Monday, November 21, 2016

The New Deal helped defeat fascism abroad. But the betrayal of the New Deal established it here.


Above: In this video clip, Irish legislator Aodhan O'Riordain speaks on the election of Donald Trump, America's turn towards fascism, and the weak response from Ireland. He says, "Can the government not understand what's happening? We're at an ugly international crossroads... it has echoes from the 1930s. And America, the most powerful country in the world, has just elected a fascist." Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOTpuF0TMzk.

The Axis powers of World War II--Germany, Italy, and Japan--were each controlled by fascist governments (those government are sometimes labeled differently, e.g., "Nazism" or "Statism," according to certain policy variations). The rulers in each of these countries sought to subjugate other nations through military action, and also sought to instill hyper-nationalistic & racial pride in their citizenry while simultaneously squashing any dissent. To disagree with the rulers meant imprisonment, torture, or death.

The New Deal Helped Prevent A Fascist Empire 

The New Deal played an integral role in defeating the Axis powers, and thus fascism. Consider:

The Civilian Conservation Corps taught leadership and work skills to millions of young men. General Mark Clark, commander of the Allied Fifth Army during World War II, said: "To my way of thinking the CCC...became a potent factor in enabling us to win WW-II...though we did not realize it at the time, we were training Non-Commissioned Officers." Even more importantly, the CCC showed these young men that their president, and their country, cared about them; and when someone feels good about their country, they're more likely to fight hard for it.

The Bonneville Power Administration, created by New Deal policymakers in 1937, provided power to many defense industries, and thereby helped build, among other things, thousands of fighter planes. After the war was won, President Truman said: "Without Grand Coulee and Bonneville dams it would have been almost impossible to win this war."

Additionally, the National Youth Administration trained many Rosie the Riveters; the WPA improved hundreds of military bases and airfields; the TVA supplied raw materials for America's war machine; and the Public Works Administration provided funds for submarines, cruisers, destroyers, gun boats, coast guard vessels, and aircraft carriers, including the U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6), "the most decorated U.S. ship of World War II."  

Today, the political right hopes you know none of this - because it doesn't promote their foolish narrative that we the people are the problem (i.e., government) and millionaires & billionaires are the solution. But the fact remains that the New Deal was one of the main reasons we won World War II.

Above: WPA poster, 1941, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The New Deal Was The Foundation For An Economic Boom

New Deal policies remained firmly in place for several decades, making capitalism less harsh and allowing the middle-class to grow like never before or since. Under New Deal policies, and with New Deal infrastructure, America became an economic powerhouse. In fact, New Deal policies worked so well that even Republicans embraced them. In the 1956 Republican Party Platform, Republicans promoted their achievements in increasing the minimum wage, expanding Social Security, enhancing unemployment insurance, strengthening unions, and more.

Unfortunately, a Republican voter today, soaked in the propaganda & misinformation of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and libertarian billionaires, would not even recognize his/her 1950s predecessor. But that predecessor understood economics better (specifically, the concept of market failure) - and that's why he/she enjoyed a better quality of life, and more opportunity, than what middle and lower-income Republicans enjoy today.

The New Deal Is Disassembled, And The Seeds Of Fascism Are Planted

Beginning in the 1980s, and carrying on through today, Trickle-Down Republicans and Neoliberal Democrats have disassembled the New Deal: Glass-Steagall was repealed; the banking industry was coddled; taxes were cut on the super-wealthy (even as they shipped jobs overseas); unions have been attacked; infrastructure has been left to rot; the idea of a new CCC or WPA laughed at; and more. In so doing, the Trickle-Down Republicans and the Neoliberal Democrats created fertile ground for creeping fascism. As Thomas Frank and other political commentators have highlighted, the Republicans have served the top 1%, the Democrats have served the top 10%, and the bottom 90% have been told to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and get used to perpetual re-training and lower wages. Is it any wonder that Trump won, with his populist (albeit fake) speeches?

In Donald Trump, and his crazy cabinet and administration selections, we are seeing huge steps taken towards a fascist state. Indeed, white nationalist organizations are considering Trump administration picks to be early Christmas gifts; and over the weekend, in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, a leader of a prominent alt-right, white nationalist organization told an audience: "America was, until this last generation, a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us... To be white is to be a creator, an explorer, a conqueror." According to the New York Times: "As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room--it was not clear who--shouted, 'Heil the people! Heil victory,' the room shouted it back... Now the movement’s leaders hope to have, if not a seat at the table, at least the ear of the Trump White House."

And they certainly will, since Donald Trump has selected Steve Bannon, a symbolic leader of the alt-right movement, to be his top adviser. No one should be fooled as to the direction America is heading. With right-wing extremists in control of the White House, Congress, and (soon) the Supreme Court, as well as the majority of states, America is no longer a bulwark against fascism - it is fascism. With war hawks being selected for the Trump Administration; and interment camps, torture, and ethnic & religious registries being discussed in positive ways; and racial acts of violence & intimidation on the rise (and Trump and his supporters refusing to denounce it in strong terms or speeches); and signs that dissent will not be tolerated (see my blog post from yesterday), we are seeing the fundamental components of fascism put in place.

Fascism: The End Result Of A Misinformed, Duped Public

White nationalists, and many Republican voters, are being played by the rich - in a game as old as humanity itself. Throughout all of history, the rich have gobbled up all the resources for themselves, thrown some crumbs to the masses, and laughed as the "commoners" fought & blamed each other, divided along racial lines. Today, the white nationalists blame low-income blacks and illegal immigrants, while super-wealthy and predominately white CEOs and investors buy politicians for the permission to ship good jobs overseas - or perhaps bring in foreign workers to fill such jobs here (sometimes even forcing American workers to train their replacements). And the super-wealthy know that they can get away with it. They know that right-wing rhetoric will always target, for example, powerless illegal immigrants, but will remain forgiving, or even oblivious to the wealthy white business owners who employ them. The rhetoric is always, "Build the wall!", and rarely, "Find out whose hiring them!"

In any event, isn't it interesting how the New Deal helped defeat fascism abroad, but the betrayal of the New Deal established fascism here? And we can blame Donald Trump if we want to, but the real blame lies with Trickle-Down Republicans, Neoliberal Democrats, and the holy "JOB CREATORS" (who have hoarded all the profits and socialized all the costs).

*****

"Let there be no doubt. We stand in the face of danger. Danger to our nation, to our values, to our liberties, to all that our nation stands for. We have done this to ourselves. We underestimated the risk.... 

Having turned our lives, our safety, and our children’s futures over to the whims of a thoughtless, reckless, ignorant, and immoral huckster, we must stand guard and fight back against peril... We should not underestimate the threat. 

We must remember that at different times throughout our history we have owned slaves, denied women the vote, segregated children because of their race, burned crosses, lynched innocent black men, interned almost 100,000 American citizens because of their Japanese ancestry, imprisoned thousands of Americans because they criticized the first World War, blacklisted tens of thousands of our fellow citizens because of their political beliefs during the age of McCarthy, and driven millions of our fellow Americans into the closet and treated them as strange freaks of nature because we ignorantly despised their sexual orientation. We are capable of great ugliness and hatred. 

Let us not kid ourselves."

--Geoffrey Stone, professor of law, University of Chicago, "The Struggle Ahead," Huffington Post, November 20, 2016

2 comments:

  1. "Throughout his 20-plus-year reign, Mussolini’s economic policy was always made by direct agents of the Venetian oligarchy that had arranged the installation of Il Duce. In the initial period of Mussolini’s rule, this was, by Alberto di Stefani, and later by Count Volpi himself, serving as both Finance Minister and President of the Fascist Confederation of Industrialists. Hjalmar Schacht, had played a similar policy-controlling role for the London financial oligarchy in Nazi Germany. But as Schacht, who served as Nazi economics minister, until 1937, wrote in his self-serving autobiography, the problem with the Hitler state was that it vested too much power in Der Führer, which made Nazi Germany difficult to control. In Mussolini’s Italy, there was no such problem; Il Duce was content to let the “experts” make his policy, and become its manager and implementer, the man credited with “making the trains run on time.” Venice’s marionette Mussolini did whatever he was asked, including implementing policies that openly favored his backers at the expense of the Italian people. In the first five years of Mussolini’s rule, taxes on the wealthy were slashed, banking deregulated, taxes on banking activity abolished, taxes on corporate directors slashed and later eliminated, and all luxury taxes repealed. In addition, all inheritance taxes were repealed, as well as taxes on stock and bond transactions, and on movement of capital in and out of the country. Meanwhile, all government run utilities were privatized and deregulated." No surprise then, that Time and Fortune magazine founder Henry Luce in an article in 1928, Luce declared the U.S. Constitution obsolete and called for "a new form of government." What was this new form of government? In March of the same year, in a speech to businessmen in Rochester, N.Y., he stated "America needs at this moment a moral leader, a national moral leader. The outstanding national moral leader of the world today is Mussolini." On Nov. 28, 1930, he stated to a Chicago audience that Mussolini's Italy was a success story: "A state reborn by virtue of Fascist symbols, Fascist rank and hence Fascist enterprise." Luce further declared, on April 19, 1934 in a speech to the Scranton, Pa. Chamber of Commerce, "The moral force of Fascism, appearing in totally different forms in different nations, may be the inspiration for the next general march of mankind."

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  2. Speaking in Rome on Jan. 20, 1927, Winston Chur­chill, who was then Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, had this to say about Italy’s Fascist “Il Duce,” Benito Mussolini: "I could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by Signor Mussolini’s gentle and simple bearing and by his calm, detached poise in spite of so many burdens and dangers. Secondly, anyone could see that he thought of nothing but the lasting good, as he understood it, of the Italian people, and that no lesser interest was of the slightest consequence to him. If I had been an Italian I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism. I will, however, say a word on an international aspect of fascism. Externally, your movement has rendered service to the whole world. The great fear which has always beset every democratic leader or a working class leader has been that of being undermined by someone more extreme than he. Italy has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces which can rally the masses of the people, properly led, to value and wish to defend the honour and stability of civilised society. She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison. Hereafter no great nation will be unprovided with an ultimate means of protection against the cancerous growth of Bolshevism."

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