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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-10-25 21:43
Subject: [politics] The Reagan archipelago
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:tired
Music:nada
Tags:politics
I've just lately been contemplating the echoes between this administration and Soviet Russia, especially Stalinist Russia. The Republican party under Bush has given us:

  • Fixed elections decided in secret, as in Bush v. Gore

  • Secret gulags where prisoners are sent without trial or appeal and detained indefinitely

  • Political oversight and "correction" of scientific research, pace Trofim Lysenko

  • Uniformed officers of the state ensuring that no one travels without papers and authorization, in the form of the TSA

  • Showpiece military projects which are meaningless except as propaganda, as in the ABM shield

  • A rubber stamp legislature without authority or courage to challenge the excesses of the leadership

  • Aggressive yet profoundly inept foreign military adventurism

  • Blatantly counterfactual economic orthodoxy

  • Loyalty pledges

  • Party loyalty universally trumping public interest

  • Purges (apparently non-lethal in our case)


The comparison is facile, to say the least. Yet for many conservatives, the great figure of recent history is Ronald Reagan, and his great victory was overturning the Cold War. Under the "leadership" of his successors, we have become what we once stood against.
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Brenda Cooper
User: bjcooper
Date: 2007-10-26 05:07 (UTC)
Subject: You are not the only one
Who sees these things. Nor are we the only two. When I go to protests, I see more and more people drawing that kind of parallel. Even more common is the parallel between Bush and Hitler, perhaps because it has more shock value. But there is some truth. Persecution of a religious group (Muslims, rather than Jews). A tendency to stick to simple statements and never waver. A large cadre of highly loyal people who know they cannot speak out or up (although Bush appears to fire people rather than execute them). A willingness to wage war on multiple fronts.

I do know of one major difference, though. Hitler believed in the power of science.

I used to wonder why Germans and Russians (and Italians - think Stalin) put up with despot leaders. I'm getting a clue. It's easier than removing them, at least on the surface. And its pretty easy to lie to ourselves about how bad it is.

I used to read Solzhenitsyn (spelling?). I used to think that since I lived in middle-class America, I would never have a reason to be a political dissident. But now, do you ever wonder if Bush has a work farm (or a Bay) waiting for writers like us who would say such things about him?

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The Green Knight: Crossroads
User: green_knight
Date: 2007-10-26 07:57 (UTC)
Subject: Re: You are not the only one
Keyword:Crossroads
I used to wonder why Germans and Russians (and Italians - think Stalin) put up with despot leaders. I'm getting a clue. It's easier than removing them, at least on the surface. And its pretty easy to lie to ourselves about how bad it is.

Mussolini, Franco, a whole host of South American and African leaders... examples abound; but sadly, for much of history, things had to get really bad before people opened their eyes.

I've grown up with the knowledge that one day I might find mysel in a position where the safest action is to drop *everything* and just leave the country. Only at the time I was living in Germany, which has put so many checks and balances in place that I think it is - for all its problems - a lot safer to live in.

The other thing about many of those dictators was that, initially, people had chosen them. They seemed to bring a fresh energy to the job, they could get things done, cut through red tape and unnecesary beaurocracy. And they could give the majority of voters what they wanted (although Bush seems to have forgotten that part - giving Middle America what it wants only works for so long - people who are well off already don't tend to stay bought, and a small number of rich people wanting to get richer will only get you so far.)

And initially Hitler had a lot of things he could point to which pleased large parts of the population: he stabilised the economy (which was in dire straits), there was a massive employment and renewal program (building the Autobahn etc), people started to get dreams in their reach (their own radio, their own <gasp> car, holidays) and he gave the country a sense of pride and backbone after it had gone through some very troubled times.

Those things came at a price, of course: blackout practice in 1934, anyone who wasn't organised 'properly' forbidden from taking part in public events such as choir competition, censorship and self-censorship, (ooops, forgot that: suppressing critical media until you have a large body of benign aye-sayers all printing more or less what the government wants, and doing it voluntarily) and, well, eventually far more desctructive actions and a war that tore the heart out of the country, robbed it of much of its cultural heritage, and left its people in fear of their lives - but initially, to the people on the winning side, which were often life's loosers [not that that was difficult during the Weimar Republic] looked around with pride and basked in the good life, and everybody was so busy getting bck on their feet and planning for a better future that they forgot to check the contract that nice Mr. Mephistopheles was holding out for them...
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The Green Knight: Danger
User: green_knight
Date: 2007-10-26 07:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Danger
You've forgotten

- torture as a political tool
- use of troops which not not fall into the normal command structure and army discipline
- excessive border controls for all foreigners
- extensive files kept on both own people and suspicious foreigners
- deportation of people who have lived in the country for thirty or fourty years
- spying on their own people (telephone tapping, reading letters and e-mails
- encouraging the population to spy on each other and report their neighbours to the authorities
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lordofallfools
User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-10-26 11:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Every time someone makes a comparison between a current political system and the Nazis, a kitten dies.

There, I've said it. Their furry little deaths be upon your head.

Look, if you've got to get your hate on, I understand-- Heaven knows the GOP hasn't gotten over the Clintons yet. So you're following a well-trodden path-- many fat, rich, white men have waddled a smooth trail just for you. Keep it up, you can goose them as you pass them by.

But America, even under Bush, is nowhere NEAR Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany. The comparison is not only facile, it's ridiculous. It smacks of desperation and fear-mongering.

There are problems with the current administration that will be a long time in getting repaired. (The expansion of executive powers is particularly troublesome, as the Democrats are not any more likely-- and evidentially, just as UNLIKELY-- to concede new presidential capabilities) These things can be addressed without resorting to Boogeymen.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-10-26 11:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are aware that Stalin was leader of Soviet Russia, not Nazi Germany? One less dead kitten, I think.

As for the rest of it, I'm not claiming we are in the parlous state of Stalinist Russia. We don't have famines, millions relocated, hundreds of thousands in our Gulags, or secret police with execution powers. (Just to name a few key points.) I am claiming that this administraton has adopted many of the trappings of secretiv, unelected power — something very few conservatives have been able to acknowledge.

I'm pretty sure somewhere in the history of conservative politcal rhetoric, a time or two, someone may have adopted an extreme position to make their point. Just sayin'.

As for the comparison to Clinton, as far as I can tell, at the bottom conservatives loathe Clinton because his administration was largely a political and economic success, which undermines their own political narrative. Progressives loathe Bush because his administration is largely a political and economic failure, which reinforces their own political narrative.
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lordofallfools
User: lordofallfools
Date: 2007-10-26 13:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are aware that Stalin was leader of Soviet Russia, not Nazi Germany? One less dead kitten, I think.

I was responding to this:

Even more common is the parallel between Bush and Hitler, perhaps because it has more shock value.

I'm pretty sure somewhere in the history of conservative politcal rhetoric, a time or two, someone may have adopted an extreme position to make their point.

Are you seriously asserting that conservative politicians' rhetorical practices should be adopted for general use? I thought the progressive line was all about free-thought and tolerance and rationality. I did not realize that there was a program of 'They did it, we can too!'

If I'm wrong on this, let me know.

In my opinion, the dearth of actual civilized debate in this country-- facilitated by the mudthrowing both political parties engage in-- is as dangerous to our liberty as any foreign terrorist. Moreso, because the participants in the hyperbole think they are so RIGHTEOUS. And because they are RIGHTEOUS, their opponents are WICKED, and anything you can say or do to stop them is justified.

One of the things that I so dearly love about Barrack Obama is his willingness to engage in a civilized conversation with those who oppose America. The last five years have shown that the military option doesn't work nearly as well as we'd hoped; let's go back to diplomacy, discussion, and honesty. His brand of rational discourse is EXACTLY what our culture needs at the moment.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-10-26 12:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Another thought for you -- excepting the question of the 2000 election, which I rather imagine we'd only have a pointless argument about, though I'm perfectly willing to have it -- do think I'm wrong on the merits? Guantanmo and the CIA secret prisons are a matter of record. So is indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial. So is torture. Are these conservative values? Are these American values?
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
The Green Knight: Decision Time
User: green_knight
Date: 2007-10-26 13:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Decision Time
But America, even under Bush, is nowhere NEAR Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany. The comparison is not only facile, it's ridiculous. It smacks of desperation and fear-mongering.

The only way to prevent another itineration of Nazi Germany (etc) is to understand how it worked, why it worked, and why nobody did anything about it until it was too late. That's a Lesson From History, one of those that people who refuse to learn them are damned to repeat.

Hitler makes a good comparison *because* he got to a tipping point where everything was obviously, completely, utterly wrong - and yet perfectly ordinary, upright, intelligent people got entangled in the mess. I don't think why one segment of history should ever be excempt from being examined. The comparisons made upthread were not about megalomaniacs and millions of people killed, they were about how someone can rise to power and make a powerful country their own with very little opposition.

If enough people see the parallels and ask themselves whether that is a road they are willing to risk treading, democracy has a better chance.
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User: ellameena
Date: 2007-10-26 14:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Party loyalty universally trumping public interest.

You mean like when the party arbitrarily decides that an entire state cannot be included in the process of choosing a candidate for president? That kind of public interest? Or is it more like when a party arbitrarily decides that an incumbent candidate cannot run for reelection in his party, and they try to punish him for running as an independent, and winning, because he did not obey the party.

Yeah, that sucks. Stoopid Reagan.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-10-26 14:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you're talking about Lieberman, he lost the primary. The party didn't do that, the voters did. That's not arbitrary, that's how the process is supposed to work. Liberman running and winning as an independent is also how the process is supposed to work.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: flgnrt
Date: 2007-10-27 00:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
He _said_ we don't torture a bit, but what he _meant_ was that we're extra careful that we don't leave marks...

Seriously, I hope I am not barging in on you Mr Lake, but it's a public forum.

Disgusted as we may be with the current administration, and as scary as neocons are, LofAF has a useful point, that calling anyone a facist is just inviting argument, and not very useful even if he is a fascist.

We've had rights abridged, we're internationally weakened, we're embroiled in a war based on false pretenses, yes, things are bad. At the same time, remember, the Nazis came to power amidst street riots and starvation in Germany; the Soviets through an German-financed coup. These two regiemes did not just result from an incremental slide of free and democratic societies to totalitarianism.
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-10-27 00:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes. The healthiest possible attitude to cultivate is of course that it could never happen here. Why didn't I think of that?
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grndexter
User: grndexter
Date: 2007-10-27 19:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was NOT quiet about
the "Patriot act"
the "Military Commissions act" (the suspension/abrogation of the right of Habeas Corpus - the ONLY right included in the main body of the constitution)
OR the "Rubber Stamp Congress."

And it's in the public, written record of my ng.

It's just that no one listened to people like me, and the people in the "press" are too busy following the pack to do their jobs (in much the same manner that they did during the Clinton years). I don't have thousands of $$$ to donate, I hold no office, and I have no bully pulpit to shout from. Shoot - people don't even bother to read my blog. (I pretty much stopped posting stuff there. I'm a conservative Republican - one of the only 5% that voted AGAINST Bush in the last election. Please note - I did NOT vote "for" Kerry.)

Read from my ng:
Feb 15, 2006 America - Post Constitutional Phase
Aug 30, 2006 What This Country Needs
Aug 30, 2006 Is Social Security Going Broke?
September 19, 2006 Problems in the Sand
Sept 22, 2006 The Geneva Conventions - What's the big deal?
Oct 28, 2006 The Republican Party is Pissing Me Off
Mar 20, 2007 "We oppose the war, but support the troops"
July 20, 2007 "L'etat, c'est moi"
Oct 27, 2007 So You Want National Health Care

Prior to those there are posts about "rendition = High Crimes & Misdemeanors" and other such conservative things that go back quite far. Look at how many people do NOT comment or discuss... which I interpret as the apparent opinion that I'm some kind of crazy fringe something-or-other. Okay. I don't have a problem with that. As the song says, I am who I am. What else could I be?" But please don't say "conservatives have been conspicuously silent over the last seven years" - unless you say, "except grndexter!" ;-b :)
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