dangerous agenda, Nazi history is definitely not out of bounds.

  48. 48
    khead says:

    No. We’re not the Weimar Republic.

    Next thread.

  49. 49
    General Stuck says:

    a legislative disagreement over the appropriate level of spending, even a protracted and heated one, is not a novel situation. it happens all the time. the GOP is trying to play hardball these days, but this too shall pass.

    Not with a debt ceiling raise, but I agree with your larger point, and that this dust up is not uncommon, except for the added possibility of more econ pain we don’t need right now. This isn’t just a US govt shutdown.

    What I am talking about is more ideological, and the need for some big changes in that area, to evolve as a continued successful democracy. I am an optimist, almost to a fault when it comes to this country pulling its shit together, even if at the last moment. But it is going to get interesting like not before in my lifetime.

  50. 50
    AAA Bonds says:

    @General Stuck:

    My concern is that the right may simply no longer be afraid of that darker place. I believe that the reason we didn’t go full Nazi under Reagan had to do with an unspoken, perhaps unconscious belief of those in power that they had to, well, not be Nazis, because Americans wouldn’t accept it and it wouldn’t go well for anyone. However warped, they had an idea of the outer limits on what they could do without becoming something else entirely.

    Stephen King set Greg Stillson apart in “The Dead Zone” by having his protagonist note that private thug bodyguards beating up unruly attendees at Stillson’s speeches was above and beyond anything Americans would accept from your average law-and-order Republican. But look at the crimes of Rand Paul’s stormtroopers, or Michele Bachmann’s. Look at the cult of personality that’s behind them, too.

    I don’t think that many important figures on the right in America can even conceive of restraint anymore. I think Reagan’s replacements view left-wingers as Nazis and see themselves as Nazi-hunters, as last-stand heroes who must not restrain themselves if they wish to defend the country against its enemies.

  51. 51
    cleek says:

    also,
    Sully needs to get the fuck over Palin.

    i thought she had a serious shot at the 2012 nom, a couple of years ago. but since then, she has completely squandered her position with overexposure and bad plays.

    Bachmann is the wingnut to worry about these days.

  52. 52
    AAA Bonds says:

    @cleek:

    Well, it’s certainly a good thing that Everything’s Okay and Bad Things Can’t Happen! :D

    Man, I was worried there for a second – I thought that history might actually apply to America, too.

  53. 53
    JC says:

    This is some high falutin’ Godwin’s violation right here, folks.

    Still, I see what similarities are noted.

    However, lots of dissimilarities as well. Recovering from a World War. Lots of cover because of that war. If the U.S. starts suffering more terrorist attacks that succeed, then we have to watch out.

    Much more diversity here in the U.S. We DID elect a black man, after all.

    But certainly, there are three elements that are most worrisome.

    Rightwing noise machine conjoined with
    accountability free media,
    conjoined with American authoritarianism.

    Combined with not enough people who don’t vote, means that things like 2010 happen. Where 15% of the population (rightwing voters) set back progress for the rest of us.

  54. 54
    General Stuck says:

    Oh, and this tune popped into my head reading this thread

  55. 55
    aimai says:

    Great Post, Tom. Einstein in Berlin is on my list of (light) summer reading. To those on the blog who didn’t know who you were: run out right now and buy a copy of Newton and the Counterfeiter. It makes much cheerier reading than it sounds like Einstein is going to.

    aimai

  56. 56
    BO_Bill says:

    Yes, the next thing these ratfucking Teatards will do is invent a game for their youth where people who look different are randomly targeted and beaten, sometimes to death. Given the nature of these Teatards, this game will surely go viral.

    Oh wait, never mind.

  57. 57
    AAA Bonds says:

    @JC:

    Much more diversity here in the U.S. We DID elect a black man, after all.

    Need I note the prominent Jews in the Weimar government? The Nazis sure liked to do so.

  58. 58
    cleek says:

    @AAA Bonds:
    if i had a nickel for every tossed-off prediction of IMMINENT END OF EVERYTHING on this blog, i would never have to work again.

  59. 59
    scav says:

    In painting news so tangentially related to anything by TL, Lucian Freud has died at 88. Sorry, links and computer not cooperating.

  60. 60
    4jkb4ia says:

    We’re not the Weimar Republic

    This got me to muse that part of the German resentment was that they had crushing reparations that were punishment, and they were left out of a Europe that was pretending to be prosperous. If the United States goes down, Europe goes down with it, and China may stumble. We might wake up to a world where the dominant powers are like India who had very little to do with the web of modern finance and debt.

    Great post for the Three Weeks.

  61. 61
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ AAA Bonds:

    I believe that the reason we didn’t go full Nazi under Reagan had to do with an unspoken, perhaps unconscious belief of those in power that they had to, well, not be Nazis, because Americans wouldn’t accept it and it wouldn’t go well for anyone. However warped, they had an idea of the outer limits on what they could do without becoming something else entirely.

    Also, during those Cold War decades there was a huge incentive to treat vulnerable people with dignity, respect, and even assistance — as propaganda _against_ the idea that communism and socia1ism were the only way to secure some kind of equal justice for the people. That’s all gone.

  62. 62
    Yevgraf says:

    It occurs to me that those who dismiss the idea that it could happen here ignore the fact that Einstein missed the prediction in Weimar.

    Do y’all really think you’re smarter than freakin’ Einstein?

  63. 63

    @Countme In:

    Chicken farmers run the Republican Party.

    Heinrich Himmler was a chicken farmer.

    But aside from that, what does your comment mean? [No attack here, just asking.}

  64. 64
    jl says:

    @57 cleek

    Maybe FDL has some betting line on TEoE. You might try there.

  65. 65

    Very good, thoughtful post. Thank you.

    Another book that sheds light on how things can go horribly wrong in a civilized country is Claudia Koonz, ‘The Nazi Conscience.’ (I would be interested in others’ takes on it if they have read it. )

    The parallels with how the right wing frames things today and the long process of undermining the Jews in Germany are very chilling. And most Germans thought of themselves as decent people and rank and file Nazis thought of themselves as virtuous.

  66. 66
    AAA Bonds says:

    @cleek:

    That’s great, but not relevant.

  67. 67
    hilts says:

    Palin is poised.

    Palin is too goddamn lazy to be poised for anything other than boosting her speaking fees. She’s not running for President.

    On your larger point, we’re definitely headed to Weimar territory.

  68. 68
    gelfling545 says:

    @OzoneR: My children & their group (under or just about 30)tend to see social security et al cuts as a pretty big deal. You see they all have old parents whom they do not wish to support and whose medical expenses they would be unable to pay.

  69. 69
    cleek says:

    @AAA Bonds:
    it’s absolutely relevant to what i wrote. maybe it’s not relevant to the argument you want to have, but that’s irrelevant, to me.

  70. 70
    freelancer says:

    It occurs to me that those who dismiss the idea that it could happen here ignore the fact that Einstein missed the prediction in Weimar.
    __
    Do y’all really think you’re smarter than freakin’ Einstein?

    I can’t tell if this is snark or not. If it is, bravo. If not, you’re a moron. And your comment is right up there with “How come Galileo couldn’t see the Roman Inquisition coming with his newfangled tellyskope?!” Not to mention, you get Einstein’s life all wrong.

  71. 71
    JGabriel says:

    Thanks for republishing that essay here at Balloon Juice, Tom. Very thought-provoking and informative.

    .

  72. 72
    Splitting Image says:

    The main problem with Sully’s remark is that he is still focused on Sarah Palin. I have trouble seeing her defeat Obama when PPP has her currently leading him by 2 points in Utah.

    Bachmann seems to be in a better position to take the nomination than Palin at this point, but Sullivan hasn’t spent the last three years following her around, so he discounts her as not being worth worrying about.

  73. 73
    patroclus says:

    Man, that Einstein guy sure was stupid!

  74. 74
    khead says:

    This got me to muse that part of the German resentment was that they had crushing reparations that were punishment, and they were left out of a Europe that was pretending to be prosperous.

    This got me to muse about the part of Tom’s analogy that is lacking unless someone can show me the levels of resentment in the United States that will lead to an attempted extermination of a resented minority.

  75. 75
    stuckinred says:

    khead

    It’s a simple warning.

  76. 76
    TheHalfrican says:

    This is why the Islamophobia terrifies me. If you hop on the C bus or the subway in Philly, you’re guaranteed to see young black women in burqas. Farrakhan’s irrelevant now; everybody’s converted to Sunni. What happens when just one Black Muslim American loses his shit and blows up something while President Palin is in office? Hellooooooooo “Freedom Camps”.

  77. 77
    khead says:

    Oh, it’s simple. No doubt about that.

  78. 78
    OzoneR says:

    My children & their group (under or just about 30)tend to see social security et al cuts as a pretty big deal. You see they all have old parents whom they do not wish to support and whose medical expenses they would be unable to pay.

    If my family is any indication, they’re going to have to support their parents cuts or not.

  79. 79
    dollared says:

    what JC said.

    Really, the great danger is just More of the Same.

    Remember, there is a massive amount of wealth that does not want disruption and revolution. Their real asset is that most of us have mortgages. So what has already started is the great squeeze, and it will simply continue

    So we will ossify into something that looks and feels closer to China, while still loudly claiming to be a democracy and still holding elections. Authoritarian and militaristic, buttressed by the four media conglomerates, along with Wall Street, and the National Security apparatus. We all will have fewer rights, and more and more things will be privatised. Education is next!!

    And of course, the median wage will continue to decline, because, well, because that’s the whole point of this revolution. The elite is taking control in a way they never have in the US, because they never had the means before. Now they do. Wasn’t that Reagan’s goal all along?

    So I don’t see Hitler in our future. Maybe Singapore.

  80. 80

    @khead:

    This got me to muse about the part of Tom’s analogy that is lacking unless someone can show me the levels of resentment in the United States that will lead to an attempted extermination of a resented minority.

    The Nazis did have a “blood purifying” agenda but the Italian fascists didn’t. You don’t have to be hell-bent on genocide to be a fascist.

    Wiki has several interesting definitions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....of_fascism

  81. 81
    General Stuck says:

    I think there is near zero chance that entire America would become a fascist state, but it is entirely possible that at some point, certain states begin to rebel in small to larger ways administratively. And lead to types of brinkmanship we are seeing the wingers play with the debt ceiling. That is itself isn’t necessarily a break up of the Union like with the GCW, but it would be destabilizing, which can then lead to more bad stuff.

    I also think the wingnuts will pay a pol price for their bullshit over reaching, and 2012 will not be as kind to them as 2010. But the basic dichotomous mindset in this country, is permanent, at least for a while.:)

  82. 82
    stuckinred says:

    General Stuck

    Yea, well it’ll have to happen between football seasons.

  83. 83
    NonyNony says:

    As I wrote about in my book, Einstein in Berlin,

    Holy crap – you’re THAT Tom Levenson? I never made the connection.

    No wonder your posts always class up the joint.

  84. 84
    middlewest says:

    Holy shit, now we’re pretending that Bill Clinton was a hero of the progressive left who never caved to republicans? Somebody needs to tell Tom Tomorrow to destroy his archives.

  85. 85

    Entertaining friends, so I can’t stay on top of the thread as I should, but to those who have been pointing out, with heat, that the US ain’t full of folks on the streets w. baseball bats whacking disfavored minorities, so any me ton of Weimar is out of bounds…

    As I wrote at the very top of this post, the argument isn’t that the Hitler is about to take over the US. It is rather that we can see now some conditions that have parallels with those that framed the end of Weimar. There are, of course, more than I listed in the post: anti-Latino xenophobia. Systematic attempts to suppress left and center-left votes. Strident anti-union words and action. And so on.

    And you put all that together with the persist and of what Bacevich correctly identified as the attempt by the right to delegitimize Obama’s — and any Democratic president’s hold on power…and you have,I think some real lessons to be learned from other examples of political turmoil in times of large scale social and scientific/technological change and short term acute economic distress.

    Simply: I’m not calling tea-partiers or the GOP Nazis. I am saying that they are playing with fire,and that the example of the late Weimar Republic helps understand how dangerous such pyrotechnics can be.
    capice?

  86. 86
    AAA Bonds says:

    @dollared:

    Thanks for pointing this out – I think this is a pretty big threat in and of itself.

  87. 87
    JGabriel says:

    @khead:

    This got me to muse about the part of Tom’s analogy that is lacking unless someone can show me the levels of resentment in the United States that will lead to an attempted extermination of a resented minority.

    Those levels of resentment and hatred weren’t necessarily that high in Germany circa 1928 either. Though one can certainly point to examples of them, just as one can point to such example in today’s America — like racist signs at tea rallies, or eliminationist rhetoric about liberals, latinos, muslims, gays, blacks, the poor, et. al.

    Edited to add: Looks like Tom Levenson got there before me and said it better. So I’ll just amend this post to add: Yeah, what Tom said.

    .

  88. 88
    stuckinred says:

    Tom Levenson

    Sounds like a simple warning that some people just can’t bear to hear.

  89. 89
    NonyNony says:

    @middlewest

    Holy shit, now we’re pretending that Bill Clinton was a hero of the progressive left who never caved to republicans?

    Bill Clinton caved to Republicans? That’s not how I remember it.

    As I recall, he was a “secret Republican” who “wasn’t really liberal” and who was “just dying to give them everything they wanted”.

    In fact, everything they say about Obama they said about Clinton. The major difference between Clinton and Obama is that Clinton could spin like there was no tomorrow – he’d end up with a lousy deal out of Republicans and he’d spin it into a huge victory and say “I meant to do that” like Pee-wee Herman falling off his bike. Like “welfare reform” – one of the issues that he eventually trumpeted as a major success – it was a Republican initiative that he got out in front of, took credit for, and pissed off Republicans royally over it.

  90. 90
    General Stuck says:

    Yea, well it’ll have to happen between football seasons.

    Won’t happen either during the quaalude baseball season, so that leaves spring break, just after the NCAA B ball championship. A quickie revolution, which is very American.

  91. 91
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Holy shit, now we’re pretending that Bill Clinton was a hero of the progressive left who never caved to republicans? Somebody needs to tell Tom Tomorrow to destroy his archives.

    In 20 years someone will be all wound up about how President Sanchez is a terrible negotiator who caves too easily and should listen more to the left, like Barack Obama did. The real progressive is always one generation ago.

  92. 92
    stuckinred says:

    General Stuck

    Football is THE religion in the places most likely to lean that way.

  93. 93
    MikeMc says:

    @middlewest:

    No shit. These people have the fucking worst memories. One of the first things Bill Clinton did was make cuts to the social-safety net…and no one cared. Now these yahoos on the left say that if a Dem Pres. did that he would be finished. Their arrogance is only outpaced by their ignorance.

  94. 94
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ NonyNony:

    Like “welfare reform” – one of the issues that he eventually trumpeted as a major success – it was a Republican initiative that he got out in front of, took credit for, and pissed off Republicans royally over it.

    Which laid the seeds for the current crop of Republicans, who refuse to let Obama implement even Republican-approved policies, lest he get credit for implementing things.

  95. 95
    OzoneR says:

    Bill Clinton caved to Republicans? That’s not how I remember it.

    Welfare Reform? DOMA? Repealing Glass-Steagall?

  96. 96
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    #59 – Mr. Freud was a great artist. Way too few can be a realist, a portraitist and unflinchingly modern as well. Ave atque vale.

  97. 97
    AAA Bonds says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Simply: I’m not calling tea-partiers or the GOP Nazis. I am saying that they are playing with fire,and that the example of the late Weimar Republic helps understand how dangerous such pyrotechnics can be.

    This is more or less what I believe as well. The right in America is discovering the political and partisan effectiveness of certain rhetoric and tactics and refuse to become aware of the potential downsides – refuse to even consider the risks they’re taking with this country.

    Nationalism got away from the nationalists in Weimar Germany through a process that had as much to do with conservative dalliance in radical-right ideas as it did with deliberate action by the Nazis to absorb or smash their many lookalike rivals. The right wing in Germany (and to a lesser extent the left) plowed a furrow where the Nazi seed took root.

    I don’t think Eric Cantor is likely to end up in charge of whatever vast evil might arise out of the radical right in America.

  98. 98
    General Stuck says:

    Football is THE religion in the places most likely to lean that way.

    true that, so I see your point.

  99. 99
    AAA Bonds says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I think that’s right. We had to have an evil empire, so we couldn’t be one, at least not in a big way.

  100. 100
    khead says:

    Sounds like a simple warning that some people just can’t bear to hear.

    If “simple warning” means “shitty analogy”, then – sorry, but yes – I just can’t bear to hear another one.

  101. 101
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ MikeMc:

    One of the first things Bill Clinton did was make cuts to the social-safety net…and no one cared.

    Well, no. People did care. A lot. About his coopting conservative policy ideas, kowtowing to big money, and fighting humanitarian wars. There’s a proud tradition of left critics of warmed-over liberalism. The new development is having that group see itself as “the base.”

  102. 102
    stuckinred says:

    General Stuck

    Default is important but the SEC Media meetings are all the rage in these parts this week.

  103. 103
    stuckinred says:

    khead

    Ok, you made your point. I assume your computer is equipped with some mechanism that would allow you to beat feet the fuck out of here?

  104. 104
    AAA Bonds says:

    @khead:

    #33 above, hoss.

  105. 105
    NonyNony says:

    @OzoneR

    Did ya even read the rest of the comment OzoneR?

    As I recall, he was a “secret Republican” who “wasn’t really liberal” and who was “just dying to give them everything they wanted”.

    I know sarcasm doesn’t come across well via text, but still – it was a joke son! A joke see! /foghornlegorn

  106. 106
    AAA Bonds says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Yeah, I’d say the defining characteristic of the Clinton-era left was its enduring self-hatred. I was just a kid, but even I remember prominent feminists walking on eggshells when discussing how while there wasn’t anything impeachable or even criminal in it, there just might maybe sort of be something problematic with the most powerful male CEO in the world seducing a female intern on the job site.

  107. 107
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ AAA Bonds : There was plenty of evil foreign policy spawned by the Cold War, including Vietnam, Chile, and Iran. But some of the domestic “liberalism” around class and race in the Cold War era had to do with showing off the grandeur and magnanimity of The Free World.

  108. 108
    NonyNony says:

    @FlipYrWhig

    Which laid the seeds for the current crop of Republicans, who refuse to let Obama implement even Republican-approved policies, lest he get credit for implementing things.

    Exactly.

    And along with that – in retrospect I think that Clinton’s attack on George HW Bush for raising taxes (when that was the right, responsible thing to do) help lay the seeds for today’s Republicans absolutely refusing to raise taxes no matter what once they signed onto some stupid pledge. They saw what happened before and they’ll be damned if they’ll let a Democrat bludgeon them for raising taxes.

    No one could have predicted it then, but damn that was a short-term tactical success and a long-term strategic blunder.

    ETA: I’m going to retract that last paragraph. I worry anytime I use the phrase “No one could have predicted…” that, in fact, people did predict and I just wasn’t paying attention.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I DO remember some folks on the left making the point that it was a bad tactic to use precisely because it could make the Republican intransigence when it came to taxes worse than it already was in 1991. I don’t remember who it was, but I’m vaguely remembering it at this point. It may have just been an Economics prof that I had at the time though and not anyone in the mainstream.

    Damn old age and lousy memory.

  109. 109
    AAA Bonds says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Fully agreed, although I think you already know that. I’d never downplay how gruesome Reagan’s DP/FP was, merely saying that it was limited in scope.

  110. 110
    FlipYrWhig says:

    in retrospect I think that Clinton’s attack on George HW Bush for raising taxes (when that was the right, responsible thing to do) help lay the seeds for today’s Republicans absolutely refusing to raise taxes no matter what once they signed onto some stupid pledge. […] damn that was a short-term tactical success and a long-term strategic blunder.

    Totally agree.

  111. 111
    trollhattan says:

    Shades of things to come?

    http://www.nrtoday.com/article.....ofile=1055

    H/T Digby

  112. 112
    Mark S. says:

    First there is a “credo”: that “the US and the US alone should lead, save, liberate, transform the world.”

    The alone part I find interesting, because I assumed that level of stupidity was only to be found among neocons. But maybe I’m wrong about the foreign policy consensus, whom I imagined consisted of people who pretty much think exactly like Thomas Friedman. If they lean more to the neocon side, that’s pretty disturbing.

  113. 113
    khead says:

    Ok, you made your point. I assume your computer is equipped with some mechanism that would allow you to beat feet the fuck out of here?

    Sorry, usually I am all about the cat pics here at Balloon Juice and not much more but this thread is a bit much.

    The Weimar Republic analogy sucks. Really, it does.

    I say that while even taking into account post #33, hoss.

  114. 114
    Mark S. says:

    @trollhattan:

    Geez, what a bunch of assholes.

  115. 115
    NonyNony says:

    @Mark S.

    My observations lead me to believe there are two significant factions in the US foreign policy consensus:

    1.) The faction that believes that the US alone should lead, save, liberate and transform the world
    2.) The faction that believes that things like the UN and NATO are useful tools for the US to lead, save, liberate and transform the world

    You can tell the members of faction 2 from people who actually believe in multi-lateral consesus and the utility of the UN as an international organization by how pissed of they get when the UN as a group decides something they don’t like and how quick they are to throw their Security Council veto around on such things.

  116. 116
    chopper says:

    i think the corporate wing of the GOP is shooting for some craziness followed by a bit of ‘shock doctrine’ and a new gilded age. i think the rest of us who are paying attention are expecting some craziness followed by the fall of the weimar republic and the rise of fascism. i think the tea party is just shooting for craziness followed by an invasion of ponies that shit gumdrops.

    if oil weren’t running out and the climate wasn’t goin all nuts, i’d put the odds between the first two as equal. but it is and it is, so we’re boned.

  117. 117
    chopper says:

    @93:

    One of the first things Bill Clinton did was make cuts to the social-safety net

    and give us DADT. he also gave us DOMA. and loved the shit out of nafta. but hey, what a liberal, eh? not like ‘near leader’!

  118. 118
    Corner Stone says:

    @MikeMc:

    No shit. These people have the fucking worst memories. One of the first things Bill Clinton did was make cuts to the social-safety net…and no one cared

    Ahhh, the Larry O’Donnel School of Revisionist History strikes again!

  119. 119
    Taylor says:

    I think that Roosevelt was plenty aware that It Can Happen Here, and it guided a lot of his policy.

    Bingo.

    Obama is Kerensky.

    Who will Lenin be?

    My guess is that we are being prepared for a military “hero” to “bring us together.” Perhaps this is why Obama is afraid to pull out of Afghanistan. The “stabbed in the back” narrative soon follows.

  120. 120
    RalfW says:

    Two comments apart:

    This got me to muse about the part of Tom’s analogy that is lacking unless someone can show me the levels of resentment in the United States that will lead to an attempted extermination of a resented minority.

    And

    This is why the Islamophobia terrifies me.

    If things go horribly wrong here, it won’t be gay, black or brown people that are most at risk. It will be Muslims. The demagogery in NY over the mosque, the crap in Tennessee, etc.
    Not saying it will happen, not confident it can’t.

  121. 121
    Corner Stone says:

    @trollhattan: From the article:

    Raynor [Tea Party guy] said the group believes MoveOn.org is a communist front and said he would not stand for America becoming a fascist nation.

    Communist front…fascist nation. It’s almost like he doesn’t know what these things mean.

  122. 122
    Hawes says:

    I’ll take established, entrenched institutions over anger. Weimar didn’t have established, entrenched institutions. The ones they did have: the Junker class, in particular, were hardly a break on rightist authoritarianism.

    I have a colleague who said the next President will oversee the end of the American way of life. But institutions are sticky. They are VERY hard to get rid of. Look at slavery. A four year Civil War and they still couldn’t get blacks real freedom for another 100 years.

    While I do think a dip into a Depression would exacerbate the anger in this country, we’ve been through this shit before and will again.

  123. 123
    Splitting Image says:

    Simply: I’m not calling tea-partiers or the GOP Nazis. I am saying that they are playing with fire,and that the example of the late Weimar Republic helps understand how dangerous such pyrotechnics can be.
    capice?

    Agreed, but I think the main difference is that in the 1930s, a large percentage of Germany’s youth had become disaffected from the Weimar way of doing things and were eager recruits for the Hitler Youth. The G.O.P.’s youth outreach is beyond abysmal.

    There may indeed be an opening for a charismatic fascist to win over a large number of disaffected American youths, which is why the G.O.P. had a ready-made argument against Barack Obama, but the Republicans aren’t going to be able to bring the current crop of kids over to their side any time soon. I can’t in all seriousness see the Republican party filling the vacuum left by the fall of the Weimar Republic. The Republican party IS the Weimar Republic.

    In my opinion. the Democratic institutions that are under siege (the New Deal and the Great Society) are closer to the remains of the Second Reich than they are to Weimar. Just as the purpose of Weimar was to bring the moribund institutions created in Bismarck’s day into the new century, the G.O.P.’s mission was to dismantle the old regime and turn America into a new Ayn Rand-approved paradise.

    Which is where all those disaffected youth came in. What the young people in Germany wanted was for Hitler to turn the country back into what it had been under Bismarck. Similarly, young people today want to see the country turned back into what it was under FDR and LBJ. Weimar failed to fulfil its promise in its day, and the Republican party is failing now.

  124. 124
    khead says:

    Not saying it will happen, not confident it can’t.

    I AM confident. Welcome to America, 2011.

  125. 125
    Lex says:

    @AAA Bonds:

    I think that Roosevelt was plenty aware that It Can Happen Here, and it guided a lot of his policy.

    Indeed he was.

  126. 126
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Communist front…fascist nation. It’s almost like he doesn’t know what these things mean.

    Hard to believe Nick has never explained what these terms mean to his family. And he blames us?

  127. 127
    darkmatter says:

    @Stuck:

    One side wanting to move into the future, the other, the past.

    I see three sides in this. One side wants to move forward into the future. One wants to go forward into the past. The third side would love to do nothing but tilt at windmills all day and nothing else.

  128. 128
    khead says:

    I AM confident. Welcome to America, 2011.

    Just wanted to add that I’m not worried here. I’m confident it won’t happen. See post #120

  129. 129
    chopper says:

    @123:

    it isn’t that the GOP is the weimar republic, rather republican government is. and what we have had in this country for some time is republican government.

    for the past 30 years we’ve gone between GOP and GOP-lite. obama has done more than anyone to move things the other way, but he’s not a liberal messiah and either way he’s working against powerful and strongly entrenched institutions. in many ways it’s too late anyways to stave off things coming down the pike.

    given the spectre of resource depletion and climate change, the drop-off is going to be wacky. i agree that since the GOP doesn’t have much in the way of a youth movement it isn’t going to be an automatic ticket to nazi-style fascism. but what comes out of the steaming pile is likely to be ugly, because we’re all going to be fighting over scraps for some time.

  130. 130
    Corner Stone says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Hard to believe Nick has never explained what these terms mean to his family. And he blames us?

    Well if Nick can’t do it then I don’t think anyone else should try. They might consider that condescending and coastally elitist.
    Sadly, another case in Nick’s life where “Nothing can be done!”

  131. 131
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Sadly, another case in Nick’s life where “Nothing can be done!”

    I don’t know how he can go on every day thinking that way. If it was me, I’d prolly kill myself.

    Oh. Nevermind.

  132. 132
    AAA Bonds says:

    @Splitting Image:

    The Hitler Youth were a far later development. The Nazis drew much of their initial support from iconoclastic college students and the paranoid and disaffected among the middle class, much like today’s libertarians.

  133. 133
    AAA Bonds says:

    @trollhattan:

    Christ.

  134. 134
    Mark S. says:

    Hey, if we can’t reach Nick’s family who haven’t voted Democratic since 1976, who on earth can we reach? We might as well write off blacks, Latinos, gays, Muslims, poor people and young people.

  135. 135
    chopper says:

    @132:

    as much as i’d argue that i don’t see libertarianism as having anywhere near enough influence in the US, anything could happen – remember, hitler’s rise to power was the end result of over a decade and a half of shit times in germany (yeah, 23-29 wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that great either from an economic standpoint).

    that’s why i worry so much – i don’t think america is that ready for fascism today, but if it’s still shit in 2020 then anything can happen.

  136. 136
    futzinfarb says:

    Hooptedoo has an official spelling?

    Alternative forms:
    whoop-dee-doo
    whoop de doo
    whoop dee doo

  137. 137
    Montysano says:

    Great post, Tom.

    There’s this, though: as blogger Driftglass pointed out in comments the other night: there is, in a strict sense, no Tea Party. There is no grassroots group who are going to take us back to some Constitutional Eden. It’s a Koch Brothers joint, pimping for all things corporate, supported by rubes who are acting against their own self interest. Say what you will about the Nazis, but at least it was an ethos (with fab costumes).

  138. 138
    Steeplejack says:

    @trollhattan:

    Man, that is some sad shit right there.

  139. 139
    Woodrowfan says:

    the right may not be open fascist, but they are authoritarians and to close to fascism for my comfort…

  140. 140
    SoINeedAName says:

    Is there a pool going on when Cole/BJ get over their hatred of Andrew Sullivan?
    Certainly not by day, week, month or even year. It’d have to be proportioned by FUCKING DECADES!
    Sully Sully Sully … get the FUCK over it!

  141. 141
    trollhattan says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Communist front…fascist nation. It’s almost like he doesn’t know what these things mean.

    Surely, Doughy Pantload can straighten him out on the distinction. Oh…wait.

  142. 142
    jprfrog says:

    As long as we are looking at Germany in the early 30’s, may I would take note of the role played by the Communists (coached by Stalin) who helped make the country ungovernable by attacking the middle from the Left. “Social fascists” was the term of art used to denigrate the struggling democratic (small d) parties and the fashionable slogan was “Nach Hitler, uns” — after Hitler, us. Riiight. And after 60 million dead or so, you got the “German Democratic Republic” put in place by the Red Army and run by the Stasi….some liberation! some democracy!

    Wasn’t one of the big reasons we now have certifiable maniacs in Congress that so many who thought that Obama was such a disappointment (after all, he couldn’t break a permanent Senate filibuster all by himself, nor give Joe Lieberman a brain transplant) that they stayed home instead of voting? And didn’t the leftier-than-thou Naderites give Florida and thus the rest of us to G W Bush in 2000? And how many think that Bachmann is preferable to Obama since a good dose of absurdity will wake “the people” up?

    Puh-leeze. Bachmann or Palin or Santorum or Governor Hair hearing the voice of God (how do they know it’s God?) and having access to the nuclear codes is a nightmare from which moving to Canada or Belize will not provide relief. What better way to speed the End of Days than to push the red button?

    To the rabid TP’s I don’t attempt to speak since I don’t even understand their language. But to my fellows on the left (where I have been all of my life, now on my 12th President) I paraphrase Oliver Cromwell: I beseech thee, my brothers, that thee might be mistaken!

    It’s not hyperbole to suggest that the fate of civilization (especially with climate change looming) is at risk.

  143. 143
    OzoneR says:

    Wasn’t one of the big reasons we now have certifiable maniacs in Congress that so many who thought that Obama was such a disappointment (after all, he couldn’t break a permanent Senate filibuster all by himself, nor give Joe Lieberman a brain transplant) that they stayed home instead of voting?

    No, turnout among Democrats was where it was in 2006, it was Republican turnout that was through the roof

    And didn’t the leftier-than-thou Naderites give Florida and thus the rest of us to G W Bush in 2000?

    This is true though. He gave Bush New Hampshire too, which would have made Florida moot.

  144. 144
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ jprfrog : The dissatisfied left deserves neither the credit nor the blame for 2010. The problem appears to have been that the groups whose turnout spiked in ’08 didn’t turn out in ’10 — in a pattern that corresponds rather well to the difference between Dem turnout in presidential years vs. in off-years. One logical conclusion is that those people may well care more about voting for Obama qua Obama than for Democrats or liberals.

    Of course, I guess that would mean that ’10 was the fault of… Obots? :P

    On the other hand, according to the prevailing theory, Obama now has to make sure he earns their support all over again. Thus putting Obots in the driver’s seat. Mwahahaha.

  145. 145
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Of course, I guess that would mean that ‘10 was the fault of… Obots?

    Firebagger!!

  146. 146
    Bill Murray says:

    And didn’t the leftier-than-thou Naderites give Florida and thus the rest of us to G W Bush in 2000?

    This is true though. He gave Bush New Hampshire too, which would have made Florida moot.

    This is not true, but certainly is received wisdom among the sensible centrists. The reasons Gore lost Florida are 1. Republican cheating, other Republican cheating and then some more Republican cheating followed by a heaping helping of Republican cheating. But keep living in your fantasy world that Nader was the problem.

    One of the major areas that brought the Weimar Republic down in favor of the Nazis was the stupid austerity program put in by Bruning.

  147. 147
    nastybrutishntall says:

    @ khead: BO_Bill has all that resentment on display. Study him. *Feel his hatred* of the Black President.

  148. 148
    OzoneR says:

    The reasons Gore lost Florida are 1. Republican cheating, other Republican cheating and then some more Republican cheating followed by a heaping helping of Republican cheating. But keep living in your fantasy world that Nader was the problem.

    And the reason for Bush’s plurality win in New Hampshire?

  149. 149
    Johnny Coelacanth says:

    @khead “I AM confident.”
    Cool. You _are_ confident. That’s totally an argument. With three words you have completely dismantled every opposing argument, including the one made by a guy who wrote a book about this period of German history. Indeed, such is your confidence that it allows you to be a fractious, insulting prick to people stupid enough to fear that, perhaps, our country is sliding into fascism. Thank you for sharing your confidence with the rest of us and I would like to say, on behalf of all of us, go fuck yourself.

  150. 150
    Sam carpenter says:

    My God. You people are sick. I am so sorry I stumbled upon this horrible, scary blog. Listen to yourselves and then seek help.

  151. 151
    bjacques says:

    @36Countme In:

    Chicken farmers don’t run the Republican Party. Melon farmers do.

  152. 152
    chopper says:

    @150:

    ooooh, scary! welcome to the internet, friend. here’s a broom to sweep the sand from your vagina.

  153. 153
    Chris says:

    For everyone’s consideration, a chapter of Paxton’s book “The Anatomy of Fascism.”

    What allows fascist movements to become meaningful political parties? It “depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies seem to condemn the nation to disorder, decline and humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner. Some fascist leaders, in their turn, are willing to reposition their movements in alliances with these frightened conservatives, a step that pays handsomely in political power, at the cost of disaffection among some of the earlier antibourgeois militants.”

    Sounds oddly familiar to me.

  154. 154
    Chris says:

    @ Mark S @ 112,

    The alone part I find interesting, because I assumed that level of stupidity was only to be found among neocons. But maybe I’m wrong about the foreign policy consensus, whom I imagined consisted of people who pretty much think exactly like Thomas Friedman. If they lean more to the neocon side, that’s pretty disturbing.

    I think most conservatives believe America is the only nation that CAN save, liberate and transform the world. Whether they want it to is another matter.

    Neocons had this big, messianic, practically colonial vision of how they were going to use American power to install democracy and capitalism in the Middle East. That didn’t pan out. So today’s conservative base seems to largely follow an attitude of “fuck the ungrateful world, cut their foreign aid, pull out of all international organizations, and don’t interact with them except to bomb them. That’ll learn ’em.”

  155. 155
    Chris says:

    @ RalfW @ 120,

    If things go horribly wrong here, it won’t be gay, black or brown people that are most at risk. It will be Muslims. The demagogery in NY over the mosque, the crap in Tennessee, etc.
    Not saying it will happen, not confident it can’t.

    This.

    I wasn’t too worried for them in the Bush years, but in recent times – Obama being “Muslim” being a centerpiece of the attacks against him, the psychotic backlash in things like Park51, the quick erosion of those Republicans who believe there’s a difference between al-Qaeda and Islam – I’ve gotten plenty worried. “Not saying it will happen, not confident it can’t” about sums it up.

  156. 156
    Chris says:

    @ lex @ 125,

    Indeed he was.

    I hate to pass up an opportunity to cry “right wing business conspiracy,” but there’s plenty of controversy over whether that either happened, or was just cocktail-party fantasizing. The thing about it that always seemed unbelievable to me was that Wall Street would dream up a coup hinging on Smedley Butler working for them. When anyone who’d ever opened a newspaper would know that Butler hated their weasely black guts.

    I suppose it’s possible that Butler heard about a coup brewing somehow, and falsely claimed that he’d been approached by the plotters in order to put a spotlight on them before they had a chance to get organized.

  157. 157
    vanya says:

    The Republicans of 2011 and the Nazis are still very different entities. Hitler channeled German frustration into agressive expansion. His main policy aim, alway, was colonizing Eastern Europe to the Urals. He really believed Germany needed to be a large US or Russia sized country to survive, and the best way to do that was to take over Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, kill or enslave the local populations and replace them with German colonists, while of course also killing all the Jews that he thought were trying to sabotage him. The one reassuring thing about Republicans is that aggressive overseas expansion and land appropriation is not a policy even wing-nuts really get behind. I think a more apt historical parallel is Spain in 1936 – we also have a weak somewhat left wing government that is not left wing enough for a lot of the left wing, but viewed as subversive and illegitimate by the right. The Republicans would love to get behind a Franco type – supported by the military, rural voters and conservative religious figures. That would mean the likely scenario for the US in the next 10 years might be some combination of outright military coup, civil war and/or collapse. Maybe some Chinese Hemingway even now is preparing to chronicle it.

  158. 158
    Michael says:

    I’m a Canadian and right now I’m feeling very Austrian. At this point my hope is that we are more Polish.

  159. 159
    Paul in KY says:

    Late to the party, but (IMO) the ‘Socia1ism’ in the National Socia1ist Worker’s Party was always mostly a marketing slogan. Full employment & a job for all adult males was to be handled by putting all unemployed in the military.

  160. 160
    AAA Bonds says:

    @jprfrog:

    Actually, the one thing MISSING from the equation here is a hard left in the United States.

    If you think FDL is in any way comparable to the Weimar KPD, man, oh man, do you need to do some reading.

  161. 161
    Barry says:

    General Stuck – July 21, 2011 | 7:20 pm · Link

    “I think there is near zero chance that entire America would become a fascist state, but it is entirely possible that at some point, certain states begin to rebel in small to larger ways administratively.”

    You ever notice how the extreme state sh*t is only done by right-wingers? I think that there’s a reason; the elites don’t mind that, but they get nervous when liberal state governors actually do liberal things.

    IMHO the minute that any state started doing sh*t to resist a fascist federal government, that federal government plus the MSM plus Money Boyz would act hard and fast.

  162. 162
    4jkb4ia says:

    This thread is putrefying, it’s so dead. Preparing for Shabbos will do that for you. But I think my intention was to split the difference. I gave what I thought was a difference between the USA and Weimar. But warnings about throwing sparks into things that are fundamentally anti-democratic if not genocidal are always timely.

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