Don’t censor Nazis; Stop Nazi ideology
Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:09
Originally written: 24 October 2005
It is very tempting to say that the Nazis who gathered in Toledo, Ohio, on Saturday, 15 October 2005, should all be locked up, and the National Socialist Movement outlawed. Tempting, but very dangerous.
The Nazis have no redeeming social value. They promote hatred. The world would be better off without them. But outlaw them, try to prevent them from speaking their little minds, and they will win converts. Banning something gives it cachet. Many people, including real socialists, do not trust government to decide what ideas we should be prevented from hearing. People want to know the ideas which they are told they cannot hear.
When it comes to Nazi ideology, there is nothing worth hearing. But Nazis have a powerful mixture of hate and empowerment (of a sort) which is sometimes attractive to those who feel they have nothing left to lose. If enough people hear the message today, some will fall for it. That is the very real danger when Nazis spew their ideology.
That is where the problem lies. Nazis could preach their hatred forever, and if nobody fell for it, the ideology would not spread and would eventually die out. But current society is an environment so full of problems which do not get solved, and inhabited by so many people who are desperately seeking solutions, that the Nazi ideolody will sound like a solution to some. After all, they see that nothing else is solving the problems.
It makes no sense to try to counter ideas by making them illegal. That is not countering the ideas at all. It does not eliminate the ideas, it just drives them underground. Jailing a Nazi creates a martyr. It is simply attacking the people who hold those ideas.
Another approach is whacking Nazis over the heads with a baseball bats. That does not show that the ideas are wrong. It only shows that you have a baseball bat and have no qualms about bashing people over the head.
Banning and beating only attack the people who hold the ideas, not the ideas themselves. Attacking the people, instead of the ideas, suggests that there is no counter to the ideas of the Nazis. If we who oppose the Nazis cannot show that the Nazi ideas are wrong, then why should anyone believe that the ideas are wrong? If all the opponents can do is bash Nazis over the head, bully-boy tactics will win. The winners will be those who can gather the largest number of people willing to bash other people over the head with baseball bats, and blow them up with bombs, and shoot them with guns, and poison them with sarin.
History up through today shows that when bully-boy tactics are used, the bad guys win for long enough to hurt a lot of people. The bad guys are still winning.
In Toledo, on Saturday, 15 October 2005, people who Mayor Jack Ford called “gang members,” rioted. As Ford said, the riot was “exactly what they wanted.” The Nazis said that they were demonstrating against black gangs allegedly harassing white residents. The Nazi march was cancelled because of the riots. The gangs made it appear that the Nazis were justified, and proved that the gangs are dangerous. The newspaper article used as a reference does not say whether the rioters were the “black gangs” against which the Nazis were demonstrating. Whether or not the rioters were black will make no difference to those who will consider joining the Nazis.
The Nazis won. This will encourage people to join them, not just in Toledo, but across North America and around the world.
There is another reason to oppose censorship. Some day the ideas banned may be yours. If preventing people from hearing ideas is an acceptable policy today, the precedent is set. You may believe that your ideas will never be outlawed. But today, the Left, the Right, and real socialists already say that there are very effective “bans” preventing them from spreading their ideas. At election time, small parties are very often excluded (which is a form of a ban) from “all candidates meetings.”
The Left says that the right-wing media censors left-wing ideas. The Right says that the left-wing media censors right-wing ideas. Although referring to the same media, both are probably correct. The future of censorship is already here, and has been for a long time.
Socialists have a particularly difficult time, because even if the media was to open up completely to ideas from the Left and Right, we would still be excluded. Socialists have had their journals banned by the government because according to the Government of Canada, promoting peace during a war is not acceptable. A British socialist journal would have been banned too if it had not self-censored.
Preventing anyone from being heard is a very dangerous policy. Governments shift left and right, and governments’ ideas of what is acceptable shift along with the governments. Different ideas are unpopular at different times. Ideas which were considered somewhat outrageous, such as female suffrage, are no longer so outrageous to most of us. It is not too difficult to imagine that ideas held by many people today could become unpopular enough to be banned in the future.
To protect the freedom to have unpopular ideas, we have to start today by protecting the “right” to express ideas which most of us consider vile. If we censor them today, they may censor us tomorrow.
Even if we could say that the Toledo riot was only gang violence, it is not difficult to find examples of Left-wingers preventing Right-wingers from speaking, and vice versa. They argue that the views they want to censor do not deserve the freedom to be expressed. If censorship actually eliminated the disgusting ideas, censorship would have some merit. But censorship does not eliminate the ideas. Censorship makes those ideas the “underdog” and that attracts followers.
The ideas promoted by the Nazis are a natural outgrowth of popular ideas which today receive tacit acceptance or complete support. Patriotism, nationalism, and religion, are part of the breeding ground for Nazi ideology.
Patriotism and nationalism (perhaps the same thing) are not only accepted, but strongly promoted. But patriotism and nationalism — the ideology that “my” nation is better than the rest — are inherently divisive, and often confrontational. The statement “my country, right or wrong” is little less than a call to arms to support something admittedly wrong. Perhaps the statement is not very commonplace, but the ideology is not only commonplace, but powerful enough that its supporters are not willing to tolerate dissent, and people are afraid to disagree. There is, of course, a range of nastiness, but even at their nicest, these philosophies are divisive.
The idea that “we” are better, demands that “they” are worse, or lesser. It is only a small step from that inherently divisive philosophical perspective, to adding new divisions, and blaming those not quite like “us” for the problems we face. And it happens today.
Religion is used to excuse any and all actions by the religious against the non-religious (including those of other false religions). Despite protestations that Christianity is a religion of peace and brotherhood, the Christian Bible is rife with the slaughter of those who disagree. A few quotes:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee;
thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them;
thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that cityChristian bibilical quotes were chosen because most of the readers of this article will have a christian background. Other religions are as bad.
with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly,
and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof,
with the edge of the sword.
These things are taught to impressionable children. Such disgusting teachings not only suggest the inferiority of others and the superiority of the chosen ones, but actually counsel and demand slaughter. Certainly it appears that good christians (and other religionists) belong at the forefront of hatred.
If people were not sucked in by the Nazi ideology, there would be no problem. Millions of Jews and others would not have been slaughtered for being different. Unfortunately we live in a society in which clear thinking is not valued, and knee-jerk reactions are courted by politicians. Hatred is used by mainstream politicians to gain support for wars (both trade wars and resultant fighting wars). Politicians inspire hatred and knee-jerk reactions to attack workers, as occurred in British Columbia, Canada, in October 2005 when the government passed a law to make striking teachers lawbreakers, and then went to court to have the teachers branded criminals.
Hippies, drifters, immigrants, foreigners, aboriginals, and others are, or have been, targets of hatred used by politicians. Sometimes the politicians lead the charge. Sometimes they run to stand at the front and look like leaders. Politicians are experts at using hate and knee-jerk reactions for their own ends. And the ends desired by the politicians always seem to be coincident with the interests of the capitalist class.
So politicians are not going to be part of the solution. That leaves the rest of us to solve the problems. Passing laws will not work. Beating up Nazis will not work.
Nobody said this was going to be easy. If we want to get rid of the scourge of hatred (Nazi-inspired, or otherwise) in our society, we are going to have to take dramatic, well thought out, positive action.
To eliminate Nazi ideology, we must first eliminate the ideas which make it possible. To do that, we must eliminate the social environment which encourages those ideas, and from which people seek relief on Earth, and through gods. We must end the society which sets us at each others’ throats and which restricts access to food, medicine, and everything else, without regard for need.