Trump’s Hitler fascination is an ominous echo of the 1930s

Apr14,2024



Democracy is sick. Worldwide, strong men Everyone looks angry. China's Xi, Russia's Putin, Hungary's Orban, India's Modi and a host of Latin Americans, along with the rise of the right in Western Europe, attest to people's growing willingness to embrace cruel, lying leaders whose They are confident that they can get things done, eliminating their enemies (real or imagined).
There was once a widespread belief in Europe, which became a cliché, that Italy's 1922–43 “Duce,” Benito Mussolini, kept the trains running on time. It was wrongly assumed that strongmen before World War II offered administrative efficiency. And economic success.
Many commentators, at least in the US, see a revival of the fascism of that era. Immigrants, Muslims and foreigners have become scapegoats for misfortune and modernity and have taken over the space previously occupied by the Jews. Conspiracy theories flourish while public services weaken.
Between the two wars, communism remained an ideology cherished by a minority and leftist elite. But fascism, with its uniforms and mass rallies, calls to eliminate “anti-social elements” and patriotic bombings, was actually more popular. Power was seen as a virtue, as a tool to manipulate the law.
donald trump Today promises to be a “dictator” – if voters buy what he's selling. He has spoken well about Hitler. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Strongman: Mussolini to the Present, says Trump is running a campaign to convince Americans that “authoritarian rule is better than democracy.”
A 2023 Pew Research Center survey in 24 countries showed that enthusiasm for freely elected leaders is declining, and an average of 59% are “dissatisfied with how their democracy is working.” Three-quarters of those surveyed believe that “elected officials don't care” about what “ordinary people” think, while powerful people do.
For those of us with a keen sense of the past, especially the European past, it is appalling to see so many people oblivious to the horrors committed by the dictators of the 1930s. It is also disappointing to see history repeating itself, with many of the world's “affluent” people willing to support tyrants. I was once asked about the politics of a tycoon I knew. I replied that he just wanted to make the world a safer place for rich people – no more, no less. He was, is and always will be a cheerleader for Trump, who granted him clemency for his US fraud conviction.
The same was equally true for the “rich” of the 1930s. Much of the British aristocracy, including most notoriously Lord Redesdale and his two daughters – the famous Mitford sisters – embraced Hitler. Diana married Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Fascist Party. His sister Unity became so fascinated by Hitler, whom she had befriended, that she shot herself in the head – not fatally – in despair when World War II began.
Had Churchill not shown favoritism towards his own class by leaving them independent, I believe at least four British dukes – Westminster, Wellington, Buccleuch and Bedford – would have been interned during the war because of their connections. fascism, Why did they do it? Because, like many of the rich in Europe and much of the City of London, they were terrified of an imaginary Bolshevik takeover, which they feared would cause them to lose their fortunes. He accepted the fascists as the enemies of communism.
In Berlin, in April 1939, the Duke of Buccleuch planned to attend Hitler's 50th birthday party, until the British Embassy encouraged him to go home. Even after the war broke out, the Duke inspired Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to seek a “face-saving peace” that would allow Nazi Germany to remain a great power. In late July 1940, when Churchill had taken power, Buccleuch urged the Conservative Chief Whip to put pressure on the government to negotiate with Hitler. All this was a matter of embarrassment for Buckingham Palace. Buccleuch was George VI's most senior courtier, Lord Steward of the Household. Belatedly, the King acknowledged that Buccleuch's politics had made him an outcast, and asked him to resign.
A British historian recently wrote that Buccleuch believed that World War I could revolutionize Britain: “It was almost certain to bring about an end to the high taxation and aristocratic way of life which had somehow survived the First World War. His desire to preserve a strong Germany – even a Nazi one – to combat the spread of communism… was shared by many of his fellow-Mahatmas.''
Lord Rothermere, owner of Britain's Daily Mail, was a notorious pre-war Nazi supporter. Hitler's historian and biographer, Ian Kershaw, was once given a private guided tour of Mount Stewart, the former Northern Ireland home of Lord Londonderry, an appeaser who served as a minister in several Conservative governments of the 1930s. Had worked as. In his Londonderry study, Kershaw was fascinated by the white Meissen statue of an SS stormtrooper carrying a Nazi flag. It was presented to the British peerage by Joachim von Ribbentrop, then Hitler's ambassador to London, in 1936 when he stayed at Mount Stewart as an honored guest.
The diaries of American-born British MP Sir Henry “Chips” Channon testify to a commitment to appeasement at any cost. When someone at a memorial service in Londonderry in 1949 said that perhaps the dead apologist for the Nazis was absolutely right, a shameless Channon said: “Of course he was right.” Dictators offered the only thing such people cared about – security for their own kind.
It appears that not much has changed. In America, it is frightening to see so many educated people excited about the prospect of “strong governance.” Historian Timothy Snyder recently wrote a remarkable essay condemning the folly as well as the evil of taking such a course. He writes, Essential to the power myth is the idea that a strong person will be your strong person. He will not.”
Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of The National Interest and author of the new book America Last: The Right's Century-Long Romance with Foreign Dictators, argues that Trumpism — the GOP standard-bearer's enthusiasm for people like Putin and Orban — is “just the tip” elsewhere. Just the tip of the iceberg in the long history of American right-wing admiration for dictators and despots.
The author concluded, “Trump is recasting the hateful principles of the past as something new, shiny, and attractive.”
President Joe Biden's most serious electoral weakness is that he appears weak. A recent Pew survey shows that half of its respondents, half in the middle-income countries surveyed, are enthusiastic about adopting a form of government in which “a strong leader makes decisions without interference from parliament or the courts.” Can take.” The dangerous appeal of powerful people is that they claim to offer magical solutions. Yet most of us spend our lives learning that no such thing exists – that our governments can realistically only aspire to manage difficult difficulties, not to eliminate them.
The “solutions” that Donald Trump offers are as simple as those of an old frontier gunman. Their spurious credibility is perhaps not surprising in a society further poisoned by private ownership of firearms. But the truth is that Trump is a weak man pretending to be a strong man. In the White House, he will be powerless to achieve the results he has promised because they represent fantasies.
It is appalling that our greatest democracy is within the realm of possibility of re-electing a self-proclaimed future president. DictatorWho thinks Adolf Hitler “did some good things.”



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