Sunday, January 17, 2021

Quote of the Day (Richard J. Evans, on the Nazi Path to Power)

“By the time he came out of prison [in late 1924, for leading a coup attempt the year before to overthrow Germany’s Weimar Republic], Hitler had assembled the ideology of Nazism from disparate elements of antisemitism, pan-Germanism, eugenics and so-called racial hygiene, geopolitical expansionism, hostility to democracy, and hostility to cultural modernism, which had been floating around for some time but had not so far been integrated into a coherent whole. He gathered around him a team of immediate subordinates—the talented propagandist Joseph Goebbels, the decisive man of action Hermann Goring and others—who built up his image as leader and reinforced his sense of destiny. But despite all this, and despite the violent activism of his brownshirt paramilitaries on the streets, he got nowhere politically until the very end of the 1920s….In October 1929, however, the Wall Street crash brought the German economy tumbling down with it....The political effects of the Depression were calamitous. The Grand Coalition broke up in disarray; so deep were the divisions between the parties over how to deal with the crisis that a parliamentary majority could no longer be found for any kind of decisive action….The Nazis, then, as the elections of September 1930 and July 1932 showed, were a catch-all party of social protest with particularly strong middle-class support and relatively weak, though still very significant, working-class backing at the polls. They had broken out of their core constituency of the Protestant lower middle classes and farming community.”— Cambridge Univ. historian Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939 (2005)

Unfortunately, the blueprint for Fascism remains fundamentally the same in the 21st century as it was in the 1920s and 1930s: the exploitation of multiple far-right ideologies by a single demagogue; the assistance of propagandists who tended to imagery; legislative deadlock; calamitous economic conditions; and then, seemingly out of nowhere, a political coalition with sudden breakout appeal.

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