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Migeru - The Gleichschaltung of Spain
Gleichschaltung, anyone?

Gleichschaltung, a metaphor from electro-mechanics that might be translated by "phasing" or "synchronisation", can be politically interpreted as "coordination" or ""forcible-coordination" or "bringing into line". Taken in that general sense, it could apply to the events you're describing. But the reason for featuring it here (as your self-Godwin implies) is that the Nazis used it to refer to the process by which they created a totalitarian state in Germany.

A couple of historical reminders, one more general, the other more specific:

The rapidity of the transformation that swept over Germany between Hitler's takeover of power on 30 January 1933 and its crucial consolidation and extension at the beginning of August 1934, after Reich President Hindenburg's death and following close on the major crisis of the 'Röhm affair', was astounding for contemporaries and is scarcely less astonishing in retrospect. It was brought about by a combination of pseudo-legal measures, terror, manipulation -- and willing collaboration. Within a month, civil liberties -- as protected under the Weimar Constitution -- had been extinguished. Within two months, with most active political opponents either imprisoned or fleeing the country, the Reichstag surrendered its powers, giving Hitler control of the legislature. Within four months the once powerful trade unions were dissolved. In less than six months, all opposition parties had been suppressed or gone into voluntary liquidation, leaving the NSDAP as the only remaining party. In January 1934, the sovereignty of the Länder -- already in reality smashed the previous March -- was formally abolished. Then, in the summer, the growing threat from within Hitler's own movement was ruthlessly eliminated in the 'Night of the Long Knives' on 30 June 1934.

By this time, almost all organisations, institutions, professional and representative bodies, clubs, and societies had long since rushed to align themselves with the new regime.'Tainted' remnants of pluralism and democracy were rapidly removed, nazified structures and mentalities adopted. This process of 'coordination' (Gleichschaltung) was for the most part undertaken voluntarily and with alacrity.

(Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936, Hubris p.435)

Specific measures taken by Hitler and the Nazis are detailed in Wikipedia:

Gleichschaltung - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a more specific sense, Gleichschaltung refers to the legal measures taken by the government during the first months following January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. It was in this sense that the term was used by the Nazis themselves.
  1. One day after the Reichstag fire on February 27, 1933, President of Germany Paul von Hindenburg, acting at Hitler's request and on the basis of the emergency powers in article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, issued the Reichstag Fire Decree. This decree suspended most human rights provided for by the constitution and thus allowed for the arrest of political adversaries, mostly Communists, and for general terrorizing by the SA to intimidate the voters before the upcoming election.
  2. In this atmosphere the Reichstag general election of March 5, 1933 took place. This election yielded only a slim majority for Hitler's coalition government and no majority for Hitler's own Nazi party.
  3. When the newly elected Reichstag first convened on March 23, 1933, (not including the Communist delegates, since their party had already been banned by that time) it passed the Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz), transferring all legislative powers to the Nazi government and, in effect, abolishing the remainder of the Weimar constitution as a whole. Soon afterwards the government banned the Social Democratic party, which had voted against the Act, while the other parties chose to dissolve themselves to avoid arrests and concentration camp imprisonment.
  4. The "First Gleichschaltung Law" (Erstes Gleichschaltungsgesetz) (March 31, 1933) gave the governments of the Länder the same legislative powers that the Reich government had received through the Enabling Act.
  5. A "Second Gleichschaltung Law" (Zweites Gleichschaltungsgesetz) (April 7, 1933) deployed one Reichsstatthalter (proconsul) in each state, apart from Prussia. These officers were supposed to act as local presidents in each state, appointing the governments. For Prussia, which constituted the vast majority of Germany anyway, Hitler reserved these rights for himself.
  6. The trade union association ADGB (Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) was shattered on May 2, 1933 (the day after Labour Day), when SA and NSBO units occupied union facilities and ADGB leaders were imprisoned. Other important associations including trade unions were forced to merge with the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront -- DAF), to which all workers had to belong.
  7. The Gesetz gegen die Neubildung von Parteien ("Law against the establishment of political parties") (July 14, 1933) forbade any creation of new political parties.
  8. The Gesetz über den Neuaufbau des Reiches ("Law concerning the reconstruction of the Reich") (January 30, 1934) abandoned the concept of a federal republic.[1] Instead, the political institutions of the Länder were practically abolished altogether, passing all powers to the central government. A law dated February 14, 1934 dissolved the Reichsrat, the representation of the Länder at the federal level.
  9. In the summer of 1934 Hitler instructed the SS to kill Ernst Röhm and other leaders of the Nazi party's SA, former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher and several aides to former Chancellor Franz von Papen in the so-called Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934/July 1, 1934). These measures received retrospective sanction in a special one-article Law Regarding Measures of State Self-Defense (Gesetz über Maßnahmen der Staatsnotwehr) (July 3, 1934).
  10. At nine o'clock in the morning of August 2, 1934, Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg died at the age of 86. Three hours before, the government had issued a law to take effect the day of his death; this prescribed that the office of the Reichspräsident should be merged with that of the Reichskanzler and that the competencies of the former should be transferred to the "Führer und Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler", as the law stated. Hitler henceforth demanded the use of that title. Thus the last separation of powers was abolished. Following the Reichswehr purge of 1938, Hitler could be described as the absolute dictator of Germany until his suicide in 1945.

I'm generally cautious about historical parallels, which almost always turn out to be inaccurate. In this case, the use of Gleichschaltung is at so many removes from the historical reality of the 1930s that its only sense is rhetorical. You may say it's not meant to shed light, but to register an angry protest. But wouldn't it be of more use to describe what is happening now in today's (and preferably tomorrow's) terms, rather than wave around the bloody flags of nearly a century ago?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 29th, 2011 at 05:27:48 AM EST

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