“It can’t happen here?”

It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical political novel by Sinclair Lewis published in 1935. It features newspaperman Doremus Jessup struggling against the fascist regime of President Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, who resembles Gerald B. Winrod, the Kansas evangelist whose far-right views earned him the nickname “The Jayhawk Nazi“. It serves as a warning that political movements akin to Nazism can come to power in countries such as the United States when people blindly support their leaders.” (From wiki:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Can%27t_Happen_Here).

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana, The Life of Reason”)

It can happen here, and this concern is raised most appropriately by Robert Freeman in AlterNet March 19:

“In early 1919, Germany put in place a new government to begin rebuilding the country after its crushing defeat in World War I. But the right-wing forces that had led the country into the War and lost the War conspired even before it was over to destroy the new government, the “Weimar Republic.”

They succeeded.

The U.S. faces a similar “Weimar Moment.” The devastating collapse of the economy after eight years of Republican rule has left the leadership, policies, and ideology of the right utterly discredited. But, as was the case with Germany in 1919, Republicans Do Not Intend to Allow the New Government to Succeed (emphasis mine). They will do everything they can to undermine it. If they are successful, the U.S. may yet go the way of Weimar Germany.”

The new government that took over the collapsed country was moderate left, led by the president of the German Socialist party, and the right planned to make it fail:

” …They would do everything they could to make sure that the new government failed.

Their strategy was two-fold: first, stoke the resentment of the population about the calamitous state of its living conditions-no matter that those conditions had been created by the very right-wing oligarchs who now pretended to befriend the little guy. Rage is rage. It is glandular and unseeing. Once catalyzed it is easy to turn on any subject.

And stoking resentment was easy to do. Just before the War ended, the military concocted its most Sensational Lie: the German army hadn’t Actually been Defeated (mine). It had been “stabbed in the back” by communists, traitors, and Jews. It was an easy lie to sell. It entwined an attack on an alien political ideology — liberalism — with the latent, pervasive myth of German racial superiority.

The second strategy of the right was to prevent the new government from succeeding. To begin with, success of the left would conspicuously advertise the failure of the right. Moreover, success by the left would legitimize republican government, so hated by the oligarchs of the right. Much better for the people to be ruled by the self-aggrandizing right-wing autocracy that had governed Germany for centuries.

So the rightists set out to do everything they could to make it Impossible (mine) for the leftists to govern. They would use parliamentary maneuver, shifting coalitions, domination of the new mass media, legislative obstruction, staged public relations spectacles, relentless pressure by narrow but powerful interests, judicial intimidation and, eventually, outright murder of their political opponents.”

Does this sound familiar?

It can only happen here if we drop our guard: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana, The Life of Reason”)

How do we prevent this:  “There is absolutely no substitute for proper preparation.”

see: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/132155

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