Repealing Godwin’s Law August 3, 2014 | 02:22 pm

Memetic drift has changed Godwin’s Law from a wry observation, to an indication that useful conversation is over, to a statement that discussing Fascism at all is verboten. Discussion of Fascism at all has been fraught for some time- most people seem to think the definition of “fascist” is “someone I don’t like”. Which is why Obama can be both a communist and a fascist (and if your proof that this makes sense is that the Nazi’s had the word “socialist” in their party name, then North Korea is a Democracy).

Which is unfortunate, because there are a lot of lessons from that era that need learning. One that has been weighing on my heart a lot lately is just this: The final solution was not the first solution tried. The history most people remember has the Nazis gaining power, and then one day going “Hey, I know: let’s kill all the jews!” There is no logic to the decision, no progressions, and certainly no parallels to any other situations- just the innate evilness of nazis.

But first, let me back up and ask a simple question: what was the problem to which the final solution was a (proposed) solution? In the most general terms, the problem was one of having an existing subculture you’ve decided is a problem. The very existence of this subculture is harming you (you think). By striping the problem of it’s specific cultural aspects, it becomes more obvious that the holocaust was not unique, that many other countries/cultures have faced the same problem. Two other examples I want to point at this juncture is the American (US) and apartheid South Africa’s behavior towards blacks, and our behavior to the Native Americans (especially in the 19th century).

Now the question is: if the final solution was not the initial solution tried, what where the previous (non-final) solutions tried? And why did they fail, and how does that lead to the final solutiom?

I count four steps on this express lane to hell. Step one is ghettoization. So, you have a subculture- jews, blacks, native Americans, doesn’t matter- who a problem, you quarantine them. They have their own parts of the city, or their own land over there, and you make sure they don’t come over here. It’s no coincidence that ‘ghetto’, a term which originally described the jewish sections of european cities also got applied to the black sections of US cities. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Of course, there turns out to be two problems with this. First, it’s hard to make sure they stay over on their land/neigborhoods. As the saying goes, a 10 foot wall just sells 12 foot ladders (“Mr. Perry, tear down this wall!”). But the bigger problem is just that land is expensive. Especially city property- gee, you have this neighborhood which is only a 45 minute commute from Wall Street? Guess what- Harlem gets gentrified. Even forcing the problem subculture into waste land that no one wants now only works until oil or uranium or something is found under the land, as the Native Americans can well attest.

So, as ghettoization fails, the solution number two presents itself: deportation. Pack up the problem subculture and send them somewhere else. Of course, this fails as well. As a general rule, everyone has more than enough problems of their own, and aren’t interested on taking on someone else’s problems.

So deportation fails, which leads to solution number three: incarceration. Round up the problem subculture and put them in jail. It’s a gray line between extreme ghettoization and actual incarceration- but the line gets crossed when the subculture gets packed so tight that some form of support from the majority culture is needed. Of course, now you’re responsible for feeding, clothing, and housing the entire subculture. You can try to make them productive by forcing them to work- but prison labor is never worth it (in terms of productivity, it’s generally worthwhile to simply have the guards do the work, and get rid of the prisoners). And as soon as things get tight (and they will always get tight, sooner or later), the cost of maintaining the subculture in the prisons will become unsustainable, and some way to reduce the cost of keeping them in jail.

At which point we reach the final solution: just kill them. And welcome to hell, and deservedly so. But hey, at least it really solves the problem of the subculture.

There is an inevitable logic to the situation, which is not at all specific to Germany in the 1930′s. With the US and Blacks, we’ve gone at least to step 2 (look up the history of Liberia), and arguably to step 3 (consider the War on Some Drugs). And the path is not always walked cleanly or discreetly- for example, during World War 2, the US skipped steps 1 and 2 and went right to step 3 with respect to Japanese Americans. And the US again skipped step 3 with the native Americans, and went directly to step 4 (small pox blankets? Really? You expect me to not see through that ploy?).

But the logic still applies. The only way off is to redefine the problem. Stop labelling the subculture as a problem, make the subculture no longer “them” but now just a part of “us”. This may require a redifinition of what your culture is. Germany, for example, would have had to give up it’s vision of being a Christian Aryan nation, and admitted it’s plurality. The US had (has) to give up it’s vision of itself as a european and christian nature, and admit it’s pluralistic nature- that Native Americans and Japanese Americans and African Americans are all, first and foremost Americans. Just like Irish Americans, German Americans, French Americans, Italian Americans, Polish Americans, Chinese Americans, Mexian Americans, etc., are.

The holocaust was not the result of unqiue circumstances in Germany in the 1930′s. It was the inevitable and logical result of bigotry. And anywhere where bigotry flurishes, against anyone, there is the possibility of a new holocaust. This is the true problem with Godwin’s law, the shouting down of anyone talking about Fascism, especially in relationship to anything else. The lesson not taught is the lesson learned the hard way. Not talking about the Fascists means the Fascists will rise again.