Saturday, July 13, 2019

History Essay: Why Fascists and Racists Never Win Their Wars

Hello ladies and gentlemen, I'm back after a very, very long break.

I'm not going to get into everything I've done since I last posted since... December 2017. Ohh...

Anyway, today I'm going to write a short essay on, as you can tell from the title, on why Fascists and Racists never win in real life, or at least in the long wars and in the long term in general. And I mean capital F and R Fascists and Racists, those that are so blinded by their hatred and perceived superiority that they couldn't comprehend giving others a chance, or even to use them to their greatest effectiveness. I classify lowercase r racists as more the "Well, they are different, and I don't like them, but they can fire a gun or make stuff, so I'll use them." Still not good by any stretch of the imagination, and who still exist today, but much, much better than the Nazis.

This thought as come from a book I've been re-reading recently, Why The Allies Won by Richard Overy. It's a very well written book that dispels a lot of the myths of the war, such as the sheer amount of resources and production that the Allies had on their side allowed them to win. It was more that the Allies managed to reform their economies, tactics and worked together as well as they could, and did so very quickly, while the Axis, especially German, mismanagement of their resources, failure to adapt as their foes did, and the almost constant backstabbing and squabbling of the upper leadership that Hitler couldn't, or wouldn't control.

But there is another aspect that comes up time and again in the book, and can be further extrapolated to other historical entities and time periods, to show why the Fascists and Racists never win their big wars... usually.

And that is, well, their racism.

When Hitler invaded the USSR, his soldiers were greeted as liberators, especially in the Ukraine. They believed they had been freed from the cruelty of the Soviet Union and Stalin's paranoia and megalomania, the death and destruction of the Holodomor still in memory. But this lasted all of five seconds before the SS death squads turned up and began to execute the Jews, Communist party officials, and treated the population as inferior beings, Untermenschen, in the Nazi's twisted view of race. Overnight, Ukrainian and Baltic peasants that were once cheering the arrival of the Wehrmacht were now taking up arms to sabotage it with brutal partisan warfare. Red Army soldiers were driven, not simply by the fear of the NKVD to make defeatists disappear into the Gulags, but by the hatred of the Germans, their brutality, the mass death and destruction they left in their wake. Civilians that raced east to avoid the Germans, to work in the hastily re-assembled factories set up in the Ural Mountains, put up with the starvation rations and deadly working conditions of the factories in sub-zero temperatures to turn out the crude by effective tanks, airplanes and guns that would slow down, halt, and eventually drive back the Nazis because of the righteous fury of the German's and the barbarity they unleashed.

Now, imagine, for a moment, that Hitler let his racism take a back seat to pragmatism, to treat the Slavs as possible allies? How many divisions of anti-Communist, anti-Stalinist Ukrainians as allies? Enough to reach the Caucasus as the oil there? To capture Stalingrad? To reach the fabled Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan Line? Repeal the Allies on D-Day? Or even just to work in the factories of Germany, not as slaves who were starved, beaten and tortured to death, but as willing workers, freeing more manpower to expand the Reich? Instead, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of German soldiers would fight cat and mouse battles with partisans, who would destroy the railways, kill the horses, slaughter their enemy in barbaric ways to drive them out of the country.

This doesn't mean that the moment that the Soviet's surrendered, and the US and UK agreed to peace, that Hitler couldn't then turn around, backstab his Slavic allies, and enslave them all, drive them from their land and give the rich fields and pastures of the vaunted Lebensraum to pure Germans. But because Hitler and the Nazi's sought to fight the war against both armies of the Great Powers and their perceived racial inferiors in the land they conquered at the same time, they lost both fights.

This goes even further back, to the first target of Hitler's hatred, the Jewish people. Starting as soon as he took the office of Chancellor in 1933 by driving out tens of thousands of the smartest and best educated citizens of Germany, the scientists and engineers like Albert Einstein, from their professions, their homes and businesses to make room for his Aryan master race. Then, as he strengthened his power, he proceeding step by step, with the yellow stars, Kristallnacht, the Ghettos, to finally the horrors of Auschwitz and the Holocaust, the Nazi's killed six million Jews, trying to erase them from history. But even in this, the Nazi's sabatoged themselves, tying up precious transportation services like railways to send hundreds of thousands to their death. By sending Jews to the death camps was given a higher priority than even food and ammunition to the soldiers on the Eastern front. This shouldn't, and isn't, to say that the Holocaust had a silver lining. It was a horrible, inhumane, and criminal endeavour, but in their blind racist rage and hatred to kill as many Jews as possible, they put in place the downfall of the Third Reich.

But even more than that, because it was Jews like Einstein that explored atomic power, Hitler classified it as "Jewish" science, and refused to give it the funding and resources that would have allowed them build an atomic bomb, a true wonder weapon that maybe could have turned the tide of war. And the Jewish scientists and engineers that escaped would be instrumental in the Manhattan Project to develop the bomb that would be used on Japan.

It's difficult to say that, had Hitler just not been racist and given the German atomic programme the resources it needed to develop the bomb. It took the US, the richest country in the world in 1945, nearly $2 billion, along with the work of 150,000 highly skilled men and women, to build the first one. Germany, while on the verge of being an economic superpower, wasted much of their resources on jet engines, super tanks, ballistic missiles, and many, many Wunderwaffen projects that were years ahead of it's time. It's incredibly unlikely that the Nazi's would have gotten the A-bomb first, but they would have had a much better shot had racism not blinded them.

The same thing happened the Japanese, who considered the many people they conquered as inferior to themselves, especially the Chinese, and suffered the brutal struggle in China that lead to their war against the US, Britain, the Dutch and others. And this was just some of the brutal atrocities that they inflicted on the people they conquered. And even further back in history, with the Confederate States in the US Civil War, they kept a third of the total population of the Southern States in bondage, when they were already had a smaller population and resource base compared to the North. And on and on throughout history, it always seems that the empire that enslaves and brutalizes a large portion of their subjects that, in the long run, die out. The Spanish Empire set up in the Americas crumbled once the locals, and those that were Spanish descendant but had lived in the colonies and were considered inferior to those born in Europe, saw that the Spanish were not invulnerable after Napoleon invaded. Napoleon himself failed to retake Haiti in 1804, most due to disease, but also to the army of former slave Toussaint Louverture.

But then, of course, there are the times when those that believed themselves to be racially superior did win: the British built a massive empire where the sun never set, and tried to turn their new subjects into Christian and British and erase their old cultures. The Russian Empire tried to make the many, many people they conquered in Eastern Europe and Central Asia into Russians, a policy continued by the Soviets with very mixed results. Same with the US as they spread westward and drove the Native Americans into reservations. Even Canada tried to turn the Aboriginals in their lands into "proper" citizens (i.e.: Christian) through Residential Schools.

But all these empires and nations, however, didn't simply try to systematically kill and brutalize those they conquered like the Nazis, and now the long, difficult process to try to make up for the brutality and racism of the past is ongoing around the world. Even during the age of "scientific racism," the British used troops from their colonies, like India, to fight their wars. Native Americans served in the armies of the US and Canada in the World Wars: the famous Navajo Code Talkers and Tommy Prince, the most decorated Canadian soldier of the Second World War. And in Jim Crow America, African Americans served in the US military, such as in Harlem Hellfighters, and in the factories that turned out the guns and tanks and planes of the Arsenal of Democracy.

So, yes. Fascists and Racists (almost) never win their wars. That doesn't mean that racists societies don't win, but they will at least let their second class citizens to serve in their armies and fight. And oftentimes, it leads to the destruction of said society after the war as civil rights or decolonization rears it's head to try to make humanity just a little bit better.