Lessons from November 6, 1932, Pre-Nazi Germany: Why You Shouldn’t Vote for Your Future Oppressors

Gary G. Kohls, MD

Eighty years ago, on November 6, 1932, the last general election of the doomed democratic Weimar Republic took place in pre-Nazi Germany. In the previous election during the summer of 1932, the Nazis had, by spending massive amounts of money and effort, won 230 seats in the 604-seat Reichstag, failing to obtain the majority they had hoped for in order to immediately destroy the democratic experiment and go back to authoritarian, anti-democratic systems of government that were also desired by the numerous other conservative political parties.

The Nazi Party was the most reactionary but also the largest of the many racist, nationalist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic political parties in Germany at the time, and it was the one that was least afraid of using bullying, intimidation, even torture and murder to achieve its goals.

All of the other right-wing, anti-democracy parties in Germany during the Weimar years (1919–1933) consistently voted against the ideals of democracy, and that included the passage of Hitler’s infamous Enabling Act on March 24, 1933, which constituted the death of the Weimar Republic and the start of Hitler’s dictatorship.

The Nazis needed a coalition of some of the other anti-leftist parties to obtain the supermajority needed to strangle the made-to-fail experiment in democracy. The aging and increasingly infirm President Hindenburg, who had beaten Hitler twice in general elections, still had two years before he died on August 1, 1934.

By November 6, 1932, the Nazis found themselves losing some of the financial support they had received from the conservative, wealthy, anti-union elite and their multinational corporations that had been so supportive of German fascism during the previous few elections.

But the second most powerful political party, the roundly hated anti-fascist Social Democratic Party, which seemed to be made up of spineless, liberal pro-democracy types, ultimately failed to exercise the power they had been granted by their democracy-loving voter base, so the fascist agenda steamed ahead.

Thus the coalition of fascist-leaning right-wingers remained intact as a voting bloc, even though many of them secretly feared Hitler and his henchmen, and the antifascist leftist minority continued to be out-maneuvered and out-voted. And the rest is history.

Another test of American
democracy coming up

This November 6, 2012, there will be important national and state elections in the U.S. that may have equally serious implications for democracy lovers who justly fear the power of the autocratic ruling 1 Percent and the multinational corporations and financiers on Wall Street, just like there was in 1932 Germany. And the controlled mainstream media seems to be successfully orchestrating another too-close-to-call horserace, as if there is no essential difference between the potential for American fascism between the two major political parties.

Thus, the mainstream media, preferring to have every election be a “cliff-hanger” (even if it shouldn’t be), manages every election cycle to sell hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of obscenely expensive, highly profitable political advertising. Therefore, in the heat of these campaigns, we voters must be extra careful lest we blindly vote in any stealth candidates that might become our future oppressors—from either of the two major political parties.

Recognizing the
stealth candidates

One of the problems is recognizing the stealth candidates. They and their handlers try hard not to reveal their true agendas. But sometimes there are tape recorders running, as in the case of ex-governor Mitt Romney’s recent revealed comments disparaging half of the American population (that he couldn’t care less about), or when Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker was recorded thinking that he was talking to the odious, non-Wisconsinite, far-right-wing billionaire activist David Koch.

Such stealth candidates are beholden to powerful yet hidden anti-democracy think tanks and wealthy investors, all of whom are desperately trying to continue their behind-the-scenes control of government. For other examples, consider many of the candidates this past summer that repeatedly nauseated so many of us in the Republican primary debates.

Plutocrats (the ruling class of rich people) usually operate behind the scenes in the legendary smoke-filled rooms where observers are not allowed. They work hard to remain anonymous and can now do so more successfully, thanks to the democracy-threatening Citizens United Supreme Court decision giving corporations the power to buy elections. Over the generations, plutocrats have achieved near-total control of the two major political parties, and now also of many current members of Congress at both state and federal levels. The same could be said about the five conservative activists on the U.S. Supreme Court who allowed Citizens United to pass.

Most of these “corporate lapdogs” do not share the interests of average middle- or working-class citizens. These corporate-financed politicians do share the interests of their paymasters. If they don’t, they are cast out. They are handsomely rewarded and are found in every political party (except perhaps for Jill Stein’s Green Party, Rocky Anderson’s Justice Party, or some of the other left-leaning parties that corporate America hates), although it should be noted that the Democratic Party does still have a number of altruists in its ranks who have not yet sold their souls. And, of course, the rational, moderate wing of the Republican Party that at one time was willing to dialogue with the opposition has been “disappeared” by the irrational, anti-intellectual, anti-science radicals, all well-funded by the Koch Brothers and others of their ilk.
No matter how dangerous or inept these co-opted candidates are, they are good at obeying orders. The ubiquitous right-wing talking heads on FoxNews, for example, are no different. They know their place and the agenda of their paymasters.

The slickest and most well-funded of the nearly 400 right-wing think tanks that have become so influential in politics these days include such institutions as the ubiquitous Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, American Legislative Exchange Council, and the Koch Brothers (who have underwritten the John Birch Society, the Tea Party, and Sarah Palin).

Whom should freedom-loving people,
who fear for survival of democracy, vote for?

To most modern-day Republicans, freedom seems to mean freedom from paying legitimate taxes, freedom to exploit others, freedom to exploit the environment, freedom to discriminate against minorities, and freedom to own and shoot guns, even at perceived (however mistakenly) threats to their property or person. To the true small-“d” democrat, freedom means freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, and freedom from being forced to kill for the government.

Freedom to progressive-minded American idealists also means freedom from the oppression of tyrants, freedom from monopoly capitalism, freedom from police brutality, freedom from war-profiteers and their wars, freedom from bigotry, and freedom from the possibility of living under the jackbooted heels of a theocratic state.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Duty to Warn column titled “What is Your Politician’s FQ (Fascist Quotient)?” It was a guide to measuring how close your potential political leader came to meeting the definition of a classical European fascist and is archived at http://duluthreader.com/articles/2012/09/28/1003_a_practical_voting_guide_for_americans_concerned.

That column referenced a very sobering article about the 14 characteristics of fascism and the abuse of political power. Professor Lawrence Britt’s original article was titled “Fascism Anyone?” and can be found at http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=britt_23_2.

In that column I suggested that if voters do not want to see potential oppressors get elected, they need to scrutinize the platforms of the political parties and candidates running for office (including what exactly their religious beliefs are) by evaluating the corporations, institutions, churches, and individuals they are beholden to, whom they do business with, and which political and/or theological beliefs they espouse. The information obtained should reveal how fascist-leaning they are and therefore how likely they are to become future tyrants.

Up until 2006, there was a ruthless group of  neoconservative operatives known as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) (Check it out at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1665.htm). PNAC was a right-wing think tank consisting of a nefarious group of highly influential political operatives who dictated foreign policy agendas for the late, lamented, Constitution-shredding Cheney/Bush administration and its two disastrous, illegal, and bankrupting wars. PNAC has been strongly suspected by independent researchers and scholars of being involved in the planning of the controlled demolitions that destroyed the three WTC Towers on 9/11/01, an operation that fit the bill for what they called “the New Pearl Harbor” and generated public support for the Middle East wars for oil.

America is obviously a highly militarized society. It possesses the largest collection of lethal weapons and the most weapons of mass destruction that the world has ever known. It participates in extrajudicial assassinations via its drones, and it spies on its own citizens. It has a highly censored press and its FBI and obedient police departments intimidate and imprison its most altruistic and peaceful street demonstrators, particularly the non-violent anti-war movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement that so powerfully crystallized, for generations to come, the reality of a corrupt elite ruling class (the 1 Percent) that tyrannizes the rapidly impoverished 99 Percent whom it can’t resist exploiting for fun and profit.

America’s economy has been artificially propped up for generations by its permanent war and armaments economy, which regards peace as a threat. It has a punitive law enforcement culture (“lock ‘em up and throw away the keys”) and a punitive judicial system that is close to a George Orwell “1984”-style fascism. Sinclair Lewis, in his novel “It Can’t Happen Here,” pointed out the risks of a fascist America back in 1935, around the time when there was an actual pro-capitalist, fascist coup plot against FDR (in 1933) led by Wall Street ruling elites that included traitors like J. P. Morgan, DuPont, George W. Bush’s grandpa, General Motors, and U. S. Steel. Their plot was foiled by the patriotic Marine Corp Major General Smedley Butler. (Watch the story at either youtube.com/watch?v=hTdx6vEUtIA&feature=related or youtube.com/watch?v=o1KwaLa8zTQ).

Advice for altruistic
citizens who still have
hope for America

America is now struggling in the rubble of the Cheney/Bush/Wall Street economic crash of 2008. It meets all of Dr. Britt’s 14 criteria for fascism, albeit a kinder, gentler, friendly-faced American fascism. Therefore it behooves true patriots to learn the lessons of pre-Nazi Germany, in which German multinational corporations, plutocrats, bureaucrats, ultraconservative politicians, right-wing Christian leaders, and their Nazi hit men legally wrested control of the government and ended the messy democratic experiment. And tyranny reigned until the fascist experiment also ended (living by the sword/dying by the sword) in the complete destruction of Germany and all its people, whether they were fascist-leaning or not, Jewish or not, trade unionist or not.

The history of right-wing authoritarianism (fascism) needs to be studied by reading Britt’s article and other essays at http://www.gotfascism.org/essays.html. Then, before voting, learn as much as possible about America’s right-wing political movements (who achieved a partial coup immediately following the chaotic events orchestrated on 9/11/01 and may still be trying to complete that coup). And then, no matter what political party your candidate represents, withhold your vote until you are convinced that he or she will not become one of your future oppressors.

And then ponder
some of these quotes:

“In my opinion, the right to privacy doesn’t exist in the United States Constitution.” –Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)

“If the American people had ever known the truth about what we Bushes have done to this nation, we would be chased down in the streets and lynched.” –George H. W. Bush

 “Some people believe we Rockefellers are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family … as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure—one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” –David Rockefeller

“God told me to smite Osama bin Laden, so I invaded Afghanistan. Then He told me to smite Saddam Hussein, so I invaded Iraq. Now he wants me to work on the Middle East problem...” –George W. Bush