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Whatever you do, don’t mention Hitler

David Lovejoy

It is an observation so universally acknowledged that it has its own name: Godwin’s Law.

It refers to the inevitability of Hitler being invoked in the course of any heated political discussion. The first disputant to resort to the ad Hitlerum argument loses.

So therefore, at the outset, let us make it clear that there is no Hitler lurking in our western democracies. However foul Trump, Johnson and Morrison may be by ordinary human standards, they are no Führers. An argument can be made for Hitler-like tendencies in the presidents of Brazil, Poland and the Philippines, but for now the anglophone countries at least are not run on National Socialist principles.

And yet we are uncomfortable. A self-congratulatory meme that spread among the nations victorious in the last world war was: ‘We would never allow what happened in Germany to happen in Australia [America, England, etc]. Unlike the compliant Germans, we Australians [Americans, Englishmen, etc] would resist the rise of Nazism’.

For almost twenty years the LNP in Australia, unopposed by Labor, has been introducing laws that restrict freedom under the guise of ‘national security’

For almost twenty years the LNP in Australia, unopposed by Labor, has been introducing laws that restrict freedom under the guise of ‘national security’.

At least half of our mainstream media has been willing to accept, and even encourage, these attacks on civil liberty. Twenty years is a long time for the frog to get used to the rising temperature of the water; the whole Fascist era in Europe lasted only twenty years.

So without political opposition and without effective media resistance (until very recently when repressive laws actually began to impinge on journalists), authoritarianism has begun to creep into our national life.

We are tending towards authoritarianism. We are not there yet. Peter Dutton is not a reincarnation of Heinrich Himmler, although he shares that creature’s naked thirst for power. The LNP as a whole has not completely surrendered to the philosophy of ‘might is right’, although most of its members behave as if that is what they believe.

Every erratic far-right thought balloon launched by Morrison and not immediately shot down moves our politics further away from democratic norms

But every erratic far-right thought balloon launched by Morrison and not immediately shot down moves our politics further away from democratic norms established over many years and into the cult of whim and personality – and ultimately, autocratic rule.

When those first discordant notes of authoritarian government are sounded, what percentage of the people need to recognise what is happening in order for it to count as resistance?

This is where the old comforting meme of ‘it couldn’t happen here’ needs re-examining. During Hitler’s reign (the Law strikes again!), between one and three million Germans, depending on which sources you consult, spent time in prisons or concentration camps on political grounds or for resisting the regime. The larger figure represents nearly five per cent of the population of the time.

Taking that larger estimate, over a period of just twelve years almost one in twenty Germans gave up their freedom, and in many cases their lives, to resist the tide of Fascism taking over their country.

But not only was one in twenty not enough to overcome Nazi rule, it was not even enough to overcome the false perception that the German people were all compliant with it.

Now in Australia we face laws that are designed to protect the government from scrutiny, to punish those who blow the whistle on official corruption, to prohibit protest and dissent, and to render even the reporting of such matters a criminal offence.

The police forces in Queensland, NSW and Victoria have been allowed, if not encouraged, to become brutal, racist and non-responsive to civil checks

Meanwhile the police forces in Queensland, NSW and Victoria have been allowed, if not encouraged, to become brutal, racist and non-responsive to civil checks. Decent members of the police are not yet in a minority, hopefully, but they appear to be powerless to affect the dominant culture.

Putting together repressive laws and an out of control police force is a recipe for civic disaster. Bad laws have to be resisted, but vicious policing ensures that non-violent protest is virtually impossible. Assuming that there is a rationale behind this wilful attack on civil society, and it is not just to foster the tabloid optics of demonising any opposition to government, we can discern the outline of what an authoritarian regime intends to deploy to keep public order, once the effects of climate change – drought, fire, food and water shortages, etc – become even more serious. These are rehearsals for Armageddon.

Morrison and his ilk are not Hitler, and never intended to be like Hitler.

However, convergent evolution sometimes creates similar organisms by very different routes.

Clinging to the economic status quo, which brings the current government and its cronies great political and financial rewards at the expense of almost everyone else, also entails the denial of climate-change, the rejection of science and the refusal to allow an orderly transition to a carbon-free economy.

With no plan but holding on to power for its own sake and by whatever means, it is not surprising that the LNP has begun to resemble the monsters from our past

With no plan but holding on to power for its own sake and by whatever means, it is not surprising that the LNP has begun to resemble the monsters from our past.

The important question is what proportion of the population needs to conscientiously resist in order to avoid history repeating itself. In this sense the activities of striking schoolchildren and Extinction Rebellion are valuable beyond compare.

Such groups, like the brave five per cent of Germans, have made their choice, and we need many more people to emulate them.


23 responses to “Whatever you do, don’t mention Hitler”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    Godwins’ Law is not a law that Pinnochio’s nose knows as his nose grew longer not matter how he blew it.
    In observing the onservation of a story of Adolphe Hitler that as the story grew longer it became a law unto itself knoiw as Godwin’s Law.

  2. tim shanasy says:

    Thanks Mr Lovejoy.

    In my quick calculation, the LNP and its voters, have been on track to approve and execute, on Australia’s behalf, the extermination of no, not Hitler’s 6,000,000 people, but 6,500,000,000 people.
    That’s over TEN TIMES the WW2 atrocities.
    This is based on the scientific prediction that, beyond the climate change tipping point, somewhere higher than 2 degrees above the pre-industrial 1850 world average temperature, the planet’s weather will only be capable of supporting one billion people, and only in the polar regions (good luck with finding any arable soil there, folks).

    So no, ScoMo doesn’t resemble Hitler, but is the maths on highly likely deaths, far worse??

    Do we desperately need to reassess this prior to the next election ??

    • tim shanasy says:

      Whoops.. an error.
      Not TEN TIMES..
      ONE THOUSAND TIMES greater atrocity.

      OMG !!

    • Barrow says:

      . firstly we are but a fly in the desert regarding Australia’s contribution to Global Warming..1.3 percent ..now are you listening Tim, David ? China are not going to reach peak carbon emissions
      Until 2040.. but you will never hear this at the ABC ,
      The Guardian or any other propaganda machine
      Thats supports this eco anxiety, really anyone would assume we are the problem Regarding Global ..this has spun out of control this hysteria
      Hey Tim the Nation voted on climate change at the
      Last election were you not in the Country?
      Labor loves the Greens policies were a disaster
      And the country voted accordingly, you people
      Just cant come to terms with the fact ..its done
      Coalition are in for 3 more years , and the way labor
      Are traveling will end up staying in opposition
      For a another few terms ..mate you should be ashamed of yourself mentioning LNP voters, what you are implying is a disgrace..hey David ?? How did this get past moderation?? With all due respect.

  3. Victor cusack says:

    It is time some sensible time was invested in finding the truth in Philippines ruler Duterte. He undoubtedly has a big uncontrolled mouth ((he is a self confessed bi polar), but is doing his best to clean up the corruption endemic in both government and companies there. This is why he gets a huge majority vote every time. Remember that drugs are endemic and the country has been run by drug lords.

    Remember that he has been Mayor of Davao for 40 years, the largest, cleanest city in Philippines much larger than Manilla and the capital of Philippines largest island.

    Philippines was founded Christian 250 years earlier than Australia, but being closer to other Asian countries, out trade naturally went towards Britain’s choice of other Northern Asian countries, ignoring much closer Philippines.

    It has a very high GNP, higher than China and most Asian countries, and is roundly criticised by USA and Australian companies for demanding better mining practices and cessation of pollution, payment of taxes, and trying to introduce practices comprable with Australia.

    He is being attacked by established corrupt Mayors who pay money for votes and whovare the drug lords themselves, who control the police and the law to favour the drug lords, and is likely to be shot for being so outspoken and brave as to challenge the established system.

    It is time you went there are found out for yourself why the head of their law system is in jail, and why he is being accused od murdering people by corrupt police. If you spoke to the common people, you would quickly get the truth, but it is time it was investigated, including the catholic Church, who undoubtably has many genuine people there, but has much to hide.

    • Max says:

      What a lot of crap. I suppose you think Marcos was also good for the Philippines. I have been going there for over 30 years . . . the corruption is still the same. It’s unfortunate that there are so many uneducated people living in poverty and know nothing about the outside world.

    • Matthew says:

      Yes it’s very similar to Australia – a population brainwashed by a controlling hard-line right wing government determined to stamp out individual freedoms & intent on silencing critics media and government opposition, with a police force becoming ever more militant, assisted by a controlling media, aided by a controlling clergy, and in reality run by a bunch of self serving businessmen for the benefit of their business and industrial friends & donors with no intent nor action to clean up politics nor the environment apart from falsely announcing they have done so. Wow. It appears to be working. I suppose using that measure then China is an open tolerant society?

      • Barrow says:

        Well may i suggest you move to china mate
        And take that hypocritical Hanson -young with you.
        What a embarrassment!! Implying that the figures
        Are fudged regarding chinas carbon emissions.
        The country voted against hard left wing madness
        Alarmism , virtue signaling, gender , PC crap
        Voted for labor and the greens for years
        Never again , that far left ,they have reached the shores of WA ..why dont they just keep going !!’
        Lost the plot , dont care much for the Right ,or left
        In politics, stand right in the middle of the pitch
        Thats where most voted and the rest is history!!
        And no did not vote for labor or the coalition
        And most certainly not the Greens !!

  4. RONALD PRIESTLEY says:

    Donald Horne in The Lucky Country written in 1964 said
    “Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”
    It is hard to see Australian’s resisting the increasing oppression.The self held myth that Australians stand up to authority is just that:- “a myth”

  5. Paolo Balitro says:

    But, again, what about those very good people like Lenin, Stalin, Castro ect ect ??? Only the far right ??? Why are you so partisan ??? Shame on you

    • Tom Doyle says:

      No shame here. David is writing about the contemporary slide towards right-wing authoritarianism in a number of countries, including Australia. Your example of historical left-wing bully boys is interesting and would be relevant if David was writing about, say, the rise of authoritarianism in contemporary China. In fact China is the hot topic in MSM currently. So, not partisan. Also, clearly an opinion piece.

  6. Matt says:

    This looks like a call to civil disobedience?
    Orright then!! I’m IN.

  7. Joh would be so proud of Dutton. Flying the flag for Queensland. He must have been at an impressionable age in the 70s.

  8. Corruption is destruction. Wake up Australia;
    tomorrow is too late.

  9. You are correct, Nat. You are in. I’m well
    & truly in. A Black Friday outside Kevin
    Hogan’s office at 11am is a sensible
    place to be for a few hours – no? Bring a
    soft cushion to sit on while discussing
    some of the issues raised by David &
    others including Adani, conservation
    bug-bears, Climate Malfunctions etc.
    Those attending here join an Aussie
    wide call-up.

  10. phil says:

    I could be wrong but im pretty sure Labour was in power for 6 or 7 years out of the last 20

    • Matthew says:

      The article said “for almost 20 years”. Labour was in for less than 6 of the past 23 years.
      So which laws restricting freedom under the guise of national security did Labour introduce?

  11. Maybe 5 years out of 20… still the LNP holds
    hands with the country’s wreckers quite
    openly. Next thing we’ll be told to ‘salute’
    all federal & state members of parliament.
    I’m 75 [almost] & each time I see our most
    imperial leader smile “I want my Mummy”.

  12. Ginga says:

    Great writing! Do & don’t agree. Love the piece… been chortling this little number in a not so ‘polite way for a lil’ bit. Think we’ve reached the point to very much say ‘turn back, wrong way’

    Noticed the mention of Brazil.
    Track back to last year when the Museum in Brazil burnt down amidst an election, ex-President then being accused of corruption & the grand ol’ opening for the misogynistic, genocidal, homophobic, Amazon slaying President.. we got nothing on Brazil.
    People crying at the gates.. it was bedlam!!! A travesty &, of course… it was so very big for them. This country does not understand passion. Nothing! Don’t talk about it & arrest anyone who does… all about compliance…

    Well hey loves.. i’m Not compliant!!!

    Translates to people like Scott Morrison, Anastasia ‘sinister.. someone should really give the woman $100 Bunnings voucher specific to.. buying a couple of 2400 long pine boards, some ratchet straps, a borrow of their free trailers & trailer net & tell her to strap it up herself. I’m certain that woman could not have possibly ever had to do anything for herself.. especially strap up a load on a truck or cage trailer…..
    after a trip down the Bunnings isle where the ratchet straps live… oooo… nightmares… the only thing sinister is it might break a nail putting them in the basket. Anastasia ‘sinister ratchet strap’P.. she might start wearing flowers in her hair.🌈

    Did anyone notice during the lengthy anti-abortion bill rally, days & weeks of it in Sydney..no one was arrested?

    Love🌈

  13. Gina – wonderful piece of writing. Anastasia ratchet
    -strapped is my idea of tit-for-tat. Love it!

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