Lurching to a new Weimar

Unlike pre-war Germany, the right does not dominate the country’s corporate, media and technological establishment. These have, with a nudge from Trump, largely coalesced around the Democratic Party. Yet the movement of powerful and wealthy individuals has failed, as in the past, to moderate the opposition, but has instead become increasingly strident.

Some antics of the current “resistance” — notably the idea of harassing administration supporters with their families, the shouting down or banning of speakers, the brutal Antifa — reprises the tactics of the Communists in Germany, or the Red Guards under Mao. Like the Nazis, the Communists took to the streets and denounced democracy, adding to the atmosphere that allowed the Nazis to proclaim themselves the only real alternative to a Bolshevist coup.

Authoritarianism among the cultured and highly educated, who generally revile Trump, is nothing new. Many students today are indoctrinated in social justice but not civics. They are depressingly dismissive of the idea of free speech. Much the same occurred in Germany, where the university became something of a Nazi stronghold. Similarly, many artists backed Hitler’s efforts to “cleanse” German culture. In the first months of the regime, notes one historian, “testimonials of loyalty rained down upon it unrequested”.