History Shows How America Has Already Descended Into Fascism

It is time to admit that the process is complete.

History rhymes. Last time, a failed coup was not brought to justice, Nazi's came to power in Germany.
Image by Tyler Merbler from USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

No, history does not repeat itself. But it does rhyme indeed. This is what makes studying history so important. Because we can draw important lessons from the past to tell us something about our present and the future. However, this is only the case if we are actually willing to learn. When it comes to how somewhat stable and democratic societies descend into fascism, we have not learned anything.

The hearings about the January 6 attack on the Capitol have just been completed. I managed only to partially follow them. But the parts that I did follow gave me some eery recollections of history.

The short conclusion of the hearing is, that there was a conspiracy to attempt a coup. It involved the former president, who wanted to stay in power at all costs. Even if the cost was the lives of civilians, lawmakers, and policemen.
The hearing demonstrated, that Trump was running the show. He knew what he was doing. He acted willfully. And he did everything he could to incite the rioters. He also tried his best to protect his cronies and foot soldiers from the fallout that followed.

What the hearing also showed, is that Trump’s support base will not budge. Republicans are determined to see this through. Even if it means giving up the last shreds of democracy the U.S. ever possessed. Trump considers the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers his personal army.

We have been here before. Not in the U.S., but in my home country, Germany.

An Important Lesson From History

In November 1923, Hitler, along with several co-conspirators and a crowd of 2000 Nazi sympathizers attempted a coup d’etat. The coup was narrowly averted and Hitler, along with 10 co-conspirators were brought to trial. This event became known as the Beer Hall Putsch.

Prosecutor Ludwig Stenglein spoke highly of Hitler during his opening statement. However, at least he saw the danger of letting Hitler off the hook. Presiding judge Georg Neithardt was an open Nazi sympathizer. Even though Hitler was charged with high treason, he received a mild sentence of five years. Of those he only ended up serving 8 months in ‘Festungshaft’, the mildest form of sentencing available.

This was the moment in history when the fate of the Weimar Republic was sealed. Sure enough, The Nazis officially took power in 1933. But the trial showed that the judicial system had already collapsed. The Nazis had the judicial system in their hands.

They sent a strong signal to the Nazis that they were not going to intervene.

After that, there was only one thing that could stop the Nazis. Decisive political action and Unity. That did not happen. The takeover, therefore, was only a formality for the Nazi party. No one was willing to stop them. Not the judicial system and not the political establishment. And certainly not the capitalist elites, who profited greatly.

The USA Has Reached a Similar Crossroad

Currently, right-wing Trump supporters hijacked the judicial system. Their view on the Declaration of Human Rights is that this document should never have been written. They hate the idea that women should have autonomy over their bodies. They hate the idea that we should treat gays as humans. And they hate the idea that Black People shall have the same civil liberties as everyone else.

Meanwhile, the congress hearings laid out in clear detail how Trump and his loyal supporters were hell-bent on carrying out a coup. Now it is in the hands of the justice system to stop them. If they fail, there is no turning back anymore. The Democrats will not have the spine to stop the right-wing fascists. Their actions (or lack thereof) speak a clear language. They could have prevented all this. They didn’t.

From here on out, there is only one road to go on. That is what the story of the Nazi’s rise to power shows us. That is how history rhymes.