Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Are the Republicans Becoming Fascists?

OK, that I would even ask this question may make me appear to be an idiot. People throw the word "fascist" around a lot without really knowing what it means - the cops are fascists, your parents are fascists, etc. Right wingers do the same thing with "socialist" which they invariably refer to as "socialistic" which is not actually a word but what the heck...They called Bill Clinton a "socialist" and make no mistake, the right wing thinks "socialism" and "communism" are synonyms (they aren't but that's for another posting). For now lets talk about fascists...

What is a fascist? I looked up a fairly good definition online here. I took the passages in quotation marks from that link. Let's check the major components of fascism against the direction of the Republican party, especially post 9/11.

1) "Aggressive nationalism, combined with militant symbolism, which proclaims national superiority both in the internal arena (excluding minorities) and in the international arena (colonialist tendencies, achieving a stronger stand on the international arena).This also leads to an aggressive foreign policy."
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Yes but. With regard to internal racial exclusion its certainly debatable. Most Americans left of center would argue that the Republican party has alarming racist elements but most official Republican party statements are careful not to exclude people overtly because of their race. However, the view that the USA is vastly superior to all other countries is a widely accepted view not only among Republicans but among most people in America. Reagan's reference to the USA as "the shining city on the hill" is an example of this. The "neo-cons" have taken this world view and operationalized it into the aggressive, militarized foreign policy we have today.

2) "Idolisation of a single charismatic leader as the saviour of the nation."
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Yes. Republicans speak of Bush as a national hero. They make thinly veiled statements to the effect that if Bush were not our leader, the "terrorists" would have nuked us by now. His ads showing him at "ground zero" at the WTC are classic fascism. I've heard many religious conservatives say things like "God made sure George Bush was our leader during this terrible time." So, yes, the Republican party is idolizing Bush as a national savior.

3) "Emphasis on a national unity (like a bundle)"
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Yes. The Democrats have tried to cash in on the "unity" theme and Republican use of it for political purposes has declined a bit but all through to 2002 and into 2003 anyone who opposed any Bush policy (from tax cuts to the war in Iraq) was accused to disrupting national unity as if that in itself was the next thing to treason.

4) "Powerful, oppressive and disciplined state organization, including secret police and censorship, to ensure compliance with the state and the regime. This apparatus is not limited by constitutional or any other requirements and is under the domination of the leader and the party/movement."
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Not yet, unless you're a Muslim or Arab. The current regime has thrown the constitution out the window with regard to criminal prosecution of suspected terrorists. I hear from a friend who is a Federal defense attorney that Federal Prosecutors are being told to openly violate court orders for full disclosure of evidence even in relatively routine immigration cases. But most English speaking, native born US Citizens are not being abused yet so people haven't noticed this important change (I'm hoping for elaboration on this point from Law Talking Guy). If Patriot Act II gets passed this will be a clear YES.

5) "Militant anti-communist ideology"
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Yes. Although being "anti-communist" isn't all that relevant now the Republicans still use "communist" or "socialist" as a serious insult. But if you replace "communist" with "Islamist" its a slam dunk that the Republicans fit this component of fascism.

6) "Disdain for liberalism, social democracy, and all other forms of individualism as weak ideologies that lead only to defeat, governmental inefficiency, etc."
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Yes. I shouldn't have to elaborate too much on this one. Its so obvious that Republicans have a lot of hate for liberals, social democrats, "secular humanists" etc.

7) "Strong power symbolism, based on masculinity, sports, etc."
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Yes. Nascar Nation ring any bells for anyone? Ads with soldiers? Flight Suit Georgie on the Aircraft carrier? I could list dozens of examples.

8) "Propaganda apparatus, that systematically regulates the population into accepting the ideology. Media is controlled by the regime."
Does this apply to the Republicans?: Not Really/Sort of. With the exception of FOX news I'd say the media is fully independent of the Republican party. However, the Republicans do have a highly developed propaganda machine that works very effectively by simply repeating pro-regime/anti-opposition slogans over and over again.

9) "Control of the economy through corporativism, in which the formal structures of private ownership of industry are supposedly maintained but in which both labour and capitalists must accept the most detailed state regulation and extensive wage and price controls."
Does this apply to the Republicans?: No but...While there is no state regulation of the type mentioned here their is a clear "corporatist" inclination in secret meetings with energy companies that were in clear violation of anti-trust laws at the time.

SUMMARY: OK, so by my rough subjective assessment, the Republican Party has about a 50%-60% overlap with major components of fascism. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Republican party IS a fascist party right now. But the direction of change within in the party is clearly in an alarming direction.



Gaoshan said...

Are the Republicans Becoming Fascists? I would say they certainly seem to be staring longingly down that particular path (though they haven't taken more than a step or two down it... so far).

Here is my take on your points:
1) Yes
(and no they don't blatantly exclude minorities but perhaps this is an evolutionary issue for fascism.)

2) No.
I don't think Bush is really idolized. Without the whole pantheon of republican hawk power brokers and leaders (Cheney, Rummie, Wolfowitz, Asscroft, et al.) I don't think Bush would "shine" so bright.

3) No.
Not fully, anyway... and not for a lack of trying, in many areas.

4) No.
Until they start taking more openly aggressive action against Muslims/Arabs (as their "commies") I don't see them as really meeting the requirements of number 4.

5) Yes.
Although you could easily argue that they are not truly "militant" about it.

6) Yes.
Kinda obvious. Like, in your face obvious, actually.

7) Yes.
Ditto what Raised by Republicans (RbR) wrote.

8) No.
I think this is a clear no. The population of this country is not systematically regulated into accepting their ideology.

9) No.
But... RbR is right on in his assessment. The corporate climate and it's relationship with politics is certainly leaning in this direction at least a bit.

So I score them a 44% fascist. Hmmm, sounds about right to me. In looking at the overall tone and tenor of current conservative republican thought (not to mention the surge in prominance of neo-conservatives) it does look like they are at least starting to smell a little fascist.

Hmmm, I wonder which party Hitler would have joined?

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing to me is that with all the faults served up on a platter -- and these fascist tendencies I consider faults -- why is it the democrats are so down in the polls?

To expand it seems to me the republicans have loaded themselves into the clay pigeon shooter, and it just needs someone with the balls to shout "pull". Gitmo, the war on a verb that wasn't needed, Halliburton and more. How do they consistently get away with it, when Clinton can get hounded for getting his wick wet? Surely the democratic advisors have thought about this, even if Kerry hasn't...

Raised By Republicans said...

"so down in the polls"

You make it sound like the Democrats are way behind or something? The Presidential race polls show a tie. Both houses of Congress are very close to being 50-50 between the two parties. Unless you assume that the Democrats have an automatic level of support way about half, you can't say they are "way down in the polls."

Besides, just because you and I don't like fascist tendencies and ideological elements drawn from fascism doesn't mean they aren't politically effective. In fact, the very effectiveness of these strategies is the whole point from the fascist's point of view. Fascism is essentially a kind of grab bag of populist agendas used to prop up the unchecked rule of a small, self-serving elite.

Anonymous said...

Point taken. Still, given the lack of any moral stance I would consider anything less than 80% for the democrats "down in the polls". That still doesn't answer my question: how can such a grab bag of views be populist? Given the number of people who complain about politicians, why would they believe that George has a direct line with God?

Raised By Republicans said...

I think you may be confusing "populist" (anti-elite) with "popular."

But yes, the anti-elitist rhetoric of fascists and pseudo-fascists is in sharp contrast with the highly elitist power structure they establish when in power. Think about why they appeal to people's nationalist fervor. Its to distract them from their utter powerlessness in real life.

I would argue that Bush does this by appealing to the social conservatism of the regligious right (who tend come from parts of sociaty that lose out massively on economic dimensions when Republicans are in power). The idea is to get people so upset about Gay marriage, abortion or whatever that they forget that their standard of living has dropped considerably in the last four years.

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