The Fascist Creep
October 17, 2018 10:17 AM   Subscribe

“In Germany in 1933, Wilhelm Reich, in analyzing how a society chooses fascism, rejected the all-too-easy notion of the duped masses. He insisted that we take seriously the fact that people, en masse, genuinely desired fascism. Ignorant masses weren’t manipulated into an authoritarian system they do not actually want.” No Joke (Real Life) “And that brings me to the point of this little essay. How did America end up so hilariously, amazingly, spectacularly stupid, it couldn’t even figure out when fascism, comic-book fascism, in fact — replete with cartoon dictator, demonization, scapegoating, camps, bans, and so on — was rising right in front of its eyes?“ Why America Didn’t See Fascism Coming (Medium) Republicans Are Adopting the Proud Boys ( Daily Beast). “The past three years have seen a proliferation of such groups: organized reactionaries of various political tendencies seeking out ideological enemies (mostly, but not exclusively, on the anti-capitalist left) to beat to a bloody pulp.” Boys To Men (Baffler)
posted by The Whelk (69 comments total) 85 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are some informative comments in the Some 41 discussion from the other day:
...one of the things that would get you on the HUAC list was being "prematurely anti-fascist" -- i.e. speaking out publicly against the Axis powers prior to Pearl Harbor. It gels with what most of us here already knew about American corporations and financiers happily doing business with the Third Reich up until the U.S. entry into WWII, but it does underline the fact that plenty of powerful people in our country were (and still are) surprisingly tolerant of fascism both before and after the war.
posted by clawsoon at 10:29 AM on October 17, 2018 [28 favorites]


Have you ever seen a tribally organized society discover, advance, propose, or create anything truly earth-shaking?
OK this article is trash.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:40 AM on October 17, 2018 [34 favorites]


"What is the point of having a Harvard education if you don’t even know a fascist when he’s staring you in the face, after all? '

FDR asked himself the same question.

But Erika Mann wrote in her book, 'School for Barbarians' argues that the Weimar Republic made a serious mistake to create a political neutral curriculum. "One subject, political propaganda, was missing from the curriculum. The German Republic refused to influence its citizens one way or the other, or to convince them of the advantages of democracy; it did not carry on any propaganda in its own favour. This proves to have been an error... Unused to self-rule, the German people submitted to a new State which made itself the master, and forced the people to be its servants." (28)
posted by clavdivs at 10:46 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


' that is why human progress didn’t really take off until democracy arrived'

Whiggish trash at that.
posted by HumanComplex at 10:49 AM on October 17, 2018 [19 favorites]


Fascism always includes bully-boys like Black Shirts, Brown Shirts, Blue Shirts. It’s going to be very necessary to fight back at some point because sadly the police and military are infiltrated.i

I have had some interesting conversations about the fascist end of the spectrum with someone I met recently. Basically this individual asked me if I was aware of the large money drain the Pentagon is. Of course I am ! Any intelligent, informed person is aware and is further aware that a HUGE factor is stolen weaponry. The stolen weaponry includes EVERYTHING but nuclear stuff.
Basically these stolen weapons are secreted in hardened bunkers, caves and such. According to this person the groups who are behind the thefts are people like the 3 Percenters and the Oath Keepers. This would never be tolerated in any other country and it’s gone on for a very long time. Well prior to this administration or even the last one.
I seriously believe that groups like the Bundy group who occupied Malheur Bird Sanctuary and some of these other groups would like very much to provoke a shooting war in the US.
Also those tent camps that were set up for children by the current administration went up way the Hell too fast. FEMA can’t handle Puerto Rico or the Hurricane Micheal damage properly, yet these tent facilities went up like mushrooms. This administration WANTS groups like the 3 Percenters and Oath-Keepers. If they did not, these fascist groups would be in those tent camps or dead.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:03 AM on October 17, 2018 [17 favorites]


For the curious, I'm pretty sure this video is what's being referenced in the Umair Heque piece.
posted by Sokka shot first at 11:05 AM on October 17, 2018


"One subject, political propaganda, was missing from the curriculum.

And what do you know, our own school's civics courses have slowly been vanishing over the past decades.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:06 AM on October 17, 2018 [11 favorites]


I don't recall Arandt talking about the masses being fooled in the Rise of Totalitarianism. My reading of her theory(she's a very rich thinker) is that it is the atomization of the modern world, our alienation from each other, which makes us accept or even welcome the totalitarian society as at least now we really belong to something.
posted by shothotbot at 11:08 AM on October 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


Fascism is nothing else than the political form of state capitalism.
posted by No Robots at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


Why America Didn’t See Fascism Coming (Medium)

....You know, I read this a couple days ago - and while the things he's saying may have some truth to them, it's kind of hard to fight your way to those points through all of the "we intellectuals have been telling you all this for years, but did you listen? noooooooo" snarking.

I mean, I realize that sounds like a tone argument, but - look, even I had a hard time reading it and I actually agree with him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:20 AM on October 17, 2018 [20 favorites]


I am so tired of reading stories in the media about how the media hasn't been talking about how bad everything is, when the writer usually means that The New York Times and CNN haven't been talking about it, as if these are the be-all and end-all of the landscape.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:23 AM on October 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


"we intellectuals have been telling you all this for years, but did you listen? noooooooo" snarking.

It is doubly screwed up because he fucking opens with how the intellectuals have been letting everyone down by not warning people.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Basically this individual asked me if I was aware of the large money drain the Pentagon is. Of course I am ! Any intelligent, informed person is aware and is further aware that a HUGE factor is stolen weaponry. The stolen weaponry includes EVERYTHING but nuclear stuff.
Basically these stolen weapons are secreted in hardened bunkers, caves and such. According to this person the groups who are behind the thefts are people like the 3 Percenters and the Oath Keepers.


what
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2018 [36 favorites]


I actually had an encounter with a Bundy supporter. It was quite the discussion. I heard more than I said. Let’s put it this way, the weapons theft bleed off is by no means limited to the US. Non - state actors of all sorts are in on it, but in the US, those non-state actors are mostly American fascists.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:38 AM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


The normalization of violence and physical force in American politics is a terrifying, terrible trend. It is the literal definition of fascism. We're not there yet, but we are creeping towards it, and things like the New York Republican Party being coy and cozy with the Proud Boys are important examples of the escalation of violence and violent rhetoric in American politics. So are the president's irresponsible rhetoric, the attorney general laughing at imprisoning political foes, and dehumanizing language from the White House. These things are all happening.

My biggest near-term fear is that there's some violent event connected to the midterm elections. Not an outright theft of an election, all we need is a fascist demonstration that goes wrong Charlottesville-style and escalates to real violence. That taints the election. I really hope it doesn't happen next month.
posted by Nelson at 11:42 AM on October 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


hey so fascist paramilitary organizations are stockpiling weapons? swiped from the military? this is the reality we need to adjust to?
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:59 AM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


it's kind of hard to fight your way to those points through all of the "we intellectuals have been telling you all this for years, but did you listen? noooooooo" snarking.

Agreed; it also doesn't help that there have always been people on the left who use the "fascist" label quite broadly, as a sort of general-purpose derogative for anyone they suspect might not be 100% onboard with their agenda. (Sometimes to a ridiculous extent; at the height of Occupy in Philadelphia, a bunch of people I know who were old-school labor organizers got called fascists for some perceived failing. Guys who probably had FBI dossiers on them for being suspected Communists. The mind reels.) This is a different sort of "fascist creep", and worth pushing back against when it occurs.

Simultaneously, the term has a lot of historical baggage: when people think of "fascism" they typically think of very specific examples of Hitler's Germany, or maybe Mussolini's Italy (which is in some regards more literally correct), and if what they're looking at doesn't match that, it becomes easy to deny that they're looking at actual fascism. Because there's no hobnailed jackboots or feldgrau coats, it doesn't look like "real" fascism, and thus it's dismissed as exaggeration.

I don't know if it's easier to correct the apparent public misapprehension, or try to come up with some other term for what's going on—"gangster capitalism" comes to mind, but the American relationship with gangsters is complicated enough that I'm not sure if that wouldn't be seen as positive in some quarters.

> Any intelligent, informed person is aware and is further aware that a HUGE factor is stolen weaponry

i don't even.

> the atomization of the modern world, our alienation from each other, which makes us accept or even welcome the totalitarian society as at least now we really belong to something.

I haven't read much of the Arendt canon, but this certainly aligns with what I took away from Eichmann in Jerusalem; he's portrayed by Arendt not so much a conniving genius, despite his own braggadocio, but a small-minded man desperate for a place, who found that place in the Nazi Party and then did its bidding to escalate his own position. The agenda was antisemitic in a way that Eichmann personally (in Arendt's view, IIRC) may not have been; his personal feelings became irrelevant when he subverted them to the group identity.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


hey so fascist paramilitary organizations are stockpiling weapons? swiped from the military? this is the reality we need to adjust to?

I'm skeptical about whether this is the case. The U.S. military has pretty stringent controls on weapons, and they're difficult to spoof because people move in and out of jobs pretty quickly.

For instance, in my most recent job, I "owned" 46 rifles and 16 pistols. I counted them -- by serial number -- when I took the job (and the person I succeeded counted them alongside me), no less than annually after that, and when I left the job (and the person who succeeded me counted them alongside me). My supply clerk separately counted them monthly, with another person (chosen more or less at random from a pool of about a dozen) verifying each one. My supply clerk changed twice during my tenure, so we counted them again. That means that over the course of three years, something like 20 different people counted each one, comparing its serial number to a list maintained by my higher headquarters, more than 40 times.

And those were rifles and pistols that weren't significantly better than an AR-15 and basically any pistol you can buy at any gun shop, so stealing them wouldn't really be worth the effort compared to just buying similar ones perfectly legally.

Now, there's stuff the military has that no one can legally buy. That stuff is controlled in ways that make my arms room regimen look like tossing them under a blanket in the trunk of my car.

Does stuff get "lost"? Sure. But it is an incredible pain in everyone's ass when it does. I kept my entire unit in the field for three extra days a few years back because someone lost his pistol. (I won't say where it turned out to be, but I will tell you that he is still called "Sergeant Bunk" some years later.)

Are fascist paramilitary organizations stockpiling weapons? I'm almost certain they are. But they're buying them from Cabela's, not boosting them from the Army.
posted by Etrigan at 12:21 PM on October 17, 2018 [72 favorites]


No idea the origin of the guns, but Members of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer stationed themselves on a downtown Portland rooftop with a cache of guns prior to a summer protest. This is not normal. This is incredibly dangerous.
posted by Nelson at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


"Why didn't they see fascism coming?" is the wrong question to ask in the context of 90 years ago.

100 years ago, a nazi was a Bavarian farmer, a fascist was an Italian labor militant, Hitler and Mussolini were just names, the swastika was an innocuous decorative element, and the Roman salute was called the Bellamy salute. It meant little to "see fascism coming."

"Why did they not see this would not end well?" was the right question to ask, because today the right question to ask is "why don't they see this will not end well?"

90 years from now, they'll ask "why didn't they see magatry coming?"
posted by ocschwar at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2018 [21 favorites]


I'm gradually becoming familiar with what happened in and around 1848, and I'm wondering how many parallels can be drawn between then, 1930s fascism, and now. Somebody posted a link the other day to a story about a Chartist rally in which only 20-30,000 Chartists showed up, but 100,000+ upper- and middle-class thugs showed up ready to beat them down because they were asking for voting rights. Beatdowns organized by (and sometimes participated in) by the upper classes are one of the standards ways of organizing politics; it's the age-old alliance between the rich and the violent.
posted by clawsoon at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


Kadin2048, you beat me to it and said it better than I could. Indeed, the Left throws 'fascist' around with the same zeal that the right hurls 'socialist'.

Let's hope the extremes don't figure out that they really have something in common -- riding to power by imposing strict ideological order and excommunicating insufficiently-true-believers, and then unite against the rest of us on that basis.

The Trump fans I talk to do not clearly remember Mussolini or see the Lord John Whorfin-like behavior as indicative of anything more than personal flair. He'd literally have to dress up like Hitler, shout in German, change the T in the Trump logo into a swastika and redevelop Auschwitz into the Trump Luxury Zyklon-Jacuzzi Spa and Resort before they'd see it.

They also give the same basic reasons for supporting him, which can be boiled down to, 'Come to the Dark Side, we have cookies' beats 'You are bad and you should feel bad' every time.

(Also, I hope W. Reich had no descedants named for him. Going through life as "Mr. Reich III" would be awful.)
posted by zaixfeep at 1:11 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm skeptical about whether this is the case. The U.S. military has pretty stringent controls on weapons, and they're difficult to spoof because people move in and out of jobs pretty quickly.

Don't be skeptical. I spent a day talking to a biker who befriended some special forces guys who would sneak into National Guard bivouacs at night to steal weapons and sell them to biker who would then resell them to these folks we are worried about and this conduit went on for 3 years before biker got stung and he wouldn't talk so he was the only one who got in trouble. Well...probably the Guard folks the weapons were assigned to caught hell.

I made notes when biker was in toilet and later fact checked as much as I could to see if maybe biker just read lots of Elroy in prison. Natch. The units, geography, criminal record, timelines, etcetera are all good. Too good. Very bad people are waiting with lots of guns.

The stuff you can tease out of strangers when you are stranded together.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:37 PM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


I recognize that I don't know everything but I do know things are bad and going to get lots worse and people saying "y'all say fascist too much" aren't doing anything to help.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:42 PM on October 17, 2018 [21 favorites]


The Oath Keepers started out as a reaction to Obama's election, styling themselves as Tea Party libertarians. Nowadays they're blogging about how Q is going to help Trump drain the swamp. And they aren't even right-wing enough for their Nazi fellow travelers, who call them "Boomer Antifa".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:00 PM on October 17, 2018


From the nojoke article, re: cynical detachment/irony poisoning leading people to go full Nazi: "But in fact it is through routine attachment to networks in which white supremacy is an a priori moral norm in need of defense that fascist subjects are formed. Attachment, not detachment, is the problem."

I think attachment AND detachment are necessary to the transition: irony poisoing/whatever you want to call it allows detachment from the "normie" society (to which most of these misanthropes feel they don't belong) and the attachment comes from joining a network of people who pat you on the head and tell you you're special for just for being lily white you. The detachment is definitely key, which is why earlier generations of nazi's prowled around the edges of misanthropic youth culture - I found them in punk rock and hardcore scenes of the 90's and 00's.
posted by youthenrage at 2:21 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


Indeed, the Left throws 'fascist' around with the same zeal that the right hurls 'socialist'.

Let's hope the extremes don't figure out that they really have something in common -- riding to power by imposing strict ideological order and excommunicating insufficiently-true-believers, and then unite against the rest of us on that basis.
Oh look, it horseshoe.
posted by verb at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2018 [16 favorites]


He'd literally have to dress up like Hitler, shout in German, change the T in the Trump logo into a swastika and redevelop Auschwitz into the Trump Luxury Zyklon-Jacuzzi Spa and Resort before they'd see it.

Yeah he'd have to found concentration camps for children or something
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2018 [37 favorites]


"why didn't/aren't people see this coming or would/will end well" uh they did then and do now. Its just that knowing the ship is sinking doesn't empower you to right the ship ir get a life-boat. Millions of americans are watching the facade drop and are scaried/angry/ marching, signing petitions, voting, registering others, donating etc.

Knowledge isn't power. Power is power.

Why didn't the fascists or stalinists or maoists adversaries have the power to stop them. Once the apparatus of the state was siezed the answer is obvious. Before the state is captured.... thats what we'd better answer now because republicans have the power of the state and are renovating our institutions to overcome resistance and further their agenda. Its very late, its not too late.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 2:34 PM on October 17, 2018 [19 favorites]


The Trump fans I talk to do not clearly remember Mussolini or see the Lord John Whorfin-like behavior as indicative of anything more than personal flair.

A Trump supporter I know, descended from people who departed Italy for the US immediately prior to Mussolini taking over and by all accounts appearing to have been leftists, thinks that Mussolini and Hitler were Communists. And so evidently has spent his entire life believing that watching out for people who seem too communist-like to him is the way to avoid another Hitler.

Probably thanks in part to such engineered perceptions of history, we're now facing what can pretty straightforwardly be called “Nazis” and “Fascists” up well above the street-level brownshirts. I mean Trump actually proposed the cover story for the Holocaust, in which a “Deportation Force” would round up millions of people and move them... somewhere else... outside of the country's borders, because they're the True Cause of all of the ills in society. As the President of the United States, he retweets people who make lists of Jews who work at CNN.

Pretending this and everything else is all just a coincidence, or merely surface-level misanthropy, is exactly what the first OP link is decrying, “What Happens When a Society is More Concerned With Saving Face Than Facing Truth,” even if Haque seems to be writing his own personal Fucking Fuck thread in the course of saying it. This environment is emphatically not two equally-dangerous extremes we just need to navigate between.
posted by XMLicious at 2:38 PM on October 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


Nothing the american people and their elected officals have done so far prevents republicans and their supporters or makes them even fear stealing elections or using violence against the non-violent. They haven't need the violence and the thefts in 2016 were successful. non-violent action can still work, but its not guaranteed. Don't wait until violence is the only currency; use all your other resources: money time talent. cooperate and coordinatw with others, even if their politica isn't identical toward yours, Blockade, shame, donate, strike, ...
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 3:04 PM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


And what do you know,

I Noh things and smoke.
Assuming the comment was directed at Mann, I'll agree to an extent. As to the vanishing civics, I'll spare the John Adams quote and merely point out the most important lessons in life are not learned at school, IMO.
posted by clavdivs at 3:20 PM on October 17, 2018


I learned how to touch-type at school, so...some of them are.
posted by uosuaq at 3:41 PM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


The US originally started with slavery, imprisoning indigenous Americans on reservations, worked into forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps, state and federal subsidizing of prison farms, and now we can MAGA by keeping children in detention camps.

People get their knickers twisted if you suggest that fascism isn't deeply ingrained in the American psyche. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and likes to incarcerate, I'd call that a fascist duck.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:51 PM on October 17, 2018 [20 favorites]


People get their knickers twisted if you suggest that fascism isn't deeply ingrained in the American psyche. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and likes to incarcerate, I'd call that a fascist duck.

Fascism is colonialism directed inward. We became fascist the minute we ran out of frontier.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:55 PM on October 17, 2018 [15 favorites]


Verb, I hadn't heard about horseshoe theory or why it is discredited, thanks. I come to MeFi to read and learn and MeFi rarely disappoints.

One ray of hope: Trump is an old man in a stressful job he hates and like Reagan, he won't live forever. His fans are brought together by him, plus feasting on "liberal tears", more than conservatism or the GOP. When he passes, there really isn't anyone with his charisma and teflon-coating who could step in and unite them. The bad people will always be with us, and things could get worse,but I predict an eventual post-Trump Westboro-style denouement and we will all shift focus to the next existental threat, which will naturally be even worse.

Of course I could be wrong. Hope for the best, but expect the worst, as they say.
posted by zaixfeep at 4:14 PM on October 17, 2018


My first encounter with what became "horseshoe theory" was in The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. Hoffer talked about how people who are attracted to extremism will sometimes switch from one extreme to the other. He talked about Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, and he talked about how some of the best (read: most violent and committed) recruits for the Nazis in Weimar Germany were former Communists who had previously fought against the Nazis in street battles.
posted by clawsoon at 4:26 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Stallone Chaos pen discussion unearthed this perfect pen for the age: "When the Sword Was Mightier Than the Pen", reads the advertising copy. Presumably you'd only use it for signing list of journalists to be killed. (Yours for only € 12.000,00.)
posted by clawsoon at 4:41 PM on October 17, 2018


Have you ever seen a tribally organized society discover, advance, propose, or create anything truly earth-shaking?

Agriculture?
Pottery?
The wheel?

Fire was probably pre-tribal.
posted by jb at 4:45 PM on October 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


Thanks, Anchorite_of_Palgrave - "It's very late, it's not too late" is going to be my new motto...
posted by PhineasGage at 5:06 PM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Let's hope the extremes don't figure out that they really have something in common -- riding to power by imposing strict ideological order and excommunicating insufficiently-true-believers, and then unite against the rest of us on that basis.

As Sun Tzu Machiavelli once wrote in The Ten Laws of Power You Meet in Hell, "We live in a society where fascists and anti-fascists are just two sides of the same coin."

More seriously, having read the last article, "Boys to Men," and having some cursory understanding of the histories of communism and fascism, I have a hard time imagining that American socialists would get along with the people doing skits about assassinating socialist leaders at the local Republican Club. I have a hard time imagining that the people doing those skits - people who make themselves T-shirts celebrating Pinochet and Videla for throwing communists out of helicopters - would ever welcome the socialists, either.

That last article in particular is very good and very troubling:
The past three years have seen a proliferation of such groups [as the Proud Boys]: organized reactionaries of various political tendencies seeking out ideological enemies (mostly, but not exclusively, on the anti-capitalist left) to beat to a bloody pulp. The more hardcore elements of the so-called alt-right—the Nazis, the neo-Confederate KKK affiliates, the esoteric fascists and white separatists—sneer at the Proud Boys as insufficiently radical. In a sense, they’re not wrong: the Proud Boys are closer to the mainstream of American conservatism than Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer. That, however, is what makes them so dangerous. The Proud Boys aren’t just a less overtly racist branch of the alt-right; they’ve become a militant wing of the Republican Party. Anglin and Spencer aren’t getting invited to speak at GOP events, but McInnes is; Atomwaffen Division isn’t running security for Republican candidates for Senate, but the Proud Boys are. McInnes “is part of the right,” Ian Reilly, Executive Committee Chair of the Metropolitan Republican Club, told Gothamist, comparing him to previous guests Tucker Carlson and Ann Coulter.“We promote people and ideas of all kinds from the right.”

Reilly continued:“We would never invite anyone who would incite violence.”

Except, this is exactly what they had done: McInnes was at the Metropolitan Club to celebrate the fifty-eighth anniversary of the assassination of Inejiro Asanuma, leader of the Japan Socialist Party, by the ultranationalist Otoya Yamaguchi, on live television in 1960—an “inspiring moment,” McInnes wrote on Instagram, which he re-enacted with his employee (and fellow Proud Boy) Ryan Katsu Rivera. “Never let evil take root,” McInnes later told his audience.
Outside, anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstrators gathered to protest McInnes’s appearance. (Earlier in the day, the Metropolitan Republican Club had been vandalized.) According to Bedford + Bowery, as guests began to leave, a score of Proud Boys hung back and prepared for the coming brawl.“One Proud Boy cracked his knuckles behind me,” reporter Carol Schaeffer wrote.“‘I’m ready to swing right,’ he said. ‘Nobody better fuck with us tonight.’”
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:07 PM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I can see the horseshoe ends coalesce into 1984's "Party" if each end admits to simply wanting power for its own sake. But yes, our extremists are still too consumed by their ideologies at the moment, which, oddly enough, is a good thing.

Speaking of Paul, I note Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess crossed from arch-conservative to anarchist over the course of his life "without ever crossing the political center."
posted by zaixfeep at 5:38 PM on October 17, 2018


1984's Party was a satire of English and European socialists and communists in 1948, hence the title. "We have always been at war with Eastasia," for instance, refers to the flip-flops a lot of communist parties performed depending on the foreign policy of the USSR, in particular after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and then after Operation Barbarossa. Within the fiction itself, the Party of 1984 is specifically the English Socialist Party, or Ingsoc, not a psychedelic mix of fascism and communism.

Karl Hess is neither here nor there. He ended his life as a Libertarian candidate for office and a "free-market anarchist," an ideology which Bakunin and Kropotkin would have recognized as something better than mere liberal capitalism, no doubt.

But I'm sure you're right that eventually the young men curb-stomping leftists and calling them evil words will recognize they share a common interest with them, and well before they recognize they have many more common interests with regular conservatives.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:54 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


posted by Etrigan: Are fascist paramilitary organizations stockpiling weapons? I'm almost certain they are. But they're buying them from Cabela's, not boosting them from the Army.

Counterpoint: From the Army Times: ‘Easy money’ made selling Army weapons stolen by US soldiers

That was a million dollars of equipment from one base. One base. I mean, I don't want to believe paramilitary groups are stocking up on heavy artillery, but to suggest that the military doesn't "lose" a lot of arms is also pretty hard to believe.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:02 PM on October 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


A right wing which has put in place a president to be best buddies with the former KGB agent ruling Russia and the communist dictators of China and North Korea—the “law and order” guy who thinks Al Capone was mistreated by the justice system—who opened the Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology in an Islamic theocratic monarchy which beheads more people than ISIS, that's the right wing you think is too adherent to its ideology to be pursuing power for its own sake, zaixfeep?
posted by XMLicious at 6:08 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


If the guy doing the audits and the folks doing the regular inventory and the folks doing the accounting and the folks doing the maintenance on the inventory are all in on the scam, it CAN be done, sure. But then your problem isn't so much that people are stealing, it's that the entire operation is corrupt.
posted by some loser at 6:26 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


SecretAgentSockpuppetfrom the Army Times article you cited "...started selling equipment that wasn’t listed in the company’s property books..." no actual arms lost in the article you cited, which also dovetails with Etrigan's comment above, about how small arms were constantly counted and serial numbers verified. Not a great counterpoint.
posted by youthenrage at 6:30 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's all moot anyway when you consider just how quickly ammunition runs out when actual combat begins. 48 hours later you're either supported by a state level player or you're going to lose badly.
posted by ocschwar at 6:59 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


One ray of hope: Trump is an old man in a stressful job he hates and like Reagan, he won't live forever.

Reagan ruled before I was born. If in twenty years Trump is canonized to the extent that the GOP--and by proxy large swathes of Americans--worship at the altar of Saint Motherfucking Reagan, Founder Of The Known Universe, I will--I don't want to live in that world. I don't.

That comparison isn't a fucking ray of hope! Reagan's name ought to be spat in the streets, it ought to be viewed with derision and disgust, and the ways he fucked this country over should be a watchword, and they weren't.

I don't care that Trump might die. This problem is bigger than Trump, and motherfucking Reagan created a delightful puncture wound for germs like Trump to incubate in. We have to lance the boil and drain the pus properly, and that means insisting that it is pus and not lifesaving fucking yogurt.
posted by sciatrix at 7:04 PM on October 17, 2018 [36 favorites]


That's the right wing you think is too adherent to its ideology to be pursuing power for its own sake, zaixfeep?

I concede your point has merit, but perhaps also all that evil can be stacked within the 'liberal tears' I noted.

Forgive me for the embarassingly juvenile analogy, I don't have a better way to express this, but I feel they view the left as the 'good Capt. Kirk' - weakened by too much compassion, indecisive and ultimately destructive to America.

They prefer the decisive, survival-obsessed Cheney 'Evil Kirk' as the regrettably better choice if one must chose sides. They align with strength and stability -- nation-level morality -- over individual-morality.

And I believe they do this because they despise weakness (aha! toxic masculinity!) far more than they despise the bad things their allies do.

And yes, there are bad actors in the mix who do seek only power. Some might consider Sen. McConnell one example. But they aren't yet a majority.

Again, maybe I'm full of guano, but this model makes sense to me at the moment. I'm going back to the kids table now so the grown-ups can continue on this thread.
posted by zaixfeep at 7:20 PM on October 17, 2018


(sciatrix, I just favorited you. I was around for Reagan. Let me amend my statement - I hope the infection subsides when he passes. I hope he will be seen as the flawed man he is and not as any kind of messiah. If not, I'm glad folks like you and others here are and will be there to fight the good fight against those who would subvert our nation for their own ends.)
posted by zaixfeep at 7:49 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


“Nation-level morality” that does not in any way restrain the actions they take, strength that doesn't involve standing up for anything—not enough strength to tell the truth or even ask their leaders for it most of the time, and a supposed stability that is compatible with tens of millions of doors busted down all over the country in search of immigrant families to tear apart or deport, and compatible with precarity of healthcare and housing and everything else for non-wealthy people, and compatible with citizens of a democracy—especially non-white citizens—suddenly losing the ability to vote all the time, and compatible with people who have been abused and sexually taken advantage of seeing those experiences reflected back at them from all the authorities in society... all of that does not seem any different from only seeking power, to me.
posted by XMLicious at 7:53 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


maybe I'm full of guano

Be sure to mix that with some charcoal and sulfur to make black powder and kill the Zorn.
posted by bcd at 7:55 PM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


ocschwar: “It's all moot anyway when you consider just how quickly ammunition runs out when actual combat begins. 48 hours later you're either supported by a state level player or you're going to lose badly.”
“The guerrilla solider must never forget the fact that it is the enemy that must serve as [their] source of supply of ammunition and arms.”—Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare, p.64.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:01 PM on October 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


XMLicious, the 'morality' ref was just acknowledging the rather cynical Kissinger quote about the morality of nations.

To be clear, I do not support these people, and I fall into at least one of the at-risk groups you mentioned. I don't mean to seem detached or unmoved by your argument.
posted by zaixfeep at 11:16 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


President Trump will hold a rally in the Montana city Thursday evening, and the former state GOP chairman issued a vague warning and a taunt aimed at anyone seeking to protest it. ... “Also all you protesters, show up as well. This is a concealed and open carry state and we know how to use em."

Deschamps, a Marine Corps veteran, signed off with “USMC trained,” an apparent reference to firearms expertise.
Former state GOP official warns Trump protesters: Montana is an ‘open carry state’
posted by Nelson at 4:50 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Verb, I hadn't heard about horseshoe theory or why it is discredited, thanks. I come to MeFi to read and learn and MeFi rarely disappoints.
zaixfeep, my apologies on the fairly dismissive and snarky response. I'm glad it prompted some googling and some interest rather than the snark-in-return it probably merited.

Horsehoe theory is deeply frustrating because it has that "common sense appeal" that lands well in American society. Despite the increasing polarization of the electorate, we talk a lot about the value of moderation and the "great middle" that must be won over. Ultimately, that means that anyone willing to just go balls-out and skew public debate in one direction can shift the perceived "middle" pretty by exploiting that tendency.

This makes it effective not just in getting people to shift towards one ideology, but also to delegitimatize opposition to terrible things. By nature, it frames support for the thing and opposition to the thing as just two extremes the rational middle can cluck their tongues at. Even if the "thing" in question is, say, abducting five year olds from their families, forcing those five-year olds to act as their own lawyers, and declaring everything good because the five-year olds signed paperwork waving their rights.

In the example you mentioned above — noting that The Left has always thrown around the "fascist" characterization while the right has always thrown around "socialist" — made me grind my teeth for that reason. It treats the use of the word as the thing in question, not the legitimacy of the claim, and that's precisely the kind of thing the original article was talking about. We're multiple generations into the right literally claiming that taxation is theft, health insurance is socialism, etc. Those claims can be rebutted not by crying language foul, but by examining the actual literal meaning of the words being used. Similarly, serious accusations of fascism can be examined on their merits as well.

It's revealing that the left, for the most part, has responded to accusations of socialism with either "No, you don't understand socialism at all" or "Why is that bad?" The right, on the other hand, has increasingly adopted two terrifying counter: "Opposition to fascism is the REAL fascism" and "We're only fascist because you called us fascist and that turned us into fascists."

That's… not a denial, you know?
posted by verb at 5:15 PM on October 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


I think there's something in horseshoe theory, although not in its jejune “left and right are both the same” strawman form. If you place ideologies on a spectrum then you need to explain why there are not only activists who "flip" between left and right, but ones who have a double existence in both worlds. For instance, Gilad Atzmon is an antisemitic writer and musician who still seems to have entree to Left circles, despite his his weird quasi-theological hatred having been obvious for the best part of a decade. Here's a Mondoweiss (!) blog post that presents a letter condemning him and rejecting any support that he or his followers might give. It's signed by over twenty prominent Palestinian activists and academics and it's not even the only one of its sort: the people giving him a platform are rejecting and/or ignoring actual Palestinians ' voices in a purported attempt to support Palestinians.

Atzmon's supporters didn't initially come from the Right. Given their other associations they should undoubtedly be described as left wing. But here they are, platforming someone who appeals to the crudest and craziest right-wing antisemitic voices around the world. In the context of a left-wing/right-wing spectrum, you either have to explain how a group can flip en masse or you have to suppose that the two ends were never far apart to begin with.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:18 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think another hint that horseshoe theory is going to be crap, certainly in any naïve form, is that it implies that opinions which would qualify as “not extreme” on a linear political spectrum aren't going to engender authoritarian or totalitarian outcomes.

But if you take, say, the antebellum US as depicted in something like Twelve Years a Slave, we were basically North Korea for black Americans. Which anyone splitting the difference between abolitionist and pro-slavery political opinions at the time was still supporting.

And difference-splitting has not exactly been ahead of the curve for opposing authoritarianism or totalitarianism since then. You have to actually dig in to the political issues and realities of the day and get your hands dirty: there isn't any handwavy Aristotelian Mean shortcut.
posted by XMLicious at 7:48 PM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


If you place ideologies on a spectrum then you need to explain why there are not only activists who "flip" between left and right, but ones who have a double existence in both worlds.
I knew someone like this. When I met her, she was an opinionated open source developer working on an adjacent project and we compared notes every few months.

Over the course of the late 2000s and early 2010s, she started talking up the "I'm a feminist, but I'm an old fashioned one who doesn't believe in all this victimhood stuff" angle that was very edgy at the time. She took an unexpected swerve to the left when Michael Brown was killed and protests engulfed Ferguson. The became an extremely vocal #BLM advocate, dove into online meetings and organizing, fought people on the Internet, and ended up becoming super militant, at least in the views she expressed. And then… boom. One day she flipped the switch and went "alt right," declaring that BLM had been a nest of vipers.

The change was so extreme and sudden that I contacted her privately to make sure her account hadn't been hacked, but she assured me on several channels that it was legit — and that she'd come to see that the real victims were white people, who were targeted for white genocide and silenced by the powers that be when they spoke up. (Ricky Vaughn had just lost his Twitter account, and she spent weeks raging about it.)

I fell out of contact with her, as did most of the folks in the open source circles I move in, but she continued to slide farther into the alt-right "pro-white" movements that were really starting to get revved up prior to Trump's campaign.

A question that I've contemplated a number of times is: what the hell? What the actual hell? Is her story an example of how "close" BlackLivesMatters and the Proud Boys are? Or is it just one person's story of whipsawing ideology? I think it's neither, really. Someone I follow and respect a lot, Sydette Harry, noted in a while back that every movement, regardless of how righteous its cause, needs to watch out for people who glomp to the cause because it gives them an excuse to hate someone righteously. Those people, she said, will always be willing to scream at people but will never be there to help the hurting. And they will flip the script on you in a second if the "other side" gives them a chance to hit the same rage button.
posted by verb at 8:25 PM on October 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


(Note: I absolutely do believe that groups and movements can be explicitly violent, and be built around hatred, in a way that is separate from individual members' motivations. I just think that my former friend's story is perhaps illustrative of one kind of "flip-flop", where a radical shift from one side to another indicates not a fundamental similarity in two ideologies but a pathological drive in the individual that allows them to move from one to another without fundamental changes in tone, tenor, or lifestyle…)
posted by verb at 8:28 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


'Adults in the room': Greens surge across Europe as centre-left flounders
"Elections in three European countries last weekend suggest that as the continent’s historic mainstream parties plummet in the polls and struggle to see off the far right’s challenge, for liberal-minded voters the Greens are looking like an answer.
[...]
But if the Green wave has come mainly at the expense of traditional centre-left social democratic parties, whose support has plunged across Europe to the point of near wipeout in countries such as France and the Netherlands, the movement also increasingly appeals to substantial numbers of disillusioned centre-right voters."

posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:49 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


At Montana rally, Trump praises congressman for assaulting reporter.

The discussion here is complex enough I feel bad injecting non-sequitur news headlines, so I'll stop now. We all read this news, every day. But we've become inured to it. In the past 24 hours I've read three separate articles that are all about increasing violence in American politics. Two of them encouraged by the President and his political campaign. This slide to fascism is happening every single day in our country. It's terrifying.
posted by Nelson at 7:17 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]




'Adults in the room': Greens surge across Europe as centre-left flounders

Good thing they don't have first-past-the-post in most European parliaments, otherwise this would've made for a potential electoral disaster.
posted by clawsoon at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]




“After assaulting me, Geoff Young updated his Facebook bio to say “Fourth Degree Proud Boy,” implying that he had somehow leveled up by assaulting me, a small Muslim woman.”

That link now redirects to medium.com/suspended and says "This page is unavailable." WTF?
posted by homunculus at 2:52 PM on October 19, 2018


That link now redirects to medium.com/suspended and says "This page is unavailable." WTF?

Archive.org has the page if anyone still wants to read it, though a bunch of the in-page elements don't work. The text is there, though.
posted by clawsoon at 3:40 PM on October 19, 2018




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