Saturday, 30 July 2011

A spin on a familiar theme appeared on 'Ouch too' a disability forum I visit. Once again the Nazi slogan 'Arbeit Macht Frei' is superimposed, gates and all, to frame Nick Clegg outside 10 Downing Street.
Is this reaction helpful?

Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies was originally put forward as a tongue-in-cheek observation on the nature of Internet discourse. While I don't believe using the 'Arbeit Macht Frei' slogan to make a political point against government policy is necessarily trivialising the suffering and deaths of the victims of Nazism, we are in danger of confusing two different issues.

Whatever my views of the Tories I cannot, at this point in time, compare their draconian, even vicious, policies to that of the Nazis Third Reich, 1933-45. The Nazis set out not to cow racial Untermenschen or political and social 'undesirables'; no, they set out a complex and universal programme of extermination of these groups.

Capitalism, and more especially its neo-liberalist form, is a flawed economic and social movement. Recent social and economic events highlight the incompatibility between the needs of the many and narrow interest of the few, between neo-lib capitalism and the welfare state. Of this I'm certain.

Yes, capitalism and its goals do militate against the poor and those less able to fend for themselves economically. As such their policies are cruel and heartless; they'll also serve to impoverish many people, who through no fault of their own find themselves defenceless against many of the vagaries life throws at them.

People will suffer unnecessarily for the sake of private greed. Some people will die as a direct result of cuts made to medical and care provision. And yes, we can point the accusatory fingers in the direction of government and condemn their ideology. However, what our government is doing and the planned atrocities carried out by the Nazis cannot be measured with the same yardstick.

Recent events in Norway and the menace of the EDL in this country are truer comparisons to the Nazi way of thinking. For years I have cautioned some of my Comrades on the Left on the problems of labelling all opponents as 'Nazis' and 'Fascists'. Once we've dressed all our opponents in jackboots and death's head badges, what happens when the real Nazis come along?

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