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View Diary: Bush Authoritarianism: See John Dean -- 2006-2007 (48 comments)

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  •  For some reason I can't post in DH's story (5+ / 0-)

    on the front page (or in the open thread) to continue an argument with him, so I'd appreciate it if someone would port my response there.

    The background:

    You write as if "fascism" is a stable term of art (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:Moody Loner, dehrha02, james risser
    which it is not, despite the claims of small pockets of academics that they own the rights to demarcate the bounds of term.  Yes, I can show you differences between what Bush evidently wants and (let's say Italian or Spanish to remove the "Nazi" baggage) Fascism.  I can also show you differences between what Chavez or Morales or AMLO or countless other people want and socialism.  This is not definitive and much wisdom resides in recognizing that these categories are not Aristotelian but family-resemblance based, and there is a family resemblence between what Bush wants and "fascism."  Surely enough of one to temper your criticism above.

    Fascism is sometimes theorized as hypertrophic right-wing populism (think of Pat Buchanan as a good exemplar) coupled with a melding of state and corporate interests.  You say that fascism means exaltation of the state above all, which strikes me as, at a minimum, idiosyncratic and also applicable to many non- and pre-fascist states; I say that that is one feature to consider among many, and when one considers it one should (as usual) take a functional view of critical terms like "state."

    Whether the state per se is all-powerful -- or whether corporate interests dominate the state and share in the monopoly on the legitimate use of force that is usually considered the sine qua non of statehood, rendering it a duopoly of aligned interests -- probably doesn't matter much.  Fascism in Spain, Italy, and Germany involved a power-sharing arrangement where state actors control the culture and foreign policy and the business interests work to the benefit of corporations, especially when they support, and unless they oppose, the state security apparatus.

    That sounds familiar to me.

    Your saying that Bush doesn't want to build up the state and it therefore can't be fascist misses the point.  It is no longer necessary to draft a massive army as it was in Germany.  Times have changed; proto-fascism has changed with them.  All that is necessary now is to keep the public scared, hating the right people, unwilling to accept leadership that doesn't take the right terrorizing tone, and willing to keep paying what they have to pay (one way or another) to keep the enterprise going.  We don't need a million troops; we have Blackwater and bombs.  And we have a huge state -- which you argue is not "built up" because it doesn't have the social welfare aspects of fascism, I suppose, and is therefore not fascist -- these days, if you haven't noticed; check out the budget deficits.

    A primary indicator of fascism (though not only fascism, admittedly) is control over and perversion of the electoral process.  Again: check.

    Should we hesitate to call Bushism part of the family of fascist ideologies?  Sure we should.  And we did.  But having done so should not leave us paralyzed.  Increasingly, as the party has moved to the point where it cannot be extricated from power other than through violence (and probably external violence at that), I think that the shoe fits and your disdain doesn't sway me.

    The more interesting question these days are the extent to which Russia and China show evidence of fascism.  To a sad degree, both do.  We may yet miss communism, which at least had the advantage of being unlikely to work in practice.

    Anyway, this story would have been more effective and worthwhile without the shot across the bow above the fold.

    Don't be so far above politics that you can't help clear the snakes down on the ground. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

    by Major Danby on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 07:44:10 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    Don't Say You CAN Show Me (0 / 0)
    Show me.

    And if you don't think building up or tearing down the state is essential to understanding what is and isn't fascism, then maybe you need to read more.  

    Sorry, come with examples, or look like you just want to hold on to a word because of it's emotional content instead of its historical, theoretical or analytical  utility.  

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by DHinMI on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 07:54:00 PM PDT

    What I think is that:

    (1) definitions of most phenomental are not Aristotelian (with checklists of necessary and sufficient and forbidden features), but prototypical and following a "family resemblence" model, making most arguments of the sort "(A) is a type of (B)" "Is not!  It lacks characteristic (Z)!" fruitless and pointless.  But also:

    (2) to the extent that "building up the state uber alles" is truly a defining feature of fascism, it must be considered functionally.  Note the continued predominance of the Church within Franco's Spain: "not fascist," therefore?  Or was there simply a merger of interests to the point where the church did not pose a competing font of power to the state, such that building up the church did not degrade from (and indeed facilitated) building up the state?  One can raise a similar functional argument about the relationship between corporations and the state in the modern U.S.  (And one should really consider the new realities of multinational commerce, which weren't around to the same degree in 1933-45, and as whether a national state is what is truly being "built" anymore.)

    (3) I believe that your response overlooks most of the content of my previous comment, which I incorporate here by reference.  It would be appropriate to a comment that said "Bush iz BAD there4 FASCIST" or some such.  But I raised some substantive arguments there which shame or protocol ought to impel you to address before dismissing this as agitprop silliness on my part.  We need a term for hypertrophic right-wing cultural and social policy combined with merger of corporate and state interests, and "fascism" seems like a pretty damn promising one, even if not every box on the checklist -- as if 1930s-40s fascism is eternally the only kind possible -- is ticked.

    (4) I believe that saying "Show me examples" -- really? what examples could one theoretically bring to bear that would settle this sort of definitional argument? -- is sophistry, and doing so in an insulting way, as a power holder on the site, comes awfully close to thuggery.  I gave you arguments, which is appropriate to an argument about definitions.  I suggest you chew on them.

    (5) I signed onto to another poster's account a few minutes ago, using a temporary password that he created, to review a diary that he will post tomorrow morning.  I suspect that may be behind the technological problem I'm having.  I assume that this does not run afoul of sockpuppetry rules (as I was not posting as him, but this was the only way I could see the photos), but may still have run into some automatic detection field.  If so, please reset the switch and let me back onto that story; I come in peace.

    Don't be so far above politics that you can't help clear the snakes down on the ground. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

    by Major Danby on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 08:24:40 PM PDT

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