October 11, 2008

"Sounds to me like the classic what-if about killing Hitler has been put into practice."

Richard emails this.

ADDED: Obit:
Austrian far-right politician Jörg Haider, who was killed in a car crash in his home province of Carinthia very early on Saturday morning, was his native country's best-known person, his sharp and perpetually tanned features ubiquitous on television and magazines. He was also Austria's most polarizing figure, with an impact far beyond that country's borders. During a long and checkered career, Haider stood out from the crowd of post-war Austrian politicians with his good looks, athletic lifestyle and devilish talent for provocation. But he was also a populist and demagogue who played on and amplified his homeland's native anti-immigrant and anti-European Union sentiment, courted Western pariahs like Libya's Muammar Ghadafi and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and even at one point praised Adolf Hitler's "orderly" employment policies.

AND: "The last time I saw Joerg Haider, just under two weeks ago, he was being serenaded to Queen's hit 'We are the Champions'."


Fred4Pres said...

I think this is more akin to what if David Duke got in a fatal car accident. I do not think Austria in 2008 is anthing like Austria in the late 1930s. Hilter was a monster, but he happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Ann Althouse said...

You don't think global financial collapse could be another "right time"? You don't see that you're in it until it's rather late.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds to me like the classic what-if about killing Hitler has been put into practice."


Jörg Haider was the Titus of Austria.

Weird, irritating and not 100% wrong.

UWS guy said...

I was in Austria from '97-'99. Haider was pretty popular and won a few elections (the EU punished Austria that year and refused them something pretty big-which I can't remember- because Haider won the presidency), especially with all the worry about the muslims being pushed out of Yugoslavia there was a lot of nativism going around. Most Austrians are like rural Virginians actually, pretty insular Volk without the immigration that Germany has.

From what I gather recently, there's a new young leader of the fascist party and Haider was on the way out anyway.

UWS guy said...

Here's a bit from the economist in 1998:

HE NEVER intended it in quite that way, but Jorg Haider's remark in parliament, that the employment policies of the Third Reich were perfectly proper, has shaken Austria out of some of its old complacency.

Until last week Mr Haider, who is leader of Austria's Freedom Party, was one of Europe's most successful populist politicians. He was also governor of Carinthia--which abuts on Yugoslavia's breakaway republic of Slovenia--from where he was hoping to make a bid for national power by driving a wedge between the parties of the ruling socialist-conservative coalition. Now Mr Haider has been forced to relinquish his governorship and his party's fortunes have taken a knock.

He was elected governor and the EU (was it the EU yet?) forced Austria to strip him of his office. Which is ....pretty...balsy if you ask me.

UWS guy said...

But what if Haider was Chancellor Dolfuss...or Hindenburg and the new hitler is now on the rise as Heinz-Christian Strache?...

Sam Harris had a great article talking about, if the secular west doesn't nip Al'Queda in the bud, then the facists will end up winning power and doing the job in a way we don't want.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Austria had no right wing party, so Haider stepped into the vacuum.

Germany had the same problem in the 1920s. The Right was fragmented and there was no alternative to the Social Democrats, even though about half the electorate hated them. The lack of a coherent Right let you-know-who do the uniting.

The problem with Austria is that the two major parties are too much alike, and that they ignore the concerns of the voters. I don't think Austrians are really right wing extremists, they just have no other options.

Austria isn't that important. They're not a superpower in the making, and they're not a barometer for Europe. It's a unique situation.

fabius.maximus.cunctator said...

Prof Althouse

Are you aware of how small the Austrian Army is ? Are there any weapons of mass destruction I am not aware of (other than Mozartkugeln for mass distraction and increase in waistline)?

Well, Herr Haider was one of the reasons I never was keen on visits to Austria as a tourist but that is it.

As to the right moment/ right place of crisis the Götterdämmerung of GWB and his cronies might provide better background for a realistic, Forsyth style thriller.

Davis Duke is spot on, btw, not poor Titus.

Ernesto Ariel Suárez said...

Ann Althouse said...
You don't think global financial collapse could be another "right time"? You don't see that you're in it until it's rather late.

10:17 AM

I see it, and I have been talking about it. Others don't see the parallels, and that's too sad. History should be a stronger subject, but humans universally refuse to learn it deeply enough to understand the past and the present.

It would be funny if it wasn't tragic how these seemingly democratic politicians, who at least try to get elected through a decent process, always seem to admire despots and their power.

And isn't it also interesting that they are generally examples of male virility, athletic accomplishment and prowess, charming and charismatic? Or so they are presented and marketed. Another parallel with the others.

As we say in Cuba, "man is the only being who can trip twice over the same rock"

Anonymous said...

Rather the opposite, I am afraid. Austrian Far Right has been split on the minutae of dogma and egos. Haider's detah will likely see their re-coalescence into a single party, with 25-30% of electorate's support, and thus the second biggest in the country.

Hitler was the figure that united the Far Right in Germany and by giving it populist appeal attracted some of the Right and Far Left. His death might have stopped the process, or at least robbed the emerging zeitgeist of the specifically anti-Semitic drive (other fascisctic movement eschewed them, after all - like Falange or Mussolini's crowd)

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

OK, let's look at dictatorships and how they start.

They're popular, often immensely so.

They quickly overrun institutional limits on their power.

K, this election, who's poised to take advantage of a huge majority in Congress, and empowered by a crises to take extraordinary action?

Not McCain...

I don't think we have an aspiring dictator, or that the system is weak enough to allow one. Or that we'd put up with it. But, if we want to talk about American dictator scenarios, there's only one believable possibility, isn't there?

KLDAVIS said...

If only the first plank of his platform had been to mandate 'Brakes Cut' lights...

George M. Spencer said...

The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.


History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.


Conclusion: We never learn the scheme of the rhyme?

rcocean said...
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rcocean said...

Good lord, can we stop with the stupid labeling of every Right wing European as another "Hitler" or "David Duke".

Haider was nothing more than a populist who thought the mass immigration of foreigners into his small, overpopulated country was a Bad idea.

And BTW, Austria while the home of Hitler was not the home of Nazism. Austria was taken over by Nazi Germany in 1938. Your average Austrian had no responsibility for WW II or the Holocaust.

KLDAVIS said...
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KLDAVIS said...

The propagation of the myth that Austria was an unwilling participant in Nazism is atrocious, and it's part of what has allowed the return of a very scary hard-right movement in the country. There is strong evidence to suggest they were annexed by their own popular will, and that many bought whole-hog into Hitler's philosophy. There was a large and separate Austrian SS before the Anschluss, which was unified into and the whole afterward.

Germans and Germany have flagellated themselves (perhaps to the point where it is no longer effective) for the blame they bare, while Austria has rewritten its national narrative to play the victim from the very moment WWII ended, allowing them to ignore and avoid any of the associated guilt or lessons.

George M. Spencer said...

All most people know about Austria is:

a) Liesl, Gretl, Brigitta, Kurt, Louisa, Marta, and Friedrich lived there.

b) You oughtn't leave your 16-year-old daughter alone at night in a gazebo during a rain storm with a 17-year-old boy.

Charlie Eklund said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

The Austrians should avoid guilt for WW II or the "Holocaust". They didn't vote Hitler in power, nor were there any Austrians in charge of the Nazi Government. Hitler left Austria in 1910 and served in the German Army. He had contempt for Austria. He was more an Austrian than Napoleon was a Corsican.

Austria had 8 million people, they were taken over - against there will -in April 1938 and 18 months later, WW II broke out.

Just because they spoke German, doesn't mean they are responsible for anything. Collective guilt is BS in any case.

chickelit said...

Original George:

Don't forget the governator.

California Über Alles

George M. Spencer said...

His father was interesting.

Steven said...

Doqz makes the point that I was just about to make.

The Freedom Party, under Heinz-Christian Strache, won 18% of the vote in the September election. Jorg Haider's Alliance for the Future of Austria won 11%. That's the biggest combined percentage for the far right in post-WW2 Austrian history.

And now the biggest problem to unity between the two, the personal clash between Strache and Haider, is gone. The skids are greased for Strache.

Cedarford said...

rcocean - You do need to spend just a little time on a history lookup. The Anschluss Plebiscite was internationally monitored, it was documented as a proper democratic election.

After the WWI Armistice and "victor's justice", the Germanic peoples inside and outside Germany were dealt a shit sandwich. And actively repressed. Revanchism was natural. And wildly popular in not just Germany, but in majority-Germanic places like Austria, The Sudetanland, Tyrol, the free city of Danzig under Pole rule. Hitler's interests and theirs, for self-determination under League of Nations principles, neatly dovetailed.

However, while history is important, it is also important not to draw false lessons. Just as "Munich!" is a false lesson in that people mow imagine it was a great point for "Great Powers to STOP Hitler" - despite it being wildly popular amongst the Sudetan Germans, the Slovenians, and Poles to end Czech oppression - it is a false lesson to apply "Nazi!" to present European political responses.

Europe faces a big Demographic challenge and open questioning about multiculturalism as a workable political philosophy, native's obligation to accept mass economic refugees, immigrants from
the 3rd World.

From Norway down to Spain, nations that never had significnt non-white populations now face explosive strains of social services, crime waves, non-native terrorism, and non-native opposition to the existing native European cultures.
It is natural that concern would lead to attraction of right wing parties that oppose Open Borders, crime rates double to triple what they were 30 years ago, and the wisdom of massive non-native population increases while the same Left that supports it also supports dropping national consumption of resources.

Naturally, the Left and the Transnationalists/Cosmopolitans will call the conservative response "Hitler-like". Naturally, the conservatives will reject that label.

former law student said...

The political spectra in Europe and the US do not line up; European parties are uniformly more liberal than their US counterparts. Nobody in Europe wants to privatize health care or do away with government old age pensions.

When Haider came to prominence a decade ago, the anti-immigration policies that gave him his "Far Right" reputation were indistinguishable from those favored by California Governor Pete Wilson, a moderate Republican.

LonewackoDotCom said...

I'm not familiar with his policies, but surely even Althouse is aware of how the MSM mischaracterizes things they don't support. For instance, "anti-immigrant" is a common smear tactic used when discussing the situation in the U.S.

And, regarding that "anti-European Union sentiment", see this plan that I'm sure Althouse has never heard of. Did you know that Bush and Canada are both working on helping the EU cross the Atlantic?

See all the other posts in that category for another issue that the MSM frequently lies about.

vbspurs said...

Wow, I just posted his photo in my "The Racist Meme" blog last night. This is very creepy.

I ended the post by saying:

"This race isn't about race, except to those who have a stake in using race to shame, silence and browbeat people. We see the ugly fruits borne out of that in Europe today, in terms of extremism and nationalism.

I beg you, do not make the same mistake in America."

That's when I posted the photo of Jörg Haider in traditional Carinthian lederhosen, putting his ballot into the box in last month's elections.

I cannot agree with Jdeeripper (for once) about his being somewhat right.

Nationalism. Xenophobia. Racism.

That's never right. Masquerade it any way you want, it's never ever right.

Am I glad he died? I wouldn't be "glad" even when Castro goes, but God in His wisdom knows what he is doing.


Ernesto Ariel Suárez said...

I agree with Victoria (surprise, surprise)on this. People right here are repeating the mistakes of old.

FLS, you offer the best example of "it couldn't happen here". I hope you are right, I really do. However, if at some point in your future life you have to recognize you were wrong, remember those who told you so.

Victoria, I was taught that one's never glad for or wishes someone else's death. It is very difficult in Castro's case, but I'm doing my best to avoid it.

vbspurs said...

Victoria, I was taught that one's never glad for or wishes someone else's death. It is very difficult in Castro's case, but I'm doing my best to avoid it.

Ernie, I was listening to "Cuban" radio here in Miami when it was thought Castro had died two years ago. People were piling on into the streets and celebrating.

An American friend of mine said that was disgraceful. I replied:

"Imagine that your country was taken over in every way imaginable by a charismatic leader who followed a populist dictator. You weren't allowed to leave it, and could only leave on rafts. The government indoctrinated the young, took over the airwaves, made you apply for permits (which were denied) for typewriters, controlled your media access, and set up neighbourhood Committees to spy on you, and report you if you deviated from Party line. You were forced to leave your country, and suddenly 50 years later, the guy who did all of that were dead. How would you feel?".

She was silent.

That's when I heard one of the Cuban callers, who happened to be a priest, say this (in Spanish, translated here):

"Do we wish, as Roman Catholics, anyone's death, no matter how vicious and evil that person was? No. All that we can wish is that he can be in La Gloria soon."

LOL. :)

It's untranslateable, of course. Or maybe you can try, Ernie!


Ernesto Ariel Suárez said...

"All that we can wish is that he meets The Glory of the Lord soon"

vbspurs said...

There you go. Good one! :)

Ernesto Ariel Suárez said...

When people like this die, I always say: Que D-s lo tenga donde le dé la gana.

And I always mean it.

blake said...

The problem with Austria is that the two major parties are too much alike, and that they ignore the concerns of the voters.

And that's different from here, how?

Anonymous said...


@ Ann Althouse


Sorry Ann but Hitler was **leftwing**. He was a leftist.

Don't you know the English translation of NAZI?

National Socialist Workers Party.

How the hell you get "rightwing" from that I would really like to know.

More proof that higher education isn't worth the cash. Joy.

1775OGG said...

Perhaps today's financial crisis is ripe for a demagogue to rise up. Would that person be called a "messiah," "The One," "Dear Leader," or simply "Our Leader?"

We got lucky during the 1930s when Huey Long disappeared from the scene and Father Coughlin's support was not sufficient to bring him into power.

The concern I have is whether Obama will become what his supporter Farrakhan wants him to be! Personally, while the potential is there, I do believe that the country is too divided now to allow Obama sway to demand our souls be used for his purposes or that we shall be forced to do the works he wants done.

Hugo and Raul would love to see this divide grow even wider as would Putin and China's leaders. That is a greater danger.

Eli Blake said...

As an aside, looking at both the recent humiliation of the country and the potential strength of the larger nation, I'd substitute 'Putin' as the biggest such threat that might be developing.

Winston Churchill wrote in Volume I of his History of the Second World War that in 1936 Franklin Roosevelt, at considerable political risk to himself (and clearly recognizing the growing threat in Germany) sent a letter to the British and the French governments proposing a sort of transatlantic alliance in which they would support both each other and smaller countries that might be at risk in an effort to 'contain' Germany. As Churchill wrote in describing the decision on the part of both governments to politely refuse the American offer, "the strong arm stretched across the Atlantic was unceremoniously slapped away."

I believe a key difference between the 1930's and today is that the world is more likely to work together to confront any such threat. That said, I agree that this is not a guaranteed outcome. A resurgent Russia (possibly with allies in other parts of the world) may require a 'containment' strategy which the United States, diminished as we are by our pyrhhic victory in Iraq and the loss in two key areas where the United States has traditionally led-- trustworthiness and moral leadership that accompanied it, is no longer in an adequate position to lead. We are stronger geopolitically and militarily than we were in 1936, to be sure, but just as in 1936 we are no longer the unquestioned leader of the world.

Eli Blake said...


If you look at Nazi and fascist doctrine it most clearly is right wing.

Racial purity and extreme nationalistic/militaristic issues aside, the program involved an aggressive partnership of the nation with large industries, who were free to profit accordingly. These companies (including I.G. Farben, which was heavily invested in by Sen. Prescott Bush and his family) were not even taxed very much or at all, and during the war were provided with slave labor to produce both war material and consumer goods more cheaply.

The origin of the name had to do with the six members who had founded the party before Hitler (he was member number seven) but he significantly revised its doctrine, both in terms of including the German racial doctrine and the economic doctrine in which industries were not to be nationalized but rather integrated into a plan to build a bigger and better army.

What made Nazism virulently efficient was frankly not state mandates but rather a capitalist system augmented by a Prussian efficiency.

Ernesto Ariel Suárez said...

Eli, to try to deny that Nazism was just another form of collectivist socialism is to again, try to hide the sunlight with a thumb. It was the most collectivist socialist society after the USSR. Stalin also had a program of extreme nationalism, substituting ethnic nationalism with a pan-Union, Soviet nationalism. They were the superior system. They were called to change the world. They were the happiest people (not peoples!) on Earth. All this, despite the fact that Stalin was ashamed of his Georgian origin and wanted to be Russian at all cost, and everyone with him. Look at the Soviet posters from WWII. The faces looking at you from them are not from the Caucasus or the Extreme East. They are all Russian!!

Stalin too had an aggressive policy of industrialization, new efficiency (people would be sent to the Gulag for being late to work so many times, true story)He too had an American millionaire on his side, Armand Hammer.

And what about Soviet military production? It was enormous! Even prior to WWII since Stalin was planning on attacking his favorite European dictator first. Did you forget that the two cooperated heavily during the 1930s with German officers training at the Frunze Academy and Soviet officers training with the Luftwaffe?

And most of, all, Eli, the collectivization. The transformation of people from individuals into amorphous masses of faceless "workes and peasants", "soviet people", "deutschen volks"

How can you not see this? Isn't this what the left in this same country has tried to do for at least the past 40 years? Don't they use the same terms? Haven't they tried this policies of collectivization through their identity politics that turn people into faceless members of a group?

Are you going to tell me next that Saddam and Nasser and the Azads are not/were not socialist??


Good morning to all.