WHY ARE THEY SILENT?
Several explanations of German public support of the Nazis give us material for analysis of support of recurrent US governments by the public.
Get STATS on % support
Of course one nation was a dictatorship and the other is a republic, but the issue is the mutual viciousness of their national policies—for this essay specifically foreign policies--and why the public went along.
How did the Nazis gain such broad support from the German population?
One view is that the Third Reich was a nightmare of fear and intimidation, created by the Gestapo, the prisons for dissenters, and torture. .
A much stronger explanation is that the German populace was already extremely anti-Semitic needing only a little incentive to be willing executioners.
A third view marshalls the evidence of the power of Hitler’s personality greatly magnified by an extraordinary national propaganda machine.
And a forth explanation is that the Nazis satisfied the economic self-interest of the people, by decent wages, a graduated income tax, a pension system, and the plunder from the occupied territories, which enabled the Nazis to keep their own populace and their soldiers content, and their occupied territories quiescent.
A historian has written, “The Nazis were not only the most notorious murderers in history but also the greatest thieves.” In comparison, the US is a child. One historian does claim that BLUM So the question stands: How did the U.S. elected rulers gain such broad support for its longest war against Afghanistan fought simultaneously with a second war against Iraq, and additional wars emerging after ten years?
Of the four explanations listed above, only the first three seem to apply to the U. S.
Fear does permeate our country. The communist and socialist parties have been virtually eradicated. “Liberals” are now under similar attack. The FBI has revived aspects of their 1960s COINTELPRO. Millions of the US populace do not want to sign petitions for fear of being placed on an “un-American” or “terrorist” list. The FBI is not the Gestapo, and the Marion super-max prison is not Buchenwald, but it’s enough, maybe, to explain why so few “citizens” publicly decry the leaders and politices of the government.
Replace Jews with Muslims and you see the parallel scapegoating today. Over a thousand Muslims were detained after 9-11, hundreds for extended periods without charge, and reports of bigoted actions against Muslims are numerous to the present. Invading and occupying Muslim nations and killing tens of thousands of Muslim civilians, and assassinating and torturing thousands of suspected terrorists without benefit of trial, have not produced more than the outcry of the peace movement. The U.S. willing executioners are small numerically compared to the Nazi slaughter, but intrinsically it’s similar behavior.
Presidents Bush and Obama are cardboard cutouts compared to Hitler; their rallies possessing the drama of a boy scout gathering compared to the spectacles organized by the Nazis at Nuremberg for Hitler’s rants, but combined with the fear and bigotry their speeches and persistence carried the Congress and the populace forward to continued war. Only one member of the House of Representatives voted against the resolution (not Declaration of War) supporting the invasion of Afghanistan, but that was much more the shock of the plane bombings and the pre-existent hatred of “ragheads” than from any cult of personality surrounding President G. W. Bush.
The fourth, economic, explanation does not seem to apply at all, for although the war industry capitalists are making money, the income of the general populations has continued to decline, along with services and state and municipal services.
Have we then answered the question why the U.S. public generally is so acquiescent against its governments’ illegal, unjust, financially disastrous wars? The peace movement can get to work especially on extricating the public from the fear and bigotry which fuels their support or their passivity?
But these explanations don’t seem adequate to me. The public does not seem so timorous or so prejudiced. Other motives seem to be in play. Have the people become so cynical and exhausted by endless war that they cannot recognize and feel the suffering of the victims of our wars? Or is it something else, distinctly different from fear, hatred, cynicism, or numbness? Let’s come back to this subject. Dick.
Aly, Gotz. Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State. Metropolitan/Holt, 2007.
Goldhagen, Daniel. Hitler’s Willing Executioners . 1996.
Herzog, Dagmar. “Handouts from Hitler.” NYT Book Review (2-18-07). Rev. of Aly: The Nazis used economic policy to retain power.
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