Lessons from Weimar Germany - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Inter-war period (1919-1938), Russian civil war (1917–1921) and other non World War topics (1914-1945).
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#14816292
I've recently been doing some reading on the political history of Weimar Germany (such histories are surprisingly hard to find--most history done on Weimar Germany is purely cultural). In any case, it piqued my interest because the recent election has gotten me interested in democratic backsliding and how authoritarians come to power. What are the specific reasons you think the Weimar Republic collapsed? For me, it's the following:

    1. The Reichwehr's commitment to advancing its own political agenda over the continued existence of the Republic, especially as manifested in its harsher treatment of leftist elements and gentler treatment of rightist elements.
    2. The existence of Article 48, which allowed for the suspension of the Reichstag.
    3. The collusion of center-right parties with far-right, antirepublican parties (see, e.g., von Papen).
    4. Infighting on the left, particularly between the KPD and the SPD.
    5. French aggression in attempting to enforce the Treaty of Versailles.
    6. The inaccurate perception by centrists that the left posed a greater threat to the Republic than the right.

To what extent do you see these elements playing out in the United States or other nations? Certainly we are seeing the rise of the far-right in the United States and elsewhere--for example, the Front National made it to the run-off election for the first time since 2002, the election of Donald Trump in the United States, Brexit and the rise of UKIP, and so on. Both in the United States and the UK, center-right elements have continued to cooperate with far-right elements. There is also substantial infighting on the left, particularly on the part of centrist elements which are trying to suppress the center-left and left.
#14816318
There is a certain amount of parallel.

On the left, the term, "late capitalism," is again making a third-period kind of argument on the one hand and a renewal in the criticism of capitalism on the other.

On the right, the term Weimerica is underlining their desire for increased paramiliterism and scary conspiracy theories about a small global class of people in banking and entertainment that are also secretly communists bent on destroying white people.

But history isn't a circle, but a spiral. It is not the exact same, any more than Weimar Germany was like the Second Republic in France.

I'm still spinning it in my head, but the temptation must not be to draw superficial parallels but what the structural issues are.
#14816319
The Immortal Goon wrote:There is a certain amount of parallel.

On the left, the term, "late capitalism," is again making a third-period kind of argument on the one hand and a renewal in the criticism of capitalism on the other.

On the right, the term Weimerica is underlining their desire for increased paramiliterism and scary conspiracy theories about a small global class of people in banking and entertainment that are also secretly communists bent on destroying white people.

But history isn't a circle, but a spiral. It is not the exact same, any more than Weimar Germany was like the Second Republic in France.

I'm still spinning it in my head, but the temptation must not be to draw superficial parallels but what the structural issues are.


Agreed--I think it's folly to pretend that the two periods are the same; but that's not to say that there is nothing to learn from it. We must look at discrete parallels, for example the growing polarization and infighting on the center-left, and consider how those parallels created a situation that enabled the crumbling of the republic.

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