Have there ever been any democracies that have required their military personnel to goose-step, or is this just something that totalitarian governments like to display as part of their military traditions?
AFAIK, the “goose-step” was originally designed by the British Army. Let me see if I can dig up the cite for that…
Norman davies, in Europe: A History, traces it to 17th century Prussia. But it is currently used, at least at ceremonial duties, in a number of Latin American countries: Peru, Argentins, Chili, Guatamala, etc.
In Peru even the schoolkids goosestep at patriotic rallies (as in the weekly ‘Flag Day’ in the central square at Cusco). My buddy and I have some video and stills.
Not coincidentally, every one of those countries have had, in the past few decades, fascist-inspired military coups and/or civil wars in which the government side was the right wing one.
I think the reason to this is that goosestepping is an incredibly difficult and inefficient way to march, and its only practical purpose is to impress (and perhaps intimidate) civilian onlookers.
We can accurately say that Nazi Germany was a hundred kinds of horrible. However, isn’t it true that Adolf Hitler was democratically elected?
During the Olympics, the networks once again ran tape of the Greek soldiers goose-stepping…but when they do it, it’s kind of fascinating – it must the way the pom-poms on their shoes swing.
However, the goose-step was also used by the USSR, China, the PDRK, and is still used in a number of former-Soviet states, so it’s not necessarily a characteristic of “right-wing fascist” alignment. Davies’ reference to 17th cent. Prussia makes good sense to me in the case of the various mentioned Latin American countries, as around the turn of the 20th century many of them had Imperial German advisors involved in the modernization of their militaries. As Alessan* mentioned, it’s a fancy, impressive display of drill – and specially if, as in the case of the Eastern-bloc and Latin states (), a lot of your army is a bunch of peasant-boy draftees, it’s a way to show that you have whipped them into shape.
()(BTW: I hesitate to grant most of this regions’ military strongmen the possibility of having an actual ideology: Franco in Spain was a fascist; the Central American Juntas were mobsters with uniforms)
Hey, just to prove how cool we are, and to exhibit a fine form of military drill discipline, why don’t we have our troops march in MOON WALK?
(or will the Michael Jackson association be too embarassing?)
Actually, no, it isn’t. Hitler lost the 1932 election but was offered the chancellorship in return for the support of the Nazi Party. He subsequently eliminated all constitutional opposition to his reign. He himself was never elected to any public office by the electorate, though his PARTY was a majority of seats in 1933.
(*)(BTW: I hesitate to grant most of this regions’ military strongmen the possibility of having an actual ideology: Franco in Spain was a fascist; the Central American Juntas were mobsters with uniforms)
Obviously there are communist nations that goosestep, however almost every dictatorship, junta and authoritarian state in Latin (not just Central; in fact we haven’t really been discussing Central) America since WWII has been heavily right-leaning. The Sandinistas were elected; anyone know if they goosestepped? Cuba’s the only left-leaning dictatorship I can think of in the region. I should think if they goosestep they got it from the USSR.
I’ve only been to two Central American nations, only saw one ceremony (Guatemala City’s Parque Central, 1997) & there was goosestepping. I imagine this might well have been in the 50s when Arbenz was deposed (with major US aid) by the lunatic fringe right. Again, you see it in Peru even today.
The political programs included fighting communism/“communism,” which included any sort of labor movements. Aside from being thugs, there was (and is) a great deal of nationalist, radical anti-left ideology in these juntas.
In many cases the rulers of these nations were open admirers of the Nazis and incorporated a fascist look and habits (even actual former Nazis themselves) into their regimes and militaries. I think this was the transmission route to the region, which is all that I’m implying.
Cecil took on the general Q of Nazis being welcome in South America before:
Some examples (you can do your own Google searches easily) of Nazi connections and fascist sentiments in Latin American juntas are easily found:
Peron and Nazism for example.
You can find a ton of information on the MLN in Guatemala, the Mano Blanco, Augusto Pinochet, Alfredo Stroessner, Vargas and so on. Even if these dictators and thugs haven’t had the industrial states you may be requiring to meet a neat, classical defintion of fascism (Spain may not have actually had this itself in the early days), these were open admirers of European fascist movements who welcomed the original artilcles in and had very similar programs.
Doubtful. From The Lion and the Unicorn by George Orwell (1941):
Panama’s military dictatorship (1968-1989) under Omar Torrijos and later Noriega was left-leaning. I can’t recall ever seeing the Guardia Nacional goose-stepping, however. (The elected President that Torrijos replaced, Arnulfo Arias, actually was literally fascist, a la Peron. But I don’t think Arnulfo ever had the Guardia goose-stepping either.)
And if you had read my second post…
I read the same desription by Orwell that you did.
Of course it was the Brits! They had The Ministry of Silly Walks…