CHOMSKY USA 2010 = WEIMAR QUOTE
The Glenn Beck sideshow before a large, anxious, and unsuspecting crowd on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Saturday, August 28, which is the anniversary date of MLK's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, has been compared by some to the early rallies of the Nazi party in Germany. A commentator named "Bluetoe2" pointed out in a FDL post written by Jeff Kaye about Glenn Beck's rally that, "Many in Germany thought the man that became the future Fuhrer was a joke and never took him seriously until it was too late." I understand this sentiment, it shows a lack of historical judgment to view Beck as just another loud-mouth TV clown, but it's also a misunderstanding of history to think that what happened in Germany in the 1930s will happen in America. It won't require a Hitler for America to slide into despotism. But, nonetheless, Beck is a malign influence in American politics. As Jeff Kaye writes; "Glenn Beck is one dangerous demagogue. He should not be underestimated."
Beck has successfully hijacked the Tea Party movement that began in Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign, and he is profiting tremendously from the breakdown of citizen trust in government leaders, and institutions. His moronic disinformation campaign is beyond belief. In this audio clip from his radio show he bashes Robert Greenwald's Brave New Foundation, the ACLU, Van Jones, Barack Obama, and connects them all together in one conspiratorial puzzle as though he's making a thoughtful, and coherent point about the covert "liberal" takeover of American society. The fact that this man could get thousands of people to join him in a rally in Washington is a truly unnerving development.
Along with the rise of corporate whores and right-wing demagogues like Beck, and Sarah Palin, there is a large-scale economic meltdown occurring in America. The crisis is so big that some economists like Marc Faber have said that there is a high possibility of a Weimar-style collapse in America. I don't know how factual his statement is, but it's worth considering because others have made similar predictions in the past few years. Noam Chomsky also compared Weimar Germany to present-day America in a conversation with Chris Hedges in April:
"It is very similar to late Weimar Germany," Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. "The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over."
"The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen," Chomsky went on. "Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says "I have got an answer, we have an enemy'? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don't think all this is very far away."
Luckily, Glenn Beck is neither honest or charismatic. But that doesn't mean he's not powerful, he is providing a platform for more capable and star-quality leaders who will use his viewers for political gain. Plus, sincerity has never been a feature of Fox News, so it's unlikely that Beck's brainwashed idiots will see through his made-up public persona anytime soon.
It's not surprising that Beck's rally would reignite concerns of a fascist/Christian right-wing takeover. But I believe these fears are being exaggerated by some democratic strategists, and partisan liberals.
I highly doubt that a Hitler will rise amidst the ashes of a ruined American economy principally because of America's unique history, and its brave people. America's revolutionary and enlightened founders that gave birth to an idealistic country at the height of the Enlightenment are significantly better than Germany's early militaristic leaders who formed an aggressive nation that was surrounded by competing European powers. Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Washington have served as great models for generations of American political leaders. Compare them with Germany's Frederick the Great and Bismarck, who were the leadership influences of Hitler. Such a difference in political leadership between the two countries should not be overlooked. America has continually produced visionary and independent-minded leaders, from Lincoln to JFK.
Also, America's value of individualism, and self-reliance, as well as its democratic traditions, are the complete opposite of Germany's dependence on authoritarian leaders in periods of crises. Gordon A. Craig, a historian of German history, writes in his book, "The Germans" that German history is stamped with absolute obedience towards strong authority:
It is not too much to talk of a progressive bureaucratization of Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and a concomitant growth among the inhabitants of the German states of habits of deference toward authority that seemed excessive to foreign observers. These last may have had ancient roots--it was a medieval pope who called Germany the terra obedientiae--but there is little doubt that they were encouraged by the traumatic effects of the war. The daily presence of death, the constant Angst of which Gryphius speaks in his poems, made the survivors willing to submit to any authority that seemed strong enough to prevent a recurrence of those terrors, (Craig, The Germans, pg. 22).
When the German people experienced social and economic trauma in the 1920's and 1930s, Hitler won over the people by reminding them of how Germany dealt with past crises, and by touting Germany's cultural and racial supremacy. In the context of German history, Hitler's appearance was an understandable phenomenon. But an American Hitler would be an anomaly.
The majority of the American people wouldn't tolerate a raging dictator because they're less less authoritarian-minded than the people of Germany were in the early 20th century. They're also less warlike. Most Americans didn't want America to get involved in the "European war" in 1914, and they were also against America participating in World War II until the attack on Pearl Harbor that the FDR administration allowed to happen, so America has never been a war-mad nation. Americans see the idea of conquering other lands with total disgust, which is why the country's imperial establishment has to speak of "fighting for democracy and freedom" while it currently seeks to gain control of Central Asia.
And if martial law is ever declared in America, it will be more forcefully resisted than it was in Germany because the idea of civilian leaders taking orders from the military is considered perversely anti-American, and it is opposed most forcefully by military leaders, and military veterans, who all took an oath to the constitution of the United States rather than one single man.
Another point to keep in mind is that the main theme that runs through American history is not American exceptionalism or American supremacy, however much it is declared by its arrogant elite, but universalism, and the brotherhood of man. When Germany entered its conquering period, it conquered to spread the "spirit" of Germany throughout Europe, and for more land to be filled with future generations of the Reich. But when America conquers in the Middle East, it conquers for "democracy" and "freedom," which are universal values. The American people had to get tricked and deceived into fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. American leaders that didn't go around triumphing America's supremacy, instead, they paid lip service to America's gift of democracy to the Iraqi people. We should not treat this use of rhetoric lightly. It explains a lot. The neocons and political elite know how much the American people despise aggressive war, and would not stand for a war if America was viewed as the principal instigator.
Even with its ugly arrogance, and record of horrendous crimes, America is still the greatest country ever invented by the minds of men. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are documents that will be read hundreds, and thousands of years from now. Like the words of the Greek, and Roman statesmen, the words of America's founding fathers will be studied by future students, and forever cherished by true statesmen.
An American Hitler is unlikely, but I do have fears about explosive violence in America and other Western countries, as do many other people who see the same disturbing signs. But we can avert social unrest if all members of society become more self-sufficient, start to critically engage with their local governments, and build ties within their community. Depending on centralized authority to save us is a lethal hope. As we saw during Katrina, and other social crises around the world, the police are primarily skilled at killing people, and stripping their freedoms when the normal laws of civilized society break down. They can't provide security, shelter, or food for helpless people in any situation. More than anything, they become a burden on individuals in periods of social unrest, and crises. A healthy distrust of government could save America from either a technocratic, or a right-wing dictatorship; from either a Hitlerian or a Stalinist system of control.
Truth Excavator is an independent blogger and a full-time university student, currently living in Toronto, Canada.Stumble It!