Unsettling similarities between the 2020s and 1940s in the US

Editorial board Readers are familiar with my obsession with political times – or how a party and its ideas prevailed over the majority of Americans for four or five decades before entering a period of transition. , then the other party and its ideas prevail.

But most don’t know why I’m obsessed. I will tell you. It was because I was feeling hopeless. I hate feeling hopeless. Knowing that history is not static – knowing that it moves in a repeating cycle rather than in a straight line with a start and an end – that gives me hope. It gives me hope to know, for better or worse, that nothing is ever the same.

These “models” have been the subject of frequent discussion for over a year between me and Jay Weixelbaum. He is a writer and business historian who is producing an online mini-series about the time a Nazi spy joins US businessmen to toast the fall of France. at a Manhattan hotel while a Jewish FBI agent was investigating.

Jay’s project is called A Nazi on Wall Street. (You can donate to the cause here.) During our conversation, he explained why he believes we are moving to a new paradigm and how choices made in the 1940s seem to reflect choices launched in the 2020s. Then we can go fascist. Let’s hope we don’t do that now.

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In a recent thread you said that the J6 uprising was a first moment between the “models”. Can you explain what you mean by “model”. What does J6 have to do with them?

A “paradigm shift” describes a major change in our lives. The term “status quo” describes a time when we have a common understanding of how politics works, how the economy works, and how culture works. When a paradigm shift occurs, the status quo changes.

The paradigm shift could take years, and I believe we know we’re in when it’s not just academics who point this out – but when everyone sees it and feels it. January 6 is such a moment.

Many historians have commented that Republicans have been in the business of rejecting democratic ideals since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s. They are unwilling to share democracy with those with whom they considered inferior to them.

Watergate is part of this. The 2000 election and the 2016 election were other turning points of the GOP’s slide toward total rejection of American democracy. I found the J6 to be a top notch.

Can you describe the pattern we’re leaving and perhaps the model we’re entering?

The pattern is the accumulation of chaos in our political, economic and social systems, as unresolved problems follow one after another. In turbulent times, even small events can have a huge impact. We’re in the middle of a shift, so it’s hard to know where we’re going.

The reason I adapted my research on American businessmen working with Nazi Germany in 1940 into one stream mini video series It was because in 1940 it wasn’t clear which way things were going. It’s also a paradigm shift.

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We grow up with stories of America winning World War II, but in 1940 it was completely unclear how history would play out. I want the American audience to understand that, especially as we inevitably look back and reflect on our present moment,

Just like 2020 is an important year. I believe that 2022 will also determine our fate in the next era, no matter how long it will last. Democrats in Congress are beginning the process of changing the filter to pass voting rights legislation this week, was a direct response to GOP legislatures passing legislation to cast out millions of votes they might not have liked. Democratic leaders called this “a continuation of January 6.”

That’s important, and we don’t know how this will turn out.

Another big unpredictable factor is the pandemic. I think future historians (provided humanity is alive) will debate how covid helped push the previous president out of power, especially given his lack of ability to deal with the problem. subject effectively.

The third major factor is the midterm exam. Yes, the previous status quo predicted that the party holding the White House would lose. But if we are moving towards a new status quo, the rules may no longer apply.

The company’s contributions to GOP House candidates are only half of what it used to be. And gerrymandering, while still a major threat to democracy, hasn’t turned out as badly as it could have after the 2020 census.

Additionally, depending on how the Supreme Court rules on reproductive selection, this could significantly affect voter turnout.

So there are still a lot of unknowns that could have a major impact in this crucial turning point.

When did this start? With the white backlash against civil rights?

The era of civil rights and feminism in particular, as well as hostility to the New Deal, promoted rights. They built religious and supposedly liberal factions in the 1970s, banding together during the “Reagan Revolution,” which could then escalate for four decades.

History is always about events leading to and from each other. There were certainly predecessors in the GOP of the 1920s and 1930s. It was literally taking money from Nazi spies to try to sweep FDR out of power.

Our government knows this is happening. There was a fierce and frequent struggle against the right-wing Nazi-American alliance.

Is this the fork of the 1940s on the road you’re talking about?

Yes correct. Like the other paradigm shifts, there have been years of construction up to this point and many years after. Nazi spies were active in America in the 1930s. The FBI was tasked with tracking them down. Meanwhile, US companies did business inside Nazi Germany.

In addition to these lesser-known activities, right-wing groups and figures supported the Nazi cause for millions of Americans. Many Americans find this ideology appealing. It’s easy to blame immigrants for problems; many Americans believe that America should stay out of European affairs; some Americans sympathized with post-World War I Germany. The radio priest, Charles Coughlin, broadcast these views to millions. He’s the nimble type who rushes through his day.

Nazi influence in America culminated with a huge march and rally in New York City in 1939. Thousands of people gathered at Madison Square Garden to listen to the blasphemous speeches of the Nazis. under the banners of George Washington emblazoned with swastikas.

In 1940, the FDR issued a new directive to hunt down the Nazis. The FBI built a secret spy headquarters inside the 30 Rock building to spy on Nazi activities all over the world, but especially in South America, where they could get the ingredients for a tank. war machine for efficient operation.

Without telling the story of World War II, FDR was re-elected, despite Nazi groups pouring money into Charles Lindbergh’s campaign. FDR began to aid Britain and prepare for the war against fascism. Thus, the paradigm shift began leading up to the events of 1940.

The president blamed the J6 on Trump. No sitting president in my life could call his predecessor a traitor. That sounds like an indicator of a paradigm shift, doesn’t it?

Sure. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this since at least the Civil War. The evidence is so much, I think Biden was on a safe political platform to take off his gloves.

It should also be pointed out that fascist violence often begins with a war for truth. Biden made a clear point to push back against the fascist lies.

I call the Republicans’ destructive pandemic recovery a form of fascist violence, but that’s just me.

I think that’s also a fair observation. Fascism is not sustainable as a form of government. It is inherently irrational and destructive. It’s an extreme form of populism based on emotions – more specifically, feelings of discontent. It is an inherently unstable platform to try to run a society.

Economies need stability. Political regimes need economic stability to survive in the long run. But the fascists don’t care about the long term. They are interested in nurturing grievance addicts. They build policy around that.

Perhaps this has to do with your observation of the “civil war”. It would have to sacrifice an order that most people would refuse.

Correct. I think the potential for violence and destruction is enormous. But I don’t see that for long, because people will not tolerate a consumer economy that is severely disrupted by violence and disruption.

Nazi scholars saw this. Just beneath their fake bravery, the Nazis were terrified of economic problems. We would never have known how the Nazi regime might have functioned had it not been for its stupid military choices, but it was clear that things were rather unstable.

I think the Republican Party was able to lean heavily against democracy and fascism, because it is still based on a liberal democratic order. Drop that and it’s a new status quo

Agree. It is parasitic.

It’s correct! Fascism is a parasite on liberal democracy, but it can kill its owner. Then all bets are off on how long it will last.

What will tell you the upcoming midterms are different from the previous midterms?

Preserving democracy is a key policy issue. That will be a specific policy point discussed in many midterm campaigns. Typically health care, guns, climate, etc. Democracy as policy is the new norm.

Telling people they need to vote now or they won’t be able to depend on voting in the future is quite drastic and I argue for a new development. We saw it in 2020. It will be here in 2022. Unsettling similarities between the 2020s and 1940s in the US

Huynh Nguyen

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