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February 6, 2005 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Scott McConnell is the latest conservative to realize that our populace is proto-fascist. Scott writes for The American Conservative, and his article "Hunger for Dictatorship" lets us know about some conservatives who've already reached this conclusion. The meat of the article introduces us to his old professor Fritz Stern, an exile from Hitler's Germany who has seen fascism up close. Scott is quick to say "we're not there yet", but notes:

And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of core American freedoms.
posted by taumeson (106 comments total)

 
So are we only going to pay attention when so-called 'conservatives' wake up and realize there's something wrong with this US administration, because of the novelty or because being 'conservative' gives them some air of seriousness that so-called 'liberals' don't have?
posted by Space Coyote at 8:34 AM on February 6, 2005


Space Coyote:

I don't know, is this the first time there have been bush-critical posts on metafilter? If it was, then you might have a point.

I don't personaly doubt the 'liberal' take on the bush administration, but it's healthy to realize that sometimes political outlooks do color your perception of reality. If someone who dissagrees with you greatly shares the same oppinion on a certan (political) thing thats more evidence that the political fact is a reality. Politics isn't like science where you can run an experiment yourself to prove it too yourself.
posted by delmoi at 8:41 AM on February 6, 2005


Has anyone been following the fight over an obscure-to-most Colorado ethnic studies prof provocateur's words about 9-11? I read in the NY Post that the administration at his university is now poring over his words in order to find enough stuff to fire him. Bill O'Reilly, too, has discovered that the First Amendment has limits and should, ironically enough, keep nutjobs from talking out of their asses. A former Reagan admin. official came out recently in the Rocky Mountain News for his firing, given that controversial comments of his sort can shake the harmony needed for an education at a good university. The common good taking precedence over the individual, all that. Sounds nice when you put trampling all over the First Amendment that way, I suppose.

Seeing good in the internment of Japanese in World War II, meanwhile, is apparently perfectly responsible speech. It was for the good of the whole, after all.
posted by raysmj at 8:41 AM on February 6, 2005


I don't think it's "us" who this is directed at. Rather, the "conservatives" who cry Godwin whenever anyone draws parallels between the Bush administration and fascism.
posted by kableh at 8:42 AM on February 6, 2005


I'm not sure the post implied "only," but whatever. For me, I'm just glad to see that the "f-word" is indeed being dropped in different political circles. Whether or not this country, in the shape that it finds itself and its means of communication, is capable of having a serious discussion about the theoretical and practical issues raised by the possibility of american fascism is a different story.
posted by hank_14 at 8:43 AM on February 6, 2005


So are we only going to pay attention when so-called 'conservatives' wake up and realize there's something wrong with this US administration, because of the novelty or because being 'conservative' gives them some air of seriousness that so-called 'liberals' don't have?

No, but it does help when you're trying to debate other conservatives.
posted by Luciferous at 8:45 AM on February 6, 2005


The Ward Churchill thing is interesting, and as someone currently employed as an academic, rather frightening. And all the more so since the story sparking so much controversy is in fact three years old and has been resurrected by a series of right-wing media mock-outrage events.
posted by hank_14 at 8:46 AM on February 6, 2005


The point, I think, is that it's business as usual when opponents of an administration cry fascism. (Remember all the right wing's howling about "jack-booted government thugs" back in the 90's?) When a supporter of an administration -- here, someone at the heart of the administration's ideological base -- makes the same accusation, it's more noteworthy.
posted by Zonker at 8:46 AM on February 6, 2005


SC-

well, think of it this way. Liberals make a career of telling us the sky is falling. In some cases , they are correct, that sky is tumbling down. But, let's say, oh, 51% of the voting populace falls under the banner of 'conservative'. And those people tend to think of the other ~ 49% as the aforementioned chicken littles.

I think it makes sense that until people in the 51% camp start talking about it seriously, no changes can happen.
posted by das_2099 at 8:46 AM on February 6, 2005


I think the implication (WRT when we are going to pay attention) is twofold:

First, the term "fascist" has lost a lot of its original, specific meaning over time due to (mis)use in popular Western culture (e.g., "Stay out of Malibu, Lebowski!").

Second, the criticism coming from somewhere right-of-center lessens the possibility of the administration's supporters reacting to the f-word with a knee-jerk "sore loser," "crazy liberal" or "dirty hippie" appellation as an ad hominem defense.
posted by timing at 8:47 AM on February 6, 2005


This was a good article. Thanks for posting it, taumeson.

You do see the word 'fascist' thrown around a lot by folks on the left, but, to answer Space Coyote's question, I think it is notable to see it used on the right as well. My news diet doesn't include magazines like The American Conservative, so otherwise all I would see are the proto-fascist folks themselves--people who write into the newspaper demanding that anti-war Democrats be jailed as traitors, for example. It's good to see that it's not only Michael Moore et. al. who are using the word.

I hope this kind of thinking gains some currency. Reflective historical thinking like this is obviously always good on both sides of the aisle.
posted by josh at 8:49 AM on February 6, 2005


Excellent post.
posted by four panels at 8:50 AM on February 6, 2005


This post immediately sprang to mind when I saw this. I had shared some of it with a conservative coworker who I respect, but he didn't have much to say about it. This is where I was coming from with my previous post.

Good to see this being discussed. It seems "reflective historical thinking" (thanks josh) has been in short supply these days...
posted by kableh at 8:55 AM on February 6, 2005


The article is quite good, i should also have mentioned that.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:57 AM on February 6, 2005


The Reality of Red-State Fascism referenced in the article is an interesting read as well.
posted by simonw at 8:58 AM on February 6, 2005


Everyone who voted for Bush in 2004 is culpable.


The Danger of American Fascism
Sunday 09 April 1944

A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
posted by four panels at 8:59 AM on February 6, 2005




Actually there are plenty of old line conservatives who are against the war. No doubt Mr Coyote will find much that offends in the American Conservative or Chronicles, but they have been steady on this issue from day one. And check out some of the unlikely links in antiwar.com

I mean, would it kill you to say, "Great to have you on board on this issue at least, heartless conservative guy?"
posted by IndigoJones at 9:13 AM on February 6, 2005


"...the latest conservative to realize that our populace is proto-fascist."

Hm. So the modern counterpart of the ex-communists that became jaded with the left in the late sixties and became "neo-conservatives" is... "neo-liberals?"

On preview, kableh: "This post immediately sprang to mind when I saw this. I had shared some of it with a conservative coworker who I respect, but he didn't have much to say about it."

I tried to interest my liberal friends, whom I respect, in an article in the Weekly Standard that said they were all communists, but, for some reason, they didn't have much to say.

In all seriousness, though, as a conservative, I have this to say: most conservatives, especially today, are conservatives because they're jerks. And most liberals are on the left because they're kind and caring. That doesn't mean that the conservatives are actually fascists, as assholish as they usually are; and that doesn't mean the liberals are right.
posted by koeselitz at 9:14 AM on February 6, 2005


Seeing there's a collection of F-links over here.

Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt by Umberto Eco. I remember reading the full article in the Guardian newspaper a while back, and it's pretty good.
posted by gsb at 9:19 AM on February 6, 2005


Everyone who voted for Bush in 2004 is culpable.

One in three american high school students believes the first amendment goes too far


Clearly, the majority of voting conservatives have little or no interest in hearing what voting non-conservatives have to say.

So if it takes conservatives to convince other conservatives that Bush is taking this country in the wrong direction, possibly irrepairably so, more power to this fellow.

Especially before Bush does more damage to this country.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:25 AM on February 6, 2005


People always try to filter current movements through historical analogies. Like, back when "Hitlerism" was in vogue, essays of the 1930s compared it to "Bonapartism". I'm sure "Bonapartism" was being compared, unfavourably, to "Hapsburgism" or similar.

The actors change but the play stays the same. Especially considering the enduring love of well-polished shiny booties.
posted by meehawl at 9:27 AM on February 6, 2005


I think the corporatism element of fascism applies most directly to the present situation. It could be argued that corporate fascism has existed in the US for the better part of this last century. When you consider that Bush, Cheney, Rice and others are all former oil executives, it's not hard to draw the conclusion that economics is weighted far heavier than social or environmental concerns, and that energy production is power. When you consider that the presidency is just another asset to be acquired by a global energy cartel (to put it very simply), the Bush phenomenon starts to make more sense.

What is undeniable, too, though, is the high degree to which symbols and icons are manipulated by the Republicans. In short, the presidency and the American ideal is being used for corporate ends. I'm shocked that the public can be so easily sold on the idea that a socialite Harvard alum from the north is really just a cowboy from Texas, or that you can convincingly say meaningless things like 'I believe God wants everyone to be free'. They can do this because enough people are sold on the idea that the US of A can do no wrong, and they're so used to taking what they see on the television at face value. The manipulation going on is more subtle than Mussolini's or Hitler's, but the core concepts are the same.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:29 AM on February 6, 2005


So if it takes conservatives to convince other conservatives that Bush is taking this country in the wrong direction, possibly irrepairably so, more power to this fellow.

I think, though, this is impossible within a truly fascist environment. Labels such as 'liberal' and 'conservative' lose their true meanings and just melt into 'for us' or 'against us'. This guy would most certainly just be labelled a 'liberal' as soon as he really started to have any influence.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:42 AM on February 6, 2005


If you went to the local shopping mall and stopped the first one hundred people of voting age and asked them to define the word fascism, what do you think you would discover???
posted by notreally at 9:45 AM on February 6, 2005


I think, though, this is impossible within a truly fascist environment. Labels such as 'liberal' and 'conservative' lose their true meanings and just melt into 'for us' or 'against us'. This guy would most certainly just be labelled a 'liberal' as soon as he really started to have any influence.

Which is why you don't hear his opinion on Fox or any of the other media channels. It hits too close to home. Maybe you're right. :(
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:48 AM on February 6, 2005


If you went to the local shopping mall and stopped the first one hundred people of voting age and asked them to define the word fascism, what do you think you would discover???

You'd discover that 98 people don't really know what fascism means.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:49 AM on February 6, 2005


There is a very hard element with present-day fascism complaints. The rosy, always the good guy, land of God, freedom and liberty view that many (most?) Americas hold about their country is bullshit.

We have many things to be proud of; we have many things to be deeply ashamed of. Yet, we only get substantive public discourse about the first. And at a period in time when there are dozens of countries equally as free and democratic as the US, the ideas of American exceptionalism are completely absurd. Yet a jingoistic belief in American divine providence persists.

So the question is: is the current period of America betraying its core ideals unique in a long line of such periods?

I happen to think it's unique, but it is a difficult issue to decide. I hear daily about people being arrested for criticizing the president in public, loyalty oaths to attend public Republican speeches, people kicked out of town hall for expressing a lefty viewpoint, news media tilting their war coverage 90% vs. 10% pro-war vs. anti war (in a country evenly split), public apathy about state torture and elimination of due process rights (nay, sometimes outright glee at these things), a nonchalant attitude about official, blatant lies by the government, etc...

But these things are against the principals that America stands for, dammit, without exception. They should be beyond the pale, not idly accepted. And yet, around half of Americans are just A-OK with these things. And that is fucking dangerous, because such people can be led to accept even more horrible things if they elect monsters. Regardless of whether or not the current situation is proto-fascist, it has the real potential to go someplace horrible. And it's completely unacceptable to someone who truly understands and believes in American ideals.
posted by teece at 9:57 AM on February 6, 2005


People always try to filter current movements through historical analogies.

Yes, it's called learning from your mistakes. It's what makes us smarter than, say, fish. Unfortunately, I long ago came to the conclusion that intergenerational lesson-learning is next to impossible with humanity.

The first time you put your hand on a lit stove, you quickly learn not to do it again. But tell a child not to put their hand on a stove, and they won't listen. They need the direct experience that comes with making their own mistakes in order to learn. This is civlilization's problem writ large, and why we're probably doomed to extinction.

So if it takes conservatives to convince other conservatives that Bush is taking this country in the wrong direction, possibly irrepairably so, more power to this fellow.

Completely agree.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:37 AM on February 6, 2005


As the war on drugs built to a constitution-destroying crescendo, interested observers frequently warned of nascent fascism in the US. They were pooh-pooh by nearly all and sundry. Now that the drug-war model (endless, institutional war with few goals and fewer accomplisments but plenty of casualties) becomes the model for republico-fascist-military world domination, the general populace is finally starting to take notice.

I agree with Space Coyote. Apparently nothing actually happens unless the far-right pundits in the US journalistic wimpocracy notice it.

So now that it's quite too late to avert disaster, I can only watch with fascinated, horrified interest as the US ship-of-state approaches the rocks.
posted by telstar at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2005


great post. i particularly liked:
I don’t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them —hungry to bomb foreigners and smash those Americans who might object. And when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind.
very even-handed, non-partisan and judicious.
posted by blendor at 10:43 AM on February 6, 2005


Some of the most troublesome aspects of this new facism is the rewriting of legislation and definitions to fit the agenda. Take for example the words "unlawful combatant". A very convenient definition to deny rights guaranteed under the Genva Convention.
posted by kmtharakan at 10:45 AM on February 6, 2005


Has anyone been following the fight over an obscure-to-most Colorado ethnic studies prof provocateur's words about 9-11?

MeFi has been following it. ;)

Interesting post.
posted by the_bone at 10:54 AM on February 6, 2005


I don’t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them —hungry to bomb foreigners and smash those Americans who might object. And when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind.

Any ideas on who these prospective leaders might be? The Bush admin only has four more years, and if they're not real the real fascists then who is?





Rudy Giuliani? (i don't think so)
posted by recurve at 11:00 AM on February 6, 2005


At last, some discussion about the state of democracy and fascims in the United States. Fascism in the United States government is something that I've wondered about since the time leading up to war in Iraq. The circumstances that led to the war, and the circumstances that lead to the start of the invasion of Poland, while different in many ways, are similar in way the war started - lies, mis-information, intolerance of diplomacy.

The circumstances of the re-election of Bush, and rise of Hitler to power also bear thinking about. No, they're not the same, but there are similarities there, and these must be considered. What merits discussion perhaps most of all, is the role the people of the United States and the people of Germany in their respective cases.

Do I believe the United States is Fascist? Not yet. But I do believe that if left unchecked, the United States is well on the way to Fascism.
posted by tomcosgrave at 11:22 AM on February 6, 2005


Scott McConnell and American Conservative have been hinting at this kind of stuff for years, if not outright saying it. They endorsed Kerry in 2004, if you remember. It's a magazine owned by a well-known Isolationist anti-war paleoconservative (Pat Buchanan) so it's not surprising he's predicting doom for Bush's domestic wartime policies. This is really just more of the running battle between old conservatives and new conservatives.
posted by dhoyt at 11:28 AM on February 6, 2005


kmtharakan, hate to muddy the waters, or, rather to clarify them, but the Geneva Convention does have legal standards for what constitutes a combatant.

Members of an armed force will meet the following criteria
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

(Convention Three, Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949.)

Under these criteria, Iraqi insurgents, like spies, fall outside the protections of the Geneva Convention and can be treated as well or as harshly as the occupying force decides.

Which is not to say that the US shouldn't have high standards. Just let's not assume too much from the sacred texts of Switzerland.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:30 AM on February 6, 2005


I'm thinking that conservatives are waking up to the danger, but aren't quite fully awake yet. McConnell writes:

There may be, among some neocons and some more populist right-wingers, unmistakable antidemocratic tendencies. But America hasn’t yet experienced organized street violence against dissenters or a state that is willing—in an unambiguous fashion—to jail its critics.

Holy shit, where has he been? Riot police beating down protesters doesn't count as street violence? "Little Gitmo" doesn't count as jailing critics?
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:35 AM on February 6, 2005


A review of Anatol Lieven's America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism at the NY Review of Books deals with related themes (though it uses the term "hypernationalism" instead of "fascism").

The reviewer, Brian Urquhart, writes:

At a time when the United States is no longer immune from the ills of the outside world, many key problems—terrorism, energy, the environment, epidemics including AIDS, the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, to name only a few —can only be tackled usefully through international collective effort. Dogmatic, faith-based denial of this fact of life would be a disaster for United States leadership, and also for the hope of finding solutions to problems that may well determine the future of the human race on this planet.

This, I think, is a key factor in the rise around the world of what is often oversimplified as "anti-Americanism." Frustration with the American government's anti-Enlightenment, with-us-or-against-us approach to global leadership arises not because there's widespread sympathy for Islamic terrorism (or even a belief in the equivalency of American and terrorist tactics or goals) but because most of the world realizes that American leadership is critical to the success of everything from the Middle East peace process to efforts to combat global warming. And the Bush administration has failed, deeply and repeatedly, in providing this kind of leadership - beginning with the suggestion that going shopping was the most helpful thing for people to do in support of America in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. (Which, come to think of it, has fascist overtones itself, inasmuch as it places the economic health of the corporate state above all else in terms of national priorities.)
posted by gompa at 11:44 AM on February 6, 2005


We won't get full-on fascism until the next 'attack on our freedom', a.k.a. a 'terrorist attack'.

If a nuke goes off in a say...Hollywood. First, you would have a lot of moaning and groaning, then a few snickers, and finally the dominant right would blame the left for not supporting the War on Terror enough.

And Malkin would get her wish.
posted by wah at 12:05 PM on February 6, 2005


Fascism was, at heart, always corporate in its logic. Hence Walter Benjamin's realization that fascism is the political philosophy most closely correlated to the aestheticization of the life-world. No one does aesthetics better than big business selling the meaning of life in consumer goods.
posted by hank_14 at 12:11 PM on February 6, 2005


I don’t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them

You know, Hitler didn't spring de novo into control of Germany in 1933 with the Gleichschaltung, or "reorganizing". Weimer had been sliding into authoritarianism for 5 years or so, and then effectively ceased to function as a parliamentary democracy in 1930, when Hindenburg took to issuing edicts to rule by decree. Increasingly unscrupulous Chancellors used their fiat powers more and more freely until 1933, when the last vestiges of liberal democracy were swept aside. In any case, Brüning's government-by-decree from 1930 to 1932 was incredibly regressive, endorsing rightist social policies, implementing almost complete de-regulation, and cutting most social spending while raising taxes enormously on the poor and middle-classes but leaving the aristos and property owners untouched.

Papen and his sometimes allies the far-right Catholic Centre Party had flirted with fascism, orchestrated coups against some left-wing Länder governments, and managed to de-criminalise the SA (which strengthened the NSDAP immensely during 1932-1933). And of course, when he became effectively powerless, Papen lobbied for Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, obviously hoping to use the Nazi muscle to stifle Papen's opponents. The DNVP party also allied with the NSDAP during Weimar and was instrumental in helping to pass the Enabling Acts.

The widespread public acceptance of Führerprinzip was devised by the Nazis and sold to the public as a way of cutting through the plodding bureacracy and pointlessly separated police and judicial powers that were held to have weakened the Republic's attempts to combat economic malaise and domestic/foreign terrorism.

Brand new we're retro.
posted by meehawl at 12:22 PM on February 6, 2005


IndigoJones, it has been some time since I looked at the text of the Geneva Convention, and while I do recall that there was an explicit definition as to what constitutes a combatant protected by the convention, I seem to remember there also being a clause that those not protected by the convention were to be treated "humanely." Does anyone else have anything on this?
posted by Tullius at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2005


the President dhoyt deserves
posted by matteo at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2005


Tullius- Certainly article 13 states that Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated

My point was a extremely narrow, that of what constituted a combatant (and therefore a legitimate POW). Not everyone can. You shoot without a uniform, or are deemed to have shot without a uniform, you're on your own. Which gives lawmakers here an alarming amount of leeway in deciding how to proceed.

Do re-read it, it's full of all sorts of little quibbly bits, the kind of thing lawyers live for.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:13 PM on February 6, 2005


On the other hand-

Art. 5. The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

(Takes a big man to admit he was wrong. Still, I wouldn't put it past others to argue about even this clause)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:17 PM on February 6, 2005


This "are we fascist yet?" argument strikes me as bullshit. The very existence of a thread like this on an outlet like MeFi flies in the face of the notion that we're a fascist nation; there's plenty of opposition to go around. A basically meaningless candidate like John Kerry gathering nearly 50% of the popular vote against a popular (well, maybe not around here) sitting President belies the notion that we've achieved fascism. Unless you buy the argument that a President getting the US into a stupid, needless war is fascism. The War Against Some DrugsTM is a more telling argument, but it's equally an argument that we're overly Puritan, not fascist.

(looks around nervously, dons asbestos union suit)
posted by alumshubby at 1:32 PM on February 6, 2005


What's this crap about "old conservative" and "new conservative?" You're a conservative or you're not.
For example, I am a fiscal conservative and a social liberal and detest corporatism. Not too hard to understand those labels, is it?
The liberals think we're headed to fascism.
The conservatives think we're headed to fascism.
The libertarians think we're headed to fascism.
The democrats think we're headed to fascism.
The greens think we're headed to fascism.

Only the corporate whores refuse to acknowledge this and we all know what Mussolini had to say about the equivalency of corporatism and fascism.
The only question is why some defend our slide to fascism and will they ever open their eyes? Or is it too late?

On the practice of resurrecting an old work of "wrongs uttered" by a university professor let me quote from the Umberto Eco link (thanks, I love his writing):

Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
posted by nofundy at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2005


there's been a constituency for fascism in this country for a long time ... it's just that now it's a bit bigger and has a little more power than it used to have
posted by pyramid termite at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2005


until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

Come to think of it, though, that merely puts the ball back in the tribunal's court. Presumably if they determine that said uncertain person is certainly an unlawful combatant, it's back to the unprotected ministrations of the occupying forces.

This is why I didn't go to law school.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:41 PM on February 6, 2005


I refuse to acknowdge the alleged descent into fascism, but it's only because I see at least as much dissent and plurality as has existed in the United States at any time, the sixties included. And having been woefully under/unemployed until recently, I wonder if finally having a job makes me a corporate whore? It sure beats eviction and starvation.
posted by alumshubby at 1:41 PM on February 6, 2005


I refuse to acknowdge the alleged descent into fascism, but it's only because I see at least as much dissent and plurality as has existed in the United States at any time, the sixties included.

The mistake there might be to assume that some new American fascism would look exactly like 1930s German fascism. On the other hand, distracting consumers with choice and making people feel like they have freedom because they can still gripe on the Internet, all the while government goes about its business screwing the public, would be a much more American-style, IMO. After all, why attempt to control 100% of the population when you've got 51% that will go along with you willingly and enthusiastically?
posted by Space Coyote at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2005


Maybe my understanding of fascism is what's screwy here. I thought fascists were intolerant of criticism and wanted 100% assent 100% of the time? Or maybe what we've got now isn't really fascism? Maybe it's just a really screwed-up President?
posted by alumshubby at 1:57 PM on February 6, 2005


Dave Neiwert's essay on creeping American fascism is a good place to start to get our definitoins straight, I think.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:01 PM on February 6, 2005


You're understanding of fascism is way screwed up, alumshubby. That's part of the problem with this word: while it does have a more or less well defined meaning in academic contexts, to many it simply means "bad government."

The heart of fascism is the union of the corporation and the state. Another trait is a stifling of descent. There is almost always some external enemy scapegoated as being responsible for all of the societies problems. The needs of the individual are assumed to be inferior to the needs of the state. Often the leader of a fascist nation is held as indistinguishable from the state itself.

And it's important to note that what is being talked about here is the descent into fascism or proto-fascism, not full-blown fascism.

And, I think that if you go look up the traits associated with historically fascist governments, and America is most certainly moving in that direction on some of the traits. That doesn't mean we won't recover (we have been serious idiot shitheads in our past, say interning Japanese Americans or McCarthyism), but it is good to point the stuff out. Because it is a violation of what we are supposed to stand for either way.
posted by teece at 2:08 PM on February 6, 2005


Don't you think, alumshubby, that the time when 100% assent 100% of the time is the norm, it's maybe a little too late to be recognizing that the country has slid into a fascist state?

You've got fascism when your government invents new secret laws that remove undesirables without due legal process. You've got fascism when your government gives murderers less jailtime than potheads. You've got fascism when corporations can rape the land, screw the investor, and line their pockets without any fear of consequence.

It's dead easy to call the alarmists a bunch of tinfoil beanie-wearers. Saying "pish-posh" is the intellectually lazy way of dismissing them. And were they a couple of uninformed, illiterate, unknown street-corner preachers spewing nonsense to the crowds, you'd likely be justified in taking the lazy way out.

When there are increasing numbers of well-informed, intellectual, well-known folk saying that it might be time to consider where things are going, though, it might be worth sitting up and taking notice.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:19 PM on February 6, 2005


Found this when reading the Wikipedia definition of Fascism:

Fascist motto and sayings

* The above mentioned Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato, "Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State."


Hmm... perhaps I can make t-shirts with this slogan. I'll use the word States, and have an US flag behind it.
posted by Hicksu at 2:21 PM on February 6, 2005


I for one welcome our fascist overlords and acknowledge the beauty and strength of the the party.

For those who believe in this rise of fascism, could you point a specific or general event or time when this Fascism in American started? and do you REALLY think some form of Fascism has the potential to infect America?

Or is this just whining liberals, screaming taunts because the other side actually got organized AND fought back AND won?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:22 PM on February 6, 2005


alumshubby,

How does a thread like this one confer upon us immunity from facism? What, you think there weren't Germans in the 30s debating about whether or not they were living under facism? Somehow we, in America, are above to all the ills that befall other nations? The degree of hubris you display is distressing. The more we are in denial about the evil that is within every one of us, the more we are likely to succumb to it.
posted by randomstriker at 2:28 PM on February 6, 2005


You've got fascism when your government gives murderers less jailtime than potheads.

I admit it's a strange, silly contradiction, but--how is that "fascism"?
posted by dhoyt at 2:30 PM on February 6, 2005


Or is this just whining liberals, screaming taunts because the other side actually got organized AND fought back AND won?

It's not liberals, Brandon Blatcher, who are warning of the rise of an American flavor of fascism. Neither Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative (read the FPP) nor Lew Rockwell's Ludwig von Mises Institute are liberal mouth pieces are they? Therein lies the utility of this thread... no?
posted by crank at 2:36 PM on February 6, 2005


This guy would most certainly just be labelled a 'liberal' as soon as he really started to have any influence.

... and then ...

Or is this just whining liberals, screaming taunts because the other side actually got organized AND fought back AND won?

hee.

Oh, those crazy liberals at The American Conservative!
posted by Space Coyote at 2:39 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm trying to imagine what would happen if I sent this to my father. When I was growing up our living room TV was channeled to CNN at all times when he was home. The last time I went home he explained to me that CNN is owned by liberals and he can't stand watching. As a family we can no longer sit on the couch together and watch Saturday Night Live. My father gets upset and storms out of the room muttering "they just can't let go of the election...". It makes no difference what political leanings any of the rest of us in the family have, the atmosphere in my parents home is defensive.

I'm not even sure if my father would be able to read far enough into this article, without becoming visibly annoyed and storming off, to understand what the guy is talking about. And he would also make a mental note never to visit www.amconmag.com ever again.
posted by chowder at 2:43 PM on February 6, 2005


For those who believe in this rise of fascism, could you point a specific or general event or time when this Fascism in American started? and do you REALLY think some form of Fascism has the potential to infect America?

Or is this just whining liberals, screaming taunts because the other side actually got organized AND fought back AND won?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:22 PM PST on February 6


rylanddotnet already mentioned Little Gitmo
posted by taumeson at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2005


chowder: I empathize. My mother took American Conservative off her bookmarks when I sent her this Eric Margolis piece back in August. Once they endorsed Kerry, she never wanted to hear about them again.
posted by dhoyt at 2:48 PM on February 6, 2005


I, for one, point to March 20, 2003 when I finally realized we're more fascist than democratic. I knew it had been creeping up on us, and it took a huge, massive leap forward with 9/11. But 20030320 was the date that I knew it had arrived.
posted by taumeson at 2:50 PM on February 6, 2005


Two random facts, both courtesy of Robert Paxton: a) Hitler never even had majority support, never wonthe majority of the vote, and was the archtypal fascist overlord, resistance notwithstanding. Resistance, rather than being evidence that fascism can't take purchase, is in fact helpful to the maintenance of fascism in that it gives a ready group to caricature, and b) scholars like Paxton believe that the first proto-fascist organizations were in fact from America, and not from the more successful Europe (though those groups were obviously more successful). That group? The KKK.
posted by hank_14 at 2:53 PM on February 6, 2005


Under these criteria, Iraqi insurgents, like spies, fall outside the protections of the Geneva Convention and can be treated as well or as harshly as the occupying force decides.

The criteria in the Geneva Conventions for combatants was never intended to be a measure for contravening the Conventions. Combatants are not defined in order that some people who fall outside the definition are allowed to be tortured. In fact, the Geneva Conventions also state that torture is never acceptable. You can't eat your cake and have it, too.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:00 PM on February 6, 2005


Under these criteria, Iraqi insurgents, like spies, fall outside the protections of the Geneva Convention and can be treated as well or as harshly as the occupying force decides.

I'm curious about one other thing. Does this mean that American contractors and spies in Iraq are allowed to be tortured?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:02 PM on February 6, 2005


I, for one, point to March 20, 2003 when I finally realized we're more fascist than democratic.

Wasn't there a joint resolution voted on that day, with heavy support from both Republicans & Democrats?

Regardless of how the war turned out--wouldn't a fascist government rule out the need for a resolution?

I'm confused by how some of you are defining "fascism". It seems to be transmogrifying into "government decisions I don't agree with".
posted by dhoyt at 3:04 PM on February 6, 2005


I'll say again that I'm much less convinced that the 'fascism' comparison is a serious overreaction than I was 6 months ago. I've argued against the definition a number of times, but admit that I have a lot more of a 'sinking feeling' these days. Rice has basically no positive qualities, whereas at least I felt like Powell had some inkling of character in there. Gonzalez is, amazingly, even worse than Ashcroft, and that is really saying something. Bush/Cheney etc come off even more completely certain of their power and their need to answer no one - even tiny things like that green parka incident send a certain vibe out that would seem like nothing if it were isolated, but which combined with other attitudes and comments make me uneasy.

The very existence of a thread like this on an outlet like MeFi flies in the face of the notion that we're a fascist nation;

not if most people dismiss it as silly whining...

I dunno, we're definitely not in a fascist state now, but the idea that we're undergoing an important shift that could conceivably go terribly wrong seems worth taking seriously. The revocation of the new deal via social security "reformation", and trying to balance budget while cutting taxes (ie, seriously stripping safety nets/social programs), is worrying too...

And having been woefully under/unemployed until recently, I wonder if finally having a job makes me a corporate whore? It sure beats eviction and starvation.

Yeah, well, a society where you may have very little choice about what sort of work or life you want is a society that can't truly be said to be populated by free citizens. Our country is geared toward the best way to help the big corporations make the most money, or to make the nation as a whole have the most power. it is not the least bit concerned with attempting to create the most fulfilling lives for all members of the state. The latter is democracy. The former - well, fascism isn't totally unrelated.
posted by mdn at 3:05 PM on February 6, 2005


It's dead easy to call the alarmists a bunch of tinfoil beanie-wearers.

Your words, not mine. If you want to call yourself names, don't do it in response to me. I've got more respect than that for people whose points of view don't necessarily jibe with my own.

I'm not calling anybody any names here, just saying the status quo, however miguided, is a long way from facism from my point of view. When there's prison camps out in the badlands full of people who said the wrong thing on MeFi, or at least got fired and arrested for voting Democrat, I'll believe you. Meanwhile, I'll leave the ridicule up to the people who can't disagree with me without being disagreeable. This kind of hyperbolic invective is why the Right refuses to take the Left seriously -- why even listen to a bunch of name-callers?

Yes, corpocracy is a problem, but the last I checked, you don't disappear in this country if you start a co-op or write a letter to the editor critical of President Bush or Wall Street. The war on drugs is stupid, but it's been more about self-perpetuation than law enforcement. I don't see Bush pardoning Ken Lay yet because he's a great American. And my neighbors probably are not taking notes on what bumper stickers I've got on my truck. We've got a ways to go before I see us as being akin to Germany or Italy in the thirties or Argentina in the seventies. And as for it "being too late," the remedies to fascism haven't all been revoked, the last I checked. Yes, people are sheep who just want their paychecks and their Baywatch, but try to get 'em to give up their guns and I'll show you just how fascist we aren't.
posted by alumshubby at 3:12 PM on February 6, 2005


Anyone just catch that Superbowl introduction? Umm...seems like they have the militaristism and glorification of violence down 'pat', ('scuse the pun).
posted by jimmythefish at 3:39 PM on February 6, 2005


Hmmm. Maybe you're right. Glorifying Americans who stood up to fascism...what could be more fascist than that?
posted by alumshubby at 3:41 PM on February 6, 2005


Just more symbols of Americana they're exploiting. What does sport have to do with the military? I mean, really? What's the logical correlation?

Hmmm. Maybe you're right. Glorifying Americans who stood up to fascism...what could be more fascist than that?
posted by jimmythefish at 3:47 PM on February 6, 2005


Regardless of how the war turned out--wouldn't a fascist government rule out the need for a resolution?

I'm confused by how some of you are defining "fascism". It seems to be transmogrifying into "government decisions I don't agree with".


Well, that's not quite what I was going for...the fact that we were going into Iraq at all is what I'm talking about. We've also gotta admit that the president has huge powers to put the military into situations where a declaration of war would be more appropriate.
posted by taumeson at 3:55 PM on February 6, 2005


crank-good point. there is uneasiness among conservatives about recent happenings.

But fascism in america? Are we seriously talking about it as a possibility? doesn't America value personal liberty too much for that to happen? And please don't cite the recent high school student survey. Speaking as a former high school student, most ARE dumb. A better survey would look at recent college graduates. an even bettery survey would chart those high schools as they left college and at various points throught life.

and if fascism is coming, what are you doing to stop it? What will you do if it can't be stopped?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:57 PM on February 6, 2005


We can value personal liberty all we want, but that doesn't mean we couldn't be headed toward a true fascist state. Read again the post above about how all they really need is 51% of the public approving and voting their way, and the older methods of direct suppression and control need not apply here in America.

We could, in fact, have real fascism voted into power by the American public - by people who don't actually understand what they're doing.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:06 PM on February 6, 2005


A better survey would look at recent college graduates.

only 30% of americans are college graduates....so no, i don't think that qualifies as a "better" survey.

all they really need is 51% of the public approving and voting their way, and the older methods of direct suppression and control need not apply here in America.

bingo.

personal liberty need not be restricted by the government. remember, we're talking about stifling of dissent, which is the only type of liberty that needs to be restricted...and the government can stand by while the populace stifles themselves.
posted by taumeson at 4:20 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm not calling anybody any names here, just saying the status quo, however miguided, is a long way from facism from my point of view.

alumshubby, I don't know if you're doing it because of a lack of perception or if you're being purposely obtuse to derail the thread, but you're trying to change the argument by ignoring the nuances of the FPP and going straight for black-and-white. Nobody is claiming that America is a fascist regime right now, this minute. Nobody is claiming that America is inevitably going to turn into a full-on fascist regime. All we are saying is that there are indicators that America is moving toward fascism, and that a constituency for fascism exists that someone could take advantage of, and that we need to take the indicators seriously now, when we can do something about them.
posted by RylandDotNet at 4:21 PM on February 6, 2005


dhoyt: it isn't, I was lazy. Seemed okay if a long stretch: majority of Americans have smoked pot, and the majority of prisoners are drug users; seems somehow this sort of situation can only remain if the government refuses the will of the people. Why else would something the majority does, end up with that majority jailed for it? Surely the majority would protest.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:22 PM on February 6, 2005


I'm not calling anybody any names here, just saying the status quo, however miguided, is a long way from facism from my point of view.

There are those who say the USA is on the path to facism. You reject that view out of hand. Why?

When there's prison camps out in the badlands full of people who said the wrong thing on MeFi, or at least got fired and arrested for voting Democrat, I'll believe you.

Don't you think it'll be rather too late at that point? Would it not be better to stop the slide to facism long before that point?

It appears that not only do you reject the idea that the USA is showing early signs of a facist threat, you reject the idea of paying any attention until a facist government is actually in power.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:28 PM on February 6, 2005


The military/sports connection is far from new. You've had planes flying over stadiums for well over a couple of decades now - and ABC's practice of showing ideal collegiate scenes before commercials and as intros has long been pointed out as reminiscent of Fascist imagery. This seems contained to football, though. I doubt you'll see jets flying soon over, say, Wrigley Field.

(And I'm always confused about why college football coaches are escorted off the field by state troopers, whereas the same does not hold true for basketball coaches. Football is more in line with guns 'n' uniforms, I suppose.)
posted by raysmj at 4:34 PM on February 6, 2005


RylandDotNet, fivefreshfish, we were a lot closer to fascism in the twenties and thirties than we are now. We're enduring a stupid Presidency but that's not the same thing as saying we're sliding toward fascism. When the Republicans start putting up tomato cans for candidates, the loyal opposition will come to the fore, the country will start swinging the other way, and we'll see conservatives decrying the decay of traditional political values that made this country great. Just like I had to listen to all through eight years of Clinton.

I reject the idea that anybody's saying I'm rejecting the idea of paying any attention, too. I've been paying attention so hard it hurts. What I'm not doing, unlike a lot of people in this thread, is coming to MeFi with any particular axes to grind over recent events.
posted by alumshubby at 4:45 PM on February 6, 2005


What I'm not doing, unlike a lot of people in this thread, is coming to MeFi with any particular axes to grind over recent events.

nah, we've been bitching for a long time.
posted by taumeson at 4:55 PM on February 6, 2005


I reject the idea that anybody's saying I'm rejecting the idea of paying any attention, too. I've been paying attention so hard it hurts. What I'm not doing, unlike a lot of people in this thread, is coming to MeFi with any particular axes to grind over recent events.

Recent events are the only measure to judge any potential slide in to fascism. So that statement makes no sense, alumshubby.

You're comment about guns also misunderstands, again, what in means to be a fascist state. Quite often there are many willing helpers to a fascist state among the population. Quite often, there is an effective propaganda machine in place, so that every citizen is NOT stripped of all rights. The fact that we can have this conversation or bear arms is not evidence of a lack of fascist trends. It makes the fascist dictators job easier if there is a large chunk of the population willing to do his dirty work.

What most people that take this seriously say is that we have the large junk of the population willing to do the fascist dirty work. All they need is somebody to lead them.
posted by teece at 5:41 PM on February 6, 2005


The American political system would have to be catastrophically destroyed to make room for real facism, which seems unlikely.

Although, the system may well be flexible enough to allow the extreme unbalancing of the branches with, of course, the executive eventually taking over all practical control.

Meanwhile it's natural and expected that democracies should swing left and right while seeking their best path through the opportunities and difficulties of their times.

So perhaps a more likely future includes the same left/right opportunity-seeking and problem-avoiding, however lead by an executive branch more far more powerful relative to the other two branches than originally conceived.

In this scenario might we also expect more pronounced swings quickly moving to greater extremes from one administration to another?
posted by scheptech at 6:23 PM on February 6, 2005


Recent events are the only measure to judge any potential slide in to fascism.

Depends on how ahistorical you are.
posted by alumshubby at 6:41 PM on February 6, 2005


"The Plot Against America" .. by Phillip Roth, is about the relationship of local culture to the rise of fascism ... and why it didn't happen here in the 1940's. Reading it during the past election cycle was/is not comforting.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:58 PM on February 6, 2005


I, for one, am amazed to discover there is such a thing as the anti-war right. Great article.
posted by fubar at 7:06 PM on February 6, 2005


In all seriousness, though, as a conservative, I have this to say: most conservatives, especially today, are conservatives because they're jerks. And most liberals are on the left because they're kind and caring. That doesn't mean that the conservatives are actually fascists, as assholish as they usually are; and that doesn't mean the liberals are right.

As a liberal, I'm inclined to agree. Let's have a beer.
posted by Jimbob at 7:14 PM on February 6, 2005


I, for one, am amazed to discover there is such a thing as the anti-war right.

For whatever reason, people are tempted to polarize any issue between two extremes. The media, academics, and other commentators on social situations (MeFites included) have a tendency to create false dichotomies in order to create either an 'us vs them' environ or (more likely) to make it easier to analyse.

The truth is much more grey: there are pro-war Democrats; there are pro-choice Republicans. On a single issue you can polarise people between 'yes' and 'no', but when you have a party or group which encapsulates several such issues - social security, abortion, war, whatever - you cannot cut cleanly down those lines.

Which means, in short, we can all get along on something, most of the time. There are very few coathanger-wielding liberal America-haters seeking to destroy the christian way of life, and they are as easily marginalised as the bloodthirsty cross-endowed fascists.
posted by cosmonik at 7:37 PM on February 6, 2005


Cosmonik,
I agree in part. In my opinion, it seems the more time we as a nation have to mull over "The Situation" the boundaries between moderates has become less defined. Especially after this recent Iraqi election, its almost like saying, "Dont forget, we're on your side too!"

I have to say I am worried; Bush has demonstrated that he can fabricate a rational for war and then change that rational after the fact. If a convincing rational for more violence was devoloped, I am not so sure that Bush could be stopped, even by the moderates.

As for as your comparison of the "coathanger-wielding liberals" and the "cross-endowed fascists", I am going to have to say that the fascists have the upper hand.
posted by kuatto at 8:09 PM on February 6, 2005



Only the corporate whores refuse to acknowledge this and we all know what Mussolini had to say about the equivalency of corporatism and fascism.


So you are saying that Mussolini was referring to something similar to the modern day corporation when he said fascism and corporatism were similar? Corporatism in Mussolini's Italy was more similar to the guild system. Of course that doesn't stop some idiot shooting off his mouth in every thread that talks about facism.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 9:04 PM on February 6, 2005


One of the major points of recent scholarly works on fascism is that fascism is not defined by its various manifestations. It is not equated with swastikas or even shiny boots. Fascism, like any political philosophy, is adapted to local cultures and conditions. What, for Germany, was a response to the "decadent" Weimar republic, and, for Italy, a response to the growing influence of liberalism, cannot be held as the gold standard for fascism - just as in the same way that Britain's democracy differs from ours, so would our fascism differ from Germany's and Italy's.

It is entirely possible that if we do descend into fascism we would, like most Germans or Italians, only realize its magnitude in the years following our defeat. Optimistically speaking.
posted by Coda at 10:12 PM on February 6, 2005


ignoring what facism means emotionally, facism is simply government and business being interchangable. sounds like we're almost there!
the big war fought once we truly gel into business/government mechazoid will be fought by economic boycotts or even just stricter regulations worldwide on incoming goods to hot international places, like what the EU is trying to do with chemicals, since who really wants to fuck with the american army? they're a bit scary.
posted by klik99 at 10:35 PM on February 6, 2005


I think one way in which fascism strikes its root, is when heretofore, more or less sane people deny the existence of the streak in all of us to succumb to fear-bought authority. And even more tellingly they are not running to metatalk to holler that *somebody used the word fascist* in a thread.

I, in fact got banned for a spell by calling the fascist spade a spade during the run up to the invasion of Iraq. Now here we got whole threads dedicated to topic. Irony? No, don't think so. It's just that you cannot so brazenly lie to a populace, bomb the fuck out of another country and pay continual lip-service to the extreme Christian Right and not have, well, let's call it "blowback".

There is a fine line BushCo is walking, as they must know corporate profits in many industries will plummet should widespread social disorder befall the United States. The order out of said disorder would most certainly come in the form of a brutal fascism that nobody here would want to contemplate. Nevertheless, they string along (or is it willingly?) the violently fascist, authoritarian and fundamentalist right, by inferences and implications, "code words" what have you, that they are on their side. But unlike the chores they must manipulate the populace to perform for the corporate bottomline (ie sending a confused and divided populace to war), the changes due to the fundamentalist right and their dull-witted constituency -- the fascists -- will happen on a time scale much slower, or perhaps, not at all. It's all a matter of neccessity.

It's only a matter of a good portion of the populace feeling justifiably upset enough to contemplate direct action with the rest that will tip the scale. Will we get to that point? I don't know. But I am certain that there are cretins in the right and left wing media (the right's being orders of magnitude more powerful) that are more than willing to take up that task. The geopolitical situation must be further muddled to have the all-important critical-mass portion of the population run to the protection of mother state, where the good and beneficent mother state can begin pointing out to them her enemies.

Who makes an enemy?

You'd have to ask her. But perhaps, just perhaps, that question is not one she takes kindly to being asked -- especially while she's been caught in the act of a crime. Hence these mounting fascistic tendencies showing up in the land you were born in ladies and gentlemen. It all depends on how much power the corporate state wants to secure for itself. Everything else is illusory. We just happen to live in it. "Fascism" obscures from view the truth.

Alumshubby: Who or what are you arguing for or against? Ask yourself that question real hard. If you reach a gray area, ask yourself the question "why is this area of my understanding of things here so gray?". Keep asking. You'll eventually find yourself getting nowhere. But that is the point though isn't it? ;)
posted by crasspastor at 11:40 PM on February 6, 2005


I for one welcome our fascist overlords and acknowledge the beauty and strength of the the party.
Brandon Blatcher - You know, it's funny, that made me try and envision some scenario where I could actually just pretend to be a serious, hardcore neocon/Bush supporter for a while. I tried to think of what I would say, how I would justify those things, and how I would have to act....
I can't figure it out. I cannot figure out anything I could say that could be remotely justifiable in my reality that could explain or support any of the acts of the current administration. I don't even think they try to back up what they're doing. They just do it.
Maybe if I could do this, I would be able to have a real dialogue with hardcore conservatives. I don't know. It is telling that I have such a complete inability to be like that, though.

Resistance, rather than being evidence that fascism can't take purchase, is in fact helpful to the maintenance of fascism in that it gives a ready group to caricature...
hank_14 - I think it's so bizarre that Kerry was so scared of being branded a liberal during the debates. They seem to be pretty good at caricatures already... Also, as a side note, debate #2 (was it?), the 'town hall' type thing, that seemed like such a bizarre postmodern circus sort of way to analyse potential presidents.

The revocation of the new deal via social security "reformation", and trying to balance budget while cutting taxes (ie, seriously stripping safety nets/social programs), is worrying too...
mdn - Maybe eventually there will be no taxes, no regulations, and the government will just be a sponsored advisory body to the great American corporations that will do all the hard work. Bwahaha.

...college football coaches are escorted off the field by state troopers...
raysmj - wowww, I didn't know that. bizarre.

The American political system would have to be catastrophically destroyed to make room for real facism, which seems unlikely.
scheptech - Like, what, a single party controlling two-thirds of both houses of congress, the presidency, and the majority of the supreme court? What can a party not do with power like that?

It's only a matter of a good portion of the populace feeling justifiably upset enough to contemplate direct action with the rest that will tip the scale.
crasspastor - But, see, say 70% of American MeFites, along with their friends and colleagues, decided that this was it, that it was time to do something. ... What could possibly be done? Let's say it's sometime in the near future when a single, strong, intolerant Republican party, controlled by a small elite, runs everything I specified in the previous paragraph. Short of, you know, tearing down the entirety of the federal political system and starting over, what would have to be done? I can't figure it out.
posted by blacklite at 12:40 AM on February 7, 2005


blacklite: I wholeheartedly meant the other way. The scales are to be tipped the other way -- into fascism. The situation we are in now cannot be overthrown, but must be dealt with. By that I mean, I believe the freight train of incipient fascism in this country is completely self-propelled. By that I mean, there is no way for it to be stopped short of it stopping itself.

This is where the policestate, security in exchange for obediance solution comes in. Play by the rules and you can live a relatively peaceful partitioned existence inside of their walls. It's all simple Sci-Fi extrapolation. There is no Muslim extremist threat and there is no Christian or Jewish extremist threat. There is only global power. And at this rate, humans, no matter how unionized they may ever become, will never be able to scale in time or in proper magnitude of power to ever get a level playing field.

Here's the thing: these doubters of America's fascist streak are also people who presumably must believe in the omnipotent continuance of a cartonized and pre-measured American lifestyle --our lives lived in increments of time and value. Therefore, when a crash of sorts does occur, they will immediately blame not the behaviors which originate from within, but those who threw them off their game. That means you, you "hate America firsters" and suspects of other acts of capriciously deemed sedition. The "fascists" of the USA 2005 have no perspective. And that could perhaps be the clincher.

NO PERSPECTIVE.

How are you supposed to affect those who have no opinions about how the government should be run, but say they look for results -- and, Bush to them, is puttin' up results? I mean, it just stretches credulity. It's becoming a willful ignorance anymore. Case in point: Fellow conservatives calling this uber fiasco as they see it. Fascism. Proto, pre, whatever. It's being called.
posted by crasspastor at 2:45 AM on February 7, 2005


The best way to avoid losing an argument is to avoid the argument altogether. The prevalence of a cultural stigma around comparing US to fascism an effective means of avoiding the issue. Warnings about American fascism are relevant and apt. And it's not going to be like Nazi Germany. That's already been done. Nazi Germany was a lesson for everyone, including those with fascist leanings.

And what jimmythefish said, hell, what everyone on my side said. Heh.
posted by effwerd at 4:00 AM on February 7, 2005


there is no Christian or Jewish extremist threat

Jewish threat, no.
posted by gimonca at 6:15 AM on February 7, 2005


jimbob: Thanks. Good idea.

All this snarking. We could every one of us use a beer right now.

posted by koeselitz at 8:10 AM on February 7, 2005


until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

Come to think of it, though, that merely puts the ball back in the tribunal's court. Presumably if they determine that said uncertain person is certainly an unlawful combatant, it's back to the unprotected ministrations of the occupying forces.


The key point of that clause is that the occuping forces don't get to decide. It's hard to be impartial when your one of the involved parties.
posted by Mitheral at 9:00 AM on February 7, 2005


Wow. That was a great article.
posted by tkchrist at 2:25 PM on February 7, 2005


The key point of that clause is that the occuping forces don't get to decide. It's hard to be impartial when your one of the involved parties

Noted, and thank you. But it does raise the question, where is the UN in all this? Are they taking a pass? Have they asked politely to visit set up tribunals? Anyone?

By the way, if we're talking fascist slogans, this has always struck me as something Musso might have come up with.

Perspective is everything
posted by IndigoJones at 3:30 PM on February 7, 2005


I don't thin kBenito would have been comfortable with the call for creativity and using one's own judgment about what's good for one's country.

Helping your countrymen isn't automatically fascist, after all.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:05 PM on February 7, 2005


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