Skip to main content

View Diary: Bush Authoritarianism: Blackwater+Amway=GOP, Pt. 2 (295 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Don't Say You CAN Show Me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chumley

    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 Dana Houle on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 07:54:00 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Facism and the state? (11+ / 0-)

      It would have been kind of you DHinMI, to cite the source of the definition of fascism you chose to use in this piece since, after-all, you're making an argument that's fundamentally about definitions.

      Personally, I must say that the definition you use here does seem quite narrow, and perhaps a bit off.  After-all, as Major D. points out, there have been many political ideologies that emphasized state power, that aren't usually labeled "fascist."

      More importantly though, the claim that Bush's drive to privatization marks his administration as non-fascist is hugely mistaken.  Bush's privatization doesn't shrink the size of government; rather it removes control of government functions from democratic oversight, and gives control of security, education, infrastructure, and the rest to a small group of wealthy government loyalists.  What you describe as a "privatization" would more accurately be characterized as a transfer of government functions to a small cadre of unaccountable functionaries, who don't count as government employees only because they operate under no requirements to be transparent or accountable to the public.

      Bush is engaged in a nationalistic, militarist, authoritarian project, aimed at shifting control of  government away from the voting public.  

      •  Look... (0+ / 0-)

        ...here for one.  Or read about Nazi interference in production and agriculture.  Private "enterprise" was allowed to remain private, but the state could do just about anything it wanted, and usually did.  That they didn't appropriate private property or put commissars in charge of production doesn't mean that business was unfettered, and it certainly doesn't mean that business elites were calling the shots.  After the mid-30's in Germany, the business elites were mostly along for the ride and the party elites were in charge.

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

        by Dana Houle on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 08:34:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And here, the business elites (10+ / 0-)

          are the party elites.  Doesn't that change things?

          Beyond that: so?  You seem to see early-mid-20th century fascism as sui generis rather than a particular example of a philosophy that fits into general political frameworks.  Should I ask you for "an example" of that?  It's an unnecessary limitation on political theory.

          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 08:38:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Name a Fascist State Since the 1940's... (0+ / 0-)

            ...other than the ones whose roots are in that era (eg Spain, Portugal, maybe Argentina under Peron).  

            While you're at it, tell me if there have been any Greek Polis states recently.  Or if we've had a recent version of the Hanseatic league.  Or a Holy Roman Empire principality.  

            Maybe the issue isn't that the term is too narrowly being used to apply to only one era, but that it's essentially a historical term that doesn't apply outside that era.  

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

            by Dana Houle on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 08:44:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I can name you fascist *tendencies* (8+ / 0-)

              which ought to be enough in a discussion of ideology.  I can't name you a communist state either -- or, perhaps, ever, at all, in history, depending on how one looks at it -- but that does not obviate the existence of communist ideology.

              Most of what would come close to qualifying as fascist is rooted in tribal authoritarianism -- lots of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America would qualify.  It's the establishment of a strong anti-civil liberties domestic apparatus, aggressive foreign policy, whipping up hatred, and merger of state and domestic corporate interests that, to my mind, starts to verge on fascism.  Not many states are wealthy enough to do all of that, but there are tendencies towards valuing such an end in many states.

              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 10:00:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We're Not Discussing Just an Ideology (0+ / 0-)

                We're discussing the practice of exercising power when in control of the apparatus of the state.  Since nobody can name me a single fascist state that gave away power to the private sector, I stick by my contention.  

                You can find communist tendencies in BushCo.  Nobody bothers to call them communist, because they don't get the same emotional satisfaction from tossing that epiteth that they get from tossing fascist.

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

                by Dana Houle on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 05:27:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You apparently still don't understand the concept (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Inky, vets74

                  of merger of private and governmental interests.  If the private sector takes over the government and implements a program that otherwise looks like fascism, is it not fascism because the private sector is calling the shots, and does so with the power of the state apparatus which is has captured?  Ridiculous.

                  Beyond that, whether there has been a "fascist state" or not is irrelevant to the question of whether fascist ideology exists (and thrives.)  Prior to the October Revolution in Russia, there had never been a socialist/communist state.  By your reckoning, in 1916 you could squelch any discussion of communist ideology by asking "show me a communist state!"  We're not talking about instantiation of ideology here, we're talking about ideology itself.

                  Talking about instantiations of ideology invites quibbling.  If I bring up Paraguay under Stroessner, you can say "oh, but the security apparatus didn't reach all the way into the hinterlands" or some such twaddle.  That doesn't really matter.  What matters in a discussion of whether an ideological epithet or appellation is appropriation is the ideology itself: what are the goals, what is the philosophy, of the one accused?

                  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 Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 12:03:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Mussolini made no such claim. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Major Danby

                    He and his brother-in-law defined fascism and he founded the first fascist party.

                    Saying that "the State" has to act in and of itself, without private impulse, makes little sense.

                    That would require a political movement similar to Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Or Mao and his inner clique.

                    Fascism has never worked like this. Even with Hitler.

                    Fascism has combined power holders with private interest groups everywhere, every time out.

                    Dixie Chicks and Amy Winehouse. Imus and Lenny Bruce. Overcome evil with good.

                    by vets74 on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 01:30:21 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I think that you mean to address that to DH (0+ / 0-)

                      You may want to repost it as a reply to one of his comments so that he sees it.

                      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 Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 01:32:07 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  As a guess, DH's mind is made up. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Inky, Major Danby

                        He caught hold of a distinction -- The State as core of everythng -- and ain'tgonna give it up.

                        Copying a favorite pit bull.

                        BTW: Wiki on fascism.

                        "Anti-individualistic, the fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only insofar as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal will of man as a historic entity.... The fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value.... Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number.... We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right', a Fascist century. If the nineteenth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the 'collective' century, and therefore the century of the State."

                        Mussolini.

                        Sounds like the play list guy at Clear Channel. They'll tell us what to think, you betcha....

                        Dixie Chicks and Amy Winehouse. Imus and Lenny Bruce. Overcome evil with good.

                        by vets74 on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 02:37:05 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

            •  The problem with your argument (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Inky

              over definitions is that it doesn't take into account the fact that societies have all evolved since the 1940s.  Technology is different, the reach of corporations is greater, the relationships between states and corporations and free trade areas is different.

              If I followed your rules of definition, a cell-phone could not be called a telephone.  After all, it has no hand-crank on the side nor any wires connecting it to other telephones.  It's wireless, therefore it cannot be a phone. It must be some sort of radio.

              I could apply the same logic to your description of fascism and would arrive at the conclusion that no regime in the present era could arrive at a point of being described as "fascist".  

              Bush repealed Godwin's Law with a Signing Statement.

              by Mad Kossack on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 05:45:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The HEART of My Argument... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vets74, Neon Vincent

                ...includes the notion that fascism is primarily a historical term, and relates to dynamics that are no longer relevant to modern society, economics, politics and government.  As pointed out downthread, we're not transitioning from an agrarian to an industrial society.  We're not dealing with a massive influx of labor from the countryside in to the major cities.  We're also not reacting to the threat of communism.  All of those dynamics were crucial in the rise of fascism, especially the last one.  And again, there isn't a single fascist state that ever gave up state power, they all increased it, and this administration is doing the opposite in most areas.

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

                by Dana Houle on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 05:53:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Transfer of power (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Inky, Neon Vincent

                  What Bush and his ilk are actually doing is transferring power from democratically-controlled institutions to those that are controlled by their cronies.  This is not "decreasing" state power, but moving that power to a place of safety where it cannot be challenged.   For example: BushCo relied upon corporations to do the  dirty work of providing phone taps and internet monitoring. Hence his insistence on blanket immunity for the corporations that did his bidding.  

                  This whole discussion (not your fault, btw) is suffering from a modern world view of what
                  constitutes "government". In pre-modern Europe, the view of what constituted government was fuzzier than it is now. The Church, local barons, monarchs, etc. all competed for power.  The modern nation-state eventually emerged and has been seen as the model in the West for hundreds of years. Much of what is happening now is a symptom of the decline of the nation-state as the most important actor.

                  I tend to view all actors with an ability to operate independently and to enforce their will upon others as a form of "government".  By my definition, a Walmart or a homeowners' association could be called a "government".  Many will probably quibble with this, but that is fine.

                  The problem I have with conservatism's alleged desire for "less government" is that I don't see there being any such thing as "less government".  To them, "less government" just means turning areas of life that require rules over to institutions that are unaccountable to the public.  Decisions affecting people's lives are going to be made by someone, they just don't want it to be a democratic institution.  This is not in conflict with your arguments at all.

                  I think this is an excellent diary and I agree with your analysis completely, except for your insistence that Bushism is not fascism. I would argue, if I were going to spend the rest of the day on the computer rather than getting any work done, that comparing Bushism to previous failed experiments in fascism is not useful. A maltese and a Rottweiler are both dogs , though they have little resemblence to one another.

                  I think you are making very good arguments, as are Major Danby and some other commenters. A lot of this discussion resembles arguments over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. So, I shall take my leave and get some work done.

                  Bush repealed Godwin's Law with a Signing Statement.

                  by Mad Kossack on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 06:47:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I Don't Judge Governmental Systems... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Neon Vincent

                    ...on whether they succeeded or failed.  I view them in how they acted.  Communism isn't just Marx and Lenin, it's 70 plus years of communist control of numerous countries.  I'm taking a descriptive approach, not one of platonic forms.  As I wrote in the first part, there wasn't really a coherent theory of fascism, so more so than almost any other system, you have to look at not what Alfred Rosenberg wrote and nobody read, or the contradictory pronouncements of Mussolini (although they're far more consistent with what I've argued than with almost everyone who's mentioned him).  No, you have to look at how they ruled, and what Bush is doing is not much like how the fascists ruled.  The below-the-surface appeal to rightwing voters shares some affinities, absolutely, but so do most far-right political movements.  

                    So, I'm judging them against everything that we've seen, not some ideal form, which for fascism never really existed anyway.  

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

                    by Dana Houle on Mon Oct 15, 2007 at 06:58:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent (11+ / 0-)

        One good definition of "the state" is the entity that holds a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.  If that becomes a duopoly due to the actions of the state, and if the state can retract or reshape that duopoly (especially to promote the ruling party or officials), functionally it's all "the state" no matter who signs the paychecks.

        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 08:36:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  K Street is one example... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Inky

      Corporations who hired the right kind of people and payed to play reaped the benefits.

      I hated george bush before it was cool.

      by dehrha02 on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 08:22:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh great, I can post here again -- here we go: (12+ / 0-)

      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.

      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 08:33:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  then consider Bushism a new development (4+ / 0-)

        So far we're debating whether Bushism fits within the existing definitions of fascism, which originated in far different times.  

        Notably, in the 1930s,  economies were moving from agrarian to industrial, and mineral resource extraction was still growing in a meaningful way.  Today, economies have apparently moved from industrial to informational and even financial ("financialization" as per one of the critiques of the Bush era).  

        Notably, the means of mass communication have changed: radio has been supplanted with TV (not replaced by, given the strength of rightie-radio); and on the other hand we now have a huge new grassroots media via the internet.  

        Right-wing ideologies in general seem to have these things in common: state power is centralized in the executive; culture of "national identity" based on racial, ethnic, religious, or other demarcations that are largely inherited rather than individually chosen; close connections between elites in public and private sectors; strong puritanical element re. sexuality and bodily pleasure in general; very often a strong religious element or direct alliance with religious forces (which may become part of the state apparatus, as per the Middle Ages and also the Middle East); megalomaniacal or messianic beliefs about the role of the leadership in national and world affairs; politicization of science and disdain for objective science; authoritarian about personal liberties; elitist orientation (the masses cannot be trusted to govern themselves); and the willingness to use violence, both domestically and internationally, both as a means and as an end in itself.

        Bushism includes all of the above, plus:  

        Promoting mediocrity as virtue, to support a culture of mediocrity.   Claiming the legitimacy of the pre-existing institutions rather than claiming to be an agent of revolutionary change.  These appear to be the only truly new elements in the mix.  Bush's handlers promote the idea that he was chosen by God to lead, but most extreme right ideologies promote the idea of their leader as anointed by God.  

        Perhaps the most unprecedented thing about Bushism in terms of recent US history, is its degree of success in the key area of harvesting public resources for the benefit of its cronies, and in the area of curtailment of Constitutional rights, and in the centralization of executive authority.  

        So what else, if anything, is truly new about Bushism?  It feels as if it's a new form of rightist ideology, but that may only be in comparison to previous rightist ideologies in the US e.g. Reaganism and Nixonism.  

    •  Besides, "Authoritarian" works perfectly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Vincent

      for all the reasons you have detailed, and has the bonus of emotional bite too.

      It is time to offer the world a message of hope to counter the prophets of hate. Barack Obama.

      by vivacia on Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 10:42:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site