No – I am not talking about football (or soccer). The headline «Am Ende steht der deutsche Sieg» was printed in big letters on the front page of a German newspaper in February 1945. I have recently become fascinated with the final moments of Nazi Germany, as it offers a number of important lessons for the world we live in today.
How many Germans still believed in the possibility of a German victory in 1945? This is something we will never find out, but it is clear that a significant proportion of the population was prepared to continue to fight for the Nazi regime in the spring of 1945. Why? Among all the possible explanations, two important ones stand out: ideology and power.
Anyone brought up on a toxic brew of Nazi race ideology obviously had a hard time accepting that the USA, the UK, and the USSR had at least as good weapons and soldiers as Germany. It was easier for people to accept government propaganda and to disregard the “fake news” coming from traitors and enemies, or – indeed – from their own eyes and ears.
A more rational explanation was that the ruling Nazi party had no reason to surrender. They knew that by relinquishing power, they would place themselves at the mercy of the victors and probably be executed. The job as a murderous dictator does not come with a good retirement plan.
Which brings us to the world of today. It is obvious to any literate person that humanity is rapidly destroying the biosphere of the only inhabitable planet in the known universe. Whether we consider pollution, global warming, loss of bio-diversity, or soil erosion, things do not look good. The problem is overconsumption. To anyone brought up on the toxic brew of neoliberalism, it is hard to accept this “greatest market failure of all time”. Consequently, most people deny that the problems exist or continue to hope for some miracle to happen.
In Alaska, oil companies now have to cool the ground in order to prevent the permafrost from melting and damaging their infrastructure. In other words, they use advanced technology to locally reduce the consequences of global warming, in order to continue to pump fossil fuel and cause global warming. This level of greed can only be described as evil; refreezing permafrost in order to allow for oil exploration is not a technical solution – it is a crime against humanity. Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry is also very powerful with an almost complete control of the political system in many countries.
Obviously, the analogy with Nazi Germany is not perfect. The Nazi regime was ended by intervention from abroad. In contrast, neoliberalism and the fossil fuel industry are global phenomena, and nobody is going to save us this time. It is up to us to rise to the challenge. A consumer strike is one of the few options left to us at this point. So, stop flying and stop buying!