Over at frogblog, it was suggested that I was Godwinning the thread re my comment on Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws’ legislation (promoted by the local National Party MP Chester Borrows) to ban displaying gang patches in Wanganui. I posted a brief comment in German:
Herzlich willkommen in die Flussstadt. Arbeit macht frei!
[Translation: A wam welcome to the River City. Work will set you free!]
The reference to the “Arbeit macht frei” signage that was depicted at several Nazi concentration camps caused somewhat of a reaction. I’m very careful about when I make analogies to Nazi Germany (or similarly fascist regimes), but think there is a time when it is appropriate. When fundamental human rights (such as freedom of expression, freedom of religious or ethical belief, freedom of association) are being seriously eroded, I think a comparison with Fascism or Nazism or Stalinism is justified.
Which brings me to the National Party’s position on work-for-dole. They haven’t yet clarified this if they are the major Party in Government after the next election, but when they were last in Government they implemented, and for the last 3 elections have advocated, that people who are unemployed will be denied benefits unless they undertake to do unpaid work.
Now, to me, that is little short of the “Arbeit macht frei!” that was displayed at several of the Nazi concentration camps. Work (and work hard, and for nothing) and you will survive – don’t work (for nothing), and you will die, or at least suffer severely!
The reality is that such a policy forces people who are unable to find paid work to work for nothing. The effect of such a policy is that they and their family lose their home and starve if they cannot find paid work – unless they sign up to the State to work for nothing.
That to me is slavery, is fascism, is Nazism, is Stalinism. Essentially, it is “comply or die”!
I make no apologies for associating the slogan “Arbeit macht frei!” with it. What do others think?