Posts Tagged ‘Karl Dietrich Bracher’

European Federalism, the EU and the German Resistance to Hitler

February 28, 2019

The rabid Eurosceptics of UKIP, the Leave campaign and various other groups frequently claim that the EU is the product of Nazism. James Goddard, the noxious, racist leader of the British ‘Yellow Vest’ movement, was filmed last week screaming ‘Nazi’ at Anna Soubry for her support of the Remain vote and a second referendum. He’s one of those, who believe that the EU really does owe its origin to the Nazis, and screamed this at Soubry as he subjected her to abuse. Well, Soubry is far right, but because of her contemptible attitude to the poor and refusal to hold a bye-election along with the other members of the Independent group. But she’s not a Nazi for supporting the EU, and Goddard and others, who believe that the EU was somehow spawned by Hitler and his thugs are simply wrong.

I was taught at school when we studied the EU that it had its origins in a series of economic arrangements creating free trade zones between France and Germany, and then Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which were intended to stop the rise of such destructive nationalism and prevent further European wars. And the idea of a European parliament or federation to preserve peace long predates that. The Quaker William Penn in the 17th century wrote a pamphlet recommending a European parliament as a means of securing peace after the horrors of the 16th and 17th century wars of religion, including the Thirty Years’ War, in which 1/5 of the German population starved to death. In the 18th century, the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote his The Peace of Europe, recommending a European federation, again as a means of stopping war. In the 19th century, the Italian revolutionary Mazzini also believed in a European federation as a means of guaranteeing peace.

Germany, with France, is one of the two mainstays of the EU. And while the EU has allowed Germany to dominate Europe economically, to the disadvantage of other nations, like the Greeks, that’s not why the German people support the EU. They support it because they genuinely believe it is needed to prevent the resurgence of militant nationalism, like that of the Nazis.

It also seems to me that some of this attitude goes back to the wartime Kreisau Circle, a movement of socialist and bourgeois intellectuals and anti-Nazi clergy, who met on the estate of the nobleman, Count Helmuth James Moltke in Kreisau in Silesia. They were determined to find a way to end the Nazi dictatorship and create a more just European order which would prevent such tyrannies ever returning. And this included a united, federal Europe. The German historian, Karl Dietrich Bracher, discusses the group’s ideas in his book, The German Dictatorship (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1970). Their ideas of a federal Europe are described on pages 544 -45. He writes

At the centre of the discussions of this multifaceted group were the internal reforms, the basis of the new post-Hitler order. The approach to foreign policy mentioned earlier points up the unique qualities but also the limitations of the Kreisau Circle: the break with nationalism; the movement towards a European internationalism rejecting both the French hegemony of Versailles and the old and new ideas on German hegemony; German-French and German-Polish understanding in the place of disputed territorial demands. These ideas were largely the work of the Socialists (Haubach, Leber and Reichwein); Leber had consistently maintained that the principles of economic cooperation and democratic domestic policy must also govern international relations. But Moltke and his friends, also departing from the historico-political traditional ideas of their class, spoke of the Europeanisation of political thought and of the need for revising the idea of the state as an end in itself. The problem of East German and East European nationality policies gave rise to the idea of a supranational, federalist solution. Moltke quite early had devoted himself to the problem of the minorities. This formed the basis on which cooperation with exponents of Socialist, internationalist concepts could be worked out. In some respects Moltke went even further by raising the seemingly utopian idea of the division of Germany and Europe into small, self-administered bodies. This type of radical federalism, which invoked the sovereignty of a European federation, meant a revolutionary break with nineteenth- and twentieth-century modes of thought, according to which the defence against ‘particularlism’ and support for the national unitary state was the highest law.

The practical proposals of the Kreisau Circle lagged far behind such radical models. But even more ‘realistic’ supporters of a moderate national idea like Trott zu Solz made the preservation of the existing states dependent on a restricted sovereignty in favour of a European federation. While Moltke represented the most consistent moral and legalistic position and was highly critical of appeasement and its disregard of international principles of law in favour of national revisionism. Trott believed that concessions to the traditional national principle were indispensable. But in 1938 he, too, unlike Goerdeler, came out for the 1933 borders and against territorial claims; central to his idea of Europe was German-British cooperation. Beyond that, Trott expressly stressed the role of the working class, in which ‘a strong tradition of international cooperation and rational politics’ still lived on. Apparently he had in mind in particular the example of the United States, and he visualised a unified Europe with a common economic policy and citizenship, a ‘joint highest court’, and possibly also a European army. Leaving aside the question of whether or not some of the visionary details were realistic, the basic idea of a non-nationalist Europe in which neither a strong France nor a strong Germany would tip the scales offered a more constructive vision of the future and also more persuasive alternative to Hitler than the regressive ideas of Goerdeler. (My emphasis.)

This, I think, is where some of the origins of the EU lie. And definitely not in Nazi propaganda about a European union of states under German domination to fight communism. When Goddard, the Kippers and the other anti-EU fanatics spout that the EU was created by the Nazis, they’re flat out wrong. And revealing their own poisonous ultra-nationalism in the process.

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Wishing Everyone a Solemn and Reflective Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27, 2018

Today is, I believe, Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the world, or at least the Western world, reflects on the Shoah and the calculated extermination of six million Jews. But it is also important to remember the other victims of the Nazi camps as well. The Jews were the largest single group, but in total 11 1/2 million people were murdered by the Nazis in the death and concentration camps. This included the congenitally disabled, who were murdered by Nazi doctors under the Aktion T4 programme with the assistance and supervision of the SS. Historians such as Martin Broszat in The Hitler State and Karl Dietrich Bracher in The German Dictatorship, have pointed out that this prefigured and prepared for the murder of the Jews, particularly in the use of poison gas. In the end, Aktion T4 was stopped by the courageous action of the Roman Catholic aristocrat, Count Galen. This shows that Christian opinion in Germany and opposition to the Holocaust from the churches could also have stopped the Shoah. But with a few, very honorable exceptions, like Bonhoffer, the churches didn’t.

The Nazis also attempted to exterminate the Romanies – the Gypsies – as they too were considered, like the Jews, to be subhuman and a threat to German society and racial industry.

Other victims of the camps included the mentally ill, neurotics, prostitutes, recidivist criminals, Prisoners of War, and political prisoners, such as trade unionists, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, gay men, and slave workers from the Slav nations. The last were worked to death in horrific conditions, including building the Nazi fortifications and tunnels in the Channel Islands.

Holocaust Remembrance Day isn’t just about commemorating the Holocaust and its victims, but other genocides and their victims that have occurred throughout history. Hitler partly made his decision to go ahead with the extermination of the Jews because of the complete lack of western reaction to the Young Turks’ massacre of the Armenians. He commented, ‘Who remembers the Armenians?’ And before then, the German colonial authorities in what is now Tanganyika had attempted to exterminate the Herrero after they revolted, using similar eugenicist logic.

Unfortunately, as Mike has pointed out, genocides have continued to be perpetrated, such as the various crimes against humanity committed by Fascist regimes across Latin America, Asia and Africa, supported by American foreign policy. The persecution of the Rohingya is just the latest of these. And Jews have been involved in protesting and commemorating them and their victims as well. In Canada, the leader of the mainstream Jewish organisation, Bernie Farber, organised a ‘Shabbat for Darfur’ after that city was attacked by the Islamist Janjaweed Militia in the early part of this century. Farber’s generous action has been bitterly criticised by members of the transatlantic conservative Right, who feel that Jews should concentrate solely on their own sufferings in the Holocaust, and not expand their experience of suffering, persecution and attempted genocide to form solidarity with the other persecuted ethnic and religious groups.

Israeli scholars have also noted that the Holocaust, while horrific, was not a unique event. See Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review, edited by Israel W. Charny, the executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust, Jerusalem, and Director of Postgraduate Interdisplinary and Graduate Social Work Programs in Family, Therapy, Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University. Dr. Charny’s book also includes a chapter on the ethnic cleansing of Israel’s indigenous Arab population, which is definitely unwelcome to the Likudniks. But it bears out Ilan Pappe’s assertion that Israelis are still decent people, who need to have the situation and issues properly explained to them. But odiously, Netanyahu, Likud and other ethno-nationalists in his ruling coalition are doing all they can to prevent that occurring. As are his little helpers over here in the shape of the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.

So as we commemorate the sufferings of the Jews during the Nazi regime, we also need to take on board that it isn’t just about anti-Semitism, but about similar horrors that have disfigured human history down the centuries, and murderous, criminal regimes that are perpetrating them today.

Joe Rogan on Conspiracy Theories and Alex Jones’ Comments on Charlottesville

August 18, 2017

It seems that Alex Jones just keeps going lower and lower in his statements and mouthings about stupid and poisonous conspiracy theories.

In this clip, Joe Rogan, the host of an internet radio show in the US, and his co-presenter talk about conspiracies and conspiracy theories. They discuss the problem of credibility and the refusal of people to accept when they genuinely don’t know anything. They also contrast real conspiracies with the wild, bogus theories spouted by Alex Jones.

Rogan gives as an example of a real conspiracy the plan by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 1960s to shoot down an American passenger aircraft and blame it on Cuba. There were also other strategies to arm Cuban friendlies to attack Guantanamo Bay, thus allowing them to blame it on Castro and start a war. These are genuine conspiracies, which have been revealed by documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

He contrasts these with the bizarre, deep conspiracies, such as Kennedy being assassinated by his driver, and the rubbish pushed by Alex Jones.

Alex Jones is the main man behind Infowars, and I’ve blogged many times about his insane and dangerous theories. Jones is a 9/11 truther, but has gone on to claim that the ‘globalists’ who run the world really are demonic entities, either literally so, or are extra-dimensional aliens. The global elite sacrifice children to Satan, and perform black magic orgies. Barak Obama was possessed by demons. So is Hillary Clinton, though she may also be a robot or cyborg. The Clintons were also involved in a paedophile ring running out of a Boston pizza parlour. Gay rights activists are a ‘transhumanist space cult intent on producing genderless humans’.

And the global elite, including Obama, are just waiting to incarcerate true, freedom-loving Americans in concentration camps. They also manufacture emergencies, including gun crime and mass shootings, in order to pass legislation to deprive Americans further of the rights and liberties. Of which, the most important is the right to carry guns.

Hence he declared that the Sandy Hook school shooting was entirely fake, and that the victims were all ‘crisis actors’. Apart from being massively wrong and offensive, this has led to the nutters, who believe this nonsense approaching the bereaved parents to challenge them about the deaths of their children.

And now it appears Jones has done something similar following the events at Charlottesville. He has claimed that the violence there was staged by ‘Jewish actors’, at least according to Rogan. If this is true, then it’s a new low. The mob marching to defend the statue definitely included real Klan members and Nazis. These stormtroopers really did try to beat up and kill the counterdemonstrators, and the anti-racists inside a meeting hall, attended an inter-racial, interfaith meeting, in which the participants included Dr. Cornell West and Rev. Traci Blackmon, two Christian ministers committed to social justice. West and Blackmon have stated that it was the anarchists and the Antifa, who rescued them when it looked like the Nazis were going to beat them to death.

And the Nazis also marched on a local synagogue, surrounded it, and chanted ‘Sieg heil’, terrorizing those gathered for the evening service. The rabbi and staff were so frightened, that they smuggled the Torah scroll out of the backdoor in case the Nazis should try to damage it.

Rogan and his fellow presenter also state that these daft conspiracy theories are a distraction from what the authorities really are covertly doing.

This is all absolutely correct. Parapolitical writers, like Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, draw a distinction between real conspiracies, such as those discussed by Rogan and his fellow host, which they sometimes term ‘parapolitics’ or ‘Deep Politics’, and the bogus conspiracy theories, such as Jones’ rants about the coming one world Satanic state, the various anti-Semitic theories about the Jewish bankers, and contact with shape-changing alien lizards.

As for Jones and his nonsense about ‘Jewish actors’, this is stuff of which the Nazis would have been proud. The Nazis and fellow Fascist parties in the rest of Europe, like Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, blamed just about every misfortune on the Jews, including their own negative image. Mosley devotes an entire chapter in his autobiography, My Life, to what he calls ‘Jewish opposition’, claiming that he was unfairly maligned by his Jewish opponents. Needless to say, he wasn’t. His biographer, Skidelsky, claimed that Mosley wasn’t originally anti-Semitic, but only became so after he was attacked as such by the Jews. He supposedly ordered one of his lieutenants, who came from the Britons or another of the anti-Semitic societies, to look into it. And this officer then duly came up with the daft conspiracy theories and libels blaming everything on them. More recent studies, such as by Stephen Dorrill and his biography of Mosley, Blackshirt, have shown Mosley was anti-Semitic from the start.

Jones, and those figures on the right like him, are going down a very dangerous path when they repeat the same type of lies that the Nazis used to try and fool people into believing that they weren’t a collection of violent thugs intent on mass murder.

It’s questionable how much of this bilge Jones really believes. Jones has tried to defend himself in the court case involving custody of his children by having his lawyer release a statement that he doesn’t believe any of it, and that he just a ‘performance artist’, like a ‘rodeo clown’. If true, it means he’s consciously lying, which makes him even more similar to Goebbels in this matter.

I admit, I’ve got a lot of pleasure before now from watching Jones’ insane rants and antics. But this is rapidly coming to an end. When he starts lying about real Nazis, who act like Nazis attacking Blacks, Jews, gays and anti-racist Whites, he’s crossed a line.

Even looking at him to get a laugh out of his ravings is dangerous. Karl Dietrich Bracher, a German historian of Nazism, describes in one of his books how some Germans turned up at Hitler’s rallies and his denunciation of the Jews and others simply as a bit of fun, without taking it seriously.

After Charlottesville, a number of internet servers are refusing to host Nazi and White supremacist sites. After Jones’ comments about the violence in Charlottesville being the fault of ‘Jewish actors’, his show should be treated the same way as well.

Class Hegemony and the American Idealisation of the Super-Rich

August 7, 2013

In her article on the Tory abuse of sociology, Kittysjones quotes the great American author, Jack London, on American’s attitude to their own poverty and servile condition compared to the wealthy. Americans, according to London, did not see themselves as exploited. Rather, they saw themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. This appears to be true. Others have remarked that American voters tend to support the tax cuts that benefit only the multi-millionaires, while cutting the government services on which they depend, because they see themselves as one day belonging to the same class. It’s a classic example of what Marx called ‘false consciousness’ and the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci formulated as class hegemony. It’s the way the members of the working and other exploited classes take on the cultural values and ideas that justify their exploitation and the power of the ruling classes. In this case, it’s very much a continuation of 19th century ideas of personal advancement through hard work. An article in the Financial Times observed that Americans believe in equality of opportunity for groups, but not collective equality. The idea is the classic Liberal view that once obstacles to advancement are removed, the individual can work his or her way up through society by means of their own talents and hard work. The same idea was held very strongly in 19th century Britain. One of that centuries leading politicians once toured the northern industrial towns. In a speech before a crowd of ‘the labouring poor’, he declared that the power of advancement lay within the reach of all of them. The same attitude continues to permeate and inform modern American attitudes to poverty, class and social advancement.

At one level, there’s nothing wrong with it. People should have the right to use their talents to improve their position in society. One of the great boasts of American political and social culture was that people could do that in the land of free, in contrast to the feudal class systems of Europe. The same classlessness is also found Downunder in Australia. The reverse side of this aspirational attitude, at least in America, is that frequently poverty is seen not as the result of unjust social arrangements, but simply as the individual’s own fault.

This attitude has become increasingly pronounced with the rise of the Right following Reagan’s electoral victory. The Right’s political rhetoric during the last two elections celebrated the achievements of the wealthy business elite. It vehemently demanded further tax cuts in their favour, and attacked any imposition of government controls and regulation as an attack on their freedom and their ability to benefit the economy. Despite America’s strong and admirable democratic tradition, there’s also an extremely disparaging attitude to attempts to create greater equality. Advocates and promoters of such egalitarianism are frequently sneered at by some members of the Right as ‘equalitarians’.

At the risk of once again falling into Godwin’s Law, these attitudes also have parallels with Nazi ideology and that of the German Conservatives, which preceded and in many ways prepared for it. Karl Dietrich Bracher in his book The German Dictatorship notes that Hitler saw the success of business leaders in terms of his Fuhrerprinzip (leadership principle) and corresponding rejection of nationalization. In Bracher’s words ‘The leader principle explained the superior position of business leaders; they had succeeded because of their abilities; socialization or co-determination would be nothing more than a return to democracy and popular rule.’ Six years before the Nazis seized power, the extreme Right-wing author Edgar Jung published a book, Die Herrschaft der Minderwertigen (The Rule of the Inferiors) attacking the Weimar republic and demanding an elitist, Corporative state. Bracher also notes that one of the groups the Neo-Nazi NPD attempted to appeal to in the 1970s was ‘daring entrepreneurs’. I doubt very many respectable businessmen actually joined them, preferring to support the ‘Brown Reactionaries’ their predecessors sneered at in the Horst Wessel Song.

Now I am again certainly not claiming that the modern Conservative Right in American and Britain are Nazis. However disgusting Cameron and co’s policies are, they are not comparable in horror and depravity to those of the Third Reich. I am merely pointing out that they share with the Nazis extreme elitist attitudes that favour the business elite, and governments in their favour, while keeping the majority poor and political inactive.

Source

Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure and Consequences of National Socialism (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1971).