Thanks for this. I need to shout at something.
It is a failing of our educational system that the only frame we have for authoritarianism is Hitler. Thus, when a Pakistani-born son of an economist who lives in London says "Trump is Hitler" we all nod sagely and rend our shirts.
Trump is terrible. Trump is racist. Trump is authoritarian and incompetent, which beats authoritarian and clever, which is what Hitler was. Hitler was hell-bent on genocide and believed that the entire world was conspiring to keep the Germans down and that if the Jews could wipe out the Germans they would, which would be only appropriate because only the strongest must survive and if that isn't the Ubermensch then they aren't really the Ubermensch.
Everyone remembers Hitler and rightly so; nobody remembers Mosley because he fucking failed. Not all authoritarians are Hitler, and not all crises of democracy are the Weimar republic.
We've got seriously racist shit to worry about here. It's a different kind of racism. Hitler was ideologically racist. Trump is opportunistically racist. Cops kill Black people more often than white people because their method of engagement is asymmetrical force and areas of poverty have more crime. They also have more minorities. Thus do "minorities" and "crime" get linked and thus is asymmetrical force applied. The Tulsa Massacre was awful and shameful but it didn't spread. America's problem is it's shamefully tolerant of pockets of violent white racism. Germany's problem, Syria's problem, Iraq's problem, Pakistan's problem, Burma's problem, China's problem is that their federal governments sanctioned and sponsored religious and ethnic pogroms.
The Jews were exterminated in Poland because the Nazis came and said "you can murder your neighbor and take his farm or you can join him in the ditch." The Khmer Rouge followed suit, as did the Baath party. It's what wiped out Biafra. In this country? All the Okies blown out by the Dust Bowl got to start over when we interned every Japanese farmer on the West Coast. The Greatest Generation was John Wayne storming Iwo Jima and George Takei behind barbed wire in Arkansas while FDR went for his third and fourth term. But clearly authoritarianism has never happened in the US until now.
I was at Ohio State University when the Kent State University shootings took place. That was the spring we learned to distinguish between tear gas, pepper gas and mace, continually sprayed from helicopters day and night; the spring that I heard a National Guard commander tell his ROTC contingent to chamber live rounds and aim their weapons at us; the spring that I heard relatives actually state, "They should have killed more of them"; the spring that made me decide to leave Ohio for good.'
Letters: Kent St., and Jazz
I'm not exactly a neophyte when it comes to history but I've been doing even more doomreading lately. And you know, the movie (but not the book) Capital in the 21st Century makes the point that WWI and WWII were wars of capital first and foremost. We learn "the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand" as if it means fucking anything when the fact of the matter is the Germans waged total war through Belgium in order to conquer all of France for its farmland and industrial production which caused France, England and Germany to all indebt themselves to the gills until everyone was stuck in a trench and losing a thousand lives for every ten feet of advance and everybody stopped, and nobody won, and the next ten years were a battle over who was going to pay for the fucking thing.
British, French and American policy was to lend as much money commercially to Germany as they could, at as high rates as they could, on the assumption that it would foster international cooperation. What it did was treat Germany like a giant junk bond. All that marvelous interregnum German architecture and public works projects? Built at a high rate of interest with Allied money. What caused the Depression? When everyone realized the Germans couldn't pay it back. You transfer the debt from the asset column to the liability column and suddenly you're broke. Meanwhile Germany has a 40% gold reserve requirement and is paying impossibly high interest rates so they get hyperinflation not once, but twice so you cut Germany's obligations, but not enough because their banks are about to collapse, and then along comes Hitler to blame it all on the foreigners and blame it all on the Jews.
Which, let's be honest, Europe has been doing since the Diaspora.
The great thing about blaming it on the Jews is you get to take their shit. Worked for the Soviets, too - the great thing about blaming the merchant class for your woes is you get to pump up your coffers without having to tax your base. Worked at Manzanar! But it doesn't work for Trump, it never will, and it's why we all lose when we see Hitler under every MAGA hat.
The people vilified by the fascists are the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of the teeming shore. You can't goose the economy by letting cops shoot Black people. You can't Make America Great Again through neglect.
If you want a historical analog for Trump, it's Hoover not Hitler. Did nothing in the teeth of the Dust Bowl, presided over Smoot-Hawley, let the economy collapse. FDR? FDR was Huey Long Lite and that mutherfucker won four fucking terms just for creating a bunch of make-work so people could eat.
I am honestly scared about the potential outcomes of this election. I am appalled by how racist the institutions in this country have revealed themselves to be. But I grow tired of the endless, obsessive need to view 2020 through the lens of the Weimar Republic. This is a new time with new problems and you don't need a swastika tattoo to be a fascist.