Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.
Display:
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.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "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 Migeru (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 Migeru (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 ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Occasional Series