Jan 17 2013
There is a worthy question in the air these days. It comes about because the extremists on all sides are going for broke and pushing everyone to the brink. Some have crudely hinted either the GOP or the Democrats are the second coming of Hitler and the Nazis. Is either side right?
I think a more appropriate analogy is we are awash in a sea of Neville Chamberlains, a well intentioned fool from the 1930’s that took a lead role in allowing hate and anger to spiral out of control world-wide through his complacency and retreat:
Chamberlain sought to conciliate [Nazi] Germany, and make it a partner in a stable Europe. He believed Germany could be satisfied by the restoration of some of her colonies and during the Rhineland crisis of March 1936, had stated that “if we were in sight of an all-round settlement the British government ought to consider the question [of restoration of colonies]“.
Sound familiar? Replace “Nazis” with “Islamo Fascists” and we get a disturbing parallel from the depths of modern history and today’s international dynamics. If we only appease, the killing will end!
One of the more famous quotes of human wisdom that reverberates as an undertone among all these wild accusations of Nazi Ghosts is this:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
I believe we are in danger of repeating a lot of hard lessons from the era of the Nazis (and other like political entities of the time), mainly because few us are operating with forethought and calm. On the domestic front, the President is giddy with his lame duck power, and the congressional GOP does seem to be in role of Neville Chamberlain. But on the international stage it is the President who is the too optimistic and too cavalier about events. Look at Libya, which is spiraling out of control because the fragile post-Qaddafi ‘government’ is not being supported over the long haul. This is evident by the way basic resources were pulled from even Embassy Security, leading to the assassination of our US Ambassador and his dedicated security team. That is the sign of a leader who moved on and did not finish the job he started. It is a sign of not thinking of or respecting the down side of his decisions.
So there are parallels to the time that brought humanity the Nazis, not just as simple and obvious as the crude cross charges being hurdled by small minds would imply. But they are there – and wise people should consider the lessons of history when dealing with today’s challenges.
For one, an attempt to disarm American citizens is similar to what happened in Germany between World War I and World War II. While it was not started by the Nazis, in the end gun control was aimed right at their political enemies and did pave the way to their brutal reign:
I’ve seen references to, and bumper stickers stating, that Hitler took all the guns away from law abiding Germans in 1936.
The talk.politics.guns FAQ (http://rkba.org/research/rkba.faq), which is pro-gun, includes a number of such false quotes in its “Pious Frauds” section and, to its credit, refutes them. The discussion there is based in large part on research done by Clayton Cramer for his book, Firing Back (currently out of print). Cramer is also a gun supporter, making his work in this area highly credible–and creditable.
I point this urban myth out to remind people to be accurate, because one of the tools of people like Hitler was propaganda and mob emotion. He used them to create conditions where good people turned very bad. The false claim about Hitler is sadly a testament to his methods, and should not be repeated now.
“The laws adopted by the Weimar Republic intended to disarm Nazis and Communists were sufficiently discretionary that the Nazis managed to use them against their enemies once they were in power.” In other words, they didn’t need to pass additional laws. The Nazis did pass a weapons law in 1938, but that only added restrictions to the previous law, especially for Jews and other “non-citizens.”
Gun control helped the Nazis keep weapons out of the hands of their enemies, but as Cramer notes, it wasn’t a major factor in Hitler’s success.
When the Nazis enacted their own law in 1938, they added restrictions aimed at Jews, such as not allowing Jews to work in any business involving guns. They also prohibited those under eighteen from buying guns, added yet another permit for handguns, and banned silencers and small hollow-point ammunition. Of course, Nazi officials were exempted from all gun permits.
So, gun control over the masses did play a role in dangerous and evil men taking over a powerful European nation and inflicting carnage world wide. Not identical to the claims, but those playing today with gun control in a heavy handed way are very likely to sow the same seeds that brought to the world to violence nearly 100 years ago. The best thing now is to drop the idea of disarming the masses. In this nation, it will not happen.
But gun control alone was not the spark that caused humane society to disappear from Europe for over a decade of bloody violence. It was economic hardship and the ability of the Nazis to make the leaders of their own society (i.e., the successful and rich) the enemies of the citizenry they had helped through their individual drive and creativity that led to their success:
In 1929, the American Stock Exchange collapsed, and caused an economic depression [Economic depression: The slowing of economic activity, which usually results in high unemployment, a sharp drop in prices and a fall in production]. America called in all its foreign loans, which destroyed Weimar Germany. Unemployment in Germany rose to 6 million.
The government did not know what to do. In July 1930 Chancellor Brüning cut government expenditure, wages and unemployment pay – the worst thing to do during a depression. He could not get the Reichstag to agree to his actions, so President Hindenburg used Article 48 to pass the measures by decree.
Again, we see the parallels but not an identical match. Today, the President and his Party in the Senate want to do away with foundational elements of our society and economy. The want unlimited spending (which means unlimited taxation). They want control over the medical services element of our economy. These endeavors are going to cause broad economic pain and suffering on Main Street America without doing a thing for the economy. Thus we get the ludicrous statement unemployment grows the economy (via unemployment payments), which would mean high unemployment should cause an increase in economic activity.
Which even most morons know is not the case. But in DC we have a special class of moron apparently.
Anyway, the lesson of history must continue, and we also should note that abrupt removal of the safety net from the masses is NOT a good idea. Which leaves us to deal with spending, which will impact those in government and suckling from the US Treasury (present company included). But that is not a broad impact, but an isolated one. One which could be absorbed if done over time.
Anger and bitterness helped the Nazis to gain more support.
Many workers turned to communism, but this frightened wealthy businessmen, so they financed Hitler’s campaigns.
And here we have the conundrum of Wall Street playing the role of enabler to the Democrats and their dangerously dumb ideas. It was the real estate and mortgage businesses that allowed the removal of checks on people’s ability to pay their mortgage, that in turn led to the Great Recession as masses of unprepared home owners defaulted. It has been the Green Energy theorists who have been bankrolled to the tune of many billions of dollars more than ever goes to oil and gas companies, but who have left bankruptcy and the bill from their ignorance on the US Tax Payer. It was the medical insurance companies that caved on Obamacare. And it is other America super companies who to this day are given passes to Obamacare, etc. Exempted from the damage being wrought.
The masses are angry, and the elites are circling the wagons. The elite are willing to play with deadly fire to hold onto their power. And that is the parallel we should be monitoring.
I see a pattern here. We are not at the point, economically, where things have to explode. But two things are not in our favor.
One: those who remember the brutality, carnage and human suffering caused by the mistakes of the 1930’s are very few now. Much of this period in time is romanticized (e.g., Indiana Jones movies), with which comes removal of the painful and disturbing details the lesson requires.
Two: Today we are used to a much higher standard of living. And that removes us from the world of the average citizen of planet Earth. So it seems like a lot is being taken away or threatened. Sadly, this means the fear – which turns to anger, which can be exploited – is out there now.
Side note: I read a great post over at Watts Up With That comparing the poorest American household with true poverty in the world. It is worth a read. Because those who over react under such conditions as we see today (either from over-hype or wimpy capitulation) do not employ the necessary core values and determination required to get through this. We can (and will) resist the efforts of the Democrats to play around with the foundations of this country and its constitution. But that resistance has many legal paths available before people lose their heads and violence erupts.
We living in interesting and dangerous times. We need a bulwark of sanity in Congress to literally stop all the legislative nonsense that has occurred (i.e., no federal budgets out of the dysfunctional US Senate) and is planned (no debt limit). We need to say ‘no further’, and do so with quiet and firm determination.
The question is – will we rise to the challenge, or will we look for quick, tumultuous and possibly violent solutions? Or worse, will we fold like a cheap lawn chair?