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Thursday, July 15, 2004

Lenin, Hitler and Bush

Adolf Hitler has become a major campaigner in this election. The Republicans are running ads that visually equate their opponents with Hitler, while the Democrats are expressly making comparisons between Bush and the little mustachioed man from Austria. This is not particularly noteworthy in certain respects. After all, the two parties began calling each other these kinds of names during the Cold War: Democrats, as everyone knows, are socialists and Republicans are brown-shirts. American politics is built on this kind of name-calling. Look at any of the presidential campaigns run during the last century and you will find virtually all of them involved name-calling and mud-slinging.

But the charges in this election set up a certain level of resonance. It is said that history repeats itself. It doesn’t, of course. It’s just that God keeps giving us the same chances, and we have only discovered a limited number of ways to mess things up. That having been said, let’s examine a few of the similarities between this historical situation and others.

Few people realize that Russia’s first free election was held at Lenin’s insistence. World War I had created too many problems for Russia, both militarily and politically: the Czar abdicated his throne on March 1, 1917. In November, 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power and held elections for the Constituent Assembly. They thought they would win (which is why they held the elections). Instead, they received only 24% of the vote, as opposed to the Socialist Revolutionaries 58%. Saddened by the loss, Lenin was, however, quick to mend the results. He dissolved the lawfully elected assembly, seized power and outlawed all the other parties. The Greek Orthodox Church, which was headed by the Czar, stayed out of the affair in all essentials. There would not be another free election in Russia until 1991.

World War I had caused the crisis: the Bolsheviks – a minority party - grabbed the chance. The Bolsheviks were atheists.

In contrast, at the beginning of the 1930’s, Germany had essentially three major parties: the national socialists (Nazis), the international socialists (Communists) and the Zentrum (Catholics). The Nazis responded to the Zentrum’s strongly anti-Nazi campaign by furiously denying religion had any role in politics. Nazis advocated a wall of separation between church and state. National socialism was not anti-Catholic, rather, it was opposed to political Catholics. It had no quarrel with sensible Catholics who kept religion and politics separate.

No clear winner emerged from the November 1932 elections for chancellor. Instead, an appeal had to be made to President Hindenburg to confirm Hitler in the position, given that his party had won the most votes. After some vacillation (Hindenburg didn’t like or trust Hitler), Hindenburg was convinced and Hitler was confirmed. A scant month after Hitler was confirmed in his position, the Reichstag was burned down by an arsonist. Though the national socialists did not start the fire, it gave them the excuse to declare martial law, rid the country of political enemies and secure their hold on power.

The fire caused the crisis: the Nazis – a minority party - grabbed the chance. The Nazis espoused the ancient Norse gods of the country folk. They were pagans.

In the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, two political parties comprise three political movements: the atheistic anarchists (Democrats), the atheistic businessmen (Rockefeller Republicans) and the Christians (the rest of the Republicans). The Democrats argue strongly that church and state must be separate. The Rockefeller Republicans actively attempt to co-opt and defuse the power of the Christian Republicans.

No clear winner emerged from the 2000 elections for president. Instead, an appeal had to be made to the US Supreme Court to confirm the adamantly Christian George Bush in the position, given that he won the most electoral votes. After some vacillation (the media didn’t like or trust Bush), the Supreme Court was convinced and confirmed him. Nine months after Bush is sworn into office, the World Trade Center is blown up. Though the Republicans had nothing to do with it, the event permits the passage of the Patriot Act. Bush does not declare martial law, rid the country of political enemies, or use the event to secure his hold on power.

Comparison and Contrast
The Bolsheviks’ main claim to fame was their attack on the bourgeoisie – the destruction of Russia’s very small middle class. They were economic parasites who fed off the poor peasants, you see.

The Nazis’ main claim to fame was their attack on the Jews – a very small religious denomination in Germany. They were international parasites who fed off the German people, you see.

The Democrats’ and Rockefeller Republicans’ main claim to fame is their attack on unborn children – very small persons in the womb. They are parasites who feed on their mothers, sapping away economic earning potential, you see.

The Bolsheviks differed from the Socialist Revolutionaries primarily on matters of how best to implement socialism: whether through education of the workers or education of the peasants.

The primary difference between the national socialists (Nazis) and the international socialists (communists), were in their respective emphases on the importance of the nation. Because Germany had just become a nation in 1871, national socialists played strongly on the harp-strings of patriotism. They were unwilling to surrender the nationhood that Germany had fought centuries to attain. Communists, on the other hand, cared not a fig for nationalism.

Today, the difference between Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans is largely a matter of nationalism and business. Several Democrats, for instance, have perpetuated the international socialist stereotype attached to their name by requesting UN observers to watch over US elections. Meanwhile, Rockefeller Republicans are content as long as national and business interests are maintained.

It is a remark oft-made and worth repeating that the difference between Republicans and Democrats, like the difference between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks or Bolsheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries or Hitler and Stalin, is relatively insignificant.

Recent history has shown us what happens when an atheist or a pagan takes charge of a country. Today, we have a Christian in charge. Barely.

Recent history has also shown what happens when Christians avoid politics or allow their opponents to define their Christian sensibilities out of politics.

The wall between Church and state is killing millions today, as it has killed millions before. We can build all the walls we want, but the problem isn't Church or state, it is us. People get killed because sinners like us kill them. We can either justify the killing on the grounds that Church and state are one or on the grounds that Church and state are separate. As history demonstrates, it is a lot easier to justify the killing when Church and state are separate.

This situation is exactly analogous to the problem of sex abuse from priests versus sex abuse from secular public school teachers that I pointed to just a few days ago. Sex abuse is going to happen. We are sinners. Why would we think we can stomp out a particular sin through the laws of men? But religious men commit this sin a lot less often than secular men do.

Religion elevates.
Separation from religion destroys.

Mr. President, tear down this wall.

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