4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Herbert L Calhoun
- Published on Amazon.com
One would be remiss not to study with keen interest the pre-conditions that led to the only existing laboratory of mechanized genocide that we have had in modern times: Hitler's Nazi Germany. It is not enough to repeat the now familiar refrain that Germany was the "flower of cultured twentieth century civilization." No matter, it quickly "threw its lot in" with a "foaming at the mouth" anti-Semite, Adolph Hitler. As it grew more and more powerful it increasingly began to rely on the darker forces within its ideological make-up, and within the span of one generation, turned into a rabidly racist and fascist country in search of a final solution to its "Jewish problem." As this auhor's careful and high quality research reveals, there were a number of socio-eocnomic conditions and questions that required serious analysis to understand how a modern and highly cultured society such as Germany could allow itself to be taken over by its darker ideological and racist forces. Her story here is complete, well-documented and convincing. More than anything else I believe if read carefully, it is a warning to the U.S. about the seamless slide we are currently engaged in as U.S. society also moves closer and closer towards being controlled by its own dark forces.
In the U.S. today, it is hardly hyperbole any more to suggest that America too, even with a mulatto President, is a powerful country, rapidly reeling out of control rightwards; one that remains rabidly racist and one rapidly being taken over by powerful proto-fascist and anti-democratic elements. Like in the case of the NSDAP, our democracy is slowly being reduced to "political theater." As was the case in Hitler's rise to power, voting and public opinion no longer are the cement that holds our polity together. The powers that be have constructed a "rigged system" in its place. Today it is fat campaign checks from corporate interests, lobbyists and cheap ideologues that carry the day.
What we learn in this serious academic (dissertation level) treatment of the socio-economic conditions that led to Hitler's rise is that it is not the level of, the long sordid history of, or even the nature of the anti-Semitism or racism that led to Hitler's rise. Likewise, contrary to the claims of many historians, there was nothing in the "German character" based on psychology, sociology, or its intellectual history that peculiarly compelled Hitler's rise to power. What this author tells us is that systematic extermination could only have occurred and been carried out by powerful, unaccountable government functionaries acting under the cover of the secrecy of warlike conditions.
And while it was true that "intellectual" and "cultural" anti-Semitism had become acceptable and did serve as a necessary precondition for Hitler's scraping of normal democratic controls, alone it was hardly sufficient. Other pretexts could just as easily have been summoned for Hitler to consolidate his power. Other "emotional triggers" and rationalizations could have served equally well. The pivotal change was that the war footing posture allowed Hitler to consolidate and concentration power into the hands of his small coterie of criminal henchmen. Afterwards, Hitler was able to ignore public opinion completely. Systemic anti-Semitism leading to "industrialized-scale murder" required the cover of secrecy, cooperation of key bureaucratic and military officials ready to acquiesce to immoral and criminal ideological purposes.
If this set of conditions do not describe precisely the set of circumstances that resulted in the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations to a "tee," then we Americans simply have not been paying attention. At the time, just beneath the patina of democratic legitimacy, we had a Vice President (LBJ) about to go to prison for massive corruption, that included ties to the mob and various other criminal elements; an FBI director who was being blackmailed by the mob (of which he was supposed to be policing), and a CIA and military hierarchy at the beck and call of both of these criminal minds? And while that particular gang of crooks is no longer around, the mechanism that took over the government during their reign remains very much in place and other ideological players have assumed their proper roles.
Sadly, it is difficult to continue to deny that American democracy has been "rigged" to short circuit the normal democratic political process and has rendered impotent and irrelevant public opinion and voting.. What remains is a Kabuki theater in which normal citizens go through the motions, while moneyed interests use their power to dictate national policies. The structures of this "rigged process" are vectored towards a full Fascist America, sooner rather than later.
So far, the most likely targeted sub-group for scapegoating will be blacks, not Jews. This is so because the socio-economic conditions have been structured to keep blacks in an inferior and subservient position. When this fact is coupled with normalized hatred of blacks and a low threshold for black denigration, it is only a small step to blame them and then to construct justifications for collective action to "remove the American black problem."
It is unlikely that America's road to Fascism will mimic that of Nazi Germany. But as the recent financial crisis demonstrates, American disasters always have a uniquely American quality to them. Likewise our road to Fascism will of course be a uniquely American variety. However, if what Sarah Gordon tells us in this book has any meaning at all, it is that the U.S. "ways of racism" and its institutions are already "primed" to go over the rightwing cliff into full-scale Fascism.
Does this mean that another racial holocaust is in the making in the U.S.? Does it mean that Americans are capable of mechanized murder? Only time will tell. However, just a few years ago, no one in the U.S. would have thought our government capable of repealing large parts of our Constitution in the name of homeland security. Who would have thought that the U.S. would engage in torture exercised in our collective name? It only took 911 for a weak-kneed President and our genuflecting Congress to throw out 200 years of democratic principles; install a package of measures euphemistically and cynically called "the Patriot Act," and yielded completely to the mass hysteria of the moment. That is not the way a mature democratic culture should react to stress whether internal or external. A word to the wise is certainly in order here. A valuable resource. Four Stars.