Saturday, September 17, 2011
Work Makes You Free!
Above each of their labor camps the German Nazis installed a sign that read "Arbeit Macht Frei," or "Work Makes You Free." The Nazis believed that certain people were good only for slave labor, and the concentration camps that were not designed as extermination camps were a source for super low-cost labor for German industry, where no regulations and no unions would interfere with eeking out every last drop of productive energy for corporate profit. As everyone knows, the Nazis believed that non "Aryans" like Jews and Roma (so-called Gypsies) were inferiors, parasites on the society of actual German citizenry. Of course "Work Makes You Free" was also a lie. There was no exit intended from the labor camps.
Which brings us to the clip below from right-wing Iowa Republican congressman Steve King below.
A few choice excerpts: "John Smith said, clear back then in the 1600s, No work, no eat. And that's part of the New Testament... We can't have a nation of slackers... and borrow money to pay the welfare of people who won't work."
What a horrifying and fascinating speech: utterly revealing about the mindset of the Republicans and their "tea party" fascists. He seems to be implying that the unemployment crisis is somehow voluntary, due to laziness. This is absolute dog whistle racist code speech. Which he even tries to justify with a Bible quote, for crissake. Who exactly is he talking about? This is standard white Republican code for the masses of blacks and hispanics who, with their insidious plots like ACORN, they imagine, actually caused the economic crisis.
You can see that he doesn't really believe that unemployment is a real problem, and that in some fundamental way he opposes social programs like unemployment compensation and foodstamps. This is what the Republicans mean when they talk about "job-killing regulations": they mean the regulation to pay a living wage and the regulation to care for the citizenry when the economy is in crisis. They believe that if all the "slackers" would get off their asses and work for less than minimum wage, the job crisis would be over.
Hmm. What did they have back in the 1600s that we don't have today? Perhaps there's a wise solution there? Serfdom? Indentured servitude? SLAVERY? Let's take America back...to 1650! The politics of Republicans like King may not be short steps from the institution of Nazi-style repression and labor camps, but it is indeed short steps away from the ideological justification for them.
Tip on Steve King thanks to Joe.My.God. "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign at Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, photo by me.