Historically, governments have transitioned from democracy to more dangerous forms of government with either the explicit or complicit approval of the people. It is important to understand how this occurs to avoid such transitions from occurring in future. I have outlined and paralleled one example, the transition from Germany’s democratic republic to a dictatorship. Recommended research to undertake for the reader is the rise of the Soviet Union also.
Germany’s transition to a Dictatorship 1932-1934
Whilst not immediately pertinent, it should be noted that Germany’s 1932 election required two elections – the first between 4 candidates and the second between the top 3 candidates. This was due to a lack of a majority vote in the first election. Paul von Hindenburg won the second election with 53% of the vote; Hitler came second with 36.8%.
Hindenburg appointed Franz von Popen as chancellor of Germany who immediately dissolved the national congress (Reichstag) and called for new elections. This would be the third legislative election in 5 months. This next section is extremely important:
Hitler, to receive more votes, created chaos in the streets which included political violence and murder. The chaos was of the extent that martial law was enacted in Berlin. Hitler used this upset to draw larger crowds and won 230 seats in the Reichstag in July 1932, making it Germany’s largest political part despite falling short of holding the majority of the 608 seats. It should be noted at this point that Hitler’s party was called the National Socialist Party.
On February 1933 the Reichstag was set alight, the day after the Prussian government announced that it had found communist publications. During extreme national emergencies people are more willing to surrender their liberties in return for securities. Understanding this, Hitler persuaded Hindenburg to issue a decree entitled “For the Protection of the People and the State”. This decree suspended certain constitutional guarantees which detailed:
Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William Shirer
Two weeks after the Reichstag was burned, Hitler obtained the two-thirds majority that was required for him to gain the power to suspend the German constitution. In addition to this suspension, Schutzhaft was implemented – a concept that allowed arrest and incarceration without being charged or engaging in a criminal offence.
In 1934, Hindenburg died and Hitler became Fuhrer, he extended the emergency powers that were granted to him when the constitution was suspended and in so doing, consolidated his power over the country as dictator. Every 4 years hence he would extend his emergency powers, it would be signed by the people he had placed in the government and he would then continue his rule.
Parallels to today’s society.
Before continuing to read, I would encourage you to form your own opinions and identify any parallels you see between today’s political situation and what has occurred historically. I would encourage you also to research the Soviet Union’s rise to authority and how they defended they’re authority through Marxist ideology. What shall commence is the author’s opinion, what has been written in previous paragraphs is historically accurate.
The initial parallel we should contend with is that Hitler created chaos in the streets of Germany. When elections are either occurring or soon to occur, what actions do the running party members undertake? Do they encourage violence, or refuse to disavow violence in certain groups? Do they pander to certain groups of people? And what activities are these groups undergoing?
A parallel that can be seen is the “Defund the Police” movement that occurred/is occurring in the United States of America. Is the removal of a peace-keeping authority who’s main role is to aid people a viable and credible movement? What occurs when political figures agree to this movement? Since the defunding of the police has been enacted in some American States, an overall increase in crime and violence can be seen in these areas. Is the “Defund the Police” movement therefore viable? I would argue no.
That does not mean that police should be held accountable for their actions, especially where a death or serious injury occurs. However, increased accountability doesn’t imply a decrease in the police force’s manpower or abilities.
It should be noted which states agreed with the movement, the actions they undertook to appeal to members of this movement and the motives behind their activities. Did their popularity increase when they appealed to these members of the public? Was that sustained? For how long? And did their opinions change when public favour turned? All questions that should be researched and answered for yourself.
A second parallel is the declaration of a national emergency, which the population agreed with, that resulted in the decrease in public liberty. Currently, the coronavirus pandemic is being experienced by globally. During this time many countries/states/nations have enacted laws and enforcements to provide greater security to their people at the cost of the public’s liberty. An example of this circumstance is the current Victorian lockdown. Victoria, at the point of writing, is experiencing very few numbers of cases of the COVID virus, consistently below 15 daily cases – at the day of writing 1 new case was discovered within the last 24hrs. However, their lockdown is within the top 5 most stringent lockdowns in all the world. The question is why?
The economy is suffering, businesses are closing down permanently and their is a significant deterioration in the population’s mental health. Other Australian states have experienced similar or greater cases yet do not have such stringent measures. Other countries are experiencing over 6,000 cases and are stating that they are not wanting to engage in a general lockdown. So the question is why, when the Victorian population has less than 100x the amount of cases as Italy are they suffering from lockdown and is there a political reason for this extended lockdown. Given the emergency power that the Victorian Premier had extended for a 6-month period and the Omnibus Bill that I have mentioned in a previous post it seems as though there may be a political reason for the extended lockdown they are experiencing. What that may be, is entirely unknown at this point.
The third parallel, again in Victoria, is the Schutzhaft. The Victorian Omnibus bill (mentioned in a previous post) that was amended by SARC initially stated that individuals could be detained if it was “reasonably believed” that they might not be compliant with COVID regulations. This idea is synonymous with the Schutzhaft‘s aims.
Given these parallels, the population should be keeping their eyes open to what is occurring and whether political figures are using or abusing the pandemic for personal gain. Trust in political figures should be carefully placed, and the population should ensure that fear does not cause them to relinquish their liberties without careful consideration.