The Bail Out: AMERICAN KRISTALLNACHT
by Maryscott OConnor, Mon Sep 22, 2008 at 08:02:08 AM EDT
Crossposted fromMY LEFT WING
The Bush/Paulson Economic Bail Out Proposal is an American Kristallnacht in the making.
So posits a DKos diarist named Mr. Tek.
And before anyone starts screaming about Godwin's Law and the Jewish persecution of Kristallnacht... THIS IS ABOUT ECONOMICS. As was Kristallnacht, as Tek's essay explains.
I have taken the liberty of editing Tek's piece for spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation, and emphasising elements of the essay I feel are important to the historical parallel. I've also reproduced only that part of the essay I believe relevant to the argument.
This event was completely planned and executed by a "mob" who attacked Jews in massive numbers in a night that was the epitome of an orgy of violence.
The "mob," which was purported to be a spontaneously formed reaction to events, was in reality a carefully orchestrated event to justify even more emergency powers.
Three days later, on November 12, Hermann Goering called a meeting of the top Nazi leadership to assess the damage done during the night and place responsibility for it. Present at the meeting were Goering, Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Walter Funk and other ranking Nazi officials. The intent of this meeting was two-fold: to make the Jews responsible for Kristallnacht and to use the events of the preceding days as a rationale for promulgating a series of antisemitic laws which would, in effect, remove Jews from the German economy. An interpretive transcript of this meeting is provided by Robert Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, New York: Harper and Row, 1983:164-172):
'Gentlemen! Today's meeting is of a decisive nature,' Goering announced. 'I have received a letter written on the Fuehrer's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another.'
'Since the problem is mainly an economic one, it is from the economic angle it shall have to be tackled. Because, gentlemen, I have had enough of these demonstrations! They don't harm the Jew but me, who is the final authority for coordinating the German economy. `If today a Jewish shop is destroyed, if goods are thrown into the street, the insurance companies will pay for the damages; and, furthermore, consumer goods belonging to the people are destroyed. If in the future, demonstrations which are necessary occur, then, I pray, that they be directed so as not to hurt us.
'Because it's insane to clean out and burn a Jewish warehouse, then have a German insurance company make good the loss. And the goods which I need desperately, whole bales of clothing and whatnot, are being burned. And I miss them everywhere. I may as well burn the raw materials before they arrive.
'I should not want to leave any doubt, gentlemen, as to the aim of today's meeting. We have not come together merely to talk again, but to make decisions, and I implore competent agencies to take all measures for the elimination of the Jew from the German economy, and to submit them to me.'
It was decided at the meeting that, since Jews were to blame for these events, they be held legally and financially responsible for the damages incurred by the pogrom. Accordingly, a "fine of 1 billion marks was levied for the slaying of Vom Rath, and 6 million marks paid by insurance companies for broken windows was to be given to the state coffers. (Snyder, Louis L. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. New York: Paragon House, 1989:201).
Finally, how all of this relates to us.
We have had 30 years of tax policies that seemed, irrationally, to be designed to force a complete meltdown of the economy. It was always believed that the people pushing for these policies had not thought them through but only wanted to reward greed.
Now, suddenly, during the very week that the system starts to collapse, a piece of legislation that was at the very least months if not YEARS in the writing, magically appears -- seemingly from whole cloth at the last moment.
No one has read even a small portion of it, but what has been published is a clear manifesto to provide powers to the treasury that can only be described as a Coup d'état:
A coup d'état (pronounced ku?de??t?? AHD: [ko?o"d? tä]), often simply called a coup, is the sudden overthrow of a government by a part of the state establishment -- usually the military -- to replace the branch of the stricken government, either with another civil government or with a military government.
The coup d'état succeeds if its opponents fail to thwart the usurpers, allowing them to consolidate their positions, obtain the surrender of the overthrown government or acquiescence of the populace and the surviving armed forces, and thus claim legitimacy. Coups d'état typically use the power of the existing government for the takeover. As Edward Luttwak remarks in Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook: A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder. In this sense, the use of either military or another organized force is not the defining feature of a coup d'état.
This is not a military takeover, nor will the resulting fascist state be militant to the extent that the Nazis were. WE WILL NOT BECOME A NAZI STATE.
If you think I am alarmist, you are welcome to believe that, but you need to explain a deliberately engineered financial crisis, and a "panic driven" bill that ends all government authority over the agency that is to be tasked with solving that crisis.
I deleted, for purposes of reproducing what I consider an otherwise astute analysis of this situation, Mr. Tek's penultimate paragraph:
We will, however, become a fascist state -- either when this election is called off, or a few months later when congress is thanked for their time and told to go home. Or the appearance of a Democratic shell may be retained to provide a fig leaf, but this crowd does not seem either that sophisticated or concerned about appearances.
I think Mt. Tek underestimates the canny ability of the people attempting to perpetrate this second U.S. coup d'etat to do so while keeping things running 'smoothly' as ever. That is to say, if they do manage to pull off this wretched thing, they will not have to call off the election or suspend Congress.
First, as we're all aware, they're quite capable of fixing elections and killing Presidents. Second, Congress is, as the proposal demonstrates, effectively castrated by this legislation and therefore its continued presence as a calming influence over the masses will be necessary. Members of Congress who desire to scream to the rafters about the coup d'etat will naturally be allowed to do so, because -- as we've seen before -- nobody listens, anyway.
So, here's my take on it: Mr. Tek is correct; if this thing is allowed to happen, we will have, indeed, experienced our own version of Kristallnacht, without actual, real-time bloodshed (that will come later as the repercussions begin to hit real people -- the repercussions of THIS one act, as opposed to those of the past several years of deregulations' influence).
So it must not happen.
Unlike what appears to be the vast majority of my liberal peers, I happen to feel mildly optimistic about the situation. I think the Democratic congress knows full well what we're facing and that they will not allow this to happen. I know Senator Obama knows what this Bush Administration coup attempt is; I know he is doing his damndest to fight it and that he needs his Democratic congressional allies to support that fight.
Whether we win this today or November 4th and in January, I cannot know. I do know that whatever the outcome, this is a bleak, black era in which we're living -- but the one referenced by Mr. Tek and myself in reproducing his essay was worse. And we -- humanity -- overcame that.
We will overcome this, too.