1943 War Department Training Film on Identifying Fascism and Some Discussion Questions

A brief post using an old War Department film to ask the question, what is fascism? This post is to get people to ask questions and contemplate the topic. I want to get this post up in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend. 

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power…. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt 

“When Fascism came into power, most people were unprepared, both theoretically and practically. They were unable to believe that man could exhibit such propensities for evil, such lust for power, such disregard for the rights of the weak, or such yearning for submission. Only a few had been aware of the rumbling of the volcano preceding the outbreak.”

Erich Fromm

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”

Hannah Arendt 

In light of what happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia I am going to put up a 1943 War Department training film on fascism that is called, “Don’t Be a Sucker.” For those of you who do not know the United States Department of Defense was formerly called the War Department. The War Department was renamed to the Department of Defense in 1949. When this film was created Henry Stimson was the Secretary of War under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I would like to leave you with some discussion questions on fascism. However, before I proceed let me leave you with a couple of articles to contemplate about fascism. These represent differing sides, and as I often say I want you to think for yourself and learn through discernment and questioning. I am hoping you will read the different articles and wrestle with this topic yourself. 

  1. The London Guardian “Hiding in plain sight: how the ‘alt-right’ is weaponizing irony to spread fascism.” 
  2. Henry Wallace in the New York Times “American Fascism, in 1944 and Today.”  
  3. Live Science “What is Fascism.”
  4. The American Conservative “Fascism in the White House?” 
  5. George Orwell “What is Fascism?” 

Now if you have watched that War Department film, these are some questions I have for you about fascism. Some come from watching the film, others come about in doing some reading. 

  1. What is politically motivated social engineering? 
  2. How do fascists regard the free press? 
  3. Where can fascism occur? 
  4. Do fascists play people against each other to wear them down, and tear apart culture and society? 
  5. In fascism where do immigrants fit in? 
  6. Can prejudice be a weapon in fascism? 
  7. Does fascism play with people’s emotions and appeal to their fears? 
  8. How do fascists view intellectualism and education? 
  9. Can fascism manipulate science?
  10. Can fascism occur gradually and people not see the indicators and warning? Can good people be fooled?
  11. What is the difference between fascism and patriotism?   
  12. Does fascism corrupt people into doing things they would not otherwise do? 
  13. How did George Orwell regard fascism? 
  14. Is there a difference between populism and fascism? If so, what is it? 
  15. Are there variations of fascism that are unique to differing parts of the world? For example is Peronism in Argentina fascism? 

Bonus Question 

  1. How did American industrialist Henry Ford view fascism? If you can tell me that I will buy you a beer in the Washington, D.C. area. 

I will leave you with two videos to watch. The first one is the closing speech by Charlie Chaplain in The Great Dictator. This film by Chaplain was a reaction to the emergence of dictatorship and fascism in Europe.  The second is by Mel Brooks and is considered a classic. It’s called The Producers and features a musical number called “Springtime for Hitler.” I hope this post will give some people something to contemplate. Take care of yourself! 

27 thoughts on “1943 War Department Training Film on Identifying Fascism and Some Discussion Questions

  1. How about those idiots that rage violence on college campus’s when conservative speakers are invited but NOT ALLOWED by the protes…I mean anarchists, or fascists wont allow to speak?

    What about them safe spaces for the easily offended?

    And you think Trump is power hungry?

    Like

    • Ed I made no direct accusation about Trump. You brought that up. I am asking you be respectful. History teaches us that violence happens on both sides. You can look at what happened in Germany or the Bolshevik revolution. That said, in Charlottesville the violence occurred because of the Nazis that were there. I was reading the Washington Post over dinner and the individual who drove his car into a crowd had an anger problem and his Mom regularly called the police. What happened in Charlottesville occurred because of Nazis. Pure and simple Ed. Please be respectful I don’t want you to go into moderation. I don’t want to do that to people.

      Liked by 1 person

    • There’s a difference between having a right to speak your mind (which you do) and having the right to insist that any particular forum host your speech (which you don’t). You can stand on a streetcorner and talk, print up your opinions and hand them out, post on your own blog, hire a hall and bring in your favorite speakers, you have many avenues. But you don’t have the right to insist that a particular college host your favorite speakers. And you post comments on someone’s personal blog, like Eagle’s, only with the permission of the blog host. He can restrict comments if he wishes, it’s his space and he can decide on how much incivility he is willing to put up with.

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      • Interesting since I never equated freedom of speech with moderation. That is how you interpreted my words. My contention is that wondering is not answering questions, for which I posed many. That had nothing to do with freedom of speech…it was lack of speech.

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      • And here, you said:
        “But you don’t have the right to insist that a particular college host your favorite speakers. ”

        The left has no right to put anyone’s life in danger at college campus’s either, nor do they have a right to violence by breaking glass, setting fires, and all sorts of vile behavior that is illegal….key word, illegal.

        Freedom of speech means that the left has no authority to restrict it, or to suppress it by violent means.

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      • What violence? Setting fires, breaking glass? Where are you even getting that, Fox News? We have had peaceful protests in DC of hundreds of thousands of people in opposition to the current administration, with zero violence. Multiple huge protests, zero violence. A few hundred armed and angry Nazis in Charlottesville, and there’s three dead and over a dozen more injured. There’s really no comparison there.

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      • Oh, no wonder you can’t see what’s going on in America…your in the swamp bubble of America. I’ve seen the video’s of the violence I speak of…and it was just as recent as a couple months back at Berkly. It’s very common. It’s been going on like that since the Vietnam War era. You don’t get out much, do you?

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  2. Heh, I love that bit from the Producers.

    That war department training film is fantastic. There’s something about human tribalism that seems to make any ideology prone to fascistic outliers and demogouges. Of course history shows, both of those can have outsize influence on larger events.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “such disregard for the rights of the weak”

    this

    reminds me of the time that the Nuns on the Bus took to the highways and the byways in support of the poor . . . . and even the bishops of the Church called down the Ryan Plan for its potential brutal impact on the weakest among us

    Personally, I cannot fathom the kind of mind that has contempt for the poorest and weakest among us, and takes from them the little that they have to reward the wealthiest . . . . I think of the story told to King David about the poor man and his lamb that he loved ‘like a daughter’ that was taken from him and killed for a feast for a wealthy person

    something in the ‘fascist’ mind sees nothing wrong with kicking down and kissing up, and that may be the greatest form of cowardice ever, when the ones they kick down on are disabled, mentally challenged, and the innocent children of the very poor who need medicaid to survive . . . . . like ‘killing the beloved lamb’? I think it is, sadly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Christiane said:
      “reminds me of the time that the Nuns on the Bus took to the highways and the byways in support of the poor . . . . and even the bishops of the Church called down the Ryan Plan for its potential brutal impact on the weakest among us”

      What you propose is a form of a theocracy, however. Instead of using church money to support a charity, you want non-Church tax payer dollars to pay for a charity that Christians themselves are supposed to fund from the MONEY IN THE PLATE.

      It is YOUR job to provide for the weakest among us, it’s not the governments job.

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  4. Hate speech is free speech, otherwise there would be no need for free speech constitutional protections.

    Is the right for or against free speech? FOR

    Is the left for or against free speech? AGAINST (Why? Because they suppress speech that they disagree with)

    It’s not against the law to be a “hater”, but the left wants you jailed for not adhering to their ideology, and it is the left that are the Bernie Sanders socialists as well as having a fascist mindset, but they have brainwashed Wondering Eagle into believing that Trump is a fascist.

    The left would institute the thought police if they thought that they could do it.

    Wondering Eagle is gullible into believing what the left is telling him.

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    • logic check

      Hate speech is ___________.
      You may fill in any words here you want but you cannot EQUATE ‘free speech’ with ‘hate speech’ because you cannot write this and have it make a logical truth:
      ‘Free speech is hate speech’

      respectful advice: go take a few courses in ‘logic’ and in philosophy and enjoy them and you will come back to the conversation renewed or at least refreshed 🙂

      Like

  5. Ed Chapman I asked you to dial it down a notch and you did not. You have been deeply aggressive and have prompted a few emails. I asked you to be respectful and you hammered people. Therefore I removed a couple of comments and I am going to put you in moderation for a while. I will look at your comments and approve them, if they are respectful. Mischaracterizing and assuming information about others is not good either. I don’t want to do this often so please be respectful, don’t attack people and don’t try and dominate a conversation and intimidate other people from commenting. That is it Ed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Since you are in Washington DC, do you remember Senator Byrd? Can you tell me what Presidents (PLURAL) that he served under?

      Then can you tell me which of those presidents STOOD UP and DENOUNCED his BIGOTRY and HATE?

      Where was the press’ incessant demands for the presidents to speak up?

      How many other bigots have served in the US Congress in the past? Recent past, for that matter, besides Byrd?

      Watching Fox News last night. They went back 30 plus years and looked at SIMILAR White Supremacist Rallies, and ABSOLUTELY NO PRESIDENT commented, nor were asked to.

      Why?

      Why demand it from Trump, if no other president commented?

      Trump haters tell us that the president is “Supposed to bring us together!” They don’t really believe that. Notice that Russia isn’t a topic anymore? This is just a game to the left.

      And if that doesn’t work, they will keep rolling the dice and drawing another card from the middle of the board.

      Politics. Dontcha just love it? This isn’t about MORALS at all. It’s all politics from the left.

      So…Who was Senator Byrd?

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      • Ed, there have been many Presidents who have rebuked and criticized racism. The Bushes did, Obama did, Carter did, Reagan did, Ford did. Here you can watch Reagan rebuke hate groups here.

        And that speech was given to the NAACP

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      • I also need to challenge you here, as well.

        Were there KKK Rallies DURING the Reagan Presidency, or were they outlawed?

        And by me using the word “outlawed”, I am meaning did the KKK rallies take place LAWFULLY?

        And if they took place lawfully, were the KKK rebuked each and every time by president Reagan when a rally was held, or just once in a speech that was made in 1981, and never discussed again, and again, and again and again?

        After that speech in 1981, how many REPORTERS asked Reagan to denounce racism again, and again, and again, and again, and again and again?

        Or….

        Was ONCE just enough?

        You see, Eagle…I can’t stand the LEFT constantly hounding Trump for things that NO OTHER president would be accountable for.

        What do you say that we abolish the 1st and 2nd amendments to the constitution, because that is the only way that KKK rallies will be outlawed.

        We can “disavow” them until the cows come home, but in the end, they will still hold their rallies, because it’s their constitutional right to do so.

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      • Ed there have been KKK rallies around for decades since the Klan came into existence. The Klan is Protestant supported by some, and its also been anti-Catholic. Reagan was a great communicator he spoke forceully and clear. Reagan didn’t take those comments back and shift his talk. That is the difference Ed. And Ed I am not a part of the left.

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      • An article from 1984:

        http://www.jta.org/1984/05/02/archive/reagan-disassociates-himself-from-the-ku-klux-klan-says-they-and-other-hate-groups-have-no-place-in

        Part of that article:
        “But the U. Commission on Civil Rights called on Reagan to directly repudiate the endorsement of his candidacy by the Ku Klux Klan…

        “Berry said that Reagan, by referring to his 1980 statement, did not specifically repudiate the current endorsement by the KKK. She said she would like to see a statement to the Commission rejecting Wilkinson’s endorsement “flat-out.” Abram and the other Commission members agreed…They said that all candidates should disavow support from individuals who espouse racism, bigotry, intimidation or threats of violence.

        “Meanwhile, Nathan Perlmutter, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, last week called upon the Republican Party to issue “a prompt and unequivocal repudiation” of the Klan’s endorsement of Reagan.

        He said he was distressed by “the unfortunate stalling, buck passing and refusal to comment” by White House aides when asked by reporters whether the President planned to repeat his 1980 renunciation of Klan support.

        Perlmutter said “it is a disservice to the President when his aides pussyfoot the issue and, indeed, pay his own statements of record no heed.”

        He added: “All candidates for public office, but especially those who aspire to the highest office in the land, must hold themselves to the ethical principles of our democratic heritage as an example and inspiration to their fellow Americans. Whatever else a President may be, he must be a role model.”

        ***************************

        Eagle,

        The LEFT is never satisfied by ONE statement. They keep wanting MORE AND MORE statements as if the first one wasn’t enough.

        Like

      • Ed this is supposed to be a discussion on facism. I didn’t bring up Trump, respectfully you did. But I would encourage you to reconsider. Lindsay Graham, Jeff Flake, Mitch McConnell, and more are not part of the left. Even they came out and rebuked what was said. In case you have not seen Der Spiegel which is the equivalent of Time magazine in Germany has a cover of Trump wearing a KKK hood.

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  6. After the events of this weekend, and the absolute anger I see from both sides, I have given up hope for our country. We are so angry at each other, we have no common ground anymore, and I’m just waiting for someone to throw a Molotov cocktail and spark World War III.

    I didn’t vote for either candidate. The SCOTUS wasn’t a good enough reason for me to vote for Trump, and I didn’t trust Hillary.

    What we are experiencing now is what happens when the electorate vote out of fear of the other candidate.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My own thought is that Donald Trump utterly defined HIMSELF when he defended
    ” very fine people on both sides ” re: Charlottesville

    (sigh)

    Like

    • There were very fine people there. They were the ones NOT participating in violence and OBEYED the BOUNDARY of the law.

      You see, this is getting very dangerous in the THOUGHT POLICE mentality here. Wanting people jailed for their opinions is very dangerous.

      However, wanting people jailed for their ACTS of violence, which includes inciting violence, is righteous.

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  8. After the Iraq war I remember seeing people taking down the statue of Saddam Hussin and cheering because in their mind it meant freedom and they were happy to see it destroyed because statues represent icons. People built statues of whom they believe to be an icon. When times change those statues should be in a museum to remember the history of the USA, not in a public place where it represents the evil of why the civil war took place….

    Like

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