The Danger of American Fascism
August 22, 2003 8:33 AM   Subscribe

«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.» Henry A. Wallace’s article, titled «The Danger of American Fascism», ran in the New York Times in 1944. Veeery interesting reading.
posted by acrobat (11 comments total)
The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

posted by Slothrup at 8:49 AM on August 22, 2003

I'm confused. Please tell me again who I am supposed to be killing?
posted by wobh at 9:03 AM on August 22, 2003

written by a vice president....

The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does two things:

Speeds up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and, especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific research, mechanical invention and management technique. Vivifies with the greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the very essence of democracy.

thats right henry match those nazis pound for pound in steel and nerve...MORE< MORE<MORE
will win the day.
posted by clavdivs at 9:16 AM on August 22, 2003

written by a vice president....

well, a one-term VP who was promptly removed from the ticket when it was clear that FDR was going to kick the bucket very soon, clavdivs

and, as the, ahem, not exactly all-powerful Secretary of Commerce he was promptly fired from the job

of course discussing the possible choices of a virtual Wallace presidency instead of Truman's very real, atomic one, is a very interesting topic for a post-prandial discussion. one that often ends with sharp words being exchanged

say what you want about (former Republican) HAW, he was a great Agriculture Sec, a staunch New Dealer back when it was not that fashionable and also a hell of an editor of The New Republic (after he got fired by "give'em-nuclear-hell" Harry)
posted by matteo at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2003

... and he was also a tool of the Soviet Union, by some accounts. Which explains the incredibly weird definition of a fascist as "one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings," the better to surmise that " there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States."

Anyone can tell you that a term like "fascist" or "communist" -- or "terrorist", for that matter -- loses all meaning when you expand it to mean "anyone whom I want you to dislike."

Look, it took no more courage to peddle the evils of fascism in 1944 (when this piece was written) than it takes in 2003 to peddle the menace of terrorism. This piece is mainly interesting for highlighting the eery parallels to present-day demagoguery & fear-mongering, in the service of a political agenda.
posted by coelecanth at 10:12 AM on August 22, 2003

true enough matteo but what context does this wallace NYT piece have to do with today or the web or computers...specifically.
posted by clavdivs at 10:15 AM on August 22, 2003

allright, coelcanth does raise an issue of historical parallels and Wallaces being a tool for the Sovs...perhaps this is why he wanted to give the sovs 5$ billion in aid.
posted by clavdivs at 10:20 AM on August 22, 2003

They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.

Regime change begins at home.

They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest.

Regime change begins at home.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:27 AM on August 22, 2003

alright, the cat goes to the gulag
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 AM on August 22, 2003

but what context does this wallace NYT piece have to do with today or the web or computers...specifically.

not much of course, the piece _is_ pretty weak (about Wallace's ideas re the USSR -- in the Fifties he wrote a famous piece and he admitted his mistakes)

but it's fun to discuss old HAW isn't it
posted by matteo at 10:39 AM on August 22, 2003

When I think of Fascism, I first think of Mussolini's Italy, and then Franco's Spain, and *then* Nazi Germany, and *then* the people in the US who embraced Fascist economics as a remedy for the Great Depression.

And those that still do, today.

Not the nasty gutter punk Nazi, nor the racist Klansman-type white supremacist Nazi, but the far more insidious "reasonable" Fascists, who would never call themselves "Fascist".

The reason being, that you get a very different view of Fascism when you eliminate the extreme downside of it--a view that its "moderate Fascist" followers embrace, but try to hide--that it's just another system of economics, no different from capitalism or socialism. That by sterilizing Fascism of its negative emotional connotations, it becomes "respectable."

That it can be integrated into liberal democracy, using just its mildest elements to "stiffen" nationalist resolve. And then, through the miracle of gradualism, more and more Fascism can be introduced until it eventually supercedes or overwhelms the "weak" liberal democracy.

Because the "moderate Fascist" view is Nietzschean in a way: that "weakness", "moral decay", and "excess freedom" are the tools of those that wish to undermine and destroy the "strength and vitality" of a nation.

People will be good if carefully controlled, thus the good government seeks to thoroughly control. Things that "pollute" the body and mind (alcohol, tobacco and drugs, even 'unhealthy' food) are to be shunned. Public unity through group activity is good, as is creating a sense of 'belonging' in the community, city and nation.

Some religion can be easily co-opted by the "moderate Fascist", for their ends, but only those parts that appeal. Mixing in philosophy, astrology, and fantasy mythology is done with ease, as long as it supports the goal.

Now the reason for looking at Fascism this way is simple: to help spot these cancers in our society. And, hopefully, to eliminate their ideas from the system before they can metastasize.

Because these moderates, with their reasonable proposals, cannot be separated from the hate-filled fanatics, because, despite the appearance of civility, they are no different from their Nazi flag waving Fascist brethren. A suit, a tie and an armband.
posted by kablam at 9:05 AM on August 23, 2003

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