Posts Tagged ‘Nazi Germany’

In 1968, Mel Brooks won an Academy Award for best original screenplay for what might be the funniest comedy ever made, The Producers. Its most stunning moments came in the opening number of the faux-Broadway musical “Springtime for Hitler”; unfortunately, if you change a very few of the words in its lyrics the song is all too relevant today. (Check out the first stanza and substitute “USA” for the first word, and you’ll see what I mean.)

The lyrics from the spoken word / tap dance interlude seem even more relevant:

Don’t be stupid
Be a smarty
Come and join
The Grand Old Party

(as I’m sure many of Trump’s above-pictured “fine people” have done)

We put up our 1,000th post about three weeks ago. Since then, we’ve been looking through everything we’ve posted, and have been putting up “best of” lists in our most popular categories.

This is the ninth of our first-1,000 “best of” lists. We’ve already posted the Science Fiction, HumorMusicInterviews, AtheismEconomics, Science/Skepticism, and Addictions lists, and will shortly be putting up our final “best of”: Religion.

Here, we’ve folded three categories (Anarchism, Libertarianism, and Politics) into this post because of the relative paucity of posts on Anarchism and Libertarianism. We hope you’ll enjoy at least some of these posts.





Dominion, by C.J. Sansom(Dominion, by C.J Samson. New York: Mulholland, 2014, 629 pp., $28.00)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon


Move over Harry Turtledove, there’s a new contender for best alternate-history novelist.

C.J. Sansom’s massive Dominion looks at what might have happened (as Samson thinks would have happened, as he mentions in his “Historical Note”) if Churchill had not become British prime minister in May 1940, the appeasement faction of the Conservative Party had remained in power, and had made peace with Germany during or immediately following the fall of France. In broad terms, that would likely have meant (as it does in the novel) that Britain would have been dominated by Germany, its foreign policy allied with Germany’s, that the British government would have become increasingly authoritarian, to the point of stealing elections, spying on its citizens, and violently suppressing dissent, and that it would have engaged in increasingly odious anti-semitism.

Against this background, Samson’s protagonist, career civil servant David Fitzgerald, is recruited and begins spying for the resistance. Sansom does a fine job of showing how the need for secrecy and the constant fear of detection erode both Fitzgerald’s sense of well-being and his personal relationships. Things grow even tenser when an old college friend, Frank, a geologist, learns atomic secrets from his physicist drunken lout of a brother who’s working on neutral America’s atomic bomb project. The rest of the novel concerns the resistance’s attempts to get Frank out of the country and Special Branch’s efforts, directed by the Gestapo, to seize Frank and torture the information out of him.

Throughout, Dominion is almost flawless. Sansom really did his homework for this one, and it shows. His descriptions of 1940s and 1950s Britain seem note perfect, as do his descriptions of the workings of a resistance cell (modeled on the French resistance during WWII). The dialogue is crisp and natural sounding. (Normal speech is a sprawling mess. The trick with dialogue is to make it sound natural without its being natural.) And all of the characters, both male and female, are believable–often all too believable. They range from a brilliant German Gestapo agent, who commits barbaric acts without enjoying them, because he believes they’re necessary, to a working class Scottish communist who clings to a rosy picture of Stalin’s Russia, despite all evidence to the contrary, to an aging, rapidly declining but still heroic Winston Churchill.

The plot unfolds with an awful inevitability. If the old bit of writing advice, put your characters through absolute hell, is correct–and it usually is–Sansom succeeds brilliantly. You end up caring about his characters, and often end up saying to yourself, sometimes 50 or 100 pages before events unfold, “Please don’t let that happen!”

I only found three weak points in the entire book. One is minor: while I was reading the very short portion on radio surveillance, I found myself going, “No, that’s not right. This guy is keeping this short and general to gloss over his ignorance of the subject. Even his generalizations are off.” But most readers would never notice this. (Years and years ago, I worked as a “broadcast engineer”–that is, a technician–at radio and TV stations; broadcast engineers are only a bit more engineerlike than workers doing another job I held ages ago: “sanitation engineer.”) It turned out that I was right about this. In his notes following the conclusion of the text, Sansom says that he’s almost entirely ignorant about radio, and thanks an expert for advice on the subject. Evidently, it was bad advice.

The second problem is more serious. While searching Frank’s house prior to its being searched by Special Branch and the Gestapo, David and two other members of his resistance cell pull a boner that no reasonably security conscious person would likely pull, let alone three security conscious people. That boner turns out to be crucial, though I doubt that it would bother other readers as much as it bothered me.

Finally, and most crucially, the turning point of the novel–Frank’s brief conversation with his drunken brother–seems dubious. It’s hard to buy that a low- or mid-ranking physicist could give crucial information to a nonphysicist in a drunken rant only lasting a minute or two. But grant this premise, and everything else falls into place.  Beautifully.

Dominion is tense and gripping from first page to last. It could well be the best alternate-history novel I’ve ever read.

Highly recommended.

* * *

Reviewer Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia.

Free Radicals front cover


by Chaz Bufe

References to fascism abound in American political discourse. Unfortunately, most of those using the term wouldn’t recognize fascism if it bit ’em on the ass, and use it as a catch-all pejorative for anything or anyone they dislike. But the term does have a specific meaning.

Very briefly, as exemplified in Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, it’s an extreme right political-economic system (which Mussolini dubbed “the corporate state”), the key features of which are strident nationalism, militarism and military worship, a one-party state, a dictatorial leader with a personality cult, a capitalist economic system integrated with state institutions (to the mutual benefit of capitalists and fascist politicians), suppression of independent unions, suppression of civil liberties and all forms of political opposition, and an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy.

But getting to the headline topic, just how similar is the present-day U.S. to Nazi Germany? Let’s look at specifics:


Corporate Capitalist Domination

  • Nazi Germany: Check. The German industrialists (notably the Krup armaments company) were key Hitler backers.
  • U.S.: Check. Obama’s primary 2008 backers were Wall Street firms and the pharmaceutical companies; Bush/Cheney’s were the energy companies’ boys, etc.


  • Nazi Germany: The Nazis  constructed the world’s most powerful military in six years (1933-1939)
  • U.S.: U.S. military spending currently accounts for 43% of the world’s military spending, which is more than the next than the military spending of the next ten countries combined.

Military Worship

  • Nazi Germany: Do I really need to cite examples?
  • U.S.: “Support our troops!” “Our heroes.” Tune in to almost any baseball broadcast for abundant examples; this worship even extends to those on what passes for the left in the United States: Michael Moore, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow.

Military Aggression

  • Nazi Germany: “Lebensraum”–you know the rest.
  • U.S.: To cite only examples from the last half century where there were significant numbers of “boots on the ground,” Vietnam (1959-1973), the Dominican Republic (1965), Cambodia (1970), Grenada (1983), Panama (1988-1990), Kuwait/Iraq (1991), Afghanistan (2001-present), Iraq (2003-2011).

Incarceration Rates

  • Nazi Germany: The Nazis built concentration camps holding (and exterminating) millions.
  • U.S.: In comparison, the U.S. merely has by far the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world, with only Russia’s rate being anywhere near.

Justice System

  • Nazi Germany: The Nazis had a three-tiered “justice” system: one for the rich and powerful (who could get away with virtually anything); a second for the average citizen; a third for despised minorities and political foes.
  • U.S.: Obama’s “Justice” Department hasn’t even investigated the largest financial fraud in world history that led to the 2008 crash; prosecutors routinely pile on charges against average citizens to blackmail them into plea bargaining and pleading guilty to charges of which they’re not guilty; and the Obama Administration viciously goes after whistleblowers and reporters, who have exposed its wrongdoing–Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, James Risen, et al.–with a meat axe.

Suppression of Unions

  • Nazi Germany: In Nazi Germany, the government tightly controlled the unions.
  • U.S.: In the U.S., the government merely suppresses strikes when “in the national interest” and allows corporations to crush union organizing drives by firing anyone who dares to attempt to organize.

Free Speech

  • Nazi Germany: Total suppression of free speech; direct government control of the media.
  • U.S.: Corporate control of the media. Suppression of free speech when it shows the faintest sign of threatening the government or the corporations that control the government. Obama’s war on whistleblowers and reporters is only the latest example.

Other Civil Liberties

  • Nazi Germany: Total suppression.
  • U.S.: Suppression when individuals exercising those liberties show the faintest sign of threatening the government or the corporations that control the government. The coordinated suppression (by the FBI, local governments, and corporate security agencies) of the Occupy Movement nationwide is the latest large-scale example.

Government Spying

  • Nazi Germany: The government had a massive eavesdropping operation. No citizen was safe from government scrutiny.
  • U.S.: Obama’s NSA makes the Nazis look like amateurs.

Free Elections

  • Nazi Germany: Total suppression
  • U.S.: The opportunity to vote for the millionaire representatives (over halfof congress at last count) of the two wings of the property party: one wing being authoritarian, corporate-servant, crazy theofascists (yes, they meet the definition), the other wing being merely authoritarian corporate servants who routinely betray those who elect them.

Yes, there are very significant differences between Nazi Germany and the U.S. But there are also significant similarities.