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Cool. What periods of history are we allowed draw parallels with? Is there a whitelist or just a blacklist? Is the whole middle of the 20th C out of bounds? Can we discuss the fascist  movements so long as we don't bring up the Nazis?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:10:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was neither prescribing nor proscribing in my comment. I have consistently argued that Nazi parallels are false. I don't see anything in the above subthread that would make me change my mind.

If you have an enlightening Nazi parallel to share with us, go ahead.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Further now, in the light (???) of the latest sequence of "debate", I am 100% sure I'm right that half-assed rhetoric referring back to the Nazi period is improductive of anything but invective.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, when comparisons of attitudes then and now between people in the same country are so striking I begin to wonder if defensive explosions are a deliberate ploy to deflect valid comparisons. Are we or they to expect that the events of the '30s were so painful that, even in similar economic circumstances today, they could never be repeated, even in small part? If the factors that led to those events have indeed been dealt with then it should be possible to discuss those events rationally. If they have not does that mean that they should be ignored? I am concerned that events similar to the '30s could occur in the USA in the not too distant future.

Jerome noted recently that a possible solution to the current impasse over possible ECB actions would be for the French to say the Germans were acting like Nazis and they would blink - or not. Perhaps that was tongue in cheek, but it is largely the current French government that is giving Germany cover for its current policies.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:20:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Are we or they to expect that the events of the '30s were so painful that, even in similar economic circumstances today, they could never be repeated, even in small part?

Of course not. And I didn't say that. However, you would have to define "repeated" very carefully. And, having done so, you might find the conclusion was that the parallel was too schematic to fit the real complexities of historical situations.

ARGeezer:

If the factors that led to those events have indeed been dealt with then it should be possible to discuss those events rationally.

If you are ready to write the historical treatise that would adequately cover the ground you propose, I'd be eager to see it. But just making a quick cross-reference between German citizens today and those of the 1930s is not adequate. And the fact that over-reaction to it thinly disguises denial (of today's situation), does not make it so.

Oh, and pace Colman above, and what I feel is the subtext of your comment, I am not laying down rules or proposing censorship. It has been said again and again here that editors are members of the community who are perfectly within their rights in expressing their opinion. That is what I'm doing (and presumably you and Colman too). The limits to discourse on ET (beyond certain obscure open thread traditions) are explained here and here.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:24:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I think you're misidentifying the problem.

The problem is that every damn time we get critical of a specific government (despite cursing the other fuckwit leaders at the same time) the nationalist hackles rise and we get completely irrational defences. The English and Americans when we talk about Anglo disease or Iraq (well, not so much Iraq), the French when we point out how bloody racist mainstream right discourse is and that the left are providing cover for them, the Germans when we point out that their government is batshit insane and has no regard for the consequences of their actions beyond the short term political calculus, the Russians when we're mean about poor little Putin, and so on and so forth.

The problem with analogies to the events of the early to mid 20th C is that it's lovely cover for  nationalist outrage. "Oooooh, you said Nazi!" It's like a fucking pantomime.  

However, it's still extremely relevant, both psychologically - those events inform a lot of national myths, not least the Greek - and analytically. We, as a continent, are wandering along the edge of  a deep dark valley again, for much the same reasons and exhibiting a lot of the same philosophies.

Do I expect a rise of the Nazis? No, don't be silly. However, among the lessons of that period is that is very easy for conceited arrogant fools to enable some very dangerous people to gain power. Wrecking peoples lives and discrediting democracy and shaming their group is extremely dangerous and it's pretty clear that the fuck wits in Germany and the rest of the capitals don't clearly understand this. The outstanding demonstration of how dangerous it is is the rise of Hitler and his band of maniacs. They managed to take over a pretty modern industrialised country because it had been economically ruined by idiots, democracy had been discredited and undermined and because the arrogant fools thought they could control their little monster. We paid a hell of a price to learn that lesson last time. How much will we pay this time, since we've not only forgotten history but can't remember it in order to protect civility?

 It's not the same dark valley, and who knows what's at the bottom of it?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:04:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:16:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
It's not the same dark valley, and who knows what's at the bottom of it?

Right. So diary.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:41:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"the French when we point out how bloody racist mainstream right discourse is"

I don't know about that Colman, I know quite a few French people here who will defend your claim, not the mainstream right discourse.


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:08:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's the second part of the phrase that matters.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:11:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, of course. I possibly should have been clearer that it's not all of any nationality that do it. And sometimes it's the ones who've adopted a country that run off the deep end fastest.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:39:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since I live in the USA, it goes without saying that I live in a racist society from top to bottom. It's racist toward African-Americans and Latinos.

In Europe, where I've also lived, it struck me as absurd (being an American) that so much stock is placed in ethnic DNA.

The prejudices on either continent are different. People of learning find all forms of racism repugnant, so that any mention of the genetic inferiority of African descendants or Native/Aborigines, etc., would be immediately countered.

Yet, even in polite and learned company in Europe, I find an incredible ease in discussing ethnic differences within Europe. I've always felt uneasy with that ease. It is very common. In the USA, you rarely hear racial insults on the street, but I heard ethnic insults all over Europe. In newspaper columns, for instance, I've often heard the distinction between Ancient Greeks and contemporary ones with columnists pointing out that the Classical Greek bloodline has been so mongrelized that we now have a lesser strain. I shake my head in amusement when I read such things.

I'm not trying to downplay American racism since I think its unspoken coerciveness is still easily the more virulent when compared to Euro prejudices.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:43:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY:
In the USA, you rarely hear racial insults on the street

Spontaneous politeness? Or the fact that a relatively high proportion of passers-by might be armed?

it's the old joke : what do you call an eight-foot African with a spear?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:55:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could be both.

Consider, there is a great deal of defensive energy spent battling the racist label. Most racists absolutely abhor being branded racist. Only a few willingly claim it with pride. I think that's the reason racism in the USA is practiced, not enunciated.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:01:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience with white Americans (not to generalise! but with a surprisingly big sample of otherwise-OK people) is that they lack empathy with respect to racism. That is : they cultivate a powerful sense of grievance about the supposed advantages handed out to blacks; and any claim of racism on the part of a black will be dismissed as "playing the race card", i.e. they (sincerely, at least in many cases) refuse to believe that blacks encounter discrimination at every turn in everyday life. And they will use this as an excuse for their own functional racism : "Oh we don't want one living next door, not that I have anything against them of course, but they are so full of resentment on race issues, it's sure to create unpleasantness"... Awfully pathological. A real minefield.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:32:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of Robert Jensen's writings on white privilege.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:33:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is how it works, in my experience.

I've lived in inner city America from the time I was 4 on except for 3 years in Europe in my 20s.

Recently, I had dinner with a Korean (woman) and African-American (man) at an Italian restaurant, and the waiter was from NYC by way of the Dominican Rep. The waiter launched into a circus of racial and ethnic stereotypes that had absolutely no one at the table unnerved. It struck me as the kind of easy labeling that an immigrant from the Caribbean to Brooklyn to Buffalo, NY could get away with, the sort of thing I often experienced in Europe. The lack of offense taken came from the power relations between the 4 of us at that table. This is precisely why those who deal in stereotypes have to be aware of the context in which they speak.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:52:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are allowed to draw parallels as you like. May I ask what you are drawing a parallel for? In order to make a point, to deepen a discussion, to make yourself understood? If yes, you ought to bear in mind that parallels with nazism are a source for many misunderstandings, that they are a good method to emotionalise a debate, and that they tend to offend people. If that's what you want...

One could express the same thing much shorter: drawing parallels with the Nazi period is not fruitful.

by Katrin on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:21:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Katrin:
drawing parallels with the Nazi period is not fruitful.

this does not make it taboo, just a heavily mined area.

into which comments such as 'greeks are the new jews' or 'gaza=auschwitz' to chose a couple of facile invented examples would be a guaranteed source of expensive explosions.

yet neither would surprise me if seen at a protest, against germany's present policies wrt the EU, or at a rally for palestinian rights.

comments cleverly crafted to really seek insight, with respect to all concerned, should be encouraged, imo.

these are major historical landmark events and should be deconstructed whenever possible, for the very good reason that we want at all costs to avoid ever smearing humanity with a repetition.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:11:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
these are major historical landmark events and should be deconstructed whenever possible,

Diary?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:13:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this does not make it taboo, just a heavily mined area.

I can't say I'm seeing many minesweepers around.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:10:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
very tricky gig...70 years is not long to integrate the lessons of such horrors. it is so raw still in the collective memory, most will just not go there, or if they do lose their dispassion.

another 100 years or so maybe we can safely discuss them without so much flammability in the air.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:29:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nazis can be discussed, it is just then when you draw a parallel with something from Nazi Germany many readers will react as if you draw a parallel with the holocaust. Which is also why parallels with nazis are emotionally powerful and thus tempting.

If you compare something today with a fascist movement that most readers lack a particular image off (say the Albanian Fascist Party for an audience outside Albania) you are much freer because it lacks pre-existing emotional content, but then again that lack may make it pointless.

So I would say that drawing parallels with nazis is fine as long as your intention is to draw parallels with the holocaust. Otherwise it is likely that your actual point is lost amid mis-interpretations.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:34:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So we can't draw parallels because too many people are historically illiterate? Rational man indeed.

Anyway, the interesting parallels (mainly) aren't in the workings of the fully fledged Nazi state, they're in the rise of that entity.

Mind you, as discussed above, and given the way history works, it's not entirely unlikely that the current lunacy will eventually manage to produce it's own holocaust(s).

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:10:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the problem is not historical literacy, it is the emotional content. The Nazi regime, the Holocaust and the second world war is not only a piece of history, it is a story that is the mayor historical emotional reference point - reinforced through gun'n'nazi-movies - that establishes our secular devils and angels.

Unfortunately for mankind, but fortunately for those who wish to draw historical comparisions, most things the nazis did has been done to a larger or lesser extent somewhere else, so it is only a problem if you either a) don't know any other examples or b) want to draw on the emotional content of evil nazis.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:41:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the idea is that Germany has had a confrontation with their past, and there's been a national cleansing of sorts, so that any mention of the Nazis (as analogy) seems grossly unfair as it wipes away the postwar confrontation with history.

But I place much of this discussion on an analysis of certain repercussions that have not yet been dealt with.

Frankly, I've been shocked at the depiction of Greece and Greeks by the German media and German hierarchy. Given Germany's history vis-a-vis Greece, I did assume Germany would be more chaste in its approach.

This is what sticks in my craw more than anything: when discussing Greece's history of poverty and defaults on its loans, it's apparently OK to go back centuries and insinuate there is something rotten in Greek genetics or DNA, but with Germany, it's verboten to go back in history to make the same examination. As well, we hear of heeding the dangers of inflation given Germany's pre-war experience, but such references block out the experiences of lesser countries that suffered under the Nazi boot by focalizing events solely through German eyes.

To sum up: there's a double standard at play in the revision and analysis of history. If you're going to look back, you can't delimit the discussion. It presents a skewed context if you do.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germans have not learned a thing except to be quiet while talking about Jews when there are other people around, and I say that as a German.  
by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really. Do you really thing present day Germany suffers from e. g. militarism?
by IM on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
let's face it -  Germans are super arrogant.  

in a lot of southern vacation spots, they have two areas - one for Germans, and one for the other guests.

I know scientists who went to do some work in Germany and could not stand the arrogance of the scientists they were working with, who did not have the knowledge or experience of my North American friends but would simply say "We are German, of course we are better scientists".  This, while my friend is a consultant to help them set up their apparatus.

Germans are super defensive and consider that they should be supreme in all aspects of everything.  For example, in my last job, the Germans would tell me that while I knew American movies,  I did not seem to know German movies so well -  maybe because Germans haven't made such a big impact as Americans have on the field!

And on, and on, and on.

They are no longer so military, but their aggressiveness and superiority complex needs to be toned down quite a bit.  They are obnoxious.

I am, of course, speaking in generalities here and not every German fits into this type, but a LOT of them do.

by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:28:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when I was working for the EU project, there were 2 groups -  the Germans, and everyone else.  The Germans did not mix with the others, despite being invited.  They would go to Germany for lunch from Strasbourg every single day, despite France being known for its good food.

And as I said, I AM German, speak it and have a German passport.  And I had real problems tolerating them.  

by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:35:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If anything, they suffer from pacifism.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:13:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some Germans.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:48:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that goes without saying.
by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:28:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't claim it is fair. But neither is really the role of devilish Germans in the gun'n'nazis version of history that takes Nazi Germany out of context by leaving out the atrocities and genocides various european powers committed in their colonies. Still, it is what it is, mention nazis and many - not limited to Germans - will immediatley jump to the Holocaust. Within a national discourse in a country that was occupied by Nazi Germany I guess the occupation may trumf the Holocaust as primary reference and thus be instead if you mention nazis you better say something about the occupation because that is what your audience will have on their minds.

The rest of German history is another matter. Blame them for the Latin empire, or imposing that deadbeat German prince who failed to pay his bills and I don't think you will get the same reaction.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:30:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually the interesting parallels are in the striking similarity of values shared by the pre-war fascists and the modern corporadoes.

The Nazis were more extreme and systematic about pursuing their aims, and they did the militaristic jack boots and pantomime thing, which the corporadoes don't do to anything like the same extent.

But it's desperately naive to believe that just because there are no jack boots and sieg heil salutes the corporadoes aren't inherently fascist and totalitarian.

It may be a more a sophisticated form of fascism with more indirect violence and abuse. But for anyone who can be bothered to do some basic research, there are obvious similarities between the pre-war fascist doctrine of violence and war as inherently virtuous, and the corporado ethic of 'competition' as an unarguable social good.

Likewise with the explicit social Darwinism of the Nazis and the implied social Darwinism of the corporadoes, where individuals who cannot be forced into delivering value to the state must be punished - see e.g. the current Tory pogrom against those on disability benefits.

And so on.

I think it's more dangerous not to acknowledge the parallels, than it is to flee shrieking from them because they break some imaginary rule about Godwinism.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:46:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not just the fascists. It seems widely forgotten that most of the stuff the fascists picked up was lying around in the conventional wisdom of the time. Eugenics. Nationalism. Racism. Corporatism.

All of which have happily been purged from the modern union.

I don't think that calling the modern manifestation of that "fascist" is helpful. It's more the ground fascism and other fun weeds can grow in.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:22:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see the distinction. The fascists took those ideas and tied them together so they could sell them as a political brand, with a sideline in coloured shirt sales.

But arguably the older colonial European cultures were equally fascist - concentration camps were a British innovation, after all. They simply called it 'patriotism'.

Now we have a different and more sophisticated brand, which uses financial dictatorship as an excuse for political oppression.

Financial dictatorship has denuded Africa and swept third world populations into corporate slavery, so I'm not sure it's any less morally acceptable in practice than Nazism was. There are fewer outright wars - more or less - but I'd guess the body count is similar, if perhaps less specifically targeted.

The one key difference is that the stated reasons for violence are more subtle - in the sense of not really making any sense - and therefore more difficult to challenge directly.

And if there's any talk of a class - perhaps not a race, not quite - which deserves everything at the expense of the disposable and defective, it never goes far beyond board rooms. (Although from what I hear it's not an unusual sentiment at public schools in the UK.)

I'd suggest this understatement is a feature and not a bug.

Really, the Nazis were terribly vulgar, and one doesn't need to be quite that blatant to get what one wants.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd guess the body count is similar

I'd guess it's at least an order of magnitude bigger.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:50:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You appear to be using 'fascist' as a synonym for 'evil'.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm using fascist as a synonym for a certain kind of politics.

If I was using it as a synonym for evil I'd be including extra goodies like paedophilia, top-down drug dealing, and certain brands of media ownership.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the defining characteristics of fascism is the close link between business and the state. In Nazi Germany the state was dominant in that relationship. In some ways it is worse that today business is dominant - so much so that the entire political and regulatory apparatus is little more than an auxilliary to corporate power.

From the corporate point of view a disadvantage is that any given corporation has to share the control of the political system with other corporations. Hence my analogy of the US being run by a cabal of pirates. But they are all united in their insistance that the government let business be business, especially when business is giving the business to some hapless mere individual.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:57:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Violence through war and economic and colonial oppression are constants throughout history. What gives "fascism" enough difference that we should want to use the word?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:22:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a not-so-subtle variation on the "Shoah business" card that international Likud has so badly overplayed.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, that was in reply to this.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:03:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Now we have a different and more sophisticated brand, which uses financial dictatorship as an excuse for political oppression.

The history of the Albanian fascist party might actually be enlightening.

See, Albania had accepted help form Italy with loans, army training and a central bank located in Italy. Gradually they became totally dependent and when Italy finally invaded - because Albania could not pay their debts - the armed forces with its many italian officers did not even put up a resistance. Then the Albanian fascist party came to power.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:36:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
I think it's more dangerous not to acknowledge the parallels,

spot on.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:04:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
I think it's more dangerous not to acknowledge the parallels

I think it is ineffective communication to bring up the Nazis.

Italian fascists, Spanish falangists, the Albanian fascist party and so on contain similar stories and are less likely to immediatley trigger an assocation to the Holocaust.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:40:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well to defend some of the rhetoric in Greece, when Greeks say "Nazis" they do not refer to the Holocaust (although that claimed a disproportionate number of Greek Jews), but to generalized horror. Travel to Crete for example, and you will see in inland villages, column after commemorative column with the names of those executed summarily, by the Nazi occupation forces. And these are events within living memory of many. Apart from the actual mass killings, murder and pillage, the German occupation was also indirectly responsible for the last recorded famine in Europe AFAIK, where ~300.000 people starved to death, mostly in the cities. My mother-in-law has childhood memories of the cart that went daily around her neighborhood picking the corpses of those starved to death from the streets and the sidewalks, which then they moved on to bury in unmarked mass graves.

So when soup-kitchens form around Greece, and thousands of people go homeless as a result of policies widely perceived to be instigated by the German government, it isn't the Shoah people have on their minds when carrying plackards with Merkel in a Nazi uniform.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:16:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Talos, I know that. Most Germans do not, though. They find these placards very offensive and unfair and in an emotionalised climate it is impossible to speak about it, and about the different meanings of the nazi symbolic. I suspect it explains a bit of the high approval rates for Merkel. I find the German rhetoric and the lazy-Greeks-campaign at least as offensive and I am shocked that the communication can break down so quickly.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:44:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The show of solidarity around Germany (i.e., i.e.2) helped a lot I can tell you. So did a group of German protesters, protesting outside the German embassy in Athens and getting arrested for it... The thing is, as people are pushed below poverty en masse, Schauble on TV pontificating on how y'all deserve it doesn't help at all...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:05:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the lack of a common language is more important than we care to believe.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 01:32:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well here comes that argument again. When Germans see Nazi references, is the holocaust the first thing they think of? Not WW2? I feel a bit confused.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 05:13:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Germans will understand that as a reference to the Holocaust, which is why they find the current produce of Greek cartoonists so unfair.
by Katrin on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 06:22:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you can't really separate the two. Without the war the holocaust is hard to imagine. Even the action T4, that is the killing of mentally handicapped, started at the beginning of the war. It is easier to justify all sorts of killing when organized killing has started anyway, to hide a heap of corpses with a heap of corpses.

Quite apart from the facts, in the consciousness in Germany the Second World War is the holocaust and then the eastern front in the Soviet union. It is a bit as if you would ask if the americans remember slavery and not the civil war.  

Anyway I was very much not talking about any protest signs in Greece but about comparisons partly to the nationalsocialistic dictatorship, partly explicit to the holocaust right here on this blog.

by IM on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 08:50:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The holocaust would have been unthinkable without the war, but you can't reverse the statement.

You have read Talos's post above (btw, I have been to Crete, and I have seen impressive memorials there). It's not only Greece: many Europeans connote "occupation and starvation" rather than "holocaust" when they make a nazi reference. They think they can make themselves understood that way.

Germans connote "holocaust" before other concepts. They too think that everyone connotes in the same way.

by Katrin on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 09:06:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
here in rural italy there are people who remember and still talk about how cruel the nazis were.

perhaps that cruelty was par for the course for most any invading/occupying war machine, while the holocaust was novel, in its sheer scale and industrial efficiency, so that's why people in germany blow off any other parts as just normal behaviour during wartime. all armies are perceived as more or less inhumane after all. no saints on the battlefield...

ethnic cleansing is as old as time, whereas the holocaust was organised genocide on an historically unsurpassed level.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:41:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that aside from the Holocaust, the other pillar of Nazi horror is that it brought to Europe practices and methods used till then by Europeans against Third World colonies and darker skinned folks. I note that a decade after the war, the UK didn't have a problem with large scale concentration camps and a massive military operations affecting non-combatants, including starving them, as long as it was in Kenya...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:39:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
excellent, under-appreciated point...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 04:16:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I understand that. And I don't really have a problem with rethoric in Greece, as I wrote elsewhere:

A swedish kind of death:

Within a national discourse in a country that was occupied by Nazi Germany I guess the occupation may trumf the Holocaust as primary reference and thus be instead if you mention nazis you better say something about the occupation because that is what your audience will have on their minds.

Of course, when this get quoted in Germany, the perceived meaning shifts. But then again media in Germany has showed little willigness to understand the situation in Greece at all, so anything said in Greece is likely to be misunderstood by the general public in Germany after the German media has interpreted it.

What I am primarily concerned about in this discussion, is communication on this site. And here, I think it is important to notice that a lot of people (not at all limited to Germans) read nazis as a reference to the Holocaust and thus it becomes ineffective communication (or at least communication with a high probability of being ineffective) if you want to highlight something using, lets say Nazi sports policies.

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by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On this site it then should be a little easier to establish that many non-Germans find collective, exemplary punishment, such as killing all of the inhabitants of a village from which a few killed a German soldier or engaged in other hostile action, when used as a policy, to be almost as monstrous as the holocaust. And, in fact, these were subjects that were partly dealt with at Nuremberg, (and that precedent still haunts US actions.)  

Such collective punishments happened in Greece, in Belgium and elsewhere. This attitude is in spite of the fact that the countries from which they come have committed and continue to commit similar atrocities, even if the memory has been suppressed and/or the PR handled much better. The Nuremberg precedent and the UN Charter of Universal Human Rights are a high point when most of the world agreed to a higher standard of behavior. It is being eroded and that erosion needs to be opposed.

I would hate to hold up the USA as an example of proper behavior, given such incidents as the infamous helicopter press slaughter in Baghdad and the  slaughter of witnesses to atrocity in Iraq by US soldiers, but, at least, this is not official policy.  The regular troops get themselves involved in trying to execute plans in virtually impossible situations and take their frustrations out on civilians, but I  blame the leadership, right up to the President, more than the troops for such occurrences. I do not hold Germany to any higher standard than I hold my own government.

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by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:34:28 PM EST
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