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Playing the Hitler Card

Supporters of an aggressive American foreign policy like brain-dead Biden and the gang of neocons who control him reply to critics by playing the Hitler card. They say, “Imagine what would happened if the US stayed out of World War II. Hitler would have conquered the world! This shows why we have to fight against Russia and China now!”

Of course it doesn’t show that, and if we do fight Russia and China, we will destroy the world in a nuclear war. But we should look at their argument in its own terms. Should we have stayed out of World War II? The answer is clear. Yes, we should have, and in seeing why, our best guide is the great Murray Rothbard.

As Murray makes clear in his great book The Betrayal of the American Right, the left used the same tactics against those who wanted to stay out of World War II as the Trotskyite neocons do today. They called non-interventionists fascists, just the way they do today: “Still worse was the attitude of these new interventionists toward those erstwhile friends and allies who continued to persist in their old beliefs; these latter were now castigated and denounced day in and day out, with extreme bitterness and venom, as ‘reactionaries,’ ‘fascists,’ ‘anti-Semites,’ and ‘followers of the Goebbels line.’ Joining with great enthusiasm in this smear campaign was the Communist Party and its allies, from the ‘collective security’ campaign of the Soviet Union in the late 1930s and again after the Nazi attack on Russia on June 22, 1941. . . The opponents of war were not only being shut out from liberal journals and organizations but from much of the mass media as well. As the Roosevelt administration moved inexorably toward war, much of the Establishment that had been repelled by the leftwing rhetoric of the New Deal eagerly made its peace with the government, and swiftly moved into positions of power. In Roosevelt’s own famous phrase, ‘Dr. New Deal’ had been replaced by ‘Dr. Win the War,’ and, as the armaments orders poured in, the conservative elements of Big Business were back in the fold: in particular, the Wall Street and Eastern Establishment, the bankers and industrialists, the Morgan interests, the Ivy League Entente, all happily returned to the good old days of World War I and the battle of the British Empire against Germany.”

Murray also tells us the bad effects of getting into World War II: “All in all, the Old Right was understandably gloomy as it contemplated the inevitable approach of war. It foresaw that World War II would transform America into a Leviathan State, into a domestic totalitarian collectivism, with suppression of civil liberties at home, joined to an unending global imperialism abroad, pursuing what Charles A. Beard called a policy of ‘perpetual war for perpetual peace.’ None of the Old Right saw this vision of the coming America more perceptively than John T. Flynn, in his brilliant work As We Go Marching, written in the midst of the war he had done so much to forestall. After surveying the polity and the economy of fascism and National Socialism, Flynn bluntly saw the New Deal, culminating in the wartime society, as the American version of fascism, the ‘good fascism’ in sardonic contrast to the ‘bad fascism’ we had supposedly gone to war to eradicate. Flynn saw that the New Deal had finally established the corporate state that big business had been yearning for since the end of the nineteenth century. The New Deal planners, declared Flynn, were thinking of a change in our form of society in which the government would insert itself into the structure of business, not merely as policeman, but as a partner, collaborator, and banker. ‘But the general idea was first to reorder the society by making it a planned and coerced economy instead of a free one, in which business would be brought together into great guilds or an immense corporative structure, combining the elements of self-rule and government supervision with a national economic policing system to enforce these decrees. . . . This, after all, is not so very far from what business had been talking about. . . . It was willing to accept the supervision of the government. . . . Business said that orderly self-government in business would eliminate most of the causes that infected the organism with the germs of crises.’

Flynn then pointed out that countries such as Great Britain, having engaged in ‘extensive imperialist aggression’ in the past, now try to use the hopes for world peace in order to preserve the status quo. ‘This status quo is the result of aggression, is a continuing assertion of aggression, an assertion of malignant internationalism. Now they appeal to this other benevolent type of internationalism to establish a world order in which they, all leagued together, will preserve a world which they have divided among themselves. . . . Benevolent internationalism is taken over by the aggressors as the mask behind which the malignant internationalism will be perpetuated and protected. . . . I do not see how any thoughtful person watching the movement of affairs in America can doubt that we are moving in the direction of both imperialism and internationalism.’

Imperialism, according to Flynn, will ensure the existence of perpetual ‘enemies’: ‘We have managed to acquire bases all over the world. . . . There is no part of the world where trouble can break out where we do not have bases of some sort in which, if we wish to use the pretension, we cannot claim that our interests are menaced. Thus menaced there must remain when the war is over a continuing argument in the hands of the imperialists for a vast naval establishment and a huge army ready to attack anywhere or to resist an attack from all the enemies we shall be obliged to have. Because always the most powerful argument for a huge army maintained for economic reasons is that we have enemies. We must have enemies.’

A planned economy; militarism; imperialism—for Flynn what all this added up to was something very close to fascism. He warned: ‘The test of fascism is not one’s rage against the Italian and German war lords. The test is—how many of the essential principles of fascism do you accept. . . . When you can put your finger on the men or the groups that urge for America the debt-supported state, the autarchial corporative state, the state bent on the socialization of investment and the bureaucratic government of industry and society, the establishment of the institution of militarism as the great glamorous public works project of the nation and the institution of imperialism under which it proposes to regulate and rule the world and, along with this, proposes to alter the forms of government to approach as closely as possible the unrestrained, absolute government—then you will know you have located the authentic fascist. Fascism will come at the hands of perfectly authentic Americans . . . who are convinced that the present economic system is washed up . . . and who wish to commit this country to the rule of the bureaucratic state; interfering in the affairs of the states and cities; taking part in the management of industry and finance and agriculture; assuming the role of great national banker and investor, borrowing billions every year and spending them on all sorts of projects through which such a government can paralyze opposition and command public support; marshaling great armies and navies at crushing costs to support the industry of war and preparation for war which will become our greatest industry; and adding to all this the most romantic adventures in global planning, regeneration, and domination all to be done under the authority of a powerfully centralized government in which the executive will hold in effect all the powers with Congress reduced to the role of a debating society. There is your fascist. And the sooner America realizes this dreadful fact the sooner it will arm itself to make an end of American fascism masquerading under the guise of the champion of democracy.’

Finally, Flynn warned that while the Communist Party was an enthusiastic supporter of his new dispensation, it would be a mistake to call the new order ‘communism’; it will rather be ‘a very genteel and dainty and pleasant form of fascism which cannot be called fascism at all because it will be so virtuous and polite.’ In his concluding sentence, Flynn eloquently proclaimed that ‘my only purpose is to sound a warning against the dark road upon which we have set our feet as we go marching to the salvation of the world and along which every step we now take leads us farther and farther from the things we want and the things that we cherish.’”

We see exactly the same thing today. Any attempt by a country the neocons don’t like to add to their territory and resist US imperialism is condemned as “aggression.” Meanwhile, US aggression and imperialism proceeds apace.