Skip to main content

Photo by Chiara Marra

Some Vital History, Revisited - 'Welcome to the 1930s'

It was a decade ago when I wrote the following article, the below version yet appearing at 'Indybay' Indymedia, unchanged from the way it's stood for the last ten years.  Unfortunately, it arguably seems the devastating truths I discuss have sadly become increasingly evident...and, now we face the question of 'where do we go from here'?

As reposted from Indybay...

By Ritt Goldstein

On the floor of the US Senate, the senior senator from West Virginia, Sen. Robert Byrd, charged that the American people "have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state", Iraq. He added, "like it always does, the truth will emerge".

As regards that truth, "Iraq Bloodbath" had read a wartime headline of Scandinavia's largest daily, Aftonbladet, corpses dotting a picture of what the Bush administration's war machine manufactures. The article reported an American officer as saying that mounds of the dead were piled on sidewalks, a large proportion of the dead feared to be civilians. And amid numerous allegations of Administration fabrications, the much proclaimed weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found, most now believing they never existed. But Iraqi democracy has been put on hold, and a Defense Department report (Strategic Assessment 1999) has surfaced which starkly highlights Oil War as Pentagon policy. So as those who perceive themselves grossly wronged threaten to strike back at us, visions of another era's Blitzkrieg, occupations, attempts to build Empire - is this what they are seeing.

Explaining the Iraq War, of course it is easy to understand that terrorism must be fought, the killing of innocent women and children stopped. But most experts agree that Iraq had no meaningful ties to al Qaeda, and what of dead Iraqi women and children. What of the price our Country's loyal troops have paid and are paying.

As early as 1996, former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brezinski described a vision of American empire quite succinctly, discussing "the grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy". But, only recently is the pressing question of American Empire under debate.

While the horror of the Iraqi conflict is disturbing, more disturbing is the issue of its being a symptom of an older, deadlier disease, a social-disorder which previously claimed the lives of tens of millions. And what if the return of this fatal societal contagion had gone largely unrecognized.

In 2001, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi trumpeted the superiority of Western values. In retrospect, Berlusconi's vision of the West "bound to occidentalize and conquer new people" does seem chillingly accurate regarding President Bush's actions.

Of course, the 1930's saw Italy attack Ethiopia, and today's Bush administration has finished Afghanistan, is working on Iraq, and both Iran and Syria have been "warned". If human nature doesn't essentially change, does history merely repeat.

As regards the nature of such questions, in 1941 the social psychologist Erich Fromm published his classic analysis of the impact of social and psychological forces on society, "Escape from Freedom". In it Fromm describes how conditions, similar to today's, meant that human relationships were "poisoned" by a "struggle for the maintenance of power and a passionate egocentricity, an insatiable greed". But of course one cannot just say the Enron, WorldCom, Xerox, Halliburton, and other numerous business scandals provide ample testimony to that. Nor can one merely refer to the seemingly all too valid complaints of mass-exploitation which the anti-globalization movement voices. However, Fromm charged that "individuals were looked upon as 'objects' to be used and manipulated, or they were ruthlessly destroyed if it suited one's own ends". And such logic does provide good explanation for modern-day robber barons, mass-exploitation, media manipulation and War. And Senator Byrd did charge that the "events of September 11 have been carefully manipulated".

Escape from Freedom depicts the rise of 1930's fascism. Over a year ago I published an editorial entitled "Deja Vu: The 1930's" - one version contained a WWII picture of the German Wehrmacht marching through a town.

But maybe this isn't only about the limits of human greed and the capacity for ruthless ambition. Maybe this is also about faith, trust, and the so many good people among us who might have had those precious gifts harshly abused. Maybe, while bombarded by the endless circuses our society cranks out, a lot of good and decent people are just simply and cruelly seduced.

Fromm had observed how leaders have played upon their public, Hitler doing so with protestations that he sought only "peace and freedom...that his actions serve the best interests of civilization". But hindsight is always easy, and in the 1930s it must have been extremely difficult for most to appreciate the implications of what was occurring. As repression and world aggression grew, the public's apprehension and misplaced trust meant that devastating issues were simply explained away.

Paralleling such concerns, several mainstream European articles have recently noted that Nazi Foreign-Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop was condemned by the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunals for conspiring in a War of Aggression. Also noted was that President Bush has committed actions strikingly similar to those for which Mr. von Ribbentrop was hanged. Strengthening the comparison, the US commander of the Iraq War, Gen. Tommy Franks, was charged by Belgium under Crimes Against Humanity statutes.

Perhaps envisioning such circumstances, Fromm had warned that "there is no greater mistake and no graver danger than not to see that in our own society [the US] we are faced with the same phenomenon that is fertile soil for the rise of Fascism anywhere".

Copyright February 2013

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site