Fascism and the American Experience

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Jul 6, 2021.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


    Progressive broadcaster and author Thom Hartmann↱ suggests:

    History shows that most democratic nations don't realize how serious their fascism problem is until it overtakes them altogether. We saw it in the 1930s in Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan; today it's happened in Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Russia, The Philippines and Brazil, and is well underway in Poland, India and multiple smaller countries.

    Here in America, the GOP today has a serious fascism problem, and it's endangering all of us. It's closer than most of us realize.

    Fascism isn't just about the merger of oligarch and state interests; it also requires a repudiation of the rule of law and the institutions of democracy itself.

    This is exactly what is happening deep within the Republican Party at this very moment. Trumpism was always about fascism.

    Fascism been a complicated question throughout its existence, and, much akin to the custom of Godwin's Law about Nazis, becomes especially complex when actual fascists are involved in the discussion. In that aspect, perhaps we might consider what fascism actually is or means. Hartmann's narrative, for instance, moves on to two paragraphs of narrative transition, leading to a political argument that is not uncommon:

    Republicans who voted to impeach and convict Donald Trump are finding their local and state parties repudiating them, fueled by the rage of people who've bought into false beliefs of a Jewish- or Black-controlled “deep state” that's working against their savior, Donald Trump.

    We've seen this movie before, and, tragically, history tells us most countries only recognize their fascism problem in the rear-view mirror after it's consumed their democracy.

    This is very much how Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany a decade after he was arrested and imprisoned for attempting to overthrow the government of Bavaria in 1923. It took his movement and his political colleagues ten more years to worm their way into power in 1933.

    Sentence by sentence: It's true Republicans who did not support Donald Trump are finding repudiation; the degree to which racism fuels rage is certainly a question of its own, but supremacism is unquestionably vital to the conservative populism driving what Hartmann descries as fascism. And it is also true that we have seen this happen before, in the world, and the later narrative concedes that hindsight makes it clear; there is a tacit point to be considered about the question of whether and what people learn from history. And even if it did take Hitler ten more years after a failed putsch, it is also true we've heard many times, over the years, how this or that is very much how Nazis rose to power.

    Sometimes it's actually true, and the historical question becomes how far a given moment, process, or movement, actually went, and what it achieved. But as the custom of Godwin's Law once reminded, certain accusations are extraordinary.


    As it happens, four years ago Jessie Szalay↱ considered the question of "What Is Fascism?"

    Fascism is a complex ideology. There are many definitions of fascism; some people describe it as a type or set of political actions, a political philosophy or a mass movement. Most definitions agree that fascism is authoritarian and promotes nationalism at all costs, but its basic characteristics are a matter of debate ....

    .... Robert Paxton, a professor emeritus of social science at Columbia University in New York who is widely considered the father of fascism studies, defined fascism as "a form of political practice distinctive to the 20th century that arouses popular enthusiasm by sophisticated propaganda techniques for an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist agenda."

    Other definitions, Paxton said, rely too heavily on documents that Mussolini, Hitler and others produced before they came to power. Once in power, fascists did not always keep their early promises. As the American Historical Association put it, speaking of fascism in Italy, "The proclaimed aims and principles of the fascist movement are perhaps of little consequence now. It promised almost everything, from extreme radicalism in 1919 to extreme conservatism in 1922."

    Lachlan Montague, a Melbourne, Australia-based writer and researcher of fascism, economic history and the interwar years, told Live Science, "Fascism is definitely revolutionary and dynamic." He said that some definitions of fascism, such as Zeev Sternhell's description of it as a "form of extreme nationalism" in "Neither Right Nor Left" (Princeton, 1995), are too broad to be useful.

    Perhaps it is an unwieldy definition; nonetheless, Szalay suggests, "all fascist movements share some core beliefs and actions".


    One thing we must bear in mind is a question of which, or perhaps whose, definitions are in use. There are, for instance, many ways to consider the idea of basic allegiance; Szalay observes:

    Fascism requires some basic allegiances, such as to the nation, to national grandeur, and to a master race or group. The core principle — what Paxton defined as fascism's only definition of morality — is to make the nation stronger, more powerful, larger and more successful. Since fascists see national strength as the only thing that makes a nation "good," fascists will use any means necessary to achieve that goal.

    And there are equivocating arguments that would expect, either implicitly or explicitly, that such criteria can be applied to both sides, all sides, or nearly anyone. There are, however differences. Montague observes that if fascists nationalize assets in order to increase national strength, this might seem to resemble Marxism, but there is a difference. "If Marxism was meant to become a magnitude of countries sharing assets in an economic idea," he explained, "fascists tried to do the same thing within a country."

    This is an important difference, both of scale and orientation. Differing scale of cooperation and competition can produce vastly different priorities within diverse schemes. More directly: Marxism would call for workers of the world to unite as international body politic; fascism would call for workers of the nation to unite as national body politic in competition against the rest of the world.

    Moreover, Szalay notes Paxton's seven mobilizing passions of fascist regimes:

    The primacy of the group — Prioritizing group, deprioritizing individual or universal rights.

    Believing that one's group is a victim — Victimization narrative justifies attitude regarding enemies.

    The belief that individualism and liberalism enable dangerous decadence and have a negative effect on the group — That one is pretty straightforward.

    A strong sense of community or brotherhood — "Unity and purity" built through common cause or, if necessary, "exclusionary violence".

    Individual self-esteem is tied up in the grandeur of the group — One's worth is measured according to group sense.

    Extreme support of a "natural" leader, who is always male — The masculinity probably isn't absolutely necessary, but is obvious according to the customary value of traditional belief influencing the shape of emerging mythopoeia.

    "The beauty of violence and of will, when they are devoted to the group's success in a Darwinian struggle" — It seems a cryptic phrase, but we know approximately what it means, from art at the very least. As Szalay summarizes, "idea of a naturally superior group or, especially in Hitler's case, biological racism, fits into a fascist interpretation of Darwinism".​

    Still, if fascism empowered "suppressed individual liberties, imprisoned opponents, forbade strikes, authorized unlimited police power in the name of national unity and revival, and committed military aggression", it is also true these aspects are not exclusive to fascism.

    James R likes this.
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


    We might also look at who benefits from fascism, and it is largely the standing bourgeoisie, the wealthy. "One element of fascism," Szalay reminds↱, "is collaboration with capitalists and the conservative elite." Paxton suggests, "The only route available to fascists is through conservative elites," and observes that fascism, even in starting with radical ideas, moves toward protecting private property, which in turn can sound like a tenuous, even "awkward alliance".

    And if Montague suggests that defining fascism can be "the scariest moment for any expert of fascism", an unfortunate truth is that the definition will resolve and refine with a greater number of examples. Nearly forty years ago, Yvonne K. Haddad↱ considered the rise of "radical Islam", or, "Islamic fundamentalism", and inasmuch as she described a "growing consensus" among a range of intellectuals and everyday people that "the time has come to try Islam", the question of what that means has myriad answers. "There is also evidence", she explained, "that an increasing number of national governments feel it necessary to appeal to Islamic principles to maintain legitimacy." And in a question of radicalism or fundamentalism, there would seem to be reasons why many of those governments either fell or resorted to populism.

    If Orwell suggested the framework of fascist regimes was difficult to define, and, as Szalay suggests fascism "takes on the individual characteristics" of its society, "leading to very different regimes", populism is the volatile factor. This is no small part of why Paxton expects that religion would have greater influence in American fascism than in Europe. And if "national variants of fascism differ more broadly" than communism, we come back to scale and orientation; these are variations of nation versus the rest of the world.

    History reminds tyranny is not exclusively limited to fascism, which over time became a meaningless catchall pejorative. However, Paxton suggests that after Communism fell in Europe, "proto-fascism became the main vehicle for protest voting".

    Four years ago, Szalay suggested, "The rise of populism across Europe and the United States in the 2000s has caused many to wonder if fascism is taking hold again":

    However, Paxton said he does not think fascism is on the rise in the United States.

    "What I think we have in this country is much more traditional conservatism," he said. "The basic social political program is individualism, not for everyone, but [for] entrepreneurs. It supports the right of businesspeople to seek maximum profit without rules of regulations.

    "We've got an oligarchy [Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "a small group of people having control of a country or organization"] that has learned some clever maneuvers to win popular support with rhetorical devices that resemble fascism," Paxton continued. "For instance, the United States is in significantly better shape than Germany or Italy were after World War I. However, some politicians have convinced many Americans that the situation is similarly dire."

    This time later, the question of fascism seems a perpetual observance of what happens next. All of seven months after Szalay's article for LiveScience, there was no question that Nazis were in play; the Wednesday putsch can in itself be described as privilege and populism running amok, but that only leaves us wondering what the insurrectionists do next; in that narrative, they are not fascists, but simply unable to avoid fulfilling the criteria, and thus will continue to do so.


    Following her post about racism in a particular right-wing conspiracy theory, Mia Bloom↱ turned up on MSNBC↱, alongside the ever-adventurous Malcolm Nance, at an intersection both extraoridnary in itself and absolutely mundane insofar as we find ourselves there. Host Joy Reid teed up for Bloom a proposition of trying to understand how much of antisemitism and racism is woven into QAnon conspiracism:

    I fully expected that QAnon was going to be anti-Semitic because it has elements, you know, a global cabal and talking about George Soros or Janet Yellen.

    And it also talks about blood drinking, which these are all things that have been—Jews have been accused of for hundreds of years in Europe and through the church.

    But when we started looking last summer at the Save the Children campaign … I thought, wait a second. All these children are white, and all the Save the Children children are not.

    And so we did a systematic study, because I needed data, to show that they were using these racist tropes that go to, let's say, the period of Restoration, where there were stereotypes of the black brute who was going to write the white woman or kidnap the white woman.

    And so this is like heart and soul of QAnon.

    Reid then turns to Nance and sets him up: "In the previous block," she said, "I talked about the fact that, if this was happening in any other era, we'd be talking about fascism", and asks him if the word is unfair. It is not at all unfair, Nance replies. "Anyone that can see with their eyes understands what's going on here." Declaring, "We are in a neo-fascist era in American politics," he recalls a compressed history from the time of Hitler, and American supporters, through the postwar time when American fascists—

    were essentially run to the ground, there was a rise in the 1950s and '60s of these very small fascist groups that turned into terrorist groups like the Christian Identity movement.

    What we are seeing now is a merger of every white nationalist trope and group and ideology bound together by the crazy QAnon conspiracy theory into an American neo-fascist movement led by a fascist president of the United States.

    We might also recall Paxton on the role of religion in American fascism; Reid asks Bloom about the role of religion:

    Well, that's the scariest part, because it's making inroads into every religion.

    Despite the fact that it's anti-Semitic, it's drawing Orthodox Jews. It's anti-Catholic. It's drawing Latinx Catholics. But the largest group are the evangelicals, that around 34, 35 percent of evangelicals believe that there's a blood-drinking cabal.

    But, remember, evangelicals are also a proselytizing religion. And they will go out to Papua New Guinea or Ghana or wherever they're going, and they're going to bring this ideology with them. And so we are seeing a metastasis of QAnon to 85 different countries.

    And the reason I wrote the piece about racism is, as they are spreading their tentacles to get into South and Latin America or into Africa, or among African-American voters in this country, I want people to know how racist QAnon really is.

    That last really is important: QA conspiracism, which relies on racist tropes for growth, is a vital part of the populism by which the present question of American fascism arises. The tellings of tales abroad will not necessarily include photo collections for analysis, while at home the racism of QA conspiracism is not unrelated to notions of a "Replacement" conspiracy theory, which was present in Charlottesville, and, being not at all confined to American societal affairs, turns up in the Christchurch massacre.


    The Group, as such, is easily defined in American traditionalism, and is approximately white, male, and Christian; its antiliberalism and complaints about selfish individualism and the enabling of dangerous decadence are well known. Additionally is one thing to observe the fact of women and their contributions to the Group, but a second point of correlation to observe is individual self-esteem tied to the Group, and this is not, historically speaking, any surprise about traditionalist American women.

    The racism of both QA and Replacement conspiracism also includes victimization narratives, in terms of subjugation and exploitation in QAnon tales of human trafficking, and Replacement beliefs describing perceived genocide. Moreover, American rightist rhetoric about purity is not unfamiliar in recent years, and we see, in the wake of the Trump administration, discouragement of what might be described as doctrinally impure elements, in order to strengthen unity. And this, in turn, is all subject to the primacy of the Group, prioritizing its cause above all else. That would be three, four, and five points of correlation to Paxton's mobilizing passions. And, "extreme" support of a "natural" leader, as the United States has suffered an actual insurrection on Donald Trump's behalf because of all this? That would be six; and the rhetoric of justification for rightist violence, and pretense of patriotic merit, fulfill the seventh, about the beauty of violence.


    Circling around, Hartmann's telling can easily sound like a string of partisan polishings, but, in that way, at least he would be shining up reality. His headline is a disdainful formulation, "Full-Blown Fascism: Is America Teetering on the Brink?"↱ but if we scrape away the panic polish, his enumeration is not necessarily inaccurate: "These are all symptoms," he asserts, "of a political party taken over by a fascist element."

    It is not wrong, yet the question of full-blown fascism does, in our American way, perpetually depend on what happens next.

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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


    There is an old Danziger↱ cartoon in which Secessionists wonder who they will blame once Washington, D.C. is no longer their government. There are a couple versions, actually, but it also might help to wonder, in our moment, about the would-be fascists in our American adventure: It is not so much a question of who to blame when the demon they raise consumes them, but, rather, at what point will which exploited worker say that what he really needs is just a little more tyranny and then his ship will come in.

    That is a confounding aspect. It's one thing to consider fear and empowerment↗, another to wonder where it ends; history does not recall any happy endings along these routes.

    Moreover, there is a question of how much certain distinctions matter. After all, seven mobilizing passions are merely that, seven points of talking about feelings, and whether or not the authoritarian movement on the right wing formally meets which criteria of fascism seems nearly academic.

    But there is, in this manner of tyranny, the political alliance with the economic elite. Hartmann↱, for his part, suggests, "A country slides into a oligarchy when it's legislature ceases to attend to the needs of the majority of the people, and instead only passes laws or promulgates policies that help the oligarchic class." This actually seems obvious, when phrased as such.

    As several studies have documented, particularly the work of Gilens and Page, this process began with the Reagan revolution in 1981 and by the early 2000s was so solidified in our national politics that Congress had ceased to pass laws and policies that bore any resemblance to what the majority of Americans wanted, shown by national public policy polling.

    Prior to the Reagan revolution of 1981, Congress typically did what the majority of Americans wanted. That's how we got Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, housing supports, Pell Grants for college, long-term unemployment, a minimum wage, food and drug safety, and laws and agencies protecting our clean air and water.

    Since the Reagan revolution, however, Congress has been largely fixated on deregulating industry and unleashing predatory bankers and industrial polluters on the American public. Their singular focus has been tax cuts, which have driven tens of trillions of dollars out of the pockets and wealth of the American working class and into the money bins of this nation's oligarchs.

    In this telling, oligarchy is "an extraordinarily unstable form of government", because it cannot sustain the needs of the people. "Typically," in Hartmann's version, "oligarchies flip in one of two directions … either back to democracy, or into a full-blown fascist police state." Hartmann recalls two occasions in American history when the nation overcame oligarchic challenges, the Civil War, and a plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt in favor of a "good Republican". Eighty-five years ago, Roosevelt↱ sounded off against that opposition:

    The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live ....

    .... These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the over-privileged alike.

    In some ways the rhetoric sounds uncomfortably familiar, but toward the role of the bourgeoisie in fascism, trying to figure the strange marriage between titanic financial influences and the self-immolating populism of the American right is not so different from trying to comprehend the awkward alliance between protofascist radicalism and the staid expectation of private property.

    Hartmann observes:

    Today, using the cloak of social media that allows their most virulent and poisonous lies to spread invisibly and unchecked, fascist oligarchs, foreign trolls and an authoritarian-loving group within the Republican grassroots are again denigrating democracy and the rule of law in America.

    Some Democrats, watching this process and its consequence, are delighting in the internal battles within the GOP. We should be careful what we root for.

    Insofar as "both psychology and history show" that a significant portion of a society might tend toward authoritarianism as a matter of basic orientation, the risk Hartmann refers to is found in the variability of behavioral outcomes. If, as such, those would "embrace any oligarch who points to an 'other' and provides even the weakest evidence that those 'others' are responsible for the country's current crisis", the big danger of rightist infighting and upheaval is that something even more dangerous and vicious might emerge. Nonetheless, Hartmann is describing a dynamic he sees in play:

    The "others" these fascists are identifying specifically include "socialist" Democrats, Black people in large cities like Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia who Republicans say are engaging in widespread "voter fraud," and Jews like George Soros who, they say, are funding them.

    This bizarre claim is at the foundation of Donald Trump's "stop the steal" movement, and represents the greatest threat to the future of democracy in America.

    The greatest threat? Maybe not. Still, if, as Hartmann notes, former Congressman Denver Riggleman told CNN in February of the daily myriad social media messages pushing conspiracy theories, the Republican from Virginia Five also said the GOP intends to run on those conspiracy theories in the 2022 midterm.

    Beyond that, fretting about 2024 echoing 1933 is the sort of thing that ought to be hyperbole, yet the answer to that depends entirely on what the would-be fascists do next.

    After all, what, with Nazis running amok and Americans experimentally dosing children held in concentration camps, we must be more careful than ever to not rush to any conclusions about American fascism.

    I don't know, have the fascists started openly calling themsleves fascists, yet? (Nevermind, I picked up that standard overseas.)


    Bloom, Mia. "We knew QAnon is anti-Semitic. Now we know it's racist, too". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 5 July 2021. TheBulletin.org. 6 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3wdBbUo

    Danziger, Jeff. "Who are Texas women going to vote for?" 2 March 2010. DanzigerCartoons.com. 6 July 2021. http://bit.ly/1W9t83X

    Haddad, Yvonne Y. "The Islamic Alternative". The Link, v. 15, n. 4. September/October, 1982. AMEU.org. 6 July 2021. http://bit.ly/1KB97vq

    Hartmann, Thom. "Full-Blown Fascism: Is America Teetering on the Brink?" 15 February 2021. ThomHartmann.Medium.com. 6 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3wkZlMP

    MSNBC. "Transcript: The ReidOut, 7/5/21". 5 July 2021. MSNBC.com. 6 July 2021. https://on.msnbc.com/3ACZcrA

    Roosevelt, Franklin D. "A Rendezvous With Destiny: Speech before the 1936 Democratic National Convention". 27 June 1936. AustinCC.edu. 6 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3hWT3xV

    Szalay, Jessie. "What Is Fascism?" LiveScience. 24 January 2017. LiveScience.com. 6 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3wpRTzP

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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    You are absolutely, 100% right. And it doesn't matter, because the posts are too long and detailed for most modern people to read -- never mind understand!
    It also doesn't matter, because fascism is intimately (incestuously) intertwined with capitalism and Americans are so immersed in the capitalist idea that they cannot - literally cannot - think outside of it, or about it, or about anything that supports it.
    That includes the sloganeering politics of late 20th century, wherein every policy, every ideal, every concept and proposition had to fit on a bumper-sticker in order to be considered by the voters. Now, it's been reduced to the confines of tractor hat - just the part over the visor.
    IOW, you're several decades too late.
  8. river

    Fascism the merrying of capitiatlism and government .
  9. billvon Valued Senior Member

    As a fun exercise, can anyone identify the source of these two quotes?

    "If you say it enough and keep saying it, they'll start to believe you."
    "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    I have thought about this, in recent times, and for something like this, the posts

    • provide a resource base,

    • establish a relative narrative framework, and

    • at the very least, I've said it.​

    The thing is that this all flowed through my social media quickly, starting with Bloom's post for the Bulletin on Monday; see also, "On Conspiracism and Hatred"↗. The present thread actually started with Hartmann, quickly picked up Szalay, and then just spilled over.

    Then again, that's also part of why these issues can confuse people. It's not quite a side note to suggest, 「Imagine that once upon a time, something looked important」, but certain bits and pieces I picked up along the way shouldn't keep coming up. To wit, Nance's appearance with Bloom on Reid's show not only overlapped so damn neatly, it also sends me back down spelunking premillennial dispensationalism, which in turn is antisemitic philosemitism, and I have no idea how complicated that will get in all this.

    Also, it happens in my life that I know someone who is, to put it bluntly, "not white supremacist", which is fine, but I don't know what to say about those times when, well, whatever, because here is an interesting hair to split: Is it necessary that one identify as [_____] in order to be [_____]? It's not necessarily that one need be a card-carrying, hood-wearing, whatever, but, rather, a notion that simply behaving to type and hitting the proverbial marks should not be viewed as suggestive of anything. Think of it this way, the guy ranting loudly about old-school scientific reality of racism is a pretty obvious case, but apparently it would be wrong to even wonder about the guy who raised the question by promoting Bell Curve white supremacism.

    Certain cheap pretenses of ignorance somehow integral to facilitating discussion one otherwise pretends to have no real clue about are not exactly uncommon in American society, and at some point we must acknowledge that making excuses for that sort of behavior is part of how we arrive here. Not quite twenty years ago, someone pointed out that the Bush administration's behavior could be seen as similar to something infamous a Nazi once described, and suddenly Dennis Miller couldn't be liberal anymore, and became a conservative, because you just don't say that. Fifteen years is fifteen years, I suppose, but he didn't quite make it that long before Nazis openly crawled out of conservative woodwork.

    Not a funny story: I come from a time and place when figurative language was brutal, and it's true what drives contemporary shock and horror is actually a more traditionalist pretense; it's not so different from the idea of standing up to a bully, which is what we teach in questions of white on white and boys being boys, but as soon as minorities or women stand up, well, don'cha know violence is always wrong, m'kay. And, sure, that's a simplification, but still, consider the world in which that unfortunately requisite disclaimer is necessary. Something goes here about what people understand. Still, take the band Anthrax. They're great for talking back to old-school, supremacist machismo. But think, these days, of how a line like, "Cold sweat, my fists are clenching! Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! The Idiot's Convention!" ("Caught in a Mosh" [1987]↱) might go over. Or, "You separatists say you want your own state? I'll give them a state, a state of unconsciousness!" ("Keep It in the Family" [1990]↱) There's even one that runs, "Cheering for your demise! Starting tonight, people will die!" ("Earth on Hell" [2011]↱) Context, of course, is everything, but my actual point is that as we watch this ouroboros go 'round and 'round, it's always somebody else's fault. And I think of anti-feminists, or an unfortunate joke about how American Nazis feel bullied into becoming Nazis↱, also called blaming the penguin↱. (I happened to seethe about this↗ several months ago.) Oh, right, story time. Yeah, it's not funny, because it's true, we just don't do certain stuff to people, but conservatives will eventually blame liberals for not suppressing them, and some rightist somewhere will come right out and say it, that it's everyone else's fault for not curbstomping them.

    Fascism? It's not so much a question if the rank and file rightists are competent to understand fascism, but whether they are capable of sustaining it. This doesn't go anywhere good, that much is for certain. At the very least, traditionalism will get its pogroms before the fascism collapses.


    Bors, Matt. "Fault Right". The Nib. 7 August 2018. TheNib.com. 6 July 2021. http://bit.ly/2L2vXcs

    Tomorrow, Tom. "Penguin thinks we're Nazis". This Modern World. 28 May 2018. DailyKos.com. 6 July 2021. http://bit.ly/2zojjht
  11. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    Doesn't even have to go that far, really. I find the very idea that there is even some meaningful way to assess "intelligence" period to be pretty damn odious. Don't want to get into the unfortunate relationship between deep ecology/animal liberation and fascism, but there's the observation that artists--very broadly speaking--of any merit whatsoever are, without exception, not right wing--with the exception of certain poets. I think there's a correlation there.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    My recollection is that IQ was a problematic metric thirty years ago, when high school psych taught that the quotient was devised to identify developmental delay and disruption. In that aspect, the measurement of intelligence might, in our shared circumstance here, only become relevant as a mitigating factor: Who is behaving poorly; how are they behaving poorly; oh, the mitigating factor is that they cannot help themselves. And, okay, that is important to know, but you're an American of a particular time, so you're probably not unaware of that weirdly jealous trend in which some people thought the retarded were secret evil geniuses who knew how to exploit our sympathies.

    Still, compared to the kids on the short bus, it seems rather extraordinary to consider what we are supposed to let pass according to the pretense that these allegedly grown and educated, ostensibly competent, and often even professionally qualified folks are apparently not competent to avoid the problem.

    But making excuses for them is a vital part of how Americans got here.


    If we go back to, say, the Reagan years, it feels like they've been telling us, telegraphing or maybe just symptomatically presenting, the whole time. The way out of this, for them, isn't actually a liberal thesis, but a conservative parody thereof: It's society's fault for raising them and not stopping them, so they're not capable of behaving better, which means we have to not only forgive them but pander to their needs. And as stupid as that feels, it is also true that, sure, if they demand loudly and forcefully enough, I can probably be convinced to classify rightism as a disability.

    Indeed, if I consider someone in my own life, not only is noncompetency the underlying excuse in play, there is awareness on his part of this point, and, having seen him speculate about and weaponize mental health, sure, the question of telegraphing begs attention.

    They are actually justified, as such, only in those old parodies. Consider the idea of blaming society. To the one, it's never rang quite right to your or my ear when the empowerment majority tries to blame itself, as such. It's kind of like coming around to enforced monogamy in 2018; of course the masculinists are back to the stuff men lamented in the 1980s. I was born in '73; The Dark Side of the Moon, Billion Dollar Babies, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, are all my age.

    So is Styx II, which, though less legendary, includes the memorable and intergenerationally successful single, "Lady"↱. It's also true that in my lifetime, advice that women should "marry well" was not exactly rare, and among many Americans a matter of propriety and traditional values; and it ought to have been obvious, say, in my teens, with all those men at Happy Hour complaining about their cold-fish wives and lamenting all the gold-diggers victimizing men, what those values bring. And if we perceive differences in meaning whether it's James↱ or Johnette↱ singing, these days the song rings more true if we observe that it's a man's, man's, man's, man's world, but it wouldn't be nothin' without a woman or a girl to blame it on; and don't get me started on Maurice. That is, men getting mad at women because enforced male chauvinism hasn't brought a man enough privilege. At any rate, the heartfelt appeals of a nearly fifty year-old song probably read and feel and sound different, today, than they did in the context of their original historical moment. And, sure, it's "Lady", but there was also "Lorelei"↱, a few years later, sounding very nearly like radical change. Don't get me started on my teen years and how it remains, to this day, all about anal.

    More recently, we might think of working-class voters in three states, not even enough to fill a heartland sports stadium, who voted for Trump. The thing is, the Rust Belt glass escalator was actually a stone ceiling; even if their complaints were ostensibly about jobs and economy, there comes a point where institutional beneficiaries complain about the institutions they uphold and enforce, and it doesn't ring right because there is an abstract pall in the air, a suggestion of having done it to themselves. It's not quite fair, but neither is it utterly unfair. Consider that it simply wasn't minorities and feminists working with petroleum money and other interests to disrupt worker rights, protections, and benefits. Consider that when Roosevelt said, "right to work", he meant something far different than the phrase means in so-called "right to work" states.

    Nor is it unlike a complication in discussions of police violence. While police brutality is not confined to one target group, it is also true that it was empowered by American traditionalism, including whiteness. Observations of the fact of white victims, when offered as some manner of retort against the prospect that Black Lives Matter, tend to overlook everything else about what is going on. This is what that absurd Drug War empowered, for instance. But there is a point at which simply pointing out the fact of police brutality killing white victims, as if it is some substantial counterpoint to something significant, starts to sound like whiteness complaining about itself and blaming everybody else.

    Or maybe they're not doing it to themselves, as such; maybe they've been telling us the whole time, y'know, like, "Government doesn't work", isn't actually a warning, but a promise, threat, or even confession.

    Quite frankly, if we start reading conservatives this way, a whole lot of what has happened starts to make sense.

    • • •​

    It should be entirely possible, then, to separate Russia from the discussion according to its terms. That is, take it up with Hartmann, I guess. Meanwhile, it is true the definition of fascism is difficult and seemingly unstable, but while many refer to Russia as a kleptocracy, that isn't necessarily incompatible with oligarchy and fascism.

    Still, it doesn't make sense to support your point as you have with propaganda from the American expatriate in Moscow. For instance, the tangle of conservative interests—(conservative British, anti-Russian author for a conservative American news agency)—is its own glittery bauble, but Tom Rogan↱ wrote, in 2019:

    Still, Russia's ambition to influence the West is truly significant. Consider a few of the pro-Putin English language outlets.

    One that stands out is Russia Insider. Headed by the anti-Semitic American expatriate Charles Bausman, Russia Insider warns of American plots against Russia. It also operates a YouTube channel, Russia Insight, which offers various clips of Russian state television anchors insulting America, and Putin trolling various politicians and media figures. Russia Insider describes its team as a "crowdfunded" group of "fake news fighters."

    And inasmuch as Paxton includes in his definition of fascism the arousal of "popular enthusiasm by sophisticated propaganda techniques for an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist agenda", maybe the better argument against Russia as fascist might come from some other resource than a Moscow-based, pro-Russian propaganda operation run by an anti-Semite whose website manifesto has been described↱ as "basically a Nazi screed".

    I'm just sayin'. I mean, whatever else, maybe, just maybe, the pro-Russian, anti-Semitic, ostensibly fascist, Moscow-based propagandist wasn't the best choice.


    Collins, Ben. "Too Racist for Russian Propaganda?" The Daily Beast. 22 January 2018. TheDailyBeast.com. 7 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3jUubcy

    Rogan, Tom. "Exploring Russia's ambitious Western propaganda campaign". The Washington Examiner. 9 October 2019. WashingtonExaminer.com. 7 July 2021. https://washex.am/3wpgTrc
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I agree with most of your first post to this thread (I hit "like" on it). The following posts seem to lose focus, though, and you go off on several tangents.

    Reading between the lines, it seems that these issues are very personal to you, rather than just being an abstract point of political discussion. In particular, it seems that there are a couple of possibly-racist people in your life who concern you. I'd like to know more about them.
    It sounds like these nameless people, whoever they are, are in your head a lot. I think there might be healthier ways of resolving your issues with them than posting obliquely about them on your blog or on a forum such as this one.

    If person 1 in your life is not a white supremacist then I guess that's fine, like you say. But it sounds to me like you think that person is a white supremacist. It also sound like you think that it is possible for a person to be a white supremacist without realising it, which strikes me as a little bizarre. How would that work, exactly? I mean, does this person act like a neo-Nazi, or express racist opinions or something, that would be consistent with your idea of what a white supremacist is, while at the same time telling you that he or she does not sympathise with such views or organisations? It seems far more likely that, if this is not all in your head, the person is deliberately trying to deceive or confuse you.

    In my own experience, the people who I would call white supremacists are usually pretty up-front about their racist views, their bunker mentality, their desire for violent solutions and so on. That's sort of the point of white supremacism, isn't it? A closet white supremacist strikes me as something like a waste of time. I mean, sure, it's possible to be a racist who tries to hide one's views, but a white supremacist is somebody who wants to act on such views, aren't they?

    As to person 2 in your life, you say that person is incompetent. But nevertheless, that person is in your head. Why? You say that his "telegraphing begs attention". What do you mean by that? What is this "telegraphing", and why does it concern you? On the matter of mental health, what is it about person 2's speculations that concern you, specifically? And how do they relate to facism and the American experience? I don't see the connection. And what does it mean to "weaponise mental health"?

    Finally, may I ask if person 1 and person 2 in your life the same person? Because that might make some sense in your linking their supremacist views to this thread on facism. Is this person suggesting that anybody who is not a supremacist is mentally ill, perhaps? Is that what you mean by "weaponising mental health"? But that doesn't make a lot of sense either, because according to you person 1 is not a white supremacist. Only you think they might be... (?)

    Whatever the case, these people seem to occupy a lot of your head space. Why do you choose to associate with those people, if they are a negative influence in your life?
  14. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Let's keep in mind that it appears, from reading his blog, that Tiassa lives with his mom, doesn't work, and probably isn't in the best of mental health, which is pretty evident from just reading his posts on here.

    Everyone can't be a fascist, white supremacist and everyone with any conservative leanings on any subject can't be low IQ, mentally ill, etc. It's absurd to think this way (and to be constantly personally upset by it).

    Tiassa has posted in his blog and has gotten just this upset while fighting over the TV remote control with his mom or with his mom talking while he was concentrating on a TV program.

    I've always said that it is insane that Tiassa is a moderator.
  15. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Fascism - or any authoritarian system - It doesn't require understanding from the rank and file, only unquestioning loyalty. Like, say, the US Republican senators (except that **#%!* blonde) Nor does it need to be sustained any longer than it takes the new emperor to establish his dynasty, after which he can call it whatever he likes and organize it any way he likes. They have to get the pogrom in early, since the torch-and-pitchfork party is the rank-and-file's carrot in the first place.
    In what way(s) is Tiassa an inadequate moderator?
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    This would be good to post somewhere as a perfect example of the ad hominem fallacy.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    No one has suggested that everyone, or nearly everyone, is a fascist and/or white supremacist. However, there has been a rather dramatic and terrifying resurgence of fascism and white supremacism over the past decade or so--globally, as well as, and especially, within the U.S. Downplaying such, or pretending that it has been mostly eradicated, is simply delusional.
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Looking back to Hartmann↱, I had previously (#3↱) observed that in Hartmann's telling, oligarchy is "an extraordinarily unstable form of government" because it cannot sustain the needs of the people.

    What I omitted was the immediately preceding statement in which Hartmann asserts, "Oligarchy rarely lasts more than a generation". In its way, it seems relevant per the point of any such system not needing to sustain its formal context. And as fascism is a notoriously difficult definition, some questions about the particular and defining names of exploitative authoritarian outcomes matter more to the historical assessment, and understanding what happened, than to the immediate experience under such rule.

    Still a comparative juxtaposition to fascism might be theocracy including apartheid, which seems more apropos the current rightist adventure; we're probably not done, yet, with the phrase, "American Taliban". To what degree, I wonder, would the oligarchs tolerate it compared to how much inequality among the common masses disrupts revenue flow and market share.

    • • •​

    It is, I acknowledge, a fascinating discussion. But it's also kind of a change of subject; in the context of the topic, i.e., fascism, the point of considering such examples has to do with making excuses. And while it is easy enough to acknowledge that you're right, that deliberately trying to deceive or confuse does seem a likely explanation, it doesn't preclude other aspects. To wit, the question that goes with it, whether one need openly identify as something in order to be it, is an example of why we might consider such aspects: If the most apparent priorities do not apply, we can only wonder what priorities do. Moreover, the anecdotal nature of the example also reminds that these issues aren't some distant abstraction, but something very proximal and accessible.

    As such:

    Well, like I said, making excuses for that sort of behavior is part of how we arrive here.

    Still, though—

    "It also sound like you think that it is possible for a person to be a white supremacist without realising it, which strikes me as a little bizarre." ― Really, James? It really strikes you as a little bizarre that someone might not comprehend that their behavior and attitudes are racist? Quite frankly, that would be extraordinary.

    "How would that work, exactly?" ― Consider the question of whether one need openly identify as something in order to be it. Let's take a look at two versions of an answer:

    1) Not supremacist, but just irony, shock value, or retort. There has been a lot of this pretense online over the years, and it's long part of how comedians excuse themselves. Thus, a question arises, what priority drives behavior that is otherwise supremacist, bigoted, or otherwise similarly problematic.

    2) Not supremacist, just [_____]. I almost went with, Not supremacist, just responsible! because it's actually a common trope by which one pretends necessity of virtue while making excuses for and giving aid and comfort to supremacism. A lot of this is actually quite literally making excuses.

    ↳ Let us consider, then, basic practical examples: First, for whatever reasons, someone up and goes off in a manner unquestionably supremacist. This is something that happens a lot, in diverse forms, for many reasons. While there is an argument that such behavior isn't supremacism, but just someone making some kind of point, the priority of choosing to make whatever point in that manner still stands out.

    Second, we might think of others who would make excuses for the one. And while that can become a complicated consideration for the number of ways in which one might give such comfort, we can at least consider what priorities motivate such a defense, excuse, justification, or other abetment.​

    The excuses, as such, can be distinctive; many are reactionary and accusatory in a manner akin to an odd bit of Prussian philosophy asserting that wars are actually started by defenders, because if they just capitulate and give over to the aggressors, there would be no war. Antifeminism is an easy example; nor are ongoing lamentations about diversity and inclusion anything new. This form is a straightforward proposition: One is not supremacist, but, rather, it's the fault of anti-supremacists, caricaturized as counter-supremacists, forcing the one to oppose them. This has long been a libertarian, conservative, and rightist fortification.

    Decades ago, for instance, was a complaint against "PC", accusing liberalism of poisoning and wrecking the workplace by suppressing free expression of racist and sexist speech in the workplace. In my time, the hardest thing about following the contiguous history of those arguments is actually the sheer volume of information; it's been a constant whine throughout. Thirty years ago some were upset that they shouldn't use demeaning language about ethnicity or sex in the workplace; apparently such confusion persists.

    And while there are always purported newbies struggling to figure it out for the first time, that speaks nothing of the people who ought to know better than to empower them. That is to say, if the question for the good man includes the value of doing nothing, then at least he should not put in any actual effort on behalf of evil. Meanwhile, for the people who suffer the impacts of such ignorance and—at best—apathy, it's just another day.

    "… does this person act like a neo-Nazi, or express racist opinions or something, that would be consistent with your idea of what a white supremacist is, while at the same time telling you that he or she does not sympathise with such views or organisations?" ― James, if I were to tell you to ask a Black American about white people who claim to not be supremacist, that comes with the warning disclaimer that they will probably already be weary of the question, and, furthermore, appalled by your pretense of naïveté. And to be clear about that apparent naïveté, James, consider the question I'm responding to alongside your prior statement, noted above, about what strikes you as bizarre:

    "… while at the same time telling you that he or she does not sympathise with such views or organisations?"

    "… that it is possible for a person to be a white supremacist without realising it, which strikes me as a little bizarre."

    You are, of course, aware that pretty much anyone can try claiming they don't sympathize with supremacism; and, moreover, it seems rather an extraordinary suggestion that it is somehow impossible to be supremacist and not recognize it.​

    —you offer a useful framework for consideration. Thank you.


    Hartmann, Thom. "Full-Blown Fascism: Is America Teetering on the Brink?" 15 February 2021. ThomHartmann.Medium.com. 9 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3wkZlMP
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    A basic setup: Responding to the latest release of police bodycam footage from the January 6 insurrection, an author and profesor suggests↱ "Trump's thugs" are "homegrown Brown Shirts". The physician replies↱:

    Again a reminder that the "Brown Shirt" era was not a "one off" historical aberration but, along with Arendt's "banality of evil", a sad pervasive and persistent thread in human history.

    Okay, it's not exactly an original punch line.

    While fascism can be a difficult definition, this twittery reminds that some things are pretty straightforward. And we see here an example of how the presence of actual Nazis can complicate certain discussions; to wit, Godwin's Law presumes spuriousness about Nazi accusations, implications, or insinuations. It gets messy when actual fascists are at the table, and the whole thing fails, of course, if actual Nazis are involved.

    But that's the thing about the Trump question; the presence of Nazis and Nazi imagery complicates many discussions, but there really are reasons why people think of fascism. With Trump supporters and administration figures publicly working to mitigate and sweeten Hitler's reputation, and neo-Nazis apparently welcome in the rightist coalition, it is easy to eye fascism. It wasn't so long ago that American Christianist supremacism was denounced as "American Taliban"; I cannot figure whether that is a contrast or, given the variable nature of fascist iterations, or the religious influence Paxton suggests—American white Christianism just seems too clumsy to achieve a properly fascist pretense of power, organization, and dignity.


    @JoyceCarolOates. "T***p's thugs. our homegrown Brown Shirts." Twitter. 10 July 2021. Twitter.com. 10 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3xzJyem

    @somogyianthony. "Again a reminder that the 'Brown Shirt ' era was not a 'one off ' historical aberration but, along with Arendt's 'banality of evil ', a sad pervasive and persistent thread in human history." Twitter. 10 July 2021. Twitter.com. 10 July 2021. https://bit.ly/3r1CDYV
  20. candy Valued Senior Member

    I have seen similar statements attributed to Goebbels but it would not surprise me to hear he borrowed it from someone.

    Years ago I was taught that the definition of fascism was the system in which you could own private capital but the government controlled what you could do with it.
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    George Orwell 1984


    O'Brien was looking down at him speculatively. More than ever he had the air of a teacher taking pains with a wayward but promising child.

    'There is a Party slogan dealing with the control of the past,' he said. 'Repeat it, if you please.'

    "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past," repeated Winston obediently.

    "Who controls the present controls the past," said O'Brien, nodding his head with slow approval. 'Is it your opinion, Winston, that the past has real existence?'

    Again the feeling of helplessness descended upon Winston. His eyes flitted towards the dial. He not only did not know whether 'yes' or 'no' was the answer that would save him from pain; he did not even know which answer he believed to be the true one.

    O'Brien smiled faintly. 'You are no metaphysician, Winston,' he said. 'Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence. I will put it more precisely. Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?'


    'Then where does the past exist, if at all?'

    'In records. It is written down.'

    'In records. And- ?'

    'In the mind. In human memories.

    'In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?'

  22. river

    NO .
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Yes, this has already been practiced in Soviet Russia. Entire historical figures were deleted and names removed from history books. It is as if they never existed.

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