There are a couple of stray thoughts that keep coming to mind in recent months. It begins with something I've realized for some time, now. There are certain words that have become so terrible to us that they can no longer be used. Well, they can be used when talking history, when it happened. But you can't use them in any discussion of the world today. Two of those words are fascist and nazi.
It's understood. nazi can be used to describe only a man with a funny moustache and hair combed down over his forehead. a man who worked, starved, gassed innocent people by the million, a little man who shot himself in the mouth some 67 years ago.
Fascist? Well, I think it gets tangled with the little man who shot himself in the mouth - though it's not necessarily the same.
The other stray thought is that I wonder how a highly advanced and educated, fairly religious, sophisticated country like Germany could so easily drift under the control of a crackpot mass-murderer of no special education, a man who had never held a steady job in his life or ever done much of anything.
I mean - that couldn't happen to us.
Well, of course not. We were against Hitler from the start. We saw right through him. We even went to war to end his evil rule. Yes.
Actually, that's not true. We did not see right through either Hitler or Mussolini in the 1930s. Nor did we go to war to end his evil rule. It's important to remember that when you read or hear today's news.
Our world is going in the same direction it went in the 1930s. Despite our common beliefs, we did not do see it happening then, we did not condemn it then. And, for the most part, we do not see it or condemn it now.
From 1919 on, Hitler devoted his life to the National Socialist Party. Think of that. A young man without a job or any significant job skill was able to live, to travel, to hire staff, to equip party members with uniforms and weapons, build up the whole apparatus of a national party - without ever holding a job.
Where did the money come from? And why?
Hint. The Russiam revolution had just happened. Fighting was still going on. German corporations were worried, with good reason, that communism that the revolution might spread to Germany. Nor were they the only ones.
American and Canadian business leaders were shaken by the Russian revolution, as well as events closer to home like the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.
The financial support that made Hitler and his National Socialist Party a force came from business leaders all over the western world. (They knew that, despite its name, there was nothing socialist about it.)
Some, many, of the business leaders were also almost insanely anti-semitic. Henry Ford was the most infamous of these. He gave so much financial and political support to Hitler that Hitler kept a huge protrait of Ford in his office.
Prominent political parties in the western world, perhaps taking the lead from their own party paymasters, publicly admired Hiter. Canadian leader Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that when he gazed into Hitler's eyes, he saw the spirit of Joan of Arc.
Hitler never actually won an election. (He got more popular vote than Harper - but not much.) But, much like Harper, it was enough to build power to create what he needed to become a dictator - he needed to create fear. He had to find a common enemy for all, good Germans. The country was disillusioned with democracy - but not yet ready to accept a dictator. That's where the creation of fear and a common enemy came in.
In the paragraph above, change the word Hitler to Bush or Obama or Harper or Blair or Cameron.... Change the words common enemy to moslem extremist. Stir in orange alert, plot, Iran, FBI sting operaton....
And in earlier paragraphs, whereever I use the name of a corporation, you can still use it in the same way - with a few new ones added.
Canada and the US, with the general approval of their people, refused to allow German-Jewish refugees to get into Canada. In fact, they were still refusing them several years AFTER 1945. Canada, when it accepted British child refugees early in the war, made it clear to Britain it would not accept any British children who were Jewish. The man who made that message clear was our High Commissioner to Britain, that incredible snob and anti-democract, Vincent Massey).
However, despite the silence and even the slobbering praise of our politicians and economic leaders, the Canadian and American people knew well what was going on. They knew about the imprisonment of Jews. They knew about the ghettoes. They knew about the state-sponsored murders and brunings and thefts. They knew about Hitler's plans for conquest.
It was so well known that Charlie Chaplin made a brilliantly successful film about it. (The wealthy and politically powerful of the US would hound him for that for the rest of his life.)
When it was obvious that Hitler planned to use the 1936 Olympics as a propaganda stage for Naziism and dictatorship, enough people understood that well enough to mount a campaign to cancel the year's Olympics.
But the Olympic Committee was (and is) a toy for the world's super rich. Led by a wealthy American named Avery Brundage, it got its puppets in journalism and politics to whitewash Hitler's Germany. So the games went on.
Canada did not declare war on Germany in 1939 because it was Nazi. Though they weren't much interested in joining Nazi or fascist parties in Canada, many of us, and certainly most of our political and business leaders thought Hitler and Mussolini were good for Europe. (And our anti-semitism was not all that far behind Germany's). Canada declared war because Britsin did. No other reason.
Britain declared war not because it saw anything wrong with Nazi behaviour or ideology. It declared because British business knew it could not compete in world markets in Hitler were to unite Europe under his control.
The US did not declare war in 1839 because 1.it didn't give a damn what Hitler did. He was in no position to threaten the US - and he was protecting private business against all them them there socialists. 2. Anyway, the American focus was on getting control of Asian markets.3.The US had no objection to Hitler's racism.
In fact, when war came for the US almost three years later, it was not the US that declared war on Germany. It was the other way around. Germany declared war on the US - at the end of December, 1941, three weeks after Pearl Harbour. Until that time (and some say a little later), American corporations were a valuable part of the the Nazi war effort.
So what created a Hitler and a Mussolini?
1. Disillusionment with democracy.
2. The greed of the wealthy who resisted taxes and needed social programmes so they could amass their private wealth.
3. Political parties that were pretty well owned by the rich.
4. The creation of fear to justify the destruction of the freedoms and rights of a democracy.
5. The identification of a common enemy (untermensch - subhumans) for people to fear and to blame all their problems on.
6. The use of fear and that common enemy to camouflage the real reasons for military aggression and plundering.
That's what happened in 1932. That's how Hitler and fascism became bad words that we're not allowed to use any more.
Now, let's look around us in 2012. How will we name what we are watching?
Do you still wonder how an educated and civilized Germany slipped into such horror? Then what is it you think we're doing?
I think I'll still use the old words for what is happening now.