Sunday, January 02, 2005

“The End of Democracy” A History Lesson, Part Two.

Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He withdrew his country from the League of Nations in October 1933 and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Anthony Eden of the United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite.

His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people that he was a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted in Christianity. He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the Christian faith across his nation, what he called “New Christianity.” Every man in his rapidly growing army wore a belt buckle that declared “God is with us” --- and most of them fervently believed it was true.

Within a year of the attack, the nation's leader determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the communication and coordinated administration necessary to deal with the threat, particularly those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus considered to be probably terrorist and communist sympathizers, and various trouble-some “intellectuals” and “liberals.” He proposed a national agency to protect the security of the homeland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single leader. He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in the government equal to the other major departments.

His assistant who dealt with the press noted that since the attack, “radio and press are at our disposal.” Those voices questioning the legitimacy of their nation's leader, or raising questions about his checkered past, had by now faded from the public’s recollection as his Central Security Office began advertising a program encouraging people to phone in tips about suspicious neighbors. This program was so successful that the names of some of the people “denounced” were soon being broadcast on radio stations. Those denounced often included opposition politicians and celebrities who dared speak out-a favorite target of his regime and the media he now controlled through intimidation and ownership by corporate allies.

To consolidate his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't enough. He reached out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing former executives of the nation's largest corporations into high government positions. A flood of government money poured into corporate coffers to fight the war against the terrorists lurking within the homeland, and to prepare for wars overseas. He encouraged large corporations friendly to him to acquire media outlets and other industrial concerns across the nation, particularly those previously owned by “suspicious” people of Middle Eastern ancestry. He built powerful alliances with industry; one corporate ally got the lucrative contract worth millions to build the first large-scale detention center for enemies of the state. Soon more would follow. Industry flourished.

But after an interval of peace following the terrorist attack, voices of dissent arose again within and without the government. Students had started an active program opposing him (later known as the White Rose Society), and leaders of nearby nations were speaking out against his bellicose rhetoric. He needed a diversion, something to direct people away from the corporate cronyism being exposed in his own government, questions of his possibly illegitimate rise to power, and the oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people being held in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family.

With his number two man --- a master at manipulating the media --- the nation's leader began a campaign to convince the nation that a small, limited war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the “suspicious” Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire the nation’s most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity He called a press conference and delivered an ultimatum to the leader of the other nation, provoking an international uproar. He claimed the right to strike preemptively in self-defense, and nations across Europe --- at first --- denounced him for it, pointing out that it was a doctrine claimed in the past only by nations seeking worldwide empire, like Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece.

It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with European nations, but finally a deal was struck. Thus he annexed the nation in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular support as leaders so often do in times of war. The government there was unseated and replaced by a new friendly leadership, and the invading country set up its corporations there and began to take over the resources.

In a speech responding to critics of the invasion, he said, “Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say: even in death they cannot stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators.”

-Adolf Hitler, speech in Könignsberg, March 25, 1938.


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