MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It would be unlikely that Trump shares much of Hitler's ideology. Trump is too narcissistic for that. However, the billionaire clown prince of branding himself indisputably emulates - to some degree - Hitler's strategy to turn a homogenous identity group with grievances into an emotional mob primed to explode. This includes techniques of vitriolic scapegoating, threats and acts of violence against dissenters and even a Hitler-style salute and pledge.
It's important to remember that Hitler first came to power through an electoral process, after a putsch attempt in the early 1920s failed. He promised the creation of an Aryan state of purity and prosperity, following the humiliating defeat of Germany in WWI and the onerous Treaty of Versailles terms placed upon it. Compounding the strain of its war debt, the German economy was in a desperate condition due to the international recession of the '30s.
A prescient September 2015 article on the If You Only News website provides context for understanding that, as overused as the Hitler analogy is as applied to Trump, it is hard to believe that the "master salesman and negotiator" would not be interested in the propaganda and psychological tools Hitler used to rise to power:
The Nazi party and Hitler became wildly popular among German citizenry with the use of endless propaganda that included large amounts of money spent on campaigns filled with nationalistic slogans. These campaigns were then dispersed via newspapers, posters, leaflets, etc. Anything, really, to rally support behind their lies.
Hitler wanted the nation to return to greatness and be a worldwide force to be reckoned with. And what greater way to rally support than by blaming a minority group for all the nation’s problems, in this case Jewish individuals?...
To combat his political rivals, Hitler had the Sturm Abteilung (SA), often called the “Brownshirts.” Their job was to go after all who disagreed with Hitler. Basically, he sent them to do his dirty work.
Replace the Jews as scapegoats with Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks, etc. -- and consider the white supremacy militias as modern Brownshirts -- and the pre-Holocaust consolidation of power by Hitler has an odiously familiar stench to it. Hitler vilified the Jews as the "vermin" of Germany. Meanhwhile, Trump has replaced Jews with others to blame for perceived ills in the US. He told CNN's Jake Tapper this past Sunday, "I don’t even call ‘em liberals....These people [non-whites and liberals] are bad people that are looking to do harm to our country."
An August 2015 Addicting Info article offered a tantalizing insight into how Trump may have regarded Hitler as the master marketer of the ultimate product: power through emotional manipulation:
A 25-year-old Vanity Fair interview might reveal what it is about Trump that white supremacists find so appealing. His uber-nationalistic rhetoric, which seems hinged on demonizing “illegals,” is, quite literally, just like Hitler -- which probably explains the copy of My New Order his ex-wife says he kept by his bedside:
Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. Kennedy now guards a copy of My New Order in a closet at his office, as if it were a grenade. Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist….
If you’re a person wanting to learn the art of propaganda, then you need look no further than the fine works of Adolf Hitler -- and it’s working.
Part of Trump's technique is to create a maelstrom of chaos and conflict that the news media cannot keep up with, so the ominous potential horror of his words -- and his employment of what Hillary Clinton called arsonist politics -- creates a blaze of hatred. Take for instance, Trump's escalation of inciting violence, while claiming that he is not responsible. Not long back, among many of Trump's expression of brutal desires to do harm to protesters that he singles out, he told an audience he would like to punch a dissenter in the face. When one of Trump's nativist followers sucker-punched a Black protester in the face a few days ago at a Trump rally, the blustery billionaire denied responsibility even while publicly stating that he might pay the legal fees of the assailant.
John McGraw of North Carolina, who was the man who struck Black protester Rakeem Jones, told Inside Edition:
“Next time we see him, we might have to kill him [Jones]!”
"We don’t know who he is,” he said. “He might be with a terrorist organization.”
Trump is now waffling on his pledge of legal support, a technique he often employs in making inciting exhortations and then segueing into dominating another media cycle by claiming he never made the original outlandish statement. However, his supporters understand viscerally -- through his ongoing threat of violence to protesters -- that he condones brutality against his scapegoats.
It would be easy -- and tempting -- to dismiss the reference of Ivana Trump, Donald's first wife, to her former husband's interest in Hitler's public remarks. Yet, looking at some of the 128 pages of Hitler's selected speeches, one can find an eerie foreshadowing of Trump's skilled corralling of his supporters' emotions. Take this passage, with words omitted that relate to Germany in the '30s, and try and argue that they could not be said by Trump (except that Hitler's language was more formal, less colloquial and less narcissistic). The following passage, which reflects the capitalization in the original text, is excerpted from a Hitler speech in Munich in 1922:
And fourthly WE WERE FURTHER PERSUADED THAT ECONOMIC PROSPERITY IS INSEPARABLE FROM POLITICAL FREEDOM AND THAT THEREFORE THAT HOUSE OF LIES, 'INTERNATIONALISM,' MUST IMMEDIATELY COLLAPSE. We recognized that freedom can eternally be only a consequence of power and that the source of power is the will. Consequently the will to power must be strengthened in a people with passionate ardor.
5. WE ... MUST BE ON PRINCIPLE THE MOST FANATICAL NATIONALISTS. We realized that the State can be for our people a paradise only if the people can hold sway therein freely as in a paradise: we realized that a slave state will never be a paradise, but only - always and for all time - a hell or a colony.
6. And then sixthly we grasped the fact that POWER IN THE LAST RESORT IS POSSIBLE ONLY WHERE THERE IS STRENGTH, and that strength lies not in the dead weight of numbers but solely in energy....
And lastly 7. If one has realized a truth, that truth is valueless so long as there is lacking the indomitable will to turn this realization into action!...
And through the distress there is no doubt that the people has been aroused. Externally perhaps apathetic, but within there is ferment. And many may say, 'It is an accursed crime to stir up passions in the people.' And then I say to myself: Passion is already stirred through the rising tide of distress, and one day this passion will break out in one way or another: AND NOW I WOULD ASK THOSE WHO TODAY CALL US 'AGITATORS': 'WHAT THEN HAVE YOU TO GIVE TO THE PEOPLE AS A FAITH TO WHICH IT MIGHT CLING?'
Perhaps more foreboding in relation to Trump is this passage from a speech Hitler gave in 1932 in Dusseldorf:
To sum up the argument: I see two diametrically opposed principles: the principle of democracy which, wherever it is allowed practical effect is the principle of destruction: and the principle of the authority of personality which I would call the principle of achievement, because whatever man in the past has achieved - all human civilizations - is conceivable only if the supremacy of this principle is admitted.
The authoritarian man, rising to power using the emotional leverage of scapegoating and promising economic and racial privilege, supersedes the value of democracy.
Violence was for Hitler the tool to squashing democracy once he achieved power.
It is likely that Donald Trump did indeed study Hitler's speeches to gain insight, as an aspiring caudillo manipulator might, to learn from a master. This is a politics, however, that traffics in brutality as a cudgel to ultimately pummel democracy.
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