Godwin’s law

440px-bundesarchiv_bild_183-c068862c_paul_v-_hindenburgGodwin’s law tells us that the long any online discussion continues, the more probably it becomes that someone will use a Nazi reference – usually comparing the person who disagrees about the best form factor for a mouse to Hitler. So I’m always wary of making any comparisons of anything to Nazis. That side, this piece from Vox that makes a comparison of the US at the present moment and Nazi Germany is worth consideration.

Historian Christopher Browning does not argue that Trump is a modern Hitler. If nothing else, Hitler had an ability to focus and make decisions that were, within his operation framework, rational that Trump simply lacks. The more interesting comparison is Mitch McConnell and Paul von Hindenberg:

This is the key point that people often miss when talking about Hitler’s rise. The breakdown of German democracy started well before Hitler: Hyperpolarization led Hindenburg to strip away constraints on executive power as well as conclude that his left-wing opponents were a greater threat than fascism. The result, then, was a degradation of the everyday practice of democracy, to the point where the system was vulnerable to a Hitler-style figure. [Emphasis added]

Browning is careful to point out that Trumpism is not National Socialism; for one thing, Trump appears to have no core beliefs beyond self-aggrandizement and personal wealth accumulation. I believe that if he could meet those needs by surrounding himself with ardent lefties, he’d be doing that. Trump is ultimately not even the real villain here.

It’s the likes of Mitch McConnell, who ought to know better, but are comfortable giving Trump what he wants to get what they want. It’s becoming ever clearer the result of this bargain: they need Trump’s hardcore followers, who believe every deranged and self-contradictory word that comes from his mouth. And so they can’t reign in Trump without paying a stiff price.

This didn’t work out well for von Hindenberg. Or for Germany. Or the rest of the world.

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