Rebuilding die Wolfsschanze Could Save Liberalism
Even from its very beginnings, liberalism has battled to uphold its own ideals about freedom of thought and expression. When the French Revolution, the font of free-thinking, tolerant, liberal society overthrew feudalism, the liberal revolutionaries were guilty of using violence to suppress a competing set of ideas. Instead of allowing feudalism to play itself out for another thousand years whilst vigorously criticising it in print, liberals forced feudalism out of power and decapitated enough nobles to ensure it would never reoccur.
This first foray into political oppression set a dark precedent for liberals everywhere, whose true goals – the protection of free thought and expression – are in obvious conflict with the French Revolution and its suppression of feudalism and its advocates. The modern equivalents – the death sentence recently handed down to Dylan Roof, the neo-Nazi white supremacist who killed nine people in his attack on a black church; the firebombing of a Republican campaign headquarters in North Carolina – continue this betrayal of liberalism and its dream of a free society.
Thankfully, the reaction to the Republican HQ firebombing was in the best spirit of liberalism, with former Democrat foes raising thousands of dollars to repair and rebuild the damaged Republican HQ. I can only urge a similar reaction to Roof’s sentencing. However vile, however loathsome Roof and his ideas, we should always take the high road and allow those ideas to be defeated by better ideas. When somebody goes on an inhuman rampage, killing innocent people because of their ethnicity and showing zero remorse for their actions, we should debate them, not have them put down like a demented animal.
However, an even greater historical wrong than Roof’s case needs righting. Another failure of liberal tolerance burns even hotter, another wrong that must be righted. It is my pleasure to announce our intention to rebuild the Wolfsschanze, and to put out the call for volunteers to help with our restoration effort. Part time home and command centre for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi high command, the Wolfsschanze was dynamited by retreating SS soldiers before it could be captured by the advancing Soviet Army. The destruction of the Wolfsschanze, much like the firebombing of the Republican campaign headquarters in North Carolina, and the sentencing of Dylan Roof, was a betrayal of liberal values that we cannot continue to ignore. Let me explain.
The Nazis may have invaded the USSR and killed 30 million people – yes, we are all appalled by these statistics. But even more appalling was the Soviet response. In resisting the Nazi invasion for 4 long years and ultimately defeating Nazi Germany the USSR got in the way of the marketplace of ideas. To make things worse, the Soviet leadership went on a spree of authoritarian thought control post-war by banning fascist political activity in the segment of Germany they conquered.
This remains perhaps the blackest mark on communism: its key role in the defeat and suppression of European fascism. In this crime, the USA and Great Britain, as well as the other Allied nations, are complicit (though by hiring hundreds of former Nazis into their intelligence services, they at least allowed Nazis a role in post-war civil society).
The truest way to oppose fascism and its German subculture Nazism would have been to simply allow them to run riot over the globe. Eventually, once they were done killing everyone who wasn’t a white heterosexual conservative, people would have realised what a terrible idea it was to let Hitler run the country. This would have inevitably lead to genuine democratic change from within. Nazism would have been defeated as an idea, not by brute force. As it stands, the injustice done to the Nazis – however much we may dislike the Nazis, which we all surely do – is still an embarrassment for liberal democracy. Fighting fascists – in the street or on the battlefield – makes you just as bad as Nazis, who are themselves dedicated to suppressing freedom of thought and expression.
If we simply meet force with force, then we give up on the promise of our democracies. We become just as bad as the fascists. We must do better. When someone firebombs a Republican campaign office, we empty our pockets to help rebuild them. When a twisted neo-Nazi is sentenced to death, we campaign for lighter sentencing and a televised debate with Sam Harris. If our political opponents win we take the high road and respect their victory – unless we’re talking about Trump, because Trump was obviously a failure of democracy and he’s a Russian mole. But that’s a special case.
Currently we are busy clearing the dense forest that has overgrown the Adolf Hitler-Strasse, the main road leading into the Wolfsschanze site. Volunteers are asked to head to the Joseph Goebbels-Platz where refreshments will be served. I look forward to the weeks to come.