The Three Arrows

The Three Arrows is the symbol of the Social Democratic Party of Germany during its resistance to Nazism in the 1930s. It reflected the party’s opposition to totalitarianism in all forms, namely reactionary conservatism (represented by monarchism), fascism, and communism.

Below is an official election poster from the 1932 parliamentary election urging voters to choose the SDP. Its slogan, “Against Papen, Hitler, Thälmann”, would prove prescient: Papen was an aristocratic nationalist who helped bring Hitler to power, and became an ally and official of the Nazi regime; Thälmann was committed Stalinist and head of the German Communist Party, which since 1928 was largely controlled and funded by the Soviet Union.

Of course, we all know how this election ultimately turned out: Though the Nazi Party lost 34 seats, it nonetheless remained a major force in government, eventually seizing power just months later. (By the time the next elections took place in March 1933, there was already widespread repression and vote-rigging).

But even after the Nazis consolidated power and began openly terrorizing their opponents, the SDP and its allies did not give up. The party joined with liberals, unionists, and other anti-fascist and anti-communist groups to form the Iron Front, a militant organization that brought the fight to the increasingly violent paramilitary groups of the Nazi and Communist parties. The Three Arrows remained a symbol of this movement and was often worn as an armband; it typically accompanied the slogan, “neither Stalin’s slaves nor Hitler’s henchmen”.

For its part, the SDP was the only party to vote against the Enabling Act of 1933, which gave Hitler the dictatorial powers that allowed the Nazis to secure control over the country. The party was thereafter banned, and along with communists and other leftists, saw many of its members imprisoned or killed. After the war, it was reestablished in West Germany, but forced to merge with the ruling Communist Party of East Germany. It remains one of Germany’s major parties.

More Videos from Robert Reich

I know I’ve shard his material at least twice before, but I find it compelling and understandable enough to merit attention. He’s definitely become one of my favorite public intellectuals, especially since he utilizes social media to engage with the public (including maintaining a Reddit account where people can ask him questions).

The former US Labor Secretary and current economics professor has become an increasingly prominent voice for the left, especially pertaining to matters of workers’ rights (obviously), inequality, and social welfare. Unsurprisingly, he’s gotten involved with the OWS movement, expressing explicit support, speaking in several of their rallies, and releasing a brief but poignant defense of their actions – in which he also takes a jab at big money influence on politics.

His strength is in his brevity and easy communication. Most of his videos tend to be short but dense, and I admire his ability to convey his points in such a digestible manner. Many people certainly take issue with his focus on the super wealthy and his positive stance towards “big government,” but I find his arguments to be relatively pragmatic and reasonable. While this may be a cognitive bias on my part, given my leftist leanings, I have had yet to find a good counterpoint to his statements. Here he is debunking six common conservative arguments concerning the economy.

As always, I welcome any counterpoints from my readers or their favorite thinkers. I searched for video responses on YouTube, but couldn’t find any.

Reich also has his own blog where he posts these videos in addition to his writings. His latest update, a companion to the first video, discusses the apparent erosion of the first amendment, something he’s hardly alone in acknowledging.

Why do you think Wall Street got bailed without a single string attached – not even being required to help homeowners to whom they sold mortgages, who are now so far under water they’re drowning? And why does the financial reform legislation have loopholes big enough for bankers to drive their Ferrari’s through?

And why else are oil companies, big agribusinesses, military contractors, and the pharmaceutical industry reaping billions of dollars of government subsidies and special tax breaks?

Experts say the 2012 presidential race is likely to be the priciest ever, costing an estimated $6 billion. “It is far worse than it has ever been,” says Republican Senator John McCain.

If there’s a single core message to the Occupier movement it’s that the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top endangers our democracy. With money comes political power.

Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they’re told the First Amendment doesn’t apply. Instead, they’re treated as public nuisances – clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.

Across America, public officials are saying Occupiers have to go. Even in universities – where free speech is supposed to be sacrosanct – peaceful assembly is being met with clubs and pepper spray.

The First Amendment is being stood on its head. Money speaks, and an unlimited amount of it can now be spent bribing and cajoling politicians. Yet peaceful assembly is viewed as a public nuisance and removed by force.

Slavoj Zizek: The Field Is Open

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, a self-described radical leftist known for his colorful character, expresses his views on the growing wave of discontent against the status quo that is sweeping the globe. I’m not sure what to make of his analysis just yet, but I certainly find it interesting.

See the interview with Al-Jazeera here.  Comments and interpretations are, of course, always welcomed.