Friday, August 26, 2022

Paralleles

 I want to talk about parallels in history. One of the first major works on this topic was "The Origins of Totalitarianism" written in 1951 by Hannah Arendt. It is receiving new interest since Trump left office. Because his playbook and response from his followers does read like the beginning of this book.

I want to start by saying that I don't think we are headed to a Nazi like regime. Ms. Arendt does indeed focus on the Jewish holocaust. But her work focus on HOW totalitarian systems came to power. And on this level,the parallels to the current situation are a bit uncanny.

One thing that struck me and hit home was how "cult" * followers can so easily hate other people. What she wrote about colonialism struck me because the reasoning behind it helps to explain slavery and the current climate towards minorities and the "elites" by certain (loud) segments of the US population.

(* in this case I mean "cult" as a group of people who accept the same truths. Not as in a "religious cult".)

The point introduces this in the context of colonialism. Ms. Arendt shows that to successfully implement colonialism was to extract wealth from colonies and transfer that wealth to the colonial conquerers. To do this, the European powers "invented" mass racial segregation to jsutify exzploiting others.

Before this period, racial animus was not common. Crusades and wars were do to religious reasons or straight up plundering. Previously, once a conflict ended the local populace was integrated into the country - most often by expanding national borders. But with colonialism, the local population was NOT brought into the country as citizens. 

In order to justify exploitation, the colonizers had to paint them at the "other" and less than human. Once you do that, you can treat them as sub-human and ignore their needs. This is how we "justified" slavery, by using propaganda that said Africans were not "real people".

And, according to the book, once a population buys into the fact that some people are sub-human, then that population of "real people" are almost impossible to reach in order change their minds. If their minds change, then people have to look inwards to see how awful they were to others.  To the author, this explains how the Jews in Europe were seen as other. And how the Nazi's exploited this to paint them as sub-human.

Not all instances of this lead to slavery or extermination. First the British and then the Americans regarded the Irish or Chinese are not equal to their own citizens. 

So now we come to MAGA supporters. Trump and his ilk have labelled groups of people as immoral and evil; and that they are trying to take over the country. They see Blacks as "thugs" and "freeloaders", Mexicans as "rapists", scientists as "ungodly", elites as "out of touch" transexuals as "deviants" and LGBT as "groomers". They have labelled broad swathes of Americans as "not morally equal" to themselves and other white church going Americans. 

Their justification allows them to transform the idea minority rule into a simple belief that only "Real Americans" deserve full rights, including the right to vote and hold office. Look at the attacks on voters of color. Look at the comment from Trump that "the squad" should go back to where they came from. Look at the acceptance of many politicians and journalists when Americans were removing immigrant children from their parents at the border.

It did not have to happen this way. Canada, similar to Americans in most ways, hold that immigrants are also people. They have generally accepted that superficial looks do not translate in defining people as sub-human. 

The worse problem is trying to change minds. If MAGA people admit that non-Republicans and Rinos have equally important viewpoints and are equal morally, then their belief system falls. It is more acceptable to belief idiotic conspiracy theories than accept you not only made a mistake, but mistreated others because of it.

For me, electing these people again will only amplify their belief and convictions they are the only (as Sarah Palin said a decade ago) "real Americans:".

2 comments:

  1. I finally understand how Hitler came into power. Hopefully history will not repeat itself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know, right! The author comes to understanding Nazi power and rise in a completely different way.

    ReplyDelete

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