Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
By: Brent Parrish
Godwin’s Law … it goes a little something like this:
“… [I]f an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism….”
Undoubtedly, there is a certain amount of truth in Godwin’s adage. Since World War II, there probably has not been a U.S. president who hasn’t been directly compared to Adolf Hitler, at some point or another. As a matter of fact, it didn’t take me very long to dig up Hitler memes and analogies for a number of U.S. president via a Google search.
Often times such direct comparisons of U.S. presidents to Hitler are grossly hyperbolic at best, and utterly unconscionable at worst. Despite the fact how one may feel about current and past presidents, equating them on the same level with one of the worst monsters in human history does indeed minimize the terrible suffering of those who fell under the tyrannical and brutal reign of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.
Adolf Hitler and his henchmen have come to represent the epitome of evil, and rightly so. Nazism has become the benchmark used to measure all things evil. The question for me is not whether a current president is on equal par with Adolf Hitler. I don’t happen to believe any U.S. president, present or past, is as guilty of murderous and ruthless fanaticism as Adolf Hitler—on that point, let me be clear. My point is that Hitler and his notorious Third Reich provides the ultimate yardstick by which we can measure how far a government or nation is marching down the road toward total state control and merciless dictatorship. The mere act of using the Nazis as a measuring stick is not equating the thing being measured as being necessarily one and the same. Instead, the question for me is whether the U.S.A. is moving away from fascism or toward it. If we examine the rise and fall of Hitler’s Third Reich from a historical perspective, how does it compare to what we see going on today? This is a valid exercise—and a necessary one, in my opinion.
Perhaps someone who experienced the oppression and horrors of Nazism is better able to illustrate my points. I’ll just throw in a few of modern-day examples for consideration as well.
Kitty Werthmann, 87, survived World War II. She was an Austrian citizen and lived under Nazi rule throughout the war. A few years back she spoke to an American audience about her experiences during the war, and how the current political climate in this country greatly concerns her. She strongly feels the need to warn Americans about the horrors of socialism.
In her opening comments (see video above), Kitty Werthmann points out how Western media often times portrays Hitler’s annexation of Austria with Germany in 1938 (Anschluss) as an armed invasion, replete with troops and tanks. Without a doubt, German troops did indeed move into Austria at the time. But what is often overlooked, according to Werthmann, is the fact that the Austrian people overwhelmingly elected Adolf Hitler by ninety-eight percent of the vote—by means of the ballot box. How could this happen? What would lead Austria—a predominately Christian nation—to elect a monster like Adolf Hitler?
In the late 30s, Austria was in a very deep depression, with thirty percent unemployment, and twenty-five percent inflation. Austrian banks were charging twenty-five percent interest on loans. Businesses and farmers were going broke. Austrians could not afford to pay their taxes. Unions were calling for strikes; and factories were being closed down. Worse yet, the financial chaos was leading to riots in the cities. Entire blocks were burned down. Austrian police were ill-equipped to stop the ongoing destruction, according to Kitty Werthmann.
As Austria descended into despair, the Austrian people looked to their neighbor in the north, Germany, and saw full employment and a high-standard of living. As Kitty Werthmann puts it (emphasis added), “Hitler did not act like a monster; he did not speak like a monster; he spoke like an American politician.”
The Austrian peole petitioned their government for a plebiscite (an election) to merge Nazi Germany with Austria. Besides—despite what Barack Obama might believe (cf. sarcasm)—the Austrians didn’t speak “Austrian”; they spoke German. The Austrians and Germans had a common heritage.
What is particularly chilling about Kitty Werthmann’s recollections, are the disturbing similarities of the policies implemented by the Nazis in Austria to the current policies and initiatives being instituted and promoted right here in the United States today.
For example, one of the first policies implemented by the Nazis in Austria was a National I.D. Austrians could not board a train or bus without showing their National I.D. card.
Following 9/11, the U.S. federal government “began to look at ways to increase security surrounding state identification cards and driver’s licenses,” allegedly “in an attempt to prevent further terrorism and/or unlawful entry into and out of the country.”
Via the DMV:
In 2005, the House of Representatives passed a bill into law called the REAL ID Act. This Act would set certain federal standards upon all driver’s licenses, which are currently regulated by each individual state. After being passed into law, the bill was tabled until 2007, when it was announced that the federal enforcement of the act would be postponed for a period of two years. However, many state governments were slow to support this act, feeling that it not only infringed upon states’ rights handed to them by the 10th Amendment, but also created unnecessary cost to taxpayers in order to implement the change. It wasn’t until this year that the federal government announced that all states would need to be in compliance with the REAL ID Act by the end of 2017.
The Nazis imposed nationalized healthcare in Austria (see Obamacare). According to Werthmann, Austria had a fairly decent healthcare system and private insurance companies. Following the socialization of healthcare in Austria, rationing of healthcare occurred, resulting in a “conveyer belt” style system. Many physicians left Austria, and the quality of healthcare declined precipitously.
Austria’s schools were nationalized (see Common Core). Large, government-run childcare centers, staffed by young women highly skilled in psychology, were set up to raise and indoctrinate children. Immediately following the nationalization of Austrian education, Kitty Werthmann describes how she walked into her schoolroom and saw the crucifix had been removed from the wall. All prayer in school was banned. Students were even forbidden to attend church on Sundays. Instead, they were required to attend compulsory meetings, which included two hours of political education. Austrian youth were taught to not listen to their parents; they were told they had their “freedom and rights.”
The Nazis promoted social welfare and the notion of “equal rights.” Werthmann points out that “equal rights” in Nazi Germany were composed of two components—social and economic. The Nazis went about “equalizing” Austria’s wealth by guaranteeing “equal income.” Lower-income citizens received subsidized housing, food stamps, heating fuel, stipends for each child, etc. In order to “equalize wealth,” higher-income citizens were taxed at a rate of seventy percent.
“In socialism, everyone is required to be in the workforce,” Kitty said. “If not, you are called a parasite.”
The Nazis set up a planning agency to control business, enforcing stifling rules and regulations, all under the guise of “health and safety” (see OSHA and Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act).
The Nazis censored the press in Austria. The government even handed out free radios so the Austrian people could listen to Hitler’s speeches and Nazi propaganda. (Despite their strong left-wing bias, there has been a great deal of criticism by the press of the Obama Administration’s lack of transparency over the past several years.)
There are a number of policies imposed by the Nazis in World War II that are eerily reminiscent of similar policies and initiatives promoted by our own federal government.
- Hitler nationalized the auto industry (see General Motors), which then turned toward defense manufacturing;
- Hitler nationalized the banks, charging twenty-five percent interest on all bank loans. (According to former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the Obama Administration has “talked openly” about nationalizing banks);
- Gun control was implemented in Austria via gun registration (see UN Small Arms Treaty and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty);
- Hitler nationalized the police, i.e., Gestapo (see President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing).
Now, with all that being said, I would anticipate some might argue, just because the Nazis implemented certain laws, regulations and policies that are similar or identical to some U.S. laws, regulations and policies, it does not mean America has become a de facto totalitarian, fascist state.
Yet, when one compares the striking similarity between many of the laws and regulations the Nazis instituted to comparable laws and regulations in the United States, it should give one great pause, in my mind. For me, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion other than the fact that we are moving toward fascism, not away from it; and it is being accomplished gradually and incrementally, not all at once (see Fabian Socialism).
So, just what is fascism? A simple definition is the collusion of big government and big business, whereby the citizen must pay for the “privilege” of living in society, or else. Typically, fascism is associated with the right-side of the political spectrum (i.e. right-wing), while political philosophies like communism and socialism are associated with the left (i.e. left-wing).
Confucius is alleged to have said, “You can lose your liberty by the corruption of language and the meaning of words.” From my own research, the concept of left and right appears to have arisen out of the French Revolution, where certain parties were seated in the Assembly based on the ideas pertinent to the revolution. If we take a hard look at ideologies like fascism, socialism, communism, and the like, they all seem to have one thing in common: collectivism, i.e., the group (“the masses”) trumps the individual. Collectivist ideology is also marked by a strong disdain for what Karl Marx coined “capitalism,” i.e., free enterprise.
One example of equating fascism with the right is that of Pierre Biétry (emphasis added):
Pierre Biétry was a French syndicalist and politician who initially followed orthodox socialism before moving to the right. He was the pioneer of “Yellow socialism,” a movement that has been portrayed as a forerunner of fascism. (Wikipedia)
But is fascism really “right-wing” as many would have us believe? Benito Mussolini is commonly considered the founder of fascism. Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in Milan, Italy, in 1919. He came to power in 1922, and remained in power for 21 years. Mussolini was always a radical revolutionary. He just didn’t think the “revolution” was coming about fast enough; so he came up with fascism. But don’t just take my word for it.
Mussolini wrote (emphasis added):
“Fascism … believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace …. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it …. It may be expected that this will be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of Fascism. For the nineteenth century was a century of individualism …., it may be expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence the century of the State …. For Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say, the expansion of the nation, is the essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite is a sign of decay and death.” 
In the academic sense, the study of “isms” like Fascism, Nazism, Socialism, Communism, etc., reveals many technical differences—some profound, some minor. If you were to ask a devoted Communist, for example, about communism, it would not at all be unusual for them to point out that there are many “flavors” of communism. They might ask, “Which type of communism are you referring to?” The same would apply to socialism … and all the other “isms,” for that matter.
This is why I began to reject the whole concept of the right-left paradigm as it is commonly taught and understood. When it comes to the notion of right and left, what is needed, in my opinion, is a more accurate representation of a true political spectrum. For example, on the left-end of the spectrum, exists tyranny—meaning, total state control that rules over every single aspect of an individual’s life (i.e. slavery); while on the right-end of the spectrum exists anarchy—meaning, no government at all, complete absence of the rule of law, every person for themselves.
In some ways, I’m not sure which end of the spectrum is worse. When the state has complete dominion over an individual’s life, history has proven over and over again that total state control is capable of monstrous crimes against humanity that are beyond comprehension. There has been no greater threat to individuals and minorities than that of the centralized, modern government. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum, is total anarchy—devoid of any organization or structure. History has also proven over and over again that completely lawless societies typically descend into total chaos, whereby the individual is forced to spend every day simply trying to fight off the marauding hordes in order to protect their lives, property and families from total annihilation.
In the words of James Madison, “If men were angels, there would be no need for government.” But we know that men are not angels. That is why I believe in limited government. But it should be a government that protects not only the rights of the majority, but the rights of the minority—and, most importantly, the unalienable rights of the individual. That is the purpose and intent of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The United States was not founded upon the notion of “universal equality,” i.e., democracy; it was founded upon the ideal of individual liberty, i.e., a constitutional republic—meaning, freedom. At the end of the day, we are either moving toward collectivism (tyranny) or individualism (freedom). Which “ism” will we choose?
1. Benito Mussolini, “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism,” in Fascism: An Anthology, Nathanael Greene, ed. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell,1968), pp. 41, 43–4.