I ran across an interesting paragraph the other day, one that seems to reflect a very familiar politic, a politic that seems to stress the notion that in order for America to remain “free,” we the people must succumb to the realities of the day, that in order for our future to be blissful we must agree to various restrictions today, such as:
“Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.”
Reminded me of recent SCOTUS rulings: e.g. Hobby Lobby and its implicit Establishment Clause assault; the Shelby County (Alabama) case opinion that effectively overturned Section 5 of 1965’s Voting Rights Act; the Citizens United decision which essentially equates money with “speech” and corporate entity with personhood — predictably with MUCH more to come, given the right wing court majority and all the issues outstanding, including abortion, public education, housing assistance, food stamps, medical care . . . the list is endless. And don’t forget the PATRIOT Act and the “liberties” it extends to the Executive branch in re warmongering and domestic surveillance, among numerous other diminishments of individual privilege, many of which are named in the statement quoted above.
It’s hard to say just exactly how we the people, in our Constitutional Democratic Republic (so called), have benefited from any of these changes. In most societies, however, the benefit to ‘the people’ of rights expression invariably remains secondary to the benefits of wealth, of power, of hate and fear, of racism, each and all embedded in those who decide who gets how much, and why. And though today is far from the first time that the power of the people has been squelched, it’s surely not the last. But the trends — the methods implicit, when written down — can be revealing of purpose, of intent; untruths and disparate realities can be exposed, and sometimes all it takes is a little luck, a few words, and a forum . . .
So. The above quote — could it be a statement of policy made by most any Right Wing candidate? An elected Congressman? Senator? President? A GOP Platform Plank?
Sure. It could easily be any of the above. But it’s not. It was, in fact, written in the early 1930’s, in Germany, following the February 27 1933 Reichstag fire, an event which proved to be an open door for Germany’s then newly-appointed Chancellor Adolf Hitler. Hitler promptly blamed the incident on terrorissts — “the Communists” — and used it as the rallying cry for a brutal crackdown on the freedoms implicit in the Weimar Constitution. It was parcel to The Enabling Law, an ’emergency’ decree “for the Protection of the people and the State.” It called for “Restriction on . . .
. . . personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of . . . communications . . . are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.”
The result was simple and predictable: “The combination of political terror and state-run propaganda gave the Nazis their best election result yet.” Familiar again? Some eighty years later? Other side of the world? It was in March, 2005, that Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) said, in a speech on the floor of the US Senate:
“. . . witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler’s dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law. Hitler needed a two-thirds vote to pass that law, and he cajoled his opposition in the Reichstag to support it. Bullock writes that ‘Hitler was prepared to promise anything to get his bill through, with the appearances of legality preserved intact.’ And he succeeded.
“Hitler’s originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.”
So how about it? What say you Ted Cruz? Mitch McConnell? Rand Paul? Mike Lee? Boehner? King? Bachmann et al. et al.? Make illegality legal? Hand the power of government, in true Fascist fashion, to the corporate world? To the wealthy?
I hope not. Sincerely. But then I’m only one voice. E. pluribus unum. Not worth much in this upside down world. Not any more.
Fortunately there are other worlds, worlds where “upside down” is not necessarily a disadvantage – – –
Reflections — of Better Times
“Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”