The anonymous nature of the internet has long been a source of irk for people that like open and honest debate. It's too easy for people to duck behind a handle and lob hate-filled tirades at such diverse targets as Barack Obama, the Cincinnati Reds and filmmaker Ridley Scott. Now I believe in Freedom of Speech as a foundation for our whole, you know, society, but part-in-parcel with that freedom is responsibility.
So when someone who goes by the moniker "Serious Cynic" compares our local government to Nazi Germany, it means it's time to reach back and remember some words written here and here.
But I will play the assumption that "Serious Cynic" doesn't engage in debates where his own evidence can be disproved and instead try to appeal to the more rational. To begin with, here's what Cynic said:
I want to tell you a story that one of my friends told me.
He is a bit older than i am and he grew up in Germany in the thirties.
He said that Germany under Hitler was a great place for diversions, particularly following the penalties imposed on them by the Allies! Under Hitler and the Nazis they had picnics and outings and all sorts of goodthings in a time of depression. What else could a German conclude but that Hitler had it right? Remember the German Olympics!!
So take the analogy of our Mayor and FREE public events and put into historical perspective!!
Smarten up pilgrims!!
This was in reference to the fantastic community event in front of city hall last Friday, which, by all accounts, was a wonderful time in the recently finished Market Square. To Cynic though, this was kith and kin to the Munich Olympics, or the Nuremberg rally. Forget that the event wasn't organized by the city, or that half the price tag of the splash pad/skating rink was raised privately, but basically it's part of Karen Farbridge's plan to grow a mustache and have us raise our hands to her under one nation. Sieg heil, ideed.
Now I understand that Cynic and some of his compatriots don't care for our Mayor and several councillors interchangeably known as the "Gang of 8," but to compare our town to one of the most destructive and dictatorial societies in the history of mankind is a bit of a stretch. But is there evidence to prove Cynic's point? Let's go to the follow up comment courtesy of "ernie":
Its not a stretch of analogy either to compare Weimar in the 1920s to the culture and times of today (devaluation of currency/hyperinflation vs todays various economic bubbles, political factionalism and corruption, etc etc). And we all know how the rest of that story went...
Even N. Chomsky is of this opinion
The reference "ernie" was making is this article by Chris Hedges in 2010, an interview with Noam Chomsky where the great philosopher said:
“It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” [...] “The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”
When you go to the original words by Chomsky the analogy makes a little bit more sense. The traditional parties are suffering the disdain of the people, as are the power structures and governments who aren't doing what they're supposed to according to anyone regardless of their political affiliation or beliefs. The rest of the conditions suffered by Germany in the 1920s came from outside pressures, primarily the fact that sole responsibility for World War I was laid at the feet of Germany, who was merely coming to the aid of ally Austria-Hungary when their archduke was assassinated by Serbian nationalists one summer's day in 1914. While the effects are certainly similar, the causes couldn't be further apart.
But back to Nazism, sort of. Cynic's belief that Farbridge is giving the people a street show to hide a sinister agenda flies in the face that Guelph has always supported first rate arts and culture events in our city. Now Cynic may consider the Guelph Arts Council a conspiracy on par with Roswell, or the cover-up of Paul McCartney's death in '66, but even the most cynical must admit that Guelph has a reputation for putting on world class artistic events, like the Guelph Jazz Festival and Hillside.
Of course, I think the real issue is that Cynic and those like him have no joy in them. And I'm being serious, they seem literally incapable of experiencing the emotion, and to see other people have a good time literally does them metaphysical harm. As long as they have their home with low property taxes and the shopping mall, they seem quite content to go about their lives. To suggest there's life and fun beyond their bland suburbs scares and confuses them, so they lash out. Fun is a giant government conspiracy. Do you have any idea what kind of city you're suborning when you have a good time in the public space?
Before wrapping, let's go to one last comment from "D.C.":
Wow. Not Mardi Gras? Bottom trough feeders? Hitler? Seriously? Those are your comments on this party?
And as for historical indicators of the future, I remember sitting in a cafe in January 2008 reading a column in the Globe and Mail about how the differences between CEO salaries and the salary of the average worker was, adjusted for inflation, the same as it was in January 1929, 10 months before the Great Depression. I remember feeling a drop of ice water down my back reading this and realizing that we might be heading for a similar calamity. The secret to avoiding a repeat of history, as George Santayana might have put it, is to recognize genuine clues, which are usually in the form of subtle hints not giant street parties. In other words, to paraphrase another great philosopher, sometimes a street party is just a street party.