Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: When the right-wing elite turned fascist

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When the right-wing elite turned fascist

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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#Hitler #Weimar #Conservatives

Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

When the right-wing elite turned fascist

An interesting thing happened in Germany between World War I and World War II. A major industrial nation weakened, conservatives embraced public austerity, and the citizens embraced extremist authoritarian politicians to save them from their problems. Instead, citizens lost control of their government, pulling a whole new set of problems down upon themselves.

This could be just an interesting bit of history if not for the fact that something very similar has been happening in America over the last few decades. Self-seeking private interests are overwhelming public-minded civic servants. Let’s explore these related political dynamics. The same tragedy is not inevitable for us, especially if we take notice and choose to follow a different path.

Germany responded to depression by enforcing austerity, dismissing many public servants, and cutting the wages and benefits of others. The result was that unemployment increased even further and general
family well-being suffered in a reinforced spiral of decline. The proposed Ryan Budget is a GOP austerity plan that would similarly-disable our economy.

The German Weimar Republic gradually turned away from democracy and increased the governmental influence of its business elite. Authoritarian politicians gradually acquired greater power and control. Today, American corporations have been given broad privileges to lobby law-makers and to make enormous anonymous contributions to election campaigns. At the same time, an insidiously-coordinated campaign of new State voter ID laws are systematically disenfranchising targeted groups of American citizens.

Conservative German politicians, reaching for greater power, eventually embraced extremist groups to gain additional support. For instance, Franz von Papen was certain he could manage Hitler and the Nazi Party. The combination subverted democratic participation in government and further-widened growing economic class distinctions. Today, another kind of extremist party is flexing its muscles. 

The American “Tea Party” also has strong conservative, anti-public, anti-union, and racist elements.
The right-wing German National People’s Party was supported by favorable press from large newspaper conglomerates and by large industrial corporations such as Krupp. In the United States, we have Rupert Murdoch’s media empire (Including Fox News and The Wall Street Journal), and tepid non-confrontational reporting by other news networks beholden to their advertisers.

Here, financial elites including Charles and David Koch fund a wide range of conservative organizations. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) combines nearly 2,000 Republican legislators with 300 major corporations and related “private foundations.” ALEC develops policies, model laws, and programs that favor business interests over government regulation and individual “liberty” over civil liberties.

To me, the irony is for conservative right-wing groups to publically agitate about “big government” and its effect on common citizens while acting as the pawns of “big business” to privatize public services and plunder the working class. For a group that emphasizes individual rights and self-interest, it’s odd for them to be working so hard against their own interests. It just ain’t right.