Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt

What FDR had in common with the other charismatic collectivists of the 30s

(Page 2 of 2)

Scholars still study that propaganda. Earlier this year a Berlin museum mounted an exhibit titled “Art and Propaganda: The Clash of Nations—1930–45.” According to the critic David D’Arcy, it shows how the German, Italian, Soviet, and American governments “mandated and funded art when image-building served nation-building at its most extreme.…The four countries rallied their citizens with images of rebirth and regeneration.” One American poster of a sledgehammer bore the slogan “Work to Keep Free,” which D’Arcy found “chillingly close to ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’ the sign that greeted prisoners at Auschwitz.” Similarly, a reissue of a classic New Deal documentary, The River (1938), prompted Washington Post critic Philip Kennicott to write that “watching it 70 years later on a new Naxos DVD feels a little creepy.…There are moments, especially involving tractors (the great fetish object of 20th-century propagandists), when you are certain that this film could have been produced in one of the political film mills of the totalitarian states of Europe.”

Program and propaganda merged in the public works of all three systems. The Tennessee Valley Authority, the autobahn, and the reclamation of the Pontine marshes outside Rome were all showcase projects, another aspect of the “architecture of power” that displayed the vigor and vitality of the regime.

You might ask, “Where is Stalin in this analysis? Why isn’t this book called Four New Deals?” Schivelbusch does mention Moscow repeatedly, as did McCormick in her New York Times piece. But Stalin seized power within an already totalitarian system; he was the victor in a coup. Hitler, Mussolini, and Roosevelt, each in a different way, came to power as strong leaders in a political process. They thus share the “charismatic leadership” that Schivelbusch finds so important.

Schivelbusch is not the first to have noticed such similarities. B.C. Forbes, the founder of the eponymous magazine, denounced “rampant Fascism” in 1933. In 1935 former President Herbert Hoover was using phrases like “Fascist regimentation” in discussing the New Deal. A decade later, he wrote in his memoirs that “the New Deal introduced to Americans the spectacle of Fascist dictation to business, labor and agriculture,” and that measures such as the Agricultural Adjustment Act, “in their consequences of control of products and markets, set up an uncanny Americanized parallel with the agricultural regime of Mussolini and Hitler.” In 1944, in The Road to Serfdom, the economist F.A. Hayek warned that economic planning could lead to totalitarianism. He cautioned Americans and Britons not to think that there was something uniquely evil about the German soul. National Socialism, he said, drew on collectivist ideas that had permeated the Western world for a generation or more.

In 1973 one of the most distinguished American historians, John A. Garraty of Columbia University, created a stir with his article “The New Deal, National Socialism, and the Great Depression.” Garraty was an admirer of Roosevelt but couldn’t help noticing, for instance, the parallels between the Civilian Conservation Corps and similar programs in Germany. Both, he wrote, “were essentially designed to keep young men out of the labor market. Roosevelt described work camps as a means for getting youth ‘off the city street corners,’ Hitler as a way of keeping them from ‘rotting helplessly in the streets.’ In both countries much was made of the beneficial social results of mixing thousands of young people from different walks of life in the camps. Furthermore, both were organized on semimilitary lines with the subsidiary purposes of improving the physical fitness of potential soldiers and stimulating public commitment to national service in an emergency.”

And in 1976, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan incurred the ire of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), pro-Roosevelt historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., and The New York Times when he told reporters that “fascism was really the basis of the New Deal.”

But Schivelbusch has explored these connections in greater detail and with more historical distance. As the living memory of National Socialism and the Holocaust recedes, scholars—perhaps especially in Germany—are gradually beginning to apply normal political science to the movements and events of the 1930s. Schivelbusch occasionally overreaches, as when he writes that Roosevelt once referred to Stalin and Mussolini as “his ‘blood brothers.’ ” (In fact, it seems clear in Schivel­busch’s source—Arthur Schlesinger’s The Age of Roosevelt—that FDR was saying communism and fascism were blood brothers to each other, not to him.) But overall, this is a formidable piece of scholarship.

To compare is not to equate, as Schivelbusch says. It’s sobering to note the real parallels among these systems. But it’s even more important to remember that the U.S. did not succumb to dictatorship. Roosevelt may have stretched the Constitution beyond recognition, and he had a taste for planning and power previously unknown in the White House. But he was not a murderous thug. And despite a population that “literally waited for orders,” as McCormick put it, American institutions did not collapse. The Supreme Court declared some New Deal measures unconstitutional. Some business leaders resisted it. Intellectuals on both the right and the left, some of whom ended up in the early libertarian movement, railed against Roosevelt. Republican politicians (those were the days!) tended to oppose both the flow of power to Washington and the shift to executive authority.

Germany had a parliament and political parties and business leaders, and they collapsed in the face of Hitler’s movement. Something was different in the United States. Perhaps it was the fact that the country was formed by people who had left the despots of the Old World to find freedom in the new, and who then made a libertarian revolution. Americans tend to think of themselves as individuals, with equal rights and equal freedom. A nation whose fundamental ideology is, in the words of the recently deceased sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset, “antistatism, laissez-faire, individualism, populism, and egalitarianism” will be far more resistant to illiberal ideologies.

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and editor of Toward Liberty: The Idea That Is Changing the World (Cato).

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    "If we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army.…

    My hero! Fuck your "freedoms".

  • ||

    As if FDR was going to give up his family's freedom .Of course he also thought he could control 'Uncle Joe'.

  • Doctor Duck||

    Did FDR make the trains run on time? Hmmm?

  • VM||

    dammit. Hr Doktor Duck was too quick.

    *c'mere ducky. Peking style!

  • robc||

    is unable to tell the difference.

    Mussolini is the one standing up.

  • ||

    It's a solid article (and I'm sure not news to many H&R regulars) but one part jumped out at me.

    One American poster of a sledgehammer bore the slogan "Work to Keep Free," which D'Arcy found "chillingly close to 'Arbeit Macht Frei,' the sign that greeted prisoners at Auschwitz."

    Okay, that's just low. Similar phrasing or not, "work to help keep your country free" is a bit different from "work or we will kill you."

  • SIV||

    Yup

  • Wikinger Elch||

    Nein. Nein. Non. No. Nej.

    Zat is a miskonsepshun about sign at Auschwitz. You are rong, NotZatDavid.

    Zee sign said "Arbeit Macht Spass"

  • ||

    I am no fan of either Roosevelt - Franklin or Teddy - & think they seriously damaged the American Republic.

    However, this is over the top. Roosevelt did not have a policy of mass murder in the way Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin did. He did not have people shot without trial. And he did not have a program of world conquest.

    Roosevelt may have been bad, but as Heinlein pointed out, the difference between between "bad" and "worse" is often a lot sharper than the difference between "good" and "bad".

  • ||

    Essentially, Mussolini, FDR and Hitler were different people working under a similar authoritarian type system. Had FDR been more like Hitler or Mussolini, we might ahve seen very different results. That is the danger of the system. Only after FDR died did congress even think to try and restrain power after realizing how far it could be taken.

    Eternal vigilence is the price for freedom. If we allow ourselves to be led down the path of good feelings in exchange for power, we give up one of the few things seperating us from the dangerous brink of tyranny.

  • ||

    Aresen,

    Nobody is saying FDR was a murderous killer like Mussolini and Hitler, but he could have been. The system that was allowed to be put in place could have led us down a very different path had his administration not been as principled as it was. The safest course of action is not to fall for the siren's song that politicians sing about using their power only for good, but to resist all attempts of them to acquire the power they want, regardless of how goodhearted their intentions may seem.

  • ||

    To my knowledge, the Democrats of that era didn't force their opponents to drink castor oil. Aside from that, though, pretty much identical.

  • ||

    That such widely disparate ideologies as Communism, fascism, and democracy all produced similar architecture, organization strutures, and economic policies during the same period would seem to indicate that they commonalities transcended ideology during that period, rather than that the ideologies were so different.

    Let's not forget that architectural monumentalism, charasmatic leadership brought about through communications technology, and the centralization of both economic decision-making and operations also characterized the changes that came out in the functioning of private industry, too. Think of the Manahatten skyline, the rise of the media celebrity, and Henry Ford's breakthroughs.

  • Guy Montag||

    At last! What I have been saying for years has been researched and bookified!

    WW II was a war fought between Socialists. One of them happened not to be a National Socialist (Uncle Joe, the hardest working man in Socialism), but he is not being talked about other than in the comments.

  • ||

    I am no fan of either Roosevelt - Franklin or Teddy - & think they seriously damaged the American Republic.

    I tell ya what, America just really has had no success whatsoever since FDR ruined things.

    I mean, sure, we became the most powerful and prosperous society on Earth, but think about how even more prosperous we'd be without Social Security!

    Coming tomorrow: how Michael Jordan ruined the Chicago Bulls.

  • ||

    BTW, Boaz went through some pains to make the point that similarities should not be overstated, or interpretted as statements of equivalency, and the blog entry totally undermined his efforts to remain reponsible.

  • Guy Montag||

    Had FDR been more like Hitler or Mussolini, we might ahve seen very different results.

    Yea, we had to wait for Harry Truman. Just ask the railroad and mine workers.

  • Craig Ehlo||

    Coming tomorrow: how Michael Jordan ruined the Chicago Bulls.

    hrumph. /kicks pebble

  • ||

    Isn't allow this just Hayek's point in the road to serfdom?

  • ||

    allow=all

  • dhex||

    At last! What I have been saying for years has been researched and bookified!

    and to think by someone else who had no contact with you!

    what a fucking weird coincidence. it's almost like, you know, the stars are out there, maaaaan!

  • ||

    I guess when Ronnie said in 1976 that fascism was the basis of the New Deal he forgot that both his father and his brother worked for New Deal relief agencies, not to mention the fact that Reagan himself was a passionate supporter of both the New Deal and Truman's "Fair Deal." After the 1948 elections, Ronnie exulted that with both a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, America was sure to get a national health insurance program. Ronnie used to say that he didn't leave the Democratic Party; it left him. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that the Democratic Party is just now catching up to Ronnie.

    There are intriguing similarities among the New Deal, fascism, and communism. But FDR, unlike Hitler and Stalin, expanded democracy instead of crushing it. This is one thing poor libertarians are determined not to understand. As for Wolfgang Schivelbusch, he sounds like another of those Germans sore at FDR for being so hard on the Fatherland.

  • ||

    Alan,

    You're going to have to explain how FDR expanded "democracy". He expanded social welfare, the defense dept/ industry alliance, but he did not end the poll tax or put his proposals to referendums, so I cannot see how you think he expanded "democracy"

  • JBinMO||

    The didn't evn mention eugenics. I'm disapointed.

  • SIV||

    There are intriguing similarities among the New Deal, fascism, and communism. But FDR, unlike Hitler and Stalin, expanded democracy instead of crushing it. This is one thing poor libertarians are determined not to understand.

    Given a choice between Liberty and Democracy, I'll take the former. Democracy is over-rated.

  • DannyK||

    [Stephen Colbert]So, who do you think was the bigger mass murderer? FDR or Rachel Carson? [/Stephen Colbert]

  • buddhist gaius marius||

    BTW, Boaz went through some pains to make the point that similarities should not be overstated, or interpretted as statements of equivalency, and the blog entry totally undermined his efforts to remain reponsible.

    Good point.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    I don't think this should be surprising to anyone. However, as a defense of FDR's administration I will note that the way in which FDR came to power and generally exercised power were (obviously) far different than Hitler and Mussolini. I will also note that significant interference by the state in the economy was common throughout the major economic powers of the time - so one could rightly compare not only these three leaders but also the leaders of Poland, France, the UK, Japan, etc.

  • Doctor Duck||

    dammit. Hr Doktor Duck was too quick.

    *c'mere ducky. Peking style!


    Hey! No peeking at the Duck!

  • Syloson of Samos||

    In other words, it isn't surprising that they had similar policies because those were the sort of policies which the ruling, etc. classes across the "industrialized world" agreed were the right policies.

  • Edward||

    Bush is a bit like Papa Doc. He's not as cute, of course.

  • ||

    Oh the horrors of FDR! Of course everybody knows when we had a series of much more laissez-faire administrations prior to FDR that worked out SO well....The people said "Dang, things are so great for me under this wonderful laissez faire system, I think I'll vote for this guy who promises massive change." Actually, they voted for this guy because the laissez-fairer's had run things into the toilet (cue "blame the tariff" revisionism: here).

  • ||

    Maybe it would be appropriate to say that that time period was a dangerously authoritarian period punctuated by high feelings of nationalism and xenophobia, which most nations were subject too. However, that doesn't discount the fact that America took some dangerous steps towards authoritarianism that no one can guarantee couldn't have been to the extreme detriment if a few individuals had acted differently.

  • thoreau||

    Sorry, I was "buddhist gaius marius." Forgot to change the handle.

  • ||

    Hey Mr. Nice Guy,

    I think its hard to say that that the problems of the time were entirely due to laissez faire system, but very much teething pains of relatively new capitalism. The solutions tried have also proved to be fairly painful juding by current trends.

  • VM||

    Not to worry, Hr. Doktor T!

    Now be wery quwiet. I'm peeking the Duck.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Lost_In_Translation,

    Well, there were a number quite, hmm, radical movements which rolled through the U.S. in the 1930s. Huey Long's "Share The Wealth" (or Share Of The Wealth?) being one of them. FDR's programs were quite moderate in comparison.

    Addendum: When they were setting up the SEC there was a lot of debate over whether private investment in the markets should be allowed to continue. Of course we still have private investment in the markets.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, Mr. Nice Guy. You're only allowed to refer to the American system as "laissez faire" when noting that America won the Cold War.

    In all other contexts, you must acknowledge that we did not have a True Scotsman economy.

  • True Scotsman||

    Penis Mighter!

    Anal Bum Cover!

  • ||

    To people then it did not seem like teething pains of relatively new capitalism (what do you mean by that?), they thought the entire system had failed, and there was good reason to think that. The people who had been crying "hands off, let business do it's thing" were the one's who threw up their hands and said "no big deal here, just wait for things to right themselves." People like that were shown the door by the voters.

  • ||

    I'll take "the rapists" for a thoushand, Aleksh.

  • ||

    Syloson,

    That we didn't choose the worst option of social welfare is small comfort..but I guess theres always a chance something could be worse.

    And juat because something is out of the mainstream was rejected doesn't make the mainstream the best of all options. Its simply the path followed.

  • VM||

    Potent Potables.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    One of the major reasons for the steep decline in economic performance was the "mercantilist" or "protectionist"* attitudes of many governments at the time. The tariff barriers thrown up at the time are pretty good example.

    *Not quite sure which is a better way to describe such.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Lost_In_Translation,

    "Share Our Wealth": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Share_Our_Wealth

  • ||

    Mr Nice Guy,

    What was the good reason to think that the system had failed? Because of the depression? Might I remind you that a great deal of the depression involved environmental problems along with relatively new thoughts on crop rotation and a world war that left our greatest export market with little appetite for consuming our products and continual turmoil in South America. Let's not confuse some overspeculation of the market as being the ultimate factor in a economic downturn.

  • Asharak||

    Good article, thanks for posting it.

    I've never understood the admiration that FDR gets from all over the political spectrum. It's certainly laughable and absurd when conservatives view him as a great President, but why do liberals and leftists revere a man who forcibly interned American citizens because of their racial/ethnic background?

  • Guy Montag||

    and to think by someone else who had no contact with you!

    Yepper! Double-plus good! Oh wait, someone else's book again.

  • ||

    Syloson,

    Exactly, one of the surest ways to hurt the people in your country is to artificially inflate the price of goods people are consuming.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Asharak,

    Because that is not how popular memory, well, remembers him.

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Which I just discovered can be read here: http://reactor-core.org/cant-happen.html

    Awesome!

  • ||

    but why do liberals and leftists revere a man who forcibly interned American citizens because of their racial/ethnic background?

    Because our non-Manichean view of the universe allows to recognize that greatness and great error can exist in the same person.

  • ||

    IMHO FDR was closer to becoming our Perone but he could not get enough power to turn the USA into Argentina.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Floccina,

    That's not my imression, but Eleanor Roosevelt as an Evita-like character would have certainly added an interesting twist to American history.

  • ||

    IMHO FDR was closer to becoming our Juan Peron but he could not quite get enough power to turn the USA into Argentina.

  • ||

    David Boaz looks from FDR to Mussolini and from Mussolini to FDR and is unable to tell the difference.

    This may very well sum up the problem with many libertarians.

  • ||

    If FDR was that bad, the American people could have voted him out of office. They had three chances to do so and didn't. The 1930s were not about Hitler and Stalin and FDR, they were about the world collectively loosing its faith in freedom. This sickness manifested itself in different ways. Fortunately, the US only got a mild version of it. Italy, Germany and Russia got a near fatal strain of it.

    As Tolstoy once said "In historic events the so called great men are labels giving names to events, and like labels they have but the smallest connnection with the event itself."

  • Bee||

    Wow, yes, it is true that someone can be a dick sometimes, and be a swell guy at other times. Thanks for that insight.

    We are talking about a man who threw innocent American families into concentration camps. And millions of their fellow citizens let it happen.

    Forget Gitmo - the internment is the American shame of the century. Do they not teach about the internment in schools any more? We have a monument in DC for someone whose legacy ought to be vilified like Nixon's.

  • ||

    The difference between FDR and Mussolini, in terms of their willingness to become dictators, isn't just in their personalities, as several commenters above suggest.

    LiT with his "a few individuals acted differently," for example.

    Certainly, they had different personalities, but there's an even more important element: they had different ideologies.

    FDR believed in democracy, in individual rights, in private enterprise, in political pluralism, in freedom of conscience and in peace as a desireable state in a manner that Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin simply did not.

  • ||

    Concentration Camps?

    Not that anyone's devolving into shrieking hysteria or anything.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Bee,

    Well, to be fair, FDR wasn't the only party who was behind the deportation, etc. The American military had its hand in it and a majority of the SCOTUS went along with.

    Do they not teach about the internment in schools any more?

    I suspect that they do. What they likely don't teach about is our invasions of Haiti (Wilson) or the Phillipines (McKinley).

  • ||

    "FDR believed in democracy, in individual rights, in private enterprise, in political pluralism, in freedom of conscience and in peace as a desireable state in a manner that Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin simply did not."

    I am not sure that FDR was much of a believer in private enterprise. Granted he wasn't a communist and did believe in private property but he had little faith in private enterprise. FDR's fatal flaw was that he just didn't understand that government intervention in markets makes things worse ussually not better. We ended up with things like price supports for food when a good portion of the country couldn't afford to get enough to eat. In his defense, no one got it in the 1930s. It was a crisis of confidence in the individual and in freedom. Yeah, Roosevelt wasn't evil like Hitler and company. But, Roosevelt did not beleive that people if left without guidance and assistance from government would produce good results. Like I said the anti-freedom disease of the 1930s was pretty mild here.

  • ||

    The internment was a wartime policy, and quite frankly winning the war was a higher priority than respecting everybody's civil rights.

    It's difficult to really judge the internment policy because we don't know exactly what would have happened had it not been done. So most liberals are willing to give FDR a pass on it.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Dan T.,

    Most folks of Japanese extraction in Hawai'i weren't deported, interned, etc. as I understand it. One could use the experience of the U.S. in that area as a means of judgment.

  • ||

    It is pretty hard to defend the internments. But, what are you going to do? They can't be undone. Moreover, while wrong, they were not so wrong as to create any sort of moral equivalence between the US and its enemies. They are just a sad footnote and really of very little historical importance.

  • ||

    Yeah, the internment was a gross violation but calling the internment camps "concentration camps" a la Howard Zinn is going just a little bit too far.

  • ||

    "Yeah, the internment was a gross violation but calling the internment camps "concentration camps" a la Howard Zinn is going just a little bit too far."

    It is just spitting in the face of those people who really did go to concentration camps. God Zinn is awful.

  • ||

    The internment was a wartime policy, and quite frankly winning the war was a higher priority than respecting everybody's civil rights.

    So when Bush and Cheney want to wiretap our phone s and throw people in prison without trial as a "war time" policy you'll be right along there with them, right Dan T?

  • ||

    "So when Bush and Cheney want to wiretap our phone s and throw people in prison without trial as a "war time" policy you'll be right along there with them, right Dan T?"

    No No No you Idiot. Bush and Cheney are Republicans. They can't be trusted with that kind of power only Democrats can. Now, when Hillary Clinton does it, that will be okay.

  • ||

    It is just spitting in the face of those people who really did go to concentration camps. God Zinn is awful.

    I managed to get through his book, er, screed in high school and it was the most boring, dry, turgid work of history I've ever read.

  • SIV||

    I've never understood the admiration that FDR gets from all over the political spectrum. It's certainly laughable and absurd when conservatives view him as a great President(only on WWII,otherwise FDR is despised by conservatives for socialism and Yalta), but why do liberals and leftists revere a man who forcibly interned American citizens because of their racial/ethnic background( Affirmative Action)?

  • ||

    Not to defend Zinn, but Justice Roberts's dissent in Korematsu refers to them as concentration camps, as in this quote:

    "On the contrary, it is the case of convicting a citizen as a punishment for not submitting to imprisonment in a concentration camp, based on his ancestry, and solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States."

    And this one:

    "We further know that, on March 18, 1942, the President had promulgated Executive Order No. 91027 establishing the War Relocation Authority under which so-called Relocation Centers, a euphemism for concentration camps..."

    And this one:

    "The two conflicting orders, one which commanded him to stay and the other which commanded him to go, were nothing but a cleverly devised trap to accomplish the real purpose of the military authority, which was to lock him up in a concentration camp."

    The majority opinion by the great "liberal" Hugo Black rejects the term (duh):

    "It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers-and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps with all the ugly connotations that term implies-we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order."

    Really, who is being more disingenuous here--Roberts or Black?

    And if you go back to the origins of the device (the Brits in the Boer War)--creating a camp to concentrate your perceived internal enemies--you CAN arguably use the term for the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestory. The fact that the Nazis were exceptionally brutal in their concentration camps, and later created extermination camps (some of which were converted concentration camps), may put a very ugly gloss on the term that has tainted it in out minds, but a rose is a rose is a rose....

  • ||

    but why do liberals and leftists revere a man who forcibly interned American citizens because of their racial/ethnic background( Affirmative Action)?

    The more radical ones (Zinn was mentioned) can't stand him because of that, and because they think he "Saved capitalism". They would have preferred to have a socialist revolution here.

  • ||

    Not to defend Zinn, but Justice Roberts's dissent in Korematsu refers to them as concentration camps, as in this quote:


    The pre and post-war meaning of "Concentration camps" was very, very different. Since 1945 its synonymous for "death camp". Before then it just meant camps housing large numbers of people in one place. Zinn knows this, and he wanted shock value--thats why he uses the term.

  • SIV||

    Yeah, the internment was a gross violation but calling the internment camps "concentration camps" a la Howard Zinn is going just a little bit too far.

    Concentration camps is the appropriate term.
    Didn't the British have concentration camps for Boers?

  • Guy Montag||

    Odd that FDR did not bother building concentration camps for Italians and Germans, especially when German-Americans had all of those "Hitler Youth" type sumer camps for their kids.

  • ||


    Concentration camps is the appropriate term.


    Literally, yes. But see above.

  • ||

    Odd that FDR did not bother building concentration camps for Italians and Germans, especially when German-Americans had all of those "Hitler Youth" type sumer camps for their kids.

    He actually did. But in far smaller numbers, and only those Germans or Italians that were very recent immigrants and were suspected of having fascist sympathies. All of Little Italy and Milwaukee weren't rounded up.

  • SIV||

    Cesar,

    The comments flew up in minutes.

    I don't think I need to say anything about Zinn.

    They didn't inter the Japs in the Hawaiian Islands and that is where the spys and saboteurs actually were.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Cesar,

    Before then it just meant camps housing large numbers of people in one place.

    That they were not there as a result of legal proceedings is also significant. It wasn't a prison in other words.

  • ||

    They didn't inter the Japs in the Hawaiian Islands and that is where the spys and saboteurs actually were.

    Of course not, beacuse they were needed for farm labor there and the big pineapple and rice plantation owners would have protested being deprived of a labor force.

    In California, the white farmers used internment as an excuse to take over the interned Japanese farms, many of which were very productive. Kind of a racial eminent domain.


    That they were not there as a result of legal proceedings is also significant. It wasn't a prison in other words.


    Yes, that also.

  • ||

    Just like a Nazi to ruin a perfectly good phrase like "concemtration camp."

  • ||

    From To Be Or Not To Be (1942):

    Josef Tura: [disguised as Colonel Ehrhardt] I can't tell you how delighted we are to have you here.

    Professor Alexander Siletsky: May I say, my dear Colonel, that it's good to breathe the air of the Gestapo again. You know, you're quite famous in London, Colonel. They call you Concentration Camp Ehrhardt.

    Josef Tura: Ha ha. Yes, yes... we do the concentrating and the Poles do the camping.

  • ||

    Odd that FDR did not bother building concentration camps for Italians and Germans, especially when German-Americans had all of those "Hitler Youth" type sumer camps for their kids.



    As was pointed out above Germans and Italians, as well nationals of other enemy nations, were, in fact, interned. It is generally customary to do this and it is recognized under international law.

    What distinguished the treatment of the japanese was the fact that American citizens of Japanese ancestry were interned as well. Amricans of other enemy nations ancestry were only bothered if they had known Nazi, or other enemy, sympathies. And those were rarely, if ever, locked up. They were, however, subjected to close FBI scrutiny. This certainly would have applied to members of the German-American Bund (the ones who had Hitler-youth-like summer camps for kids).

    One thing that I've always found interesting was that J Edgar Hoover opposed the Japanese internment. He believed that the FBI was quite capable of finding any saboteurs or spies among them.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    henry,

    Gable, Lombard's husband, was one of the Hollywood actors who actually fought in WWII.

  • Asharak||

    I've never understood the admiration that FDR gets from all over the political spectrum. It's certainly laughable and absurd when conservatives view him as a great President(only on WWII,otherwise FDR is despised by conservatives for socialism and Yalta)

    This is true, but you also have guys like David Frum who label any criticism of FDR as anti-American and anti-Semitic just because FDR was commander-in-chief during World War II. It's no use explaining things like the MS St. Louis to them.

  • Kyle Schwartz||

    Is anyone else having problems concentrating on this? I just can't seem to concentrate.

  • Eric Cartman||

    Maybe we should send you to a concentration camp.

  • Asharak||

    They didn't inter the Japs in the Hawaiian Islands and that is where the spys and saboteurs actually were.

    That's because a majority of Hawaii's residents were of Japanese descent (and still are), so it would have been difficult to intern them all.

  • ||

    Shit, server squirrel ate my comment.

  • Bee||

    Never heard of Zinn - sounds like I haven't missed much - but they most certainly were concentration camps. Not death camps.

    Unless, you know, you died of grief or stress while being kept under armed guard behind barbed wire in the middle of the desert, while you lost your home and business.

    The internment was a wartime policy, and quite frankly winning the war was a higher priority than respecting everybody's civil rights.

    I don't think even *you* really believe this false dichotomy.

    How were the Axis POW's housed while they were in the States, btw? I don't believe there were very many of them here.

  • ||

    All of Little Italy and Milwaukee weren't rounded up.

    Well, I could understand locking up Milwaukee.

  • Paul||

    However, this is over the top. Roosevelt did not have a policy of mass murder in the way Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin did. He did not have people shot without trial. And he did not have a program of world conquest.

    Aresen,

    You're absolutely right, but you've allowed the core of the issue to cloud your judgement.

    It's been iterated many ways, by many people here on H&R-- basically, when you create all kinds of levers to power for government to wield, then you create a nation of men, not a nation of laws. What it assumes is that the men you elect to government must be good, egalitarian and full of smiles and sunshine. Always remember, your man won't always be in government. When you give government more power, and release a bit of your freedom, you're not bending over for the current officeholder, you're bending over for every officeholder to be in power-- ever.

    Would you give me a blank check to do good things, especially if I could transfer that blank check to all of my descendants? I somehow doubt it.

  • Bee||

    How were the Axis POW's housed while they were in the States, btw? I don't believe there were very many of them here

    Whoops, I would be wrong. In the United States, at the end of WWII there were 175 Branch Camps serving 511 Area Camps containing over 425,000 prisoners of war.

    I had no idea there were that many POWs here! Off-topic, but interesting.

  • Paul||

    sorry, it's friday, I meant "allowed the core of the issue to become clouded..."

    My bad. Where are my keys?

  • ||

    How were the Axis POW's housed while they were in the States, btw? I don't believe there were very many of them here.

    Around 500,000. When I was a youngster, I played near a former camp. Still have some German money I found.

  • Paul||

    I had no idea there were that many POWs here! Off-topic, but interesting.

    Yeah, I believe Arizona had quite a few camps. Desert, remote. Probably freaked out all the german sub crews they had there. In fact, I believe there was a famous escape by a German submarine crew. They wandered around in the desert for a few days and finally gave up. Like most Europeans, they probably had little concept as to just how f*cking big this country is, and how easy it is to not come across a rail line, road or town after days of walking.

  • Paul||

    Is this thing on???

  • Asharak||

    Well, I could understand locking up Milwaukee.

    LOL.

  • ||

    I've never had to lock up my Old Milwaukee.

  • Bob||

    This article is absolutely idiotic. Was Roosevelt a statist of the variety unparalled in American history? Yes. Is Roosevelt even remotely comparable to an autocratic thug and murderer who enabled one of the most brutal and evil mass-murderers in the annals of human history? I think the answer is obvious; that the morons on this site even find a valid comparison is an indictment of the stupidity that is modern American libertarianism. Explain to me again why people who run under the Libertarian banner get 1% of the vote on a good day.
    An American president favors government work programs so obviously he must be the same as a man who was party to genocide. And for good measure why not throw in jokes about his disability as well; kudos to the classiness contained on these message boards. On top of that we get ignorant pontification of the variety that claims creating the Social Security Administration leads a nation down the slippery slope to racial extermination. I would have laughed out loud if this nonsense wasn't so contemptible. Talk about belittling the horror that was European fascism during WWII. Furthermore to claim the programs put in the place during the Great Depression were of the same piece as Auschwitz is so stupid it defies all logic; that people on this site actually defend such nonsense speaks volumes about some of the people that post here. Thank goodness you idiots and your "philosophy" were long ago consigned to the dustbin of history, although you have yet to catch on to this fact.

  • Mark Bahner||

    I mean, sure, we became the most powerful and prosperous society on Earth, but think about how even more prosperous we'd be without Social Security!



    Yeah, all Ponzi schemes look good to the first "investors."

  • ||

    That such widely disparate ideologies as Communism, fascism, and democracy communist-style socialism, National Socialism, and New Deal socialism all produced similar architecture, organization strutures, and economic policies during the same period would seem to indicate that they commonalities transcended ideology during that period, rather than that the ideologies were so different socialism, regardless of which flavor you choose, produces similar authoritarian outcomes, with the degree of misery varied primarily by the degree to which the bastard who seizes power is a sociopath.

    Fixed that for you, joe.

  • ||

    It's difficult to really judge the internment policy because we don't know exactly what would have happened had it not been done. So most liberals are willing to give FDR a pass on it.

    Maybe you don't know, Danno. I bet if you had any Japanese-American friends, they could give you an earful. Perhaps you could write to Senator Dan Inouye (or any other combat veteran of the 442nd/100th) and ask his opinion about the alleged dubious loyalty of JALs, and about how the internment camps were maybe a good thing after all?

  • ||

    There were other similarities between the Roosevelt, Hitler, Mussolini & Stalin regimes. All used telephones. All drove motorcars. All raised and supported large armies.

    The point is that a good deal of the similarities between Roosevelt's America and these totalitarian regimes had less to do with ideological convergence than "what was in the air" at the time, and the natural consequences of what was in that air. A fair percentage of the sorts of things the author cites as quasi-Fascist -- monumental sculpture, public works programs, social security schemes, etc. -- were as common to Western democracies such as Britain and France as they were to Roosevelt's America. What really distinguished true Fascist regimes from Western democracies was state worship. Roosevelt may have done many problematical things, but he was hardly a proponent of "America uber alles."

  • ||

    It may be true that FDR's policies reflected the spirit of the era. I think that's kind of the point, though. It's hardly a good thing to champion the trends of an era that saw the rise of Fascism. It doesn't really matter how many other democrats (small d) were doing the same thing.

  • MJ||

    FDR was also the first president who had enough megalomania to believe he was indispensable in the course of events and to make it stick with the voters. No president before had made a serious attempt to serve more than two full consecutive terms as president, almost all the previous occupants had followed Washington's example and retired after two terms (the couple of abberations either did not mount serious campaigns, or had some extenuating circumstances).

  • ||

    I am tsting the article for its ability to send pseudo-progressives over the edge in yahoo discussion groups.

    So far it has no displaced Tyler Cowen's article in "The Freeman" at www.fee.org on "The Socialist Roots of Anti-Semitism" but I think it may be in the running.

  • ||

    John,

    Franklin Roosevelt was a big friend of Wall Street as governor, who set out to "save capitalism" when he put together the New Deal. He didn't nationalize anything, and he ditched the central economic planning of the Early New Deal pretty quickly. The face that he doesn't pass the libertarian purity does not mean he did not support private enterprise.

    prolefeed,

    As substantive as ever, I see.

    Bee,

    Don't you remember, Enzo the Baker's Helper in the Godfather was an Italian POW who wanted to stay here and become a citizen?

  • Mark Bahner||

    Explain to me again why people who run under the Libertarian banner get 1% of the vote on a good day.



    I dunno. Could it have something to do with the fact that 99+% of all teachers and prominent members of the media (newspaper, TV, movies, etc.) are not Libertarians?

    Or how about the fact that both major parties deliberately write laws to make ballot access difficult?

  • RSDavis||

    This article is absolutely idiotic. Was Roosevelt a statist of the variety unparalled in American history? Yes. Is Roosevelt even remotely comparable to an autocratic thug and murderer who enabled one of the most brutal and evil mass-murderers in the annals of human history? I think the answer is obvious; that the morons on this site even find a valid comparison is an indictment of the stupidity that is modern American libertarianism. Explain to me again why people who run under the Libertarian banner get 1% of the vote on a good day.
    An American president favors government work programs so obviously he must be the same as a man who was party to genocide. And for good measure why not throw in jokes about his disability as well; kudos to the classiness contained on these message boards. On top of that we get ignorant pontification of the variety that claims creating the Social Security Administration leads a nation down the slippery slope to racial extermination. I would have laughed out loud if this nonsense wasn't so contemptible. Talk about belittling the horror that was European fascism during WWII. Furthermore to claim the programs put in the place during the Great Depression were of the same piece as Auschwitz is so stupid it defies all logic; that people on this site actually defend such nonsense speaks volumes about some of the people that post here.


    Someone clearly didn't read the article before he responded.

    - Rick

  • ||

    "BTW, Boaz went through some pains to make the point that similarities should not be overstated, or interpretted as statements of equivalency, and the blog entry totally undermined his efforts to remain reponsible."

    One of the most important remarks of the discussion. He doesn't say that they were morally equivalent, but that there were similarities in their rejection of constitutional liberalism. And really, the police state that Roosevelt was so eager to build, with internment in camps for people of Japanese ancestry, vicious anti-Japanese racism, confiscations of property, censorship and the like....it sure did have striking similarities with the other forms of collectivism. That it wasn't as horrible doesn't mean that it wasn't in any similar. Boaz's analysis is very insightful.

  • ||

    The usa had a history of freedom in 1933 that germany and italy and russia could only dream of. So it took the usa exactly another 68 years to catch up with the fascists and the nazis and the bolsheviks. But we are there today in spades. I anxiously await the coming of the concentration camps and the mass murders. Only china can save us now. How sad but how well deserved.

  • TruthOffering||

    I recently read, "The Naked Capitalist by W. Cleon Skousen, and he discusses how communists have infiltrated our government since the 1800s. These communists are central bankers, corporate executives and other power brokers. Much of FDR's reign was foretold of in Edward Mandell House's work of fiction, Philip Dru: Administrator." House was Woodrow Wilson's right-hand man during his presidency...House went on to also advise FDR. Maybe that's why he mentions fireside chats and the new deal in his book, which was published decades before FDR actually put those plans into play.

  • nfl jerseys||

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