Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Normalization of Nazism in the First and Third World

When discussing the historiography (how history is written) of World War II there are those who claim that the war has been overemphasized as a "black and white" fight where all Nazis are portrayed as the living embodiment of evil and the Allies can do no wrong. The reputation for evil is certainly well earned with the various Holocausts, general war killings, and the starting of the European front of World War II. While the argument carries some weight (look at the over reaction against Tom Cruse's good film Valkyrie where some people went nuts over a German Imperialist/nominal Nazi was the hero of the story) there is an overall agreement that Nazis and Nazism were very bad, to say the least.

Sadly this agreement is only held in most of the First World. In the Third World there are countless examples of Nazism not being the taboo that it is in developed countries. Mein Kampf is a popular book for Indian business students who want inspiration on how to succeed against the system. National socialism is a popular ideology that has followers in the Baath Party, Syrian Social Nationalist Party (the even have a swastika in their flag), and for a while facists in Latin America look to Franco while housing former Nazis. Images of Hitler are used to sell products in Japan (but usually taken down after outrage). Then there is the odd use of Hitler and Nazism in anti-Israel Arab circles. The Israelis are equated to Nazis (Nazis = bad), then the Holocaust is denied (Nazis = not that bad), finally everything is wrapped up with the claims that the Arabs will finish what Hilter started (Nazis = heroes).

Geography plays a big role in why the Nais are being normalized in the Third World. Places like Africa and Asia did not face the direct wrath of Hitler unlike Europe. There is the thought of "what did Hitler do to us" in some. This is compounded on the fact Hitler waged war against France and the United Kingdom. These were the two main colonial powers who ruled much of the Third World. Many of the colonies faced harsh persecutions by French and British. People today can view Nazi Germany as no worse a power. Finally, hatred of Israel can lead to hatred of Jews. Especially in the Muslim world there are those who see the Nazis as an "enemy of my enemy."

Nazism in the Europe and the United States is still taboo. There is a generation; albeit a dying one, that still remembers fighting against the Nazis. However, time has oh so slightly curbed Nazism. The 1960s movie The Producers edge transformed the Nazis from an unjokable, Satanic evil to an evil that can be mocked. Today, humorous condom ads feature Hitler as an evil to be averted. Many still think these advertisements are in poor taste. It seems that a line is holding in the First World when it comes to Nazis. Goodwin Law states being called a Nazi is the worst insult.

There are two trouble spots in the First World when it comes to normalization of Nazism in specific and fascism in general. Facisits were used in post-World War II Italy to help the Christian Democratic Party defeat the Italian Communist Party in election after election. The fall of the two major parties has lead to coalition building around poles. Only recently did the National Alliance shed its "post-facist" background while some of its major members have questionable tendencies. In eastern Germany, the victim of Communist destruction of the middle class and moderatism, the neo-facicst National Democratic Party has been gaining votes in regional elections.

Hopefully the West's moderating effect on politics can keep neo-fascism and normalization of Nazism at bay in the First World. As for the Third World... that is a cultural battle they must fight.

1 comment:

charlie said...

You also left out Spain, where the fascists won. Some people say they are still around, but there isn't much visible anymore. I was a bit worried about the Parque de Berlin in Madrid but it was made in 1968.

Also Croatia.

There is a great little bar in Argentina where they have all the stuff from one of the German battleships that sank there. The crew used to hang out. Quite a shocker to see the flags.

And Max Mosley and his german prison guards...