The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazis iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.
“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.
In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.
The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.
Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.
For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.
Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.
The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59” might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.
With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.
Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.
In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia — a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation — and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.
“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment. “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records. The majority have been killed — civilians and soldiers — during Obama’s time as president.
The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion . . . Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.” He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?
In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.
The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”
The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]”. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.
On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised $500 million in arms and logistics to support tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests … would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.
The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.
Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”. His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah — who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help — was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.
The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”
The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collateral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.
Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.
“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”
Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.
The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places — just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.
There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens — as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.
In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.
This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.
No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe — with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kaplan, a leading “neo-con” luminary of the far-right Center for a New American Security, she was foreign policy advisor to the fascist Dick Cheney.
Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea — illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 — voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.
At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove — whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove — announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.
These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.
On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).
The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.
If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”. There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.
On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, “No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ….If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack …. In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”
In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.
In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”. In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”
The outbursts — or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” — are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world. In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.
Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship.
They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.
Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.
The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.
Blog sobre temas de Política, Economia e História.
|O «terramoto» das eleições gregas
Segundo os media europeus, com a eleição do Syriza vinha aí um terramoto na Grécia e até mesmo na Europa. O Syriza foi sistematicamente chamado pelos jornais portugueses (e não só) como «extrema-esquerda». Não era só o espectro de ser de esquerda que se perfilava no horizonte; ainda para mais era «extrema»! Agora, sim, a troika e a «austeridade» iriam ser arrumadas para o caixote do lixo. Agora, sim, o Syriza iria mostrar como se arrancava um povo das fauces sugadoras da troika.
Tremenda ilusão. Em que muitos caíram. Excepto as Bolsas europeias que não se incomodaram nada com os planos gregos de «renegociação da dívida» do ministro das finanças Yanis Varoufakis (YV), e do seu plano de troca de dívida por dois tipos de títulos obrigacionistas (): um deles, a pagar só quando a economia grega viesse a crescer; o outro, a pagar modicamente e perpetuamente.
As Bolsas – logo, o grande capital – não se incomodaram por duas boas razões: porque o Syriza não nacionalizou os bancos nem previa tal no seu programa; porque sabiam que por debaixo da capa de «extrema-esquerda» o Syriza era uma nova reincarnação social-democrata.
Derrota total no primeiro embate
Logo no primeiro embate com o Eurogrupo (EG) o Syriza mostrou a sua fibra. Derrota e recuo em toda a linha ([2-4]). A corrupta oligarquia grega (lá como cá ligada ao Império), tem vindo a mamar os resgates ao mesmo tempo que mantém o investimento no mínimo e descapitaliza a banca. Desde Dezembro de 2014 que 20 biliões de euros (mil milhões de euros) voaram dos bancos gregos para a Suíça e outras paragens. Com os cofres do Estado vazios, os pagamentos de funcionários públicos ameaçados, e sem controlar a banca, o Syriza foi forçado a pedir um novo empréstimo. Na primeira reunião com o EG na passada 6.ª feira, 20 de Fevereiro, YV pediu, para tal, a extensão por mais seis meses de um resgate anterior. Em troca dessa extensão Atenas comprometia-se a: manter um saldo orçamental positivo, mas abaixo da meta exigida pela troika; não tomar medidas unilaterais que impedissem o cumprimento de metas fiscais do EG (como, por exemplo, suspender privatizações); pedir a «renegociação da dívida» com vista ao crescimento económico; abandonar a proposta de perdão da dívida, com alargamento do prazo de pagamento e descida de taxas de juro.
Em suma, YV avançou com uma proposta que recuava das promessas do Syriza, designadamente no que se referia à suspensão das privatizações e à exigência de perdão parcial da dívida. Dívida essa que economistas destacados das mais diversas persuasões políticas (incluindo o keynesiano e prémio Nobel Paul Krugman) já disseram ser impagável. O que, aliás, é fácil de ver; não é preciso ter o prémio Nobel.
Para não alarmar os seus votantes, o Syriza afirmou a 20 de Fevereiro que a Grécia «deixou para trás a austeridade, o memorando e a troika» ().
Pois apesar do recuo, a Alemanha – o pivot do Império na Europa, que mais tem lucrado com a UE e a zona euro () — não aceitou o plano YV. Nem a Alemanha nem… os seus lacaios neoliberais, com especial destaque para os ministros das finanças português e espanhol. O EG apenas concedeu mais quatro meses de resgate, com YV a comprometer-se com todas as exigências da troika (sob o eufemismo de «honrar as obrigações financeiras com os seus credores») incluindo «o firme compromisso com o processo de reformas estruturais»; isto é, de continuar a desmantelar os direitos dos trabalhadores e benefícios sociais. Afinal o Syriza não tinha deixado para trás a austeridade, o memorando e a troika. A derrota de YV foi tão monumental que W. Schäuble (ministro das finanças alemão) comentou sarcasticamente que agora se ia ver como é que o Syriza se ia explicar ao povo grego. O Governo grego, para não perder o apoio dos seus votantes, veio dizer a 23/2 que concorda com 70% (?) das medidas de resgate e que não iria mudar a lei laboral nem a lei sobre o crédito mal parado. Veio também anunciar aquelas medidas que os governos capitalistas também anunciam quando querem mostrar obra: melhorar a colecta de impostos e combater a corrupção. Detalhes sem importância que não escondem o essencial: a derrota imposta pelo grande capital, personificado na Alemanha. Uma Alemanha que também já disse ao Syriza que se recusava a discutir o assunto das reparações de guerra decorrentes da ocupação nazi e a devolução de empréstimos gregos à Alemanha depois da 2.ª guerra mundial.
A desilusão com o Syriza (para aqueles que alimentavam ilusões) é total. Um herói anti-fascista grego, Manolis Glezos de 92 anos, anunciou ontem o seu desvinculamento do Syriza, pedindo desculpa ao povo grego «por ter participado na ilusão» que levou o Syriza ao poder e apelou à acção «antes que seja tarde».
O sem-saída do reformismo
Varoufakis é a face exemplar de uma certa corrente hodierna de «esquerda» que chega a reclamar-se de marxista, quando não é mais do que defensora de um Marx inócuo, não revolucionário. Uma corrente positivista («não interessa a teoria, só interessam as observações subjectivamente percebidas»), social-democrata, defensora do capitalismo. Logo, por definição, não de esquerda.
Na Grécia, esta corrente chama-se Syriza. Em Espanha, chama-se Podemos. Em Portugal, chama-se Tempo de Avançar. A pobreza teórica reflecte-se no ecletismo de todas estas organizações: mantas de retalhos de diversas proveniências. O Syriza, por exemplo, é uma aliança de sociais-democratas, de socialistas democráticos, de eco-socialistas, de patriotas de esquerda, de feministas, de verdes de esquerda, de maoístas, de trotskistas, de eurocomunistas e de eurocépticos. O Tempo de Avançar é uma coligação do Livre, Renovadores Comunistas, Manifesto 3D, Fórum Manifesto, e Movimento Cidadania e Intervenção, onde pululam as mesmas «ideias».
Todas estas correntes são semeadoras de ilusões reformistas. O que são estas ilusões reformistas e porque razão não funcionam foram já por nós discutidas no artigo: A ilusão de uma saída reformista da crise. No fundo, o que está a acontecer com o Syriza é a confirmação do que já aí dizíamos.
Vale a pena analisar o discurso de YV. O que YV diz é também o que dizem muitos reformistas da nossa praça, incluindo a actual direcção do PCP. Isto é, o que diz YV tem claras repercussões na análise a que a esquerda deverá proceder em Portugal.
Varoufakis fez uma apresentação das suas ideias no 6.o Festival Subversivo de Zagreb, em 2013. O Festival Subversivo, de subversivo não tem muito. Na edição deste ano participarão Slavoj Žižek (eurocomunista de posições sociais-democratas), Alexis Tsipras (eurocomunista), Oliver Stone (budista, votante de Obama mas crítico da política estrangeira dos EUA) e David Harvey (crítico do neoliberalismo e divulgador de O Capital). Um Festival da esquerda… baixa. Daquela que não incomoda o capitalismo, antes pelo contrário. Serve para desviar possíveis aderentes daquela que incomoda.
A versão transcrita da apresentação de YV em Zagreb tem como título: «Confissões de um marxista irregular no meio de uma crise europeia repugnante» (Confessions of an erratic Marxist in the midst of a repugnant European crisis). Portanto, YV não é um marxista; é, sim, um marxista irregular, isto é, de vez em quando. YV coloca a questão sobre se a esquerda deve utilizar a crise para desmantelar uma UE baseada em políticas neoliberais, ou se deve aceitar que não está preparada para uma mudança radical e lutar por estabilizar o capitalismo europeu. Responde, dizendo que, por muito que repugne aos «radicais» (designação vaga que serve para tudo; até Hitler era um radical) o «dever histórico» da esquerda nesta conjuntura é estabilizar o capitalismo, «salvar o capitalismo europeu dele mesmo e dos inábeis gestores da inevitável crise da zona euro». Estão a ver? Os capitalistas não sabem ser capitalistas. É preciso salvá-los de si próprios, da sua incompetência como capitalistas. Para tal, existe a «esquerda», que por definição é anti-capitalista, mas cujo «dever histórico» nesta conjuntura é salvá-los! A «esquerda» que, como todos sabem, é competentemente capitalista.
Na sua argumentação YV cita Marx dizendo que certas coisas que Marx disse estão certas. O pior é a teoria que subjaz à análise marxista que, para YV, é demasiado determinista. YV gosta mais dos «espíritos animais» de Keynes e coisas do género. Sobre a leitura idiossincrática que YV faz de Marx ver Yanis Varoufakis: more erratic than Marxist.
Mas se YV não gosta da teoria de Marx, vejamos ao menos a sua prática. Logo que foi ministro, YV afirmou que a Grécia não sofreria um «acidente financeiro» nem seria forçada a deixar a zona euro (embora, segundo YV, não devesse ter entrado). Disse também que a Grécia não deixaria de pagar a dívida ao FMI e aos investidores privados. E que a economia de Grécia podia crescer suficientemente depressa para sair da dívida; crescimento a construir a nível europeu, devendo ser lançado sob hegemonia alemã um programa de reactivação de toda a economia europeia como o New Deal de Roosevelt e o plano Marshall dos anos cinquenta! Que sonhador, este reformista!
Quanto aos bancos gregos, YV não se mostrou muito preocupado, apesar dos biliões de euros que saíram do país e continuam a sair. YV afirmou ainda que o novo governo não alteraria as privatizações em curso e que a Grécia deveria manter-se um destino atractivo para o investimento estrangeiro. Sigamos a análise de :
«Que tipo de programa é este? Na verdade é difícil dizê-lo. No que concerne à dívida, reflecte sem dúvida a realidade inescapável de que a dívida grega é impagável […] Tudo o mais parece sobretudo uma colecção de frases para a galeria, sem muita coerência, para ser suave. Que crescimento há que construir a nível pan-europeu? Como é isso de lançar um programa de investimentos em toda a Europa? Vai o governo grego convencer Merkel, Hollande e Rajoy, ou vai esperar que Podemos ganhe as eleições para ter um aliado? YV diz que os investimentos privados na Grécia se reactivarão logo que se alivie o peso da dívida. Ai, sim? Primeiro, há que ver se ocorre esse alívio mas, supondo que ocorre, por que artes mágicas vão reactivar-se esses investimentos? Será porque os salários gregos serão “atractivos” (ou seja, quanto mais baixos melhor) para os agora chamados investidores, aliás capitalistas de outros tempos? Vai o Syriza intentar o avanço nessa direcção? Irão os investimentos fluir para a Grécia porque o novo governo os brindará com segurança e garantia de que o capital será respeitado e não sofrerá beliscadura sob a forma de impostos, nacionalizações ou regulamentos? Mas, quem possui a dívida grega, não são precisamente esses capitalistas? Não lhes soará mal qualquer “quitação”, qualquer redução da dívida, que não seria outra coisa que a perda parcial ou total do seu capital?»
Sobre o desdém de YV pela teoria, diz o autor de  (ênfases nossos): «YV em Zagreb disse que em nenhuma das suas intervenções políticas ou económicas de anos recentes se guiou por modelos económicos que, a seu ver, são absolutamente irrelevantes para entender o capitalismo real que hoje existe. A frase tem que se lhe diga, porque se não se tem um modelo, é impossível fazer-se uma ideia de como se desenvolvem os fenómenos sobre os quais se quer actuar. Será possível navegar de Barcelona a Londres sem nenhum mapa que mostre os itinerários possíveis? Será possível entender um circuito electrónico com díodos, condensadores e transístores sem ter na mente esquemas de como funcionam essas coisas?»
De facto, não é possível ter uma prática consistentemente correcta sem uma teoria correcta. É certo que uma teoria correcta não é suficiente para uma prática correcta. (Podemos saber muito de díodos, condensadores e transístores e aqui e além cometer erros de compreensão do funcionamento de um circuito electrónico.) Mas uma teoria correcta é, contudo, uma condição necessária.
O autor de  conclui assim: «“O das barbas”, como Varoufakis chama às vezes a Marx, passou toda a sua vida investigando planos e esquemas teóricos […] para formar com eles um modelo geral da economia capitalista. O modelo geral está certamente incompleto, os esquemas não nos permitiram predizer, por exemplo, que os EUA se converteriam no principal país do sistema capitalista mundial na segunda metade do séc. XX, que revoluções anticapitalistas teriam lugar na Rússia e na China (e fracassariam) e que os computadores e a Internet mudariam por completo a aparência do mundo. Porém, os esquemas de Marx, abstractos em extremo como são, permitem entender porque razão o capitalismo é fonte continua de desigualdade social, porque razão está condenado a crises, uma e outra vez, e porque razão as tentativas bem ou mal intencionadas de regulá-lo ou “salvá-lo” só conduzem ao fracasso ou a converter a quem os protagonizam em parte desse grupo de gestores de alto gabarito que em Espanha são frequentemente chamados hoje de “a casta”. Eliminar o capitalismo é certamente difícil e muitos estarão de acordo com Varoufakis de que “a esquerda” não está preparada para isso. Mas afirmar que do que se trata hoje é precisamente de salvar o capitalismo, não é isso negar tudo o que de importante esteve alguma vez por trás dessa nebulosa ideia de “a esquerda”? […]»
Quanto a nós, desde o início do presente blog que temos defendido que Portugal tem de ser salvo da incivilização do capitalismo. E temos procurado fundamentar as medidas que se impõem numa alternativa de esquerda (ver artigos anteriores). Incluindo a nacionalização da banca, não contemplada pelo Syriza. Esta e outras medidas anticapitalistas, que implicam sair do euro e, possivelmente, da UE, impor-se-ão quando o povo compreender e se alçar na luta por uma solução de esquerda. Uma solução rumo ao socialismo. Naturalmente, com uma organização à altura da tarefa. «Atalhos» reformistas só adiarão ainda mais essa compreensão e disponibilidade para a luta.
|The Greek elections «earthquake»
The election of Syriza was, according to the European media, an earthquake for Greece and even for Europe. Syriza was systematically coined by the Portuguese (and others) newspapers as being from “extreme left-wing”. Thus, not only the specter of “left-wing” emerged in the horizon; it was furthermore an “extreme” specter. Now, at last, troika and “austerity” would be swept away to the dust bin. Now, at last, Syriza would show how to pull out a country from the sucking troika snouts.
Tremendous delusion. With many falling for it. Except the European stock-markets which didn’t bother at all with the Greek plans to “renegotiate the debt” of Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (YV), and of his plan to swap debt by two types of bonds (): one, to be paid when the Greek economy would grow; the other, to be paid perpetually in modest shares.
The stock markets – therefore, the big capital – didn’t bother for two good reasons: because Syriza neither nationalize the banks nor put forward that intent in its program; because they knew that under the “extreme left-wing” cloak Syriza was just a new reincarnation of social-democracy.
Total defeat at the first clash
In its first clash with the Eurogroup (EG) Syriza has showed its fiber. Pull back and defeat on the whole frontline ([2-4]). The corrupt Greek oligarchy (there as here attached to the Empire) has been sucking bailouts and at the same time keeping the investment to a minimum and decapitalizing the banks. Twenty billion euros have flown out of the Greek banks to Switzerland and other places, since December 2014. With empty State vaults, threatened payments to civil servants, and without any control on the banks, Syriza was forced to beg for a new loan. In its first meeting with the EG last Friday, February 20, YV asked, for that purpose, an extension of a previous bailout for a further six months time. In exchange, Athens proposed the following compromise: to maintain a positive budgetary balance, although below the target set by the troika; not undertaking measures that would impair the attainment of EG fiscal goals (e.g., suspension of privatizations); to apply for a “renegotiation of the debt” having in view the economic growth; to abandon the proposal of a debt write-off, and instead apply to a widening of the maturity time span and the lowering of the interest rate.
Briefly, Syriza put forward a proposal that stepped back on all Syriza promises, namely on the suspension of privatizations and the demand for a partial debt write-off. A debt that prominent economists of various political persuasions (including the Keynesian and Nobel prize Paul Krugman) have already told to be impossible to pay. An observation easy to arrive at; surely not demanding a Nobel prize.
In order not to alarm its voters, Syriza stated in February, 20, that Greece “had left behind the austerity, the memorandum and the troika” ().
Well, notwithstanding the pull back, Germany – The Empire pivot in Europe, the country that has most profited with the EU and the Eurozone () – did not accept YV’s plan. Neither Germany nor… its neoliberal lackeys with special mention going to the Portuguese and Spanish Finance Ministers. The EG only granted a further four months of bailout, with YV yielding to all troika demands (under the euphemism of “to honor the financial commitments with its creditors”) including the “firm compromise with the process of structural reforms”; that is, to go on dismantling workers’ rights and social benefits. After all, Syriza had not left behind the austerity, the memorandum and the troika. The defeat of Syriza was as monumental as to trigger the sarcastic comment of W. Schäuble (German Finance Minister) that now one would see as how Syriza would explain to the Greek people what had happened. The Greek government caring not lose the support of its voters came out with a statement on February, 23, that it agreed with 70% (?) of the bailout measures and that it would not change labor and defaulting debt laws. It also announced such measures as capitalist governments use to announce when they want to show some work: to improve tax collecting and fight corruption. Unimportant details that do not hide the essential: the defeat imposed by the big capital, personified by Germany. Germany that also told Syriza that it refused to discuss the matter of war reparations related to the Nazi occupation and paying back Greek loans to Germany contracted after the Second World War.
The delusion with Syriza (for those who entertained illusions) is complete. A Greek antifascist hero, the 92-year old Manolis Glezos, announced yesterday that he severed ties with Syriza asking for forgiveness to the Greek people “for participating in the illusion” that propelled Syriza to the power, at the same time appealing to action “before it is too late”.
The reformist dead-end
Varoufakis is the exemplary face of a today’s specific “left-wing” current that claims to be Marxist when it is nothing else than a defender of a sanitized non-revolutionary Marx. A positivist current (“don’t bother with theory, only subjectively perceived observations are important), social-democrat, supportive of capitalism. Hence, a non-left current by definition.
This current is called Syriza in Greece. It is called Podemos in Spain. And in Portugal is called Tempo de Avançar. The theoretical poverty is reflected by the eclecticism of all these organizations: patchwork quilts of various sources. Syriza, for instance, is an alliance of social-democrats, democratic socialists, eco-socialists, left-wing patriots, feminists, left-wing greens, Maoists, Trotskyites, Eurocommunists and Eurosceptics. The Tempo de Avançar is a coalition of Free, Communist Renewal, Manifest 3D, Forum Manifest, Citizen and Intervention Movement, small parties where the same “ideas” swarm freely.
All these currents are spreaders of reformist delusions. What these delusions are and why they cannot work have been already discussed by us in the article “A ilusão de uma saída reformista da crise“. What is happening with Syriza is after all a confirmation of what we said in that article.
Varoufakis discourse is worth analyzing. What YV has to say is also what our home-made reformists have to say, including the present leadership of the PCP. Thus, what YV has to say has clear repercussions on the analysis that the Portuguese left must carry through.
Varoufakis made a presentation of his ideas at the 6th Subversive Festival of Zagreb in 2013. The Subversive Festival has not that much of subversive ness. This year’s edition counts among its participants Slavoj Žižek (Eurocommunist with social-democratic positions), Alexis Tsipras (Eurocommunist), Oliver Stone (Buddhist, a voter on Obama but critical of US foreign policy) and David Harvey (critic of neo-liberalism and divulger of Capital). A Festival of the Left… of the low kind. Of that kind that doesn’t bother capitalism — quite the opposite. It is of service to deviate possible adherents of the Left that truly bothers.
The written version of YV presentation at Zagreb is entitled “Confessions of an erratic Marxist in the midst of a repugnant European crisis”. Thus, YV is not a Marxist; he is an erratic Marxist, i. e., from time to time. YV raises the question of whether the Left must use the crisis to dismantle an EU based on neo-liberal policies, or instead accept that it is not ready for a radical change and struggle to stabilize the European capitalism. He answers by saying that though it is repugnant to “radicals” (vague designation suiting everything; even Hitler was a radical), the “historical duty” of the Left at the present particular juncture is to stabilize capitalism, “to save European capitalism from itself and from the inane handlers of the Eurozone’s inevitable crisis”. See? Capitalists do not know how to be capitalists. They have to be saved from themselves, from their incompetence as capitalists. For that purpose, there is the “Left”, which by definition is anticapitalist but whose “historical duty” at this particular juncture is to save them! The “Left” that as you all know is competently capitalist.
YV does quote Marx in his line of argument, admitting that some things that Marx said are correct. Unfortunately, for YV, the theory underlying Marx’s analyses is too much deterministic. Keynes’ “animal spirits” and that sort of things is more to the liking of YV. On YV idiosyncratic reading of Marx we recommend Yanis Varoufakis: more erratic than Marxist.
But if YV doesn’t like Marx’s theory, let us at least take a look of what sort his practice is. As soon he became Minister of Finance YV stated that Greece would not suffer a “financial accident” nor would be forced to leave the Eurozone (though, according to YV, it shouldn’t have entered either). He also said that Greece wouldn’t back from paying the debt to IMF and to private investors. And, furthermore, that Greek economy would be able to grow at a sufficiently high rate to escape from the debt burden. A growth rate to be handled at pan-European level, on the premise that a program for the reactivation of the whole European economy should be launched under German hegemony, such as Roosevelt’s New Deal or the Marshall Plan of the fifties! What a dreamer, this reformist!
In what concerns the Greek banks, YV didn’t show much preoccupation, though billions of euros have left the country and continue to flow away. YV also said that the new government would not change the running privatization process and that Greece should be kept as an attractive destination for direct foreign investment. Let us now follow the analysis of :
“What sort of program is this one? Truly, it is difficult to say. In what concerns the debt, it reflects no doubt the inescapable reality that the Greek debt cannot be paid […] Everything else looks more as a collection of sentences for the gallery of populism, without much coherence, to put it leniently. What growth is there to be built at a pan-European level? What is that thing of launching an investment program for the whole Europe? Is the Greek government going to convince Merkel, Hollande and Rajoy, or is it going to wait that Podemos wins the elections in order to have an ally? YV says that private investments in Greece will be reactivated as soon as the debt burden is relieved. Really? First, the relief has to be seen, but supposing it does occur, which magic wand will reactivate the investments? Will that take place because Greek salaries will become “attractive” (i. e., the lower the better) for the newly-called investors, in fact the capitalists of other times? Is Syriza going to intent an advance on that direction? Will the investments flow to Greece because the new government will gift them with assurances and guaranties that capital will be respected and will not suffer any pinch on taxes, nationalizations and regulations? But those that own Greek debt aren’t they precisely those capitalists? Wouldn’t it sound weird to their ears any “discharge”, any debt relief, amounting to no other thing than the partial or total loss of their capital?”
On YV’s disdain for theory, says the author of  (our emphases): “YV told in Zagreb that in none of his political or economic interventions of recent years was he guided by economic models, which to his looking are absolutely irrelevant to understand the real capitalism that exists today. This assertion begs a remark, because if one does not have a model, one is denied the possibility of an idea on how phenomena unfold, in order to act upon. Is it possible to sail from Barcelona to London with no map showing the possible itineraries? Is it possible to understand an electronic circuit with diodes, capacitors and transistors without having in the mind models on how such things work?”
As a matter of fact, it is not possible to have a consistently correct practice without a correct theory. True, a correct theory is not sufficient to have a correct practice. (We may know a lot about diodes, capacitors and transistors and here and there fail on interpreting how an electronic circuit works.) But a correct theory is nevertheless a necessary condition.
The author of  concludes as follows: “”The bearded one” as Varoufakis sometimes calls Marx passed is whole life investigating plans and theoretical outlines […] to form with them a general model of the capitalist economy. The general model is surely incomplete, the outlines didn’t allow us to predict, e.g., that the US would become in the second half of the 20th century the main country of the world capitalist system, that anticapitalist revolutions would take place in Russia and China (and would fail), and that computers and Internet would completely change the appearance of the world. However, Marx’s theoretical outlines, abstract in extreme as they are, allow us to understand why capitalism is a continuous source of social inequality, why it is doomed to crises one time and another, and why the attempts to “save it” or adjust it, be they good or bad intended, can only lead to failure or to convert their protagonists in members of the high-level managers group often named in today’s Spain as the “casta”. Eliminating capitalism is certainly difficult and many will agree with Varoufakis that “the Left” is not prepared for it. But stating that the real issue today is precisely saving capitalism isn’t that denying everything of importance lying behind the cloudy idea of “the Left”? […]”
As to us, we have since the beginning of this blog defended that Portugal has to be saved from the uncivilization of capitalism. And we have attempted to provide sound justifications to the needed measures of a left alternative (see our previous articles). One of them being the nationalization of the banks, not contemplated by Syriza. This and other anticapitalist measures implying exiting the euro and, possibly, the EU, will impose by themselves when the people understand and rise in the struggle for a left solution. A solution on the way to socialism. Quite naturally, with an organization up to the task. Reformist “shortcuts” will only postpone further away that understanding and commitment to the struggle.
 JN 4/2/2015, Bolsas aprovam plano grego mas próximos dias são cruciais.
 JN 20/2/2015, Vão todos a jogo mas no fim quem ganha é a Alemanha.
 JN 21/2/2015, Grécia diz que «deixou para trás a austeridade, o memorando e a troika»
 JN 23/2/2015
 Eugénio Rosa, A União Europeia e o Euro Serviram para Enriquecer a Alemanha, 31 de Janeiro de 2015, http://www.eugeniorosa.com/Sites/eugeniorosa.com/Documentos/2015/4-2015-AlemanhaUE.pdf
 José A. Tapia, Salvar el capitalismo, o las confesiones del ministro de finanzas griego, Rebelión, 13/2/2015, http://rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=195383.
Germany Will Reprint Hitler’s Mein Kampf
Annotated Edition to Reject Racist Assertions
By Matt Cantor, Newser Staff
Newser.com, Posted Feb 25, 2015 1:32 PM CST
(Newser) – Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which the Washington Post describes as a “kind of Nazi bible,” has long been hidden away in Germany; the state of Bavaria, holder of the rights to the book, has prevented it from being republished since the end of World War II. But at the end of this year, the state loses those rights, and a new edition of the racist volume will soon arrive, the Post reports. It will be annotated and presented as an academic work rather than a guidebook to hate; some 4,000 notations will expand a 700-page book into a 2,000-page one stretching across two volumes, the New York Times reports. The annotations will reject Hitler’s racist arguments, but that hasn’t prevented deep concern.
“This book is too dangerous for the general public,” says a library historian, while an advocate against anti-Semitism wonders: “Can you annotate the Devil?” Further complicating the issue, the new edition is being published by a historical society financed by taxpayers, the Post notes; the society doesn’t want the book to become a commercial publication, the Times reports. A sample sentence describes Jews as “the eternal parasite, a freeloader that, like a malignant bacterium, spreads rapidly whenever a fertile breeding ground is made available to it.” A Jewish leader in Munich worries that the book “is a Pandora’s box that, once opened again, cannot be closed.” Such fears are particularly pronounced at a time when anti-Semitism in Europe is once again rearing its head; last week saw hundreds of Jewish graves defiled in France.
Annotated Version of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ to Be Published Next Year
By Melissa Eddy
The New York Times, Feb. 24, 2015
BERLIN — Researchers are on track to finish roughly 4,000 annotations and historical notes to accompany a new German-language edition of Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” to be published in January 2016, after the existing copyright expires.
A noted center for the study of Nazism, The Institute for Contemporary History, in Munich, has been working on the edition for several years. The copyright held by the German state of Bavaria expires at the end of 2015.
Simone Paulmichl, a spokeswoman for the institute, said Tuesday that the addition of the critical commentary was expected to more than double the length of the original, which was more than 700 pages, to about 2,000 pages to be published in two volumes. The institute plans to put out the annotated version itself, to prevent it from being published as a commercial endeavor.
Last summer, the justice ministers of Germany’s 16 states agreed that the book should not be published in Germany without accompanying commentary.
Although they made no specific comment regarding how an annotated version, with comments that are clearly distanced from the premises of the work, would be handled, the institute remains confident that its version will be able to proceed, Ms. Paulmichl said.
Although “Mein Kampf” is available online, and printed copies can be purchased at bookstores and flea markets in the neighboring Czech Republic or Hungary [N. B.!], the state of Bavaria has refused to allow its republication in Germany. Critics charge that the prohibition has only increased interest in the book in some quarters.
‘Mein Kampf’: A historical tool, or Hitler’s voice from beyond the grave?
By Anthony Faiola
The Washington Post, February 24, 2015
MUNICH — Old copies of the offending tome are kept in a secure “poison cabinet,” a literary danger zone in the dark recesses of the vast Bavarian State Library. A team of experts vets every request to see one, keeping the toxic text away from the prying eyes of the idly curious or those who might seek to exalt it.
“This book is too dangerous for the general public,” library historian Florian Sepp warned as he carefully laid a first edition of “Mein Kampf” — Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto of hate — on a table in a restricted reading room.
Nevertheless, the book that once served as a kind of Nazi bible, banned from domestic reprints since the end of World War II, will soon be returning to German bookstores from the Alps to the Baltic Sea.
The prohibition on reissue for years was upheld by the state of Bavaria, which owns the German copyright and legally blocked attempts to duplicate it. But those rights expire in December, and the first new print run here since Hitler’s death is due out early next year. The new edition is a heavily annotated volume in its original German that is stirring an impassioned debate over history, anti-Semitism and the latent power of the written word.
The book’s reissue, to the chagrin of critics, is effectively being financed by German taxpayers, who fund the historical society that is producing and publishing the new edition. Rather than a how-to guidebook for the aspiring fascist, the new reprint, the group said this month, will instead be a vital academic tool, a 2,000-page volume packed with more criticisms and analysis than the original text.
Still, opponents are aghast, in part because the book is coming out at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and as the English and other foreign-language versions of “Mein Kampf” — unhindered by the German copyrights — are in the midst of a global renaissance.
Although authorities here struck deals with online sellers such as Amazon.com to prohibit sales in Germany, new copies of “Mein Kampf” have become widely available via the Internet around the globe. In retail stores in India, it is enjoying strong popularity as a self-help book for Hindu nationalists. A comic-book edition was issued in Japan. A new generation of aficionados is also rising among the surging ranks of the far right in Europe. The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece, for instance, has stocked “Mein Kampf” at its bookstore in Athens.
Regardless of the academic context provided by the new volume, critics say the new German edition will ultimately allow Hitler’s voice to rise from beyond the grave.
“I am absolutely against the publication of ‘Mein Kampf,’ even with annotations. Can you annotate the Devil? Can you annotate a person like Hitler?” said Levi Salomon, spokesman for the Berlin-based Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism. “This book is outside of human logic.”
Not surprisingly, the new edition has become a political hot potato, illustrating the always-awkward question of how modern Germany should deal with its past. Initially, Bavaria, for instance, had pledged $575,000 to directly support publication of the new edition for historical purposes. But it backed out after the Bavarian governor’s 2012 visit to Israel, where he heard withering criticism of the proposal from Holocaust survivors.
That left the state-funded organization putting out the new edition — the Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History — in a bind. Since the late 1940s, the institute has analyzed the rise and aftermath of the Nazi era, putting out annotated texts such as Hitler’s speeches. The single most important work it has not yet published in annotated form is, in fact, “Mein Kampf.” Since 2012, it has had a team of academics laboring on the new edition in preparation for the copyright’s expiry.
Despite the chorus of opposition, particularly from Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors, the institute has opted to go ahead with publication, funding it from its general budget — a task made easier by the fact that Bavaria allowed it to keep the original grant for other research purposes.
“I understand some immediately feel uncomfortable when a book that played such a dramatic role is made available again to the public,” said Magnus Brechtken, the institute’s deputy director. “On the other hand, I think that this is also a useful way of communicating historical education and enlightenment — a publication with the appropriate comments, exactly to prevent these traumatic events from ever happening again.”
A rambling, repetitive work panned by literary critics for its pedantic style, “Mein Kampf” was drafted by Hitler in a Bavarian jail after the failed Nazi uprising in Munich in November 1923. It was initially published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, with later, joint editions forming a kind of Nazi handbook. During the Third Reich, some German cities doled out copies to Aryan newlyweds as wedding gifts.
The book also laid the groundwork for the Holocaust, stating, for instance, that Jews are and “will remain the eternal parasite, a freeloader that, like a malignant bacterium, spreads rapidly whenever a fertile breeding ground is made available to it.”
Contrary to popular belief, “Mein Kampf” — or “My Struggle” — was never banned in postwar Germany; only its reprinting was. Of the more than 12.4 million copies in existence before 1945, hundreds of thousands are thought to survive. Old copies can still be sold in antiquarian bookstores. But public access is generally confined to a few restricted repositories such as the library here in Munich, which only permits viewings based on academic need or historical research. Bavarian authorities also have played cat-and-mouse with those who have sought to publish “Mein Kampf” online, acting to block German-language versions posted on the Internet whenever possible.
Brechtken said the new print version will point out, for instance, how Hitler appeared to borrow his views from other sources, and it will refute his racist claims. Bavarian officials also say they will seek to apply incitement-to-hate laws to any attempt to publish unannotated versions in the future. But so far, they say they will not seek to block publication of the institute’s expanded version, citing the benefits it may bring to historical research.
Yet vocal opposition appears to be growing. Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Jewish community in Munich, said she had not vigorously opposed it when the project first surfaced. But her position, she said, hardened after hearing from outraged Holocaust survivors.
“This book is most evil; it is the worst anti-Semitic pamphlet and a guidebook for the Holocaust,” she said. “It is a Pandora’s box that, once opened again, cannot be closed.”
Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin contributed to this report.
Germany is housing refugees within Holocaust-era concentration camps
By Rick Noack
The Washington Post, January 30, 2015
On Tuesday, the world remembered the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camp Auschwitz. The same day, the German city of Augsburg decided to turn a branch of the former concentration camp at Dachau into a refugee center. The asylum seekers were slated to live in a building where thousands of slave laborers suffered and died under the Nazi regime.
The Dachau outpost is not the only concentration camp site that is being turned into a refugee center in Germany.
In the middle of January, the German city of Schwerte started to move asylum-seekers who had volunteered to be relocated into a branch of the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald.
Regional integration secretary Guntram Schneider had previously criticized the plan, saying that the city’s intentions would be misunderstood abroad.
Birgit Naujoks, a representative of a local council of asylum-seekers, voiced similar skepticism about such projects, speaking to The Washington Post on Friday: “Generally, the use of former concentration camp compounds as refugee centers awakens associations with the site’s Nazi-era [use], where people were forcefully herded together,” she said.
She added, however, that the refugees living at the former concentration camp compound in Schwerte were so far happy with their accommodations, despite its history. “They say that they have much more space there compared to the building they had previously lived in,” Naujoks said.
Schwerte’s mayor had pursued his plans despite the criticism. At a news conference this month, he defended the plan to house the refugees at the prison camp site. According to him, there were no short-term alternatives, given the growing influx of asylum-seekers into Germany. He added that refugees were being accommodated in a house built after World War II on the grounds of the site, rather than a former concentration camp barracks. The building in question was also used as a refugee center nearly two decades ago.
In Augsburg, city officials are trying to emphasize their good intentions. “One cannot only commemorate [at this memorial site], one also has to act,” city official Stefan Kiefer told local newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine, referring to the pressing need to find housing for refugees. According to the paper, local politicians welcomed the proposal, saying that turning the former barracks into a refugee center would make it a “better memorial site than a museum would be.”
Antje Seubert, a representative of the Green party, celebrated the decision as a “victory over fascism.”
To understand why the accommodation of asylum-seekers on former concentration camp sites is celebrated as a victory in Germany, one has to take a deeper look at the country’s current struggle to deal with a growing influx of refugees.
In 2013 and 2014, more asylum claims were submitted in Germany than in any other country, leading to a shortage of available housing to accommodate the refugees.
To absorb the growing number of asylum seekers, city representatives have turned to such unusual alternatives as empty warehouses, military barracks and tents. Officials have also had to deal with protests by locals opposed to the mass accommodation.
In recent weeks, the anti-Muslim Pegida movement has gained support, particularly in eastern Germany. Among the movement’s goals is the creation of a new immigration law that would make it more difficult for refugees to come to Germany and easier to deport asylum-seekers.
Most national German politicians are opposed to Pegida’s goals, and momentum for pro-tolerance marches and protests has grown in recent weeks. Local politicians and city officials, however, are increasingly concerned about the lack of housing and support for new asylum-seekers. In 2014, German refugee centers were attacked about 150 times, presumably by right-wing extremists, according to a recent report by the Amadeu Antonio foundation.
Given such worrisome trends, some consider the current debate about the accommodation of refugees on former concentration camp sites as overblown and a distraction from more pressing concerns.
On Thursday, German newspaper Handelsblatt commented that the real, underlying problem was far worse than the accommodation of refugees in former death camps: “The use of decaying buildings, containers or even tents as refugee centers does neither enable people to live in dignity, nor will it promote assimilation.”
Hitler’s vacation paradise is reinvented as condos, hotels, spa
By Anthony Faiola
The Washington Post, December 15, 2014
Prora, Germany — Built by the Third Reich in the run-up to World War II, the Strength Through Joy resort was a Nazi vision of tourism’s future. Happy, healthy Aryans would stay and play at the 10,000-room complex on the Baltic Sea, eating, swimming and even bowling for the Führer. Think Hitler’s Cancun.
But 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the complex nicknamed the Colossus of Prora is part of a growing debate in modern Germany that pits commercialism against Vergangenheitsbewältigung — or the German word for how the country should come to terms with its dark past.
Identical blocks of six-story buildings stretching for 2.8 miles went up before World War II slowed construction, leaving an unfinished hulk that was later retrofitted into training grounds and housing for East German soldiers. But a group of investors in this seaside town is now doing what the Nazis never could: realizing the site’s final stage of transformation into a vacation wonderland. Large parts of the complex are being gutted and rebuilt into developments, including one called “New Prora” that will house luxury beachfront condominiums — half of which have been sold — as well as an upscale hotel and spa.
It’s not just the cashing in on a major Nazi landmark that troubles opponents. In a sense, some argue, the renovation also is fulfilling the Third Reich’s initial plan to turn the colossus into a massive tourism hub. In promotional material, developers are hailing the original project [N. B.!] — whose design is believed to have been chosen by Adolf Hitler — as a “world-famous monument” recognized in its day for “award-winning architecture.” Nevertheless, critics say, their plans also may wash away many of the elements that provided the reason for preserving the colossus in the first place.
“These are not harmless buildings,” said Jürgen Rostock, co-founder for the Prora documentation center. “The original purpose for Hitler was the construction of [a resort] in preparation for the war to come. This way of dealing with the building trivializes it and affirms the Nazi regime.” [N. B.!]
The facades of some blocks, for instance, are being brightened by dozens of quaint sea-facing balconies, changing the nature of the imposing, austere architecture that stood as a monument to insatiable militarism. In addition, the one documentation center at the site explaining the Big Brotheresque Strength Through Joy program — a Nazi effort to provide affordable fun to workers living the National Socialist dream — may be moved to the fringes of the complex and away from moneyed vacationers or, some fear, abandoned altogether.
Without doubt, recriminations of the Third Reich are far and wide in modern Germany, with war-era crime history taught from elementary school onward and a pacifist national identity built largely on a rejection of the past. But the Prora project is highlighting the always-thorny question here of how to deal with the most tangible relic of Germany’s troubled past: Nazi architecture.
In the years after the war, some Nazi-era structures were preserved as monumental testaments to an inhuman regime, while others were pragmatically transformed into offices, army barracks and spaces for other uses. The Berlin stadium built for Hitler’s 1936 Olympic Games is now home to the Hertha Berlin soccer club. The Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus — former home of Hermann Göring’s Ministry of Aviation — now houses a branch of Germany’s Finance Ministry.
Yet opponents in some circles — particularly historians and Jewish groups — are growing increasingly uncomfortable with projects that smack too much of commercialization or appear to slight history. In Berlin, for instance, a lavish mall opened in September on the site of the former Wertheim department store, a Jewish-owned business whose original owners were dispossessed by the Nazis.
“The site has been redeveloped with abundant references to the glorious days of the department store’s best years but without any display that references the fact that the original owners were forced to relinquish ownership and flee,” said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office.
In the mountainous Eifel region of western Germany, meanwhile, a former Nazi training ground is undergoing a $52 million facelift, adding a convention center and observation deck. The facility’s Web site suggests a blend of historical remembrance and eco-tourism, bluntly stating, “We don’t consider leisure activities and taking a critical look at the history to be irreconcilable.”
After the preservation of so many former Nazi buildings, some also are arguing that enough is enough, saying the time has come to let them waste away or, in some instances, consider tearing them down. Skeptical historians, for instance, are questioning plans in Nuremberg to spend $100 million on the renovation of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where Hitler proudly watched marches of his goose-stepping hordes.
“My argument, and the argument of quite a few architectural historians, is: Why renovate such a monument?” said Norbert Frei, a historian at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. “One could also give it to a controlled decay. Leave it as is, and allow what will happen to it to happen. It’s in such bad shape that you have to do rather a lot to it. It’s almost like building it anew.”
Enter the Colossus of Prora.
The project was masterminded in the 1930s by Robert Ley, a top Hitler lieutenant. He led the Strength Through Joy effort, which was meant to be a cornerstone of the resort here.