By Robert A. Vella
On June 28th, the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles will be observed. Although the treaty ended the deadliest war in history up to that point, the harsh economic terms it imposed on the losers helped trigger an even more deadly world war two decades later. The rise of imperialism in Japan, fascism in Spain and Italy, and most importantly Nazism in Germany, brought down a rain of destruction and inhumanity upon civilization which appalled the world like never before or since.
The word “Nazi” has subsequently been often used as a pejorative to condemn totalitarian impulses and to demonize political opponents. In fact, Nazi Germany was the epitome of totalitarianism along with its archenemy the Soviet Union. In addition to their insatiable hatred of Jews and other ethnic/minority groups, the Nazis felt intense ideological hostility towards the USSR because it was communistic. The ideologically fascist Nazis, who constructed a corporatist power structure merging state authority with big business interests, were fervently antithetical to the abolition of private property, state ownership of industry and control over the economy, and the political organization of workers which were the basic tenets of communism. In this dipolar contrast between fascism and communism, the former constitutes the extreme right of the political spectrum while the latter constitutes the extreme left.
In interbellum Germany, however, communism was initially on the rise. To the multitudes of people ravaged by hyperinflation who could not find jobs and who were struggling to feed and house their families, socialist policies were very appealing. The Nazis knew this and cleverly exploited that populist angst by countering communist proposals with their own. The name of their political party formed in 1920, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), reflected the image they were portraying. They also successfully exploited the growing xenophobia within the country and across Europe which was a natural result of the dire economic conditions exacerbated by the onset of the Great Depression.
But, the Nazis neither supported workers’ rights nor were they ideologically socialistic. All governments implement social policies in one form or another and to varying degrees. In the U.S., Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all forms of socialism as are corporate welfare programs such as subsidies and tax breaks. Still, no one describes the U.S. as a socialist or communist nation and rightly so.
Keep all this in mind as you read the following story on Brazil’s new right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro. He is employing the same old political rhetoric used by countless fascist politicians before him intended to confuse the public about the true nature of Nazism and to demonize his ideological opponents. His targets, like President Trump’s, are in the long-term socialism and communism; and, in the short-term, it is most certainly democracy – just as it was for Adolf Hitler in the years before World War II.
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro said “there is no doubt” that Nazism was a leftist movement, just after visiting Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum.
Bolsonaro’s remarks directly contradicted information on the museum’s website saying Germany’s Nazi movement rose out of right-wing radical groups responding to the rise of communism.
He went on to say that the Nazi party’s name was the National Socialist Party of Germany, which includes the word “socialist.” The official name was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
Despite their name, the Nazis followed a fascist and anti-Semitic – rather than a socialist – ideology.
White Supremacy in the news
A Tennessee social justice center that has hosted iconic civil rights leaders was destroyed in a fire and a “white power” symbol was found on the site, the center said.
The symbol, which officials did not describe but said was connected to the white power movement, was discovered after the main office was completely destroyed in a fire last week, the Highlander Research and Education Center said in a news release Tuesday. It was spray-painted on the parking lot connected to the main office.
Amid reports that it “disbanded” the unit that was focused on domestic terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is admitted Tuesday that it has “restructured” the team that once fed information about domestic terrorism and white supremacist groups to local police departments.
DHS is now acknowledging changes in its intelligence gathering, as some former department officials tell CBS News that the unit at issue wasn’t disbanded but “gutted” at the worst time – just as threats from domestic terrorists and white supremacist groups increased.
United Nations — Nuclear weapons are easier to get than ever before, and that means new risks as more countries seek to develop their programs.
“In general terms, the technology to develop nuclear weapons is an old one, dating back 70 years, and after that lots of progress has been made in technology,” said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “You can get the information, you can get the material, the education. It’s available.”
The nuclear weapons club has remained small; only a handful of countries have fully developed programs. But Amano, the world’s so-called nuke chief, warns that “the current environment” makes it “easier for countries to proliferate.”
The Trump administration has appeared keen, regardless, to push ahead and secure the contract to help build a Saudi nuclear energy program for a U.S. firm. The White House has said if the U.S. doesn’t get the contract, a country with less interest in ensuring a verifiably safe and legal nuclear program may get it instead.
Westinghouse is leading a U.S. consortium competing for the contract against companies from China, France, Russia and South Korea.
In the late 90s the IAEA adopted a new, stricter monitoring program known as the “additional protocol.” Many countries with nuclear programs, old and new, have agreed to adhere to the new oversight mechanism, but not Saudi Arabia.
When the Trump administration on seven occasions authorized companies to share sensitive nuclear energy information with Saudi Arabia, it was supposed to consult with several agencies, including the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
But NRC Chairman Kristine L. Svinicki testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday that she did not know whether the agency had been consulted, and if so whether it had raised any concerns.
At one point Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked four questions in a row about the agency’s participation, pausing after each one, and Svinicki and her four fellow commissioners remained silent.
Chicago and Pennsylvania election results
CHICAGO — Lori Lightfoot won a resounding victory Tuesday night to become both the first African American woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago, dealing a stinging defeat to a political establishment that has reigned over City Hall for decades.
After waging a campaign focused on upending the vaunted Chicago political machine, Lightfoot dismantled one of its major cogs by dispatching Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, whose candidacy had been hobbled in part by an anti-incumbent mood among voters and an ongoing federal corruption investigation at City Hall.
A Democratic Navy veteran who served in President George W. Bush’s Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday won a special election to fill a state Senate district in suburban Pittsburgh, a district President Trump won in 2016.
Pam Iovino will represent the state Senate district that covers parts of Allegheny and Washington counties after she beat out D. Raja, a businessman who chairs the Allegheny County Republican Party.