More on the Crisis in Thinking
I had a conversation with an old guy the other day. We were sitting around the YMCA while a few fellows played poker. He was telling me about his trips to Casablanca, Portugal and Vegas in the Fifties after the war. The man was eighty-five, he told me, and looked great for his age. Some way, the conversation got around to Mussolini and Hitler. Of course, we had been talking about World War II, so combine that with the fact that you’re having a conversation with me. Sooner or later we getting around to a political subject.
The old man suffered from a crisis in thinking, like so many people do today. “Oh Hitler didn’t start out so bad,” he said. “He had good intentions!”
Because he was an elder I eased into it. Nobody starts off talking about how many people they want to massacre or how many wars they want to fight, except the total idiots walking around with swatikas tattooed on their foreheads. Hitler didn’t say he was going to transform Germany into a police state. Mussolini didn’t declare he was going to destroy Italy. They just hijacked their countries once they consolidated power.
That’s like Pat Buchanan justifying slavery and Jim Crow. Try Colin Powell misintrepreting satellite data to make the case for invading Iraq. Or the neocons using affirmative action to appoint the most servile, inept reactionaries from the black community to undermine affirmative action. It’s like America voting for Barack Obama as if to say, we done tried everything else, might as well let a black man wing it. Those are piss poor excuses standing in for real heroes with real courage.
A large segment of the population not only legitimizes such reasoning but fails to become outraged at the condescending, parasitic perpetuation of a racist status quo. The broadside against public assistance, unemployment benefits, Social Security, pensions, home ownership, credit, health care, education, womens rights, unions and other working class causes starts as a racist, class war. It is racist because the “culture warriors” stereotype the black community on issues to stampede white workers. The capitalists kno rednecks need to see others suffer to maintain their illusion of racist superiority. But then, the tables are turned and rednecks find themselves in the same conditions as their so-called inferiors.
For Washington to give the banks $700 billion while the banks themselves have locked up liquidity on a scale which effects the vast interwoven social fabric of humanity across the globe, that amplifies a crime that has been misnamed “the subprime mortgage crisis.” Yet white workers still oppose a national health plan, womens rights, unions, and other causes because of their blindly racist, idiotic logic. This crisis in critical thinking is encapsulated in PT Barnum’s cynical adage, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
Ass backward principles have built neo-fascism on the back of a defeated labor movement. An 85-year-old geezer who fought the Nazis, who lives at the Y, who thinks Hitler did some good, and blames UAW retirees for the problems in Detroit. Why would he think that; why, that is an attack on the labor movement by the very folks who should be defending it.
That is cold, naked reaction on the back of workers deluded by Imperialism.
Progressive feminism and the civil rights movement got hijacked as the reactionaries had help from all sides. Corporatist entities created professional niches by shoving the real fighters aside. College-educated bourgeois shills with degrees in social work and theology became the voice for people they spent little time knowing. Facts became boiled down into a lifeless statistical analysis while grass roots organizers got plowed under.
When Hitler and Mussolini made their climb to power, it was because conditions like these prevailed. Mussolini defined fascism as the direct collaboration of the State with business, yet it features a great deal more than that. And proposing that Hitler was okay because he built the Autobahn also fails illuminate the ugly scene that is fascism.
Indeed, following the 1929 stock market crash, fascism arose thru out Europe, where a politically defeated labor movement became violently eradicated by both the black shirts and the Nazis. The police state reached into the family as the fascists built a vicious snitch network. Slave labor camps replaced normal production as Germany reversed the post-war disaster that it inherited during the Twenties, giving the world a false impression that Hitler worked some kind of economic miracle in a mere twelve years.
It is amazing how people can accept fascism’s self-definition as its identity. Death doesn’t come at you to say it’s the end for you forever. It says, ‘you’re just going to sleep, you’ll wake up someday in the future or in heaven and everything will be better than this life.’ Death is ugly, and fascism is death, and international finance capital is just one step from a genocidal rampage. Look at DR Congo where Imperialism functions in the name of South Africa’s Oppenheimers, extracting coltan and other strategic minerals. The Oppenheimers, as in the Gubernatorial Oppenheimer Party, as in ‘stolen diamonds are forever’ as in DeBeers. Yes, those Oppenheimers.
Just the fact that people can accept innocuous explanations for a virulent class system whose violence and depredations are well known to history, well, that exposes the crisis in thinking.