“We have to condemn publicly the very idea that some people have the right to repress others. In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers … we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
I pulled that quote off InformationClearingHouse.com today. I think it sums up where the U.S. is headed.
I don’t say that lightly. We are, it seems, doomed to repeat the stages that the old Soviet Union went through. And I mean that, all the way back to the tsarist days, but how far into them, I do not know.
We have an incredibly privileged class in the U.S., one so far above the rest of us that we have no concept of them. The Russian Empire had that, too. And it didn’t take long before the supposedly super-egalitarian Soviet state had its own dacha owning über class. And while 99% of the USSR’s people lived meager lives with essentially no material comforts, that class had them all, right up until the end in 1991.
Will we have gulags, though? That is the real question. I believe it is likely we will have some form of them. It will just be too easy for the übers to create those to keep the rabble down, to keep dissension under control. That was the very reason, by the way, that Adolf Hitler had the Dachau concentration camp built. It only took him six weeks to begin Dachau. How long it took Stalin to begin the gulags, I do not know. American currently has 1.25% of its population in prisons, the highest in the world, so we are becoming experts on running penal institutions and it would not take us long to expand them, if the powers that be decide on it.
But will our courts allow it? Believe it or not, the Germans had a pretty good model court system prior to Hitler’s rise to the Presidency. Dachau was built in the very short time before Hindenberg died and Hitler assumed the Chancellorship – and there were already TWO other camps started before Dachau – all of them while Hindenberg still lived. Hitler buffaloed everyone at the beginning, with his burning of the Reichstag in order to pass the Enabling Laws, by which he assumed total power. In that period of buffaloing, the courts were swept up in the fear of being carted off to a camp, just like everyone else. They would never have worded it that way, but that is what it was: No one had the courage to call Hitler out, and the courts were no exception. They found – as courts so often do – that it was their place to make sure no one made waves. As such, they were themselves the least likely to make wave themselves.
What would it take to have an American Enabling Act? We’ve already gone halfway there. 9/11 triggered the Patriot Act. One more Reichstag burning – perhaps the Capitol or another Oklahoma City bombing and we might be right there on the brink. I expect it will happen, but I have no idea what the specific event will be.
When it happens, the ultra-right will – just like in Hitler’s day – be energized beyond reason and will go around bashing heads, and once that begins, there will be little stopping it. They just tried to assassinate a Congresswoman in Arizona, and a bystanding fairly Liberal federal judge was slain in the process. This was after months and months of incitement. Will the incitement end? NO. The ultra-right has its Adolf wannabes, all over the AM dial and the FOX network, and they have their ultra-right political movement that has taken over the Republican Party from the fuddy-duddy moderate right.
If Germany in the 1920s and 1930s is any indication, when this kind of move to the crazy end of the spectrum happens, it will only go away if one of two things happen: If the economy picks up and everyone’s prosperity alleviates the need for some to be hired as thugs, or if they start a war and lose it. If you asked people in the U.S. how Hitler came to power 99% will say he came out of WWI and rose to power because the Weimar Republic was so weak. That is not even close to the truth. At the height of the German hyper-inflation, Hitler TRIED to usurp the Weimar Republic in late 1923 – in the Munich Putsch, but it failed. After that the German economy turned around and had increasing prosperity all the way to the 1929 Wall Street Crash. During that period the Weimar Republic had great stability and Germany was a very prosperous place to live. Prior to his putsch, Hitler’s NASDAP had been feeding and arming the infamous Brown Shirts of the S.A. But when he got out of prison in late 1924, the economy was turning around and for the next five years the Nazis were losing membership and votes, and the S.A. was almost a non-entity.
It may be no accident that the crazy right, including the Tea Party, has its roots most deeply embedded in rural America, where most jobs are barely above minimum wage, especially in the Appalachians and the Ozarks. The roots of Hitler’s power was in mostly rural Bavaria, whose people are considered “hicks” by the rest of the country.
America is probably going to go through all that the Soviets went through, AND what the Germans went through.
If those are any example, it will take anywhere from 20 to 75 years to begin to straighten the country out and make it democratic again.
That is my two cents…
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn