Thursday, October 11, 2012

Libertarian Vs. Christian

A brilliant expose of the problems with the libertarian solution to the American social and economic crisis.

Photo by Kowloonese, via Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Nazis...I Hate These Guys."

Nazis. Nobody likes them. They have to be one of the most hated, reviled, condemned groups on the planet. The takeover of Europe and parts of Russia and Africa by brutal attack, the horrifying mass extermination of the Jews, the extreme authoritarian iron rule of millions of people, and the terror brought down upon the rest of the world have created history's worst possible nightmare group of people. No wonder they are so universally upheld as the benchmark of evil. In short, as an Indiana Jones would say in echoing the world's sentiments: "Nazis... I hate these guys."

Because of this widespread derision and hatred, to be called a Nazi has become a shorthand label of politicians and journalists to aid in the obliteration of the opposition party. Or rather in particular, it has become a favorite mainly of Democrats and their hangers-on in the United States. This election cycle has seen some particularly egregious examples of this reckless name-calling.

So let's explore this name-calling a bit.

Its most direct effect, I would think, is the same effect that shouting "racism" ad nauseam has had in this same presidential race. The words "racism" and "racist" have had their true ugly meanings drained away in the rush to demonize the other side faster than they can demonize you. So to with Nazism. As Larry Elder says in the aforementioned article, "By calling political opponents 'fascists' because of policy disagreements, Democrats trivialize a regime responsible for exterminating 6 million Jews in a war that resulted in the deaths of over 50 million people." "Nazi" becomes equivalent to simply "anyone who disagrees with us," just as the word "racist" becomes an equivalent to "anyone who says otherwise than us."

But I might point out that there is more going on here than simple trivialization. There is also over-simplification and hypocrisy.

It might be instructive to look at who the Nazis really were. The caricature that the modern American draws of Nazis is usually just as silly and stupid as the caricature drawn of them during World War Two by the Allies. The Nazis were real people, with real ideas, with a real effect on history and a real heritage from earlier history. They were not some purely evil force from hell unleashed upon the world in a vacuum. They emerged in a historical context and were, I might add, in large part embraced by the German people as a political and social step forward.

The Nazis were a German political party that really came into their own after the effects of the American stock market crash reverberated around the world,  helping to destabilize Germany's economy for the second time in a decade. Germany was suffering under the crushing load of war reparations imposed upon her by the victorious powers, embarrassed by an emasculated military, and plagued by political instability caused in large part by a strange power vacuum left by the First World War and the subsequent regime change. The time in Germany was ripe for a strong leader to seize the opportunity, and a man named Adolf Hitler did just that. 

Hitler and his party, the National Socialist party (or Nazi, as it was abbreviated), came to power between 1932 and 1933, promising a renewed Germany with a renewed military and most importantly, a renewed sense of purpose. The Nazis came to power in the midst of an economic and social crisis of which they made sure to took full advantage. Certain groups (communists, Jews, and Catholics being examples) were suppressed and harassed for their beliefs or ethnicity. Whole industries were placed under state supervision or outright control. Political power was consolidated, centralized.

War became the new normal for Germany's new regime. Breaking promises, lying to other powers, invading other nations without sufficient reason, imposing harsh regulations, stymieing travel and transport also became the norm. Killing campaigns commenced, in an effort to rid the world of inconvenient or imperfect social groups. And all this in the name of the new ideology. Nazism was a worldview, a cult. Its leaders were dedicated to its survival and perpetuation, and carried out their work with efficiency and brutality.

So I come back to the question of American politicians accusing one another of being Nazis, and I must make a series of blunt observations, the first of which is this: If Democratic politicians were the least bit self-reflective, and I think some of them are, then they would realize that in practice their own party platform embraces many of the things that they accuse Republicans of believing. In other words, many things that are perennial favorites of the Democratic Party were things the Nazis espoused .

One would be the use of a crisis in order to enact government-empowering legislation against the citizenry. I can hold up numerous examples of mass shootings being used as political fodder for anti-gun lobbyists, bank failures and economic collapse as an excuse to take over various industries (most notably the Dodd-Frank legislation, the Auto Industry "bailout," and Obamacare), and intimidation of various groups for opposing said legislation (e.g. the HHS contraception and abortion mandate targeted against the Catholic Church, the media harassment of the Tea Party.) Also, I could note here the disinterest of the Obama administration in prosecuting groups like the New Black Panthers, who exist to harass and intimidate especially at voting places. Lastly, but certainly not least, I could mention not only that the Democratic Party has always been the friend of legalized and permissive abortion, but that they have now officially enshrined it in their party platform. Yes, the extermination of a particular social group, the unborn and somehow unfit to live, is now on the Democratic Party agenda.

And all this in the name of "progress."

However, this observation should not be understood apart from my second observation, which is that if Republican politicians were also the least bit self-reflective, which some of them must be, then they would also realize that in practice their policies and attitudes also reflect some favorites of the Nazi Party as well. They are far from innocent on this front.

I could mention the insatiable appetite for war among many Republican politicians and presidents, cleverly wrapped in the tenuous guise of patriotism and idealism.  Under Republican leadership, American interference and intervention in two major countries in the Middle East has cost thousands of lives on both sides and earned us the hatred of many in the overseas Muslim community. The Republican blank-check approach of support to Israel has kept relations between the Israelis and the rest of the Middle East frosty at best, leaving Israel in a perpetual state of war of defense against her neighbors. Republicans are constantly clamoring for intervention in states like Libya as well, a country which has very little to do with anything connected to America except for oil.

Let's not forget the associated evil of torture here, which is widely accepted as an effective technique of questioning amongst Republican lawmakers but disguised under cutesy politically-correct terms like 'enhanced interrogation,' plus laws like the Patriot Act which seek to invade the privacy of American citizens for the sake of supposed protection.

I could also mention the rampant nationalism present in so many a Republican speech concerning the state of our economy and the perception of our nation in the eyes of the world. How often have Republican politicians looked down on the rest of the world as being beneath America, simply because other nations do not necessarily hold dear the same values we do, or follow the same constitutional system? We are told that America is the "greatest nation in the history of the world." Why? And does this give us the excuse to trample the rest of the world when it does not bend to our whims? 

Add the Republican obsession with big business and you have a decent picture of the problem. Somehow, conservative Republican lawmakers believe that big government could not possibly be good, while at the same time proposing that big business could not possibly be bad. Big government bureaucracy = bad, big business bureaucracy = perfectly fine. Dependence on government for one's livelihood is evil, depending on big business for one's livelihood is good. In other words, it is fine to be dictated to, just not by the usual suspects.

All of these policies and attitudes are posited by each side as coming from deeply felt philosophical or moral sources. They are policies and attitudes based on ideals that do not necessarily have their grounding in truth.

American government, at the moment anyways, tends almost inevitably either Republican or Democrat. In such a divided system, compromise is usually the key, and yet compromise has led so many times to the worst of both ideological worlds. Am I calling either side Nazi? No. But I am calling on them to look at what these positions accomplish in the end. As of this moment, we have both legalized abortion and unnecessary foreign wars, overly-centralized government and  excessive dependence on both government and business. Democratic and Republican ideas, both enshrined in law and policy side by side.

It would seem that by its own moral inertia, our country is sliding its way to a situation similar to Hitler's Germany. While America will probably never find or elect such a powerful crusader for the kind of violence and hatred that Adolf Hitler enflamed, America by compromise between two such lacking ideologies and between competing groups of power-hungry politicians, has created its own lukewarm version of the same.