“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” ~ Santayana. Events of the past several days and a few Twitter exchanges I’ve been on have me really thinking about this adage. The similarities of what is occurring in the world today compared to the 1930’s are eerie if not alarming. Actually it’s both.
Our country was reeling under a Great Depression brought on by governmental mismanagement of the economy by the Conservative wing of the Republican Party. They allowed corporations to run roughshod over the economy with no oversight. The country and world fell into the Great Depression due to fraudulent banking and investment deals & the bills coming due from this thing called “The Great War.”
Meanwhile in Europe, a country who suffered the worst economically due to losing that war and the bills and reparations dumped upon them responded by voting in a Nationalistic government that allowed corporate greed and militarism take control over the needs of the population. Germany came out of the depression faster than other European countries, but at a cost. They had a government that ruled with an iron hand, didn’t care for all of her people, placed corporate interests over those of living human beings, and had a growing military industrial complex with no place to go. Hitler was doing so well, Nazi Germany hosted the Olympics.
Meanwhile in the United States, we elected a Progressive President who did implement socialistic programs to get us out of the depression and place out of work Americans back to work. It was costly but it was working. At the time, conservatives leaders from the Republican Party and the corporate interests looked fondly to the strong decisive actions of Hitler and his Nazi party for not only raking in the profits and making international corporations rich (including ours) they saw him as an ally against Socialism, against Communism and they saw the Roosevelt Administration as Socialistic and/or Communistic.
In Germany the Nazis made use of something they knew full well worked, control of the media, and control of propaganda to grow nationalism. Truth didn’t matter, only the story line. They also took advantage of a truism of the history of mankind, nothing gains you support faster than a common enemy. They chose homosexuals, gypsies, communists and of course the Jews to build a consensus of support among the population. These groups were already despised. They also told the public how bad unions were, how corrupt the bankers were, and how the German people, the Aryan race was special, “exceptional” to those other countries and people. Germany was unified, stronger, expanding (on borrowed money mind you) but was also arrogant and angry at the world for what happened to them less than a generation before.
So Germany needed to use its military might. Where did they begin? Well there was Austria who welcomed them with open arms. Military moved in without a shot and it became part of the Reich.
Now what many forget about this act and the invasion of Poland was that there was another invasion. The country was Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland. This area of Czechoslovakia had ethnic Germans living in it. Also made up a huge portion of the entire country. Hitler moved in to protect the ethnic Germans from the Czechs who surrounded them. This set off warning bells throughout Europe and led to the worst act of appeasement in history. Neville Chamberlain in an attempt to appease Hitler met with him and other European leaders in Munich and came up with the Munich Accords that accepted Hitler’s claims of the ethnic Germans and gave the Sudetenland to Germany and gave them “Peace in our Time.” Of course several months later Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia, then invaded Poland on the pretense that the Poles started it and World War II began.
After the war began in Europe in 1939 there still was admiration of the Hitler Nazi Fascist regime by conservative politicians and corporate leaders in this country. Feelings were mixed; the only thing that united Americans at the time was the feeling that we would not involve ourselves into another European war. Also during this time, though the conservatives hated Roosevelt, (and some even looked at a military coup orchestrated in part by a businessman by the name of Prescott Bush, grandfather of W) they did not ridicule our president or his foreign policy in the media or radio. There was an old adage of the time, “politics ends at the water’s edge” and no one would go on record attacking our president in the manner and tone today’s conservatives are doing it. Then on December 7th, 1941 the Japanese did attack Pearl Harbor, we declared War on Japan and Germany and Italy declared War on us.
Being attacked and realizing we were in a World War worked to unite this nation. We had our common enemy, the government borrowed vast sums of moneys, raised bonds and taxed the wealthy to build the armaments and create the army and navy that won the War. It also sped up our recovery from the Depression and left us a World power, not only militarily, but economically. It occurred due to nationalism, standing behind our president and a hell of a lot of borrowing taxing and spending by the government.
For a more in-depth analysis of how Conservatives supported European Fascism in the 1930″s read this link. It is absolutely fascinating.
Now fast forward to what we face today:
Conservatives weakened the banking and corporate regulations put in place to correct the errors that led to the Great Depression. As a result of this and the tax cuts to the wealthy and massive borrowing to pay for two wars, we entered into the Great Recession. This led to another Democratic President taking office to try to correct the country’s economy.
Meanwhile in Russia, a KGB strong man had already been in control and took a country that was devastated economically due to government mismanagement of her economy and built back up their military machine. Putin also inspired national unity by telling the Russian people to blame the West for what happened to their “Soviet Empire” and the economic devastation it brought. He also found a group he could still focus Russian blame on, the homosexual community. He is a strong man dictator. He moved into Georgia despite complaints from the United States and Europe. He flexed his muscles and other than muted complaints coupled with conservative adulation, he got away with it. He was so successful, even with his open discrimination of the LGBT community; he was able to host the Winter Olympics.
Then Putin moves into the Crimea last week citing his need to protect ethnic Russians who lived there. This is where we are today.
However, there are some differences from now to what was going on back then.
Despite not liking President Roosevelt, the Republicans did work with him and didn’t block government efforts to get the country back to work to include borrowing money to pay for economic stimulus programs or taxing the wealthiest to pay down our accrued debt.
Despite not liking President Roosevelt, the Republicans didn’t publicly and angrily denounce his efforts of foreign policy while at the same time expressing adulation for a “strong man” who just invaded another country.
Unlike Germany in the 1930’s, Russia has and formidable nuclear strike force second only to our own. The Mutually Assured Destructions doctrine still applies.
Unlike Germany in the 1930’s, the biggest example of propaganda is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp i.e. FOX News.
The biggest end-run’s into Fascism in the world today comes from American Conservative groups and corporations i.e. Koch Industries and Charles and David Koch.
John Bolton, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, FOX news commentators, openly call our President weak while he tries to find ways to resolve this dilemma that if handled incorrectly could literally destroy all life on this planet. Did I mention that Putin is a strong man and he has nuclear weapons and a willingness to use them?
The rhetoric the rightwing is using is exactly what President Kennedy faced during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963; the only difference was it was in private. Publicly the entire nation stood behind our president who held the Hawks back, took the time to consult the best minds available, explore all the options and used diplomacy to avoid worldwide destruction. These are the things President Obama is doing right now that the right is ridiculing him for.
These are perilous times. This wouldn’t be a proxy war with the Soviet Union like we engaged in with them during the Cold War. This is Russia; this is NATO and the United States. If we act unilaterally and forcibly as the FOX talking heads and idiotic politicians playing to bigoted teabaggers want, we destroy the world.
Obama did not invade the Crimea; Putin did, as he did Georgia with no complaints against George Bush as the rightwing complains about President Obama today.
We have one president at a time, he is the embodiment of our national foreign policy, we are only assumed as being weak when we distance ourselves from his deliberation and resolve for the interests of our nation, her people and the peoples of the world.
Racism is not as important as the wellbeing of the United States. He is our president until his term is up. Everyone needs to stand behind him and help him navigate this country through this crisis without bloodshed and nuclear annihilation. We also need to stand behind him and the rest of the nation to get Americans working again, to expand our economy again, the care for all of our people again, despite race, creed, religion, sex or sexual orientation.
America is more important than Racism and Bigotry. You don’t get that, don’t call yourself an American.
You hate this country and her president, then like Snowden flee to Russia and spend time with Putin and what he has to offer. As the old saying goes that the conservatives brought up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. America, love it or leave it.
One final word, vote these idiots and bigots out in 2014. Lives do depend upon it.