The AfD and its ilk is a sideshow in the neoliberal takeover

The weekend before last I was in Germany (and Bavaria) at the same time as the – Bavarian state election. The results for the SPD (Social Democratic Party) were disastrous losing 20 seats (down from 42) and gaining only 9.7 per cent of the vote (down from 20.6 per cent). The Greens came second, winning 20 extra seats (to 38) and 17.5 per cent of the vote (8.6 per cent last election), while the neo-fascist AfD party, which did not contest the last election, came in fourth, gaining 22 seats (10.2 per cent of the vote). There is a growing fear that the AfD and its counterparts across Europe will grow further and push Europe back into its dark fascist days. One would not conclude that from the Bavarian voting patterns. Further, to construct what is going on in Europe as a right-wing counter to a ‘social democratised’ Europe, which is a common narrative among the Europhile Left is seriously missing the point. The social democratisation of Europe has been in retreat for decades under the onslaught of a very sophisticated campaign from the elites on the Right and often it has been the traditional Left political parties that have pushed the neoliberal agenda more vigorously than the conservatives. The AfD is a sideshow in this deeper take over of our democracies by capital. Root and branch change is needed not a few ‘reforms’ around the edges to make the Eurozone less of a disaster for workers than it currently is.

As a relevant aside, while I was in Lisbon recently, I took a little time out to visit the magnificant Museu Coleção Berardo in the coastal town of Belém.

This is the town that Vasco de Gama sailed out of on his journey to find the first sea route to India.

The museum is quite a building but of particular interest was an exhibition of photographs from the Argentine artist and human rights activist Marcelo Brodsky.

The Marcelo Brodsky. 1968: The Fire of Ideas is a temporary exhibition, which runs from September 20, 2018 to January 6, 2019.

If you are in Lisbon then it is worth the train trip to Belém (a few stops from Baixa).

The exhibition:

… features archival images of student and worker demonstrations around the world, carefully annotated by hand in order to deconstruct what lay behind worldwide social turbulence in the late 1960s. Images of anti-Vietnam war demonstrations in London and Tokyo sit alongside protests in Bogota, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico, Prague and San Paolo against military regimes and oppressive government structures.

More information is available – HERE.

An example from the exhibition:

I was becoming very politically active in my teenage years and while 1968 was a little early for me by 1970 and beyond we were plotting revolution in Melbourne, Victoria.

Some of the characters in the photos that Brodsky presents in the exhibition I knew personally. It reminded me of those days of challenge and struggle and how that massive energy was soon diverted and thwarted by a major organised and very sophisticated response from capital and the elites that serve it.

You will see why this is a relevant aside presently.

Official Results in the Bavarian State election

There were some very interesting results in the Bavarian election which run counter to the narrative being spun that the populist right (what we might call the downtrodden ‘left behind’ right) is taking over.

You can see the detailed results from the State Election on 14 October 2018 – provided by Der Landeswahlleiter des Freistaates Bayern (the Bavarian electoral office).

What occurred in the conservative city of Munich is quite amazing.

The following graph shows the proportion of votes gained by the major parties in the Munich area in the 2018 state election (columns) and the 2013 election (red triangles). AfD did not contest the 2013 election.

The demise of the two main parties (CSU and SPD) in the last five years is clear.

The stunning result comes from the Greens who improved their proportion by 18.2 percentage points (a much greater gain than AfD).

This CityLab analysis (October 19, 2018) – Weirdly, Munich Is Now Germany’s Greenest City – provides further details, calling the electoral shift in Munich an “unprecedented rearranging of the furniture on Germany’s political scene”.

Including all the Munich electorates, saw the Greens gain 42.5 per cent of the votes, “more than two and a half times” that gained by the “Merkel-affiliated CSU”.

The reason this is worth mentioning is that Munich is a “rather conservative” city.

Generalising, the Greens took second place for Bavaria overall, a state that has been “an unquestioned stronghold for the right”.

What we glean from the results is that the swing away from the major parties (CSU and SPD) is not just coming from a movement to the neo-fascist AfD and other conservative parties.

The Greens result shows that the shifts are also moving left.

Further, the CSU in Bavaria has been trying to stifle the popularity of the AfD by touting rather draconian policies against migrants and running a law and order campaign – in other words, shifting to a much harder right position itself.

So, its failure (even though it still gained the highest proportion of votes in Bavaria overall, is a sign that the narrative claiming there is a shift to the populist right going on needs to be seriously qualified, if not rejected.

The clearest trend is that the “SPD has become something of a spent force since losing power in 2005”.

What is apparent is that there is a sense of loss among voters and that the narratives being presented by the major parties, particularly the SPD are not giving voice to that anxiety.

And when their is a void, there are opportunities for other voices to be heard.

Essentially, the AfD have given voice to those concerns. But a more hopeful trend is that the Green alliance is now challenging the right-wing forces for those votes.

No-one would suggest that the Green Party is the most left in Germany. Die Linke (The Left), by the way, doubled its proportion of the vote in Munich (2.3 to 4.6 per cent) and increased its overall vote in Bavaria by 1.1 percentage points to 3.3 per cent.

But the narrative is now not a simple as right-wing populists taking over Europe.

The nuance is clear and should be a lesson for the mainstream Left (social democratic parties). A progressive voice is attractive even in conservative heartlands.

The problem is that the traditional social democratic parties have become so timid and tainted with neoliberal narratives that they no longer have any appeal.

They use the metaphorical language of neoliberals thinking it makes them sound responsible when, in fact, it just renders them more irrelevant to an electorate that is increasingly aware that the standard story is failing them.

1968 revisited?

On that theme, there was an interesting article in the International Politics and Society (IPS) Journal last a week or so ago (October 12, 2018) – The far-right playbook – which brings the previous two vignettes together.

The tenet entertained in the article is that “far right’ movement in Europe is drawing inspiration from the way the Left protest movement in the late 1960s conducted their campaigns (as depicted by the Marcelo Brodsky exhibition).

The conjecture in the article is that:

Fifty years after Europe’s student movements marched in the streets from Scandinavia to Yugoslavia, 1968 has never been more relevant. In Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and elsewhere, the liberal conclusions of the late 60s protests – and, just as critically, their methods – are at the heart of the existential crisis that is shaking Europe’s enlightened, democratic foundations. The ongoing battle over 1968’s legacy will determine whether Europe remains on its postwar path or swerves to the right.

If the far right succeeds in overturning the post-1960s cultural revolution – and this has already begun – it will have the student-led anarcho-leftists to thank. The national populists, Identitarians and hard right have deftly co-opted the tactics of their nemeses and applied them auspiciously to their cause.

This is the sort of statement that comes out of the Europhile Left regularly.

In a sense, there is a deep denial going on that is symptomatic of the on-going narrative coming from the Europhile Left that Europe is fine and just needs a little reform around the edges.

I found that IPC hypothesis to be interesting because it assumes that the demands that we (‘the collective) made in 1968 and thereabouts have become the norm in Europe (and beyond since the 1970s) – the “enlightened, democratic foundations” – and are now in danger of being dismantled by the authoritarian right that is copying the Left’s 1968 game plan.

How then do we explain the increasing domination of the neoliberal paradigm since the 1970s, much of it being antithetical to the things that the student rebellions in 1968 were fighting for?

The IPC story seems to believe that the view expressed by the far-right “AfD spokesperson Jörg Meuthen” that Germany “is deeply social-democratised and free of patriotism” and “fallen into valueless relativism” is representative of the reality facing Europe.

Muethen’s opinions are those of an extremist spinning a political yarn to give voice to the angst facing Germans, particularly those in the East who, as a consequence of the forced reunification, lost jobs, homes, pensions and identity.

Social democracy in Europe has been in serious decline for decades as the neoliberal machine slowly permeated all levels of our societies.

In this blog post – The right-wing counter attack – 1971 (March 24, 2016) – I discussed in some detail how the organised elite right (rather than the downtrodden ‘left behind’ right that AfD represents) responded to the ‘1968’ turmoil.

It was not a response that copied the poorly resourced student protests in the streets of the major cities around the world which is what the IPC article claims is happening now in Germany with the AfD.

In effect, one of the reasons the 1968 movements were so easily pushed aside was because the elites had massive resources at their disposal to capture governments, take over the mass media, infiltrate educational institutions and in the US, take over judicial bodies that interpret law.

The IPC article notes that:

In light of the right’s repudiation of the student revolt and its aftershocks, it is astounding that they manage to remove the ideological blinkers long enough to borrow from it. Their success today is at least in part attributable to the lessons they extracted from the left’s means of protest, appeal and politics, and applied to their own purposes. It took a few decades to perfect it, but today they’re using the left’s strategies to their own considerable benefit

Sure enough, there have been initiatives for some decades in the form of “newspapers and magazines, clubs, institutes, foundations, publishing houses, and … international congresses” that have brought like-minded right-wingers together.

In this way, there is some similarity with the way the student Left organised and combined with student-worker alliances to push their message.

But what is happening on the streets of Europe now with AfD and its ilk is not of the same scale as the way the organised right elites responded in the early 1970s to the growing demands for equity and participation from the student Left protests.

And the election results in Bavaria suggest that while AfD made up some ground they were completely outclassed by the centre-left Green Party.

Hardly a sign that the downtrodden ‘left behind’ Right is on the ascendancy to domination.

What the Right elites did in the early 1970s was entirely different to what, say the AfD are trying to do now – to win a few votes here and there such that a forced coalition with the mainstream conservative parties (such as the CSU or CDU in Germany) would be inevitable.

In the blog post cited above I introduced the famous Powell Manifesto (August 23, 1971) – Attack on American Free Enterprise System – which the US lawyer Lewis F. Powell, Jr prepared for the US Chamber of Commerce.

This counter to the Left wasn’t about street protests.

It was based on the view formed by the Right, that if they wanted to move the balance of power away from workers towards profits, then they had to capture the government legislative capacity.

Meanwhile, they started building a narrative that the Left swallowed, particularly the globalists (for example, the Europhile Left today), that the ‘state’ had become increasingly powerless as capitalism became more global.

While the Left was getting lost in post modernist-style identity issues, the Right were busily taking over the state not by forming protest parties and gaining a few seats here and there, but by infiltrating the major extant political parties and corrupting their missions with dollars, revolving doors and the like.

Far from carrying placards and shouting slogans, the Right were very clever in the way they divided the Left and took control of governments.

I wrote about the hilarious way in which the CIA co-opted the Continental Left Marxists without the latter even knowing in this blog post – The divide-and-conquer strategy of the CIA in France 1985-style (August 24, 2017).

This allowed the right-wing forces to penetrate the Mitterand Socialist government and pressure it to make its famous austerity turn in 1983, which unambiguously attacked the prosperity of workers and set Europe up for its most neoliberal, corporatist move to date – the creation of the Eurozone.


So the likes of the AfD and their counterparts throughout the world are right-wing for sure, but their strategies and tactics are rather crude and their success will be ephemeral.

The main show in town is the entrenched, institutional neoliberalism that has pervaded the media, educational institutions, politicial parties of all persuasions, and elsewhere and maintains the hegemony of capital in more intrinsic ways.

They have rich networks where top positions are maintained by like-minded individuals and they have plenty of cash to build think tanks, fund massive propaganda exercises and to buy off politicians.

And while the AfD might think that Europe has been overrun by ‘social democrats’, the reality is that the social democratic parties became neoliberal decades ago and have not presented as an Oppositional Left since that time.

It is hard, for example, to think that the Blairite Labour Party, or the Social Party in France, or the PvdA in the Netherlands, or the SPD in Germany, reflect any of the values that we were espousing in 1968.

Thomas Fazi and I consider these issues in detail in our latest book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017).

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

This Post Has 42 Comments

  1. Brilliant analysis, should be widely circulated, read and discussed. And yes, 1968 – 75 were halcyon years for many of us in our youth, me too, but we were comprehensively outflanked by the neoliberals partly because we didn’t even know they were there.

  2. Dear Bill,

    I understand, read, write and speak German.

    I have read the AFD political platform and listened to parliamentary speeches by Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland and some others.

    When you strip away the racist material and look at the economic material you will see that remarkably they recognise monetary sovereignty, that the euro is a failure and must go, that public investment is required in education, healthcare, families, and infrastructure.

    In their written and spoken economic material one does not see the basic neoliberal economic myths that deny monetary sovereignty, the role of the State, and that only the private sector gets it right and must be revered and set free.

    I often see and hear the federal taxes pay for things myth used though.

    This is a unique feature for a rightwing party and it is as though they did not get some of the key neoliberal memos from the investor class who I think see them as a threat and for this reason the neoliberal press is made to focus on the racial angle rather than the economic in an effort to marginalise them. They do publicly say and print racist material, no question.

    I believe the body of economic knowledge advanced by the AfD is based on the 1933-45 experience where MEFO bills and pure monetary sovereign currency creation powers were used to eliminate unemployment and build public infrastructure and systems and for a time advance some aspects of the public purpose.

    As Noam Chomsky says if Hitler had ended his career in 1939 he would have gone down in German history as a saviour instead of one of world history’s greatest villains.

  3. Alan,

    I’ve seen that as well and my wife has mentioned it who is German and comes from Stuttgart another ” conservative city ” I’ve been to a few SPD meetings in Vaihingen. What’s really interesting is they never wanted to talk about the Euro or the trade surplus and now that’s all they want to talk about. Marched a few times against Stuttgart 21. We need Dirk Ehnts to pay them a visit.

    If you Listen to Marine Le Pen and watch some of her interviews and her debates in the parliament Exact same thing. When you strip away the racist material and look at the economic material you will see that remarkably she recognises monetary sovereignty, that the euro is a failure and must go, that public investment is required in education, healthcare, families, and infrastructure. She even says globalisation has been a disaster. They are all there on you tube.

    Chris Hedges did a 3 part interview on the Jimmy Dore show the day after Stephanie Kelton was on his show. Chris in his new book “The American Farewell tour” attempts to describe what is happening that Bill is talking about above. A gripping interview because of what he has witnessed.

    He says….

    ” Politics that has alienated us all and pushed all of us out to the fringes and the only way to remove this capital class before they destroy the planet is for the fringes to unite. That means people talking to the people they hate and bring everybody together.

    Alienation has been further accelerated by social media. People at public events stare at their phones instead of talking to each other. They stare at their phones inside museums, at spectator events, and while driving, eating. They take selfies while sitting on the toilet. They feel naked without their phones, like a baby without its pacifier. Their addiction to dopamine fixes makes them constantly check their emails and Twitter accounts, and frequently hear phantom ringtones. It makes them desperate for constant reassurance that they exist.

    Social media creates nationwide echo chambers that sustain tribes which compete with each other for the coveted status of “victim.” Tribal bickering and rampant narcissism in turn keep the peasants from uniting against their rich owners, and from collectively addressing things like climate change and runway pollution. It makes leftists scream “Fascist!” while right-wingers scream, “Communist!”

    All sides have regressed to infantile dream worlds. All sides cheer for wars that make rich people richer, and poor people into homeless refugees.

    The liberal ruling elites use fake progressives to silence true progressives. It’s like the owners of a prison who order “trustee” inmates to torture regular inmates. If the “trustees” don’t torture, they are tortured themselves after being thrown to the regular inmates. The liberal establishment’s function is to protect the rich”

    He doesn’t mince his words.

    When asked how do we fight back against the right he said…….

    ” We’ve pushed everyone out to the fringes which is a huge mistake as he saw first hand what happened in Yugoslavia and Trump uses the exact same language as the then leaders in Yugoslavia used. That the old institutions from 1968 are all gone all broken up so now there is no platform to start a fight back from and that if we can bring the fringes back together those platforms would need to be built from scratch ”

    Sorry to ramble on, but i thought it was worth mentioning because it is very interesting that it is the fringes of the political spectrum the people who have been pushed out. That are the ones who seem to recognise monetary sovereignty. Or should I say are prepared to talk about it.

  4. Re the AfD allegedly being “fascist”, I’m not much impressed by lefities’ habit of screaming “fascist” at anything they don’t like. One of the main things the AfD, and similar parties round Europe object to is the Islamisation of Europe. Islam: that’s the political movement which isn’t too keen on democracy & free speech, which makes Islam – er – “fascist”!

    I have a book entitled “Introducing Islam to non-Muslims” by Ahmed Hussein Sakr which makes no bones about Islam’s opposition to democracy. On p.7 it says “It is important to mention that the principle of democracy defined as the majority ruling is not approved in Islam, since the ultimate ruling is for Allah.” And if it’s opposition to free speech you want, look no further than Europe’s main Muslim country, Turkey, where there are hundreds of journalists in jail.

  5. Dear Alan,

    I agree 100% with you. I lived in the south of Bavaria and I seen the ordinary people loosing a lot to the neoliberal agenda that have been around in Germany since the late 90ies. The traditional mercantilist business-class have joined the new borned german banking-elites in Frankfurt, aka former very conservative way of doing banking in Germany. Banking and business has always been very closely bonded in Germany but banking deregulation in Europe changed german banking from the core. Symptomaticly i.e Landesbanks got stuck with almost one trillion usd(out of a total 3 tr) of US poisonous RMBS 2005-9, mostly sold from us bank-branches in London. The euro-introduction and bank-deregulations go hand in hand. Before Deutche Bank was a small player. Now one of the worlds biggest but also one of the most non-solvent.

  6. Derek Henry,

    What makes you think Le Pen is “racist”? The dictionary definition of racism is basically the idea that some races are better than others. The fact that Le Pen (and other like-minded people around Europe) want to preserve France’s identity, culture, way of life, etc rather than be Islamised or Africanised does not prove she thinks Europeans are superior to Arabs, Africans etc.

    But even if she does think that, what of it? There are psychologists who claim some races have higher IQs than others. I’ve no idea whether they are right or not. That’s not the point. The point is that that it is perfectly possible that some races have higher IQs than others, and investigating IQ differences is a perfectly legitimate form of research. But presumably you think those psychologists should be arrested.

  7. Mark Ames has an account that is complementary to yours, Bill. He concentrates on the psychology of the Left. In his account, the left rejected finance and economics, thereby leaving them open to related manipulation. And manipulated they were. When I tried to get a discussion at the time onto the economics of the situation, I was accused of missing the point and even being reductionist. One can see for oneself where being willfully ignorant can lead you. And the left is continuing in the same willful, ignorant vein. It is infuriating.

    Derek, I thoroughly enjoyed your psychological characterization of the many phone users we see around us everywhere we go these days. It would be even more amusing if you were being completely satirical.

  8. Derek, sorry, I meant you and Hedges, as I am assuming that you quoting him in the context was indicative of agreement re the phone users.

  9. Dear Alan Longbon,

    I don’t understand German, I do understand Polish (and Russian).

    Adolf Hitler started his murderous persecution of Jews and other groups well before 1939. It was not just plain garden-variety racism mixed up with the populism. The whole mad Nazi ideology as a system of consistent beliefs supported by pseudo-science was centered around the so called superhuman Germanic nation. Individuals belonging to the nation were supposed to sacrifice their lives for this madness – Hitler actually managed to deliver on this promise. Nazism was a collectivist ideology like Stalinism. The fact that Hitler and his cronies didn’t believe in the loanable funds theory and generated full employment is not relevant here. Hitler was actually helped by the oligarchs (junkers, industrialists etc) in 1933 precisely because he could stop communists and socialists. People cannot remove one element and leave the rest intact. Nazism was the most evil system of totalitarian political beliefs which led to the worst organised crime in written human history, the Holocaust. Stating anything else is plain revisionism. AfD or whatever belongs to the dustbin of history precisely because of what’s not written and hasn’t been said. I am not defending Stalinism here, it was almost as evil as the Nazism. People vote for liberals or neo-liberals precisely because they are weary of the populist collectivism especially if it is based on historic revisionism.

  10. Adam K

    Re Hitler and his crime of the century. To be very short here(simplifying) I think the time before 1939 naturally has to do with the lost war of WW1 and the war reparations owned to the winners, in a foreign currency. Impossible to pay off? The hyperinflation also has it´s roots in the reparations(as is german debt-fears and inflation but for the wrong reasons). When times are bad governments often tend to find “external blame/enemies”. I would say it´s a classical psychological behavior from those in power(voter-liability). Communism and the jews became the main scapegoats. The racial idea came not from Hitler originally.

    What Chomsky say is not that Hitler was guilt-free during the years up to 1939. But if Hitler and his party had lost power and the WW2 had never happened then Hitler probably would be kind of a “nation-saver” in some respects. But I am hardly a historian like Chomsky.

    As fas as I know Hitler´s deep collaboration with the industrial complex of Germany started after 1939 even though his base(lobby-supporters) was built during the infrastructure investment-period and later the massive war-machine build-up. And we should not forget his influencial capitalist-supporters from the US and Europe.

    If fascism is coming from people who feel “left-behind” then you could say fascism is actually emanicipating out of government policies. Maybe liberal or neo-liberal! That is how Trump came to power. Do also forget ordinary people, like governments, also look for “external” blame.

  11. 21:54
    Delete the first “also” in the last row and exchange it for the word “not”. Sorry!

  12. Adam K, you didn’t have to be steeped in the ideology of the Third Reich to see your way to doing business with it. It wasn’t only German firms who assisted Hitler, not that you claimed that there were. IBM in the mid-thirties sent card-punch machines to Germany so that the Reich could more efficiently locate large swaths of the Jewish population. I doubt they did it for that reason, but they helped in the rounding up nonetheless.

    Then we have the behavior of IG Farben re Zyklon B. The mass gassing using Zyklon B, hydrogen cyaninde, began in 1942 and lasted until 1944 when Himmler ordered it to be stopped. The behavior of IBM and other firms outside the Reich showed how easy this seemed to be. Look at the justifications for continuing to do business with Saudi Arabia or those used by the BBC to invite Bannon to a conference in Edinburgh. Pulling out of such events seems to be the least one could do. Sturgeon has called Bannon out as a fascist.

  13. Adam K, when you say that “People vote for liberals or neo-liberals precisely because they are weary of the populist collectivism especially if it is based on historic revisionism.”, I am not certain what you mean. So, I can’t say whether I agree or not.

  14. Strangely enough I`ve never thought of myself by any political/ideological label. In the early /mid seventies in Canada, I was called a “bleeding heart liberal”. In my forties, “volatile and benevolent”; now in my sixties “impractical”. The political compass on this site puts me half square left and half square down from Gandhi…… Wherever that makes me, it what it is.
    To deny anyone the access to employment, free health care, free education and freedom from the fear of political victimisation(it can be subtle) is not something I will accept as normal or necessary; I do not believe in the demeaning practice of “means testing”.
    Human dignity is all I ask; what a question.

  15. Regarding the discussions about WW2, Hitler, Fascism, the holocaust etc.. : The roots of the second world war and the holocaust appears to begin about the time of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. That socialist revolution itself appears to have been given financial aid in large part by a wall st banker, named Jacob Schiff who from all appearances was far from being a socialist, but was Jewish and deplored the treatment of Russian Jews under the Tsarist regime.

    If you view the second world war as the right wing elite’s reaction to the socialist uprising, then the holocaust itself can be seen as a related act of vengeance. Schiff died in 1920, and his support ended when Lenin and Trotsky assumed power following the provisional government of Alexander Kerentsky. Schiff never lived to see what his actions put into motion; however it does appear that we still see fingerprints of this history on events taking place today, even though we never learn about the actual history from any mainstream source.

    I hold that any ism is best defined by those who created the name; fascism was defined by Mussolini (or perhaps his owners) as the combination of state power and corporate interests. Whatever else it may have appeared to be, that nexus is the salient fact; the rest (xenophobic racism, homophobia and other means of dividing society) can be viewed as the elite doing whatever is required to gain political support for their movement. It’s little surprise then that fascism in Europe was so well supported by elites all over the west, that Hitler was such an admirer of Henry Ford, or that so many non German corporations with global reach continued to supply financial and material aid to the Nazi’s even after the war had begun; facing little by way of penalty for having done so.

    As described by a retired General, Smedley Butler, a highly respected and decorated US officer, critical of the role of the US marines in the support of US corporate interests abroad, there was a serious plot by certain business interests in the US to replace the US government in 1933 with what for all intents and purposes could be described as a fascist dictatorship, so the global nature of corporate sponsorship for fascism is quite real and while the term is often misused today the thing itself likely still exists partially covered as neoliberalism.

    It’s stunning how many people still don’t understand that fascism isn’t a left wing construct.

  16. “So the likes of the AfD and their counterparts throughout the world are right-wing for sure, but their strategies and tactics are rather crude and their success will be ephemeral.”

    I think the trouble with this is, Trump did get elected. Are we not counting him as a far right/AfD-equivalent?

  17. J Christensen, while it is a trifle unclear whether the putative putsch was fascist, it was certainly seen as such by some. Jules Archer, in his The Plot to Seize the White House, has a cartoon from the Philadelphia Record that depicts, however, if I remember rightly, an appearance before the McCormack-Dickstein committee of communist agitators uncovered by Smedley Butler.

    I am reluctant to contend that neoliberalism is itself fascist though it is used by fascists as part of their ideology. I think there is a difference.

  18. Correct Larry; neoliberal ideology is not equal to fascist ideology. What I meant to say was rather that neoliberal ideology can be used as a tool in the box for those working toward fascist goals.

  19. J Christensen, I agree with your clarification. It is unfortunate that neoliberals did not do much to protect their platform from being utilized by people like this. Perhaps they never thought of it. But then, they don’t know a lot of history.

  20. Larry & J Christensen & Adam K, “populism” in Europe has rather stronger right wing connotations and associations than it does in the USA, just as “liberal(ism)” in the USA means something rather to the left of the European meaning. The compound neoliberal(ism) of course uses the European meaning.

    Also, “fascism” was coined much earlier than Mussolini, with roughly the same meaning though, by Heinrich Heine.

  21. Christensen. I read a book, a collection of speeches of Hitler, 1919-1940, volume 1, by a Frenchman, written 1941. I had frequently wondered why the wealthy and powerful couldn’t see what was coming and kill him. Turns out the wealthy and powerful loved him. He frequently gave speeches to financiers and industrialists. What made him so attractive? He professed an uncompromising hatred for the communists. He promised to protect private wealth and power. In the end they didn’t like him because
    though he let them own, but converted them to managers who carried out his orders.

    WWII was very much an Imperialist Expression.

  22. Hi everyone,

    I encourage you to look at the Anglicare Australia 2018 Jobs Availability Snapshot.

    This is an annual study that documents the availability of jobs to people who face barriers and challenges to realizing their employment aspirations.

    The main finding is that four or five people compete for every entry level job in Australia.

    Pages 18 and 19 summarize material that I shared with the report’s author. Those pages discuss a federally funded, locally administered Job Guarantee that would provide minimum wage jobs on demand to all who want them.

    Two of our service users agreed to have their circumstances briefly summarized as examples of how a Job Guarantee could design jobs flexibly to suit the job-seeker’s interests and abilities.

    The report received good media coverage. Greg Jericho of The Guardian wrote a detailed article about it.

  23. Yok. At the point were it looked like the Soviets were about to gain control of most of Europe during their push back it was obvious that Hitler had failed and the result, to some, appeared as though it might lead to a future communist Europe; the exact opposite of what elites in the west hoped for. That seemed to precipitate the beginning of the uneasy alliance between the west and the soviets against him.

  24. Adam K,

    “Nazism was the most evil system of totalitarian political beliefs which led to the worst organised crime in written human history….”

    ” I am not defending Stalinism here, it was almost as evil as the Nazism.”

    Stalinism was up there with it without a doubt (effective murder of millions of peasants, brutal suppression of dissent, Czekoslovakia, Hungry, etc., etc.). Throw in Bolshevism for good measure.

  25. J Christiansen,
    IIRC, Churchill allied with the Soviet Union as soon as Hitler invaded.
    So, your last sentence makes no sense, historically.
    The US extended Lend Lease to Russia very early also.

  26. Steve,
    Your comments leave out some crucial history.
    1st Stalin sought an alliance with the west BEFORE signing the Ribbontrop Treaty which was not accepted by the west. This important detail NEVER gets taught in the US. I doubt if it gets taught in any of the 5 eyes countries.
    Here is a link.
    A second absolutely crucial thing never gets even reported in the west let alone taught is that the western allies could have taken a key step that would have led to the defeat of Hitler in 1943 at the latest if not in 1942 even. That would have been the occupation of Sweden cutting off crucial supplies of Iron Ore to the Nazi regime. No one can dare say that there was a military reason that the UK and especially the US and UK together could not have occupied Sweden in 1942. That operation would have been 500% easier than the invansion of north Africa. A person who would disegree with that assessment would be revealing themselves as a completely incompetent stratigist.
    The Germans had no forces in Sweden and no way to get them there once an allied occupation would have begun. Yes they had forces in Norway. But how could those forces have made it to Sweden with any amount of equipment without resupply? Any German forces that made it Sweden would have been half starved with nothing more than Bayonets to wage war.
    Furthermore no one can say that there were legitimate politcal reasons that would have prevented the UK and US from occupying Sweden. These countries really had nothing against occupying neutral countries during the war if they really wanted to. They occupied Iran.
    What this shows is that leadership of the west was actually more interested in carrying out against the Soviets than the Nazis BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE 2nd WORLD WAR STARTED. The lend lease operation was nothing more than a cover their ass policy.
    What this also shows is how easy it is for the leadership of the western countries to manipulate the opinions of their populations. After almost a century this obvious gross deriliction of duty by the leaders of the west during WW2 has never been pointed out by a single person living in the USA or UK. People can chatter alot about what they are told. They are not even capable of concieving what they are not told.

  27. To those of you pointing at the economic platform of the AfD in Germany i suggest to llok up the party program. You will find very stron elements of privitazation and “liberalization” of the markets that would make the FDP (the traditional economic liberals) blush with shame.

    They advocate an exit from the MU, but for all of the wrong reasons. In their rethoric, it’s the lazy southern states that are leeching on and holding back Germany. They have managed to reclute a lot of former social democrats, because they sell the idea of “no nation means no welfare”, as if the notion of a welfare state at a european level was unthinkable. The horizon for those former social democrats apparently ends beyond the german border.

    Finally, regarding the SPD, Bill correctly mentions the first of their two deadly sins in recent times: the acceptance AND IMPLEMENTATION (Hartz4 reforms) of the neoliberal policy they should have been fighting against under Gerhard Schröder in the mid 2000’s. But a seond sin must be their role in the big coalition with the CDU. Not only did it strengthen the concept of the sold out left (Genosse der Bosse the boss’s comrade), but their failure to sell the small social democratic reforms during that time as their own led people to belive in them as Merkel’s own ideas/victories. As painful as it is to see the once worker’s party suffer this much, at some point they would have to pay for their incompetence and blandness.

    Since the Greens oscillate between right and left of center economically and show a blatant lack punch against corporate interests when in power, the only party economically “left” (pun intended) is “die Linke”. Alas, for all my admiration for her usual sharpness and clarity of sight, I fear that Miss Wagenknecht recent bet on more nationalistic populism might go sour.

  28. Steve, the point at which overwhelming force was applied rather than diplomacy which can be just an extension of warfare itself, should be given greater weight. We should bear in mind that Churchill’s own published writing long before the war reveals that he had both antisemitic and anti socialist views even to the extent of opposing the labor movement.

    Needless to say though, when you live a short distance from an aggressive and violent force that may turn on you, you don’t burn any bridges between yourself and any potential allies.

    There is a lot that’s missing or generally misunderstood based on the standard historical picture.

  29. Curt,
    I clicked on your link and read 2 paragraphs.
    It says this happened 2 weeks before Hitler invaded Poland. I know for a fact that Poland was consulted and they said, “over our dead bodies”. I think they feared the Soviets more than Hitler. Of course in the end they got both, one after the other. You would need to ask a Pole how they feel about the way it turned out. But, the Soviet Union had no border with Germany in 1939, so an offer to move 1M troops to the German border was actually an offer to move 1M troops into Poland with no guarantee what they would do after they got there.
    As for your idea to invade Sweden, you must be playing Axis and Allies or something.
    I have read military history and played wargames for 55 years and that idea is nuts.
    Have you ever heard of Mines, naval mines? Do you realize how many troop transports would be sunk by planes in the Denmark narrows? Germany could not invade England in 1940/41 and the Allies could not invade Sweden even in 1944. Invading N. Africa was easy because the Vichi French had basically no air force. It was a complete surprise. Invading Sweden would bring shipping within 30 miles of airfields the Germans had in Denmark without any fighter cover except from CVs. And all the US CVs were in the Pacific or soon would be. Br. CVs could carry very few planes.
    . . Look up the Battle of the Bismark Sea in 1943. In it every troop ship in a big Japanese convoy and most of the escorts were sunk by planes alone flying from a base 150 miles away.
    . . This is a dumb idea.

  30. To those of you discussing fascism, I offer the opinion of maestro Umberto Eco:


    To date, I find this to be the best decription of the proto-fascistic characteristics that can be found in american white nationalists, italian fascists, german nazis, islamofascists and even the classical latin-american strong-man dictatorships. Furthermore, it presents a proposition not to regard fascism as a Boolean entity but as a spectrum.

    After reading the text I realized how engrained some of those qualities are to the human condition and how they all require an intellectual effort to overcome them. That is why fascist tendencies are so excellently suited for democratic elections, they relate to and address the "gut feeling" of the people, be it the cult of personality and/or action, machismo, xenophobia, anti-intelectualism, etc. and assign blame to specific (already maligned) targets: jews, the poor, "intellectuals", "the elite", … that are due to be forcefully punished.

    Historically, the business and industrial elite have often sided witht fascistoid and straight fascist leaders/governments in order to secure themselves mono- or oligopolistic positions and to suppress worker's and civil rights movements and often help build the repressive security apparatus for all to remain that way. To diferentiate between "left" and "right" with these regimes is, in my opininion, a futile excercise.

  31. Steve, in support of your comment to Curt, the English didn’t really have the resources to invade Sweden at the time so it was a non-starter, irrespective of what resources would be used against them. Churchill thought Patton made a strategic error in going through Italy. Patton and Churchill viewed Russia differently. Churchill argued that had the Allies gone straight through Europe, Russia would have been stopped in Eastern Europe and never gotten to Berlin. Patton argued that with his plan he would lose fewer men and still beat Germany. There is no single answer to this conundrum, it seems to me. How would one weight these two arguments, especially at the time?

    As for deceit, FDR pulled a fast one regarding the Japanese intentions in the Pacific. According to Yardley, the Japanese codes were all broken, so the US knew everything the Japanese were saying to each other, including use of the Purple cipher. In Day of Deceit, Robert Stinnett argues that FDR knew that there would be an attack though there might have been uncertainty about the exact timing. (Some argue that he almost screwed this up, as he almost lost the 7th fleet.) FDR apparently goaded the Japanese into attacking so that he could persuade an isolationist Congress to declare war on Japan. He thought it would then be easier to persuade Congress to declare war on Germany. A war on two fronts. Crazy, or what?

  32. Yes it certianly seems plausible that the Poles feared the Soviets more than the Nazis. That was obviously the case for the ruling elites of England and the USA. Why not the rulers of Poland? And when the rulers want their people to believe what is in the rulers interests rather than the peoples intersts they have huge resources at their desposal to mold thier opinions. What the Poles thought does not diminish my point that the western leaders were fighting the Nazis with one hand tied behind their backs because by waging war on the Soviet Union the Nazis were doing exactly what the rulers of the US and the UK wanted them to do. The first link that I posted was just one that I could quickly come up with before I left this morning. I am linking another more detailed history below. Even this link is not one of those that I have read in the past giving the Soviet version of events of 1938 and 1939. Could the Soviet version be untruthful? Of course but none the less it should be given no less weight that the standardized US and UK versions which also attempt to spin history to cover up sins or crimes of major figures of the past.'s%20Web%20site/Carley_Berlin_2014.pdf

    Now as for the invasion of Sweden.
    The obsticals that you mention could have been easily overcome. As for naval mines have you ever heard of mine sweepers? As for this Denmark narrows how narrow is it exactly? It would not have been neccessary to land forces on the east coast of Sweden. Look at a map. There is 50 miles of ocean between Skagen Denmark and Gotterberg Sweden. Furthermore that tip of the Jutland is only a few kilometers wide. How many peices of artillery could have been fit on such a narrow piece of land 6 or 7? Then again the Germans had such a vast array of Battleships and Battle Cruisers and heavy cruisers that these ships would have certianly inflicted considerable damage right??? AND Holy Cow, you know what there also would have been Geman aircraft and subs to deal with!! Just as there were with the invasion of northern Africa. Only in the case of Sweden rather than being subject to attack for thousands of kilometers from subs and aircraft it would have only been a few hundred kilometers. And allied aircraft could have flown from Norhtern Scotland to provide air cover for much of that distance. That would have been in addition to aircover from carrier based aircraft. So yes I can say exactly how many troop ships that the Germans would have sunk from the invasion fleet, between 2 and 4.
    Furthermore with in 72 hours if not 48 hours allied aircraft could have been flying from airfields in Sweden. That would have certianly sealed the deal.
    Then just as the landings in north Africa were made easier by the lack of resistence from the vichy French do you think that the Swedish people would have opposed the allied landings? Furthermore even if they had resisted how long could a nation of what 5 or 6 million people at that time resisted the two best equiped armies in the world at that time?
    This gross deriliction of duty was not the only thing that the allies failed to do which helped the Nazi war effort. The Nazis also got key raw materials from Spain, Portugal, and Turkey. Come on now, how hard would it have been to prevent those sales from happening. Any half wit at the State Dept.could have gone to the governments of Spain, Turky, and Portugal and said what ever the Germans are paying for your nickle or magnisium or what ever we will double it. Looks to me that the allies were pretending on one hand to be helping the Soviets while with their other hand behind their back they really were sabotaging the war effort against the Nazis. That such things were done clearly points to a conclusion that the allied leadership thought that they had bigger fish to fry than Hitler.
    The only defence for such behavior was that Stalin and the Soviets were worse than Hitler and Nazis.
    If that was not the case than the western leadership was getting tens of millions of people needlessly killed to advance an agenda that was in the interests of the rich but not at all in the interests of everyone else. To make sure that this defence would stick if it were ever needed the people of the west have been subject to decades of bullshit making Stalin out to be worse than Hitler when in reality he was only as bad as Franco or Pinochet or Samoza.
    Sadly most people do not want to destroy the golden calfs of their nations history. We Americans have been taught that Roosevelt, Eisenhower, MacAuthur, and Marshall (not Thurgood) were forsighted Gods. The reality is much less flattering once it is known.

  33. Curt Kastens:1st Stalin sought an alliance with the west BEFORE signing the Ribbentrop Treaty which was not accepted by the west. This important detail NEVER gets taught in the US.

    That’s right mostly, but what is odd is that people who emphasize or debate Stalin’s earlier overtures to the West as if it were news never seem to cite a very obvious and old source – Churchill’s multivolume history, that describes this very clearly and criticizes its folly.

    The most hidden and unknown things are always those in plain sight, “that everybody knows”.

  34. Herman, Historically it has been certain members of the business/industrial elite who have nurtured fascism: “the merger of the corporation with the state” as Mussolini described it. These folks heap support on those leaders who work along with their game plan and aggressively work against those who do not. You can’t mold an entire society into any form without some serious money.

    Totalitarianism works best for fascism, but an “inverted totalitarianism” or managed democracy as philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes seems to do be doing quite well also.

  35. Some Guy,
    Yes how pleasent for Churchill to critize its folly after the fact and try to cover his ass from the charge of waging war against the Soviets through the Germans. I have never read Churchills multi volumn history nor will I. I have read hundreds of books about the second world war though and a key point that I took out of my self education is that I do not trust Churchill. Or perhaps a better way to say it is that I trust him as much as I trust Roosevelt, Stalin, and Hitler, Regean, Thatcher, Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trump, all birds of a feather.
    Whose words do I trust, well we can start with Thomas Paine, Karl Marx, Eugene Debbs, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Salvador Allende, Theodore Westhuising, and Stan Goff, just to name a few. I mention these names to show that I am not a perfectionist. I do not expect a country´s leaders to be without sin. I do expect them to be acting in good faith.
    The leaders of the USA and UK and France clearly do not meet that criteria. In fact they never have.
    One thing that I did not mention is that it is not very hard at all to understand that the motivation for the western allies to begin their reconquest of Europe in 1943 by first invading Italy and then France was more motivated by a desire to make sure that the communist parties in these countries did not take power during the power vacumn than for any strategic reasons that had to do with the defeat of the Nazis.
    The reason that understanding this important is because when a person recognizes how bamboozeled by their leaders the populations of the world were in the 1940s we can then at least wonder if the worlds leaders, western leaders included, are any different than those leaders from the past. Starting in 2002 with the run up to the gulf war I took a new approach to analyzing politcs. I took the amount of substantial cynicism that I had and multiplied by 10 to the 10th power then I doubled it. Only then did the behavior of the world’s political classes especially those of western world start to make sense to me.
    For MMT this means to me that it is not that leaders of the industrialized countries do not know what they could do using the power of money and taxation and capital controls. It is that they have no intention of using that power for the common good.

  36. Yes how pleasant for Churchill to criticize its folly after the fact
    I believe he cites his criticism of his government rebuffing Stalin at the time it happened, before he was in power. Not after the fact.

    Reading people is not the same thing as trusting them.

  37. @J Christensen:

    I don’t disagree. I was trying to make the point, that most of those totalitarian regimes, at least at the beginning, garnered overwhelming support from the “plebs” by speaking to those aspects I mentioned. That has always been the scam, speak to peoples emotions and “identity”, e.g. religion, while robbing them blind at the same time.

    I belive it was the german songwriter Reinhard Mey who said something like:
    “Said the King to the priest: you keep’em stupid and I’ll keep’em poor.”

  38. Maybe Chomsky is right,
    Hitler did ditch Heinrich Brünings “neoliberal” austerity and deflationary economic model that was the mainstream model for economists then. In large Germany did use the same model to arm and rebuild that was the model for the post war economic boom decades where all kind of society’s common infrastructure was built up to a level never seen before. It was not until the 80s that these “dangerous” economic ideas were finally thrown in to the dustbin of history. And they were declared a rare anomaly that was due to very special circumstances than was impossible to recreate ever again.
    But would the post war economic model ever have been if Hitler had been ditched 1939? If so the Heinrich Brüning’s of the world had been back in the driver seat.

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