Sarah Palin tweeted this in response to Mr. Trump’s speech in Poland, prior to his G-20 visit to Germany:
Trump Gives Speech to the People of Poland, Says 14 Words That Leave Americans Stunned
As many have noted, the use of the term ‘fourteen words’ is one of many coded terms that Nazi’s use to identify themselves to each other:
Palin's tweet reads like a dog-whistle for white supremacists, as it seemingly refers to the "Fourteen Words" of the neo-Nazi slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."
(As an aside, I believe the term ‘neo-Nazi’, like the term ‘alt-right’, obscures who we’re talking about. They’re Nazis. No need to qualify the label, and certainly no reason to accept their preferred moniker.)
Did Mrs. Palin have any understanding of the meaning of the phrase ‘fourteen words’? I don’t care, because her understanding of world events is a) debatable, b) irrelevant.
I am much more concerned, terrified in fact, of a different phrase that appears in Mr. Trump’s speech— will to survive.
Unlike Mrs. Palin’s tweet, this phrase was not idly thrown around, and it appears in what may be charitably called Mr. Trump’s thesis for approaching international relations:
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” (emphasis added)
Mr. Trump is seeing the world through the lens of the clash of civilizations, of the superior Western culture against barbaric, inferior cultures (most notably, but not only, Islamic culture):
I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.
To be clear, while I don’t doubt this is exactly how Mr. Trump sees the world, and his role in it— glorious avatar of Western civilization— we all know he didn’t write these words. 140 characters are more than enough surpass the limits of his capacity for coherent thought.
The phrase, Will to Survive, is not accidental, and has Steve Bannon’s fingers all over it, just as the choice to have Trump’s first major foreign speech in Poland is no coincidence.
Of all the code-speak for Nazi’s that Trump has trafficked in, this one, standing in front of a statue commemorating the Warsaw Uprising, no less, blares out at me.
Cue Leni Reifenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will’, and Nietzsche’s Will to Power in Beyond Good and Evil:
we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one fundamental form of will—namely, the Will to Power, as my thesis puts it; granted that all organic functions could be traced back to this Will to Power, and that the solution of the problem of generation and nutrition—it is one problem—could also be found therein: one would thus have acquired the right to define ALL active force unequivocally as WILL TO POWER. The world seen from within, the world defined and designated according to its "intelligible character"—it would simply be "Will to Power," and nothing else. (chap. II, no. 36, emphasis added)
The title of the this chapter of Beyond Good and Evil is ‘The Free Spirit’, which is exactly how a Nazi like Bannon would see the purpose of power— the ultimate source of freedom for an ubermensch like him.
Why Poland, why this speech, on the eve of meeting with the gathered leaders of the EU and NATO (and of course, Mr. Putin), as all sorts of matters of urgent concern in trade, national security, and international law are to be discussed? For a Nazi like Bannon, the symbolism of Mr. Trump’s entry onto the world stage standing in front of the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazi invasion, would be irresistible:
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion. From East Prussia and Germany in the north and Silesia and Slovakia in the south, German units, with more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border and advanced on Warsaw in a massive encirclement attack. After heavy shelling and bombing, Warsaw surrendered to the Germans on September 27, 1939.
Thus began WWII.
Aside from providing sustenance for Hitler’s ego, why go to war? There was an ultimate purpose, for which the invasion of Poland was but the first step:
The Nazis established ghettos in occupied Poland. Polish and western European Jews were deported to these ghettos. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, mobile killing squads (Einsatzgruppen) began killing entire Jewish communities. The methods used, mainly shooting or gas vans, were soon regarded as inefficient and as a psychological burden on the killers.
After the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the Nazis began the systematic deportation of Jews from all over Europe to six extermination camps established in former Polish territory -- Chelmno , Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek. Extermination camps were killing centers designed to carry out genocide. About three million Jews were gassed in extermination camps.
In its entirety, the "Final Solution" consisted of gassings, shootings, random acts of terror, disease, and starvation that accounted for the deaths of about six million Jews -- two-thirds of European Jewry.
In their view too, just as Trump (Bannon) proposes, the Nazi’s were engaged in a fight to preserve their superior culture:
In formulating their ideology of race, Hitler and the Nazis drew upon the ideas of the German social Darwinists of the late 19th century. Like the social Darwinists before them, the Nazis believed that human beings could be classified collectively as “races,” with each race bearing distinctive characteristics that had been passed on genetically since the first appearance of humans in prehistoric times. These inherited characteristics related not only to outward appearance and physical structure, but also shaped internal mental life, ways of thinking, creative and organizational abilities, intelligence, taste and appreciation of culture, physical strength, and military prowess.
The Nazis also adopted the social Darwinist take on Darwinian evolutionary theory regarding the “survival of the fittest.” For the Nazis, survival of a race depended upon its ability to reproduce and multiply, its accumulation of land to support and feed that expanding population, and its vigilance in maintaining the purity of its gene pool, thus preserving the unique “racial” characteristics with which “nature” had equipped it for success in the struggle to survive. Since each “race” sought to expand, and since the space on the earth was finite, the struggle for survival resulted “naturally” in violent conquest and military confrontation. Hence, war—even constant war—was a part of nature, a part of the human condition.
The Nazis believed that superior races had not just the right but the obligation to subdue and even exterminate inferior ones. They believed that this struggle of races was consistent with the law of nature. The Nazis pursued a strategic vision of a dominant German race ruling subject peoples, especially the Slavs and the so-called Asiatics (by which they meant the peoples of Soviet Central Asia and the Muslim populations of the Caucasus region), whom they judged to be innately inferior. For purposes of propaganda, the Nazis often framed this strategic vision in terms of a crusade to save western civilization from these “eastern” or “Asiatic” barbarians and their Jewish leaders and organizers. (emphasis added)
If we aren’t all terrified by what Mr. Trump is displaying, his willingness to utter the words Bannon puts in his mouth, we aren’t seeing what is right in front of us, in plain sight.