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Where Nazis come from
Posted By Jude Wanniski On 02/09/2000 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
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Memo: To Website Fans, Browsers & Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Yin and Yang in Old Vienna
A few years ago, I got into trouble when a second-rate reporter for
the National Journal quoted me as saying that our Constitution was
designed to force debate toward the center, away from the extremes:
“Without a Democratic Party to pull it toward the center, at the extreme
the Republican Party would move toward fascism.” The reporter did not
include the second part of my remark, that “Without the Republican Party
to pull it toward the center, at the extreme the Democratic Party would
move toward communism.” The NJ quote circulated among my friends in the
GOP, and it took considerable effort to explain the context of my
observation and its correctness.
The incident came to mind last week when I read of the controversy in
Austria, where the conservative People’s Party arranged a ruling
coalition with the Jörg Haidar’s “far-right” Freedom Party, which
recently accounted for 26 percent of the vote in the national elections.
Because Haidar has said some positive things about the economy of Nazi
Germany in the 1930s, and because he represents the interests of the
Austrian nation as Europe federates and globalizes, the political
leaders of the other European communities are behaving as if Adolf
Hitler is back in town.
It does not seem to matter that other respected Austrian political
leaders are vouching for Haidar, insisting he ain’t no Adolf. Official
protests immediately surfaced in the major capitals of Europe, the
Israeli Ambassador was withdrawn, and our secretary of state, Madeleine
Albright, threatened all kinds of unspecified retribution if she spotted
a misstep or a goosestep.
The outrage moderated here as soon as The Wall Street Journal
published an op-ed piece by Jacob Heilbrunn, “The EU, Not Haider,
Threatens Austrian Democracy.” I recommend you
read the piece in its entirety, but Heilbrunn argues that Haidar may
seem “an unpleasant phenomenon, but the end of the Cold War has opened
up the political boundaries in Europe. For decades the right was
artificially suppressed, while conservatives in countries like Austria
and Germany were interested in conserving only their own power. Now, a
new generation of populists is shaking up the Continent.”
What Heilbrunn means when he says “the right was artificially
suppressed” is that the political establishment smothered legitimate
interests — views that should have been heard, acted upon and resolved
in democratic fashion. The nation became “unbalanced,” a problem that
would become more serious if there was no democratic mechanism to give
Haidar and his Freedom Party the critical mass to form a legitimate
ruling coalition, with a dominant, more moderate party.
The central thrust of Heilbrunn’s analysis is that the established
elites had not only monopolized the levers of economic power to benefit
themselves at the expense of ordinary Austrians. The elites had also
allowed the loose ends of the European Union to be tied up by an
extraordinary flow of immigrants — 400,000 in a country of eight
million in only 10 years. If immigration were to continue at this pace,
the cultural core of the nation would be subsumed.
Those who prefer to slow the process are now in a position to do so.
It is, of course, exactly the populist movement that Pat Buchanan has
been representing in the United States — a position seen as “far
right,” with Buchanan being labeled a Hitler for taking this “nativist”
or “nationalist” stance.
Ancient Taoist philosophers understood this imbalance within a
political unit, an institution or an entire people as the disharmony of
yin and yang — with yin representing the feminine, the dark, and the
negative, the yang representing the masculine, the light, and the
positive. In a family, the mother represents security, the status quo,
an aversion to risk-taking; the father represents action, change, a
willingness to take chances for the common good.
When husband and wife discuss problems and priorities, there is
harmony, a balancing of risk-taking and security. When the
security-conscious mother suppresses legitimate risk-taking and change
in favor of the status quo, the family will fall further and further
behind. If the husband gambles recklessly with the family’s resources,
the family will also fail.
This is where Nazism came from in the 1920′s and 1930′s. Germany’s
vital organs were suppressed by the Versailles Treaty, which kept the
nation impoverished. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which ushered in the
Great Depression, completely sank German aspirations for economic
recovery and brought in Hitler and the Nazis, and Hitler’s finance
minister, Hjalmar Schacht. Haidar is, of course, correct in noting that
Germany’s economy soon flourished under Schacht’s guiding hand — a
point often made by old fashioned liberal Keynesians such as John
Kenneth Galbraith. When the man in the house is locked in for this long
and to this degree, when he finally breaks out the sight is not pleasant
My sympathies are with Haidar, whom I’ve never met, and with Pat
Buchanan, whom I’ve known for 30 years. Here, we watch both political
parties serving the same elite establishment. Whether Gore or McCain or
Bradley or Bush, there will be policies of economic globalization that
make the rich richer and warehouse the people at the bottom in federal,
state and local prisons.
If the other nations around the world don’t like our behavior, we
will punish them severely. That impulse comes from the yin in our
national family, the sense in the fortress at the top of the mountain
that everything is okay and let’s keep it that way. Buchanan and Haidar
represent the suppressed forces of yang, the pitchfork peasants at the
bottom of mountains everywhere. They will concede they may be a little
better off than they were, in terms of calories, but things are still
not that great and in many intangible ways, the social fabric is still
fraying. Trying to suppress the peaceful, patriotic Pitchfork Populists
– by calling them Nazis and Hitlers — only makes matters worse. At the
extreme, the Nazis do finally show up.
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