the big three of fascism, 1922 to 2021

Hitler is to Trump
as
Tragedy is to Farce

In the right-hand column are excerpts from Weimar Germany.  In this column are related materials and my own comments. 

on the hermeneutical utility of the ratio:
Hitler is to Trump as Tragedy is to Farce

chapter 9, "Revolution and Counterrevolution from the Right" may be the best brief summary reflecting current scholarship on the rise of "Hitler."


Eric D. Weitz, Weimar German: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton, 2007/2018), chapter 9, "Revolution and Counterrevolution from the Right" (pp. 331-360), excerpts.


the differences between "Hitler" and "Trump"

1.  the army brass (Milley) opposed trump
huge corporate backlash against Trump re. election ovefrthrow: blackstone, black rock & co. LIST of NYT articles

when and why did McConnell and McCarthy declare the election valid?

Why McConnell Dumped Trump, by Jane Mayer (New Yorker Feb. 1) SEE TEXT DOC

Business Leaders View Biden With Optimism and Skepticism (NYT 1-22-21)

Deepening Schism, McConnell Says Trump ‘Provoked’ Capitol Mob (NYT 1-19-21)

‘We Need to Stabilize’: Big Business Breaks With Republicans (NYT 1-15-21)

Chamber of Commerce calls Trump’s conduct ‘inexcusable’ and vows to curb certain donations.  NYT  1-12-21

Money Walks: Corporate America is rethinking its political donations. NYT 1-12-21

These Businesses and Institutions Are Cutting Ties With Trump  NYT 1-11-21

Loyal to Trump for Years, Manufacturing Group Now Calls for His Removal  NYT  1-10-21

After Riot, Business Leaders Reckon With Their Support for Trump (NYT 1-7-21)

Business Leaders Condemn Violence on Capitol Hill: ‘This Is Sedition’ (NYT 1-6-21)

Business Leaders Call on Congress to Accept the Electoral College Results
January 04, 2021  (The Partnership for New York City)

Opinion: All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory,  WAPO, January 3, 2021

More than 100 C.E.O.s urge Trump to let the transition of power begin. (NYT 11-23-20)

Business Leaders, Citing Damage to Country, Urge Trump to Begin Transition NYT 11-23-20)



Instead, the republic’s most dangerous antagonists always came from the Right.  Some of them were well established and lodged in the most powerful institutions of society—the army, the Protestant and Catholic churches, the state bureaucracy, industry and finance, schools and universities. . .  In the middle and top levels of the major institutions, there existed significant personnel continuities with the pre-1918 imperial system and the brittle anti-democratic inclinations of clerics, officers, civil servants, professors, and businessmen.  But Weimar’s opponents were also a ragtag collection of displaced World War I veterans, disgruntled teachers and shopkeepers, street-corner agitators, and lay Catholics and Protestants. 


Hitler                                                 Trump
institutions
Army

Protestant and Catholic Churches

the state bureaucracy

industry and finance

schools and universities
institutions
Milley, Joint Chiefs oppose Trump

SBC, Megachurches only

rational-bureuacratic state institutions resisted Trump

Massive tidal flow of corporate opposition (see links at the left)


fascist cadre

a ragtag collection
fascist cadre

Proud Boys, Oathkeepers,
Hitler as Fuhrer
Trump as Fuhrer





a ragtag collection: see LIST (grifters, phantoms, marginals; personal service vsbs (very small business); the Top Ten from LIST in terms of socio-economic status/location: Banker; geophysicist; loan officer (predatory); winery;


from Ann Goldberg, “Women and Men: 1760-1960,” in Helmut Walser Smith, The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History (Oxford, 2011)


The alleged undermining of the patriarchal family—the ruse of the ‘double earners’ (married women performing paid labor outside the home), and sexually liberated New Women—became a powerful symbol of the breakdown of the social fabric in the chaotic years of the Weimar Republic, subject to intense poltical debate, social policy interventions, and efforts to resurrect the traditional gender order.  The Nazis played directly on these gender anxieties as they built their movement in the Weimar years.  Together with Jews and leftists, feminists and New Women became symbols in Nazi propaganda of the decadence and weakness of liberal democracy and modern urban life.  Railing against the ‘soulless’ and ‘egotistical’ modern woman, National Socialists called for their return to the home and for the restoration of the patriarchal family—for, as the slogan went, ‘emancipation from emancipation’.

At the same time, the Nazis built upon the militarized masculinity and culture of comradship that had evolved in WWI, glorifying the ideal of a brotherhood of self-sacrificing soldier-comrades, and turning it into an extreme cult of violence, hardness, and duty to the racial Volk.  A study of the writings of the Freicorps—right-wing paramilitary groups of ex-soldiers and officers formed in the aftermath of WWI—explores the unconscious fears and desires of this fascist masculinity.  It shows the deep mysogyny of men who posssessed weak, fragmented egos, whose terrors of psychic dissolution were associated with femininization and female sexuality, and who, as a result, embraced a cult of masculine hardness and violence as an emotional defense mechanism.




The members of the radical Right were often too unpredictable, violent, and lower-class, too lacking in deference, for the generals, archbishops, estate owners, bankers, professors, and state secretaries who comprised Germany’s traditional conservative elite.  332



The old established elite was willing, in short, to countenance new ideas and practices to fight the republic, and behind them was a large middle class that longed for nothing so much as order and stability.  Ultimately, it took the combined political and economic crisis of the depression, coupled with the dynamic of the Nazi Party and Hitler’s personal magnetism, to bring together the diverse grave-diggers of the republic.  However tenuous and tension-ridden the coalition, all through the Weimar period  the established and the radical Right shared certain ideas and values that worked with a common language that enabled them to unite at critical moments.  Members of both camps [the radical Right and the established Right] . . . . ultimately supported or accepted the Nazi assummption of power.  332-3



“ . . . this great personality . . .  333


the differences between "Hitler" and "Trump"

3. The Nazis had brilliant intellects and serious thinkers and writers:

compare with Michael Wolff's account*of the intellectuals, thinkers, and writers in the Trump orbit: words like stupid and incompetent simply will not do.  The "Trump" biiocultural niche cog performtivity two orders of magnitude below Obama (preoperational, gestual; neo-chimpanee culture

*Landslide: the Final Days of the Trump Presidency



The “conservative revolutionaries,” as they were already dubbed in the 1920s, played a key role in the development of the right-wing mind set.  As the oxymoronic phrase indicates, they merged certain old-style conservative tenets, lkike the commitment to a hierarchical orde and desire for one great leader, with the modern emphasis on technology, propaganda, and the power of popular mobilization.  Many of the leading figures—Edgar Jung, Martin Spahn, Carl Schmitt, Oswald Spengler, Ernst Jünger—were brilliant intellects who had benefited from Germany’s superb elite educational system.  The notion that right-wing politics generally and Nazism in particular were the work only of material-minded, self-interested elites coupled with a collection of thugs and brutes is only one of the major misinterpretations that has managed to prevail over the decade.  In fact, Germany’s conservative revolutionaries were, in many cases, serious thinkers and writers, who also happened to be profoundly antidemocratic and, in many but not all instances, anti-Semitic as well.  334




Whatever his quirkiness, Spengler expressed the fascist mentality with its celebration of violence and death. . . .  The Spenglerian way out of the German crisis meant unending warfare, the militarized state and society of World War I perpetuated as an ongoing, normal condition of life.  It was a vision that glorified the actions of those Germans who thrilled after violent combat, whether in formal battle or in riots and street brawls against Communists and Jews. . . .  Spengler spoke to the many Germans who believed that a great figure would lead them out of their travails to that higher, virtually cosmic level of personal and German grandeur.  It was a seductive and dangerous gift that Spengler offered, an easy solution—the one great man  in whom Germans could vest all their hopes.336-7


an aesthetics of death, destruction, and mass murder

Ann Goldberg, “Women and Men: 1760-1960”
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Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany (Yale, 2004)

areas of human experience . . .  realms such as fantasy, envy, and terror  xi

The hatred and terror that drove people to such violence were shaped by social tensions and religious beliefs, but the passions themselves derived from deeply rooted fantasies, extravagent in their evocation of demonic lovers and Satanic revels.  These fantasies shared, for the most part, a standard structure and a similar set of primary themes.   7

demonic cliche   7

Beliefs and apprehensions about witches who flew to sabaths, fornicated with Satan, made men impotent and cooked an ate dead infants formed a ‘fantasy’  in the sense that they gave a structure to wordless terrors and grief, translating them into a recognizable narrative. 10

They heard about cannibalistic witches and sex with the Devil, and they uncovered a world of dark and sinister ceremonies that blasphemed against every Christian value.   11

These two men saw themselves as engaged in a divinely sanctioned battle against godless aristocrats who were soft on witches and lax crime, and both advanced their careers in part through their pursuit of witches.  23

Such themes could mutate   41

the feeling of emotional truth   61

Witchcraft allegations were a hall of mirrors where neighbors saw their own fear and greed in the shape of the witch.  63

There was an appetite for the salacious details of the witch’s crime and her fearful end   65

In Nördlingen’s witch craze, psychic conflict of the deepest, most irrational kind merged with political factionalism.   81

Deep-rooted, inchoate fears    178

Witchcraft was more than a language for expressing what could not otherwise be said.  It created a symbolic world in which those conflicts can be lived, and where others could be drawn in to act in a relgious drama.  194

Eating babies was exactly what witches were believed to do   247

they enobled male combat, male comraderie, and mass killings.  They created an aesthetics of death, destruction, and mass murder. 338



they talked about race, German-ness, degeneration, rebirth, the leader, hard struggle and the enemies who had to be eliminated.  Their unforgiving hostility to the republic and everything it represented effectively served the Nazis’ first aim: destroy the republic from within by unrelenting attacks and by creating an alternative vision of a racially based national community.   341




The Nazis invented nothing ideologically or rhetorically.  Hitler spoke the same language,  used the same words and phrases as did Spengler, Jünger, Althaus, and all the other forces on the right, only did so less knowledgeably and gracefully, than the others.  341 [ATWATER]




existential struggle; a vast world of conspiracy  342




The Nazis spoke the common language of the Right.  Their innovations were tactical and strategic.  They develope a consistent (and at least from 1926 onward), aggressive political strategy that placed primacy on constant action; built alternative institutions in the party, its paramilitary units, and its youth organization; and, in Adolph Hitler promoted a brilliant rhetorician and political tactician.  And more fervently and consistently than any of the estasblished conservatives, they targeted the particular, singular enemy whom they identified as the cause of all of Germany’s travails—the Jews.  342




Hitler had learned from the fisco of the 1923 putsch.  He would never again trust the established conservatives and decided that the road to power lay through the democratic procedures of the Weimar Republic.  Never again would he attempt an armed putsch.  Instead, the Nazis would use the freedom of the press, assembly, and speech that Weimar offered to build a mass following, and the electoral system to win the chancellorship or presidency  of Germany.  In the years before the Depression the Nazis constituted a tiny part on the fringes of German politics asnd society.  But they used these years to good effect by building as party of supremely deidcated followers and by establishing Hitler’s role as the preeminent leader, the embodiment, supposedly, of the German people’s destiny.  The party was also for some a revolving door—many people joined and left.  But those who stayed developed into highly committed activists.  342-3




Who were they?  A diverse lot.  Over time and especially after they were in power, a greater proportion of the party membership would come from well-established and elite backgrounds.  But the most salient point is that the Nazis formed Germany’s first Volkspartei, that is, a people’s party with members from all across the social spectrum.  Every other major party had a particular social or confessional profile—the Social Democrats and the Communists had predominntly working-class memberships; the Center Catholic; the German National People’s Party estate owners, busisnessmen, and peasants.  The Nazis attracted people from every class and virtually all Christian denominations.  That said, the party did include an overrepresentation of people from lower-middle and middle-class backgrounds: clerks, teachers,civil servants, shopkeepers.  Workers and Catholics joined the party too, but they were underrepreented because so many of them were already well organized into the milieus of the socialists labor movement or the Catholic Church, which the Nazis had a difficult time penetrating.  343




. . . the members of the Nazi Party were predominantly men who constituted the Weimar generation.  The very top leadership was slightly older and comprised many World War I veterans, like Hitler, Ernst Röhn, Rudolf Hess, Herman Goering, and Reinhard Heydrich.  But just below them were those who felt that the great challenge of war, the great opportunity to test their manhood and committment to the Fatherland, had passed them by because of their late birth.  Some of them were footloose young men who, in the difficult economic and social conditions of Weimar society, had never established a “normal” path into a steady job and a settled family life.  Some were street toughs who who enjoyed the opportunity for brawls, or cashiered army officers wo felt comfortable only in military-like settings.  Still others were highly educated men of the middle class who had come to believe that Germany had, indeed, been betrayed by the enemies at home and abroad, that race was the way of the world, and that Germany needed a full-scale revolution that would drive out the traitors, make war against the foreign oppressors, and create a racial society everywhere that Germans ruled.   343-4




The Nazi Party fomented disorder, yet—in a very nice game—successfully presernted itself s the party of law and order against the Communists and “alien” elements so many Germans feared. 349