National Socialism Slouching Towards America?

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold

A week ago Sunday, on the eve of Lehman Brother’s bankruptcy filing, I asked a simple question on Twitter:

View philbaumann’s tweet

I can’t say for sure if we’re headed for the kind of National Socialism that the Third Reich adopted in the 1930’s. It’s kind of eerie, however, that what started last week in the financial sector distantly resembled the events that preceded the Great Depression. The rise of Fascist dictatorships in the 1920s and 1930s saddled the Great Depression. Although global events are different, there are patterns we aught to recognize.

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We are in a Twilight Zone. For too long speculative investing was permitted to go unchecked. I believe strongly in free markets, democracy and capitalism. I also understand the problem of what economists refer to as market externalities.

Times like these are dangerous not so much because of market swings, foreclosures and bailouts as much as the psychological impact these convergences have on a public’s mind.

During times of crises, it’s natural for people to seek out scapegoats when they can’t find solutions or ways to remain calm. So it’s with some concern that in the confusion, anxiety and possible panic we could find ourselves mired in a dangerous cultural upheaval.

We can’t necessarily avoid political, economic and cultural tsunamis. Sometimes when your country loses its sense of direction, you need to focus on what you can do to preserve your own sanity.

What can we do during a dangerous time like this? I haven’t entirely figured that out, but here are some thoughts:

  1. Be optimistic about the long-run, but focused on your current needs
  2. Realize that it’s not the end of the world: our ancestors survived all sorts of hells
  3. Know that it’s never to late to change your mind, to see the world in ways you never saw them before
  4. Be kind to others
  5. Learn how to do at least three new things every week
  6. Find out what you love
  7. Find a way to do what you love

I wish that I could offer more specifics. What I can say is: think about the issues that matter most to you and our country. We have an election coming up in less than two months. Regardless of who wins, don’t despair if your candidate loses. There’s more to our political future than one election. However you vote, vote with consideration of what matters. Personalities come and go. Actions ripple forever.

With the specter of terrorism looming, with wars between industrial nations becoming more likely and with national economies entering dangerous times, it’s easy for nations to resort to the comfort of false gods.

If America deepens its journey into the darkness of national socialism, this century will be uglier than the last.

If it’s any help, remember what the doorman said:

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

NEVER give Fascists an even break. Not a single one.

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