Skip to main content

View Diary: My thoughts on American Fascism (16 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Wrong Focus? (none)
         I've started to wonder whether the whole question of Fascism in relation to the contemporary US is worth pursuing at all.
         Historians and political scientists who've spent their professional lives attempting to define 20th century Fascism can't agree on what it was.  Is it really a very useful exercise to engage in endless hairspliting, logic-chopping, Procrustean wrangling in order to fit contemporary US political developments into an early 20th century European political rubric?  And what's the point?  To gain the emotional satisfaction of calling Bush a Fascist? It's reminiscent of those Marxists back in the 20s and 30s who kept trying to fit Fascism into an early 19th century political rubric: "Bonapartism".  Boy, that really helped.
         I'm not saying that History Is Bunk.  Teaching history is what I do for a living.  It's just that I've found that the "history of ideas" approach to modern political ideologies tends to distort our perceptions of both the past and the present.  Look for specific affinities and resemblances, yes, definitely. But trying to reduce one complex historical phenomenon to another is a useless intellectual parlor game.
         If we need a label for what's taking shape in this country, we could do a lot worse than adopt this one: Despotism, meaning Government by Fear.

    Their greed will be their downfall -- Capt. John Aubrey

    by angry blue planet on Sun May 22, 2005 at 08:44:48 AM PDT

    •  Well, could we just stop policing language, then? (none)
      Silencing an overeager alarm system is a good idea, but check for fire first.

      The word was discredited by uncareful use by protesters in the `60s. Or perhaps the fire was suppressed because of their alarms. Far more harmful is the trendy right of everyone in this country to randomly associate a shortcoming with any group outside power.

      While I don't use the term "fascist" often, I have been appalled by those who appoint themselves the censorious mission to decide when and where the term is appropriate.

      Underlying that self-appointment is an unstated obligation of cooler, more authoritative heads to muzzle the hysterics in our midst.

      Words change meanings, and at root fascism as a cultural style is the historical antithesis of individualism. If we continue policing "fascism" in pursuit of conformity, let's be consistent and take on the far more dangerous nonconforming uses of terms like "Christianity" and "media".

      Or let's argue the ideas and let the language flow.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site