How Democracy Dies

Even the usually restrained Barack Obama warns Americans we're slipping dangerously close to authoritarianism.

"You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens."

Yes, he invoked Nazi Germany, adding, "Now, presumably, there was a ballroom in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked and seemed as if it - filled with the music and art and literature and the science that was emerging - would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. And the entire world was plunged into chaos."

It was a shocking reminder of Milton Mayer and his seminal work, They Thought They Were Free, first published back in 1955 by the University of Chicago Press.

Shortly after World War II, Mayer, an American journalist and college instructor, went to Germany and befriended a small group of 10 "ordinary Germans" who had lived and worked through the war, and interviewed them in depth.

Mayer's burning question was, "How does something like Nazi Germany happen?"

What he learned was every bit as shocking as President Obama drawing the same parallels. He wrote, presciently, "Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany - not by attack from without or by subversion from within, but with a whoop and a holler. It was what most Germans wanted - or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it.

"I came home a little bit afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under combined pressure of reality and illusion. I felt - and feel - that it was not German Man that I met, but Man. He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here under certain conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.

"If I - and my countrymen - ever succumbed to that concatenation of conditions, no Constitution, no laws, no police, and certainly no army would be able to protect us from harm."

Mayer tells the story largely through the words of the Germans he got to know during his year in Germany after the war.

Read more here.


Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 years 24 weeks ago

Horray! We are back on the Nazi's again. Run out of material did we?

ChristopehrCurrie's picture
ChristopehrCurrie 5 years 24 weeks ago

How voters SCREW THEMSELVES when they vote for Republicans

The average life expectancy throughout the United States is 79.3 years, whereas the average life expectancy in Alabama is 75.4 years (nearly 4 years less)! This is no coincidence considering the Republican Party’s “I-have-no-god-but-money” ideology, their opposition to federal government healthcare programs, and the fact that a majority of Alabama voters have been voting for Republicans for decades until this week. By voting for screw-your-neighbor Republicans, those statistics show that a majority of Alabama voters were also SCREWING THEMSELVES!

Feel free to publish this or to use these points in your own articles.

Christopher C. Currie, 161 Lake Shore Drive, Pascoag, RI 02859 401-568-8266

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 24 weeks ago

beepbeep - your nature is nasty, cruel, thoughtless, inconsiderate, inhuman

We are aliens... where do you come from?

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 24 weeks ago

And right on cue to validate all of Thom's points, we have none other than the #1 comment by Diane "Pussy Hat" Chelsea Clinton Reynolds!!

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 24 weeks ago

Diane Cha Ching: Why don't you put forth some effort and explain why you stand against the will of the vast majority of citizens in this country. Go ahead and defend Crooked Donny and your Kochpublican Party.

Lets have a debate over established facts and truth, things like McConnell filbustering Democratic Party legislation to end tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas, Trump fake University, trickle down economics, the list is endless...take your pick, but no alternative facts allowed.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 24 weeks ago

Actually it may be later than we think for survival of our democracy which is already on life support. If Trump fires Mueller and bombs Iran , which I'm convinced is already in the works, with permission from Putin of course, the distraction of a new and massive war with the 21st century version of the Persian Empire will in my opinion be the death of our democracy. I believe this because the war will most likely overlap a major economic collapse and this kind of chaos will create the perfect environment for outlets like foxaganda to manipulate the populous into making even worse decisions than Trump and Pence....much worse.

Characters/Fascists like the Kochs are in the shadows right now directing imbeciles like Ryan and Pence to destroy the New Deal and thus throw gas on a fire already starting to rage. Chaos and economic desperation is what they want.. worked for Hitler.

I sure hope the choice to pull us out of this nightmare will be Bernie, but fear that foxaganda weapons along with the end of net neutrality, will manipulate people into accepting a Hitler instead.

Kend's picture
Kend 5 years 24 weeks ago

Trump calls it fake news because it is. It is unbelievable how many times news programs have to apologize for the lies they have told. To compare Trump to Nazi Germans is honestly about the lowest Thom has gone. The only thing Hilter and Trump have in common is they both wanted higher wages for workers.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 24 weeks ago

Gee Kend, I'd be interested in hearing a few of those apologies that news programs have given for the lies they have told about Trump. Somehow how I seemed to have missed them. If it's not too much trouble, could you just give us a few examples? I can't seem to fine them.

When it comes to wages, why should Trump care how high the wages are for people that work for contractors that have done work for him. Hell, they can make as much as they want. No problem!! He just neglects to pay them, makes the contractor take him to court and then declares bankruptcy. Why should he care how much they make? For all he cares they can make a thousand dollars an hour! Just try to collect!!

I'll be here waiting to hear those apologies though. If there is as many as you say, shouldn't be too much trouble to find a ton of them? We can all hardly wait!!!

lifesizedolls4c... 5 years 24 weeks ago

What I think about your article? It's true: we're already there! I warned people before the election last November that this creature in the Whitehouse is the epitome of fascism and that we are heading into Hitler times again, this time in the United States. And I predict that he will propell us into World War III. He should never have been selected!

Willie W's picture
Willie W 5 years 24 weeks ago

What's old is new again. History repeats itself. The master has his enthusiastic followers. Instead of Jewish people, the poor and elderly will be targeted. No gas chambers this time, A crumbling economy (by design) will suffice. Those who can't serve will be discarded to fend for themselves. They will be scorned by all who are active.

Legend 5 years 24 weeks ago

#7 Kend, If Trump was the slightest bit interested in "higher wages for workers" why did he hire 70 foreign workers at Mar a Lago?

If he wanted to give "higher wages for workers" why does he not start with the minimum wage that has not been increased since 2009?

Why is it that these trolls come on this site and complain about fake news and have nothing to back it up with. Yet they vote for a President that lies 5 times a day on average.

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 years 24 weeks ago

@ #8

Pigeons must sleep with their heads under their wings.

Four minutes of my life I will never get back,

The New York Times has corrected five stories on President Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protests, admitting in each report to misquoting what the president said in the aftermath of the violence.

Washington Post reporter apologizes for tweet on crowd size at Trump rally

CNN forced to correct story after Comey’s testimony contradicts reporting

CNN’s Reza Aslan apologizes for using profanity to describe Trump

CNN Resignations A Sign Of The High Stakes In Covering Trump's Administration

CNN Corrects a Trump Story, Fueling Claims of ‘Fake News’

ABC News apologizes for ‘serious error’ in Trump report and suspends Brian Ross for four weeks

Peach McD's picture
Peach McD 5 years 24 weeks ago

Benito Mussolini said, "Fascism should really be called corporatism, since it is the melding of corporation and state." I've been calling this fascism since Citizens United gave corporations 'persons' our constitutional rights and made money = speech.

The quotes from German citizens gave me chills. It's hard to believe, as a first time commenter, how many American citizens are content with this state of affairs, and actively defending it.

Peach McD's picture
Peach McD 5 years 24 weeks ago

P.S. Please don't feed the trolls.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 24 weeks ago

Good work Diane "Pussy Hat" Chelsea Clinton Reynolds, now you only have about 2000 more of Trump's reported lies to find apologies for. But of course the main difference between these news outlets and Trump and Fox news is that they will actually report their errors and make apologies. Trump and Fox news, not so much!

Legend 5 years 24 weeks ago

There is a website devoted to mostly Fox News lies. It also covers Rush Limbaugh and a few others. When was the last time that you heard and apology or correction from Trump or Fox News. One person that you would have a very difficult time finding false news from would be Rachael Maddow, she is very well researched. If she makes a mistake she owns up to it.

Edward Dodson's picture
Edward Dodson 5 years 24 weeks ago

As Benjamin Franklin is to have said, "We have a republic, if we can keep it." The extent to which this republic would advance the promise of democracy (i.e., equality of opportunity) has from the very beginning encountered deep opposition by a privileged elite. The evidence was first presented by the historian Frederick Jackson Turner and political economist Henry George in the late 19th century. With the end of the frontier era, they both wrote, the existence of "haves" and "have nots" became a permanent condition, although movement in each direction still occurred. Charles Beard documented the origins of this systemic inevitability in his book "An Economic Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution," noting that only the elite were represented at the Constitutional Convention. In the mid-1960s, another historian, Jackson Turner Main, examined wealth ownership in the mid-18th century and discovered that already much of the wealth held was inherited rather than earned.

Social democracy and what in the United States is best described as "liberalism" kept a lid on the extremes until the emergence of the conservative right that ushered Ronald Reagan into the Presidency. We have from that time on been on a path whereby our systems of property law and taxation have exacerbated an already seriously unjust redistribution of income and wealth from producers to those who enjoy "rentier" privilege.

We do need real tax reform, but the package now advanced will achieve an even more rapid acceleration of income and wealth concentration at the top. We need to shift the source of public revenue from the taxation of earned income, from actual capital goods (i.e, buildings, machinery, technologies) and commerce and onto unearned income and what are wrongly classified as "capital gains." Actual capital goods do not appreciate in value over time. Gains on the sale of assets such as land, commodities and financial instruments should be taxed at least as high as any other source of income.

Ideally, public revenue should come from ground rents and economic rents, meaning the potential annual rental value of locations, of tracts of agricultural and mineral-laden lands, of the broadcast spectrum, of licenses granted to extract resources from the seas and oceans, and other natural assets with an inelastic supply (one important example being take-off and landing slots at airports).

Edward J. Dodson, Director

School of Cooperative Individualism

Zeke Krahlin's picture
Zeke Krahlin 5 years 24 weeks ago

{{ This, he suggests, is how fascism will always take over a nation. And it seems that even President Obama is now realizing the gravity of the moment that Trump, Pence, and their enablers have brought us to. }}

Democrats, under Bill Clinton /and/ Obama, helped pave the way for this GOP victory. By throwing the poor under the bus with expansion of the War on Drugs, so-called "Welfare Reform," and the constant yells of "save the middle class."

Obama is a corporate shill all the way...laid down more oil
pipelines than all the other presidents put together...prosecuted more
whistle blowers than all the other presidents put together...carried
on George W. Bush's draconic Patriot Act, and even expanded it,
leading to more of our rights stripped away...big into
fracking...pushed for the Trans Pacific Partnership...eliminated
federal funding for abortion, offered the GOP a fat cut in Social
Security...made permanent 94% of GW Bush's tax cuts to the rich...gave
litigation immunity to Monsanto...chose conservatives to the Supreme
Court...sent more troops to the Middle East...never closed
GITMO...militarized the police...asserted the president's power to
assassinate anyone in the world...gave amnesty to torturers and
financial criminals (including not prosecuting any of those "too big
to fail" banks)...created a vast police state spying operation against
the population.

{{ "Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God.” }}

Well, wasn't religious fanaticism part of the problem that led to Nazism? The Catholic Church certainly kissed Hitler's ass. The simmering hatred of Jews for centuries, that was never resolved, is also a consequence. So please, don't give us this "God" BS.

Zeke Krahlin's picture
Zeke Krahlin 5 years 24 weeks ago

Willie W: Not just the poor and elderly, but LGBTs are definitely on the front lines, what with Christo-Fascist Republicans clamoring for their blood. They will be rounded up just as peremptorily as the Jews were, in the very near future. And most folks, including progressives, will look the other way. Homophobia is the weakest link in any LGBTs are considered trivial, disposable, and a poison on our "godly" society. More so than any other group, bar none. To not fight for LGBTs will spell the doom of every other oppressed group...and they will therefore deserve a horrid demise of their own making. Just like what happened the last time around...for homosexuals were the very first group to suffer Nazi persecution. And many Jews participated in that, turning in their own gays before the rest of them were rounded up.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 5 years 24 weeks ago

@ 18 & 19 Krahlin:

Nice intelligent reply. You've nailed it, and didn't call anyone names. Thank you.

Zeke Krahlin's picture
Zeke Krahlin 5 years 24 weeks ago

Okay then, thanks Ou812. May I suggest you change your pic to something other than one that depicts you in a trashy light? Otherwise, you give mixed messages and denigrate your own comments.

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