Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Nazis: Always Good For a Knee-Jerk Response

According to Godwin's law , "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches [100%]". Yesterday, I was searching around for a topic to blog and having little luck. I thought, "Aha, Nazis, always good to incite strong feelings". :) Well, seriously, I was going to write a timeline on how civil rights were eliminated in Germany. It's an interesting subject and I may still write about it in the future. As I was researching the subject, I discovered that the Nazi party never managed to get more than 37.2% of the popular vote. In 1932-33, no political party had a majority in the Reichstag (parliament) so on January 4, 1933, a coalition was formed between the Nazis and a right-wing conservative party led by Alfred Hugenberg, a wealthy media mogul. I must admit that I flashed on Rupert Murdoch at that point. The rest was horrifying history; Hitler immediately grabbed absolute power and became dictator. I was curious about what became of Alfred Hugenberg since you don't dance with the devil and expect to keep your soul. Unlike many of Hitler's political enemies, he managed to avoid the concentration camps but ended up losing his media companies to the Nazis. Interesting history but BFD, right? Too commonly, there is a tendency to invoke the vast corporate conspiracy which corrupts government and highjacks true democracy. I've done it many times but I admit that's an oversimplification. While Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of a military-industrial complex which threatened American institutions of government, he did not blame all corporations. Corporate America is not a monolith. They have competing interests and their lobbyists fight each other in the halls of Congress. Although they enjoy the tax breaks and subsidies bestowed by our honorable legislators, they don't determine who we invade and when we go to war. If they did, the Iraq War wouldn't be such a monumental screw-up. Oil company executives did not want to invade Iraq since the risks did not outweigh the rewards. They make huge amounts of money anyway; why risk the entire Middle East going up in flames? Fascist governments have close ties to corporations and ignore the interests of the public. Still, while I.G. Farben may have profited by their Zyklon B contract, how did those executives feel as they watched their cities bombed into rubble? I'm pretty sure that wasn't good for business.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jeff Huber said...

But they were in position to bounce back, weren't they?

Taken a Bayer Aspirin lately?

7/27/2005 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Tarantula Lady said...

True, the corporations Bayer, Hoechst, BASF and Agfa made a comeback. From what I read in Wikipedia, this was due in part to the U.S. who wanted their expertise in producing chemical weapons. I suppose the Marshall Plan helped as well.

There was a Nuremburg war crimes tribunal that tried the board of directors of I.G. Farben. 13 out 24 were convicted and served 1-8 years in jail. They should have gotten much longer prison sentences for their use of slave labor from concentration camps.

I still think they would have preferred that Hitler had refrained from initiating WWII. Spending money on weapons is a good thing for armament manufacturers but actually using them in a psychotic and ill-considered war is probably not as popular.

7/27/2005 05:55:00 PM  

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