Nazi Germany was built in part on fantasy propaganda, of an idillic Europe of kings, knights, glory and honour. They turned a grimy bloody history that makes Game of Thrones look glamorous into a Disney fantasy. They rewrote history in order to give meaning and righteousness to their terrible regime.
Along with the imagery created to invoke that past was the dark side of National Socialism. Like all inflexible ideologies it had to resort to violence to achieve its aims – because, of course, not everyone agrees with your ideology, no matter how good it sounds to you. When you’re an ideologue and you insist people must accept your way or the highway, then by any means necessary starts to sound justifiable.
Immediately after WWII, West Germans and their new friends and allies, Western Europe and the USA, conspired to re-write history once again. The spectre of Nazi Germany was obliterated, buildings demolished, had they survived the war, … and, statues toppled. All was good, and West Germany rose to become a civilised western democracy.
Beware! Fascistic Anti-Fascists
In the 1960s West Germany the new generations started to question their nation’s history, and the roles their parents played in it. Naming and shaming – doxxing today – and divisions among families seemed to be necessary. But it didn’t stop there.
As events continued into the 1970s The Red Army Faction arose as a terrorist group.
These far left activists hated of Nazis, naturally. And they noted that many people running the state were of that Nazi generation. This helped convince them that because the state would not do what they wanted them to do, violence to achieve one’s political goals was entirely justifiable – just as it was for the Nazis in their early days.
Punching Nazis was very popular, and before long, when people still refused to listen, they started to blow up and kill people. The political cause is all that matters, the methods, not so much.
Stefan Aust, author of Der Baader Meinhof Komplex:
World War II was only twenty years earlier. Those in charge of the police, the schools, the government — they were the same people who’d been in charge under Nazism. The chancellor, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, had been a Nazi. People started discussing this only in the 60’s. We were the first generation since the war, and we were asking our parents questions. Due to the Nazi past, everything bad was compared to the Third Reich. If you heard about police brutality, that was said to be just like the SS. The moment you see your own country as the continuation of a fascist state, you give yourself permission to do almost anything against it. You see your action as the resistance that your parents did not put up.
Were all Germans WWII really Nazis? Were Germans, whether Nazis or not, aware of the genocide? What could they have done? The pre-Nazi state was weak. Rule of law was nothing like that of Western Europe today (even as bad as it is today).
Does guilt by association sound familiar? It should do. How many people have you seen labelled as Nazis that are barely right of centre? How many generally left of centre people have you seen labelled ‘far-right’?
The Adam Curtis BBC programme, The Living Dead, 1995 (an almost prescient perspective) [currently here, but may change]:
It was complete confrontation. One part of the people against the other. … I had begun to realise, fighting against the state, by armed groups, with this revolutionary strategy in mind, was to bring up the fascistic tendencies, not only of the political class, but the people too. We ourselves became in the same way fascistic as the fascists were. We didn’t realise, our enemies, our opponents, were human beings. This is what is in the heart of fascism. The oppression of other meanings of the political opposition. And oppression means elimination. By killing.
– Horst Mahler, Red Army Faction [Adam Curtis film]
Now, remind me again what the limits of violence are for Yvette Felarca and By Any Means Necessary. Tell me where the punching of perceived Nazis stops. With a bike lock? Tell me when you decide to become what you oppose.
You might want to think of someone you know when you read Mahler’s words here. Dan Arel came to my mind.
Fascism is a component in all of us. … We have a picture of ourselves. We want to be good. We want to be human creatures. But we are a contradiction, in ourselves. We don’t know how to handle this contradiction. We don’t know how to live with this evil part in ourselves.
– Horst Mahler, Red Army Faction
The words of Horst Mahler should be sounding alarm bells particularly when you realise the direction he went in. Here’s the top of the Wiki page about him:
Horst Mahler (born 23 January 1936) is a German former lawyer and political activist. He once was an extreme-left militant and a founding member of the Red Army Faction, but later became a Maoist before switching to Neo-Nazism. Between 2000 and 2003, he was a member of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany. Since 2003, he has repeatedly been convicted of Volksverhetzung (“incitement of popular hatred”) and Holocaust denial and served much of a twelve-year prison sentence.
From far left to far right looks incredible like a sprung switch, a flip-flip, with no hanging around in the centre ground to re-think one’s ideology.
Socialist – Fascist Common Ground
This is the path taken by fascist Mussolini: a member of the Italian Socialist Party, who couldn’t get his way, and moved on to use fascistic means to do so, creating the national Fascist Party, coining the term ‘fascism’ in doing so.
While the ‘left’ v ‘right’ is often thought of in terms of in terms of collectivism v individualism, the German Nazis and Italian Fascists were clearly collectivists in their national ‘socialism’ and their national ‘fasci‘ (bundle).
One main distinction between revolutionary left ideologies like Communists, Anarchism and the Fascists and Nazis amounts to how they see their particular struggle, how they perceive the solution to the problems they see, and who are the people causing the problems.
The ‘left’ collectivism is a class war that divides a nation on class, but can still portray itself as nationalistic when defending a Communist state in face of anti-Communist opposition. Appealing to nationalism, Mother Russia for example, is useful when it works, especially when purging the state of enemies and undesirables that threaten the state, and hence the people.
The ‘right’ is a nationalism that uses socialism to unite the people against the state’s enemies, without or within. Appealing to the socialism of the ‘folk’ and their nation, The Fatherland for example, is useful, especially when purging the state of internal enemies and undesirables that threaten the state, and hence the people.
The Socialists/Communists and the Fascists/Nazis ideologies are very similar politically, and in the way they suppress opposition by the use of violence. [here – h/t @SamWhiteTky]
As are theocracies (*cough* Islam).
The internal enemies often turn out to be the Jews (*cough* Islam) and the Intellectuals – and the intellectual Jews are often right out of luck. Other ‘peoples’ like the Poles were a common target too. And anyone else that gets in the way. Because, of course, when your ideology is right and you know it’s right, killing for it doesn’t seem too much of a problem.
Another issue that distinguishes them is racism, at least superficially. The hyper-nationalism of Nazi Germany, when immigrant populations were much smaller, made it easy to identify other races as a problem. But racism is present in most cultures, if not all, so it can’t be ruled out under Socialism, where again the Jews are still targets.
Isn’t it odd that the left tend to support Palestinians, and the terrorist Hamas, with much anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism. For parties like the UK Labour Party, that claim to be egalitarian, where does this racism come from? Perhaps Horst Mahler is right – there’s a bit of the fascist in us all, and even your party’s stated principles can’t erase it in those that can’t help expressing it.
So now, tell me again why you think that the Nazis and AntiFa/BAMN are poles apart. There are simply too many parallels here to dismiss the similarity between the current street violence and the support for the punching of Nazis in the 1960s Germany. The Germans at least had parents who could have been real-deal Nazis.
Berkeley, Charlottesville and Beyond
And here we are. A decade and more of political correct ideological propaganda. The requirement to choose a side, in order to be on the right side of history, is raising its nasty duplicitous head again.
Charlottesville had some neo-Nazis attend a rally, but many of the people there were not genocidal ‘final solution’ people. Or so they say – but then unless you’re an actual mind reader, you can’t assert they are genocidal: you’re playing rhetorical games, and you are not in a position to refute their denial of being Nazis, without evidence. And if there are genocidal people there, they aren’t giving you the evidence.
By all means take sides. I certainly do. I’m opposed to all those that marched on the side of the alt-right, even those that don’t consider themselves to be alt-right:
- Neo-Nazis – Well, obviously. Whatever the political origins of the German Nazis, the Italian Fascists, even if they have similarities with Socialism, they descend into xenophobic hatred that demonises others for who they are, not for what they choose to believe or do.
- White Supremacists – Well, obviously. White (Black, Brown, …) Supremacy is one of the dumbest ideas still being perpetuated. It’s so stupid it’s on a par with Young Earth Creationism as an intellectually defunct idea. Those that present themselves as White Supremacists are some of the least supreme examples it.
- White Separatists/Nationalists, Identitarians – This is the supposedly egalitarian version of White Supremacism – though it’s just as dumb. There’s no explicit claim to white supremacy, just some poor reasons for thinking the world would be better if the ‘races’ lived apart. Of course it’s based on the same nonsense as white supremacy, and it’s not clear how many in these groups are not in fact white supremacists looking for an easier ride – but we must avoid mind reading, because we can’t do it … evidence!
- Poor beleaguered white boys – Yes, I know there’s a current taste for ‘white people’ comments, claims that all white people are racist and non-whites can’t be. This is as dumb as white supremacy and deserves the same treatment: derision, laughter, evidence to the contrary. But come on, do you really need a tiki light vigil?
Yes, alt-right, I know it’s about statues too. But, come on. I get the point. Nobody is tearing down the pyramids because they were built by slaves. But this is closer to home, and the Confederate flag is a bit of a give-away. You’re not doing it for historical reasons.
I’m not on the side of these people when it comes to supporting their ideologies. I oppose them and support criticism of them. I support counter-protests, generally (though more can be said on how to better organise and police that).
What I don’t support is the street violence, of the pre-emptive punching of ‘Nazis’. The AntiFa crowd went to Charlottesville ready for and intent on violence. They, with a little help from the Mayor, provoked the alt-right protesters into violence. Yes, factions of the alt-right came armed too – but what do you expect given AntiFa’s recent history:
Remember this? At Trump’s inauguration, while other protesters were screaming and crying in over dramatic outrage, the AntiFa thugs were smashing up windows Washington’s businesses, and burning this limo. It was owned by the Nationwide Chauffered Services LLC From Alexandria, VA – run by Muslim Omar Ash. Ooops! AntiFa are racist, by the measure of what they and many others deem to be racism: when a Muslim is a victim of hate or when Islam is criticised.
If you’re still not sure about AntiFa, try this. Not surprisingly they started in Germany.
Time to Choose
- “We must choose a side” – If the two sides on offer are in the wrong, then I choose neither of them. I will choose to criticise both.
- “They are not equivalent – one is worse than the other.” – No, they are not. On the matter of street violence AntiFa have been consistently worse. On political ideas I’m still not in favour of either, but even less so the racist side.
By the way, have you noticed how this comparison of evils is now an OK thing to say, but not when comparing Islam and Christianity?
Watch the Adam Curtis film and consider some of the issues raised there. We may want to choose sides, and we may think we are on the right side. That doesn’t give you licence to engage in the fascistic activities you are claiming to oppose.
The far left don’t want to protect free speech particularly, and the far right only want it for their own purposes.
The problem with Nazi Germany wasn’t the free speech of the Nazis. It was their violent crushing of the free speech of others.
The problem with Stalinist Russia wasn’t the free speech of the Stalinists. It was their violent crushing of the free speech of others.
The ideas that these ideologies are based on are simply dumb. They are easy to challenge. That’s why they have to use violence to defend or promote them,
and attack others that oppose them.
They all employ or employed street violence BY their supporters to crush opposition. Whenever they take power they use the state machine to promote propaganda and crush dissent.
A civil society need not fear free speech, if it upholds the law against violence and terrorism that opposes free speech