Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Right Wing Politics-- here and in Norway

The mass murder in Norway was surely committed by a person who is seriously mentally ill. But he appears also to be an educated and intelligent person. One needs to take what he says seriously. 
 
He opposes two things: Islamization and "cultural Marxism."

I have recently looked, once again, at some books about Adolf Hitler's rise in Germany. The parallel is unmistakable. The German Nazis opposed international Jewry and Marxism. The least favorite out-group among people who regard themselves as both favored and beleaguered has changed since the Holocaust. You can no longer be an open anti-Semite. So now people are against "Islamization" a threat as phony and unsupported by evidence as the previous “International Jewish Conspiracy.”

The orientation of far right political groups has not changed very much since the 1920s. It yokes together two very different campaigns: one against a bogeyman to scare people with -- formerly international Jewry; today the equally fictitious Islamization. The other campaign favors the rich to the detriment of the poor.

The Nazis were against "Marxism" -- the political parties of the left which included Social- Democrats and Communists. These were parties whose platform included concern about the well-being of working people, about the people at the bottom of the society. The right-wing political agenda favors those members of the population that are well-off, the people who own thriving businesses, the rich and the powerful.

The bogeyman campaign--against Jews, or Muslims, or immigrants--serves to attract the support of those very groups, the little people, who stand to lose if the right wing parties gain power. 
 
All of this is important for us because our government is about to go bankrupt because a really right-wing Congress wants to lower taxes on the rich, it wants to resist any efforts to make large corporations like GE or Exxon pay any taxes at all. It will pay for that by scaling back programs to help those who have limited incomes: retired workers, the elderly, and the poor. In the United States the right-wing is not explicitly racist as are the right-wingers in Norway, or as were the Nazis in Germany. But the devotion to the rich and powerful is as craven here as over there.

But of course a disproportionate percentage of poor people in the United States are people of color. In spite of what the Pollyannas say, electing Barack Obama president has not put an end to racism in the United States but has probably intensified it. Blacks, especially young black men, have difficulties in school, they have difficulties finding work, they are more likely to end up in prison and when they come out they, again, can't find work. They suffer disproportionately as a result of the 2007 meltdown.

To be sure, there are plenty of poor white people. But it is not unreasonable to suspect that when the lawmakers in Washington who want to "shrink government" -- by that they mean tear up the social safety net work – think of a poor person they have a mental image of a black man or woman.

The news about Norway is sensational. It does not make as clear as it ought to that we live in Norway too. Congress is about to cut various social programs that support people who have few if any other resources. Some people are going to die because they don't have enough food, because they don't have decent housing, because they cannot go to the doctor, or because they cannot afford the medicines the doctor prescribes. Right wing lawmakers care no more about those deaths than the Norwegian gunman cared for his victims.

The right-wing agenda of "shrinking the government" is as murderous as this unhinged young man in Norway. There is a direct line from Nazi Germany to Norway today to the Halls of Congress in Washington, DC