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December 12, 2005
Still World O'Blogging

Avedon Carol has a link to a great story about the rise of fascism in Germany.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 and proceeded to carry out their savagery, many in the outside world asked how this could have happened in the land of Goethe and Beethoven.

"When the Radical Right came to power in the United States in 2000 and proceeded to carry out their savagery, many in the outside world asked how this could have happened in the land of Washington and Lincoln."

It's not particularly far-fetched these days, to imagine that the world will be reading that paragraph half a century from now.

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P.S. Having determined that the Bush Administration and their supporters are not, in fact, actually Conservatives, what shall we call them? Is there currently a name on the political spectrum that fits their behavior?

In some ways, Communitarianism fits them. At least, they'd like to create a population so wrapped up in that kind of ethnic/religious/national identity that it could be used to manipulate the voters more easily. There's certainly a suggestion of sheep-like uniformity in the description that seems to match with the kind of population the Bush Administration approves of.

Me, I'm leaning toward, "neo-fascism" but I'm not sure it's exactly right. Besides, "neo-facist" has been in wide-spread use for a while now. You even find the Radical Right using it to smear Left-leaning media figures (and others) they hate.

Any suggestions?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:58 PM


Comments

Lewis Lapham has heen writing several sharp essays on the rise of American fascism. Here is a link to one of them: http://www.marxmail.org/lapham.htm.

Posted by: Kim Pearson at December 12, 2005 11:02 PM

David Neiwert's the other go-to guy on the question.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at December 13, 2005 12:26 AM

That's an interesting bit of history.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at December 13, 2005 02:04 PM

Actually, I vote for "conservatives". They're the really old-fashioned kind - the kind that opposed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Posted by: Avedon at December 13, 2005 02:24 PM

Actually, Anne, I object to your characterization of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal as "communitarian," even though I can see why you made that connection.

Communitarian thought can be "left wing" (tending toward libertarian/anarchic) or "right wing" (tending toward authoritarian/totalitarian), but always seeks out and stresses authentic bonds of community and communal identity.

What we have in the Bush administration (and their ideological mentors in the Project for a New American Century) is classical economic liberalism, and a rabid, radical strain at that. This kind of radical liberalism is dependent on the disintegration of community, the alienation of indivuals from communal bonds and identity, and the propagation of myths of "progress" and social mobility, and is closer to German National Soshialism ("Nazi") than to anything that could be remotely called communitarianism.

Or, anyhow, that's how I see it.

PS--you have a funny filter on your comment board. The misspelling above (Soshialism) was deliberate, because the filter would not let me spell it correctly. Why? The middle of the word is spelled the same as a brand name for a drug that treats symptoms of you-know-what dysfunction (couldn't write that one, either). LOL!!!

Posted by: Dr. Fallon at December 20, 2005 06:11 AM

Blogging time is light but I've been doing my reading! Thanks for the Lapham link, Professor Kim. I hadn't seen it and the material was very interesting indeed.

Professor Fallon, what your comment reminds me of is how what I think of as the political "line" of thought is really more like a circle. When you get far enough out on the fringes, the "Radical Left" and the "Radical Right" start looking like each other.

I did think of the Nazi comparison but it's not one we can use in common conversation. While the so-called "neo-conservative" beliefs clearly have more in common with nazism (or "Soshialism"*) than any other identifiable political movement, there's a (quite justifiable) stigma attached that pevents us from using the term to discuss contemporary USofA politics. If we want to "reach across the aisle" to explain to people why we disagree with and even fear the neo-conservative agenda, we need to find language that doesn't shut the discussion down before it starts. Screaming, "they're a bunch of neo-nazis!" may be accurate, but it doesn't open any doors.
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* I've had complaints about that before. I'm annoyed that the spammers make the use of the letter-string "cia lis" a big problem on the blog.

I'm going to try turning that one filter off and see if I get buried in spam.

Posted by: Anne at December 22, 2005 08:56 AM

I'm with Avendon, they are "Conservative" in the sense that the word was understood during the 1800s - back when America was understood to be liberal in a way that no one questioned.

The alliance of liberals with far left elements which began in 1932 has obscured the old uses of the word. But I think the current regime fits rather perfectly with the way Hayek defined conservatism in 1944:

"It is true, of course, that in the struggle against the believers in the all-powerful state the true liberal must sometimes make common cause with the conservative, and in some circumstances, as in contemporary Britain, he has hardly any other way of actively workings for his ideals. But true liberalism is still distinct from conservatism, and there is danger in the two being confused. Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its very nature, is bound to be a defender of established privilege and to lean on the power of government for the protection of privilege. The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others."

I wrote about that here:

http://www.whatisliberalism.com/index.php?pageId=8830

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at December 22, 2005 06:21 PM

Avedon and Lawrence are probably both right. This bunch is "conservative" in the original meaning of the phrase (in USofA politics).

Lawrence, I'm going to go read your entry and maybe I'll have more intelligent thoughts. :)

Posted by: Anne at December 24, 2005 09:10 AM

And yet, even before I do that, let me offer the suggestion that since political identifies change over time, perhaps it's not appropriate to reach back 200 or even 50 years?

We need to identify where this bunch actually stands, in terms of today's political spectrum. 200 years ago, Socialism, Communism, and Nazism weren't even gleams in the political eye of any nation.

(Fighting the urge to go off on a tangent about how the concept of self-government opened the door to the possibility of all of these forms of repressive government.)

No...I'll go read Lawrence's entry, but I think we have to re-label what these so-called "neo-cons" are. Using the "conservative" label that so many of the 40+ population grew up with when it wasn't evil, is misleading.

Posted by: Anne at December 24, 2005 09:19 AM