We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, October 28, 2017
How Corporate America Supported Nazi Germany
I agree with the main points that historian Pauwels makes about events leading up to, and including, WWII. It's true that all the ruling classes of Western capitalist countries were divided about the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy. This was initially manifested in their neutral stance regarding the earlier Spanish Civil War in which the elected left-oriented government of Spain was largely destroyed by the military interference of the fascist powers while other capitalist countries stood by in formal neutrality.
In the US, which he mainly focuses on, the pro-fascist forces hid behind the label "isolationists" to provide them with some modicum of legitimacy. There were genuine isolationists who did not want to get sucked into another war on the European continent, but this did not describe the fascist inclined segment of the US ruling class. Another major bonus offered by the Nazis to the Western ruling capitalist classes, they had already planned to move eastward into the Soviet Union and crush the Bolshevik government.
Another indication of the split in all the Western capitalist classes, are the easy victories achieved by the Nazis in Europe. After rolling through the low countries, Hitlers armies in a matter of days conquered France. It was not primarily because of the superiority of the German armies, it was largely because of this split among the European ruling classes. Thus French generals easily found a welcoming home in the French Vichy regime, a Nazi puppet government.
The only disagreement I have with Pauwels is that President Franklin Roosevelt and a substantial part of the US and British ruling class eventually saw that the Nazis were a threat to both the British Empire and the Americans. The British were especially desperate while FDR, a dedicated anglophile, wanted to come the Empire's rescue, but he faced a determined and hostile pro-fascist segment of the US ruling class that wanted the Soviet Union to be crushed. He did all he could to help Britain, and there are some historians who think he deliberately maneuvered the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor so that we could enter the war. After the Soviets put up such a fierce resistance to the invading Germans in the summer of 1941, it became clear to the Allied ruling classes, especially the British much to their disgust, that they had to support the Soviets. It also became clear to a number of "isolationists" that the US could emerge from this war as the dominant power in the world.