February 28, 2015




The wildly exaggerated threat of so-called Islamic terrorism is being shamelessly used by some western governments to boost their flagging fortunes at a time of economic malaise.


Marketing fear is a sure-fire political ploy, as the Bush administration showed.  But if you think promotion of “terrorism” hysteria in order to curtail democratic freedoms is something new, have a look at Germany, 1933.


In that year, Germany’s democratic Weimar republic was foundering under economic depression, mass unemployment and raging hyper-inflation. The Reichstag, or parliament, was deadlocked between bitterly feuding parties, including the minority  National Socialists, led by Adolf Hitler, the Catholics, Socialists, and Communists.  


In Berlin, on the night of February 23, 1933, the Reichstag was burned down by a massive fire set by an arsonist. A young Dutch Communist found on the premises was charged with the arson attack.  Germany was outraged and horrified by the crime – as much as was America after 9/11. 


The Communists, of course, quickly blamed the National Socialists (or Nazis, for short).  But the most likely culprit was indeed the Dutch Communist. 


Five days later, Weimar President Paul Hindenberg, a conservative and war hero, signed a new act known as the Reichstag Fire Decree that suspended free speech and assembly and many legal protections.  It gave government the right to arrest “terrorists” under a state of emergency. 


In early March, Hitler promulgated the Enabling Act that used the threat of so-called “terrorism” to give him virtual dictatorial powers.  This coup was made possible by the support of the conservative Catholic Party which, having seen the slaughter of Catholics in Russia and Ukraine by Communists, decided the Nazis were a lesser evil than the  Communists.  


A few weeks later, arrests of Socialists, Communists and Jews began.  Hitler had come to near absolute power by democratic means thanks to national hysteria and fear over so-called terrorism, an utterly meaningless but evocative propaganda term.   


The Weimar republic was swept away – perfectly legally – within months.  Germans, stampeded by claims of “terrorism,” disgusted by their politicians,  did not  mourn Weimar.  


Today, we see a number of western democratic governments using some of these same shameless scare tactics to drive their nations to the right and, in some cases, keep their leaders in power.


The Charlie Hebdo spectacle in Paris was an egregious  example.  Before the Paris shootings, bedraggled President Francois Holland’s popularity rates had fallen to a microscopic 8%. After the giant “free speech” jamboree in Paris, his ratings have skyrocketed to close to 50%.   In the case of France, “free speech” meant the right to attack and mock Muslims.  


Isolated criminal acts by mentally unhinged men in Canada, Denmark,  and Australia were similarly inflated into massive national scares that boosted previously unpopular governments assailed by economic problems.  So too were “plots” concocted by security police using dimwits or youngsters.  Just as al-Qaida fear was fizzling out, along came ISIS to scare the daylights out of westerners.


We must be very careful.  Islamophobia and terror hysteria fit worryingly into the template created by former Columbia University Professor Robert Paxton in his brilliant analysis, “The Anatomy of Fascism.”


Paxton sharply defines fascism, a dreadfully over and misused term, as distinct from conservative regimes.  For example, he terms 1930’s Italy and Germany as Fascist states, but Franco’s Spain as conservative.  


Hallmarks of fascism:


  • “a sense of  overwhelming crisis beyond reach of any traditional solutions;
  • belief that one’s group is a victim,  a sentiment that justifies any action without legal or moral limits, against its internal and external foes;
  • need for authority by natural leaders (always male) culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s destiny; and superiority of his instincts over abstract and universal reason.”


Other traits of Fascism:  militarism and historical triumphalism; glorification of war as a purification and nation-building process.   


Intense propaganda about inflated military “heroes.”  Sending small numbers of troops or warplanes to fight or bomb miscreant Arabs in the Mideast is a reliable Viagra for small nations with feeble military budgets. 


If patriotism and nationalism are the last refuge of scoundrels, they are also the first platform of fools.


We see the right demonizing enemies who supposedly threaten the entire nation, be they anarchists, socialists, Masons, communists, Jews, or Muslims.  Purging the media of free-thinking journalists is a basic step. This has happened in the US and Canada.


In Paxton’s words, “mobilizing passions…form the emotional lava that set Fascism’s foundations.”  To see this, just look at fans of Clint Eastwood’s loathsome “American Sniper” film. A fascist fiesta for low-IQ Americans.  


ISIS is another example of a small but murderous group whose reach and danger has been wildly hyper-inflated for western domestic political reasons.  Fanatical, adept at public relations and social media, ISIS has stolen the limelight from al-Qaida and gladdened the hearts of western militarists, hard rightists, and arms makers. 


In fact, ISIS appears to go out of its way to make itself hateful and repulsive to westerners.  But the danger it poses outside the Mideast is so far negligible.  Before we launch any more crusades against ISIS, let’s be aware that this bunch of killers originated in the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and was primarily financed by Saudis.   ISIS thrives in the chaos and ruins caused by George W. Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq and later campaign to subvert Syria. 


George W. Bush was re-elected thanks to Midwestern soccer moms who feared Osama bin Laden was about to swoop down from the Hindu Kush and make off with their little Johnnies. 


Something similar is happening again in North America, Australia and New Zealand.  Many fear ISIS is outside Peoria or Winnipeg.  Scared people readily accept dictators.


Copyright  Eric S. Margolis 2015










This post is in: Al-Qaida, Australia, Canada, History, ISIS, USA


  1. What to me is the most interesting here in Canada is the fact that we have had 3 so called “terrorist attacks” but also have had 3 separate incidents in which 7 police were shot and killed a planned Valentines Day mass shooting thwarted, and a man arrested for allegedly making chemical weapons in a hotel, and a kid trying to take a pipe bomb on a plane, but because these were all done by members of the Christian white our government and the mindless sheep in the media don’t classify them as terrorist events. In fact in the bomb incident the airport security guy gave the kid back his bomb.

    Imagine the world’s reaction if the people were Muslims.

  2. KeninCanada says:

    See also “Terror in the Mind of God” by Mark Juergensmeyer.
    He interviewed terrorists of all stripes and denominations and found that regardless of religion or political beliefs, they are all engaged in what he calls ‘Cosmic War’. This is defined as a great battle between good and evil in which no one is innocent. Is it ok to kill children? yes because they grow up to become your enemy. Is it ok to kill women? yes because they give birth to your enemy. Essentially these people believe they are in an existential war for the survival of their culture, people or civilization.
    All the great religions oppose cosmic war. Islam explicitly forbids it by identifying ‘the innocent’. Judo-Christianity give an example of when someone (I don’t remember his name) killed an entire city: men, women, children, cattle, dogs, everything. He was then consumed with guilt and the lesson was placed in the old testament.
    Finally, to understand how people become violent, read Prof Lonnie Athens of Seaton Hall University. His theory of violentization explains how cosmic war is what he calls a ‘physically defensive’ interpretation. Some of his books are quite expensive so you can do what I did, get a library card and ask the library to buy them.

  3. I’m increasingly observing that people sense what is going on, but are afraid to step out of line. Even though they feel moral outrage. And now I read that Berliners went through this phase as well.

  4. I’ve always considered Fascists as an ultra-conservative group that was duly elected in a ‘democratic’ manner… I use the single quotes in democratic as a distinction of a democracy that differs from my concept…
    I consider America and Canada to be fascist states.
    The Swiss have what approaches a democratic government, and there is an active participation of those that did the voting. Most Western governments are democratic in name only and there is little likelihood that the common person is reflected in the actions of the government, duly elected.
    In your hallmark… you might have included a clearly identifiable ‘enemy’.
    I think the mess in the Middle East was an attempt to ‘align oil properties’ or maybe align sovereign states that went terribly wrong. This was a consequence of the American stupidity of not understanding anything beyond their noses. They had no understanding or appreciation for the people they were dealing with.
    The actions of the West will not provide a solution, and, I’m not sure one presently exists that won’t take decades to correct. It will not be effected by the current approach. Using radical in the truest sense, a radical solution must be undertaken.
    According to the fear mongers, even shopping centres, in Canada, are targets… I wonder why they would even consider Canada as a target; we used to be a country that was respected, and not a tail of the American dog!
    We have lost our stature and cannot even offer a rational solution… even if correct and our current government does not have the wherewithal to effect a solution.

  5. This wonderfully and factually written article by Mr. Margolis proves again…beyond a shadow of a doubt…the power of propaganda.I am in agreement 100% that free thinking journalists are being targeted or marked by their respective governments and any dirt will be used against them…even if they are lies (as is the case mostly),just to discredit them.We have enough small minded sheep citizens who rarely question what they are told by governments or any authority,for that matter,just to tighten any screws against honest people and journalists who dare speak the truth or anything close to it.

    I have mentioned this over and over again,just keep people’s bellies full and their fridge full of beer,and everything else becomes unimportant.There obviously is an exception to those….but they are in the vast minority.All one has to do is follow any war,uprising etc.that has happened in the past….and still happening and you will find greed as the ONLY cause.The secret to this is to keep on telling people a lie(s) over and over again…and they will eventually believe it.

    I say kudos to all those free thinking journalists who knowingly put themselves into a marked position simply…..by telling the truth.Mr. Margolis is one of those who has enough fortitude to spill the beans….and I thank him and others for doing so.

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