Posts Tagged ‘Adolf Hitler’

Tyranny, Trump and Timothy Snyder

June 26, 2017

Timothy Snyder, a historian of the Hitler-Stalin era, has written an eloquent and heartfelt little book—On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Centurywarning that democracy could perish in the United States of today just as it did in Europe in the 1930s.

Just as no couple making love for the last time ever realize it is the last time, he wrote, so no person voting in a free election for the last time realizes it is the last time.

On Tyranny contains 20 timeless principles for defenders of democracy.    The principles are illustrated by ominous stories of how the mass of people failed to resist Nazi and Communist tyranny and inspirational stories of how a few did.

Then come claims that Vladimir Putin is like Hitler and Stalin and that Donald Trump is like all three, and a call to be ready to resist.

Snyder has done well to remind Americans of the fundamental principles of democracy and the need to defend them.

But the need for the reminder didn’t originate with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  As Glenn Greenwald, Conor Friedersdorf and others have warned, these dangers have existed since enactment of the USA Patriot Act in 2001, and before.

During the Bush and Obama administrations, the government has claimed the power to engage in acts of war, order assassinations, spy on citizens, and bypass due process of law and also to imprison anyone who reveals what is going on.  Until this changes, every President is a potential tyrant, not just Donald Trump.

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Donald Trump as the latest Hitler

January 2, 2017

For years, I’ve been listening to warnings of the threats of new Hitlers.

Back in the 1950s, Joe McCarthy supposedly was equivalent to Hitler.   Then George Wallace.   Richard Nixon.   Dick Cheney.  Now Donald Trump is the latest Hitler equivalent.

trump-hitler-2016-02-27-1456595899-9124929-trumphitler-thumbThe problem is that Donald Trump can refute his enemies by simply not behaving like Hitler.

He can run an administration that is more corrupt than the Harding or Grant administrations.  He can be the enemy of organized labor, civil rights, civil liberties and women’s rights.  He can destroy the social safety net.  He can make the government more plutocratic and militaristic than it already is.

But as long as he does not embark on genocide or world conquest, he meets the standard of not being equivalent to Hitler.

I don’t see night-and-day differences between Donald Trump and the mainstream of the Republican Party on most issues.  On some few but important issues, such as relations with Russia or pro-corporate trade treaties, I think Trump is better than either the Democratic or Republican established leadership.

If you’re a liberal or progressive activist, there are better uses of your time that reading up on the Weimar Republic or making checklists of the characteristics of fascism.

Telling people that Trump is equivalent to Hitler makes it easy for Trump because (1) it’s unconvincing and (2) it shifts the focus to historical parallels and away from Trump himself.

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The Jewish scene: November 6, 2015

November 6, 2015

These links are from my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack and his friend Marty.

THE Most Amazing Falafel Assembly OF ALL TIME    🙂

The Soldier Who Voluntarily Became A Prisoner in Auschwitz

[Not about Jews, but an interesting story nevertheless -M]
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/10/soldier-voluntarily-became-imprisoned-auschwitz/

Hitler & the Muslims

[2 books reviewed from ‘The NY Review of Books’ -M]
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/apr/02/hitler-and-muslims/

She gives me partridges – Domineering, drunk, anti-Semitic: The composer Alma Mahler sought relationships with Jewish men.  She wanted to “improve” them
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n21/bee-wilson/she-gives-me-partridges

Preaching to the converted: how Kabbalah keeps on growing
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/26/kabbalah-religion-marcus-weston-madonna

This Day in History: October 30, 1944 – Margo and Anne

[The last days of the Frank sisters -M]
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/10/this-day-in-history-october-30th-margo-and-anne/

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The passing scene – October 8, 2015

October 8, 2015

5 Ways Donald Trump Perfectly Mirrors Hitler’s Rise to Power by Adam Tod Brown for Cracked.com.   Yes, I know, I wrote a post a few weeks ago ridiculing those who compare American presidential candidates to Hitler.

I don’t think Donald Trump is a murderous political fanatic.  I think he is a sleazy promoter.  Even so, I think this article brings out some worrisome, if highly speculative, implications of Trump’s ideas

A Short History of U.S. Bombing of Civilian Facilities by Jon Schwartz for The Intercept.  Speaking of Hitler analogies, I don’t think the U.S. government is equivalent to the Nazi regime, but I can remember a time when I and most other Americans believed that bombing hospitals was something that only Nazis and fascists would do.

Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Is a Global Crisis.  Why Are We Doing So Little to Fight It? by Douglas Foster for The Nation.

Why Hitler is the benchmark for evil

September 14, 2015

Comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis are thrown about freely these days.  Compulsory vaccination, the Tea Party movement, President Obama, Planned Parenthood and Donald Trump have all been compared to Hitler and the Nazis.

People who talk like that have forgotten, or maybe never knew, just what Hitler and the Nazis stood for and what they attempted to do.

Over the weekend, I read an article about Hitler by the historian Timothy Snyder and an interview with Snyder about his new book, Black Earth, which made clear just how distinctively evil Hitler was.

adolf-hitlerHitler was a racist who believed, literally, that Germans had no more in common with inferior races such as the Slavs than they did with animals.

He thought Germans had a right and duty to kill off members of inferior races to reduce their population and make room for Germans, and to treat the survivors as work animals.

The slaughter of World War Two and the death camps were only a foretaste of what would have happened if the Nazis had won.

As Snyder wrote, Hitler thought that, literally, nothing mattered but the biological struggle for survival between different races.   There are racists, like Harper Lee’s fictional Atticus Finch, who believe that some races are inherently superior, but that the superior race should treat inferiors with justice and kindness provided they “know their place”.

Hitler would have none of this.  He thought kindness toward the weak was a fatal weakness in the struggle for existence.  He saw the world as overpopulated, and believed Germans could create living space for themselves only by slaughtering the inhabitants of eastern Europe and taking their land..

Nations and governments were of little importance in Hitler’s mind.   Ultimate reality for him was the racial struggle for existence.

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What if Vladimir Putin was a nice guy?

February 26, 2015

The fundamental fallacy which is committed by almost everyone is this: “A and B hate each other, therefore one is good and the other is bad.”
        ==Bertrand Russell

Keith Gessen, an analyst of Russian politics, says Vladimir Putin is definitely not a nice guy.  He also says that, even if he were, his goals and policies wouldn’t be that much different from what they are.

Russia will, one hopes, eventually change its leadership, but it is not going to be able to change its geographic location, or its historic associations, or its longstanding wish to keep the West—which hasn’t always crossed the border bearing flowers—at bay.  And that holds many lessons for the future.

Let me be clear: The actual Putin is not at all nice.  To take just a few examples:

140801173429-exp-gps-0803-take-00030629-horizontal-gallery1) between 1999 and 2002 he prosecuted a vicious war in Chechnya, complete with rape, torture, filtration camps and mass graves;

2) in 2003, he jailed his leading rival, the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and, when the initial sentence was almost up, extended it;

3) in 2000-01, shortly after assuming the presidency, he oversaw a government takeover of the country’s main independent television channels, chasing their owners into exile;

4) over time he has enriched his friends to an astonishing degree, such that many of the leading billionaires in Russia owe their riches directly to their proximity to Putin;

5) it is becoming increasingly the consensus view that the September 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk [attributed to Chechen terrorists] were the work of the secret services, and it is hard to imagine that Putin, as the prime minister of Russia and, until just a month before, the head of the FSB, would not have known about them;

6) in his third term he has unleashed the worst aspects of Russian street politics, mobilizing anti-Western, anti-gay and anti-liberal resentment to shore up his domestic popularity; and

7) in 2004, supposedly as an anti-terror measure after the terrible seizure of a school in Beslan by Chechen fighters, he canceled elections for regional governors, replacing them with appointees.

via Keith Gessen – POLITICO magazine.

His indictment could also have included the murder of journalists, such as Anna Politkovskaya.

But, as Gessen pointed out, any Russian leader—and certainly any of Putin’s rivals—would have been a Russian nationalist who would have tried to restore Russia to the status of a superpower, who would have cracked down on internal opposition and who, given the experience of Russia and the USSR in the 20th century, would have resisted the expansion of Western military power to Russia’s borders.

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Putin couldn’t be a Hitler if he tried

February 16, 2015

In 1938, a ruthless autocrat named Adolf Hitler claimed to be protector of the Sudetenland, a border region of Czechoslovakia, in order to protect ethnic Germans who lived there.

In 2015, a ruthless autocrat named Vladimir Putin claims to be protector of the eastern border region of Ukraine in order to protect the ethnic Russians there.

putin.as.czarIs Putin another Hitler?  Would his next step be to conquer all Ukraine, as Hitler conquered all Czechoslovakia?  Would Poland be next, as it was for Hitler?

I don’t believe these are Putin’s intentions.  Everything he has done so far is consistent with his stated goal, which is for the world’s great powers to accept Russia as a peer and to take Russia’s vital interests into account.

But, for the sake of argument, suppose Putin’s aim is to reconquer eastern Europe or even all of Europe.  How could he carry it out?

The old Soviet Union was unable to pacify Afghanistan, and had to retreat in ignominious defeat.  Putin’s Russian Federation was barely able to crush the rebellion in tiny Chechnya.  How could he hope to conquer a nation as large as Ukraine?

Germany in Hitler’s time had world-class science, technology and industrial power, an efficient government and possibly the best army, man-for-man, in the world.

The Russian Federation is ruled by a corrupt oligarchy.  It lacks high-technology industry.  Its economy is based on exports of natural resources, like Venezuela’s or Iran’s.  The military potential of Putin’s Russia is not comparable to Hitler’s Germany

Russians would no doubt fight valiantly to protect their homeland, if invaded, as they always have.  They have succeeded in protecting their compatriots in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, where most of the local people welcome them.   The Russian army could probably occupy Kiev as quickly as the U.S. army occupied Baghdad.

But then what?  The USA was able to quickly occupy Baghdad in 2003, but then became bogged down in a quagmire more.   A Russian conquest of Ukraine would be an even bigger quagmire.   The result would be a devastated Ukraine and a Russia that had been bled dry.

The Russian Federation has the power to destroy the USA with nuclear weapons, just as our government has the power to destroy them.  What neither country has the power to do is to defeat a determined insurgent force being armed by the other side.

Vladimir Putin is too intelligent and realistic to put Russia into such a situation situation.  I think that what he wants is a neutral and, if necessary, a neutralized Ukraine—to have enough of a foothold in that country, as in Georgia and Moldova, to prevent that country from allying itself to a hostile foreign power.

If that is his desire, I think it is completely reasonable—certainly not something for the USA to risk nuclear war over.

LINKS

What does Russia want? by James Meek for the London Review of Books.

Russian science is amazing.  So why hasn’t it taken over the world?, an interview of MIT’s Loren Graham for the Boston Globe.

Has the IMF Annexed Ukraine?, an interview of Michael Hudon for the Real News Network.  Ukraine faces other worse threats than Putin.

Don’t Arm Ukraine by John J. Mearsheimer for The New York Times.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey).