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Do you realize how many people will find it offensive that you are using this quote to compare a treaty to the holocaust? There is a big difference between a treaty which may infringe on civil liberties and killing people based on their beliefs or ethnicity.

It's okay to make slippery slope arguments, but let's not get into Godwin territory.

I think it would be sad if Niemoller's point, that one must speak up for the rights of others, or no one will speak up for yours, was decided to be inapplicable in all situations, since his experience involved Nazis.

There's always some excuse to avoid his point, especially when it most needs to be heard.

I realise this is always a sensitive area, but please consider that there are in fact laws on the books and government policies in many Western countries today that are every bit as evil as the kind of thing that was going on in Germany at that time.

We have detention without trial for extended periods, or indefinitely if you mutter the magic word "terrorism".

We have outright torture of detainees, and people dying in prisons.

If a suspect does get to trial, it might be in a secretive court where they have no opportunity to confront their accuser or see and challenge all of the evidence against them.

We have laws that allow government agents to infringe on almost every fundamental civil liberty by one kind of executive order or another, some of which are strikingly similar to the Enabling Act in their effect even if the intent was not necessarily the same.

We have routine invasion of privacy and monitoring of the general populace without any reasonable grounds for suspicion/probable cause/whatever you like to call it. There are well-documented cases of routine national surveillance being set up by police or security services without any oversight or consent from elected governments.

We have seen far too many cases of obvious abuse of peaceful protesters (or simply those caught in the wrong place at the wrong time) and in some cases we have seen courts accept a defence of the indefensible.

We have seen deaths at the hands of police actions that were later shown to be completely unjustified and an operational screw-up from start to finish, for which no-one has ever been held accountable.

The biggest difference between the situation today and the situation in Germany around the Second World War is a matter of scale, nothing more. And I think that is exactly the lesson that Pastor Niemoeller was trying to teach. While matters of intellectual property are hardly the stuff of revolutions, when you get into things like routine searches of private matters without justification, which in turn build on other obvious abuses that have been going in in the interests of "security" at transport hubs in recent years, I think you're way over the line into "why haven't we stopped this madness yet".

All of that is terrible but it's not state sponsored genocide.

But if it started, at this point, how would we stop it? That's the problem. All it takes now is the wrong person to get power.

pwg's point is that the road to any sort of catastrophic illiberal state-sponsored action is paved slowly and incrementally. Not that we are living in mini 1930s Germany. The situations in their substance or scale are not comparable.

Saying that "government policies in many Western countries today that are every bit as evil as the kind of thing that was going on in Germany at that time" is very ignorant. Who are our Jews and Gypsies? Where is our Kristallnacht? Where is our Triumph of the Will? Where is our 'Der Ewige Jew'? Where are our massive crowds doing what is our sieg heil?

In fact a fundamental difference between America 2012 and Germany 1938 (among many) is that we have massive amounts of people vocally and publicly against the laws our politicians are pushing and the state of the country. In 1938 Germany you had the exact opposite.

> Who are our Jews and Gypsies? Where is our Kristallnacht? Where is our Triumph of the Will? Where is our 'Der Ewige Jew'? Where are our massive crowds doing what is our sieg heil?

Fortunately the situation nowadays still is different in many points. However consider that several hundred thousands Iraqis have died for no good reason at all. That two countries are under military occupation.

The main contrast, as you mentioned, is people utter apathy. Instead of rabid nazis, we're seeing only paralysed sheep; instead of angry people wanting revenge from the entire world (read about the treaty of Versailles), we have frightened people afraid of losing their material comfort.

That doesn't make ACTA and other similar laws any better, unfortunately. Now more than ever westerners look like Elois under the control of Morlocks.

Please don't turn this into a US-centric discussion. We are talking about ACTA, which is a global deal, and my post was about the current situation in the West in general. I don't really want to go off on an extended off-topic debate anyway, since as I noted before ACTA itself is hardly on the same level as what we're talking about in this side-track.

> Who are our Jews and Gypsies?

Islamophobia is widespread since 9/11. In England and Wales, black people are thirty times as likely to be subject to a stop-and-search by the police as white people. Don't kid yourself that we don't have rampant discrimination just because you aren't in a group that gets discriminated against.

Obviously no-one credible is equating the seriousness of police abuse of stop-and-search powers with gas chamber mass executions. But there really are extreme cases with consequences not so far from the concentration camps even today. There's a little US military base in Cuba you've probably heard of, for example, and if you don't know why they chose to use that particular base for what they now use it for, you should really look up the history. Once again, the scale is very different, but what is the difference in principle?

One can draw similar parallels with some of the other things you mentioned.

We might not have Kristallnacht, but we are increasingly living in surveillance states, and we have increasingly paramilitary police weapons and tactics, and we have military units being deployed on home soil. We are eroding the fundamental concept of due process and basic legal principles like habeas corpus. I don't really believe we're about to see the violent subjugation of an entire section of our society or that our current political leaders have any ambition to act in that way, but that's not the point. The mechanisms for such abuse should never even be created in a free country.

We might not have Triumph of the Will, but modern political machines are propagandists unrivalled in the history of humanity. For example, for several years in the early 2000s, as the most recent Iraq War was building momentum, about half of the US population thought the Hussein regime was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. That support was used to justify a war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and taken a staggering amount of time and money out of Western governments that could have been spent on far more constructive purposes.

> In fact a fundamental difference between America 2012 and Germany 1938 (among many) is that we have massive amounts of people vocally and publicly against the laws our politicians are pushing and the state of the country.

And the really scary thing in all of this is that you have massive amounts more who are openly complying and think it's all being done for their safety and well-being. As I said, modern political machines are propagandists without equal. They're just more subtle about it than they were 75 years ago.

Kristalnacht, 'Der Ewige Jew', Triumph of the Will, the death camps and concentration camps, these were all concerted campaigns against the 'undesirables' of Germany in order to promote racial purity.

You have given examples of parallels to these things but there is no commonality of purpose behind them.

'Der Ewige Jude' was not a campaign to create a 'common enemy' or hoodwink the German people as I assume you believe Islamophobia is (I can only assume you believe Islamophobia can be explained by media promotion rather than an emergent feeling among the populace in response to 9/11). It was done with the express purpose of dehumanizing Jews so the populace would be complacent with the gas chambers.

So please, show me a commonality of purpose behind all these parallels you have shown. All you have are disparate events to which you have identified a certain aspect which is similar to what Nazi Germany did.

I don't think there is much commonality of purpose with many of the legal/governmental trends today, other than acting out of fear of some perceived bogeyman (though not necessarily the same one in each case) or in the interests of a powerful minority at the expense of the majority (ditto).

Still, it doesn't matter to a black kid in London whether he's being excessively hassled because a senior officer made an active decision to employ racial profiling or because of institutional racism within the Met. The consequence is still the same.

Moreover, in most of the worst cases today, there really is someone actively making those decisions. Guantanamo Bay did not become what it is by accident. The West did not invade Iraq by accident, and the Blair administration did not fail to notice the two million citizens marching in protest to demonstrate that the war did not have popular support. More recently, the police did not detain peaceful protestors in London in a restricted area for hours without food, water or toilet facilities by accident, and the courts that condoned such behaviour did not reach their decision without looking at the evidence to establish the facts of what really happened and why.

These actions all had different victims, and obviously some had much more serious consequences than others. The one thing they all have in common is authorities that are granted powers in law that most of us don't get using those powers in ways that conflict with what we used to consider basic human rights and getting away with it. However well-intentioned they might have been in their actions, however they rationalised those decisions in their own minds, some rights and freedoms should be above interference by the administration of the day, whoever the victims are and however small their number, and any decent human being ought to stand up for those rights and freedoms wherever they are threatened. As I said, I think that is exactly the warning Pastor Niemoeller was trying to give us.

So the only difference between Western governments and the Nazis is a matter of scale and your evidence for this is that Western governments are abusing their power.

All governments past and present abuse their power. Sometimes in large ways. Sometimes in small ways. That alone is not sufficient to warrant a comparison to Nazi Germany which carries more historical baggage than it's clear you realize.

You are cheapening your position by resorting to hyperbole.

You are reading things into my posts that are not there. I am commenting only on objective things like laws that are being passed and practical policies being adopted today. Those laws and policies have very serious consequences for a relatively small number of people today, but for now only much less serious consequences for the wider population. However, they could be exploited by an undesirable administration at some future point to have serious consequences much more widely.

Please notice that at no point in this discussion have I suggested that any current Western administration is behaving like the Nazi party of 1930s Germany, equated any current leader with Hitler, suggested that the motivation for these laws was genocide, or anything similar. I have criticised only specific measures already taken that pose a much wider threat to basic human rights and freedoms than has yet been realised, and I have been careful to acknowledge that I am considering only the end results and that the motivations for such measures are probably very different.

I'd recommend reading The Road to Serfdom before continuing down that line of thought.

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