Sunday, March 05, 2006

Reichstag Fire and 9/11


Approximately 73 years ago a quite important incident in the terms of political sciences took place in Germany, which is seen as the start of a modern dictatorialship: Reichstag Fire. Internet is full of info about this historical event but to save your lazy soul I'll try to summerize why this event was so important for the past and why is so important for now.

On 27th February 1933, i.e. 2 months after Hitler become Chancellor, the Berlin Reichstag (German Parliament) was set on fire. A Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe is arrested, later found guilty and executed. One day later, 28th February, President Hindenburg and Chancellor Hitler invoke Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which permits the suspension of civil liberties in time of national emergency (sounds familiar?). This Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State abrogates the following constitutional protections:
  • Free expression of opinion
  • Freedom of the press
  • Right of assembly and association
  • Right to privacy of postal and electronic communications
  • Protection against unlawful searches and seizures
  • Individual property rights
  • States' right of self-government
Historians see this incident as one of the main reasons for the beginning of 2nd World War. Although there was a little doubt that van der Lubbe was guilty, historians are not agree on who is actually responsible for the Reichstag Fire: Was van der Lubbe acting alone? Did Communists do it? Or did the Nazis themselves do it in order to create an incident? But regardless of who actually planned and executed the fire, it is clear that the Nazis immediately took advantage of the situation in order to advance their cause at the expense of civil rights. The Decree enabled the Nazis to ruthlessly suppress opposition in the upcoming national election which gave Nazis 44% plurality in the Reichstag. On 24th March 1933 the Reichstag passed the Law for Terminating the Suffering of People and Nation, also known as the Enabling Law , essentially granting Adolph Hitler dictatorial power. For short, the events in 1933 can be summarized as follows:
  • While it is not clear whether the Nazis intentionally set the Reichstag fire in order to create a national crisis, or whether the Nazis simply were opportunistic, the event was used as justification for a sharp curtailment in constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties.
  • The Nazis took advantage of the additional Federal police powers to suppress opponents.
    It is clear that in other situations, the Nazis did use the tactic of creating a "law and order" crisis so that they could provide a solution which further eroded civil liberties and entrenched their power.
  • The right-wing Nazis and the left-wing communists were cut from the same cloth -- the point is not that the far right destroyed civil rights. Rather, the point is that a democracy can be destroyed by creating a law-and-order crisis and offering as a 'solution' the abdication of civil liberties and state's rights to a powerful but unaccountable central authority.
The counter guerilla tactics are used by many governments, it's a well known tool in 20th century to reach political aims. A brief look at the last decades in South East Asia, Middle East and Latin America will provide more than enough examples. If we look at the social-political developments after 9/11, we can see why the Reichstag Fire is so important for now. For the same reasoning, it is not really important who is responsible for 9/11 actually. Whether Al Qaeda and some nutcase Arab terrorists or Pentagon and CIA did it, whether some underground US mob or aliens out of space responsible for it, doesn't really matter. What matter is that the Bush administration evaluated the situation exactly as Hitler did and used all the opportunities (it's also highly possible that Bush himself is a pawn like Hitler). And now, such a short time after 9/11, the biggest military power in the world has control on many countries. It's a known fact that history repeats itself. The current political developments after 9/11 create a kind of domino effect, such as the war on terror, attack on Afghanistan, war in Iraq, increasing terror of Islam fundamentalism in Europe and so on (what is next, Iran?). Even the riots in France in last november and the cartoon crisis in Europe and Islamic world in past weeks should be analysed under these circumstances. It's obvious that the values of western civilization are in crisis. The last court case in Austria about the British researcher/historian and Holocaust denier David Irving's arrestment also makes us think about subjects like freedom of speech, states' and individual rights.

At this point we should also consider another historical fact; after 2nd World War America had collected many academicians from Nazi Germany, not only in the areas of technology and science but also philosophy, psychology, political sciences etc., and these people were placed in higher positions. After that America had took of many formulated scenario's which could be used in many area's in the society, also in the political arena. We can say that the tactical book of America, the pragmatic way of thinking which made America a world power, was generated by these academicians (maybe therefore it's not strange to see the similarities in international politics between US and Nazi Germany). Are we heading to a dictatorial world state which we are not aware of it? This should take some degree of importance without falling into the realm of complot and conspiracy theories. The humanistic, rationalistic thinking must be the only guidance for us.

Actually I was thinking to write a post about an art work of Rene Magritte, but this just came to my mind. Anyway, later then..

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5 Noises:

At Sunday, March 05, 2006 7:08:00 PM, Blogger Sphinx said...

EXCELLENT post! Really enjoyed this one.

The only thing I disagreed with is that "right-wing Nazis and the left-wing communists were cut from the same cloth"...but perhaps its because I'm not fully clear on how you mean that...please explain...

Everything you said about Bush is absolutely right, in my opinion. I think the world is headed towards some very dangerous times, especially if Bush is allowed to get away with the illegal actions he took during the 9/11 situation. (they set a precedent which would give other countries the same right...which could have pretty grave implications). I wrote an essay on the Illegality of Armed Force in 9/11 during my final year of University. It's not very well written, but the points made are quite cogent, I believe.
It might be a bit dry, but I think I managed to cover some crucial points.

Oh yes...I also disagree with this "The humanistic, rationalistic thinking must be the only guidance for us"...I think even in politics, we muct learn how to base decisions on a common sense within ourselves that goes beyond logic, but that still incorporates it"

Well done! Very thorough and enjoyable to read.

At Sunday, March 05, 2006 8:05:00 PM, Blogger . nothing . said...

Thanx M., glad you liked it... And now the weather results, I mean the response to your questions:

1) I was researching and collecting info from different sites and sources for this topic. Those summerized events I'd found in one site with that description, but I was also doubting to put that "same cloth" part or not, it gives another political meaning actually. Of course right-wings Nazis and left-wing communists are not same. But then I thought; the international politics follows the same manners. The tactics of men to reach their aim -regardless from their politicial view- is almost similar, even extreme leftwing or communists would use the same manners when it's necessary. And besides I was thinking; Nazis called themselves "National Socialists" and after Bolshevik revolution, Communist regimes had become nothing but a dictatorship, just another kind of fascism. It made me think, although left-wing has total another point of world view than right-wing, it is indeed -kinda- "same cloth", then I've chosen to put that part. It looks kind of out of context in this text in general, but that was what in my mind. Glad you have mentioned it...

2) And "The humanistic, rationalistic thinking.." part... Well, I could make that sentence quite longer by adding words such as positivist, reasonable, constructive, scientific, holistic, plastic, sensitive, soft (now sounds like a soap commercial!) etc...". But then I just decided to put humanistic and rationalistic part. I guess, and I believe, the humanistic thinking contains also a common sense within ourselves -that may go beyond the logic.. But then again, you know me, I guess I give an higher credit to human logic. You know I liked Mr. Spock more than Captain Kirk and Mr. Zulu -though I hated Star Trek in general but anyway :-)


At Sunday, March 05, 2006 8:38:00 PM, Blogger Sphinx said...


To your response....fair enough. I think I see where you're coming from here. Thanks.

And as for me, well Spock was my fave character, perhaps because I admired the qualities in him that I didn't have. It seems I have always had an ongoing struggle between head and heart...and sometimes my heart makes me feel pretty damn foolish. But then again, even Spock wasn't logical ALL the time. hehe

At Sunday, March 05, 2006 10:18:00 PM, Blogger . nothing . said...

"Fair enough".. Good, I am happy to clear any misunderstandings.

Maybe you are interested to see this as well. Not "totally" related to this post -well, a bit- but anyway:

and "your heart makes you feel pretty damn foolish"...We all are bit foolish, aren't we? That's a part of being human.. Well, don't make struggle between head and heart, you know. When those two go hand in hand then everything is in its logical place. Damn, I used the term logic again!.. But you know what I mean. :-)

At Sunday, March 05, 2006 11:22:00 PM, Blogger Sphinx said...

Damn language, eh? lol

Yes...i know watcha mean.


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