when do we finally say
January 6, 2005 4:52 PM   Subscribe

The Reality of Red-State Fascism, by Lew Rockwell. We consistently say "Man, we're on the road to fascism" yet people fall all over themselves to say "We're nowhere near it.". Well, when do we say "Holy shit...we're there"? Everybody's favorite libertarian gives us a timeline of the descent, and lets us know how we are now not just on the brink, but in the midst of Americanized Fascism:

"If you follow hate-filled sites such as Free Republic, you know that the populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now. The militarism and nationalism dwarfs anything I saw at any point during the Cold War. It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state...In 1994, the central state was seen by the bourgeoisie as the main threat to the family; in 2004 it is seen as the main tool for keeping the family together and ensuring its ascendancy. In 1994, the state was seen as the enemy of education; today, the same people view the state as the means of raising standards and purging education of its left-wing influences....it sees the state as the central organizing principle of society, views public institutions as the most essential means by which all these institutions are protected and advanced, and adores the head of state as a godlike figure who knows better than anyone else what the country and world's needs"
posted by taumeson (92 comments total)
 
I wasn't so sure a year and a half ago, but I'm convinced now more than ever that we seriously need to discuss where this government is at.

I think the idea of a Federal Marriage Amendment is what got me started thinking about it again.
posted by taumeson at 4:54 PM on January 6, 2005


Naw, man, it can't be: then you'd wind up agreeing with tinfoil-beanied radical wackos like me. You do want to be taken seriously as a "rational, intelligent" person, don't you?
posted by davy at 5:07 PM on January 6, 2005


Mmm, this NYT article on Fritz Stern I just read is not reassuring.

FRITZ STERN, a refugee from Hitler's Germany and a leading scholar of European history, startled several of his listeners when he warned in a speech about the danger posed in this country by the rise of the Christian right. In his address in November, just after he received a prize presented by the German foreign minister, he told his audience that Hitler saw himself as "the instrument of providence" and fused his "racial dogma with a Germanic Christianity."

"Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics," he said of prewar Germany, "but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."

posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:11 PM on January 6, 2005


The Germans, who learned about fascism the hard way, have a saying: "Wehret den Anfängen!" -- resist the beginnings. The question isn't really when is it too early, it's when is it too late?
posted by muckster at 5:12 PM on January 6, 2005


Lew Rockwell is someone worth listening to.
Though I admit I am biased, in that I have read his site daily for years now.
posted by nightchrome at 5:13 PM on January 6, 2005


How long until someone comes along and equates Austrolibertarianism (He wants to kill our libraries!) to fascism?
posted by trharlan at 5:18 PM on January 6, 2005


I disagree that the right has embraced big government. Through the Bush policies , government expenditures have indeed increased. Bigger government is upon us. However, these policies are unstainable. Borrowing today necessitates either increasing revenues or decreasing expenditure tomorrow. I think that the government in power sees this as an opportunity to decrease expenditure tomorrow. Tax cuts today create a deficit, providing the justification for cutting federal programs in the future. It's known as starving the beast. Paul Krugman wrote an excellent article on it in the NYTimes magazine last year, though I can't seem to find it.

The right, I think, isn't as big government as it seems today. The path to smaller government is unpopular and as such, it is a long (and deceptive) one.
posted by diftb at 5:24 PM on January 6, 2005


Well, diftb, aside from the fact that the largest federal building in Washington, DC, is named for a supposed saint of small government (Ronald Reagan), I'll grant that the Right may not be the party of big government but they are certainly the party of intrusive government.

On the other hand, if anyone can explain to me why we need a Department of Homeland Security when we already have a Department of Defense, I'd appreciate it.
posted by socratic at 5:29 PM on January 6, 2005


Perhaps fascism is too strong a language to describe what is happening here, but the time has come where the comparison is certainly apt. One only has to consider how nationalism and militarism has grown along with the political power of the chief executive. People who equate dissent with treason, and see divinity in the actions of the government and military are another indication of how far conservativism has gone towards a fascist-like ideology.

On preview: perhaps a good way to stop yourself from living beyond your means is to spend money until you are so far in debt you can't pay for anything but the barest necessities in the future. Wait, that doesn't make any sense, what the fuck was I thinking?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:30 PM on January 6, 2005


There's an interesting analysis to be had of the shift in the right wing from advocating small-government to creating fuck-me-what-a-huge-governement. This piece, however, is probably not it. Dealing only with extremes (at both ends of the spectrum), and written from a perspective of self-justification for its own ideology, it's just not persuasive, and several counter-arguments immediately occur. The first thing is that the "red-state bourgeoisie" who voted for Bush didn't think they were voting for big government; the second thing is that when the right spoke of small government in the 90's, they didn't mean it. (Consider that in the previous decade Thatcher's Britain, supposedly a radical experiment in small governance, was in reality a deeply authoritarian place.) So potentially neither the party hierarchy nor the public have changed their positions. It's just that now government's theirs, not somebody else's.

If there's been a shift of any kind, I think maybe it's been one in the notion of what "individualism" is - from "there's no such thing as society", as it were, to "there is such a thing as society, and I'M IN IT AND YOU AREN'T, FUCKER!"

Or something like that.
posted by flashboy at 5:31 PM on January 6, 2005


Diftb, I'm sorry, but that's just about the stupidest justification for this ridiculous government's actions I've ever heard. You're telling me that the best way to create a smaller government (which I don't even think is a good thing in the first place) is to waste my money on useless programs?
posted by borkingchikapa at 5:50 PM on January 6, 2005


flashboy ... you've nailed it ... this has been coming for a long time and the smaller government promises of the right wing have been a lie all along ... watch what they do, not what they say
posted by pyramid termite at 5:50 PM on January 6, 2005


Paul Krugman on "starving the beast"
posted by diftb at 5:53 PM on January 6, 2005


"If you follow hate-filled sites such as Free Republic, you know that the populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now."


Funny, I missed that memo...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:54 PM on January 6, 2005


And borkingchikapa, I didn't say it was the best way. I think it's probably the easiest. Cutting government programs is unpopular. Politicians (even conservative ones) like and need to be popular. It's easiest to cut programs in the face of a (possibly manufactured fiscal) crisis. Today's tax cuts, with an added bonus of being politically popular, set the stage for "necessary" spending cuts in the future.

This is, I think, partly behind the plan to partially privatize SS.
posted by diftb at 6:03 PM on January 6, 2005


flashboy, I think you're one of the people confusing big government with huge government....if it should be drowned in the bathtub, as Uncle Norquist would have you believe, then why has it become such an important part of the right-wing worldview?

S@L, I can't speak for what one might find on Free Republic, but I can think of a few examples of conversations I've had with right-wingers that usually end with them saying "well, really we should just turn that place into a parking lot and be done with it."

So, you might have missed the memo, but it was written. And put a cover sheet on those TPS reports.
posted by taumeson at 6:08 PM on January 6, 2005


Funny, I missed that memo...

Well, respectfully, but you should pay more attention. I run into right-wing pleas to kill-em-all quite frequently, not to mention the ever-present jingoism. When you support a war -- and I mean support a war rather than what the war is supposed to accomplish -- that's pretty much advocating mass bloodshed, hey?

I agree, slightly, with Flashboy, and would simply say Rockwell's missive is aimed at libertarians and, as such, is pretty spot-on. As a general survey of the political scene it's less effective.

That said, however, the basic premise of increasing statism should be obvious to anyone who follows the news, right? I mean, how often was Kerry (or for that matter, all democrats) referred to as traitor? I mean, wtf, need a larger sign post?
posted by undule at 6:08 PM on January 6, 2005


holy shit....that should have read "big government with intrusive government"
posted by taumeson at 6:08 PM on January 6, 2005


I dunno, is it possible that these nuts are just more visible now, not really more numerous?

They are all hanging out on the Internet now. What were they doing ten years ago, passing around 'zines or something?
posted by fixedgear at 6:12 PM on January 6, 2005


Banging rocks together, fixedgear. Steve, have some memo.
posted by trondant at 6:15 PM on January 6, 2005


Startling. Want to know why? Because a Republican is in the white house. If Kerry had won, we'd whiplash right back to the described version of 1994 immediately.

The right loves government and spending as much as left, they just have different ways they want to use it and they get what they want through marketing. In 1994, the right-wing propaganda was big government out of control, now it's big government must legislate morality. It's all talk to get what people want, wealth and power.
posted by Arch Stanton at 6:26 PM on January 6, 2005


Nuke their ass and take their gas!
posted by Espoo2 at 6:34 PM on January 6, 2005


9.95 for a bumper sticker ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:36 PM on January 6, 2005


Well we don't hear too much of the militias, now they are connected and armed. God bless the country that put weapons in the hands of those least qualified to handle them.
posted by edgeways at 6:37 PM on January 6, 2005


Memo from Ms Coulter.

trondant: to be fair to the Freepers, several of those links you posted are from people criticising the 'nuke Mecca' brigade.

I found Rockwell's site very interesting, there's a lot of worthwhile reading there, not just this article.

The problem with claiming that what's happening in America is 'fascism' is that it's too easy to refute such arguments. All one has to do is point to things that happened in fascist Germany or Italy, point out that those things aren't happening in America, and they can claim that the whole argument is invalid.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:42 PM on January 6, 2005


Well, diftb, aside from the fact that the largest federal building in Washington, DC, is named for a supposed saint of small government (Ronald Reagan), I'll grant that the Right may not be the party of big government but they are certainly the party of intrusive government.
posted by socratic
Correction: Largest and Most Expensive Federal Building Ever Built
"Mount Reagan. ...the former president already has a Washington monument. It's a behemoth, officially named the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in downtown District of Columbia. At a cost of $818 million, it's the most expensive federal building ever constructed; only the Pentagon is larger. It's an embarrassment to Republicans who believe that it represents everything Reagan fought against -- big-spending government, inefficient bureaucracy, waste, fraud, and abuse. Reagan himself authorized the building...
posted by vhsiv at 6:44 PM on January 6, 2005


i think phil collins said it best:

too many men / too many people
making too many promises
and not enough love to go around
posted by wbm$tr at 6:47 PM on January 6, 2005


The first thing that any fascist government in history has done was to place essential services (private businesses supplying energy, military provision, public transportation, communications ...) under the blanket of Government protection and state secrecy.

Profit protection; its what's for dinner. That couldn't be happening here ... could it?
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:50 PM on January 6, 2005


From a paper-- which once was easy to find on the Net, titled 'The Rhetoric and Reality of the American Dream" -- but seems to have disappeared (first author Merino) -- a reminder from history. I hope this quote from the bit I saved constitutes fair use, and that the authors of the original piece are improving it and will again publish it somewhere. It was last out in around 1999.

QUOTE

....three dreams that have run through American history, the democratic dream (communitarian), the elitist dream (conservative), and the American Dream (the liberal compromise that merges the democratic and the elitist dream). The democratic dream, as elucidated by Thomas Jefferson, maintained that no society sharply divided between rich and poor, privileged and elite, could be democratic. The elitist dream envisions an America of a "superior few and inferior masses;" it found its expression in Social Darwinism and utilitarian ethics. Redistribution of income to ensure sufficient equality among the citizenry was not only unnecessary, it was immoral. Nature ensured the "survival of the fittest." While originally explicated to explain economic activity, Social Darwinism, which justified the paternalistic social policies of the 1920s, has become increasingly dominant in American society. The American dream may be viewed as a combination of the two; elitist with respect to economic opportunity, i.e., an equal opportunity to be unequal, the democratic vision is reduced to formal freedoms through legal and political equality.

Manley (1990, p. 90) points out that the American Dream justifies enormous discrepancies in distribution of wealth that result in what Jefferson deemed real freedom being reserved for the successful. While Jefferson's name is often invoked in a patriotic fashion by political leaders, his democratic theory is rarely examined. It is dismissed as antiquated and not relevant to an industrial age. But, in his later works, Jefferson recognized that America would not remain agrarian. He knew industrialization was inevitable; he hoped the conditions in the cities of the "old country," where a dependent wage class had lost their independence and lived in misery, could be avoided. He was well pleased that there was not such a large gap in wealth between workers and owners in the United States as he found in the cities of Europe. He attributed this to the fact that most of the laboring classes in the U. S. possessed land and could demand fair wages from their employers. If treated badly, he noted, workers could leave; there were vacant lands for the asking. He believed this enabled workers to retain their independence (Turner, 1904; Manley 1990).

Jefferson perceived a basic conflict between capitalism and democracy because capitalism, if not curbed, would lead to concentrated wealth and widespread poverty. He concluded this would destroy democracy. Greed, in Jefferson's view, did not increase morality, he wrote that "in general, men's honesty does not increase with their riches."
.....
.... the crash of 1929 ended the paternalistic vision that the country would prosper under the "noblesse oblige" of the elite. The crash marked not only an economic crisis, but a profoundly moral crisis, with respect to the values underlying the "American Dream."

... New Deal regulation should be viewed "as a means of producing a harmony of interests." ... In Weber's (1995) pithy summation, "you can't take advantage of someone who does not trust you." ...

The excerpts from Roosevelt's (1933, pp. 28, 44, 224-6) speeches, below, reflect the high priority that he had in reestablishing trust in the existing system and his firm allegiance to private property.

"Speculation, where everyone could earn money without work, was the pipe dream of the twenties; this led to growth of special interests that did not coincide with the interests of the nation as a whole. We cannot allow economic life to be controlled by a small group of men... social welfare is tinctured by the fact that they can make huge profits, not from production, but from lending money and marketing securities--(he concluded) we cannot tolerate this opportunistic, selfish attitude" (1933, p. 28)

The above paragraph should not be read as a repudiation of capitalism, Roosevelt continued, writing that:

selfishness is all right as long as a person's selfish interests are congruent with social need, i.e., productivity and economic growth. . . individualism, provides equality of opportunity for all; the sacredness of private property, not subject to manipulation; (concluding that while you) can't prevent some people from making errors of judgment, but you can tell how money is to be used (and). . .tell bonuses and commissions of the organizers. (Roosevelt, 1933, pp. 226-8)

He cited the FTC investigation of the public utilities (the power trust investigations) as a model for future regulation; Roosevelt (1933) emphasized the deterrent aspect of publicity. He deemed the documented "instances of thievery and malicious misinformation of the public, swindling of stockholders, bribery," as a threat to the fabric of society (Roosevelt, 1933, pp. 226-34).

The... framers of securities regulation viewed enactment of legislation as a necessary condition to generate sufficient trust to render the economic system operable. The first step was to throw the rascals out and curb overt abuses, such as fraud. American capitalism had to be remade; reforms were designed to achieve social consensus. Only if all Americans had an equal opportunity to became stockholders (owners), could the discrepancy between concentration of wealth and democratic values be reconciled. Once again, all Americans could aspire to achieve the American Dream. We posit that the primary objective of securities legislation was to create the appearance of a "fair game" ...."
END QUOTE
posted by hank at 6:50 PM on January 6, 2005


The problem with claiming that what's happening in America is 'fascism' is that it's too easy to refute such arguments. All one has to do is point to things that happened in fascist Germany or Italy, point out that those things aren't happening in America, and they can claim that the whole argument is invalid.

What's happening in America is really scary to a lot of people (and, scarily, really exciting to others). It doesn't have to match a historical precedent point-for-point to be an issue worth discussing. Maybe it's its own new -ism.

It is what it is. I think InfJest is right. Classifying it wrongly makes it too easy to dismiss. We need to be watchful and actful and planful and full of other stuff too.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:59 PM on January 6, 2005


flashboy, I think you're one of the people confusing big government with [intrusive] government....if it should be drowned in the bathtub, as Uncle Norquist would have you believe, then why has it become such an important part of the right-wing worldview?

Not quite sure I get your point, taumeson, but... The distinction between "big" and "intrusive" is fairly clear (in theory if not necessarily in practice); what's also fairly clear, I think, is that the current American administration has created a government that's both big and intrusive. I was suggesting that the rhetorical melding of the two into an all-purpose "get the government out of our lives!" rallying call, that was born in the eighties and solidified in opposition during the nineties, was always a load of old wee-wee. There's a reason why people like Norquist, or indeed Rockwell, aren't actually in government - government has no use for them, other than as handy rhetorical distractions from the fact that governments usually really like being governments. And the average Bush voter on the street, I suspect, still doesn't think that they're voting for a government that is either big or intrusive, so it seems to work pretty well.

(As a side note, I'd suggest that even policies like the potential privatisation of social security are not truly a diminution of the "size" of government, but rather an open invitation for others come and join in the fun of unrestricted, unaccountable governance - the exact opposite of any form of "small government" speechifying.)

It's why I made my comment about individualism as being where the shift has come. As opposed to the classic (and particularly American) notion of individualism as a liberty - a thing in and of itself - the concept now takes the form of individualism as being in opposition to something else, be it bureaucracy, other groups of people, other countries, whatever. It's a clever switch to pull, because now not only does this idea of individualism cover every area of life, but the government can actually be presented as being on your side in that struggle. In that sense, the Bush administration perhaps has more in common with Thatcher's government than Reagan's.

Anyway - as for the notion of America genuinely sliding into fascism, I think it's an overstatement, and it's worth remembering that fascism is far from the only form of illiberal, authoritarian, or even totalitarian government. As a concerned outsider, I'd much rather see you fight these things for what they are, rather than what they remind you of.
posted by flashboy at 6:59 PM on January 6, 2005


The problem with claiming that what's happening in America is 'fascism' is that it's too easy to refute such arguments. All one has to do is point to things that happened in fascist Germany or Italy, point out that those things aren't happening in America, and they can claim that the whole argument is invalid.

You have to read David Neiwart's series on Pseudo Fascism. Fascism in American is not going to be a carbon copy of its German and Italian incarnations.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:16 PM on January 6, 2005


IJ, that's true. Not all though, which is the point.
posted by trondant at 7:22 PM on January 6, 2005


Why just today, the RNC sent out the official Jack Boot order form to Bush supporters--there's a tasteful selection for the ladies including a range of heel heights. One doesn't want to be unfashionable even when crushing skulls!
posted by gsh at 7:23 PM on January 6, 2005


Word, flashboy...I'm see where you're coming from when you mention I was suggesting that the rhetorical melding of the two into an all-purpose "get the government out of our lives!" rallying call, that was born in the eighties and solidified in opposition during the nineties, was always a load of old wee-wee.

I guess what I was trying to say is that I don't think the right has switched to advocating "fuck me what a huge" government, so it's particularly scary that the only government they want is directly related to fascist principles.

They want less government when it comes to corporations, but more government when it comes to legislating morality and religion. They're all over using the military to achieve whatever ends they can justify, and they're becoming particularly good at creating an us vs. them mentality.

On preview...hey gsh, so you're saying that anything that might happen in present times must have an exact parallel in history. How very observant.
posted by taumeson at 7:30 PM on January 6, 2005


gsh - I know some people who might be interesed in jackboots and riding crops... can you forward the link? Thanks!
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 7:33 PM on January 6, 2005


The so-called "privitization" of government functions is, in reality, the extension of sovereign government authority into the hands of corporate entities allied to the Leader of the State(tm). This has been occurring with alarming regularity in my state, whose governor is now off inspecting dead Indonesians on behalf of his brother, the Leader of the State(tm).

The merger of private corporate (read "unaccountable") and public state power is the essence of fascism; public accountability withers away, but the State moves unaccountably against its enemies, real and imagined, enveloping them in private sector-style Nacht und Nebel. Rockwell is exactly on point.

He is stunningly on point with his observations regarding the increasing appearance in our public discourse of those to whom "the head of state as a godlike figure who knows better than anyone else what the country and world's needs." Even in the hallowed antinomian precincts of MeFi, there are posters who act as if any expression of disrespect directed at the Leader is tantamount to treason. Before reading the Rockwell piece, I had not really integrated the notion that the Fuehrerprinzip--that the Leader and State are indistinguishable--is alive and well in these United States.

Unless, of course, the Bush (nee "Busche") family simply would change its name to "Kaiser," nicht var?.
posted by rdone at 7:40 PM on January 6, 2005




Let's not forget that we have thousands of mecenaries in Iraq right now...and when you read "unaccountable", think about how Bremer exempted them from Iraq's laws, and how they're not subject to the UCMJ.

posted by taumeson at 7:46 PM on January 6, 2005


careful with those reasonable, apt quotes, hank, or you'll get troutfished out of the Mefi pond...
posted by stonerose at 7:52 PM on January 6, 2005


You have to read David Neiwart's series on Pseudo Fascism. Fascism in American is not going to be a carbon copy of its German and Italian incarnations.

Interesting stuff, thanks. I think my point holds: you're right that fascism in America now would turn out differently from German fascism in the 1930s (the social and economic context is completely different), just as fascism in any country would have a local flavour.

But my point is that most people today have only a shady knowledge of fascism - it was that guy with the funny mustache who put Jews in camps, right? So as a rhetorical point, it's easy to destroy an argument that America is heading into fascism by arguing that America has no camps, etc.

Whatever we call it, I don't like the way your country is heading, and I wish you well in the years ahead.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:04 PM on January 6, 2005


If S@L didn't get the memo, it's because he hangs out at places like Metafilter. Go check out LGF... They serve up bloodthirsty hate as part of regular meals... Nuclear holocost, genocide, and "you're with us, or you're in a body bag" Nationalism.

I have a right wing (Neocon dreamer) father-in-law that I get into political fights with regularly. He keeps saying that we can't be in a facist police state, because I can still debate him openly, like that proves it. Whenever I point out similarities of facisim, his responce is "well, we're at WAR... things are different then.." and " The 'People' won't let it get that bad"...

Well, we're there. with Gulag's to boot.

The glorious Revolution will be soon at hand...
And WILL be televised and spun on the nightly news both ways...

And Wbm$tr: Don't ever quote f'ing Phill Collins to me again!!
He lost (sold) his soul long ago.
posted by Balisong at 8:16 PM on January 6, 2005


Oh heavens no--I think any fashionista worth her salt knows that the jack boots of the past would be ill-suited to the demands of modern city life! Right here, on page 4 of the catalog, there's "Special Urban Edition with Extra Pointy Toe for Kicking Liberals Into Submission"--ooh! In alligator and snakeskin!
posted by gsh at 8:20 PM on January 6, 2005


...most people today have only a shady knowledge of fascism - it was that guy with the funny mustache who put Jews in camps, right?

Well, exactly - Mussolini didn't have a moustache.
posted by flashboy at 8:20 PM on January 6, 2005


Pick up that can, citizen.
posted by majcher at 8:26 PM on January 6, 2005


That's because moustache sounds so...French.
posted by trondant at 8:28 PM on January 6, 2005


Just a reminder, Wikipedia has a nice informative article on the history of Fascism to put the word in context.

Fascism is a dangerous word to use because it brings to mind the holocaust and the horrors of World War II. To be clear, the Bush administration does not advocate either genocide or the elimination of democracy. Bush's sworn enemy Saddam Hussein and his Baath party were much closer to Fascism than the American Right is.

However, there are disturbing parallels between the direction the US has been heading and 1920's Italy and 1930's Germany. I believe that Bush and his coterie really do mean to bring democracy to the Middle East, and defend it at home. Unfortunately, they don't understand what democracy really is.
posted by Loudmax at 8:40 PM on January 6, 2005


Pick up that can, citizen.
posted by majcher at 11:26 PM EST on January 6


Played Half-Life 2 lately, majcher? =)

To be more OT: the major problem with combating any possible current or future rise of fascism, or any other negative historical (or fictional, like various conspiracies) entity, is the fact that in the present day these things have a larger-than-life feel to them.

Nazism, government conspiracies, 1984-like scenarios--these are all things that people read in books, or see in movies. Even concrete historical fact might as well be fiction for all the immediate bearing it has on anyone alive today, save for some very old folks.

Thus, such things aren't real, or at least, that's how most people are inclined to feel about them. [...] most people today have only a shady knowledge of fascism - it was that guy with the funny mustache who put Jews in camps, right? It's all too true.

I'm sure someone better versed in psychology or sociology can (and probably has) explain this better, but that's the reason that we may not be able to stop fascism or anything related to it, from happening again. People arguing that we're following a similar path as 1930s Germany might as well, to many other peoples' minds, be arguing that "the dragons are coming to eat us all!". They're paranoid, loony, crazy. Rabid nationalism leading to atrocities doesn't really happen! Only in history books!

Could we all be overreacting? Possibly. But as has already been aptly pointed out in this thread, by the time it's clear to everyone, it' s far, far too late to do anything about it.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 8:48 PM on January 6, 2005


gsh, what are you getting at with the jackboots thing?
posted by bingbangbong at 8:55 PM on January 6, 2005


"If you follow hate-filled sites such as Free Republic, you know that the populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now."

I had to laugh at that comment. I don't know if I really should have or not though. After a political science class one of Sean Hannity's biggest fans came up to me and tried to debate me on whether a nuclear holocaust of the Middle East was an effective policy. It wasn't really a debate because he never listened to me. He just rambled on. Something about how Jesus said "eye for an eye."
posted by j-urb at 8:55 PM on January 6, 2005


I think the Knife-Party people's descriptive term "War-Corporatism" is fairly accurate, while simultaneously instilling the appropriate intimations of nefariousness.

Fascism, at least in my humble opinion, is a general term that has unfortunately been limited in it's use to a very specific time frame, and very specific instances of fascism. Therefore in order to discuss fascist-like situations, it may become useful to use another word or a different description, even though the term fascism applies, because for so many people that simply means Nazi's. Period. I think War-Corporatism sounds about right.
posted by Freen at 8:57 PM on January 6, 2005


Jesus said "eye for an eye."

I do believe that came from Hammurabi

That's just another mis-inclination of the right wing... They think they're doing righteous by folowing Jesus' path, but they've really thrown out his teachings for the old ways...
posted by Balisong at 9:22 PM on January 6, 2005


Bush's sworn enemy Saddam Hussein and his Baath party were much closer to Fascism than the American Right is.

And so were Lincoln and FDR.

But that doesn't diminish Rockwell's point, with which I am in complete agreement.
posted by trharlan at 9:40 PM on January 6, 2005


To be clear, the Bush administration does not advocate either genocide or the elimination of democracy.

Who cares what they advocate? Watch the hands, not the mouth.
posted by muckster at 10:07 PM on January 6, 2005


To take cyrusdogstar's point further, the problem with such discussions, I find, is that whatever their merit (and you have to admit that it is an extremely speculative business), a large portion of Americans (most?) seem to have gotten it in their heads that America can not go wrong. There is a certain segment of the American population that will forgive any American sin, if they even recognize it as sin, and that believes America is always the good guy, and that our divine, blessed nature of perfection is perpetual.

A lot of these folks won't admit as much outright, but it is evident in the way they argue. So to use a word like "fascist," which only means "really, really bad" to many people, immediately puts you in the camp of the traitor. No matter how apt the comparison is (and the free market over all, privatization of as much government function as possible most certainly has much in common with fascism, regardless of whether the end result is good or bad).

Of course, I suppose that it is this way is yet another powerful indicator that things have take a wrong turn.
posted by teece at 10:12 PM on January 6, 2005


A couple hours upthread, Infinite Jest noted that
"So as a rhetorical point, it's easy to destroy an argument that America is heading into fascism by arguing that America has no camps, etc."

I just have to chime in that we certainly DO have camps:
not only do we hold an undisclosed number of prisoners in Gitmo's "Camp X-Ray", but the administration has just asked for the money to build a PERMANENT FACILITY there - because they now plan to be holding inmates there (without due process!) FOREVER.

Then recall that every institution ever made by man has Mission Creep. If they're allowed to make it permanent, they WILL keep it full.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 10:41 PM on January 6, 2005


It's why I made my comment about individualism as being where the shift has come. As opposed to the classic (and particularly American) notion of individualism as a liberty - a thing in and of itself - the concept now takes the form of individualism as being in opposition to something else, be it bureaucracy, other groups of people, other countries, whatever.

That's an interesting idea, flashboy, and useful. I'd weave it together with the way that marketing has co-opted rebellion and fashion replaced conviction, and how media has grown fat on making everything an manichean Good vs Bad, Us vs Them story, one hammered home by opportunist politicians with their Axes of Evil and the like.

Mmmm, some tasty thinkstuff to chew on, there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:35 PM on January 6, 2005


Good, you now recognise the problem.

What are you going to do about it?

[Clue: The Democrats won't help]

As any Heaven 17 fan will tell you, this is nothing new...
posted by lerrup at 12:07 AM on January 7, 2005


**Dances happy revolution dance**
posted by Balisong at 12:31 AM on January 7, 2005


This is long...but it was (at least for me) an interesting back and forth.

For some time I posted as a counter-voice at a conservative forum, one more populist oriented than LGF, and more varied and verbose.

One day, in what was becoming a cheerleading thread regarding the war in Iraq, I found the following (paraphrased) post:
    (Began with a short, blunt profanity-inclusive "Glass Mecca-esque" quote. ) (Defense of Pvt. England: Lynndie England's problem was that there were camera's around to nail her. I think we should send her back with a big welcome sign on the new Lynndie England wing of the prison. I have no problems with her playing Naked Iraqi Pyramid while Americans are being beheaded.....) (Regarding compassion: And why should we? [Iraqi] scumbags hid the big, bad ones within their city. Screw them. Let them learn fear of Americans in their heart. Forget liking, forget respect. Let them KNOW that if they aid the enemy we will make life unbearable for them. Fear us and fear us bad. PERIOD.) (Ends with: Let's get this ****ing war over with soon.)
My response:
    Congratulations. That is one of the most inhumane utterances I've had the sad experience to read on this forum. In World War II America did what it had to do to halt Axis domination without our populace giving vent to such heartless judgement about the German and Japanese foreign civilians who were killed. No one gloated about Dresden. No one cheered about Hiroshima or Nagasaki. It was done, but then again, the war then was over. And that was all. When I was a child my caretaker was a woman who lived in Berlin before the war and came to the US in the 1960's. She said that the average German was demoralized and the economy was somewhat depressed after WWI. Upon Hitler's rise to power, at first most people just thought that they needed to recover after their defeat in WWI and the Nazi Party at first preached a renewed belief in Germany as being able to take it's place as a first-world nation again. It lifted the spirits of a post-war Germany. It struck a cord and everyone came together to implement this renaissance. I remember she said that when the common man in Berlin lost all feeling for what Hitler was doing, and began to cheer on the conquest of European countries without any conscience, without any feeling that the enemy was human, it was then that she married a sculptor and moved to the mountains in Austria for the duration of the war. Charlotte still had saved from that time a single example of the most amazing wood creche sculptures her husband had crafted. Each Christmas she would decorate her entire living room with the pieces. I still remember them vividly, over thirty extraordinary individual sculptures, each with its own personality. The wise men were at least a foot and a half tall, and so memorably thin and poignantly forlorn...forever seeking their infant Savior. After the war, she returned to Berlin. She told me that the suffering of the enemies of the Fatherland that her countrymen were so callous about was the same abject suffering she and other Germans themselves now endured in a decimated capitol city...a capitol that had set out to in it's Reich to rule the entire world for a thousand years. She told me this story one morning while making coffee and explaining the origin of the word "ersatz"...as in "ersatz coffee." She said to me, "Do you know this word 'ersatz?'" After the war in Berlin, we had to beg. All of us. We dug in the ashes...we lived in pieces of houses. My clothing became ragged. There was nothing to eat. Little water. No doctors. "If we could get anything, we used every part of it, everything...if we could get a potato, we would save the potato peel. Then we roasted them, and when dry, we crumbled the peels into powder which we mixed with boiled water for something hot to drink in the morning. That was what we called "ersatz" coffee...that was coffee to us after the war was over. "When the Americans came they were a blessing. Everyone tried to get to the part of Berlin where the Americans and the English were, we were afraid of the Russians because they were cruel and took revenge. That I why I finally came to America. I always remembered the soldiers of America and how they cared for us even though we were their enemies. "Now, go on...eat your toast, and think, and try not to waste the crust." Sometimes the "enemy" are just citizens...citizen...just like us. I can sincerely say that if your attitude ever becomes the general tenor of our populace...then I'll know its time to leave for the mountains.
I was later in this thread "informed" that America did cheer Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Not anyone I've ever spoken to who lived through those days recalls any such thing.

As I said above, since I was I child I always wondered about two things:

1. If I were in the situation the German Jews were prior to Kristallnacht, or beyond...would I know when it was time to leave?

2. ...or would I say, "I'm a citizen, born here, just like anyone else...what would they possibly do to me? How far could they possibly go?"

...and stay too long?
posted by Dunvegan at 1:58 AM on January 7, 2005


There are nutballs in the world. The internet gives them a voice perhaps disproportionate to their importance. Some people (*cough*) even seem to enjoy the attention they get by holding extreme viewpoints. Don't judge the US by a few nutballs with websites.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 2:10 AM on January 7, 2005


wicked post taumeson .......I know that the term Fascism is too strong for people......but that's the first step in social engineering. once the meaning of words have been contorted enough, people will live in a fascist society make fascist claims, and yet claim that they are oppose to it. When the concept of emotional intelligence is removed from the word "intelligence", hordes of heartless ceo's and other such leaders in our society will go on to thinking they are intelligent and we will continue to regard them so. So one thing we could is claim our words back and UNLEARN.
posted by koli at 2:40 AM on January 7, 2005


also, regarding "Small Gov't" vs "Big Gov't", the right regards democracy and the rule of the people as "big government", and regards corporate and elite rule to "small gov't".....which really when u think about it is very appropriate wording......
posted by koli at 2:44 AM on January 7, 2005


Personally I do my best to never utter the word "Fascist" or any of its variants. To a large percentage of the country that word does nothing but mark the speaking as an idiot hippy; they hear "Fascist" and they stop listening.

In general, I try to use the word "communist" as a substitute for "Fascist". It's completely inaccurate of course, but I'm more concerned with getting my point across in an effective way than being perfectly accurate. The people I'm trying to convince don't really know what "Fascism" or "communism" mean, they just know that "communism" is bad, and only idiot hippies say "Fascist". The first step in convincing someone of something is to get them to listen, and you can't do that by saying Fascist.

Obviously this can be overused. Newt Gingrich noticed the power of words (and in his egotism pretended that he was the first to notice that power) and began using his "power words" as often as possible. This made him sound like a total dip. But we can take a lesson from Gingrich, while trying to avoid his pitfalls. Use the words that make an impact and a difference on your audience. When you use words that make them stop listening you loose.

I've field tested this in Amarillo. In conversations where I describe the government's actions as "Fascism" the people I'm talking to (unless they agree with me) stop listening and start speaking to me in condescending terms. When I describe the government's actions as "communist" they almost jump in startlement, and listen.

I'll leave you with one more: I also try not to refer to Bush by name. I always call him "the government", their own linguistic prejudices know that "the government" is bad. Kind of a right wing catch-22...
posted by sotonohito at 4:16 AM on January 7, 2005


How long until someone comes along and equates Austrolibertarianism (He wants to kill our libraries!) to fascism?
posted by trharlan at 7:18 PM CST on January 6


(and the free market over all, privatization of as much government function as possible most certainly has much in common with fascism, regardless of whether the end result is good or bad)
posted by teece at 12:12 AM CST on January 7

4 hours, 54 minutes
posted by trharlan at 5:46 AM on January 7, 2005


I'll just casually shamelessly self promote a post on my own blog that I wrote on the subject of fascism in America. I wouldn't bother to read anything else on my blog if I were you, but this post might be rational enough for your consideration.
posted by jefeweiss at 7:13 AM on January 7, 2005


I have to agree that the word "fascist" really carries too much baggage to be effective. As I've said elsewhere, if you read actual histories of nazi germany, hitler was pretty straightforward about his intentions. The country was desperate and underinformed, but mein kampf was written 10 years before his rise to power, and he detailed his plan for 'taking back' the motherland (ie, invading poland, etc) and exterminating the jews (who he 'realizes' are vermin in the course of his 'kampf'). He set up 'volunteer armies' that basically had no rules (they were essentially bands of criminals, and had no connection to the army proper, which initially supported the monarchy); he killed hundreds of members of the government one night to purge the ranks...

Obviously, we should not be proud of ourselves for 'not being as bad as hitler', but the comparison is simply not one which will be taken seriously.

I will say, however, that the use is not grating on me as much as it was 6 months ago. I don't know if that's because the situation feels worse or I have just gotten used to the lingo. There is (as there was) a lot of depressingly bad stuff going on... the anti-choice legislation is picking up, the anti-gay movement is still strong, the environmental laws and consumer rights laws are being swept aside, nationalism is stupidly strong, and christian fundamentalists can get away with near-phelpsian innuendo in congress. It does not look good.
posted by mdn at 7:32 AM on January 7, 2005


So some crazies at Free Republic are casually advocating genocide. Big whoop. That's a far cry from fascism.

We'd need to see, for example, something along the lines of the government consistently and routinely broadcasting "covert propaganda" to the populace via a complicit mass media before we start talking "fascism."
posted by soyjoy at 8:04 AM on January 7, 2005


I'll leave you with one more: I also try not to refer to Bush by name. I always call him "the government", their own linguistic prejudices know that "the government" is bad.

say word, sotonhito: i've noticed the same thing with "bush" that you've noticed with "facism." that is, whenever i have an argument with someone right-leaning, if i say "the bush administration has done such and such" or something like "i can't believe bush said or did blah blah," they immediately react as though they're thinking "he's a traitorous, faggoty communist hippy who wants to see america destroyed! he likes hearing about american soldiers being killed! etc"

i really, really hope people aren't one day asking why the americans didn't do anything to stop what happened to their country while they still had a chance.

why do some of the same people who were so friggin' quick to believe that saddam was an imminent threat to the entire world despite the flimsy, shoddy and manufactured evidence refuse to believe that the u.s.a. has in any way, shape, or form moved even the slightest bit towards war-corporatism/facism?
posted by lord_wolf at 8:21 AM on January 7, 2005


1. If I were in the situation the German Jews were prior to Kristallnacht, or beyond...would I know when it was time to leave?

I have seriously been wondering the same thing, and I think it's an extremely important question. Thanks for voicing it here.
posted by malaprohibita at 8:29 AM on January 7, 2005


Upthread someone asked why have a Dept. of Homeland Security when we already have a DoD. Speaking of that - for me, one of the first signs things had become strange, and that We Weren't in America Anymore, Toto, was when I heard the phrase "Homeland Security."
There was something so odd, so Orwellian, and yes, so Nazi-like about the phrase to me. I mean, who the hell ever actually said "homeland" in this country, back in the good old pre-GW era?

we certainly DO have camps:
an undisclosed number of prisoners in Gitmo's "Camp X-Ray"... they now plan to be holding inmates there (without due process!) FOREVER.


The above is one of many worrisome aspects that remind me of Nazi Germany. Among others:
1) The government's aggressive militarism (invading without provocation); 2) A shaky economy (at least in my neck of the woods);
3) Meanwhile, the government is deliberately diverting focus away from those problems by scapegoating and blaming "minorities"(including gays as well as Arabic people) for "what's wrong with society." (Please don't forget people like the guy behind Ohio's anti-gay amendment who actually told an interviewer it should be up to individual states whether gays are *executed.* Would that be Nazi enough for you?)

I think it's so bad, I've even started assigning Nazi-counterparts to individuals who support this government. (Rupert Murdoch is BushCo's Goebbels? :P)

a certain segment of the American population ... believes America is always the good guy, and that our divine, blessed nature of perfection is perpetual.

Yup - the inability to even have an open, critical mind is one of the keys. It's dysfunctional. Or perhaps it's a sick gift - to be able to completely ignore all evidence to the contrary.
They want Bush (and themselves) to be right, period.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:45 AM on January 7, 2005


one of the first signs things had become strange, and that We Weren't in America Anymore, Toto, was when I heard the phrase "Homeland Security."

That scared the hell out of me too, but nobody said anything about it, so I thought I must be overreacting. There's something dangerously uber-nationalist about terms like "homeland", "fatherland", "motherland" given their uses in recent history.
posted by chundo at 8:54 AM on January 7, 2005


No matter how apt the comparison is (and the free market over all, privatization of as much government function as possible most certainly has much in common with fascism, regardless of whether the end result is good or bad).

The current administration is not really so free-market, that is just one of the concepts in their "justification toolbelt."

They are not shy at all about a heavy governmental hand in enforcing drug policy, intellectual property or spectrum regulation, for instance. They even employ multinational agencies like WIPO to enforce these policies in other countries. "Real" free-marketeers usually oppose these kinds of interference in the market.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2005


NorhternLight, that's hardly the beginning of it. Consider:

*Michelle Malkin recently wrote a book essentially saying that the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II weren't so bad, and maybe we should do the same thing for Muslim-Americans now. It was widely and wildly popular amongst "conservatives".

*Ann Coulter's entire ouvre. On Fox News (where else), she recently had this to say:

LINDA VESTER (host): You say you'd rather not talk to liberals at all?

COULTER: I think a baseball bat is the most effective way these days


Ha ha, that Ann, a real knee-slapper... or head crusher.

*Read Dave Niewert's assessment in the overall rise in "eliminationist rhetoric" like that spouted by dear Ann. In fact, here's a rather interesing intellectual exercise: Take the average utterance by the likes of Coulter or Hannity or Rush, replace the phrase "liberals are" with "Jews are." Why, it then sounds like something Goebbels might have said. Which is the point exactly.

*And finally is the expansion of what Gore Vidal has called the "National Security State," the Dept. of Homeland Security being only the most visible example.

Oh, and then there's this.

Make no mistake, these fuckers would take great pleasure in doing violence to you. The good thing, if it can be called that, is that down deep they're a bunch of pussies.
posted by kgasmart at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2005


I've been thinking about this. too. Orcinus covers this beat a lot, most recently here and here.
And, at greatest length, in the series longdaysjourney linked to above. See also Billmon.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Or death camps. When's it time to leave?

I really don't know. I will say, though, that I'm happy I expect to get a EU country passport this year.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2005


Anybody wondering about when to leave might want to take a good look at Victor Klemperer's journals. They are the most terrifying illustration of the how-to-boil-a-frog analogy I've ever come across.
posted by muckster at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2005


This is mostly paranoid bull$crap.

When Ann gets elected, come talk to me.

Religious fundamentalism in government concerns me, but we had eight years of Bill... the election was close...

Mostly I think what we have here is buyers' remorse. A bunch of people think democracy means that stupid people don't get the government they want. Since when?
posted by ewkpates at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2005


regarding the talk of when to leave, i don't know, guys.

i want to stay and fight. when, years from now, people ask why didn't the americans who could have made a difference do something,anything, back when they still had a chance, i don't want them to be talking about me.

When Ann gets elected, come talk to me.

i don't think you understand how rove/cheney play the game. coulter, malkin, rush, horowtiz, etc: their job is not to get elected. their job is to say and promote things that are so bat shit crazy that the things rove/cheney tell bush to promote seem measured and reasonable in comparison. we're supposed to notice them and spend our emotional and organizational energy on them, leaving bush free to implement the plans of the pnac.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2005


Yeah, I read Klemperer - another good one is "They thought they were free" by Milton Meyer:

"Once the war began," my colleague continued, "resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in public, was "defeatism." You assumed that there were lists of those who would be "dealt with" later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever here, too. He continually promised a "victory orgy" to "take care of" those who thought that their "treasonable attitude" had escaped notice. And he meant it; that was not just propaganda. And that was enough to put an end to all uncertainty.

Read the responses to Al Neuharth's column?

You know you've crossed the rubicon when the frequent intimations of violence become actual violence. What triggers that? How about another "terrorist" attack?
posted by kgasmart at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2005


- - -
>frequent intimations of violence become actual ...

Litmus test, I suggest:

The movie "Easy Rider."

I recall a screening at Ohio State in 1976 -- outdoors under the football stadium bleachers one evening.

The crowd -- and I mean the whole damned crowd, but for me, I looked around at them -- all stood up and cheered, at the end, when the guy used his shotgun to kill the two motorcyclists.

Those kids have grown up now. Or at least gotten older.
posted by hank at 12:36 PM on January 7, 2005


hank, please, please, please tell me you are joking or misremembering.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:39 PM on January 7, 2005


See, but that's the point... if Ann is electable, then hey, this government isn't as bad as it's media psychos.

Even still, if you live in America because you love the constitution, then it's never time to leave.

If you live in America because you like people who look like you, or talk like you, or at least vote like you, then hell, you shouldn't be here now.

Get the hell out.
posted by ewkpates at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2005


See, but that's the point... if Ann isn't electable, then hey, this government isn't as bad as it's media psychos.

Even still, if you live in America because you love the constitution, then it's never time to leave.

If you live in America because you like people who look like you, or talk like you, or at least vote like you, then hell, you shouldn't be here now.

Get the hell out.
posted by ewkpates at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2005


isn't. isn't electable. and now this double comment.

total loss of rhetorical momentum.

look... if we understand freedom, we acknowledge that people will use their freedom in ways we don't like.

until our constitutional rights are violated on a meaningful social scale, we have to take a deep breath and say, "these people may be morons, they may be xian fundamentalists, but they are our morons and/or xian fundamentalists".

half the country wants them. respect their right to choose, if not their choice. or, like, get the hell out.
posted by ewkpates at 1:33 PM on January 7, 2005


Oh, it's not that this sort of rhetoric shouldn't be permitted. It's that it has to be recognized for what it is by those who may wind up on the receiving end when/if rhetoric becomes reality.
posted by kgasmart at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2005


The word fascist might be too strong for people, but that's what needs to be fixed, so that we can deal with mass manipulation.......language has been kidnapped......It's true that US is not Nazi, but it is fascist ......when the Jews were being persecuted in Germany, the left and other millions of German intellectuals weren't expecting to be in the same camps later, just like right now we think the worst case scenario is a bunch of middle Eastern in camps. But listening to the propaganda that's coming out right now as kgasmart said above replace the phrase "liberals are" with "Jews are." So how about this scenario:

If the Democrats wise up, and try to really be a viable option and some what unite the left again in the US, and say they nominate the Hillary-Obama combo for 2008, there might actually be a higher young voter turn out, and the Democrats could win. Do you think the Red states and the military elite would tolerate that or will this facade we call democracy fall apart and Home Land Security kinda move in and "secure" the country.
posted by koli at 2:25 PM on January 7, 2005


half the country wants them. respect their right to choose, if not their choice. or, like, get the hell out.

Really, so when less than 10% of people under thirty vote that's some how still half a country......just like in India they load the peasants in trucks to take them to polling booths, or what happened in the Ukraine, it's not hard to win an election.
Just add up the uneducated in the rural areas and seniors holding to dear life, and you can see how easy it is to get elected, especially when a society has been so perfectly engineered unlike any before it. Some one mocked me on another thread but it's the intellectual elitism in the left that has alienated it. So stop calling your country men stupid.
posted by koli at 2:42 PM on January 7, 2005


and say they nominate the Hillary-Obama combo for 2008,

Why do Republicans think that liberals would want Hillary Clinton for president? Is she supposed to be some kind of hero or something? I didn't get the memo.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:56 PM on January 7, 2005


No she is no hero, and I'm no fan of the Democrats, but those two might be able to get enough votes from the minority camp and women to maybe win an election and disrupt PNAC. Also to be fair to Hillary she is the only US Politicain I know that has some emotional intelligence.

The main point is: would the right tolerate a slightly leftist government, or call them "pinkos" and put'em in camps?
posted by koli at 3:08 PM on January 7, 2005


There was something so odd, so Orwellian, and yes, so Nazi-like about the phrase to me. I mean, who the hell ever actually said "homeland" in this country, back in the good old pre-GW era?

I think the scariest thing about the notion of "Homeland Security" to me is the implicit suggestion that we will have other lands, but they will not be home. You really shouldn't have to distinguish the homeland from any other lands if you don't have imperialist ambitions.
posted by ontic at 3:59 PM on January 7, 2005


It's a bit of a worn-out thread, but...

Whatever we call it, I don't like the way your country is heading, and I wish you well in the years ahead.

I took a lot of comfort from that sentence, because it suggests people are still capable of disliking the actions of a country as a whole, without forgetting that the country is still full of living, breathing human beings. Thank you for saying it.
posted by davejay at 4:26 PM on January 7, 2005


- - - -
>Easy Rider

No, I am not joking, and I remember it quite well. I'd dropped by on my bike, on the way back from a field laboratory in the evening, and was standing at the back of the seating area holding my bicycle through the movie. I'd been at OSU about two months, at the time.

When the crowd started cheering, I hopped on the bicycle and disappeared into the dark. My hair was down to my shoulderblades at the time.

Look, the ranting you hear on the radio represents the _educated_, _literate_, _public_ aspect of the people who kill what they don't understand.

Go back and read, if you have time, the excerpt I posted above from "Rhetoric and Reality of the American Dream" -- these are the people Jefferson understood, who have to have freedom to go out and take what they want to remain civil. His whole point was that while the "wilderness" remained, the United States could survive because those citizens could leave any oppressive employer, or government, and go carve a living out of the rest of the continent. (Admittedly, they were carving it out of the land the native Americans were managing far better than we yet have, but Jefferson didn't know that.)

Take away the frontier -- sorry, full! Trouble. Provide the illusion of a new frontier -- the marketplace. Any American can carve a living out of the market by building a financial 'homestead' -- or so the promise/dream/illusion has been.

That's what's so compelling about the "Rhetoric and Reality" article -- I'm still trying to find a full text on the Net anywhere currently, with footnotes -- they set out and document how the financial and energy marketplace was so full of fraud in the 1920s, the markets collapsed, and Roosevelt's 'New Deal' was in fact a confidence scheme to get people willing once again to believe that they really could trust the marketplace and have a fair chance participating in it as little people.

Well, the energy and financial marketplace has once again proven that people's ethics do not improve in proportion to their net worth.

What we need is a new frontier -- but it's a long way to low earth orbit, and there's not much to work with even there.

People without a frontier and without a faith that they can carve out a living without being under the control of a business or a government turn ugly, if they can't go elsewhere.

The Europeans -- in the era of sail and flintlocks -- defined the rest of the population of the world as part of the wilderness and went and ate it. That got us to here.
posted by hank at 6:24 PM on January 7, 2005


everyone loves to forget history.
posted by koli at 9:09 PM on January 7, 2005


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