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August 30, 2012 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Actual fascists in actual black shirts are actually marching around Athens waving swastikas and burning torches, and maiming and murdering ethnic minorities, and world governments appear frighteningly relaxed about it as long as the Greek people continue to pay off the debts of the European elite. When the lessons of history are taught by rote, they can be easy to miss when most needed. This time, Europe must remember that the price of fostering fascism is crueller and costlier by far than any national debt. - Laurie Penney: It's not rhetoric to draw parallels with Nazism
posted by Happy Dave (112 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Damn happy Dave get out of my opened tags. For anyone wondering about the Totally Not A Swastika G.D logo...
posted by The Whelk at 9:53 AM on August 30, 2012


Whipping up racism has become always been a strategy for diverting an embittered nation's attention away from the government and public spending crisis.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:57 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


To be fair, the logo is basically the Greek key design. The visual similarity to a swastika may or may not be intended by Golden Dawn, but that doesn't really matter. The bottom line is that it's an intensely nationalist symbol that harkens back to a lost empire that must be regained, the same as the swastika was used as a symbol of 'Aryan' heritage.
posted by jedicus at 9:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


So an MP of the Golden Dawn party (which this post is about), during a spirited debate on live TV got out of his chair and repeatedly punched a (female) MP from an opposing party in the face.

He was subsequently locked in a room in the studio but he knocked down the door and escaped.

An arrest warrant has been issued for him, but he remains a member in good standing of the Golden Dawn, which has defended his actions,
posted by 256 at 9:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


I just wish people knew what Fascism is. Its not "hates Jews/non-whites" and its not "favors big business/military spending."

Fascism is a form of corpratism, which isn't related to corporations. Its an idea that each class or group in society should have a group representing it and that an undemocratic centralized leadership that rules by diktat should arbitrate their issues and run society as it sees fit.

Nazism is facist, but not all fascists are Nazis.

They all suck, though.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [43 favorites]




Hmm, the word "rhetoric" has a lot of different connotations, I guess. But "rhetoric" just means an argument meant to persuade, as opposed to simply give facts. Pretty much everything other then maybe dry scientific papers or tables of data would qualify.

I think she meant "disingenuous" or something.
posted by delmoi at 10:01 AM on August 30, 2012


An arrest warrant has been issued for him, but he remains a member in good standing of the Golden Dawn, which has defended his actions,

Wow, the only thing that's missing from that story is that he fled to a *insert country here*'s embassy and pleaded for asylum based upon persecution.*

*Basically I'm just saying that's a crazy scenario that actually happened even though it sounds completely outlandish.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:01 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: "I just wish people knew what Fascism is...

Nazism is facist, but not all fascists are Nazis.

They all suck, though.
"

Indeed, but the article is drawing parallels with Nazism, rather than saying 'these dudes are Nazis'.

That said, we may need to face the fact that the two terms have become synonymous and unfortunately both are very much neutralised as a result of vast over-use.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:02 AM on August 30, 2012


To be fair, the logo is basically the Greek key design. The visual similarity to a swastika may or may not be intended by Golden Dawn
Oh, come on. Of course it was intentional. Now, maybe they've "softened" it and changed the color scheme, but the initial version was pretty damn nazi-ish.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 AM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, okay apparently this is their logo, but the red one is their "party flag" which is very evocative of the Nazi flag.
posted by delmoi at 10:05 AM on August 30, 2012


Actual fascists in actual black shirts...

Not to mention the former Minister of Infrastructure who was actually expelled from the law school student's union for actually attacking leftists with an actual faces.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:06 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dendias also described the presence of foreigners in Greece as a more significant threat than the economic crisis
So says "the Minister for Public Order". What IS a minister for public order?? I love Greece, used to go there several times a year and don't remember a whole lot of public order.

very interesting read.
posted by Isadorady at 10:07 AM on August 30, 2012


It will be truly curious to see how this one plays itself out. There are indeed distinct parallels between Greece in 2012 and Germany in the 1930s. Both are saddled with an enormous debt that they mostly owe to other European countries. Greece acquired its debt more-or-less voluntarily, but it has been prevented from defaulting by the rest of Europe, so there is still some element of coercion there. Germany had its reparations from WWI.

But whereas Germany was--and is!--Europe's most populous and industrialized nation, Greece is something of a backwater demographically, economically, and politically. If Germany decided, as it did, that not only was it not going to pay back those debts but that Silesia and Austria are actually looking pretty good right now, it was going to take a declaration of war to stop them. If Greece decides not to pay its debts... the EU can apparently swap out its political leadership just by saying so.

As I observed at the time, Merkel seems to have accomplished through diplomacy what Hitler could not through force of arms: political dominance over Europe. Which is an observation that is making a lot of European politicians pretty uncomfortable these days.
posted by valkyryn at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Typo: fasces. You know, the club-like thing made of a bundle of sticks and an axe head. A fasces. What does somebody have to do to be called a fascist around here?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


William Butler Yeats and S.L. MacGregor Mathers are reportedly "unhappy with the name" according to psychics. Aleister Crowley could not be reached for comment.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


Yeah, the Fascists put the stink on some symbols that everybody used to use.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:13 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Greece is only 45 years from its last military coup.
posted by Nelson at 10:15 AM on August 30, 2012


You know, at this point, I think Greece would be in much better shape if it pulled out of the Euro and defaulted on its debts. This will be catastrophically painful for them in the short term, but if they don't, they're essentially dooming themselves to a generation of debt slavery to pay bills that were run up by a deeply corrupt government, owed to deeply corrupt banks.

If they can then learn to live within their means, and not try to have a better standard of living than they can actually afford, they can get back into something approaching normal growth. Unfortunately, given that government's spending habits, that's a gigantic 'if'.
posted by Malor at 10:16 AM on August 30, 2012


But hey, if everyone could just be civil, that would make it stop!
posted by wuwei at 10:16 AM on August 30, 2012


symbols that everybody used to use.

...Whaada ya mean, "used to"? That's the floor of the House, by the way. And a recent photo.
posted by valkyryn at 10:17 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Greek right-wing ultra-nationalism has a pretty long history that has nothing much to do with the current crisis--other than seeing it as an opportunity to rise again. Greece had a quasi-fascist government in the 30s/40s, and the Regime of the Colonels from 67-74 had deep roots in that earlier period.
posted by yoink at 10:18 AM on August 30, 2012


Nazism is fascist, but not all fascists are Nazis.

Spain under Franco, as an example.
posted by gimonca at 10:20 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Greece would be in much better shape if it pulled out of the Euro and defaulted on its debts.

Greece probably would. But it wouldn't be painful just for Greece. The integrity of the entire Euro project would be called into question, and the entire currency might go down in flames. This would send up borrowing costs across the continent. Which might not be a bad thing, but it would be unbelievably painful in the short term.

I still think it's the only real option out there, but I totally understand why governments are kicking the can down the road. The same reason Congress won't do anything about our structural budget deficit: telling the electorate that they can't have all of the benefits they want and that they have to pay more taxes is something of a tough sell.

I have seen very few examples that don't involve warfare in which a democratic society has chosen immediate pain in exchange for long term gain. The choice is almost always for immediate comfort and hoping things work out.
posted by valkyryn at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Of course, Greek immigrants to the Americas would have been considered easy targets for fascist hate-based groups there. Oh, the irony of zealotry.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the Fascists put the stink on some symbols that everybody used to use.

Will no one think of the poor Canadian women's sports teams?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, okay apparently this is their logo, but the red one is their "party flag" which is very evocative of the Nazi flag.

Woah, you aren't kidding. As an outsider, I find it fascinating how persistently attractive fascism and nazism remain across Europe.
posted by Forktine at 10:22 AM on August 30, 2012


Oh, and the only power Merkel really has is the ability to say "No, we will not lend you any more money." If that gives her huge power, that's a sign of how fucked up Europe is; they shouldn't need to all be sucking at the teat of the German taxpayer.

It's okay for countries to run deficits and take on debt, but they need to be doing this to build things, assets that will repay the loan. Using government debt to maintain a preferred standard of living is disastrous, because their economies become dependent on the incoming money flows for normal growth. When those flows go into reverse, as they always must when you are borrowing, the double-whammy is enormous... not only does your economy need to shrink a bunch, because it's not as rich as it thought it was, it needs to shrink a bunch MORE to repay its creditors. Greece is there now, but so are Spain and Portugal, and Italy, France, and England are going to be there within the next few years.

Government debt is terribly dangerous, and it needs to be used with extreme caution. Europe is subservient to Germany only because its leaders haven't learned that lesson. They could stop being subservient the instant they stopped borrowing money, but they don't seem willing to do that, so Germany calls the shots.
posted by Malor at 10:22 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


As I observed at the time, Merkel seems to have accomplished through diplomacy what Hitler could not through force of arms: political dominance over Europe. Which is an observation that is making a lot of European politicians pretty uncomfortable these days.

I don't know... I feel like it's hardly a recent development that Germany wields a lot of power in Europe. It's not like Merkel discovered some hidden power or something.
posted by hoyland at 10:26 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


You can call it Nazism or Stalinism or Fascism, but in the mature phase they are not political ideologies per se, the "ism" aspect is just a vehicle to develop an authoritarian government of some kind. Hitler killed off the revolutionary Brownshirts, after all, and admired Stalin, who developed the same system of governance in Russia.

My point is that talking about "Fascism" is pretty useless. There are people in Greece who want to control government, and will use, for a little while, some sort of "ism" to get there, only to discard it. All dictators are alike at the end of the day.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:27 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]




It's not rhetoric to draw parallels with Nazism

You think? When the party leader says "Heil Hitler!", those are some pretty strong parallels.
posted by ryanrs at 10:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Typo: fasces. You know, the club-like thing made of a bundle of sticks and an axe head. A fasces. What does somebody have to do to be called a fascist around here?
justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow"

The irony that a *Greek* was using a *Roman* symbol of authority. Y'know, the Romans, the ones who *conquered* Greece and appropriated their culture?
posted by Dreidl at 10:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, and the only power Merkel really has is the ability to say "No, we will not lend you any more money."

Oh? Did not the EU depose the Italian Prime Minister in favor of its preferred technocratic flunky? Did not the EU depose at least one Greek Prime Minister who made noises about turning down bailout funds? Did not the EU put the kibosh on a Greek Prime Minister's plan to put the bailout to a popular referendum?

None of these are official powers, to be sure, but the EU has had some amazingly lucky breaks in national governments in the last three years.
posted by valkyryn at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do people in California get worried when some skinheads throw a party in Connecticut? Why should Germans be concerned about something similar happening in Greece? Greece is a tiny fraction of the EUs GDP. As my Belgian colleague says to me "Belgian households could absorb Greek debt (but not the heavily indebted Dutch.)" It's a big problem for Greece, but for the rest of Europe. Meh.

The Greeks can riot and burn down their country and it won't change German minds that German households will not pay for Greece's profligate ways.

At the end of the day, in middle of the day, and in the morning too this is a Greek problem which has to be solved by Greeks.

This time, Europe must remember that the price of fostering fascism is crueller and costlier by far than any national debt.

Go away. Greece had a military dictatorship until 1974, Spain was run by fascists until 1975 and the rest Europe was not threatened by any of this.
posted by three blind mice at 10:40 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, the word "rhetoric" has a lot of different connotations, I guess.

At a college function, a classmate introduced his father to one of our rhetoric professors. The father looked a little puzzled and whispered to his son, "Rhetoric? Doesn't that mean bullshit?"
posted by Longtime Listener at 10:47 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do people in California get worried when some skinheads throw a party in Connecticut?

When skinheads throw a party, it's the locals who are responsible for making a public show to the skinheads that they are unwelcome.

When skinheads come across a [select random ethnicity] and bash his head in, it's a national story, with a national response.
posted by ocschwar at 10:51 AM on August 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Go away. Greece had a military dictatorship until 1974, Spain was run by fascists until 1975 and the rest Europe was not threatened by any of this.

Exactly. The price of fostering fascism in a major industrial power can be pretty steep, but the price of fostering fascism in second- and third-rate tourist states is pretty minimal. At least to those not located in said states.

Put it this way: Greece can't even police its own streets. It's not like it's going to invade Albania or something. Not that they or anyone else would want to, but still. It's far more likely that Greece is going to be invaded than it is to do any invading.
posted by valkyryn at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do people in California get worried when someskinheadsthrow a party in Connecticut?

No, but if Connecticut's head of public safety is condoning such actions against immigrants and minorities, the FBI would probably get involved.
posted by FJT at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2012


So many issues of the 20th and 21st centuries could have been solved had the Ottoman Empire not fallen.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Maybe the title should be "It's not always rhetoric to draw parallels with Nazism". Because, really, a lot of times it most certainly is.
posted by destro at 11:10 AM on August 30, 2012


it won't change German minds that German households will not pay for Greece's profligate ways.

It wasn't German households that decided to invest (speculate) in Greece's "profligate ways" it was their bankers, and no one put a gun to their head to do it. It seems likely a partial debt default will be part of the solution. Bonds are an investment and are supposed to contain some risk. The Greek government lied about their financial condition probably with the help of Wall Street bankers and should be responsible for doing everything possible to fulfill their obligations, but investors are responsible for the risks they take, and there is no reason Greek bond holders shouldn't take some loss in this situation as well.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:12 AM on August 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


So many issues of the 20th and 21st centuries could have been solved had the Ottoman Empire not fallen.

True, but I think that was largely decided by the end of the nineteenth century. Or heck, the eighteenth, if you count the Russo-Turkish War as the beginning of the end.
posted by valkyryn at 11:15 AM on August 30, 2012


It wasn't German households that decided to invest (speculate) in Greece's "profligate ways" it was their bankers

Well yeah, but only kind of. The majority of Greek debt is held domestically. German banks only seem to be holding about €10 billion in Greek sovereign debt, which is a lot of money, but not a lot of money. The problem with a default isn't just that creditors will be screwed--that would hurt Greek creditors more than anyone else--but that defaulting on sovereign debt denominated in Euros will do bad things to everyone else's sovereign debt denominated in Euros. And just to the Euro as a whole.

This isn't primarily an issue of German banks not wanting to take a haircut. It's an issue of the German public not wanting to have to bail out the Greek government, but the rest of Europe being nervous about what that would mean for the ongoing stability of their currency. If confidence in the currency goes down, interest rates go up. Interest rates in Italy and Spain are already flirting with the level most observers consider to be unsustainable. So if Greece goes down and interest rates across the whole Euro zone go up a point or two, we could see a cascade of sovereign defaults.

That's what everyone's worried about.
posted by valkyryn at 11:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


So many issues of the 20th and 21st centuries could have been solved had the Ottoman Empire not fallen.

Yeah. Are you listening, Turkey?
posted by General Tonic at 11:22 AM on August 30, 2012


telling the electorate that they can't have all of the benefits they want and that they have to pay more taxes is something of a tough sell.

Indeed. Especially when there are no consequences for saying the electorate can have all of their benefits and pay fewer taxes.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:24 AM on August 30, 2012


that was largely decided by the end of the nineteenth century. Or heck, the eighteenth,

Oh, of course, I'm not trying to compose a plausible alternate history here, but rather sighing wistfully for the days of vilayets for feisty locals and the threat of impalement to deter this sort of lawless disruption. The Sultan of Constantinople would also have a few choice words to Assad.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've posted this before about the Fascist Golden Dawn:
Archbishop Serafeim invited the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to visit Athens in 1993. At a mass rally attended by prominent politicians, the indicted war criminal proclaimed: 'We have only God and the Greeks on our side.
After That Several members of Golden Dawn served in the Greek Volunteer Guard
In May Robert Callus blogged a bit about Golden Dawn It's Time for Fear.
Some call it 'ultra - nationalism' but that is just semantics.
posted by adamvasco at 11:40 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fascism is a form of corpratism, which isn't related to corporations. Its an idea that each class or group in society should have a group representing it and that an undemocratic centralized leadership that rules by diktat should arbitrate their issues and run society as it sees fit.

Fascism isn't a form of corporatism. Corporatism is a characteristic of fascism. One could argue that the whole nation-state order which has emerged since WWII is a fascist system. The New Deal was demonstrably fascist in character and implemented by avowed fascists. Of course your average American is usually unaware of this fact as it is not widely taught in the universities or high school classrooms.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:50 AM on August 30, 2012




While I think it's ridiculous to play armchair foreign policy analyst, I will anyway and say that in the past, when Greece was ruled by a military dictatorship, it was contained to a large extent by Yugoslavia and Albania to the north, both with strong militaries and both backed to some extent by the Warsaw Pact.

A more volatile Greece would interact with a more "Balkanized" Balkan Peninsula, so who knows what would happen? And then there is Turkey...
posted by KokuRyu at 11:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


One could argue that the whole nation-state order which has emerged since WWII is a fascist system.

One could argue that South America was made of ice cream as well, but one would need to explain where it would drip to.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:26 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Presumably this is what Alf is referring to (although it talks about the New Deal and corporatism, rather than Alf's Fascism)
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that the folks calling the New Deal "fascist" included Ronald Reagan and Herbert Hoover, plus the John Birch society. Seems like more of a smear than insightful analysis.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:49 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can we talk about something rather than America for a change?
posted by adamvasco at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well at least Greek leftists aren't taking this lying down.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:59 PM on August 30, 2012


Actual fascists in actual black shirts are waving swastikas The river Meander, which, well, meanders through a valley beneath the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (in present-day Turkey) provided the name for the symbol used on the Golden Dawn's current flag. This symbol (also called the Greek Key) is ubiquitous in medieval, classical, beaux-arts, and greek revival architecture. It's no more inherently fascist than is the acanthus leaf or egg-and-dart molding, with which it is often combined. See, for example, the ceiling of the The Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building in the US Capital.

That said, Proto-fascist, fascist, or right-wing authoritarian rhetoric is everywhere these days, in Tampa or Moscow as well as in Athens. For a short definition of fascism we can turn to David Neiwert, who calls it a ' "a political movement based in populist ultranationalism and focused on an a core mythic ideal of phoenix-like societal rebirth, attained through a return to "traditional values." '

Try watching the Republican convention* after reading Umberto Eco's essay Ur-Fascism. Sip your beer if you spot:
1) cult of tradition
2) rejection of modernism
3) irrationalism/anti-intellectualism
4) fear of difference
5) appeal to a frustrated middle class
6) obsession with plots and conspiracies
7) feelings of humiliation and envy
8) view of life as a condition of permanent warfare
9) contempt for the weak
10) obsession with heroic death
11) selective populism
12) impoverished rhetoric
Chug a whole beer whenever you hear the phrase "greatest nation in the world." Now see how drunk you are and decide if we should be more afraid of Golden Dawn or powerful tendencies within our own dear democracy.

Eco ends his essay with:
"It would be so much easier, for us, if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Black Shirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances—every day, in every part of the world."

*spoiler alert: some of these factors may also appear at the (cough) other national political convention
posted by jcrcarter at 1:00 PM on August 30, 2012 [28 favorites]


Fascism isn't a form of corporatism. Corporatism is a characteristic of fascism. One could argue that the whole nation-state order which has emerged since WWII is a fascist system. The New Deal was demonstrably fascist in character and implemented by avowed fascists. Of course your average American is usually unaware of this fact as it is not widely taught in the universities or high school classrooms.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:50 PM on August 30 [+] [!]


Congratulations, you've successfully made fascism a meaningless term. Does this mean you'll stop using it?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:00 PM on August 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


As a Greek, I think I need to provide some context, not to justify GD, but at least to explain its rise to outsiders.

Immigration in Greece is a problem, because it's not at the scale that you'd get in a normal country, i.e. a population that is proportional to the economic opportunities of the country. Greece has large, porous borders (mountain ranges, a longer coastline than the African continent) and is a Schengen country. Meaning, if you manage to sneak into Greece, it's far easier to then go to Italy or France. However, it's not trivial either, so there is a large transient population of illegal immigrants, who are stuck here, both physically (can't go anywhere else) and economically (no jobs). Imagine if the primary point of entry of illegals into the US was Hawaii or some other non-contiguous state, and you'd get the idea. And then imagine that Hawaii was in a depression. So, we get a disproportionately large, desperate immigrant population. Of course there is a rise in crime, and it's not racist to claim so.

At the same time, the main liberal voice in Greek politics has been the Left, which in Greece is a true Marxist Left, at least in social ideals if not economic theory. Meaning, while our economy has been collapsing and unemployment has been rising, the main opposition voice has been pretty much ignoring public safety as a problem (because that would give power to the police, which is not the Left way) and definitely not attributing the rise in crime to immigrants because that's definitely not a Liberal Left thing to do.

These two things have basically left a huge gap in Greek politics: i.e. an opposition voice that is arguing for maintaining the economic status quo, i.e. a statist, socialist-like economy and that is arguing for public safety and management of illegal immigrants. Like it or not, traditionally that's a territory awfully close to fascism and it's just so happened that a fringe right party (GD) already existed in that space.

The final piece of the puzzle, is that the GD tactics, abhorrent as they may be, are also actually not that far off those of the hard left groups that have been staging riots and anti-police demonstrations and terrorist bombings for the last 40 years or so. Unfortunately, the same liberal voices in politics excused anti-State violence as a necessary counterweight to State violence, desensitizing the people to violence in general.

I am not making any excuses here, I think both GD and the fringe left groups need to be marginalized, but it's interesting to me how a consistently Liberal, anti-State dialectic has given rise to more or less pure fascism.
posted by costas at 1:04 PM on August 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Do people in California get worried when someskinheadsthrow a party in Connecticut?

Maybe they should. People used to care what happened in other states..
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:07 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


People have lost faith in multi-party democracy and the free market. They blame an unelected international financial system, a global rootless cosmopolitan elite, and a world order run by capitalist America in sway to Israeli foreign policy. The only way to solve it is revolution. We must sweep away the corrupt old order.

Sounds like a MetaFilter politics/economics thread to me!
posted by alasdair at 1:12 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This symbol (also called the Greek Key) is ubiquitous in medieval, classical, beaux-arts, and greek revival architecture. It's no more inherently fascist than is the acanthus leaf or egg-and-dart molding

Yeeeeeah. And the symbol for the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging is three sevens, which is not a fascist symbol. So definitely not alluding to fascist stuff at all!
posted by Justinian at 1:19 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dimitris Christopoulos :The rise of the extreme right under conditions of economic crisis.
When people are afraid and they feel insecure, then, they are easily influenced by someone who tells them that all this is the fault of poor, unemployed immigrants.
posted by adamvasco at 1:27 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do people in California get worried when some skinheads throw a party in Connecticut? Why should Germans be concerned about something similar happening in Greece?

Well, there's that whole European unity idea some crazy people had...you know, the one where people didn't want to replay all the crises that got us into trouble the first and second time around.

More practically: there are a number of countries experiencing huge crises across Europe. Does Germany/the rest of Europe want other fascist parties looking towards Greece and taking Golden Dawn as their model and being successful at tapping in to social discontent? These ideas didn't stop at national borders the last time around; I find it hard to believe that they'll stop this time either if Golden Dawn manages to negotiate itself into a situation of even minimal power. That's why everyone in Europe should care and not dismiss this a Greek problem.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:31 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, okay apparently this is their logo, but the red one is their "party flag" which is very evocative of the Nazi flag.

I was only going off of the picture in the article. But having seen the party flag, yeah, they clearly meant to evoke the Nazi flag, which is just insane.
posted by jedicus at 1:40 PM on August 30, 2012


How many people on this thread want to see a resurgence of fascism in Europe? We're all scared of the economic situation, but attacking people because they're from a different country, or because they're gay, or because they're disabled is SERIOUS SHIT. Let's never forget that the real enemy is hate. Ever.
posted by Myeral at 1:43 PM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Congratulations, you've successfully made fascism a meaningless term. Does this mean you'll stop using it?

The same can be said(that they are meaningless) of many words like liberalism, conservatism, capitalism, communism, and so on. Should we stop using those also? The fact that most people don't actually know what fascism is doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

The short, short definition of fascism: Modern fascism can be said to have three pillars. These are corporatism, militarism, and nationalism. These three pillars are the load bearing mechanisms for the totalizing aspects of fascist ideologies. One can see how in modern life these three pillars impinge into every area of national and now even private life. In and of themselves these three pillars can be said to form incipient fascism. In the U.S.A. it is specifically the confluence of Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism that coagulates the incipient fascism into a totalizing apocalyptic ideology which is ready made for both parties. This dichotomy between the left and the right is the space in which the fully formed fascism is birthed and matures into full blown authoritarianism. In the U.S.A. it seems that the incipient fascism inherent in our system has metastasized over the Bush II and Obama regimes. We now find ourself living in a country where the president has the power of life and death and of freedom or imprisonment.

Also, the idea that all modern nation states are fascist systems is not new or original. This has been discussed at length in the academic literature. In fact some have even gone so far to argue that fascism is modernism itself. I believe the term used is the "quintessentially modern ideology." So there's that. Of course I don't expect many people are aware of this hence the references to South America and ice cream.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:13 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact that most people don't actually know what fascism is doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

What do you mean by "most people"? Pretty goddamn arrogant way to think if you ask me.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:17 PM on August 30, 2012


Seems like more of a smear than insightful analysis.

Except for the fact that most works comparing the two are in fact insightful analyses done by academics not frothing at the mouth political partisans. But yes of course conservatives will attack and smear anything and everything associated with liberalism.

One of my good friends once said that if liberals ever came out in favor of air conservatives would stop breathing...

Basically you are right except for all the other examples where you aren't.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:19 PM on August 30, 2012


What do you mean by "most people"? Pretty goddamn arrogant way to think if you ask me.

It's a pretty straightforward term. Most meaning the majority. I don't see how it's arrogant to acknowledge the fact that most people don't have the time or inclination to read volumes of books and articles about fascism and its many forms. That's just the way it is. Unfortunately humans usually don't react very well to things they don't understand.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:22 PM on August 30, 2012


[takes a long drag on a joint] So like, we were the Nazis the whole time. Woooah.
posted by rosswald at 2:22 PM on August 30, 2012


So like, we were the Nazis the whole time. Woooah.

In fascism studies this is the rhetorical equivalent of asking an evolutionist that if we evolved from monkeys why are there are still monkeys around today.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:25 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the U.S.A. it is specifically the confluence of Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism that coagulates the incipient fascism into a totalizing apocalyptic ideology

Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor. Death's too good for them.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:44 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Presumably this is what Alf is referring to (although it talks about the New Deal and corporatism, rather than Alf's Fascism)

That article is probably one of the worst I've read on Wikipedia. Here's an article (PDF) on the New Deal and corporatism that is at least not obviously crap. I can't find much else that isn't written by people with a clear right wing agenda (who presumably need to prove the New Deal was fascist so they can get rid of Social Security or something).
posted by hoyland at 3:34 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well that was certainly a wall of pseudo-academic jargon and associated text. On the other hand you didn't really say anything (this is a defining feature of pseudo-academic nonsense spouting, it coagulates into...never mind).

To go a little deeper, you start:

The short, short definition of fascism: Modern fascism can be said to have three pillars. These are corporatism, militarism, and nationalism. These three pillars are the load bearing mechanisms for the totalizing aspects of fascist ideologies. One
Okay, that's fine. A little overwrought ("load-bearing mechanism") but I'd agree with it generally.

In the U.S.A. it is specifically the confluence of Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism that coagulates the incipient fascism into a totalizing apocalyptic ideology which is ready made for both parties.
Well this is a...claim. You don't really offer any proof or evidence or explanation of what exactly it is you're going on about.

This dichotomy between the left and the right is the space in which the fully formed fascism is birthed and matures into full blown authoritarianism.
Again, overwrought, but sure, I'd agree that one of the things about fascism is that it's not really on a left-right spectrum. You could certain say it is "birthed" in the space between left and right.

In the U.S.A. it seems that the incipient fascism inherent in our system has metastasized over the Bush II and Obama regimes. We now find ourself living in a country where the president has the power of life and death and of freedom or imprisonment.
More purple prose, but at least you've gotten around to actual facts. Yes, I would agree that there has been a change such that "the president has the power of life and death and of freedom or imprisonment," but you don't connect that to fascism at all. It's militaristic, I guess, and possible nationalistic, but all nationalistic militarism isn't fascism.

Also, the idea that all modern nation states are fascist systems is not new or original. This has been discussed at length in the academic literature. In fact some have even gone so far to argue that fascism is modernism itself. I believe the term used is the "quintessentially modern ideology." So there's that. Of course I don't expect many people are aware of this hence the references to South America and ice cream.
ACHIeVEMENT UNLOCKED: APPEAL TO UNSTATED AUTHORITY.
I would agree that fascism is A "quintessentially modern ideology," but so is Marxism. Further to get to the definition argument, if every single modern nation state is fascist, why bother talking about it? There's enough obvious differences between modern nation states that if there's some tent you can put them all under then it's probably not a very important or interesting tent. Also, the "I'VE READ BOOKS ON THIS, YOU'RE ALL DUMB" tone of that last section is 1) annoying and 2) just plain stupid if you're not even going to bother to cite your fucking sources.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:05 PM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really enjoy this in depth discussion on what the word fascism means and not say, homosexuals and immgrants being directly targeted in a modern western European country.
posted by The Whelk at 4:12 PM on August 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


I am not making any excuses here, I think both GD and the fringe left groups need to be marginalized, but it's interesting to me how a consistently Liberal, anti-State dialectic has given rise to more or less pure fascism.

That's quite an odd comment given the history of the Greek state i.e. quasi-fascist military dictatorship. You could easily say that fascism arises in societies with a large conservative wealthy class and a weak state whose legitimacy is questionable w.r.t said conservative wealthy elite.

The idea that the hard-left destabilized the Weimar republic is an old slur. The Weimar republic had a very thin veneer of legitimacy w.r.t the Junckers and their industrialist friends to start with. The use of "fascist" bully-boys by the top to split the lower classes is something which is cross-cultural. It's particularly dangerous when the social order is fragile to begin with.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:20 PM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeeeeeah. And the symbol for the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging is three sevens, which is not a fascist symbol. So definitely not alluding to fascist stuff at all!

They copied that off the Isle of Man
posted by dng at 4:21 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


coagulates the incipient fascism into a totalizing apocalyptic ideology

I think one of us needs to stick his head in a bucket of cold water.
posted by valkyryn at 4:30 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think one of us needs to stick his head in a bucket of cold water.

sounds like a personal problem...

As far as the New Deal and fascism, a quick search turns up this(it actually disagrees with me but gives a good overview of the history of the New Deal):

Of Corporatism, Fascism and the First New Deal

Well this is a...claim. You don't really offer any proof or evidence or explanation of what exactly it is you're going on about.

Try reading this some Foucault or Derrida. A more recent work from 2006 which doesn't mention fascism specifically, but terms what I'm talking about "de-democritization".

More purple prose, but at least you've gotten around to actual facts. Yes, I would agree that there has been a change such that "the president has the power of life and death and of freedom or imprisonment," but you don't connect that to fascism at all. It's militaristic, I guess, and possible nationalistic, but all nationalistic militarism isn't fascism.

For fixating so much on my word choices you sure seem to agree with an awful lot of what I've said. The connection is self evident which is why I didn't spell it out. Incipient fascism has long been recognized as being inherent in the modern neoliberal system. (see Dolebeare, 1976; Kalinowski, 1977; more recently Patel and McMichael, 2004) This incipient fascism becomes dangerous when coupled with authoritarianism...which at it's base level is the unquestioned power of the state over the individual and the individual's body.

I would agree that fascism is A "quintessentially modern ideology," but so is Marxism.

I could be wrong but I've never read anything claiming that Marxism is THE quintessential modern ideology. Which is what I've seen argued about fascism.

Further to get to the definition argument, if every single modern nation state is fascist, why bother talking about it?

I for one think that the way society is structured should probably be talked about instead of ignored by the majority of the populace. That's just me, though.

Also, the "I'VE READ BOOKS ON THIS, YOU'RE ALL DUMB" tone of that last section is 1) annoying and 2) just plain stupid if you're not even going to bother to cite your fucking sources.

First of all since you have added nothing of value to the discussion forgive me if I don't take anything you say worth a grain of salt. Second, I wish you would not put words I did not say into my mouth. That is dishonest. Third, I feel comfortable with the ability of most mefi users to use google. It is not my job to do research for metafilter. Now if someone is truly interested in the topic then by all means mefi mail me and I will point you in the right direction.

ACHIeVEMENT UNLOCKED: APPEAL TO UNSTATED AUTHORITY.

Chapter 2 of this book gives a pretty definitive overview of the literature, past and present, pertaining to fascism and modernity.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:45 PM on August 30, 2012


I'm kind of wondering how the Turks are going to react to this.

I visited both countries four years ago, and I was told that relations are better than they've ever been since...well, since Greece got its independence, really, but especially since the dark years of juntos, posturing and the Cyprus Question. At the same time, there was far more raw national pride and ethnic loathing on display, when you started talking to ordinary people on the street, than I'd encountered anywhere else in Europe.

Turkey's presently going through a political transition which could easily result in either a return to military-supervised elected governments, overthrown at the drop of a hat, or a moderate Islamic state which would easily use xenophobic rhetoric to build bridges with the secular nationalist opposition. It's not hard to imagine a really nasty geopolitical feedback loop developing between Athens and Ankara over the next decade or so.

I don't see Greece "threatening" the rest of Western Europe in any meaningful sense, nor fascism transmitting itself to any of the still economically powerful core states, whose legitimacy rests on far deeper and longer-established foundations than the Weimar Republic. Eastern Europe may be a different question, though.

With states like Ukraine and Belarus, Serbia and Albania, Hungary and Romania, you are dealing with a very similar dynamic to the post-WWI world: a lot of newly established post-Soviet states, with weak regimes and an uneasy sense among the population that they have lost more than they gained, and strong private/public power broker networks ready to encourage that feeling and direct it against enemies both "within" and without.

Greece isn't the Third Reich, no. But then Italy wasn't the Third Reich, or even the most powerful and dangerous of the non-German fascist states. It did, however, set a useful precedent, assembling and putting into practice an ideological framework which could be easily exported (and expanded, and adapted, and ultimately perfected) elsewhere.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:49 PM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


As far as the New Deal and fascism, a quick search turns up this(it actually disagrees with me ...

Huh. Imagine that.

Anyway, if the New Deal and it's architects were "demonstrably fascist," then you should start with the demonstrating already.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:45 PM on August 30, 2012


I think some people are getting hung up on the negative connotations of post-WW2 fascism and projecting that modern understanding backwards. Fascism wasn't immediately understood to be a bad thing (ditto communism and its now-basically-meaningless cousin "socialism"), and the 1930s were a decade of enormous social upheaval and active experimentation, with new methods of managerial science applied directly to mass society. We're talking about a time and place where both doctors and politicians could openly advocate for the implementation of eugenics programs.
posted by mek at 7:00 PM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here is a very well written and thoroughly refenced Wikipedia article on Fascism. It helpfully explains the tenets, history and political analysis of the movement, and allows the layperson to understand how and why the notion that the New Deal was Fascist is a bunch of baloney, or, at best, Ivory Tower navel-gazing and hair-splitting of the most tedious sort. It's also useful to understand some of what's going on in Greece at the moment.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:38 PM on August 30, 2012


As far as the New Deal and fascism, a quick search turns up this(it actually disagrees with me but gives a good overview of the history of the New Deal):
Of Corporatism, Fascism and the First New Deal


If people missed it, this is the thing I linked to above. I'm saying this because I think it's worth making clear it's the only non-raving loony thing Google turns up on the subject.
posted by hoyland at 7:38 PM on August 30, 2012


then you should start with the demonstrating already.

Ok, here you go, this is in part a response to the link you haven't read yet:

But what exactly was the New Deal, and in what way can it be compared with fascism? The first point to note is that however authoritarian the governments of Wilson, Hoover and Roosevelt, the economic goals they pursued were broadly progressive in intent. Contrary to Goldberg’s (2007) tirade against ‘liberal fascism’ among the American left, the aim of the first New Deal was to organize US industry and agriculture into semi-autonomous industrial associations, each designed to regulate investment and trade within a specific sector. This innovation was consistent with corporatism in Italy which created cartels to regulate industry and commercial agriculture, but because the corporate system in the United States was not an integral part of the state it was not seen as anti-democratic (Radosh 1972: 167). However, while the US government was careful to avoid any public association between corporate liberalism and fascism, in private Roosevelt did not disguise his sympathy for the scope of policies followed by the Italian government (Schivelbusch 2006: 30). And, although still more keen to avoid negative associations with German fascism, the New Dealers around Roosevelt introduced populist ‘back to the land’ initiatives and extended public works schemes to reduce unemployment, a policy exemplified by infrastructural projects which rivalled those introduced in Germany and Italy.

As one legal historian argues, some of the leaders of the NRA (particularly General Johnson) were decidedly anti-parliamentarian in their views, but remained ideologically aloof from fascism. They disliked the inefficacy of Congress and lauded Roosevelt as a ‘man of action’; and they were prepared to use authoritarian tactics to intimidate their opponents in the Supreme Court. But as pragmatists, argues Whitman, they ‘never proclaimed the fundamental fascist premise that representative government was a dangerous thing because of its connection with class warfare’ (1991: 769). Whitman is correct in a formal sense: as Higgs notes, ‘the New Deal, especially at its beginning, manifested no coherent ideology’ (1987: 172), and it is clear that fascist sympathizers were outnumbered by pragmatists in the NRA who exploited the crisis to introduce reforms and concentrate decision-making power in the hands of a cartel of financiers and resource allocators. Realist analyses of the New Deal insist that this increase in state controls, which made ready use of propaganda and mobilization to enforce compliance with new legislation, was only a Keynesian response to recession, accelerating the nationalization of American politics (Weir and Skocpol 1985). Yet this explanation suggests a slight misreading of American economic history, for several reasons.

First, it assumes that the experiment in economic fascism in America was a purely temporary response to contingency, overlooking the genealogy of corporate liberalism in the Progressive Era, and the use of mass organizations and propaganda campaigns to mobilize public opinion against criticism of corporate power. During the Progressive Era, the aim of business was to direct public sentiment against socialism through organizations like the National Civic Federation, which worked to persuade workers and lowermiddle class commercial interests of the value of corporate firms to national life (Weinstein 1969). Although conservative historians typically depict the Progressive Era reforms as a departure from old-fashioned capitalism, the real aim of corporate actors was to participate with the Federal government in framing legislation to regulate the activity of firms expanding outside individual state boundaries – not because regulation was seen as essential, but to counter ‘state regulations that were either haphazard or, what is more important, far more responsive to more radical, genuinely progressive local communities’ (Kolko 1964: 6). A similar logic governed the reforms introduced with the New Deal: sensing an irreversible tide of change away from unregulated capitalism, corporate elites sought to influence the reform process from the inside, which allowed them to manage the unification of corporate and state power without relinquishing their strategic influence.

A second reason for doubting conventional analyses is that many of the reforms introduced by the NRA had their precedent (as in Germany) in regulatory controls introduced during the First World War. Although initially temporary, these changes – like the technocrats entrusted to run the economy – outlasted the war itself:

"Historians have generally treated the economic planning of World War I as an isolated episode dictated by the requirements of the day and having little further significance. But, on the contrary, the war collectivism served as an inspiration and as a model for a mighty army of forces destined to forge the history of twentieth century America. For big business, the wartime economy was a model of what could be achieved in national coordination and cartelization, in stabilizing production, prices, and profits, in replacing old-fashioned competitive laissez-faire by a system that they could broadly control and that would harmonize the claims of various powerful economic groups."
(Rothbard 1972: 93)

The war paved the way for the corporate statism of the NRA, which was administered by disciples of Bernard Baruch (leader of the War Industries Board) who tried to extend the system beyond its wartime raison d’être. Although the WIB was disbanded in 1918, the spirit of cartelization survived, resurfacing as official policy during the Depression.

Third, there are reasons to question Whitman’s suggestion that the difference between economic fascism in Europe and America lies in the fact that Roosevelt was more concerned to find means to regulate competition between capitalists than in resolving conflict between capital and labour. While Roosevelt was anxious to balance the competing interests of rival fractions of capital, this argument is false on two grounds. On the one hand, it ignores the violence of labour struggles in America, particularly in the late 1870s and mid-1890s, and the use of co-optive means to undermine autonomous labour organizations (Isaac 2002; Shefter 1986).15 On the other hand, it ignores the social function of corporatism as a means for balancing labour and capital interests. In the first New Deal (1933–34) Roosevelt had been concerned with regulatory controls on trade and distribution, setting prices through the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act; in the Second New Deal (1935–38), however, the government went further and introduced the Labour Relations and Social Security Acts, which recognized the right to join trade unions and the statutory right to welfare. For many laissez-faire liberals these policies were anathema, and Roosevelt encountered bitter opposition to his proposals. Yet while historians often point to the gap between public support and business opposition to these changes as evidence of the left-wing orientation of the New Deal, as Radosh argues it is important to define what is meant by ‘business’: defenders of Roosevelt as the people’s hero fail to distinguish between opposition to reform among small employers in the National Association of Manufacturers, and support for reform among corporate employers, who were in a position to pass on increased national insurance costs to the consumer and who would not be liable for an increase in income tax (1972: 158). Furthermore, he adds,

"industrial unionism was not inherently radical, and its recognition by government was not revolutionary. Rather, industrial unions functioned in the era of corporate capitalism to exert discipline on the workforce so that labor productivity would be improved and cooperative relationswith employers would emerge."
(Ibid.: 179)

(source, pg. 158-160)

There's also Cohen and Arato(1992) who argue that the state "intervenes in the liberal capitalist economy, at the price of its liberal character, to protect the capitalist structure endangered by endogenous crisis tendencies and processes of impaired self-regulation."(pg. 242)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:38 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


If people missed it, this is the thing I linked to above.

Oops yeah I missed that link. Sorry about that.

I'm saying this because I think it's worth making clear it's the only non-raving loony thing Google turns up on the subject.

Unfortunately most of the good stuff is behind paywalls. It's out there to be found, but it usually requires a trip to your local university library.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:46 PM on August 30, 2012


Here is a very well written and thoroughly refenced Wikipedia article on Fascism. It helpfully explains the tenets, history and political analysis of the movement, and allows the layperson to understand how and why the notion that the New Deal was Fascist is a bunch of baloney, or, at best, Ivory Tower navel-gazing and hair-splitting of the most tedious sort. It's also useful to understand some of what's going on in Greece at the moment.

Sorry to rapid fire post, but I have to respond. That wikipedia page has a lot of good information, but any source that doesn't even mention the fascist movement in the United States is pretty suspect. Epic fail wikipedia...

Either way it in no way demonstrates what you purport it to. In fact as I said it doesn't even mention the fascist movement in the United States so I don't know how you can claim with a straight face that it "allows the layperson to understand" anything about a topic it doesn't even breach. This is pretty disingenuous and really quite a shitty move. I guess if we now understand things in this country by just not even acknowledging they exist then we have gone further down the path than I had at first feared. Memory hole indeed. WTF Wikipeida...
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:03 PM on August 30, 2012


[AElfwine Evenstar, it may be a good time to take a small break from this thread so it's not you vs. everyone.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:20 PM on August 30, 2012


You're right, of course, jessamyn.

Look at what I just found online so everybody can see...thank the Chinese.

Fascism and Political Theory (pdf)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2012


I am drawing a blank trying to find the Marxist tenet that Ideology is that stuff you believe unknowingly (like the proverbially conscious fish unconscious of the reality of him or her being surrounded by water). I thought it was a really pithy quote but apparently it ain't all that pithy if I can't find it with google search.

It seemed to me that was the viewpoint under which we are all fascists but now I am not so sure.
posted by bukvich at 8:56 PM on August 30, 2012


To be fair, the logo is basically the Greek key design. The visual similarity to a swastika may or may not be intended by Golden Dawn, but that doesn't really matter. The bottom line is that it's an intensely nationalist symbol that harkens back to a lost empire that must be regained, the same as the swastika was used as a symbol of 'Aryan' heritage.

In addition, there's a history of neo-fascists in Europe using symbols kinda sorta but not quite resembling the swastika while adopting the red/white/black color scheme of the standard Third Reich Nazi flag. Golden Dawn is deliberately trying to create new symbols that resembles Greek nationalist and pan-European fascist symbols of the past, but just different enough to allow them room for disingenuousness and plausible deniability.
posted by jonp72 at 9:26 PM on August 30, 2012


I am drawing a blank trying to find the Marxist tenet that Ideology is that stuff you believe unknowingly

I'm partial to Althusser's observation that "Ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence".
posted by Wolof at 9:37 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Go away. Greece had a military dictatorship until 1974, Spain was run by fascists until 1975 and the rest Europe was not threatened by any of this.

Allow me to disagree. Even though Spain and Greece (or Portugal) were cut off from European political space for decades, this limitation hurt Europe similarly to the way that the exclusion of the former Warsaw Pact members hurt Europe.

The examples you mention are not really comparable with current realities. Greece and Spain are members of the EU, the Council of Europe and have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, which specifies a laundry list of rights that should be protected by signatories and are enforced by EHCR. The treaty of Rome specifies the goal of an ever closer union, not a trade union. So, when Vlaams Belang or FPÖ poll well, it concerns me.
posted by ersatz at 4:04 AM on August 31, 2012


"Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. It was Mussolini's success in Italy, with his government-directed economy, that led the early New Dealers to say 'But Mussolini keeps the trains running on time." - Ronald Regan

"I raise my hand in reverence to the Supreme Court that saved this nation from fascism." - Huey P. Long, after the National Recovery Act was overturned.

And Herbert Hoover went on and on and on and on and on how the New Deal was fascist - which is hilarious, as the Birchers and Libertarians threw him under the bus as a corporatist who enabled fascism.

So, calling the New Deal fascism is right-wing dissembling that seems to have seeped into contrarian corners of academia.

It was actually modeled on Woodrow Wilson's War Industries Board, which predates Mussolini by quite a bit - Hugh "Iron Pants" Johnson worked with the WIB while in the military, and used it as a model when designing the New Deal's NRA. (He was also accused of being a Fascist, which seems to have been a popular smear even back when Fascists were still a thing. He actually angrily switched parties in response to FDR's court packing scheme, so, no, he wasn't a Fascist.)

Meanwhile, let's hear it from the man:

"They will try to give you new and strange names for what we are doing. Sometimes they will call it 'Fascism,' sometimes 'Communism,' sometimes 'Regimentation,' sometimes 'Socialism.' But, in so doing, they are trying to make very complex and theoretical something that is really very simple and very practical.... Plausible self-seekers and theoretical die-hards will tell you of the loss of individual liberty. Answer this question out of the facts of your own life. Have you lost any of your rights or liberty or constitutional freedom of action and choice?" - FDR

And there we have it. Without violent totalitarianism and autocracy, it ain't Fascism.

There is an argument to be made that it was corporatism, but remember, the first Investment Bank was created to sell war bonds to fund the Civil War - the US government has a long and storied history of picking winners and losers in the "free market" when it serves the interest of the nation. Fascists didn't invent corporatism.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:01 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. It was Mussolini's success in Italy, with his government-directed economy, that led the early New Dealers to say 'But Mussolini keeps the trains running on time." - Ronald Regan

I guess that explains why he was such a strong New Dealer at the time then.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:19 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I raise my hand in reverence to the Supreme Court that saved this nation from fascism." - Huey P. Long, after the National Recovery Act was overturned.

I love this coming from a man whose campaign platform was "Share the Wealth" directly calling for a redistribution of property! High popalorum indeed!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:23 AM on August 31, 2012


Getting back to Greece, though, (and it would be nice to hear from someone from Greece), does the New Dawn party have an actual coherent political ideology? My guess is "no", although they do have a formidable political organization operating at a grassroots level.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:56 AM on August 31, 2012


Ideology is that stuff you believe unknowingly

The unknown knowns. In some talk I was listening to Zizek joked that it was Rumsfeld's unawareness of this category that got him fired.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:07 AM on August 31, 2012


So, calling the New Deal fascism is right-wing dissembling that seems to have seeped into contrarian corners of academia.

It'd be nice if you could cite some sources. Otherwise there's no reason for anyone to take anything you are saying seriously. For example why isn't it just as likely that the true situation is actually the opposite of what you are proposing? You just state that it is so without providing any evidence or reasoning that I can see.

And there we have it. Without violent totalitarianism and autocracy, it ain't Fascism.

This is the point at which any serious student of fascism will stop listening and discount anything further that you have to say. You didn't even read the excerpt I posted, did you? I also posted a link to the pdf of the book that it is from if you want to read the whole thing.

Fascists didn't invent corporatism.

And communists didn't invent Marxism, but they sure as hell were the first to implement it on the state level.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:39 PM on August 31, 2012


And communists didn't invent Marxism, but they sure as hell were the first to implement it on the state level.

Yes, but it was just argued that fascists weren't the first to implement corporatism, in the very comment that you're disagreeing with.
posted by hoyland at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2012


Getting back to Greece, though, (and it would be nice to hear from someone from Greece), does the New Dawn party have an actual coherent political ideology? My guess is "no", although they do have a formidable political organization operating at a grassroots level.

costas upthread is from Greece too. Golden Dawn used to pen gushing articles about 5th-columnists in their official magazine, have annual articles on the anniversary of the defeat of the Third Reich to express their condolences and promote a Nazi-mysticism influenced version of Olympian gods* worship. They have been around since the 80s; however, as soon as saw the chance to become more popular, they started paying lip service to Orthodox Christianity and dissemble on tv saying that they are "nationalists" because only Germans can be neo-Nazis. Nationalism is the term du jour in Greece, introduced by supporters of the last army that occupied Greece during the lifetime of your average Greek's grandfather.

There is a lot of interesting material in the Greek internet on the past of G.D. According to former members, G.D. is mostly structured around their "leader", who has cast out at least two former No. 2s who were threatening his position, and members seem to get off on power rather than ideology. However, the threat that G.D. poses is not the sophistication of their ideology, but the fact that a significant part of the population, after five years of recession with far-right-wing politics having been legitimised after decades, voted for a group that used to be polling at 0.1% and the name of its members was a byword for "thug". Oh, and their best results were at the precincts where police were voting.

Fascism and Nazism gets thrown around a lot, but this is not a matter of semantics; these are people who beat up immigrants or Greeks of other political persuasions in broad daylight.

*more Apollo than Dionysus of course.

posted by ersatz at 4:02 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, but it was just argued that fascists weren't the first to implement corporatism, in the very comment that you're disagreeing with.

But they very obviously were unless you know of any other corporatist economic regime implemented at the state level prior to in Italy circa 1922. I could be wrong about this, but it doesn't really have anything to do with my argument anyway. It is clear that corporatism in and of itself is not fascism.

Without violent totalitarianism and autocracy, it ain't Fascism.

Just to answer this more properly(emphasis mine):

Wolfgang Schivelbusch highlights the parallel architectural modernity of ‘postliberal monumentalism’ in Europe and America, where neoclassicism became indicative of the imposing power of the state over society under both democracy and totalitarianism. Just as scholars now reject ‘simplistic equations of monumentalism and totalitarianism’, he argues, it is now possible to ‘look beyond the simplistic dichotomy of liberal democracy on the one hand and repressive dictatorship on the other’ (2006: 9–10). Although direct comparisons between European fascism and American corporatism are problematic, the evidence suggests that one of the negative consequences of the Progressive Era was to legitimize a non-totalitarian form of economic fascism which undermined free market capitalism in the United States. In a country where democracy was entrenched, F. D. Roosevelt reintroduced wartime legislation in the crisis of March 1933, exploiting the closure of the banks to justify an expansion of state economic controls and the transfer of legislative sovereignty from the Congress to the executive. What became known as the ‘New Deal’ irreversibly changed the course of American politics.(source), pg. 157-158
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:43 AM on September 1, 2012


Related: British far-right extremists voice support for Anders Breivik.
National Front and English Defence League members praise Norwegian mass murderer as 'inspirational' and a 'role model'.
Unfortunatey I see this as only just the beginning of the Rise of the Far Right.
Meanwhile: Immigrants in Spain to lose right to public healthcare.
posted by adamvasco at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2012


Wolfgang Schivelbusch is full of shit. Seriously, listen to him. He can't tell the difference between a modern democracy and a repressive dictatorship? Honestly? What is he after, a Platonic enlightened despot? A philosopher king? Lots of luck, Chuck.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2012


I suppose you've read him in the original German, have you? The point of the quote wasn't to convince anyone of its correctness, but to possibly pique someones curiosity enough to actually do some research about a complex societal phenomenon. Your response: "full of shit". Well thank you for all the fish my friend.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:25 PM on September 1, 2012


I suppose you've read him in the original German, have you?

Is that necessary? Is the passage you've quoted an inaccurate summary of his point of view?

I don't know anything about Herr Schivelbusch, but I see that he's written about a dozen books, some of them published by non-cranky presses, so I won't say that he's full of shit. I'll say that in the passage you quoted the author is doing a lot of special pleading. To the objection that New Deal America wasn't a fascist state because it lacked any of the radically nationalist and totalitarian characteristics present in states historically regarded as fascist, the author invents a "non-totalitarian" version of "economic fascism" characterized by any degree of state control and or supervision of the economy and then uses that to demonstrate the "fascist" character of New Deal America.

Obviously, if any legislation that "undermine[s] free market capitalism in the United States" is fascist, then the New Deal was fascist. However, aside from the Mises Institute and Paul Ryan, maybe, that's not a generally accepted definition of fascism.

(Your source link goes nowhere for me, so I have no idea what it links to. Maybe include a textual citation as well as a hyperlink next time?)
posted by octobersurprise at 9:25 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This link doesn't work for you?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:39 AM on September 2, 2012


Link timed-out for me.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:38 AM on September 2, 2012


Ok well the quote is from this book.

Go to google and type in "Fascism and Political Theory Critical perspectives on fascist ideology" For me the fourth result is a working link to a full pdf of this book. Here is a direct link. I don't know why it isn't working for you guys. That's weird.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:47 AM on September 2, 2012


Direct link worked. Thanks.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:59 AM on September 2, 2012




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