Saturday, January 11, 2014


Well, here it is theoretical weekends.  I have not read what I am posting today, so we can check it out together.  It looked interesting, so whatever.

I notice my regular daily posts have been getting longer and longer.  I will try to do something about that next week.

Meanwhile, the following is from Revolutionary Ecology.

NOTE: I have now read this.  Some good stuff here.  I do recommend.

J. Sakai – The Green Nazi: An Investigation into Fascist Ideology


A review of Anna Bramwell’s book, Blood and Soil by  J. Sakai
This is simply a book from hell. And not for the politically faint of heart! There are always books that slip through the cracks, go out of print, but still have a fevered cult following. Blood and Soil is right up there. The kicker here is that this books’ loyal fans tend to be of the neo-nazi persuasion. Whenever hardcore white racists argue for the special role of their beloved Aryan movement as the true forefathers of today’s “Green” ecological concerns, Anna Bramwell’s book is offered as evidence.
For example,a recent letter to the editor in the North Carolina Times :

Back a few weeks Steve Stults got all over a Mr. Darrell Beck for something he said about the Green Party and some possible Nazi connections…Anyone who wishes to research Germany’s so-called Green connections can read Blood and Soil : Walter Darre and Hitler’s Green Partywritten by Anna Bramwell and published by The Kensall Press. The big difference between American Greens and Nazi Greens is that the Nazi Greens were a real item and the American forgery is a collection of phony tree huggers that squeal for conservation but at the same time squeal for open borders and unrestricted immigration. You can’t have both, Mr. Stults.
TOM METZGER Fallbrook.
Metzger is, of course, the former Klan leader who now leads WAR (White Aryan Resistance). With such vocal fans, it’s no surprise that Blood and Soil is on the politically incorrect list, and is ignored or dissed by the left of center on the political spectrum. Social democrats Peter Staudenmaier and Janet Diehl, in their popular study Fascist Ecology: the ‘Green Wing’ of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents, use phrases like “untrustworthy” and “grave error” on the rare occasions they discuss Bramwell’s book. But as their fascist critics delight in pointing out, Bramwell broke the historical ground that Staudenmaier and Diehl use. She was the innovative pioneer in rethinking the assumption that everything “Green” is automatically liberal or radical.
So this is a political biography of a Nazi leader, but it is definitely not what we’re used to. The author defiantly praises and identifies with her subject. Bramwell tells us: “Darre was to write before his death that he had been a fool to think that the Nazis could have repaired the broken link between man and soil, nature and God…It is the core of my argument that one should not let the existence of the uniforms and swastikas interfere with the evaluation of Darre’s attempt to ‘watch over the inviolability of the possible’. He was guardian of a radical, centrist, republican critique which pre-dated National Socialism, and which still lives on. “
Dr. Anna Bramwell is not some fringe writer. She is one of the foremost Western capitalist historians of ecological politics. Bramwell’s subsequent study, Ecology in the 20th Century. A History , was published by Yale University Press, and is widely used in college classes. At times Bramwell may sound like a neo-fascist in Blood and Soil, but her own Right-wing politics are somewhat different. In a nutshell, this book is crammed with strong positives and strong negatives. Bramwell definitely uses every ideological trick her fertile mind can think of to defend Reichsminister Darre’s honor and politics. That is, she gives us a cram course in white racist and neo-fascist evasions, justifications and half-truths. i mean, she’s really good at this, and that alone would be worth the price of admission. But there’s much more, including serious political discussion of class.
Reichsminister for Agriculture R. Walter Darre was an ambiguous and now largely forgotten figure in Nazi history. Which is easily understandable, since in a crew that’s still the brand name for the warfare state, police repression, and genocide, who cares about the minister of agriculture? But this controversial study of the leader of the “Green Nazis” reveals the surprising role of “Green” inside Brown. In author Anna Bramwell’s eyes, Darre was no racist criminal but a true popular leader and ecological visionary. She convincingly details how awkward he was at inner party intrigue and politicing. How he never understood the power games of his Party rivals. Of course, being a bad fit as a party animal didn’t make Reichsminister Darre any less a fascist. This is typical of Bramwell’s sly uses of half truths to advance bigger lies.
This study, by someone who is refreshing in her open hatred of socialist academics, is more vital, more thought-provoking,than the usual academic histories of the Third Reich. At the very least, Blood and Soil gives us a workout, exercising us against the skewed worldview of half-truths used to justify the Nazi experiment at ending humanity. And this book gives us much more than that. It carries the DNA of understanding that fascism is not conservative but anti-bourgeois, violently radical. This is the radioactive element at the heart of multifaceted fascism’s continuing danger to us in the mutating post-modern world.
All during the rise of euro-fascism in the 1920s and 1930s, the left dissed & dismissed them as pawns of the capitalist class. Whether in the brilliant German Communist photomontage posters of Heartfield or the pronouncement from Moscow that “fascism is the terroristic dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie”, there was a constant message that Italian fascism and German Nazism were only puppets for the big capitalist class.This has important elements of truth, but is fatally off-center and produces an actually disarming picture.
Today we think of fascism so much in terms of its repression, that we forget how much Nazism built its movement by campaigning against big capitalism.One famous National Socialist election poster shows a social-democratic winged “angel” walking hand in hand with a stereotyped banker, with the big slogan: “Marxism is the Guardian Angel of Capitalism”. Hitler promised to preserve the “good” productive capitalism of ordinary hard-working Germans, while wiping out the “bad” parasitic big capitalism of the hidden finance capitalist Jewish bosses. In fact, tens of millions of Americans (and not just white folks) would support such a program right here & now. Fascism blended together a radical sentiment against the big bourgeoisie and their State, together with racist-nationalist ideology, into a political uprising of the middle classes .
Reichsminister Darre’s Oxford biographer uses his agricultural career, his interest in defending German family farmers, even his non-conforming racial theories ( some of Darre’s early racist comrades ended up as Gestapo suspects for being enemies of Hitler to the Right ). All to push forward a picture of Darre as a peaceful radical idealist trying to help the poor and forgotten of the countryside. “Like a more nationalist Che Guevara, he opposed capitalism and the town”, is how she clumsily tries to reposition him.
Just as Adolf Hitler, Darre was not a native German. He barely knew where Germany was until he was sent to school there at age ten. Coming from a prosperous German merchant family in Argentina, Ricardo Walter Darre is pictured by Anna Bramwell as an accidental Nazi. He had decided to become an agriculturalist, even obtaining his PhD in farm management during long unemployment in the turbulent 1920s Depression years of the Weimar Republic. Gradually drawn into politics, Darre became known as an independent “Nordic” racial theorist trying to lead North German farmers. He first popularized the memorable slogan “Blood and Soil”, putting it on everyone’s lips for future Nazi propaganda.
In 1930, Hitler decided to offer the unemployed Darre the important salaried position as the Party leader for the peasant class—what became the Reichsbaurernfuhrer ( Imperial Peasant Leader ) after taking power in 1933. And at that relatively late date Darre agreed to join the Nazis. After the Nazi Party was given state power, Darre also became the first Minister of Agriculture for the Third Reich (he dropped his inconveniently Latin first name and finally gave up Argentine citizenship—like many other Nazi leaders Darre was a self-manufactured Aryan). He was already under the influence of the naturalist, “bio-dynamic” agricultural theories of the white supremacist Rudolph Steiner. What Darre argued for in writings, promised through his Nazi peasant movement, he actually did once installed as Reichsminister. Organic farming, nazi-sponsored marketing cooperatives, and conservation were promoted. With difficulty, Darre attempted to get measures adopted by the new regime favoring small peasant family farms over the large estates. In fact, his biographer claims that thanks to his leadership, even in the ruins of 1945 German agriculture was surprisingly more productive than the British.
But by then R. Walter Darre had long since fallen from view. Breaking with Hitler over World War II—which he opposed as an over-ambitious racially-diluting strategy—by 1939 Darre was only a figurehead minister in a tailored black S.S. uniform. Even the Allied War Crimes Tribunal decided that he’d been out of the loop, and Darre ended up serving only five years in prison (just being a Third Reich cabinet minister was less criminal than Driving While Black on I-95).
Reichsbaurernfuhrer Darre took center stage at a critical moment in the National Socialist rise to power. And his role turned out to be more important than that of many better-known Nazi leaders. Like them, he was a hard soldier of capitalist race war. And far from bucolic (there were zero gentle creatures in the crazed leadership of the Nazi experiment). Like Adolf Hitler, Darre, too, was a proud nationalistic veteran of the German imperial army. Just as Hitler, Darre had survived intense combat in the trench warfare of World War I, been wounded, and had been awarded the Iron Cross. While Adolf Hitler continued in the army after the war—assigned to go into civilian clothing and help build up an obscure fringe group named the German Workers Party— Darre had been invalided out. But he eagerly joined the Steel Helmets, the Right-Wing veterans organization.
Darre was never a thug. His value to the fascist movement was that he had radical Right class politics. And class vision. It wasn’t an accident that he was the one who popularized the racist slogan, “Blood and Soil”. Because he was a radical Right-Wing leader of the North German peasantry, those family farmers who worked their own small plots of land. As a middle property-owning class, these farmers can swing to either the right or left in economic crisis. Often the Right has successfuly mobilized them as a mass force for rearranging capitalism. As has happened in 1920s fascist Italy, the settler u.s.a., post-1949 Taiwan, etc.
An Austrian urbanite like Hitler may have known nothing about peasant organizing, but Darre knew enough to lead the entire Party in the countryside. For it was in the Northern countryside that the Nazi movement put on its most radical face—and became the strongest.
Conservative political parties, such as the Catholic German Center Party of the Weimar era or the G.O.P. in today’s u.s., are pro-bourgeois supporters of the existing capitalist order. While fascism is pro-capitalist but anti-bourgeois, a signal difference. Nazi ideology called for violently purging Aryan society of everything in their eyes bourgeois— a culture preoccupied with the dirty quest for money; rule by decadent aristocrats and bankers; the swarms of “useless” intellectuals; the blurring of the primary biologically different missions of men & women; and, of course, the “unnatural” mixing of different races and peoples on sacred tribal Aryan land.Keep in mind that fascism didn’t promote capitalists as social icons, but called for society to be ruled by a hierarchical caste of warriors.
Of all the old classes , the one that Hitler and his fellow National Socialists had the most contempt for was the landed gentry and aristocracy. Most particularly the Prussian Junkers. Not only did that class personify the inherited privilege that Hitler so resented, but as a class they had staffed the old imperial state. Especially the German military. To Corporal Hitler they were only over-privileged losers, who had let the German people down in WWI and the Depression. Who were too weak-willed to handle the great crisis society had been swallowed up by. Nazism demanded their retirement as a class from holding the reins of state power, producing instead a lumpen-state run by upstart warlords from the middle classes (not that the aristocracy didn’t go over to the Nazis once they saw where things were headed—some 18% of the upper S.S. leadership were of the aristocracy). We can see one side of fascism as a partial revolution within the body of capitalism. Where the bourgeoisie still own production and distribution, but temporarily no longer control state and nation.
New Nazi leader Darre threw himself and his party into the political war for the countryside. There the Brownshirt tide came to run so strongly that Darre once even offered to use his peasant Stormtroopers to seize the government for Hitler. A measure of Darre’s importance to fascism was that his new Agricultural Organization overrode all previously established Nazi Party structures in the rural areas, cutting across provincial and specialized party departments. He even took control of Landpost, the party’s rural journal, away from Goebbel’s powerful propaganda department. In those years Darre reported only to the Fuhrer himself.
The North German countryside was already up in class war, and both Darre’s military experience and his new “bio-dynamic” enthusiasm served the fascists well. He had quickly built a farm network of party members and sympathizers, tied together by special rural organizers that he had trained in farm issues. Always Darre stressed both the ideological and the practical together. Improved yields through organic intensive farming plus the vision of a de-urbanized and neo-tribal Germany. Led by soldier-farmers who would grow their own food, rule their own households, and band together in armed Aryan militias under the S.S. to gradually cleanse the frontier of the inferior natives. Just like his model vision of white American settlers on the Western frontier. Only for him the white frontier was the East, not the West, and the natives useless to civilization were like Poles, Latvians, Czechs, Ukrainians and Russians. As Darre said:
The German people cannot help coming to terms [with the Eastern problem]. The Slavs know what they want—we don’t! We look on with dumb resignation while formerly purely German cities—Reval, Riga, Warsaw and so forth, are lost to our people…The German people cannot avoid a life or death struggle with the advancing East. Our people must prepare for the struggle…only one solution for us, absolute victory! Furthermore, the concept of Blood and Soil gives us the right to take back as much Eastern land as is necessary to achieve harmony between the body of our people and geo-political space.
As is habitual in Aryan politics, bloody plans for genocidal aggression are justified as only self-defense, as only restoring what is natural, and by the maudlin self-pity of oppressors.
Naturally, in this violent “solution” (a favorite word of Darre and his Nazi comrades, since it implies a prior problem) there was no “geo-political space” for the millions of Jews in the East. Darre the agriculturalist referred to Jews as “weeds”. We don’t have to guess what that meant. His biographer claims that Darre was not an anti-semite, and wasn’t involved in the Holocaust. Of course, in researching her book she couldn’t find one word or act by Darre opposing the attack against the Jews of Europe. The very idea that someone who was a top Nazi leader for ten years wasn’t for racist crimes and genocide stretches belief way beyond reason. That Darre may have been more wisely discreet on this subject didn’t mean that he had any significant differences with Hitler (about whom Darre wrote privately that he was in “awe” of) and his ally Himmler.
The 1930s class war in the North German countryside had already reached the point of dynamiting government offices and rifle fire breaking up bank auctions of bankrupt farmsteads (sounds a bit like the u.s. Plains states today, doesn’t it?). Half the farms were losing money. Even “red” Communist organizing was winning supporters. Darre’s crash party-building program trained angry farmers to become Nazi public speakers for farmers unions & cooperatives—but also local experts on land settlement, fertilizers, insurance and debt management, livestock raising, and so on. Not just talk alone, but practical help and sympathetic class organization built the Nazi machine in the countryside. In December 1931, Darre’s rural Nazis captured the elected presidency of the Landbund, the large farmers’ union.
In July 1932, Hitler’s Party attracted the largest vote it was to have before gaining power, 37.4% of the vote. In a system of multiple minority parties, it was an overwhelming victory. The North German Protestant farmers and villages and small towns had voted for Hitler—averaging some 78.8%. In some areas of the Geest, Nazi votes were 80-100% of the total. The smaller the village, the larger the proportion…
Reichsbaurernfuhrer Darre had essentially, in only a few years, led in swinging an entire class to join the Nazi movement. A stunning feat. Not mere votes, remember, but whole villages as fascist eyes and ears. New thousands of Stormtroopers who could be trucked to the cities at critical moments. No wonder a proud Darre could offer to seize state power for the Fuhrer. This wasn’t just lumpen fascists being thugs for the big capitalists, as the Communists endlessly shouted to no effect. It was a different radical class politics. And for awhile, until the long-awaited War began, the Aryan peasantry was seemingly rewarded with new preferential policies and laws.
In those early 1930s years, Darre was also a powerful ideological force within the developing party. Both in public writings & in inner party struggles, Darre fought for ever more racist thinking as the determinant of all policy. That he considered the 1930 Nazi Party as not dedicated enough to master race politics gives you an idea of exactly how racist Darre was. While Hitler was a fantasy Aryan, Darre was a hard-core Nordicist, a believer in an imaginary Nordic superior race that happened to exclude even Germans from South Germany and Austria—such as Adolf Hitler!
Reichsminister Darre dismissed his hated rival Goebbels, the party propaganda czar, as not being up to “scientific racial thinking”. Darre’s main ally in the party hierarchy was S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler. In those early years the Brownshirts of the S.A. (Sturmabteilung or Stormtroopers) were the mass para military arm of the Party, the street fighters. While the black-clad S.S. ( Schutszstaffel or Security Squad) were growing from the small elite bodyguard for Hitler into a future neo-tribal military, the heart of the Nazi subculture. Darre was one of the ideological godfathers of the S.S., having helped mold the young organization. He introduced regular S.S. classes on racist theory. And in 1931, he convinced S.S. chief Himmler to make racial examination of all prospective brides of S.S. men a mandatory requirement. This fetish about women’s biology was an obsession of Darre’s (and many other Nazi men, as well).
It was not as an environmentalist that Darre was best known then, but as one of the most extreme and controversial racial theorists. The 1920s & 1930s was a time when eugenics, that racist pseudo-science, was riding high in Western capitalism. Darre added his voice to those arguing that the white master race had to be “rescued” genetically by culling out not only “contamination” from other races but inferior whites as well. Defective children should be exposed to die, as wild beasts do. All German women should be subjected to racial heredity examinations, and graded into different categories regulating marriage and child-bearing. Men, he believed, could prove their racial soundness by their achievements. But since women have no achievements their child-bearing value to the master race could only be judged by examining their family heredity.
Privately, Darre had asserted that even his own children were not “100%” master race enough in their heredity. But, he added, if his wife (whom he had abandoned) worked hard enough at their children’s racist upbringing, they could at least grow up to be satisfactory German citizens. No wonder that some other Right Wing nationalists sneered at Darre’s “chicken-breeding mentality”, while he was hated by more than a few nationalist women. Contrary to what his faithful biographer claims, there is a direct connection between the vanguard racist-sexist ideology spread by Darre and others, and the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
We’ve arrived at a point here. His kind of “love” of nature could not simply be, was not pure, but was a romanticized part of his racism. Just as his idealized vision of the peasantry and uncomplicated village life had its roots in his fear of “contamination” by inferior races (who must be physically removed). He denounced the cosmopolitan cities with their “…danger of uncontrolled introduction of inferior blood with natural children. One thinks of the large towns, where the dark-skinned student, the colored artist, the jazz trumpter, etc…feel perfectly at home…”
There was a foredoomed quality to Darre’s white pastoral fantasies, of course, because a resurgent capitalist Germany would demand air fleets,panzer divisions, and a heavy petro-chemical industrial base. Even beyond that, the very idea of Reichsminister Darre as an ecologist strikes a false note.
We’re running head on into that popular illogical notion that being for something healthy somehow means that you are a good person. Don’t forget that Adolf Hitler himself was a veritable Olympian of all the “healthy” and “natural”. Not only a vegetarian but one who used alternative health care, who ordered cigarettes stripped from his soldiers’ ration packs, and who passed laws banning experimentation on animals (Kind of like, “Don’t experiment on animals, use Jews and Gypsies. And don’t smoke while you do it.”).
The entire “ecofascist” stir in Europe today is a good case of deceptive advertising for Aryan politics. It is telling that in this political biography—despite the subtitle—racism occupies a much larger place than ecology. For the simple reason that Reichsminister Darre’s record on ecology was hardly a wonder. Even leaving aside the reality that someone who wanted the military invasion of all Eastern Europe and the wholesale “racial” repopulation of cities like Warsaw, has a strange relationship to the word “ecology”. Darre advocated smaller, more carefully farmed family agriculture, using organic methods not chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Because it improved yields and peasant income, and decreased the relative power in the countryside of the “upper class” landed gentry. Needless to say, it was also a policy thrifty with expensive imported petro-chemical stocks (Germany had to import all its oil ). Hitler was delighted with this program. As he said, a good grain harvest was “worth twenty-two divisions” to him.
Walter Darre’s supposed “Green” politics were more in the category of husbandry, the careful & thrifty exploitation of Man’s resouces, rather than any environmentalism. Which shouldn’t be any big news, since the same better-living through-more-management philosophy soaks through contemporary capitalist environmentalism here.
Paradoxically, the Nazi movement believed itself to be in harmony with nature—even with all its intoxicating hierarchical-mechanical subculture and film set costumes. Of course, by “Nature” fascists didn’t recognize an ecology with complex interaction & interdependency of all the myriad life forms. Nazism projected its own ruthlessly mechanistic class agenda onto the “natural”. Ernest Lehmann, a Nazi professor of botany, declared that fascism was only “politically applied biology”. They saw a hierarchical food chain, a ceaseless conflict of stronger predators upon weaker prey, as the perfect metaphor for their own terroristic politico-economy.
It was only “Nature’s law” to Hitler and Darre for one biological group—a species or a race—to totally unite under its strongest males to compete with other species or races for territory and resources. For crows to war with wrens, wolves to dominate elk, and master race civilization to rise up on the conquest and slave labor of the inferior races. Some Nazi leaders even mused on a fantastic science-fiction re-population of Afrika by millions of Aryans, supported by vast labor armies of unpaid Black workers. Peter Staudenmaier remarks:

Such arguments have a chilling currency within contemporary ecological discourse: the key to social-ecological harmony is ascertaining ‘the eternal laws of nature’s processes’ (Hitler) and organizing society to correspond to them. The Fuhrer was particularly fond of stressing the ‘helplessness of humankind in the face of nature’s everlasting law.’ Echoing Haeckel and the Monists, Mein Kampf announces: ‘When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall.’
The authoritarian implications of this view of humanity and nature become even clearer in the context of the Nazi’s emphasis on holism and organicism. In 1934 the director of the Reich Agency for Nature Protection, Walter Schoenichen, established the following objectives for biology curricula: ‘Very early, the youth must develop an understanding of the civic importance of the “organism”, i.e. the co-ordination of all parts and organs for the benefit of the one and superior task of life.’
In the Nazi worldview the superior being was a predator. This supposed recognition of “Nature’s laws” is just capitalist culture with a biological wrapper. In life it isn’t true. The lofty eagle isn’t any more successful than mom sparrow. If anything, less so. If survival and dominance were everything, cockroaches might get olympic gold. Ecology is endless diversity, unending change, and development and interdependency of life forms that is complex beyond Man the Manager.
Again, there are class issues hidden in these man-made pronouncements about “Nature”. Although the Nazis always claimed to be a “Workers Party” (and at their electoral peak in 1932 received about 25% of their votes from workers, primarily the unemployed), this ideology of “nature’s iron laws” was profoundly anti-working class. The so-called German National Socialist Workers Party had intractable problems with the German proletariat. Which is why both Hitler and Darre wanted to do radical surgery and actually eliminate the German proletariat as a class. Which was done. Just like Jews and Romany were done. Only Steven Spielberg’s Hollywood capitalism and its pet “Holocaust industry” isn’t talking about this home invasion.
Even political conquest didn’t eliminate National Socialism’s constant clashing with their own industrial working class. As the Party’s German Labor Front reported in 1937 over mass resistance to speed-ups and Taylorism: “Workers, whether of National Socialist persuasion or not, still hold on to the Marxist and union position of rejecting critera of production…Controls over individual achievement are rejected. Therefore they resist all attempts to time them.” Remember that until well after 1933 the Nazis could venture into hard-core proletarian neighborhoods only in large groups.
As we’ve discussed, Reichsbaurernfuhrer Darre wanted to de-urbanize German society, limiting industrialization. Which would have automatically shrunk the proletariat. They would have become a useful but niche class, in a society dominated by militias of racist soldier-peasants. Just like the mythic u.s. frontier that Darre admired so much. Instead the Nazis pursued Adolf Hitler’s evolving strategy, which was to simultaneously promote both techno-industrial development and the Aryan re-organization of classes. If it is the superior race man’s destiny to be both a fierce soldier and ruler over others—as the Nazis held in a core belief—then how can he at the same time be shelving groceries at the supermarket or bucking production on the assembly line?
Fascism de-proletarianized Aryan society. Or to put it more precisely: it created an Aryan society that had never existed before by de-proletarianizing the former German society. By the millions, Aryan men were shifted into military service and into being labor aristocrats, supervisors, straw bosses, and minor bureaucrats of every sort. In 1940 Nazi Labor Front leader Robert Ley said in a speech: “In ten years Germany will be transformed beyond recognition. A nation of proletarians will have become a nation of rulers. In ten years a german worker will look better than an English lord does today.” The new proletariat that started emerging was heavily made up of involuntary foreign & slave laborers, and—despite Nazi ideology about women’s “natural” place in the kitchen and nursery—was largely becoming a proletariat of women.
Nazi slave labor is seldom dealt with in its class reality. Usually it is mentioned as a side-effect of the Holocaust. Or as a short-lived desperation measure of a tottering regime facing military defeat on all fronts. The truth was that it was much more than that. Slave and semi-slave labor was a necessary feature of mature Nazi society. If Hitlerism had been successful, slave labor was to have gone on for his entire lifetime and beyond. Even conquered Eastern Europe and Russia, in official Nazi plans, would gradually have given way to the spread of vast Aryan owned agricultural estates, whose rural proletariat would have been involuntarily furnished by the inferior races.
By 1941 there were three million foreign & slave proletarians at work in National Socialist factories, farms and mines. Coincidentally, the S.S.—which had only 116 men at its first public display at the July 4, 1926 Party Rally at Weimar ( the u.s.a. and the Nazis celebrate the same founding holiday)—had also grown to three million. Soon the overrun territories of Europe and the East provided over four million more slave laborers for Nazi industry & the war machine (the majority of whom were used up, consumed, in accelerated capitalist production). The fascist class structure that had cloaked itself in Nature was revealed to be bizarrely artificial. Nazism’s peculiar class structure was parasitic as a mode of life. One history sums this up:

The regime’s increasing use of concentration camp and foreign forced labour made the working class more or less passive accomplices in Nazi racial policy. ..The first ‘recruits’ were unemployed Polish agricultural labourers, who were soon accompanied by prisoners of war and people abducted en masse from cinemas and churches. These were then followed by the French. By the summer of 1941 there were some three million foreign workers in Germany, a figure which mushroomed to 7.7 million in the autumn of 1944. …A high proportion of these workers were either young or female. By 1944, a quarter of those working in the German economy were foreigners. Virtually every German worker was thus confronted by the fact and practice of Nazi racism. In some branches of industry, German workers merely constituted a thin, supervisory layer above a workforce of which between 80 and 90 percent were foreigners. This tends to be passed over by historians of the labour movement.
Treatment of these foreign workers was largely determined by their ‘racial’ origins. Broadly speaking, the usual hierarchy consisted of ‘German workers’ at the top, ‘west workers’ a stage below them, and Poles and ‘eastern workers’ at the lowest level. This racial hierarchy determined both living conditions and the degree of coercion to which foreign workers were subjected both at the workplace and in society at large.
Darre’s early ally & collaborator, S.S. leader Heinrich Himmler, knowing the distance they were pushing their own cadre to mutate, urged them on in unmistakable terms:
The S.S. man is to be guided by one principle alone: honesty, decency, loyalty, and friendship towards those of our blood, and to no one else…Whether other peoples live in plenty or starve to death interests me only insofar as we need them as slaves for our culture ; for the rest it does not interest me. Whether 10,000 Russian women keel over from exhaustion in the construction of an anti-tank ditch interests me only insofar as the ditch for Germany gets finished. We will never be savage or heartless where we don’t have to be; that is obvious. Germans are after all the only people in the world who treat animals decently…If someone comes to me and tells me, ‘I cannot dig these anti-tank ditches with children or with women, it is inhuman, they will die on the job,’ I must say to him, ‘You are a murderer of your own blood…
This is like a criminal investigation, where digging up the basement of a suburban home suddenly unearths a jumble of bodies. We started with “Green Nazi” R. Walter Darre and the claims for his ecological pioneering. Yet, step by step, we’ve followed a corridor until finally we turn a corner …into a slaughterhouse. And a capitalism given seeming paranormal strength by the radical resection and fusion of its race, class and gender.
Darre could be significant to new generations of neo-fascists. Not only because he gives fascism some plausible-sounding claim to being the forefathers of the white ecology movement. Far from being a political innocent, Darre was if anything even more racist than Hitler. And certainly more practical. Who knows, if his views had prevailed maybe the Nazi Party might still be ruling Germany today? His rural settler strategy is in tune with much of the white racist Far Right in the u.s. (no small coincidence, since he used the u.s. white settler Western frontier as his genocidal model). Blood and Soil is an ardent defense of an alternative Nazi’s life and politics. It forces us to check out what words like “peasant”, “Green”, and “ecology” should mean in our politics.
The London Telegraph of September 3, 2000 reported:

BRITISH neo-nazi groups are attempting to hijack the animal rights campaign by infiltrating protest groups…The neo-nazi groups are frequenting animal rights demonstrations in an attempt to capitalise upon the tensions and controversy generated by the issue. Many of them subscribe to Adolf Hitler’s orignal doctrine of a vegetarian, chemically untainted agrarian society in which vivisection is outlawed.
Their template is the so-called ‘Blood and Soil’ doctrine drawn up by Hitler’s agricultural minister Walter Darre. Their adherence to racist doctrine is, however, only thinly veiled…
Peter Staudenmaier’s study, Fascist Ecology: the ‘Green Wing’ of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents, says that Bramwell’s book is “undoubtedly the best single source on Darre in either German or English”. Unfortunately, Staudenmaier continues, her “grave error in judgement indicates the powerfully disorienting pull of an ‘ecological’ aura.”
This is an interesting kind of a slip. Staudenmaier and his co-author, Janet Diehl, have things upside down. Saying that Bramwell’s defense of Darre’s politics comes from her sympathy with his environmental vision. No, it’s the attraction of his class politics that has magnetized her to the big white refrigerator. People’s moral disorientation doesn’t come from anything ecological—that’s just the cover story— but from the continuing attraction of capitalist racism. That’s true whether we’re talking about Reichsminister Darre or Ralph Nader.

As useful as it is to blow away illusions about “Green Nazis”, it is even more useful to understand how these lessons apply. It’s not about the past, it’s about the future. The Darre type of “Green” policy minus the swastika and other stage props is no less popular right now. Because it represents a reflexive response within contemporary capitalism to crisis of the social environment. Where the publicized quest for “natural” purity is the visible symbol of a deeper hunger for a certain kind of social purity. Many people in Tokyo or Aspen or Vienna support these kind of ideas. But it doesn’t have anything to do with Nature. Incidentally, it is ironic that Dr. Anna Bramwell—like her subjects Walter Darre and Heinrich Himmler—is now deeply involved in the Eastern frontier. She is currently the administrator overseeing environmental programs in Eastern Europe for the European Common Market. Does Darre live on, in other uniforms?

Friday, January 10, 2014


It is Scission's Prison Friday edition and today we turn to the state of South Carolina.  

On Wednesday, this week, a state judge ruled that the treatment given mentally ill prison inmates in that state is so awful that it is unconstitutional and threatens the mental health of those inmates.

“Evidence in this case has proved that inmates have died in the S.C. Department of Corrections for lack of basic mental health care,” Judge Michael Baxley wrote in his 45-page order, filed around noon in the Richland County courthouse.
“Hundreds more remain substantially at risk for serious physical injury, mental decompensation, and profound, permanent mental illness,” wrote Baxley. He cited numerous individual cases as evidence of “a system that is inherently flawed in many respects, understaffed, underfunded and inadequate.”
The judge said it was the most troubling of 70,000 cases he has handled in the course of his career.
The State (newspaper, South Carolina), reports the judge:
...found that evidence in the case showed that for more than 10 years, the Department of Corrections has known “its mental health program is systemically deficient and exposes seriously mentally ill inmates to a substantial risk of serious harm.”

Actually its worth as Truthout writes:

 Corrections officials have been on notice about these violations for almost 15 years. In 1999, a consultant hired to assess the system’s mental health system described it as in “profound crisis.” In 2000, a legislative committee concluded that the prison provided inadequate treatment and often left inmates with mental illness “worse off than when they entered.” Reports describing the mental health treatment in prisons as dire continued virtually every year since, and have been met with only “half-hearted indifference...”

Truthout reveals:

 Jerome Laudman, a schizophrenic, intellectually disabled inmate in South Carolina, was placed in solitary confinement, although he was neither aggressive nor threatening. During his transfer to the “Lee Supermax” facility, he was sprayed with chemical munitions and physically abused by a correctional officer. Although the transfer should have been recorded, the videotape turned up blank. While Laudman was confined naked in his cell, officers observed that Laudman had stopped eating and taking his medication, and appeared sick and weak. They did not report it. A week later, he was found laying in his own feces with 15-20 trays of molding food in his cell, vomiting. Nurses and an officer refused to retrieve his body. When two inmates were eventually sent to remove him, he was transferred unconscious to a hospital, where he died of a heart-attack.

Other plaintiffs in the case were held naked in restraint chairs for hours at a time without treatment of their injuries, left to urinate in place and forced to stay in a painful “crucifix” position for hours. In one instance, blood pooled beneath an inmate held in a restraint; in another, an inmate’s intestine was protruding from his abdomen as officers tightened restraints surrounding the wound. One inmate was restrained with his arms in a twisted position, soaked in water, and then left outside on a December night.

A corrections expert who has assessed thousands of uses of pepper spray testified that he had never seen pepper spray gas be so frequently misused by a corrections officers. Evidence revealed countless cover-ups of these instances, with false call logs and failure to check on suicidal inmates leading to several deaths. In one instance, an inmate’s aunt called to warn of a “goodbye letter,” but officers did not check on the inmate until two days later, when they found him dead in his cell from a drug overdose. Overall, Baxter found, these incidents were “unreported, uninvestigated, and unmanaged.”

This treatment in cells described as “extremely cold and inordinately filthy, often with the blood and feces of previous occupants smeared on the floor and walls,” was particularly egregious because it targeted those with serious mental illness, who, as in prisons around the country, are vastly over-represented in the prison population. Any solitary confinement of mentally ill inmates at all has been deemed unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment by several federal courts and the Department of Justice. But rather than avoiding solitary confinement for the mentally ill, corrections officials subjected them to confinement at rates 2.5 times greater than that of the general population, and for significantly longer periods of time. One plaintiff in the case was held for 2,565 consecutive days.

It gets worse.

The good people of South Carolina were aware of all this and did nothing.  No one seemed to care.

Of course, South Carolina is not alone in the abuse of mentally ill prisoners. As investigation by ProPublica released last summer told how mentally ill inmates in jails and prisons across the country are routinely placed in solitary confinement.  

In California a law suit revealed recently that mentally ill patients were routinely forced from their cells through the repeated use of pepper spray.  

In Pennsylvania, David Hickton, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of that state discussing a case there said, “The findings in this case are disturbing and expose a serious disregard for the health and safety of prisoners with serious mental illness.”  In that case the Department of Justice found, “The willingness of officers to use additional force on immobilized prisoners by, for example, tasering them, suggests that the restraints and the other force tools used on the prisoners were employed to punish and cause pain, not to prevent imminent harm.  The report further stated In a 26-month span, 125 prisoners listed as being mentally ill by the prison spent 90 or more days in isolation — in a cell for 22 or more hours per day — with 26 of those spending a year or more, according to the letter. The isolation cells measure about 10-ft. by 10-ft and seldom have windows.  

At New York Rikers Island an independent review found that  about 40% of Rikers' 12,200 inmates have some kind of mental health diagnosis, and about a third of those have so-called serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Of the roughly 800 inmates in solitary at any given time, just over half of them are mentally ill.  The review described some Rikers units as filthy and vermin-ridden, with cracked linoleum that inmates break off and use to cut themselves.

I could go on, but what is the point.  You get the picture.

Or do you.

As the piece below from The Atlantic  points out too well, way too many do not get the picture, and even when they do they could give a rats ass.

Oh yeah, the state of South Carolina has announced it will appeal this decision which means nothing is likely to change for at least a few more years...unless PEOPLE say enough and freaking do something.


When Good People Do Nothing: The Appalling Story of South Carolina's Prisons

A judge's order in an inmate abuse case highlights the role played, or not played, by the state's political and legal infrastructure.

SCDC/Trial Exhibit

In two months, America will observe the 50th anniversary of one of its most dubious moments. On March 13, 1964, Catherine "Kitty" Genovese was brutally murdered in Queens, New York. What made her case infamouslegendary, even—was that nobody responded to her cries for help. "Please help me, please help me!" she cried, over and over, and at least 38 people in her neighborhood who heard those cries did nothing to help her. They did not call the police. They did not come to comfort her. They did not, they later said, want to get involved. "When good people do nothing" is a timeless moral question, indeed.
One could say the same thing about the citizens of the state of South Carolina, who stand condemned today by one of their own. On Wednesday, in one of the most wrenching opinions you will ever read, a state judge in Columbia ruled that South Carolina prison officials were culpable of pervasive, systemic, unremitting violations of the state's constitution by abusing and neglecting mentally ill inmates. The judge, Michael Baxley, a decorated former legislator, called it the "most troubling" case he ever had seen and I cannot disagree. Read the ruling. It's heartbreaking.
The evidence is now sadly familiar to anyone who follows these cases: South Carolina today mistreats these ill people without any evident traces of remorse.  Even though there are few disputed material issues of law or fact in the case, even though the judge implored the state to take responsibility for its conduct, South Carolina declared before the sun had set Wednesday that it would appeal the ruling—and thus likely doom the inmates to years more abuse and neglect. That's not just "deliberate indifference," the applicable legal standard in these prison abuse cases. That is immoral.

But what makes this ruling different from all the rest—and why it deserves to become a topic of national conversation—is the emphasis Judge Baxley placed upon the failure of the good people of South Carolina to remedy what they have known was terribly wrong since at least 2000. Where was the state's medical community while the reports piled up chronicling the mistreatment of these prisoners? Where was the state's legal community as government lawyers walked into court year after year with frivolous defenses for prison policies? Where were the religious leaders, the ones who preach peace and goodwill?
No one in power came forward. Even as the evidence became more clear and compelling that something horrible was happening inside those prisons. The most telling reaction to Judge Baxley's ruling came from State Senator Mike Fair, who chairs the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee. On Wednesday, after the ruling, he said: "I didn't know that we had a problem with any particular aspect of mistreating or not treating inmates who have a diagnosis of mental illness." But Senator Fair knew. His fellow lawmakers knew. Yet like Kitty Genovese's neighbors, they did nothing, even as the cries for help became louder.
The History
To understand Wednesday's ruling—to understand the extent to which South Carolina ignored what was in front of its very nose—it's important to look at the history of the problem. In the 1980s and early 1990s, South Carolina did a reasonably good job of caring for its mentally ill prisoners. That changed in the mid 1990s. Michael Moore, a renowned prison administrator, came from Texas and implemented a series of harsh reforms that vitiated mental health services for inmates. Jobs for prison psychiatrists were cut. Programs that had helped the mentally ill were shelved. And conditions, predictably, got worse in a hurry.
Moore left for Florida in 1999, but state lawmakers and prison officials in South Carolina never undid the damage he had caused even after they began to appreciate the scope of that damage. Sentencing reform even came to South Carolina, in 2010, courtesy of Governor Mark Sanford and his fellow Republicans in the state legislature, but no reform ever came to the state's mental health programs for inmates. No meaningful influx of money came to fix the problem. No reformers were commissioned to help. Judge Baxley, in his ruling this week, picks up the story from here. He writes:
The evidence is overwhelming that SCDC (South Carolina Department of Corrections) has known for over a decade that its system exposes seriously mentally ill inmates to a substantial risk of serious harm.
In 1999, SCDC retained Dr. Patterson (who became the Plaintiffs’ expert in Judge Baxley’s case), through a grant, to inspect its mental health program. His report, issued in 2000, characterized the program as being in a state of “profound crisis.”
In October 2000, a Joint Legislative Proviso Committee report concluded that “inmates with mental illness are not receiving adequate treatment… and oftentimes leave prisons worse off than when they entered."
In April 2003, a South Carolina Task Force whose members included three former SCDC Directors issued a report that concluded Gilliam Psychiatric Facility was “clearly inadequate."
In May 2003, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health issued a report on SCDC’s mental health program, noting “[t]he lack of psychiatric coverage has resulted in a critical situation, with extremes of poor care, inhumane treatment, and dangerousness…”
In September 2003, SCDC Director Jon Ozmint, in a application for technical assistance, stated that “[t]he current plight of persons with mental illness at SCDC is at a crisis level.”
In June 2005, the Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this case, alleging constitutional deficiencies in SCDC’s program.
From June 2006-2010 Plaintiffs’ experts issued eight site inspection reports criticizing conditions in SCDC facilities.
In October 2007, SCDC psychiatrist Dr. Michael Kirby wrote a letter to his supervisor noting several serious problems with SCDC’s mental health system…
In January 2010, a United State Department of Justice report was highly critical of SCDC’s medication management and administration practices.
And through all of this time, this 15-year stretch in the state's history, no session of the legislature passed a comprehensive measure to fix the obvious problems. No governor called a press conference to lament the conditions of confinement and demand reforms from the Department of Corrections. No one save a few lonely advocates held a prayer vigil for the ill people who were being treated so poorly. No one brought any ethics charges against the doctors who were supposed to be treating these people or against the state lawyers who were defending these indefensible policies and practices in the state's courts of law. 
Here is the link to Dr. Patterson's initial report. Here is the link to the Joint Legislative Proviso report. Here is the link to the 2003 Task Force Report.*Here is the link to the May 2003 Department of Mental Health memo. Take the time to read these documents and then decide for yourself whether the good people of South Carolina knew or should have known what was happening inside their prisons all those years. And keep those officials warnings in mind as you read next what Judge Baxley found happened to so many of the mentally ill prisoners caught in the vise of this callous system.

SCDC/Trial Exhibit

The Ruling
He started with the basics. "The evidence in this case has proved," Judge Baxley wrote, "that inmates have died in the South Carolina Department of Corrections for lack of basic mental health care, and hundreds more remain substantially at risk for serious physical injury, mental decompensation, and profound, permanent mental illness." There are not enough mental health professionals working on the state's prisons and those who are working are not adequately doing their jobs. Meanwhile, punitive prison policies, and poor communication, exacerbate the problems of the mentally ill. The judge wrote:
First, the mental health program at SCDC is severely understaffed, particularly with respect to mental health professionals, to such a degree as to impede the proper administration of mental health services….
Second, seriously mentally ill inmates are exposed to a disproportionate use of force and segregation (solitary confinement) when compared with non-mentally ill inmates…
Third, mental health services at SCDC lack a sufficiently systematic program that maintains accurate and complete treatment records to chart overall treatment, progress, or regression of inmates with serious mental illness.
Fourth, SCDC’s screening and evaluation process is ineffective in identifying inmates with serious mental illness and in providing those it does identify with timely treatment.
Fifth, SCDC’s administration of psychotropic medications is inadequately supervised and evaluated.
Sixth, SCDC’s current policies and practices concerning suicide prevention and crisis intervention are inadequate and have resulted in the unnecessary loss of life among seriously mentally ill inmates.
Those are the antiseptic words judges often use to describe unconstitutional conditions. What do they mean? They mean that one mentally ill inmate, James Wilson, was kept in solitary confinement for at least 2,491 consecutive days. It means that an intellectually disabled (and schizophrenic) man named Jerome Laudman was abused and neglected, and then left to rot in his own feces and vomit, until he died of a heart attack. It means that force was used 81 times on a severely mentally ill inmate named James Howard. It means that some mentally ill inmates were restrained at length in what they called a "crucifix position."
It means some mentally ill prisoners were "routinely placed" naked "in shower stalls, 'rec cages', interview booths, and holding cells for hours and even days at a time." It means that suicidal prisoners who were supposed to be receiving anti-psychotic medication were not receiving them. No surprise, the judge wrote, since SCDC's "computer system cannot retrieve the names or numbers of all inmates referred" for mental health treatment, "the number of inmates who have made serious suicide attempts; or the number of inmates whose psychotropic medications have expired without being timely renewed."
It means that mentally ill inmates are routinely caged for days in their own feces and urine, having to eat literally where they shit. It means, Judge Baxley wrote, that "the deposition testimony of some psychiatrists reveals an alarming lack of knowledge about the policies and procedures at SCDC." One such psychiatrist did not know "what mental health counselors do, and had 'no idea' who drafted treatment plans" for inmates. And even if the mental health professionals knew what they were doing, they wouldn't have been able to do much. The ratio of inmates needing treatment to professionals able to provide it was astronomically high.
The Response
But those horrific facts aren't to me the worst of it. The worst of it is that South Carolina officials both before and after the filing of the lawsuit-- the 2005 filing of the lawsuit, remember-- have refused to accept responsibility for their conduct or to move swiftly to fix the deplorable conditions that still plague the mentally ill inmates in their care. "The evidence shows," Judge Baxley wrote, "that from 1999 until the filing of this action in 2005, SCDC did virtually nothing to address, much less eliminate, the substantial risks of serious harm to which class members were exposed."
And since the filing of the lawsuit more than eight years ago? Judge Baxley wrote: "What limited action SCDC has taken since the filing of this lawsuit has had little to no effect in abating the unconstitutional deficiencies this Court has found." And then the judge cited an old proposition of law that has rarely been more applicable than it is in this case. "Patently ineffective gestures purportedly directed toward remedying objectively unconstitutional conditions do not prove a lack of deliberate indifference, they demonstrate it." South Carolina's "band aids," Judge Baxley wrote, were both too little and too late.
It is one thing to violate the constitutional rights of others in the fashion proven here, day after day, year after year, tortured moment after tortured moment. It is another thing to be caught violating the constitutional rights of people in a manner that shocks the conscience, as we see in this case. But it is something else altogether, something unethical and immoral surely but bordering on something profoundly cruel, to be caught violating the rights of others in this fashion and to then show no regret or remorse for having done so. If those abused inmates have ever received an apology, I have not seen it.
There's been plenty of scorn, though. The last page of Judge Baxley's ruling is perhaps the most profound. He wrote:
We are now eight years into this litigation. Rather than accept the obvious at some point and come forward in a meaningful way to try and improve its mental health system, Defendants have fought this case tooth and nail—on the facts, on the law, on the constitutional issues, portraying itself as beleaguered by the burdensomeness of Plaintiffs' discovery, and generally harrumphed by the invasive nature of Plaintiffs’ counsels’ tactics and strategies.
This Court has spent dozens of hours in hearings and conferences in an effort to resolve discovery disputes, most of which involved delay, missed deadlines, and recalcitrance on the part of the Defendants.
Over and over again, Judge Baxley chronicled, state lawyers sought to minimize the extent of the problem. Specific incidents of inmate abuse or neglect were called "anecdotal" or "outliers" by prison officials. Likewise, the state even failed or refused to find competent experts. The judge noted "the wide disparity  between Plaintiffs' and Defendants' experts in case preparation and particular knowledge of the SCDC system." Ponder that for a moment: South Carolina's prison "experts" in this case didn't know as much about South Carolina's prisons as did the experts for the inmates. And yet South Carolina pledges an appeal.
This is unacceptable. We would consider it unacceptable if a private litigant were to act in this fashion—that person or corporation might even be sanctioned by the court and forced to pay fines or fees. And we ought to consider it even more unacceptable for a public litigant to behave like this given the overwhelming evidence presented in this case. The judge clearly believes that state officials have considered this epic case a mere nuisance, an inconvenience, which is precisely the sort of cavalier attitude about constitutional rights that accounts for the abuse, neglect, and mistreatment of the inmates in the first place.
"Justice in this case is not really about who wins or loses this lawsuit," Judge Baxley wrote. He's right, of course. Justice will come in this case only when South Carolina finally spends the time and the money necessary to give these ill people the baseline levels of care and treatment they are entitled to receive as a matter of law—and as a matter of common human decency. But where are the good people of South Carolina today, the ones who know must now, if somehow they didn't before, that this monstrous thing is happening in their midst and in their name? 
This epic ruling forces South Carolina, and the rest of us, to make a choice about what we want our prisons to say about who we are as a people and what we represent as a civilized society. And also to make a choice about the extent to which we respect our rule of law and the measure of justice it is intended to represent. So far, I have failed to get any state official to explain to me the basis for the appeal in this case. Not the crass, political basis for the appeal. But the legal and the moral and the ethical basis for the appeal. That's because there is none. Now that Judge Baxley has written what needed to be written, now that he has made a record, there are only right and wrong. And deep down inside somewhere I reckon the decent citizens of South Carolina knows it. 

* Chaired by none other than Senator Mike Fair, the lawmaker who said Wednesday he did not  know "we had a problem with any particular aspect of mistreating or not treating inmates." I sought comment from Senator Fair on Thursday. He has not responded. Nor has anyone from Governor Nikki Haley's office.