Sunday, October 03, 2010

Holocaust thinking in America I: The Authoritarian Personality

theragblog | So now, in place of Newt Gingrich's 1994 Contract With America (aka Contract On America) we have the new GOP Pledge to America. Not unlike the current design, the rich are to get richer, and the poor to get sick, become homeless, starve, or shatter in endless wars.

The comparison of our American trajectory with the tactics and strategy of Germany in the late 1930s is more striking now than ever. We would do well to study this era carefully for a possible glimpse of our own future. Those targeted are no longer just our dispossessed, reviled and outcast -- our "jews" -- but much of the American (and of course world) population.

The attempt to exterminate European Jewry during the Nazi era was, in many ways, as unique as Jewish culture proclaims. Never before had an organized, industrial state targeted a population for complete annihilation, ruthlessly and efficiently pursued even within its “civil” codes and activities.

But to think of the Holocaust as a completely unique act, restricted to 20th century German antisemitism, is to limit it unduly, to make it unavailable as evidence and warning about tendencies in our own place, our own time.

For it would seem that every major thought pattern, every cultural institution that fueled the Nazi holocaust is present and empowered in the United States today. Safeguards against catastrophic outcomes are few and weak. “It can’t happen here”? Maybe. But with so many elements brewing together, and no visible controls to dampen the flux, there is no predicting in what direction the reaction will run.

Half a century ago, a civilization as culturally advanced as our own experienced a society-wide suspension of morality. Jews were the target. Now, the next set of domestic victims has already been chosen: the poor and unruly. Ready... aim...