From Eco to the echo-chamber: the mainstreaming of fascism

•March 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I love a good retard parade as much as the next person

David Cross (on so-called ‘Tea Party‘ protesters)

Wow.

If there is one good thing that all kinds of far-right groups can do, it’s throw a fucking tantrum.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau :

WASHINGTON — Demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, angry over the proposed health care bill, shouted “nigger” Saturday at U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was nearly beaten to death during an Alabama march in the 1960s.

Protesters also shouted obscenities at other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, spat on at least one black lawmaker and confronted an openly gay congressman with taunts.

Some have expressed dismay and shock at such bald-faced bigotry… John Lewis himself has remarked that he hasn’t seen anything like this level of vitriol since being beaten half to death by Alabama State Troopers in Selma, Alabama in 1965.

But, i’m really not surprised; and none who have followed American politics with even a casual interest can reasonably argue that this hasn’t been coming since the moment that white identity/Christian-nationalist America realised the electoral college had been called for Obama. This is merely what critical mass (for dummies) looks like.

It IS momentarily hilarious to observe a bunch of frazzled, angry white people marching for… er, what exactly? They love to rail against ‘big government’ which, for the uninitiated, is the sophisticated troglodyte’s way of expressing solidarity with Milton Friedman’s half-baked school of re-badged top-down corporatism (ala Pinochet, Mussolini et al) & Ronald McReagan’s delicately balanced ‘soak-the-blacks-poor’ economic rhetoric.

A fine observer of the totalitarian impulse, Dr Hunter Stockton Thompson was fond of reminding us that-

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

– and like the words of so many dead heroes, the good Dr is prescient beyond what even the strictest regime of hallucinogenic substances could ever inspire one to predict. If the weird hadn’t officially gone pro when Bonzo race-baited his way into office, let alone when Bush Jr ‘took‘ office, well, it’s happening now.

Observe a typical conservative ditto-bot reaction, posted on The Nation website:

the Stalinist Democrats have successfully staged their coup. At least for the moment, the Constitution is dead. I now consider Obama, the Dems who voted for this, and the leftists who support it to be as much enenies of the Republic as Bin Laden. We are no longer just those who disagree. The battle begins in earnest to engage in war to recover our Republic from the marxists. Between the large number of States filing lawsuits and various conservative legal groups, we will try through the courts first. if that fails, the real war will begin. I have given up most of my possessions so the govt cannot take anything from me but my life. Several families I know have given up their homes this weekend and have purchased rv trailers. I will not visit here much anymore. I consider this a state of war

Posted by antisocialist at 03/22/2010 @ 7:59pm

As you can see, this is the day the boneheads in the hard-right have been waiting for… the chance to completely lose their shit… and at least pretend there is some kind of a justification or provocation for the barrage of hateful, willfully ignorant nonsense that has come spewing out of Congressmen, protesters & GOP mouth-organs like the beastly Rush Limbaugh alike.

It couldn’t possibly matter less that Obama isn’t even a liberal; let alone a socialist; let alone a Marxist; let alone a Maoist; let alone a Stalinist – or that even the best among Glenn Beck’s frothing army of neo-Confederate moonbats would be hard pressed to provide any kind of definition of any of the above terms, let alone place them in any kind of historical context – it’s all just pretext for a much bigger, building storm.

And, it really doesn’t have much to do with healthcare. On a base level, this is just the same old story- Republicans kow-towing to the vested interest of private corporations is hardly new – but just as Harry Truman’s push for healthcare, post World War 2, was derailed by the unwillingness of Southern politicians to stand up for the specific interests of the vast majority of their constituents by supporting legislation that (as a by-product of providing the framework of a universal h/c system, which was needed badly by the poor, long-suffering Steinbeckian south), necessitated the racial integration of public hospitals.

Some sixty years later, and back to square one.

This isn’t about healthcare. This isn’t about caring about the debt, really at all- just how many anti-government marches were conducted by deficit hawks against the almost two-trillion dollar hole poked in the budget by Bush’s tax-cuts for the feudal lords of the American corptocracy?

Nor is it about ‘the Constitution’ (a term that is always used in an abstract manner, name-dropping if you will, to lend authority to ridiculous, nonsensical arguments). Er, that is, unless the standard for measuring semantic entities like ‘liberty’ or ‘constitutionality’ has somehow radically changed since President Governor Bush & the Cheney Junta shocked-and-awed the PATRIOT Act through…

‘Surely it’s not possible a political movement with a view to the future would be so transparently hypocritical!’ I hear you shout.

Well… unfortunately the answer is a rather emphatic ‘you betcha’ they would.

Voltaire wrote:

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Is it really possible that beneath the four-legs-good/two-legs-bad insanity of it all, lurks a darker impulse towards totalitarianism? Drawing comparisons is not an exact science, but it’s hard to deny the dichotomous nature of the pseudo-populist, blatantly-nationalist, cozily-racist bonehead movement and Umberto Eco’s invaluable critical dissection, ‘Eternal Fascism: 14 ways of looking at a Blackshirt’.

Point 3 is particularly illuminating:

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” and “universities are nests of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

(How else does one explain the existence of Glenn Beck?)

Whilst it might seem that i’m drawing a long bow here, a series of terrifying Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reports seem to draw similar conclusions- It just hasn’t boiled over *much* yet. From SPLC’s Spring, 2010 report:

“We are in the midst of one of the most significant right-wing populist rebellions in United States history,” Chip Berlet, a veteran analyst of the American radical right, wrote earlier this year. “We see around us a series of overlapping social and political movements populated by people [who are] angry, resentful, and full of anxiety. They are raging against the machinery of the federal bureaucracy and liberal government programs and policies including health care, reform of immigration and labor laws, abortion, and gay marriage.”

Again, the actual ‘reality’ of the situation, whether it be in relation to taxation or gun-control is completely immaterial- constructed narratives of tradition, threat to tradition, and resistance to that threat are the lifeblood of the fascist impulse. Hitler wrote:

All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be extended in this direction.

[snip]

The function of propaganda is, for example, not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for. Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favors the enemy, and then set it before the masses with academic fairness; its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly.

Sound just a little bit too familiar?

SPLC continued:

The signs of growing radicalization are everywhere. Armed men have come to Obama speeches bearing signs suggesting that the “tree of liberty” needs to be “watered” with “the blood of tyrants.” The Conservative Political Action Conference held this February was co-sponsored by groups like the John Birch Society, which believes President Eisenhower was a Communist agent, and Oath Keepers, a Patriot outfit formed last year that suggests, in thinly veiled language, that the government has secret plans to declare martial law and intern patriotic Americans in concentration camps. Politicians pandering to the antigovernment right in 37 states have introduced “Tenth Amendment Resolutions,” based on the constitutional provision keeping all powers not explicitly given to the federal government with the states.

Last year also experienced levels of cross-pollination between different sectors of the radical right not seen in years. Nativist activists increasingly adopted the ideas of the Patriots; racist rants against Obama and others coursed through the Patriot movement; and conspiracy theories involving the government appeared in all kinds of right-wing venues.

As the movement has exploded, so has the reach of its ideas, aided and abetted by commentators and politicians in the ostensible mainstream. While in the 1990s, the movement got good reviews from a few lawmakers and talk-radio hosts, some of its central ideas today are being plugged by people with far larger audiences like FOX News’ Glenn Beck and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn). Beck, for instance, re-popularized a key Patriot conspiracy theory — the charge that FEMA is secretly running concentration camps.


Already there are signs of similar violence emanating from the radical right. Since the installation of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers. Racist skinheads and others have been arrested in alleged plots to assassinate the nation’s first black president. One man from Brockton, Mass. — who told police he had learned on white supremacist websites that a genocide was under way against whites — is charged with murdering two black people and planning to kill as many Jews as possible on the day after Obama’s inauguration.

As noted in the SPLC’s August report, “The Second Wave: Return of the Militias,” a dramatic resurgence in the Patriot movement and its paramilitary wing, the militias, began. Now, the latest SPLC count finds that an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) — a 244% jump.That is cause for grave concern. Individuals associated with the Patriot movement during its 1990s heyday produced an enormous amount of violence, most dramatically the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead.

So let’s recap:

They’re armed; they’re fucking crazy; they have a number of well-established, popular propaganda outlets; as well as sympathisers/masters/common-causers within all levels of government, and in private industry.

What could possibly go wrong?

*Chomp chomp chomp* “What you reading for?”

•March 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If this was an academic undertaking, convention would dictate the inclusion of some kind of statement of purpose… the abstract if you will.

Like all good armchair activist types, I went straight for the Orwell:

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

It is both a classic – and a cliche – for a reason; but it’s (relative) antiquity precludes mention of the gradual shift in tone ‘populist’ propagandists have adopted in the ever-present quest to semantically massage hegemonic ideologies into the wider public discourse.

As identified by American historian Susan Jacoby in her excellent book ‘The Age of American Unreason’, the proliferation of ‘junk-thought’, answers that ‘sound’, when filtered through modern humanity’s rabid solipsism & suspicions, as if they might be ‘right’ – everything from the working-class apologists who both advocate for & get comprehensively screwed by fundamentalist freemarketeering; to those who actively seek (though often without disclosing their real agenda/conflict of interest) to discredit & rebuke the scientific method – makes the world safe for organised lunancy.

It is the ignorance and erosion of historical memory that make serious deceptions possible and plausible.

Or as Jim Jones, cult-leader, put it:

Those that do not remember the past  are condemned to repeat it.

The problem is, for a faceless feudal few, insistence upon repeating past insanities is the key to future prosperity… who controls the past, controls the future, who controls the present, controls the past…

If this blog can be said to have any purpose, beyond my own self-gratification, think of it as one semi-capable mammal’s feeble pushback against the ubiquity of the low-information/anti-intellectual/waffle-waitress paradigm.

‘Waffle-waitress?’ you say?

See below: