Friday, 16 November 2012

Neimoller's Law of Diminishing Freedoms

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a minister in the Lutheran Church in the late 1920's and 1930's. Within two days of Hitler's rise to the Chancellorship in 1933 he made a speech warning the Germans were not electing a 'fuher' but a 'verfuher' (a mis-leader). Along with Martin Neimoller he set out to oppose the Nazification of the German Church by non-violent means having been inspired by the success of Ghandi in India. He failed as the German Church did little to support his and Neimoller's campaign of civil disobedience. Eventually Bonhoeffer was implicated in an Abwher plot to rid Germany of Hitler and sent to the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1943. He was hanged just 45 days before the end of the war in Europe.

His good friend Martin Neimoller survived, having been imprisoned in 1937 for activities against the state, but unlike Bonhoeffer survived Dachau Concentration Camp. Neimoller wrote these damning lines about himself and his fellow Germans and their slavish following of or blind eye turning to the activities of the Nazis. Neimoller admitted to have, at first, trusted Hitler having been promised by Hiltler, personally, that there would be no pogroms against the Jews in Germany. His Conservative tendencies lead him towards tacit support of  the right wing policies of the Nazis against which he only slowly turned during the 1930's as the discrepancies between what Hitler said and did, became ever greater. He later said, "I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me." It is in this context his famous poem should be read:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

In the UK we are looking at a Government and political system at Westminster whose policies and activities are increasingly, to many, equally as abhorent as those of the Nazis:

               We may not have concentration camps:
               We have 'sink estates' where the undesirables are all put. 
               We may not have selective euthanasia: 
               We are seeing the defacto 'criminalisation' of the disabled,
               sick and mentally ill.
               We may not have a police state:
               We do see cover ups of fraud and child abuse at the highest levels.
               We stay silent and shake our heads in dismay:
               We do not take action and so democracy dies.

Whether you are a Bonhoeffer who sees what is happening or a Neimoller who is slowly starting to turn against the neo-liberal policies of those running this country, may I suggest the time to pretend this is not happening has long gone. It is time for us all to find our inner Ganhdi and take on this out of control Westminster behemoth by peaceful means - stopping paying the BBC License Fee would be a start, taking our country back from those who abuse our democracy, our rights and freedoms, in our name would be even better.

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