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This week, Thom Hartmann had the slimy Frank Gaffney on his local show here in Portland. Gaffney is one of the primary promoters of the term "Islamofascism," part of Bush's efforts to suggest that his nasty little war is the equivalent of World War II. (By the way, which is it, Bush - is this a new kind of war, unlike any other, or is this exactly like the biggest war that has ever been fought?} But Gaffney is perhaps applying the inflammatory term to the wrong party.

Hartmann pointed out that a chief characteristic of fascism is, as Mussolini made clear, corporatism.  As distinguished from communism, corporate elites maintain a separate identity from the state, but they work hand and hand with it, and it with them (though Mussolini did sometimes dream of an all-encompassing state, he never achieved it). This hand-in-glove fit between the state and corporations is also characteristic of Hitler's brand of fascism. Hartmann argued that what OBL wants to achieve is more appropriately termed theocracy. Gaffney contended that Islamism is fascism because it wants to subsume all aspects of social organization. So what Gaffney and Co. should be talking about, presuming they won't just do us a favor and shut up, is "Islamototalitarianism," a more general, but more accurate, term. But, of course, that would not serve to directly identify OBL with Hitler and therefore Bush with Roosevelt and Churchill (and Stalin?).

One great value of Hartmann's program is that he will have these rightwing crackpots on occasionally and will engage them in debate, instead of, as the MSM are wont to do, just letting them spout their nonsense unchallenged. He permits them expose themselves in all their ignominy, as Gaffney, one of the best, or worst, examples of the lot, obligingly did. He was as arrogant and condescending as he was willfully ignorant and shifty.

Hearing this discussion hied me to Wikipedia to do some quick research on fascism, and I found this intriguing definition by Robert O. Paxton , from Anatomy of Fascism :

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

He writes that the essence of fascism is:

1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief one's group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign contamination.

In a week in which Dear Leader declares a great Third Wave of Christianity is sweeping over the nation, paints the Islamist terrorist threat as the worst this nation has faced, demonstrates that no new facts on the ground will dissuade him from following his instincts, insists he is above the law, and once again declares that the occupation of Iraq will continue until "the job is done" (never yet having been straightforward about what the job is), the term "fascism" does indeed seem as apropos for this era as it was in the 1920s and '30s, but perhaps not in the way that Frank Gaffney intends it. If I were of his ilk, and thank God and a liberal education I'm not, I'd leave the term "fascism" alone. You might not want to get folks thinking about what it actually means.

Originally posted to Vico on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 09:35 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This part of Paxton's definiton (13+ / 0-)

    especially caught my eye: " . . .working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites. . . ."  It's always been striking how the "traditional elites" -- the Bushes, Halliburton, Wall Street and so on -- can work, for the purposes of holding power, with those they obviously disdain and condescend to -- the right wing loonies and the fundamentalist theocrats. But I guess that's fascism for you.

    "[Democracy] must always be fought for, by political coalitions that cut across distinctions of wealth, power, and interest." - Sean Wilentz

    by Vico on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 09:24:37 AM PDT

    •  words have opposite meaning (8+ / 0-)

      Thanks for the diary. I think the term fascism is apropos as well.  

      I noticed they started talking about "Islmo facsists" about the same time they were receiving criticism for becomming fascists themsleves. Their method is to take words used against them and subvert the meaning into the opposite, and then use it as a negative word to describe the enemy. Adds to the confusion. They fictionalized the "facts" in the 9/11 Commission report, which many see as a non factual coverup in the first place. More confusion.

      And their use of the word "elites" is another example. They are the elites, yet they claim they are just like common folk, and trying to take back the country from the elites to give back to the commoners. In practice, they do the opposite.

      •  It's pure Rovianism (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vico, grayday101


        It's totally Rovian. Anything you yourself are guilty of, acuse your opponent of exactly that, with total viciousness.

        Facism. We're there, baby. Right now. In the USA. Do not doubt it, fight it.

        Give money to your state Senate/House race if you can.

        Give money to your federal Senate/House race if you can.

        Give time, phonebank duty, and shoe leather to your state and federal candidates, even if you don't really have the time.  I will.


    •  Lovely diary Vico, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      We're just a bit blessed to have Hartmann on morning drivetime here in Portland, eh?  I missed this live and haven't got around to grabbing the podcast yet, thanks for the summary.

  •  Definitions (5+ / 0-)

    Words take on whatever meanings common use ends up giving them.

    Fascism has been used as a synonym for "bad", but we really should restrict it to the historical movements, principally Italy.

    There are plenty of other more precise terms for a society which uses force to suppress internal civil liberties.

    The best is authoritarian. Who controls the power can be an oligarchy, a plutocracy, a monarchy, a theocracy or a dictatorship.

    Non-state Islamic groups don't fall into any of these traditional models and it is a mistake (or deliberate effort) to frame them this way.

    What's wrong with Islamic fundamentalists or nationalists (depending upon their goals)?

    •  Nothing (3+ / 0-)

      Nothing is wrong with those quite descriptive terms -- except that they do not make the subliminal connections that the Bush people want them to.  In fact, fundamentalists and nationalists form the core of Bush's support.  Wouldn't want to make that connection too close.

      "[Democracy] must always be fought for, by political coalitions that cut across distinctions of wealth, power, and interest." - Sean Wilentz

      by Vico on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 09:50:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jingoism is Bush's strong suit. (7+ / 0-)

    Jingoism- "Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism."

    Bush is weak on the thinkin' part in elaborating  Christian-political mythology beyond vague common  notions and big on the rootin tootin cowboy actin' part.

    •  Jingoism is an apt term. (3+ / 0-)

      He has his right-wing fundamentalist  "intelligencia,"  like Gaffney, to take care of the deep thoughts for him,

      "[Democracy] must always be fought for, by political coalitions that cut across distinctions of wealth, power, and interest." - Sean Wilentz

      by Vico on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 09:55:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ... along with faux cowboy patriotism. (6+ / 0-)

      A couple days ago in a supermarket parking lot I saw a bumper sticker saying “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” with the slogan flanked by pictures of Reagan and W in cowboy hats. This reminded me that for a lot of people reality is just too complicated so they prefer to stick with a manufactured image regardless of the facts. Stupefying that a third generation scion of a powerful and wealthy political family born in Connecticut somehow qualifies as a cowboy merely by affecting a drawl and wearing a hat

      You are who you choose to be. Choose.

      by Hogarth on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 10:10:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hartmann Too Accomodating (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vico, cognitive dissonance

    Thom Hartmann is the best progressive  talker, by far. He often does have right-wing guests and my only complaint is he lets them fillibuster their twisted views and then they will interrupt Thom constatntly.
    Thom should read them the riot act a little more often, in my view.

    •  Yes, his mother (0+ / 0-)

      and father must have taught them to be polite.  He tries to be respectful of his rightist guests, because, I suspect, they are his guests, but not respectful of their opinions.  But I do wish he would be more forceful sometimes.  However, he did get pretty heated with Horowitz not long ago.  Horowitz was hopeless.  He made Gaffney seem rational.

      "[Democracy] must always be fought for, by political coalitions that cut across distinctions of wealth, power, and interest." - Sean Wilentz

      by Vico on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 09:53:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  :-) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...sometime I yell at my car radio (not at home, it really pisses off my beloved); "Thom, rip their guts out, you can and they deserve it!".

      But Thom is nearly-always polite, and the wingers come back to Thom's show, which is what we want: know your enemy, dude.

  •  BushCo/Rove (5+ / 0-)
    tend to pin their own weaknesses on their opponents.  If they call you a fascist, it's b/c they are fascists,(& they know it),  but it wouldn't sell if they admitted it outright.  

    The religious reich is hellbent on theocratic totalitarianism, & the Repub Party is hellbent on Corporate totalitarianism.  The former have a lot in common w/Islamic theocrats.  The latter resembles Musollini's vision.

    "We need to focus on this terrorism issue," Clinton said during a White House news conference. July 30, 1996

    by x on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 09:54:43 AM PDT

    •  Right. If psychologists (5+ / 0-)

      had not already coined the term "projection," they would have had to come up with it to analyze contemporary Republican behavior.  It's downright spooky, but as has often been pointed out here on dKos, you can predict the next Rovian paint-it-black strategy simply by observing what Republicans are doing and then anticipating that the opposition will be accused of it -- endlessly.

      "[Democracy] must always be fought for, by political coalitions that cut across distinctions of wealth, power, and interest." - Sean Wilentz

      by Vico on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 09:58:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Egg-zackly. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dems need to call them on it.  "What do you mean by the term "fascist?"  To your mind, Senator/Congresscretin, what does "fascist mean to you?"  Is a theocratist the same as a fascist?  What's the difference?

        How does the Iraq war compare to WWII?  VietNam?  The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?  

        Have you ever supported al Qaeda/bin Laden?  Have you ever voted to support bin Laden/Jihadists?

        "We need to focus on this terrorism issue," Clinton said during a White House news conference. July 30, 1996

        by x on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 11:25:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary- much needed by many.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vico, cognitive dissonance, Mary Mike

    who are now tossing the word facism around. This has been a topic of conversation where I work and I can't wait until Monday to show a couple of people the five points of the essence of facism and your appropriate examples of each, in relationship to the Bush / Cheney admin. Certainly recommend, will copy for future.

    The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. ~Albert Camus

    by TtexwiTyler on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 10:53:29 AM PDT

  •  One dispute: "corporatism" not "corporation" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semiot, Mary Mike

    It may seem technical, but when Italian fascists like Mussolini were talking about "corporatism" they were completely not talking about letting "corporations" rule.

    They were talking about how individuals must be organized in different bodies (from latin, corpus) such as the Army, the Government, Trades Unions, Business Owners, etc.

    Each "body" would therefore under the fascist hierarchy successfully regulate itself to the greater good of the nation.

    Remember that Mussolini took Socialist argument and populism and turned it to a fascist hierarchy:  in his view, the "class struggle" wasn't between economic classes within a nation, but between different nations which each represented a different 'class'.

    Therefore, the "corporatist" philosophy which held that all individuals must subjugate themselves to the various organs which would unite to form one great entity, the State.  And Italy was a "Proletarian" or worker's state, and so was Germany, and they had the right to struggle with and overthrow the "Bourgeois" or capitalists' states like Britain and France.

    Historically, corporatism or corporativism (Italian corporativismo) is a political system in which legislative power is given to civic assemblies that represent economic, industrial, agrarian, and professional groups. Unlike pluralism, in which many groups must compete for control of the state, in corporatism, certain unelected bodies take a critical role in the decision-making process. These corporatist assemblies are not the same as contemporary business corporations or incorporated groups.

    The word "corporatism" is derived from the Latin word for body, corpus. This original meaning was not connected with the specific notion of a business corporation, but rather a general reference to anything collected as a body. Its usage reflects medieval European concepts of a whole society in which the various components each play a part in the life of the society, just as the various parts of the body serve specific roles in the life of a body. According to various theorists, corporatism was an attempt to create a "modern" version of feudalism by merging the "corporate" interests with those of the state. (Also see neofeudalism.)

    Political scientists may also use the term corporatism to describe a practice whereby an authoritarian state, through the process of licensing and regulating officially-incorporated social, religious, economic, or popular organizations, effectively co-opts their leadership or circumscribes their ability to challenge state authority by establishing the state as the source of their legitimacy. This usage is particularly common in the area of East Asia studies, and is sometimes also referred to as state corporatism.

    In Italian Fascism, this non-elected form of state 'officializing' of every interest into the state was professed to better circumvent the marginalization of singular interests as would happen by the unilateral end condition inherent in the democractic voting process. Which would better instead recognize or 'incorporate' every divergent interest as it stands alone into the state "organically", thus being the inspiration behind their use of the term Totalitarian, perceivable to them as not meaning a coercive system but described distinctly as without coercion in the 1932 Doctrine of Fascism as thus;

    "...(The state) is not simply a mechanism which limits the sphere of the supposed liberties of the individual..." & "...Neither has the Fascist conception of authority anything in common with that of a police ridden State..." but rather clearly connoting "...Far from crushing the individual, the Fascist State multiplies his energies, just as in a regiment a soldier is not diminished but multiplied by the number of his fellow soldiers..."

    This prospect in Italian Fascist Corporativism claimed to be the direct heir of Georges Sorel's Anarcho-syndicalism. Wherein each interest was to form as its own entity with separate organizing parameters according to their own standards, only however within the corporative model of Italian Fascism each was supposed to be incorporated through the auspices & organizing ability of a statist construct. This was by their reasoning the only possible way to achieve such a function, i.e. when resolved in the capability of an indissolvable state.

    Contemporary popular usage of the term is more pejorative, especially when used as the shorter form corporatism (corporativism usually implies only the Italian construct indicating public rather than private organizing), emphasizing the role of business corporations in government decision-making at the expense of the public. The power of business to affect government legislation through lobbying and other avenues of influence in order to promote their interests is usually seen as detrimental to those of the public. In this respect, corporatism may be characterized as an extreme form of regulatory capture, and is also termed corporatocracy. If there is substantial military-corporate collaboration it is often called militarism or the military-industrial complex.

    None of which makes it any better, it's still just a bunch of rotten propaganda used to justify tyranny and suppression, but that's how those terms came to be used.

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