June 13, 2009

Quotes of the day

"How did it happen that you look at people that are Nazis and you say that those are right wing? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever!"
Faux News' Glenn Beck


"I do not make Hitler analogies lightly; nor would I compare Barack Obama with Adolf Hitler, the greatest mass murderer of all time. BUT the dramatic changes that took place in Germany in the 1930s and America today ARE analogous; in fact it’s happening even quicker here."

Well, there was the Limbaugh/Cheney Night of the Long Knives.


Rick Esenberg said...

Overweening government, centralized planning, hostility toward religion, sacralization of politics, euthanasia, abortion (for non-Aryans), an almost religious environmentalism, public health mandates. Sounds like the GOP platform to me.

illusory tenant said...

I don't know anyone who's claiming that the Nazis were as far to the right as today's Republican Party.

But seriously:

Myth: Hitler was a leftist.

Ordinary Jill said...

If fascism is a left-wing ideology, then why was its opposition in Italy and Spain made up of communist partisans?

Clutch said...

Overweening government,

Check. In ur bedrooms! In ur uterus! And on ur phone lines!

hostility toward religion,

lol @ "cherry-picking". You know how complex a topic this is w.r.t. Nazism. All that can be said with confidence is that the Nazis cynically used religious rhetoric a very great deal. And on that measure... Check.

sacralization of politics

Only by metaphorical license a characteristic of Nazism, but, yes, Check. Non-metaphorically a great big checkmark next to the American Right over the past 50 years. Rampantly. Christian nation; Under God; (How can one raise moral children if one doesn't teach them religion in public schools? Sound famiilar?); Faith-based everything, publicly funded; Ten Commandments everywhere from the schoolhouse to the outhouse, if only those lib'ral judges would get outen the way...

So, only derivatively and arguably Nazi, but certainly GOP politics as usual.


This is, what? A defining characteristic of Nazism, or of -- leftism? What? I sense in the background here an inexpressibly stupid conflation between patient rights to die with dignity (a personal freedom opposed by overweening Republican Big Government; but of course neither facts nor the norms of consistency will slow your list), and forced euthanasia as practiced by Nazis; otherwise, what could possibly be the point of raising this? In any case, this is hardly something central to any particular political ideology. The Nazis also invaded Poland; is it also a major point of difference in your books that the GOP has not recently advocated this? I mean, what other multiple endpoints reasoning do you have for us?

abortion (for non-Aryans)

Asked and answered, I guess.

an almost religious environmentalism

lol @ fluffer 4 Jonah Goldberg

Seriously -- environmentalism as a differential characteristic of Nazism? Is there anything too stupid?

public health mandates

Nazis were obsessed with social "hygiene" of many sorts, the moral sort blending seamlessly with the physical sort. The dimensions of comparison here are very many, making any claims of similarity or difference highly suspect for multiple endpoints fallacies. I won't say "Check" on the similarity, but I do call bullshit on the claim of obvious difference.

Sounds like the GOP platform to me.

Inasmuch as you actually identify features of Nazism, yes, it does to an extent. But only to an extent.

illusory tenant said...

"If fascism is a left-wing ideology, then why was its opposition in Italy and Spain made up of communist partisans?"

And why were Hitler's initial targets of repression communists, socialists, and social democrats?

Anonymous said...

I know he's not as smart and accomplished as Jonah Goldberg. But just for the helluva it give Umberto Eco's yardstick a try.

illusory tenant said...

Link's broak.

illusory tenant said...

There, fixed.

Anonymous said...

Second try.

illusory tenant said...

By the way, Hitler persecuted atheists and "freethinkers" as well. But I hear godlessness is a prominent feature of the American Left these days.

Rick Esenberg said...


Once again I am struck by the commitment and visceral reaction to any suggestion that one might have to rethink the ways in which one marginalizes one's opponents. This Clutch guy, whoever he is, seems particularly threatened by the idea that one can't charge conservatives with inciting violence (see his comments on my blog) or place them on some type of continuum with Nazis.

One can pick and choose among National Socialist policies and then claim that it is a movement of the left or the right. One can also point to discontinuities with those terms that make such claims problematic.

Do I think euthanasia is a defining characteristic of the left? No. But if you are against physician assisted suicide (in part because you believe it will lead to euthanasia), I guess you are probably uncomfortable with huge parts of the Nazi agenda.

The sacralization of politics is not tantamount to religious symbols in public or faith based provision of social services, but to the idea that the state can make the world anew. That may or may not involve religion.

Is environmentalism a "differential characteristic" (whatever that means) of Nazism? Nazism involved a strong commitment to German folklore and a pagan (as opposed to a Christian)love of nature. A cpmmitment to Blut and Boden (blood and soil)made them pretty green. This doesn't mean that environmentalists are Nazis. It does mean that National Socialism was marked by a perspective toward the environment that is hard to reconcile with much of modern conservatism.

Nazis did try to co-opt religion, but there hostility toward it was clear. Hitler said you cannot be a good Christian and a good German. As you could not be.

The tired old line that conservatives are in your uterus and on your phone line doesn't bear examination. Opposition to abortion is not tantamount to exercising control over someone's body. It is a recognition that what one does with one's body has consequences. The dispute we had over the constitutional rights of non-US citizens outside the United States was a serious one about which reasonable people differed but Clutch can rest assurred that no one was listening to his phone calls.

Why did Hitler go after Communists? Because they were rivals. Why did he kill Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Because he was a threat.

If we can cherry pick aspects of National Socialism that, in the view of some, suggest a connection with the right. Why not cherry pick those that seem like aspects of the left?

Was Nazism a movement of the left? I think it was a form of socialism but that's as far as I'd go. It would be a mistake to think that it is on some continuum with what we call the right and left in America today.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the important takeaways from Eco is that fascism is a form of religion. When fascists do manage to fashion a political program, it's eclectic and internally contradictory because political ideology is secondary.

Fascism tends to be associated with the right because it fosters a reactionary mythos. But it's also a revolutionary ethos bent on reshaping the word to fit a mythic tradition. One could hardly call Burke or Hayek fascists. But there are definitely elements of the American right that exhibit the tendencies outlined by Eco, just as there are Marxist and Maoist elements on the left. IMHO the latter are far more marginalized than the former, but YMMV.

On a superficial level - i.e., Jonah Goldberg - there are numerous similarities between fascist and leftist totalitarian regimes. And if you're murdered by either one, the differences are academic.

But they do stem from very different sources. Conflating them is intellectually reckless and does great disservice to our understanding of both the past and present.

Clutch said...

This Clutch guy, whoever he is, seems particularly threatened by the idea that one can't charge conservatives with inciting violence (see his comments on my blog)....

Indeed, do see my comments on his blog.

Then come back and read this quote again. I can't promise enlightenment, but entertainment it will be.

Rick Esenberg said...

There are some interesting things in Eco's essay but it hardly constitutes a "yardstick" consisting, as he admits, of contradictory criteria. Nor, it seems to me, does it point to much that I recognize as "conservative"
in the context of American politics or that effectively distinguishes it from totalitarian regimes that everyone would concede are on the left.

To say that it is both reactionary and revolutionary is to say nothing. Of course, the Nazis invoked elements of the German past, but to say that they sought to restore anything is just wrong. The mythos that they sought to foster was just as constructed and radical as that fostered by the Communists.

Anonymous said...

"it hardly constitutes a "yardstick" consisting, as he admits, of contradictory criteria"

What? His doesn't "admit" his criteria are contradictory. He says fascists hold contradictory beliefs.

"to say that they sought to restore anything is just wrong"

No shit. They sought to restore - and extend - a tradition of an ancient "Ayran" culture and purity that never existed outside of Wagner's operas. Augustus Caesar similarly used mythos to establish legitimacy, connecting his lineage via Virgil to Aeneas and back to Jupiter himself. And factions on the American right have similar fanciful folk narratives of this country's history, with and without the endemic racism.

Communists' teleological, Hegelian interpretation of history is "mythic" in the colloquial sense that it's also bullshit. But it isn't a mythos.

Dad29 said...

The most significant difference between Communism and Hitler's Naziism is precisely 'the gods.'

Hitler had them, albeit mythological.

The Commies are explicitly atheist.

illusory tenant said...

Mythological gods. What other kind is there?

Rick Esenberg said...

Communists' teleological, Hegelian interpretation of history is "mythic" in the colloquial sense that it's also bullshit. But it isn't a mythos.

Depends on how you define the term, no? It seems to me that it is a narrative that confers legitimacy and seeks to explain the nature of the world.

Anonymous said...

People, grow up. There are elements of Hitler's Socialism that everyone believes in as well as many elements that specific groups on the left or right believe in principle.

None of those beliefs by left, right, Bush, or Obama are putting us in any danger of the US repeating any of the horrors Hitler executed, so what is your point?

A Governmental policy of beliefs as broad as the Hitler plan, obviously would need to have overlaps of beliefs with many different groups, it was a national government policy. To compare pro or anti-euthanasia or abortion beliefs of the US people of today to Hitler from either side is just plain stupid. Wait, no... ridiculously stupid.

Hitler was fine with non-aryans dying in pretty much any fashion and he wanted all Aryans alive to join his party. I am pretty sure the right to life people want everyone to live and the pro-choice people want every woman to be able to make their own choice.

To twist either of today's movements (or even want to)to 'parallel' Hitler's beliefs shows such a callous disregard for the beliefs and opinions of others that everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves, though publishing their beliefs likely already shows them incapable of such.

Every one of these 'parallels' is either a twist or simply an agreement with a non-evil portion of Hitler's policies from both sides.

Enough with the Hitler comparisons.