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Why “Bio-Psy-Op?”: Federal Reserve Analysis Ties 1918 Flu Pandemic to Rise of Nazism

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The Reich­stag Fire

COMMENT: In our ongo­ing series about the Covid-19 out­break and its mul­ti-dimen­sion­al man­i­fes­ta­tions, we have termed it a “bio-psy-op.” An aca­d­e­m­ic paper pro­duced by a Fed­er­al Reserve econ­o­mist posits the socio-polit­i­cal effects of the 1918 flu pan­dem­ic as a fac­tor con­tribut­ing to the rise of Nazism in Ger­many.

(We have dis­cussed the 1918 flu pan­dem­ic and the pro­gres­sion from mil­i­tary sci­en­tists recov­er­ing the virus’ DNA to full recon­struc­tion of the organ­ism in 2005. Some of the rel­e­vant pro­grams: FTR #‘s 55, 1116, 1117, 1118, 1121, 1124.) 

Cit­ed by numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing The New York Times, Bloomberg News and Politi­co, the study under­scores some of our asser­tions con­cern­ing the fas­cist and extreme right-wing ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the pan­dem­ic. 

This time­ly and very impor­tant study will be ref­er­enced in future dis­cus­sion of the psy­cho­log­i­cal, soci­o­log­i­cal and socio-eco­nom­ic aspects of the Covid-19 out­break.

Kris­t­ian Blick­le’s analy­sis under­scores points we have made about the demo­graph­ic, eco­nom­ic and psy­cho­log­i­cal dev­as­ta­tion the pan­dem­ic is hav­ing on the body politic.

A new aca­d­e­m­ic paper pro­duced by the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank of New York con­cludes that deaths caused by the 1918 influen­za pan­dem­ic “pro­found­ly shaped Ger­man soci­ety” in sub­se­quent years and con­tributed to the strength­en­ing of the Nazi Par­ty.

“The paper, pub­lished this month and authored by New York Fed econ­o­mist Kris­t­ian Blick­le, exam­ined munic­i­pal spend­ing lev­els and vot­er extrem­ism in Ger­many from the time of the ini­tial influen­za out­break until 1933, and shows that ‘areas which expe­ri­enced a greater rel­a­tive pop­u­la­tion decline’ due to the pan­dem­ic spent ‘less, per capi­ta, on their inhab­i­tants in the fol­low­ing decade.’ . . .

“. . . . The paper’s find­ings are like­ly due to ‘changes in soci­etal pref­er­ences’ fol­low­ing the 1918 out­break, Blick­le argues — sug­gest­ing the influen­za pandemic’s dis­pro­por­tion­ate toll on young peo­ple may have ‘spurred resent­ment of for­eign­ers among the sur­vivors’ and dri­ven vot­ers to par­ties ‘whose plat­form matched such sen­ti­ments.’ The con­clu­sions come amid fears that the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic will shake up inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and spur extrem­ism around the world, as offi­cials and pub­lic health experts look to pre­vi­ous out­breaks for guid­ance on how to nav­i­gate the months and years to come. . . .”

“Fed Study Ties 1918 Flu Pan­dem­ic to Nazi Par­ty Gains” by Quint Forgey; Politi­co; 5/05/2020.

A new aca­d­e­m­ic paper pro­duced by the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank of New York con­cludes that deaths caused by the 1918 influen­za pan­dem­ic “pro­found­ly shaped Ger­man soci­ety” in sub­se­quent years and con­tributed to the strength­en­ing of the Nazi Par­ty.

The paper, pub­lished this month and authored by New York Fed econ­o­mist Kris­t­ian Blick­le, exam­ined munic­i­pal spend­ing lev­els and vot­er extrem­ism in Ger­many from the time of the ini­tial influen­za out­break until 1933, and shows that “areas which expe­ri­enced a greater rel­a­tive pop­u­la­tion decline” due to the pan­dem­ic spent “less, per capi­ta, on their inhab­i­tants in the fol­low­ing decade.”

The paper also shows that “influen­za deaths of 1918 are cor­re­lat­ed with an increase in the share of votes won by right-wing extrem­ists, such as the Nation­al Social­ist Work­ers Par­ty” in Germany’s 1932 and 1933 elec­tions.

Togeth­er, the low­er spend­ing and flu-relat­ed deaths “had a strong effect on the share of votes won by extrem­ists, specif­i­cal­ly the extrem­ist nation­al social­ist par­ty” — the Nazis — the paper posits. “This result is stronger for right-wing extrem­ists, and large­ly non-exis­tent for left-wing extrem­ists.”

Despite becom­ing pop­u­lar­ly known as the Span­ish flu, the influen­za pan­dem­ic like­ly orig­i­nat­ed in the Unit­ed States at a Kansas mil­i­tary base, even­tu­al­ly infect­ing about one-third of the glob­al pop­u­la­tion and killing at least 50 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide, accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

Ger­many expe­ri­enced rough­ly 287,000 influen­za deaths between 1918 and 1920, Blick­le writes.

The paper’s find­ings are like­ly due to “changes in soci­etal pref­er­ences” fol­low­ing the 1918 out­break, Blick­le argues — sug­gest­ing the influen­za pandemic’s dis­pro­por­tion­ate toll on young peo­ple may have “spurred resent­ment of for­eign­ers among the sur­vivors” and dri­ven vot­ers to par­ties “whose plat­form matched such sen­ti­ments.”

The con­clu­sions come amid fears that the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic will shake up inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and spur extrem­ism around the world, as offi­cials and pub­lic health experts look to pre­vi­ous out­breaks for guid­ance on how to nav­i­gate the months and years to come.

 

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