We who live in the post-World War II period possess an immensely valuable symbol, even if we don't understand it or use it effectively: the example of Nazi Germany.
We've been conditioned to see Germany under Hitler as an unquestionably horrible example of dictatorial tyranny and inhuman barbarity--and to see our present American culture as completely opposite to that of Nazi Germany. And we like to think that if a tyranny such as that in Germany under the Nazi regime were present and growing in America we'd unquestionably be able to see it.
So it's a shock when we realize: most people living in Nazi Germany didn't see the tyranny! They thought it was the best time of their lives!
How could Germans living under Hitler's National Socialism not have seen what it was? How did their lack of social and personal awareness make them blind to their reality?
Milton Mayer's book, They Thought They Were Free, concerns Germans still living after World War II who had been members of the Nazi Party. Mayer came to know them and studied their lives and attitudes.
"As we know Nazism, it was a naked, total tyranny which degraded its adherents and enslaved its opponents and adherents alike; terrorism and terror in daily life, private and public; brute personal and mob injustice at every level of association . . .
"These nine ordinary Germans [who lived in Nazi Germany] knew it otherwise, and they still know it otherwise.
"An autocracy? [they say] Yes, of course . . . But a tyranny, as you Americans use the term? Nonsense."
How could Americans now possibly be living under a creeping dictatorship and not know it? And how could we not only not see a police state condition but actually think we're living in complete freedom?
Because most of us don't WANT to know what's going on. We've lost the ability to think critically about political, economic, and social dangers confronting us.
If we have a job--as most people did in Nazi Germany--if the political-economic system seems stable--as it does in America--then that's all we want to know.
To the Germans in Mayer's study, each occasion of Nazi violence was worse than the last, but only a little worse. So they waited for the one shocking event, thinking that they would join with others if or when it happened. But as the violence escalated, no one rose up to condemn the concentration camps and general oppression. No one wanted to act alone, and when a mass uprising failed to occur, the common people just let events take their course. They progressively lost the ability to understand the horror of Nazism and the will to oppose it.
"When [modern man] is completely infantile ... he does not need and does not have an understanding of the outer world. It exists for him merely as gratification or denial."
Walter Lippmann (1889-1973)
Similarly, we don't see the growing fascism in America and the world because we don't want to see it and because it happens somewhat gradually, which makes it almost imperceptible to those who don't think critically. Everything in your society--Nazi Germany or twenty-first century America--seems so ordinary.
The Progressive Loss of Freedom in the United States
- The American people lost the right to elect their president when the U.S. Supreme Court commited a coup d'etat by approving the stealing of the presidency by George W. Bush--in spite of major media companies paying milions to contrive a "recount" which they falsely claim proves Bush won the election.
- The 11/14/01 announcement that any person designated as a terrorist by the President is to be placed under the control of the Secretary of Defense and not allowed the aid of US or foreign courts--a giant-step in our march toward a total police state
- Persons are being held in American prisons without being allowed to contact their attorney
- The consultations between persons in American prisons and their attorneys are being monitored by "justice" officials
- Men, women, and children can be murdered without compunction--as at Ruby Ridge and Waco--and the person ultimately responsible for these "police-state" atrocities will be promoted to become the head of the agency guilty of these crimes.
- Persons convicted of crimes are being appointed to critical positions in the Obama administration
As 1930s Germans and twenty-first century Americans wait, believing things won't get any worse--it's finally too late. The imperceptible changes have totally transformed you and your society into a totalitarian state. Self-deception has infected almost everyone.
One of the Germans in Mayer's study was only shocked into awareness when he heard his little boy say "Jew swine" and he suddenly realized that his whole society had degenerated into racism, leader-worship, violence, and depravity. By 1939, when Hitler had consolidated his power, most Germans citizens were incapable of recognizing their society's corruption, so few spoke out. Even fewer opposed the totalitarian nightmare.
By learning from the German Nazi tragedy, we can see--in twenty-first century America--that we could easily wait too long. For example, we must look at the interesting similarity of Hitler's use of the Reichstag Fire to seize dictatorial powers and Bush's use of the September 11 terrorist attack as his excuse to move us to a police state where Bush--and now Obama--can simply "declare" that a foreigner is a terrorist and that person's rights become non-existent.
Without any necessity of presenting evidence, the president can now brand a non-US-citizen--OR A US CITIZEN--a "terrorist" and the suspect is brought before a secret military tribunal where the rules of evidence and prisoner rights are drastically attenuated.
Hitler was able to brand anyone he considered an enemy and see that that person was summarily executed. How long will it be before cabal-puppet Obama begins to brand as "terrorist" any US citizen who disagrees with him?
The fact that ivy league university professors and other supposedly intelligent persons think Bush's seizure of such police-state powers is okay, and the civilian and military cover-up of torture in American prisons in Iraq and Cuba, proves that the fascist mentality is rampant in our society.
In the United States and the world today, we still can stop this escalating descent into total tyranny. We can learn to face up to the political, economic, and social oppression that is rampant; learn to think critically about what our leaders are doing, and join together 1 to safeguard and re-establish our freedoms. But we must not delay, we cannot simply do nothing or we'll be plunged into the same terror that destroyed Nazi Germany.
Pastor Niemoller, a German clergyman under the Nazi regime, later confessed that when the Nazis attacked opposing groups such as the Communists, he was a little uneasy. But, he said, after all, he was not a communist, so he did nothing. When the Nazis began to attack the Jews he was even more uneasy, but he still did nothing. Then they attacked the Church, and because he was a clergyman he tried to do something, but it was too late.
We in the modern world are in exactly the same situation as the German people in the early days of Nazi totalitarianism. Daily, staring us in the face, is the unmistakable evidence of brutality, economic oppression, fear-ridden conformity, pleasure-deadened mindlessness, ignorant know-it-allness, and unashamed hatred of the "different," the "unpopular," the momentary devil-enemy.
But people totally blinded by their pursuit of pleasure or engrossed in destroying some enemy (the anti-abortionists killing their enemies, U.S. leaders killing Iraqi babies through embargoes to get even with Sadaam Hussein) don't see the crises in the modern world.
The general intellectual incompetence of Americans at present leads directly to a blindness to our current catastrophic situation. Without the learned ability to make decisive distinctions, people cannot discriminate between, for example, "economic downturn" and depression, or between "change of leaders through free elections" and coup d'etat through monied interests buying and selling presidents and congresspersons. Our minds are so undeveloped that we lack the capacity to discriminate between the essentials and the changing, superficial forms.
"There couldn't be a police state in the U.S.," says Joe American, "because we don't see men in uniforms with swastikas on their armbands goose-stepping down our streets! "
"We can't be losing our freedoms," says Jane American, because I didn't see anything about it in the New York Times and Tom Brokaw said nothing about it on the evening news."
We like to delude ourselves that the 1930s German citizen was some special case. 2 But Nazism didn't arise because a few maniacs somehow got into power and did something unique to the German people's minds. Those myths have been exploded once and for all by our more recent understanding that those same tactics have been used and are being used to enslave the minds of people in many different societies.
"'Fascism' is only the organized political expression of the structure of the average man's character, a structure that is confined neither to certain races or nations nor to certain parties, but is general and international. . . 'Fascism' is the basic emotional attitude of the suppressed man of our authoritarian machine civilization and its mechanistic-mystical conception of life."
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism
So our present "enemy" is not only the capitalist cabal that's seized political and economic power in the US, but also our own conditioned lack of progressive awareness, our love of ease, our unwillingness to dispel our social and moral delusions, our headlong rush into the mindless attitude that "everything is okay."
Even though our society faces a truly alarming situation, people find ways to ignore the peril. One way to do this is to assume that such an episode as the 1930s-1940s Nazi terror is no longer a threat. But we have a number of horrible examples of what happens TODAY to a society when its people fail to develop progressive awareness abilities, the most ghastly perhaps being that of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Ever since this indefensible horror, few Americans have had the ability to ask the critical questions:
- What was the cause of the September 11th attacks?
- Is there a hidden agenda in the war on Afghanistan?
- Is the cabal setting up a police state?
Thus we return to the absolute necessity to learn how to think critically. And perhaps now we can begin to see why it is essential to our very existence. Progressive awareness is no longer an intellectual option for the few; it is a necessary tool for discovering what kind of people we have allowed ourselves to become.
Through self-study and change we must find out just what in us makes it possible for a new, more sophisticated "Nazism" to now be taking control, a more insidious brand of fascism, undetected because the blatant symbols and familiar catchphrases are indiscernible to our undeveloped minds.
We either learn to use progressive awareness now, or we can passively watch while the new, disguised gas-chambers and death squads are prepared for us.
Are You a War Criminal?
You could, sometime in the future, be put on trial for FAILING to fight against the crimes against humanity that the Bush administration is now perpetrating! You certainly are complicit in the Bush administration's destruction of constitutional freedoms if you fail to speak out against:
- Their refusal of due process and habeaus corpus to foreign detainees in Cuba and the U.S.
- Their allowing the CIA, the FBI, and other intelligence agencies to spy on American citizens (tapping phone lines, seizing property based on trumped-up charges, monitoring internet usage, and on and on)
- Their deliberate, unabashed destruction of workers' rights and welfare in acting for big-money interests (e.g. Enron, Halliburton, agribusinesses, Afghan pipeline) in every arena
- Their lying about not having been informed prior to 9/11 about Arab men training in American Flight schools and planning to hijack large airliners
- Their use of their own failure to act on the warnings they had received to justify grabbing even more power, at the expense of our civil liberties, by deceiving Congress and the American people
In a democracy such as ours in America, it's the responsibility of citizens to inform themselves and to struggle against any encroachment of constitutional liberties. If some people are too unintelligent or morally deficient to see the tyrannous acts of the Bush administration, if some people are too cowardly to stand against those acts, it's still your individual responsibility as an American citizen to uphold the principles of democracy on which this nation is founded.
One of the most effective ways of feeling this is to view the 1961 Academy Award-winning film, "Judgment at Nuremberg," and consider how you could, in the future, be considered as one of three classes of war criminals depicted in the film:
- Nazi villains such as Goering (though not depicted in this movie, the Nuremberg tribunals included Goering's trial and conviction as a war criminal)
- Ordinary criminals such as the German judges who took advantage of the Nazi tyranny to feather their own nests
- Germans who prided themselves on upholding the nation's principles, such as Emil Janning, former German secretary of justice (portrayed in the movie by Burt Lancaster) and the widow of a convicted German general executed for ordering the murder of American POWs (portrayed by Marlene Dietrich). These kinds of people were shocked when they found that the world held them responsible for what had happened in Nazi Germany.
Abby Mann's brilliant screenplay "Judgment at Nuremberg" drives home several crucial points that we cannot afford to overlook:
- We're responsible for being aware of of what's going on in our society; we can't plead ignorance. In the movie, the defense attorney argued strenuously that all those who supported or tolerated Nazis were guilty, not just those individuals then being tried.
The cabal--including the Bush administration--have been involved in war crimes in Afghanistan and is complicit in encouraging Israel's war crimes against the Palestinian people (just as the Arab states are encouraging Palestinian terrorists to commit war crimes in their suicide bombings).
- We must make sure we're aware of what kind of criminal trampling of our constitution and war crimes our government officials may be involving us in.
- American leaders (especially the Bush family), Britain (open letter to the "Times" by Winston Churchill in 1938 praising the strength of Hitler), the Vatican (corcordat with the Nazis), and others were all complicit in creating the Nazi horror, as the defense attorney in the movie pointed out.
- We cannot legitimately try to excuse ourselves with catch-phrases such as:
- "My country right or wrong"
- "I'm only following orders"
- "We don't make the laws, we merely carry them out"
- "I'm only agreeing with the ideas of our leaders"
- "If I'm critical of my country's leaders, I'm a traitor"
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says he's too busy to answer a subpoena ordering him to appear before a Paris judge investigating crimes by the Kissinger-backed Pinochet regime in Chile.
Former President Bush and other United States leaders committed war crimes against Iraq (during and following the Gulf War) and Yugoslavia (in the invasion of Kosovo) and are still under indictment with the International War Crimes Tribunal.
It's possible that American leaders at any level could at some time in the future be brought before an international war crimes tribunal for those criminal acts. None of the excuses above (the catch-phrases) would be allowed as mitigating circumstances. In the movie, the defense attorney argued in support of mitigation the fact that all German judges during the Nazi regime were forced to swear to the Civil Sevant Loyalty Oath of 1934.
Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and now the Obama administration are trying to frighten Americans by telling us that we are traitors if we criticize their actions. On the contrary, they are traitors to the American practice of democracy in trying to suppress honest citizens' thought and dissent. It's possible the tables may be turned, as in post-World War II Germany: the leaders who forced obedience to criminal acts may be put on trial for crimes against humanity!
"Imagine if you can a world in which truth is one general and something we will call blindness is the opposing general. These two simple factors one must choose between. There are no neutrals. We are frankly for or against and hold our positions by the force of the effort we put forth. The great struggle is not only to conquer our opposing forces, but to reclaim and form them into fighters for the truth."
Stewart Edward White
You are not so much struggling against the capitalist cabal or any other form of tyranny as you are fighting for the inalienable democratic principles which make this nation free:
- The individual does not receive government and authority from a deity who gives his secular sword to princes and magistrates to rule by his divine right.
- The individual does not have a subordinate place in a divinely inspired hierarchy, in which kings, nobelmen, political leaders, and corporate executives are placed above him as 'your highness.'
- Government is voluntarily established by free individuals through a willful act of contract, individuals rationally consenting to limit their own freedom and to obey civil authority in order to have public protection of their natural rights.
- Government's purpose is to serve the interests of the people, to enable individuals to enjoy peacefully their rights to life, liberty, and property.
We're facing a life-or-death crisis with the capitalist cabal's attack on our constitutional rights. On May 30, 2002, using their own incompetence as an excuse, they gave the F.B.I. totalitarian state powers to spy on Americans through the passage of the unconstitutional "Patriot Act."
We Americans must immediately wake up to the dangers facing us, begin taking back our country from the leaders who are misusing their power, and begin to build cooperative commonwealth communities to create a government for and of the people--the working class.
1 "Building a Unified Activist Citizen Taskforce"
2 Molly Harrower (1976). "Were Hitler's Henchman Mad?", Psychology Today, July, pp. 76-80. Also see the review by Richard L. Rubenstein in the same issue of Psychology Today of the book, The Nuremberg Mind.