Commonalities vs. Sameness

In Three New Deals, author Wolfganf Schivelbusch  argues how three powerful states were all led by common ideals leading up to WWII.  This is not to confuse with ‘same’ ideals in any sense.  While these terms may seem alike, Schivelbusch clearly states there is a difference.  He argues that while the United States, Germany, and Italy had common features the three cannot be considered identical in any way.  It is difficult to place the United States, a democratic society, in the same category as two authoritative countries, but Schivelbusch continues to explain how they represent one another while being different at the same time.

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal consisted of a series of acts that were established to help the United States recover from the Great Depression.  While the New Deal looks as it could help the recovery process, it ultimately did nothing but create criticism both internationally and domestically.  Much of the criticism was towards FDR and his Fascist and National Socialist fascinations.  Schivelbusch argues how Germany and Italy identified the similarities of FDR’s economic solutions and supported his dictatorial leadership style.  While these solutions may have been similar to those of the Fascist or National Socialist, they are not identical in any matter.

Another element Schivelbusch recognizes that is common within these three states is the use of  propaganda, particularly war propaganda.  War propaganda was used create a sense of nationalism through the respected states, and Italy and Germany seemed to create a strong idea of nationalism.  Stated, “fascism and National Socialism saw themselves as the continuation of solders’ solidarity, as heroic, messianic movements that would invigorate nations still ruled by outdated ideas with new revolutionary spirit.  Politics was a call to arms on the home front” (39).  FDR and the United States did not have anywhere near the strength of the Germans or Italians, but was convinced he could spread it.

2 thoughts on “Commonalities vs. Sameness

  1. I also found the section on war propaganda very interesting. In particular, I was intrigued by the parallels the author drew between the various movements implemented, and the war experience. The author specifically notes that “…the principle of leadership, the reliance on uniforms, the storm troopers, the emphasis on all-or-nothing political struggle over debate, and the use of the word “battle” for every major economic enterprise” (Schivelbush, 39) were all indicators of the similarities between these two experiences. Additionally, Schivelbush noted that the front experience had helped to forge a special bond and a new camaraderie that subsequently eradicated class divisions. To be honest, I am a little skeptical of that notion. I wonder to what extent was that actually true, and how would something like camaraderie be quantified, and proven to be more prevalent?

  2. I agree with your skepticism. I think that the propaganda probably did generate some more fervent support from some individuals but also marginalized any dissenting voices. If we look at the McCarthy era and the propaganda spread to combat communism, we see a society ruled by fear and skepticism rather than unity. Did World War II propaganda just start this trend?

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