Thursday, January 06, 2005

The risks of joining religious fervor to revolutionary politics: lessons from the Weimar Republic

The New York Times > New York Region > Public Lives: Warning From a Student of Democracy's Collapse

Frizt Stern is a historian with a special interest in the collapse of German democracy and the rise of fascism. Recently he spoke about the similarities between modern American right-wing christianity and the fusion of christian images with fascist doctrine in Nazi germany:
'There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented,' he said. 'There was a longing for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although also significant differences.'

HE warns of the danger in an open society of 'mass manipulation of public opinion, often mixed with mendacity and forms of intimidation.' He is a passionate defender of liberalism as 'manifested in the spirit of the Enlightenment and the early years of the American republic.'

'The radical right and the radical left see liberalism's appeal to reason and tolerance as the denial of their uniform ideology,' he said. 'Every democracy needs a liberal fundament, a Bill of Rights enshrined in law and spirit, for this alone gives democracy the chance for self-correction and reform. Without it, the survival of democracy is at risk. Every genuine conservative knows this.'

... 'The Jews in Central Europe welcomed the Russian Revolution,' he said, 'but it ended badly for them. The tacit alliance ..between the neo-cons and the Christian right is less easily understood. I can imagine a similarly disillusioning outcome.

No comments: