Understatement of the Year: Why the Republicans are Worse than the Nazis
In an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Evan Davis published on May 11, 2017, Noam Chomsky called the Republican Party the most dangerous organization in human history.
Evan Davis: You’ve called the Republican Party “the most dangerous organization on earth.”
Noam Chomsky: In human history. […] It’s an outrageous statement, and when I said it, I said look, this is a very outrageous statement, but is it true?
ED: You’re rating them worse than Kim Jong Un of North Korea, or ISIS, who are very…
NC: Is ISIS dedicated to trying to destroy the prospects for organized human existence?
ED: It’s that bad, the Republican Party?
NC: What does it mean to say not only “We’re not doing anything about climate change,” but “We’re trying to accelerate the race to the precipice”?
ED: And you don’t entertain the possibility that they may be genuine in their belief that this is…
NC: Doesn’t matter whether they genuinely believe it or not. But if the consequence of that is “Let’s use more fossil fuels, let’s refuse to subsidize developing countries,” […] that’s extremely dangerous.
The enormity of the Republican Party’s purpose and activities bears comparison to the most serious threats humanity has faced in its history. It is essential for the world, and particularly for Americans, to confront this fact: the Republicans are, at the very least, among the very worst villains in human history. The point of this article is to show, through one example, that not only does the GOP belong on the same list as the Khmer Rouge and the Mongol Empire, but that when you compare it to the other candidates for the mantle of Most Dangerous Organization in History, the rivals simply pale.
Although any comparison would be instructive, it cuts to the chase to use Nazi Germany for a number of reasons: the Nazis existed in relatively recent memory, everyone has heard of them, and nearly everyone alive today agrees that the Nazis posed a grave existential threat to civilization. Even Republicans themselves, for the most part, denounce the Nazis (although they have recently begun to embrace neo-Nazis and many prominent Republicans may be described as crypto-Nazis.)
THE CRITERIA: WHO IS MOST DANGEROUS?
In determining which of two organizations is most dangerous, two factors are important: first, what are the organization’s goals? This analysis assumes that if one organization is actively seeking worldwide domination through extermination of its enemies, then that organization is more dangerous than an organization seeking mere regional domination through extermination of its enemies. On this basis, for instance, Daesh (a.k.a. ISIS) is more dangerous than Al-Shabaab. For the purposes of this analysis, it makes sense to confine ourselves to consideration of an entity’s actual activities and ignore its stated goals, and likely future goals. (E.g. Al-Shabaab, once dominant in Somalia, would surely move on immediately to expanding its territory, but we cannot conduct our analysis on such mere speculation.)
Second, after assessing the organization’s goals, the second consideration is the organization’s ability to achieve those goals. This, to a large extent, entails examining the organization’s present powers and its chances of increasing those powers. We must also examine the organization’s enemies and the ability of opposing forces, political or military, to effectively stand in the organization’s way.
NAZIS vs. REPUBLICANS: THEIR RESPECTIVE GOALS
Of all the ambitions of Nazi Germany, the most pernicious and best-known was genocide: the complete annihilation of the Jews, as well as all non-aryans, the mentally-handicapped, homosexuals, adherents of religions the Nazis deemed harmful, etc. Many have speculated on what would have followed a Nazi victory in World War Two — whether, perhaps, some part of Africa would have been set aside for non-aryans, or whether an apocalyptic war with the Empire of Japan (assuming it too had prevailed) would have been inevitable. None of that is really germane for our analysis, however, which is concerned with the near certainty that, had the Nazis won and Germany been permitted to go on existing as the Third Reich, there would certainly have been some form of organized, tolerable, perhaps even vibrant human life, even if only for people of a certain complexion and political persuasion. Although billions would have suffered and died under the most vile tyranny, other billions would have presumably lived on, worked, been fed, had children, and been allowed to pursue their livelihoods and hobbies to an extent.
What, then, are the goals of the Republican Party? We must start by acknowledging that there is simply no reasonable doubt about the fact that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is real and having real effects which are now irreversible, and that in the coming decades, human life on earth will be profoundly affected by it in truly cataclysmic ways, including starvation, mass migration, and resource wars. Billions will die, and that number is no exaggeration. The climate-change deniers are all either lying, ignorant, or suffering from a mental disturbance. Rex Tillerson will still hedge publicly on whether AGW is real, despite the fact that the company he headed knew and lied about it for decades. The climate-deniers who are genuinely mentally ill, of course, deserve our kindness, but the rest are simply liars, frauds, and criminals acting out of fatuity, depravity, or both. It doesn’t matter, as Professor Chomsky says, whether the Republicans “genuinely believe” that climate change is a hoax. Does it matter if most Nazis were genuine in their idiotic belief that Jews are a subhuman species involved in a conspiracy to destroy civilization? Of course not. The fact that many Republicans may be genuinely mentally impaired instead of mere frauds is of no importance.
In the face of the incipient climate catastrophe, many Republicans are, of course, not stupid and are personally preparing for the coming calamity. In terms of policy, however, the Republicans seek to, as Professor Chomsky puts it, “accelerate the race to the precipice.” It will be obvious to everyone that this is a far more dangerous policy than the Nazi policy of genocide: the Nazi policy would have left millions of Germans alive, healthy, and living normal lives; the GOP policy will leave none healthy, none living healthy lives, and, eventually, none alive. Not even Republicans will survive the successful achievement of Republican goals. Clearly, then, the goals of the GOP are more dangerous than the goals of Nazi Germany.
NAZIS vs. REPUBLICANS: THEIR RESPECTIVE CAPABILITIES
Moving on to the second criterion, what were Nazi Germany’s capabilities in terms of putting their plans into action? The history of World War Two doesn’t bear much discussion here: the armed forces of Nazi Germany were well trained, well equipped, and highly motivated, but they suffered hugely from the incompetent leadership of Adolf Hitler. Just as importantly, Nazi Germany was surrounded by powerful enemies in the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, Great Britain and the United States against whose combined might it was just not in the cards for Germany to ultimately prevail.
Now, what are the Republican Party’s capabilities, and those of the forces arrayed against it? The GOP presently controls the White House, the Supreme Court of the United States, and half of the US Congress. Thanks in no small part to GOP gerrymandering and elections fraud, the GOP is likely to control part or all of the Congress indefinitely. The conservative Supreme Court is likely to serve and advance the GOP agenda for the next several decades. As for the White House, if the next president is not Donald Trump, it is very likely to be a Democrat whose willingness to address AGW is scarcely any better than a Republican’s (which makes the Democratic Party the second-most dangerous organization in human history). For all intents and purposes, therefore, it makes sense to treat the power of the Republican Party as synonymous with the power of the United States.
So, what is the power of the United States relative to those who might stop it? The military spending of the United States when compared with the rest of the world is well-known and uncontroversial. Nobody seriously disputes that the United States armed forces are superior, if not in sheer number of people under arms, then in terms of technology. For instance, the United States has more aircraft carriers in service than the rest of the world combined, and it is often noted that while the US Air Force is the world’s largest, the second-largest air force is the US Navy. In military terms, it appears reasonable to conclude that the United States is the most powerful nation to have ever existed. Republicans themselves frequently boast of this fact, and it is a notable instance of Republicans telling the truth.
On the above criteria, there’s no getting around it: the Republican Party, wielding the power of the United States, is the most dangerous organization in history. The danger posed by its goals well exceeds those posed by the goals of Nazi Germany, and its ability to carry those goals out is greater than anything the Nazis could ever have dreamed of.
So when it is said that to be a Republican is worse than being a Nazi, it isn’t hyperbole. If anything, it is a gross understatement which overestimates the historical threat posed by Nazi Germany.
What hope do we have when confronted with this? Not much, perhaps. But I detect a glimmer in one of the above-mentioned failures of Nazi Germany: the incompetence of its leadership.
Despite the vast resources available to every American administration, incompetence abounds and has done for decades, especially in military matters. The United States has a long and detailed history of being defeated and humiliated by numerically-inferior and less-well-armed forces. The Republicans, by and large, seem to be more incompetent than the Democrats, but it seems likely, based on America’s military record of the past seventy years, that whoever holds the reins in America in the near future, they are likely to be incompetent. And it’s only getting worse. To mention a few examples, Robert S. McNamara was a man of unquestioned intelligence and ability when it came to making the Ford Motor Company profitable, but his bungling of the Vietnam War as Secretary of Defence could hardly have been more abject. Yet, when you compare the Vietnam War to the unmitigated fiasco carried out by the George W. Bush administration in Iraq, Mr. McNamara and President Johnson start to look like Alexander the Great and the Duke of Wellington as far as military acumen goes.
As well, the American armed forces are almost unabatedly beset by corruption and hideous scandals, problems like state-sanctioned torture to which large numbers of Americans are vocally (but not violently) opposed, and other complications, including incompetent generals and the occasional traitor in command.
In short, there is hope in the fact of Republican incompetence. My suggestion is that, although the Republican Party is undoubtedly much worse than the Nazi Party ever was, it is just as rife with incompetence and stupidity. Surely any party capable of nominating Donald J. Trump as its candidate for the presidency can be defeated. Millions of us will die, as did millions at the hands of the Nazis, but ultimately, humanity can survive this supreme menace.