The Reckoning and a Reckless Thought Experiment

gabriel conroy

Gabriel Conroy [pseudonym] is an ex-graduate student. He is happily married with no children and has about a million nieces and nephews. The views expressed by Gabriel are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of his spouse or employer.

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105 Responses

  1. Really nice piece.

    Godwin’s Law is that

    As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1

    Schilling’s Corollary is that

    Unwillingness to violate Godwin’s Law is the main reason Trump isn’t compared more frequently with his spiritual predecessor.


  2. karon L adams says:

    justice is a difficult beast. and might does not always make right. China controls a large territory and are a mighty force. I can’t think of many people in America who would consider them right.

    in the end, there are three immutable laws of history that My 8th Grade history teacher gave me. James Fossett. They have proven to be true in all the history I have ever studied.

    1) ALL wars are about real estate (and the wealth and production of said real estate)
    2) History is written by the winners
    3) the difference between a traitor and a patriot is which side wins.

    These are truisms. they always are. and once you understand them, you can look at what happens around you and around the world with more clear eyes.Report

  3. Great piece! I find you to be very consistently intellectually honest with yourself and others and so this is one of those times where “the guy who worries the most about being crazy is really the most sane”. 🙂Report

  4. Ken S says:

    This is mostly nonsense.
    1) ALL wars are about real estate (and the wealth and production of said real estate).
    Wars need not be about any one thing –many look different depending on which side you are on. What real estate, wealth or production of same was the United States looking to gain by its interventions in WWI and WWII?
    2) History is written by the winners.
    There are plenty of Viet Nam war books written by Americans. I’m still waiting to read Ho Chi Minh’s memoirs.
    3) the difference between a traitor and a patriot is which side wins.
    The difference is really which side the traitor or patriot was born on, and who is doing the judging..
    Here is another law: 4) The most cynical view only sounds the cleverest.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Ken S says:

      Ken – I had the same thought. Wars are fought over beliefs maybe even more often than real estate. The only real estate the US fought for in the two world wars was fields to bury her dead. Civil wars or attempted coups aren’t fought over real estate; if he lives through it, the soldier is going to be part of the same-sized country no matter who wins, and may not have any better a life.

      Wars are motivated by spite and revenge. It’s only a fairly small portion of France and Germany that ever changed hands in their wars; they just enjoyed beating the snot out of each other. The British Empire was motivated by its belief that it had a right to rule the world. And religious wars – if it weren’t for beliefs, Serbia and Croatia would be Kentucky and Tennessee.

      Of course, every real-world war has a slew of motivations. Even the simplest human affair has layers of meaning and motive. So identifying which wars have which causes is only an approximation. But the one thing we can be certain of is that “ALL wars are about real estate” is false.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Ken S says:

      Much American Civil War history was written by the losers.Report

  5. DensityDuck says:

    People were mad about gay marriage, they banned gay marriage. People were mad about childhood sexual abuse, they dug up day-cares and put people in jail and shot up restaurants over it. People were mad about government intrusion into private life so they blew up a Federal building in Oklahoma and killed a couple hundred office workers. People were mad about riots so they ran over a woman in Charlottesville. People were mad about black men having agency so they accused them of rape and hung them from trees.

    Don’t fucking tell me about how Being Really Mad is its own justification.Report

  6. CJColucci says:

    “Use every man after his desert, and who would ‘scape whipping?”

    One of my favorite party conversation buzz-kills is to ask people whether they would trade the lives they have for the lives they really deserve.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t agree with this post at all:

    1. Godwin himself said it is okay to call Trump and his lackeys, minions, and followers Nazis. The law is descriptive, not a ban.

    2. Even if it is mere blowhardery/trolling, Trump keeps making statements that are fascist or close enough to it and go against Democratic norms. This is the person who could not bring himself to denounce marchers shouting “Jews will not replace us.” This is the man who put Stephen “Kapo” Miller in charge of immigration policy. This is the man who said yesterday he will negotiate a third term, stated Democrats will cheat to win (every accusation is a confession), and made statements in support of extrajudicial killings for a murder that increasingly appear to be done just as such, the federal troops never intended to arrest Reinohel.

    Yet there is a certain kind of die-hard institutionalist, “savvy” person, who just refuses to see all this for what it is. Or as Orwell said: “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”Report

  8. Saul Degraw says:

    Comment went to moderation.Report

  9. I have been guilty of using the term Nazi to describe fascists and the useful idiots that enable fascism to rise to the level that it currently has risen to in this country. I tend to use both terms interchangeably. Not all Trump supporters are Nazis, but all Nazis (especially in the US) are most definitely Trump supporters. They revel in the chaos he creates and the overt signaling to their tired and one-dimensional ideology. When I describe the so-called ‘useful idiots” it is those people that see hidden communist agendas where someone decides to throw a brick through the window of Target, when in reality, Nazis and other white supremacists have been responsible for the majority home-grown terrorism and violence in the US.

    I’m not really attempting to condone rioting or the current wave of violence in certain cities, but I will continue to be less wary of a bunch of lazy anarchists and more wary of a bunch of flag-waving, violence craving, tac gear toting useful idiots instigating more violence to achieve their own fascist ends. I see more of them where I reside than lazy anarchists or communists.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Christopher Bradley says:

      Useful Idiots are also Green party die-hards who decided that the Democrats are worse than then the GOP and the real enemyReport

      • Philip H in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’ve talked to some of the Green Party folks – and it usually turns out that they live in states that will go for Biden Electorially, so they expect their vote to count about as much as a republican would expect it in their state. I’m not saying they have the right answer – and they generally bristle when I suggest the Greens need to do more to win local and state elections before throwing a the big enchilada.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Philip H says:

          Except the Green Party made an easy mistake in WI, waited two weeks before going to the courts, and then was aided by Republican lawyers in the WI courts and a hyper-partisan court with a 4-3 Republican majority. This is about as close to a smoking gun as you can get to the Greens declaring Democrats to be the problem and “social fascists” and imagining that they will be the opposition party if they can heighten the contradictions.

          And it sucks but politics is the art of the possible. Greens would get more of what they wanted by acting in a broader coalition with Democrats rather than going against them. But this is “icky” apparently and they said no thanks. I do not have much sympathy for them.Report

      • I went on a mini rant about this on Twitter this morning. Tired of seeing people with large platforms who would rather fight than win.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Christopher Bradley says:

      Richard Spencer, who led the Charlotteseville march complete with Nazi torches, is backing Biden 100%.Report

      • My dude, if you believe that, like truly, then let me tell you about this bridge in Brooklyn I have for sale…Report

        • George Turner in reply to Christopher Bradley says:

          Why wouldn’t Richard Spencer support the only proudly pro-Confederate segregationist candidate in the race (and frankly, the only one still in politics), who accepted an award from George Wallace, led the opposition to school busing, and who wrote the 1996 crime bill that put millions of black men in prison? One whose son did hookers and blow, knocked up a stripper, and even cheated on his brother’s dead wife? There’s nothing more “trailer park cracker” than that.

          Meanwhile, Trump keeps giving black people pardons, keeps meeting with black leaders, and gave historically black colleges more money than they’ve ever had in the history of this nation.Report

      • Dr X in reply to George Turner says:

        Do you seriously believe that Nazis and their sympathizers prefer Joe Biden to Donald Trump because Richard Spencer claims to support Biden? Are you that easily manipulated, or is it that your need for this to be true demolishes your judgment?Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Dr X says:

          George Turner is a bad faith troll that is tolerated by way too many people. Nothing he says should be taken as anything but bad faith trolling of the most obvious sort.Report

        • George Turner in reply to Dr X says:

          So Richard Spencer is lying? He’s a Democrat. He voted for John Kerry in 2004, having supported him in the primaries in Dallas. He voted Democrat in 2006, too. About the only place his voting record isn’t known is from his brief time living in Virginia, which won’t release voting records. He says that even though he chose Trump over Hillary, he sticks with Democrats in local races. In trying to nail him down, he seems to be a progressive Democrat from the Wilson era.

          Similarly, Jason Kessler, who organized the “Unite the Right” rally, voted for Obama and was a former Occupy Wall Street “alumnus”. He was a staunch liberal activist, atheist, and a vegan. He broke up with a Jewish girl because she ate fish. He roomed with two different African Muslims, one for several years. But he decided to support Trump, liking people who push the edge, and said “I like Trump more than I did Obama.”

          They’re not exactly William F Buckley types. They’re more like hardcore leftists who’ve decided to become something like a shock jock, wanting to be the center of attention.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to George Turner says:

            “Could Richard Spencer be lying?”

            …is not the rhetorical coup de grace your post seems to think it is.Report

            • If you can’t trust a well-dressed Nazi, …Report

            • George Turner in reply to Marchmaine says:

              Are all his voting records lies? Why did he keep voting in Democrat primaries in multiple states?Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to George Turner says:

                George, as I’m sure you know, voting records don’t tell us who anyone voted for. So whom Spencer actually voted for, when he voted, which appears sporadic, is unkonwn… or dependent upon his word.

                Regarding the inference that you are expanding beyond its actual factual content is that the voting records show he voted in some Democratic primaries. They also show that he voted in some Republican primaries… “voted six times in Dallas County between 1996 and 2004. He voted in three Republican primaries.”

                However, a ‘savvy political operator’ like Spencer would certainly take advantage of primary systems to vote his interests which might or might not include voting in a primary of a party he doesn’t support – TX, MT and VA are all open primaries… so requesting a ballot in those states for R or D means nothing more or less than that you participated in that particular primary. It doesn’t tell us if you voted for the eventual winner or one of the many losers… nor your motivations for so doing.

                So, we’re back to whether Spencer is a reliable narrator of his life events; having first heard of him when he was editing TakiMag… I can say, no. He’s not reliable.

                But at the end of the day, whom Richard Spencer may or may not have voted for is still rhetorical weak sauce… especially when someone enters it into the discussion apropos nothing in the hope of trying to over-inflate public records that don’t show what you’re suggesting they do hoping that no-one will waste their time on Richard Spencer.

                So, not only do the public records not prove what you are suggesting, I don’t think the original comment was artful or insightful.Report

            • So I was saying something about useful idiots…Report

          • Philip H in reply to George Turner says:

            And just like John Durham will indict the entire Obama Administration any day now you will be producing the citations for these statements momentarily I’m sure.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to George Turner says:

        Fun fact about Richard Spencer: I saw a video of an interview with him once, and was surprised to find that he sounds like a cross between an NPR reporter and a Portlandia character. I didn’t expect him to have a German accent or anything, but he practically lisps.Report

  10. Jaybird says:

    Eh, I’m someone who thinks that comparisons of Trump to Hitler do more to diminish Hitler’s monstrousness than shine a spotlight on Trump’s.

    I mean, if you go back and see which of the Republican nominees was *NOT* compared to Hitler, you pretty much have to go back to Bob Dole in 1996.

    Romney was compared to Hitler, McCain was compared to Hitler, Dumbya was compared to Hitler… a small break and then Aitch Dubya was compared to Hitler, Reagan was compared to Hitler… Ford wasn’t, as far as I can tell. Something about years ending in 6, I guess. Nixon was… Goldwater was… Eisenhower wasn’t but 1952 was too close to the end of the war and 56 was another year ending in 6.

    It’s like an earthquake, I guess. Eventually the people making the prediction will be right.

    And then you’ll all be sorry.

    In the meantime, I can’t help but notice that Hitler has stopped being a historical reference and has started being a theological concept.

    Which is probably bad.

    You’d think that this particular Omelas is one that we could walk away from.Report

  11. Rufus F. says:

    So, I wrote a book about my great-grandfather, finally, and it’s getting published sometime very soon. As everyone has heard, he was the Paris correspondent for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1918 to 1933. The book is called “The Paris Bureau” incidentally.

    One of the big questions for me was about his anti-Nazi activity. My family remembers him as being very anti-Nazi very early, which is flattering but I figured it might not be true. We tend to flatter our relatives in memory.

    Instead, I found that he actually was pretty stridently anti-Nazi after he went to Berlin in 1933 to cover the anti-Jewish boycotts. It was pretty much a daily thing for him to write against the Nazis, to the point that he seemed like the paper’s Nazi-expert. It is worth remembering that Brooklyn had a larger Jewish readership at that point, but even still, it became a crusade for him.

    One story I cannot forget was when Germans surrounded him in Berlin and tried to explain that the anti-Jewish laws were a necessary thing because the Jewish media had slandered Germans all across the world. One smiling young woman told him that “None of the things the Jews say about us is true. But we will fix them, yes we will,” and he said her expression “was as if she was describing a particularly lovely flower show.” I still can’t get that image out of my head.Report

  12. Chip Daniels says:

    I’ve said here and elsewhere that the most apt comparison of our moment is, not to Hitler but to any one of the countless little dreary autocracies throughout history.
    Like maybe East Germany or any one of the East Bloc nations, or maybe one of the Central American banana republics.

    The sort of nation where there is no Holocaust or killing fields, but just a long endless dreary regime of corruption and stultifying repression.
    Where the cops are all on the take, and the elections are just a farce, where the Big Man and his cronies control everything important.

    The reason this seems so possible and relatable, is that throughout American history we have had examples of that right here, like some of these small towns where there is one main employer and the family that controls that also control the newspaper and the bank and the cops all know where their paychecks come from.

    And like I’ve said before, life under such a regime can actually be pleasant and remarkably normal, provided you keep your head down and go along to get along and don’t make trouble.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      If only there was a way people could manage to get a message out about the oppression and strict censorship. Perhaps they could use messenger pigeons, or maybe attach notes to St Bernards. I’ve heard of notes stuffed in fortune cookies, but those mostly concerned conditions in the Chinese fortune cookie factories. But perhaps something similar could work here.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      “Where the cops are all on the take, and the elections are just a farce, where the Big Man and his cronies control everything important.”
      Fact check: false.
      Fact check: false.
      Fact check: false.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky says:

        He doesn’t control everything, but he does have a toady rewriting CDC reports on COVID to be more to his master’s liking, and that’s Banana Republic enough for government work.Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to Pinky says:

        Perhaps not now, perhaps not ever, perhaps in another 4 years.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

        The important thing you should take away is that all three of those HAVE been true at various times in American history, and ARE STILL true today, at various places. In fact, fully functioning liberal democracy is a rarity in our country.

        We, meaning us white straight males of Christian heritage, never noticed it because we were the ones who were in the favored majority.

        There isn’t any magic shield that makes American liberal democracy immune.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          What do you mean “we” never noticed it? That’s making a lot of assumptions, isn’t it?

          When you say “we”, you’re not talking about the actual us, but people who look like the people you picture in your head when writing this. You’re making assumptions about people like Rufus’s great-grandfather, and those assumptions are based in part on race. Well, I’m proud of what my ancestors did, at least the ones I know of. Maybe you came from bad stock, but mine, up to and including me, have worked for justice.

          Ultimately, I don’t get any extra points for the good they did, though. Nor do I lose points. And I don’t get any points for denouncing them or myself. I’d be wrong if I denounced them or myself based on falsehoods or in order to make the current me look better. And that’s what I see happening these days.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

            “We”= People who say that all it’s false that in America, one can find cops on the take, where elections don’t matter, and a local set of cronies runs everything.

            “We” don’t normally interact with those corrupt cops, “We” know that our votes matter, and “We” don’t see the cronyism as cronyism, but as the rightful and earned rewards of a good system working as it should.

            “We” live lives that are very different than other people, and “We” experience a very different America than they do.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Maybe I’m misreading this, but it seems to me that you’re moving the goalposts back and forth, that you’re toggling between “almost everything is completely awful” and “not everything is perfect everywhere”. Part of the problem is we’re both speaking in generalities. I think that overall, America’s history stacks up very well in matters of democracy and rights compared to the world average, and that our current era stacks up well against the rest of the world today. I see us losing a little ground, but much more because of the people you’d root for than the ones I’d root for (assuming there’s anyone left I’d actually root for, but that’s too depressing a thread to pull on right now).

              Most police in the US treat nearly everyone fairly. Nearly every vote gets counted. There’s hardly anyone “in charge”.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                Most police in the USSR treated nearly everyone fairly.

                No, seriously, they did. Unless you were a dissident or troublemaker you were mostly left alone, and could reasonably be expected them to defend you from criminals.

                “Almost everything is completely awful” never describes any country because the fist of oppression is only ever aimed at a hated minority or troublemakers.

                Whether it was Iran under the Shah, Iraq under Saddam, or Venezuela under the Chavistas, there is always a large group of people who experience honest and helpful cops, and who see the government as entirely representative of their will.

                On the flip side-

                Right here and right now in America there are communities where the government is so corrupt that it is fair to say that elections don’t matter; One off the top of my head is Vernon right near me –
                But there are many other examples.

                And within living memory Americans like George Takei were rounded up and had all their worldly possessions stripped for no other reason than their race.

                And yes, we have now hundreds of videos of police treating innocent civilians with brutality with the full backing of the state.

                My original point was twofold:
                1. A nation doesn’t have to literally have a Holocaust in order to be a repressive state, and;

                2. The difference between a “free and liberal democracy” and a “repressive state” is blurry and ambiguous, depending largely on which class of people you belong to.

                We can’t be complacent and wait for cattle cars and greasy smoke in the sky; There is no magic spell that keeps our democracy safe.

                Just us citizens.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Most police in the USSR treated nearly everyone fairly.

                Do you have a source for this that isn’t the USSR police?

                Solzhenitsyn, for example, talks about how guards had a joke about the prisoners who showed up with 20 year sentences.

                “What’d you do?”


                “No, 10 years is the sentence for ‘nothing’.”

                I mean, Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago talked about Article 58 and how it was used and who it was enforced against.

                I’d very much like to hear your sources for your assertion.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                So you imagine that every single Soviet citizen was arrested and locked up?

                Isn’t it true that only a small percentage were ever arrested?

                Which is kinda my point, actually.

                That all it takes is a few arrests for the populace to understand what is allowed and what is forbidden, and behave accordingly.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’d been assuming that the left would oppose any attempts by Trump to use Stalinist policing, but obviously I was quite wrong.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I thought the proposition that I was arguing against was the one I quoted.

                Should I instead have been arguing against the proposition that it was not the case that every single Soviet citizen was arrested and locked up?

                Isn’t it true that only a small percentage were ever arrested?

                93% of protests were peaceful.

                That all it takes is a few arrests for the populace to understand what is allowed and what is forbidden, and behave accordingly.

                I absolutely agree with this.

                It’s also one of the main points with regards to the debate over “cancel culture”.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                In all sincerity, most of the time I can never tell what you are arguing for or against.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Well, in this case, I was arguing against “Most police in the USSR treated nearly everyone fairly.”

                I provided Solzhenitsyn as evidence that this proposition was false.

                The counter-argument to my saying that “Most police in the USSR treated nearly everyone fairly.” was a false statement was, let me copy and paste this:

                So you imagine that every single Soviet citizen was arrested and locked up?

                (Though, I admit, I was expecting the argument that I shouldn’t say that Stalin’s USSR was representative of the USSR and I should, instead, see Leonid Brezhnev’s USSR as representative if I were being “fair”.)Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                OK, so some Soviet citizens were treated fairly, and some were not?

                Would it be fair to say that Solzhenitsyn would be the Soviet equivalent of a black American saying “The cops treat everyone badly!” and me being the equivalent of a white American saying, “Why no, most American police treat nearly everyone fairly”?

                That is, that the experience of policing depends largely on what class of people you belong to?Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Going with the absolute low-end estimates of the number of Soviet citizens killed by the Soviet government, and the number of black people killed by American police each year, it will take the US 60,000 years to match the total the Soviet Union amassed in it’s 70-year experiment with socialism.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                At this point, the argument can be summed up like this.

                “~P is True. Here’s some evidence.”
                “So you’re saying Q is True?”
                “No. I’m saying ~P is True.”
                “So you’re arguing R is True?”
                “No. I’m saying ~P is True.”

                If your argument relies on P being True, you’re kinda boned.

                Because ~P is True.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’d put it differently. To me, it feels like the ref is saying the ball is between the two teams’ 5-yard lines.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                I’m saying there were plenty of people who lived very comfortable lives under Communism, and would swear they saw no injustices.

                And they would be telling the truth as they experienced it.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Rural Ukrainians are only now getting indoor toilets, so perhaps we’re using vastly different conceptions of “very comfortable”.

                And basically the USSR ran on corruption, bribes, kickbacks, and protection money. Being a policemen was a for-profit enterprise. Investigating corruption was even more lucrative.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That isn’t true. Everyone at the time would say they were comfortable because they didn’t know who was listening, and many people today think they were doing better economically back then than they are in what replaced communism, but Soviet-bloc communism was a soul-sucking violent monster miles worse than anything in the US in the same years outside of Japanese internment camps.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                Makes you almost wonder how it gained and retained power, if everyone hated it.

                One of the biggest criticisms of Communism was that they just replaced one class structure with another.
                That the senior Party members lived in the best houses, drove fancy cars and never experienced any of the deprivations or abuses suffered by the rest of the population.

                For that matter, look at Russia or China right now.
                We all agree that they are authoritarian regimes, and the people are not free, right?

                Yet…Aren’t there plenty of Russians and Chinese who enthusiastically support the regimes? And will insist that there is no injustice, and that the police treat most everyone fairly?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Makes you almost wonder how it gained and retained power, if everyone hated it.

                I’d suggest reading Solzhenitsyn.

                Gulag Archipelago is a good book. It’s not particularly dry, even. You’re going to find yourself laughing out loud a handful of times.

                I mean, it’s a horrifying book… but it explains, among other things, how it gained and retained power, even as everyone hated it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s…not what his book, or any of the histories about the USSR say.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It describes the tactics used by the USSR as it gained and retained power.

                Here, this is from Wikipedia:

                Structurally, the text comprises seven sections divided (in most printed editions) into three volumes: parts 1–2, parts 3–4, and parts 5–7. At one level, the Gulag Archipelago traces the history of the system of forced labor camps that existed in the Soviet Union from 1918 to 1956. Solzhenitsyn begins with Vladimir Lenin’s original decrees which were made shortly after the October Revolution; they established the legal and practical framework for a series of camps where political prisoners and ordinary criminals would be sentenced to forced labor. The book then describes and discusses the waves of purges and the assembling of show trials in the context of the development of the greater Gulag system; Solzhenitsyn gives particular attention to its purposive legal and bureaucratic development.

                Seriously, it talks about how it gained and retained power.

                Get a copy here for only ~$25. (It’s also available at your local library.)Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                And your takeaway from this is that “everyone” hated it?

                Lenin hated it?
                His generals and aides hated it, the senior party members hated it, the soldiers and police and judges and bureaucrats…they all hated it, every last one of them?

                Of course not. The logic flaw here is of course that there is no such thing as “everyone” in any society.

                In any society there are people who enjoy and benefit from the system, which is how the system gets constructed in the first place.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, you’re the one who is asserting that everyone loved it in response to Pinky pointing out that even people who weren’t comfortable felt like they had to say, publicly, that they were comfortable.

                And then you’re asking me whether my takeaway from this involved how people felt about it.

                If you want insight into peoples’ feelings, you can read Khrushchev’s speech “On The Cult Of Personality And Its Consequences. It’s a pretty good speech. It talks about what happened.

                In any society there are people who enjoy and benefit from the system, which is how the system gets constructed in the first place.

                Sure. But we were talking about how the USSR gained and retained power.

                Not about whether there are people who enjoy and benefit from any given system.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I asserted exactly the opposite.

                That some people loved it, and some people hated it.

                And Khrushchev’s speech demonstrates that.

                Did you see that movie, The Death Of Stalin?
                Hilarious, and revealing.

                Especially the scene where thousands of people flocked to Moscow in genuine grief to pay respects to the dead genocidal dictator.

                Who is actually more popular in Russia today than ever.

                Which, once again, I need to say should not be shocking or counterintuitive.

                Tyranny is always popular with some, oftentimes popular with most, and sometimes popular even among those it represses.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Tyranny is always popular with some, oftentimes popular with most, and sometimes popular even among those it represses.


                I imagine it becomes less and less popular over time but the nature of tyranny is that you can’t talk about how unhappy you are with the system until a tipping point is reached (or a tyrant dies).

                Best to have a system that is sensitive to speech being shut down, I guess.

                I mean, if the goal is to avoid tyranny.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, if you’re overstating your point in order to defend your assertion that people sometimes cooperate with evil regimes, that’s understandable. I’ll grant that general assertion. But you are overstating your point to an offensive degree. I’m dropping out of this conversation because I don’t imagine you or any decent person should have to defend the viewpoint you’re presenting.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Again, I have no idea what you’re saying.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I imagine that if you’re used to saying “I don’t understand” and then this putting an onus on others, it must be very frustrating to only get one explanation about the difference between someone arguing ~P and someone arguing Q in response to P being asserted.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                “in this case, I was arguing against “Most police in the USSR treated nearly everyone fairly.””

                I think that wasn’t Chip’s point, I think he was replying to Pinky’s statement that “[m]ost police in the US treat nearly everyone fairly”. And that’s true–if you polled everyone in North Korea on any given day, most of them wouldn’t have a directly-oppressive interaction with government agents on that day.

                It’s kind of the same thing that leads to liberal support for military drafts; because, the thinking goes, if you aren’t directly affected by something then it’s difficult (or impossible) to care about it enough to work for meaningful and lasting change (and, conversely, those affected by something will of course want to change it so it affects them less strongly.)

                Which…it’s not a wrong argument, but I think it’s rather more of an ad hominem than I’d want to see in an argument meant to persuade anyone.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

                It was nothing more than a “93% of the police are peaceful” argument that didn’t want to acknowledge that the same argument was given in defense of the Criticism Of Police Free Speech Rallies?Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                OK, that’s absurd. But at least you didn’t claim that Soviet votes counted or that they didn’t monopolize power. So your example nets out to a score of Still Appalling.

                I can agree with your point 1 and the first half of point 2. There is a continuum. But that doesn’t mean that every point on the continuum is equal, obviously, and I worry that forgetting that fact leads to things like your USSR comparison or the Nazi comparison implied in this article.Report

  13. LeeEsq says:

    Trump has been engaging in rhetoric that is flagrantly unacceptable. It should be clear to everybody that Trump and people close to him know that Trump is going to loose in a fair and free election. So Trump has been openly stating he has no intention of making this election free and fair. There have been various steps taken by a Red-Brown alliance to do so. Much of the rhetoric that Trump has been performing is really racist against African-Americans, Hispanics, and many others. Based on the totality of the circumstances calling Trump a Nazi is nothing but good sense.Report

    • Philip H in reply to LeeEsq says:

      He’s always been open about who he is and what he intends to do. Yet so many people have decided THIS TIME he’s just blowing smoke . . . time after time after time.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H says:

        Notice how common the fantasy is for people to imagine themselves living in other times and places, like in pre-Revolutionary France, or the antebellum South or maybe ancient Rome?

        They invariably assume that they would be one of the elites, living in a Baroque manor house or palazzo or something, and life would be a series of elegant costume dramas.

        Fascists are like that except it isn’t a dreamy fantasy.
        Trumpists fantasize about an America where they are the default Americans and their norms and beliefs are sacred, and everyone else is some exotic guest who is tolerated only upon condition.

        And yeah, any threat to this fantasy is met with violent reaction.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Why is it that people who claim past lives have glamorous past lives? On the numbers, most of us would have had past lives as Chinese peasants or Eurasian serfs who died miserably at an early age. But you never hear from them.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Philip H says:

        People are having problems taking the situation seriously because doing so is simply too depressing. It means that some serious problems and some serious work is up ahead or that violence might be coming.Report

  14. LTL FTC says:

    I can’t tell whether this is a “no enemies to the left” exhortation to oneself to keep it to yourself when the left acts dumb or just more of the very solipsism it’s supposed to tamp down.

    So many want so desperately for Trump to be Hitler so we can tell our grandchildren we were in the resistance, rather than just plebes under an incompetent reactionary government.

    “Yes, we were in that part of the resistance that foiled the Orange Wehrmacht by not standing up for somebody who got fired over BS,” you might say as you recount the story by the fire with the little ones on your lap. “So many brave people fervently denied cancel culture existed and was bad that one day, ICE collapsed under the weight of our collective smugness and all the little children were free. The end.”Report

  15. Philip H says:

    I’ve never much liked the Hitler references for the President. He’s way more like South American Dictators from the 1970’s though perhaps not even that savy.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Continuing my theme from above, our views on repressive regime always borrow from some sort of Hollywood depiction, where the government is universally loathed, and it treats everyone with appalling cruelty.
      But there are always a group of people- well educated, gainfully employed, people who thrive and prosper in the regime who are never exposed to its dark underbelly. For them, life is pleasant and free of horror, and they will insist adamantly that the things those dissidents say is utter slander.

      There was this film called “The Official Story” about an upper middle class family in Argentina who adopt a child, only to slowly realize the child’s mother may have been one of the disappeared; Until this point, the ugly dirty war had been invisible to them, something they could turn a blind eye to.

      I wonder how many affluent American families have seen their maid or nanny or gardener simply disappear into the ICE gulag, but then turn a blind eye and pretend it never happened?Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        We already have evidence of this blind eye turning. During early Trump, there was a story about how a popular dinner in some mid-Western Trump town was owned by an undocumented alien. The reporters came back a few months after the alien was deported and most of the locals didn’t care. Something else came along to replace the diner.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I read a story about a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust. She went back to her town in Poland after the war, and a neighbor came up to her and tried to be friendly by saying “Its such a shame what happened to you people. We never knew anything about it.”

          And the first woman responded with rage: “What did you think happened to us?”
          The other woman hemmed and hawed, and responded “We just thought…you went away, somewhere.”

          I cling to the hope that there will be a reckoning, that the concentration camp guards and bureaucrats will someday be made to talk, and the prisoners will be able to testify, and we will someday get our own Solzhenitsyn to chronicle this period.Report

        • Aaron David in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Huh, so people care more about the law than getting a nosh.

          And you, as a lawyer, are surprised by this?Report

    • George Turner in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Well, that particular facility is targeting migrant women who are carrying hybrid alien babies, which were implanted as part of a different government experiment involving cattle mutilations, aggressive bees, and flying saucers. Dr. Mahendra Amin, OBGYN, trained in Kashmir, where many of these experiments take place. Of course all of it is directed by Trump, who is obviously from an orange gas planet.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to LeeEsq says:

      A story about mass mutilations of women against their consent is gonna need more corroboration than My Friend’s Brother’s Girlfriend Who’s In A Different Grade And Goes To The Catholic School.Report