Lazy Luddite Log


Night Of The Long Knives

I recently saw some memes suggesting that ‘fascists’ (however defined) only harm those that they say they will harm. Or it may have been phrased the other way around – if you belong to 'privileged’ demographics then you will be okay by the fascists. Rather than respond directly to such nonsense I decided to make use of a recent anniversary with the following ‘note’ on Facebook:

There is something both intriguing and disturbing in the way extremist movements will turn on themselves. A classic case of this happened in Germany 85 years ago.

On 30 June 1934 members of the Sturmabteilung (SA) Nazi Party paramilitary were murdered en-masse by the rival Schutzstaffel (SS) Nazi regime security service. This event helped consolidate the totalitarian nature of the Third Reich.

I have known this since my teens but only recently read that stray others were also executed during what was called Operation Hummingbird. Three of interest follow...

Gustav von Kahr - a retired conservative politician who had crushed the Nazi Beer Hall Putsch back in the 20s. This was a brutal instance of ‘payback’ ordered by Hitler for thwarting that past revolt.

Gregor Strasser - a leader of the socialist tendency within Nazism. Strasserism (popular among the SA) was suppressed to help secure military and industry support within the fledgling regime.

Willi Schmid - a music critic who was killed because of mistaken identity. In an act of perverse civility the Nazis later offered a formal apology to his widow for accidentally executing him.

Dabblers in populist and quasi-fascist ideology tend to do so from a deluded and selfish desire for security. History however warns that such politics brings disaster even to those for whom it promises the world.

My warning was addressed to those tempted by fascism. But my flist is hardly that ideologically diverse. The ahistorical political memes that had provoked my writing had been shared by anti-fascists. What sense is there in diluting our image of fascism by limiting its list of potential victims? A better and more accurate message to offer is that fascism can and will harm anybody.