Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back to the 1930s

It's become a bit of a commonplace - at least on economics blogs - to compare the mess we're currently in to the Great Depression of the 1930s. There are good reasons for making the comparison. But what about the politics? Here and there people have alluded to the politics of the Depression and its contribution to the rise of Nazism and Fascism. Mostly though it is assumed that the consequences of prolonged economic crisis will be different.

I'm beginning to wonder if we can make that assumption. The events in Norway are scary enough, but far more terrifying are some of the reactions to them. In the US Glenn Beck likened the teenagers at the Labor Party summer camp to the Hitler Youth. OK, the man's now unemployed and needs publicity, but... In Italy, Vittorio Feltri, one of Berlusconi's longstanding attack dogs, accused the victims on Uloya island of being 'incapable' and 'selfish' in their inability to stop the killing.

Some moral line is being crossed here. The question is: how many others will follow the lead of these two crypto-fascists? In a healthy democracy, these people would never work again as journalists. But with powerful business interests behind them, who knows? Beck is probably finished, but Feltri will remain, polluting the Italian political environment, as long as his boss can hang on to power.