Godwin’s Law should force us to remember & fear our shared heritage with Nazi Germany

Summary: American discussions often end in references to Hitler or Nazis. That’s usually seen as an oddity or fun fact, when in fact it warns us of deep aspects of American society that have roots in 1930s Germany — and that still shape our future. We prefer amnesia to confronting this. Perhaps events in the next four years will remind us of this heritage, and its dangers. (A version of this was posted in 2013.)

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 100%.
Godwin’s Law, formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990.

1936 German poster
1936 German poster.

Godwin formulated his Law as a description of an oddity of internet discussions. Since then it’s become normative — a behavior to be condemned or mocked. In fact it is a reflection of so many aspects of modern American society with roots in 1930s Germany. That should not surprise us. Germany played a central role in western religion, philosophy, and science. Which adds another disturbing note — its people so quickly fell into evil. If it happened to them, might it happen to us as well?

These matters are too disturbing to contemplate, so we suppress them. But we can do so only imperfectly, so these insights surface anyway. Hence Godwin’s Law.

What are the roots of Nazi Germany in our America? They were the first nation to break through from traditional modes of western society into modernity, which produced an amazing number of innovations. The list of Nazi breakthroughs we have copied is long; here is a sample.

  • Eisenhower built our autobahn (interstate highways), for the same reasons the Third Reich did. We drive compact cars derived from Volkswagens, the people’s car ordered by Hitler in 1934.
  • Our military uses technology developed by the Nazis. Some examples are wire-guided missiles (one of which hit the battleship  HMS Warspite in 1943), infra-red night vision systems, ballistic and cruise missiles, jets, and rocket-propelled aircraft.
  • We use military tactics pioneered by the Nazis, such as our maneuver war methods (descended from their WWI stormtroopers and WWII blitzkrieg) and strategic bombing of civilians.
  • The Nazis normalized both pre-marital sex (a benefit of Hitler Youth membership) and out-of-wedlock childbirth.
  • The Nazi’s ran the first anti-smoking campaign (30 years before the US did), funded research about the effects of smoking, and in 1941 banned smoking in public places.
  • Nazi Germany was the first nation to aggressively implement feminism. By 1939 a larger fraction of German’s women worked for pay than in any European nation except France. The Nazi trade union, the Arbeitsfront, was proud of raising women’s wages to those of men in many industries. “Five years of Nazi rule in some ways did more for professional women than a decade of feminist pressure in the Weimar Republic” (from Feminist Movement in Germany).
  • Perhaps their greatest long-term influence: the Nazi party introduced modern propaganda techniques, which became the basis for political tools used in WWII, the Cold War — and today.
  • We wear Hugo Boss suits, for the same reason as the SS did (the Nazi’s contribution to fashion might be one of their long-term contributions to the world). We wear Adidas footwear, as did the Wehrmacht.

In so many things Hitler was not wrong, just early. Some of these innovations we applaud; some we prefer not to see. Some we see in our future.

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America’s unspeakable problem: African-American’s crime rates

Summary: The most difficult problems for a society are those that we cannot bring ourselves to discuss. For America, that’s the high crime rate of African-Americans. We either ignore it or respond with police and prisons, different ways to close our eyes. We have tried both “solutions”; both have failed. At some point we have to begin dealing with our problems, or they will accumulate and gang up on us.

“Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State’s failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.”
— From H. G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia (1905).

The unspeakable problem.

Youth in jail by race and gender
From the Child Trend’s DataBank.

Breitbart is not the kind of news service I rely on, but occasionally even a blind squirrel finds a nut, as in this Nov 2015 story by Jerome Hudson: “5 Devastating Facts About Black-on-Black Crime“.

“In 2012, white males were 38% of the population and committed 4,582 murders. That same year, black males were just 6.6% of the population but committed a staggering 5,531 murders. In other words: black people -– at just a fifth of the size — committed almost 1,000 more murders than their white counterparts.

“The figures above highlight a horrific truth that black racialists and white liberals routinely ignore: Lawbreaking black Americans, young black males particularly, put themselves in close proximity to (mostly white male) police officers at rates sometimes five to 10 times higher than whites.

“…There have been almost as many deaths in one American city as there have been in the two major wars carried out by the U.S. military this century. Chicago’s death toll from 2001November, 26 2015 stands at 7,401. The combined total deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2015: 4,815) and Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan (2001-2015: 3,506), total 8,321.”

See more disturbing evidence at “Guns and race: The different worlds of black and white Americans” by Richard V. Reeves and Sarah Holmes of Brookings, December 2015. The bottom line…

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Audi’s Superbowl advert reminds us that class is boss in America

Summary: This brilliant analysis of Audi’s advertisement in the Superbowl reminds us that class is the unspeakable but dominant force in American society. Black men don’t have “male privilege” while rotting in prison from unjust convictions for rape. White coal miners don’t have “white privilege” while coughing their lives away with Black Lung. Neither Left nor Right want you to know this. Popular media is our mirror, revealing these truths that we cannot directly face.  {Second of two posts today.}

“It’s all about power and the unassailable might of money.”
— The great 21st century industrialist E. P. Arnold Royalton, in Speed Racer (2008).

Heroine of the Audi Superbowl advertisement

The Real Message Behind Audi’s Super Bowl Ad Isn’t Exactly An Uplifting One

Opening of an article by Jack Baruth at The Truth About Cars.

“The Internet is in the proverbial tizzy about Audi’s “feminist” Super Bowl advertisement, in which the automaker comes out in favor of equal pay for women.

“At first blush, the spot seems to be nothing but the usual corporate slacktivism, a feel-good fluff-vertorial making a “brave stand” in support of an issue that was decided long ago. I’m reminded of Joaquin Phoenix’s brilliant portrayal of Commodus in Gladiator, arriving in full armor as soon as he can do so without any risk. “Father, have I missed the battle?” Well, Audi, you’ve missed the war; if there’s a place in the United States where women are actually paid significantly less for doing the same job as men, it’s not evident from what I’m reading.

“After watching the one-minute advertisement carefully, however, I understood feminism, or equal pay, is the last thing Audi wants you to take away from it. The message is far subtler, and more powerful, than the dull recitation of the pseudo-progressive catechism droning on in the background. This spot is visual — and as you’ll see below, you can’t understand it until you watch it and see what it’s really telling you.

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America is mainlining fascism. It won’t end well for us.

Summary: Mainlining fascism – and heroin – have become fashionable in America. Trump has given little evidence of being a fascist, but his campaign has emboldened them. The Right’s extremists were expelled from mainstream conservatism in the early 1960’s. Let’s hope they come to their senses and do so again — or that the rest of us stand together to resist this infection.

America goes from freedom to fascism

Fascism is an endemic disease in the west since its origin in the late 19th century. There are warning signs of a revival in America. On the right, racism, white nationalism, and fascism have become respectable. For example, turn to Chateau Heartiste is a popular Men’s Rights and Pick Up Artists blog run by James C. Weidmann (aka Roissy; see RationalWiki). In the past year he’s gone big into White Nationalism. More recently, he’s become proto-fascist — as shown in yesterday’s post. While you read listen for the echos of history.

A White Hot Fire Rises.”

“There are signs of volcanic life surfacing in long dormant White America. A White hot fire rises. Recently, I saw once such sign, a very small sign, but magnificently portentous because it was an act of pro-White rebellion committed deep in the heart of a decadent anti-White shitlibopolis; the nature of the act was one that I had not encountered before in the wilds of any SWPLville.

“A handful of posters promoting an anti-Trump protest march were taped to traffic light poles and other utility boxes near an outdoor cafe. As I watched with growing interest, five corn-fed and bearded White men wearing working class clothes and ear-to-ear shitlib-eating grins strode purposefully from one poster to the next, tearing them down and (respectfully) walking to a nearby garbage can to throw them out. As they performed their valuable public service, an effete, stoop-shouldered white manlet snarled at them from across the street. Even at twenty paces I could see the manlet’s curled lip quivering with menopausal rage.

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A picture of America, showing a path to political reform

Summary: As we start a New Year and end this series about resolutions, here is a summary of American politics as I see them. It points the way to reform and a better future, if we are willing to pay the price.

American Power

 

Time has disproved most of Marx’s economics, but it has validated much of his sociology. As income inequality has returned to the peak of the Gilded Age (and still rising), the class structure has returned.

Marx’s schema of the classes accurately described 19th century society, but George Orwell gave us a model of a class structure that better fits modern America. There is the bourgeois, the top few percent who own most of America (the 1% own over a third; the top 3% over half). There is the inner party, the highly paid senior leaders of our political, non-profit, and business institutions. There is the outer party of managers, small business-people, and professionals. There are the proles, America’s workers, and the underclass.

Our elites

The bourgeois and inner party are America’s insiders. They have a common interest in preserving the political and social systems that have given them so much, so most are conservative in the literal meaning of the term. They might like to tinker on a small scale, shifting America to the Left or Right — but not radical change. They have leisure time, autonomy, security, and agency (the ability to influence events), which gives them a perspective on the world radically different than that of the lower classes (everybody else).

People in the upper classes prefer to marry within their class, just they in Pride and Prejudice. The professional and managerial classes call it “associative mating“. The rich marry each other; they call it “good sense”. That is why Elizabeth Bennet could not marry Mr. Darcy (nor could your daughter). Like their Gilded Age forbearers, they live on a scale almost unimaginable to the lower orders. Bill Gates’ palace is 6,000 sq ft larger than Hearst Castle.

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Resolve to begin the reform of America in 2017!

Summary: Make 2017 a big year in American history, the year its engines of reform roared into action. Here are some suggestions about ways you can help.

“Nietzsche said the newspaper had replaced the prayer in the life of the modern bourgeois, meaning that the busy, the cheap, the ephemeral, had usurped all that remained of the eternal in his daily life.”
— Allan Bloom in Closing of the American Mind (1988).

During the past decade I’ve written over 300 articles describing the tide of propaganda rising over America, now called “fake news” (links to some of the best appear at the end of the post). But the attention to the issue is misdirection in both senses.

Whining about our elites’ lies misrepresents the guilty parties. We consume information as entertainment (watching rather than acting), and have become gullible (more interested in entertaining stories that flatter our beliefs than their accuracy). The combination makes us weak. Of course our elites exploit this. It’s the Great Circle of Life at work. We will be prey so long as we are weak. Our leaders treat us like dogs because we are like dogs. We are the weak link in America.

When we again become skeptical of what we’re told, when again we organize, when we again become strong — then our leaders again will respect us. Here are some easy first steps you can do in 2017.

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A New Year’s resolution for America

We begin 2017 as a nation governed by fear. Campaign 2016 proved this, as both candidates appealed primarily to our fears. I believe we have become fearful because we have forgotten who we are. American is different, like Athens more than our neighbors, as explained in this excerpt from Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind (it should be at the top of your reading list):

“For the ancients the soul of the city was the regime, the arrangements of and participation in offices, deliberation about the just and the common good, choices about war and peace, the making of laws.  Rational choice on the part of citizens who were statesmen was understood to be the center of its regime.  …Pericles {in his Funeral Oration, as given by Thucydides} says nothing about the gods, or the poetry, history, sculpture or philosophy of which we think.  He praises Athens’ regime and finds beauty in its political achievement…”

This is even more true of America than Athens. We are not famous for our philosophy, art, or culture. Our contributions to history have been political — from the Declaration of Independence and the preamble of the Constitution (“We the people…”) to the magnanimous settlement of WWII and creation of the United Nations.

The Americans who sat through the long hours of the Lincoln-Douglas debates understood this. The mad festival of Campaign 2016 showed how we have abandoned this tradition, as we were yet again forced to choose between bad and worse.  To see where this leads, read Christian Meier’s biography Caesar.  He describes how the Roman people grew tired of governing themselves, finding the burden too great to bear.  Inevitably, strong men came forward to take this load from them.  People who will not govern themselves have no right to complain about the decisions of the elites who rule them.

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