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[chox] Fwd: fascist america?

interessanter Artikel!

Is America Becoming Fascist? 

The similarities between American fascism and particularly the National
Socialist precedent, both historical and theoretical, are remarkable.
Fascism is home, it is here to stay, and it better be countered with all
the intellectual resources at our disposal. 

by Anis Shivani 


 Since mainstream left-liberal media do not seriously ask this question,
the analysis of what has gone wrong and where we are heading has been
mostly off-base. Investigation of the kinds of under-handed, criminal
tactics fascist regimes undertake to legitimize their agenda and
accelerate the rate of change in their favor is dismissed as indulging in
"conspiracy theory." Liberals insist that this regime must be treated
under the rules of "politics as usual. Liberals are quick to note certain
obvious dissimilarities with previous variants of fascism and say that
what is happening in America is not fascist. It took German justice
minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin to make the comparison explicit (under
present American rules of political discourse, she has been duly sacked
from her cabinet post); but at the liberal New York Times or The Nation,
American writers dare not speak the truth. 

The blinkered assertion that we are immune to the virus ignores degrees of
convergence and distinction based on the individual patient's history. The
Times and other liberal voices have been obsessed over the last year with
the rise of minority fascist parties in the Netherlands, France, and other
European countries. They have questioned the tastefulness of new books and
movies about Hitler, and again demonized such icons of Nazism as Leni
Riefenstahl. Is this perhaps a displacement of American anxiety onto the
safer European scene, liberal intellectuals here not wanting to confront
the troubling truth? The pace of events in the last year has been almost
as blindingly fast as it was after Hitler's Machtergreifung and the
consolidation of fascist power in 1933. Speed stuns and silences. 

Max Frankel, former editor of the Times, quotes from biographer Joachim
Fest in his review of Speer: The Final Verdict: " . . .how easily, given
appropriate conditions, people will allow themselves to be mobilized into
violence, abandoning the humanitarian traditions they have built up over
centuries to protect themselves from each other," and that a "primal
being" such as Hitler "will always crop up again." Is Frankel really
redirecting his anxiety about the primal being that has arisen in America?
When Frankel says that "Speer far more than Hitler [because the former
came from a culturally refined background] makes us realize how fragile
these precautions are, and how the ground on which we all stand is always
threatened," is this an oblique reference to the ground shifting from
under us? 

The Iraqi adventure, which is only the first step in a more ambitious
militarist agenda, has been opposed by the most conservative warmongers of
past administrations. If the test of any theory is its predictive
capacity, Bush's extreme risk-taking is better explained by the fascist
model. Purely economic motives are a large part of the story, but there is
a deeper derivation that exceeds such mundane rationales. Several of the
apparent contradictions in Bush's governance make perfect sense if the
fascist prism is applied, but not with the normal perspective. 

To pose the question doesn't mean that this is a completed project; at any
point, anything can happen to shift the course of history in a different
direction. Yet after repeated and open corruption of the normal electoral
process, several declarations of world war (including in three major
addresses, and now the National Security Strategy document), adventurous
and unprecedented military doctrines, suspension of much of the Bill of
Rights, and clear signals that a declaration of emergency to crush
remaining dissent is on the way, surely it is time to analyze the
situation differently. 

Absent that perspicacity, false diagnoses and prescriptions will continue.
It is fine to be concerned about tyrannous Muslim regimes, and surely they
need to set their own house in order, but not now, not in this context,
and not under the auspices of the American fascist regime. Liberals don't
yet realize, or fail to admit, that they may have been condemned to
irrelevance for quite some time; the death blow against even mild welfare
statism might already have been struck. 

The similarities between American fascism and particularly the National
Socialist precedent, both historical and theoretical, are remarkable.
Fascism is home, it is here to stay, and it better be countered with all
the intellectual resources at our disposal. 

American fascism is tapping into the perennial complaint against
liberalism: that it doesn't provide an authentic sense of belonging to the
majority of people. And that is a criticism difficult to dismiss out of
hand. As the language of liberalism has become flat and predictable, some
Americans have become more ready to accept an alternative, no matter how
ridiculous, as long as it sounds vigorous and muscular. 

America today is seeking a return to some form of vitalism, some organic,
volkisch order that will "unite" the blue and red states in an eternal
Volkgemeinschaft; is in a state of perpetual war and militaristic
aggression targeting all potential counters to hegemony; has been coercing
and blackmailing its own victims and oppressed (justified by
anti-political correctness rhetoric) to return to a mythical national
consensus; has introduced surveillance technology to demolish the private
sphere to an extent unimaginable in the recent past; and fetishizes
technology as the futuristic solution to age-old ills of alienation and

And we are right in the mainstream of the Western philosophical and
political tradition in this subtle (overnight?) transformation. Liberal
democracy was replaced by Mussolini by these two Holy Trinities: Believe,
Obey, Fight, and Order, Authority, Justice. These slogans seem to replace
every liberal system sooner or later. Italian propagandistic slogans
included: War is to man as childbirth is to woman, and Better to live one
day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep. Sooner or later, the mob is
persuaded that fascism best addresses its unfulfilled spiritual and
psychological needs. Sooner or later there is a Hitler, and even if there
isn't a leader as charismatic as him, there is an anti-modernity

The enlightenment everywhere has contained the seeds of its own
destruction. Fascism merely borrows from the enlightenment's credo that
violence may sometimes be necessary to achieve valid political ends, and
that human reason alone can lead humanity to utopia. Is Nazism an absolute
aberration? Is America totally immune to fascism? Then we might as well
discredit Rousseau's "general will," Hegel's historical spirit, Goethe and
Schelling's romanticization of nature and genius, Darwin's natural
selection, and Nietzsche's superman. When all is said and done, a Kant or
Mill is never a match for a Nietzsche or Sorel. Industrial malaise (now
post-industrial disorder), evaded by the dead-ends and delusions of
liberalism, leads only to a romantic revolution, which is fine as long as
it is in the hands of Byron, Keats, Carlyle, Ruskin and Arnold, but
becomes eventually converted to a propaganda-saturated Third Way. Since
liberalism doesn't take up the challenge, fascism steps in to say that it
offers an answer to cen
trifugal difference and lack of common purpose, and that it will dare to
link industrial prosperity with communal goals. 

How great a deviation from the roots of the enlightenment, the foundations
of its self-justification, is the Manichean demonization of enemies,
aliens, impure races, and barbaric others? America today wants to be
communal and virile; it seeks to overcome what is presented by
propagandists as the unreasonable demands for affirmative action and
reparations by minorities and women; it wants to revalorize nation and
region and race to take control of the future; it seeks to remold the
nation through propaganda and charismatic leadership, into overcoming the
social divisiveness of capitalism and democracy. 

We have our own nationalist myths that our brand of fascism taps right
into. In that sense, America is not exceptional. In the near future,
America can be expected to embark on a more radical search to define who
is not part of the natural order: exclusion, deportation, and eventually
extermination, might again become the order of things. Of course, we can
notice obvious differences from the German nationalist tradition: but that
is precisely the task of scholars to delineate, rather than pretend that
fascism occurred only in Italy and Germany and satellite states in the
first half of the century, and occurs today only in Europe in minor
movements that have no chance of gaining political supremacy. 

It is wrong to pretend that fascism takes hold only in the midst of
extreme economic depression or political chaos. (A perception of crisis or
instability is indispensable to realizing fascism, however.) Fascism can
emerge when things are not all that bad economically, politically, and
culturally. The surprise about Weimar Germany is how well the political
system was at times working, with proportional representation (almost an
ideal of strong democracy theorists) providing political expression for a
full range of ideologies. Germany was economically strong, an industrial
powerhouse, despite having had to overcome massive disabilities imposed by
the Versailles Treaty. In the early thirties, Hitler's rise was
facilitated by massive unemployment (perhaps forty percent of Germans were
unemployed), but this was a phenomenon throughout the Western world. 

The key point to note is that at many junctures along the way, it was
possible that Hitler's rise might never have happened. And that the elites
accepted Hitler as the best possible option. All this makes Hitler and
Nazism unexceptional. The basic paradigm remains more or less intact: we
only have to account for variations in the American model. Capitalism
today is different, so are the postmodern means of propaganda, and so are
the technological tools of suppression. Besides, American foundational
myths vary from European ones, and the romanticism propounded by Goethe,
Schelling, Wagner and Nietzsche contrasts with a different kind of
holistic urge in America. But that is only a matter of variation, not
direct opposition. Liberals who say that demographics work against a
Republican majority in the early twenty-first century do have a point; but
fascism can occur precisely at that moment of truth, when the course of
political history can definitely tend to one direction or another. A mere
push can set things on a whole different course, regardless of underlying
cultural or demographic trends. Nazism never had the support of the
majority of Germans; at best about a third fully supported it. About a
third of Americans today are certifiably fascist; another twenty percent
or so can be swayed around with smart propaganda to particular causes. So
the existence of liberal institutions is not necessarily inconsistent with
fascism's political dominance. 

With all of Germany's cultural strength, brutality won out; the same
analysis can apply to America. Hitler never won clear majorities; yet once
he was in power, he crushed all dissent. Consider the parallels to the
fateful election of 2000. Hitler's ascent to power was facilitated by the
political elites; again, note the similarities to the last two years.
Hitler took advantage of the Reichstag fire to totally change the shape of
German institutions and culture; think of 9/11 as a close parallel. Hitler
was careful to give the impression of always operating under legal cover,
even for the most massive offenses against humanity; note again the
similarity of a pseudo-legal shield for the actions of the American
fascists. One can go on and on in this vein. 

If we look at Stanley Payne's classical general theory of fascism, we are
struck by the increasing similarities with the American model: 

A. The Fascist Negations 

*	Anti-liberalism 
*	Anti-communism 
*	Anti-conservatism (though with the understanding that fascist groups . .
.[are] more willing to undertake temporary alliances with groups from any
other sector, most commonly the right).

B. Ideology and Goals 

*	Creation of a new nationalist authoritarian state. 
*	Organization of some new kind of regulated, multi-class, integrated
national economic structure. 
*	The goal of empire. 
*	Specific espousal of an idealist, voluntarist creed. 
*	C. Style and Organization 
*	Emphasis on aesthetic structure . . .stressing romantic and mystical
*	Attempted mass mobilization with militarization of political
relationships and style and the goal of a mass party militia. 
*	Positive evaluation and use of . . .violence. 
*	Extreme stress on the masculine principle. 
*	Exaltation of youth. 
*	Specific tendency toward an authoritarian, charismatic, personal style
of command.

American fascism denies affiliation with liberalism, communism, and
conservatism. The first two denials are obvious; the third requires a
little analysis, but fascism is not conservatism and it takes issue with
conservatism's anti-revolutionary stance. Conservatism's libertarian
strand, an American staple (think of the recent protestations of Dick
Armey, the departing Bob Barr, and the Cato Institute against some of the
grossest violations of civil liberties), would not agree with fascism's
"nationalist authoritarian state." Reaganite anti-government rhetoric
might well have been a precursor to fascism, but Hayekian free market and
deregulationist ideology cannot be labeled fascism. 

Continuing to look at Payne's list, we note that the goal of "empire,"
that much proscribed word in official American vocabulary, has found open
acceptance over the last year among the fascist vanguard. Voluntarism has
been elevated to iconic status in the current American manifestation of
fascism. It takes a bit more effort to notice American fascism's "emphasis
on aesthetic structure. . .stressing romantic and mystical aspects," but
reflection suggests many innovative stylistic emphases. The mass party
militia, especially large bands of organized, militarized youth, seems to
be missing ú for now. Violence is glorified for its own sake. The
masculine principle has been elevated as the basis of policy-making.
Command is authoritarian, charismatic, and personal. It is true that a
charismatic leader like Hitler is missing from the scene; but one would
have to ask if this is not a redundancy in the American historical
context. Perhaps we are a society mobilized by very small degrees of
charisma, unlike more inf
ormed, impassioned, ideologically committed electorates. 

Roger Griffin holds that fascism consists of a series of myths: fascism is
anti-liberal, anti-conservative, anti-rational, charismatic, socialist,
totalitarian, racist and eclectic. If one wishes to argue that American
fascism is by no means socialist, one ought to take a deeper look at
National Socialism's conception of socialism. In a sense, America is a
socialist society, to the extent that the government is the main driving
force behind technology, innovation, and science: the
military-industrial-academic complex. National Socialism was comforting to
the right-wing capitalists because they believed that socialism was a
convenient fiction for the ideology. Nevertheless, fascism's vitalism and
holism militate against any facile interpretations of what socialism
means. Fascism is eclectic and ready to abandon economic principle for
what it perceives as the greater good of the nation. As Sternhell has
described it for Germany, fascism in the American synthesis is a cultural
rebellion, a revolutionary ideology; totalitarianism is of its very
essence. There are more similarities than immediately apparent between
Marxism as it was put into practice by the twentieth century communist
states, and "socialist" ideology put into practice by the various fascist

Ian Kershaw has evaluated the similarities between Italian and German

*	Extreme chauvinistic nationalism with pronounced imperialistic
expansionist tendencies; 
*	an anti-socialist, anti-Marxist thrust aimed at the destruction of
working class organizations and their Marxist political philosophy; 
*	the basis in a mass party drawing from all sectors of society, though
with pronounced support in the middle class and proving attractive to the
peasantry and to various uprooted or highly unstable sectors of the
*	fixation on a charismatic, plebiscitary, legitimized leader; extreme
intolerance towards all oppositional and presumed oppositional groups,
expressed through vicious terror, open violence and ruthless repression;
*	glorification of militarism and war, heightened by the backlash to the
comprehensive socio-political crisis in Europe arising from the First
World War;
*	dependence upon an "alliance" with existing elites, industrial,
agrarian, military and bureaucratic, for their political breakthrough;
*	and, at least an initial function, despite a populist-revolutionary
anti-establishment rhetoric, in the stabilization or restoration of social
order and capitalist structures.

Viewed in this perspective, in only the last few months America has
advanced tremendously from emerging to realized fascism. Its imperialist
and expansionist tendencies need to be couched less and less in Wilsonian
idealist terms for mass acceptance. Unions can still be considered an
oppositional, populist force, but working class cohesion has nearly been
destroyed. Still, it needs to be said that instead of fascism appealing
across class and geographical lines, the country remains divided between
the liberal (urban, coastal) and proto-fascist (rural, Southern) factions.
Also, the plebiscitary leader has not yet fully emerged. Oppositional
groups are often self-silencing, but the most of the ruling establishment
continues to practice a mild form of liberalism, and hopes that if things
get too out of hand it can mobilize public opinion against brutal
suppression. Although not all elites have yet been co-opted, think of
Dershowitz's advocacy of torture and Larry Summers's patriotic swing.
There is general agreement on militaristic aims. The attempted
stabilization of the social order in the form of the culture wars fought
in the previous decade is one of the less appreciated manifestations of
emerging fascism. 

George Mosse describes fascism as viewing itself in a permanent state of
war, to mobilize masculine virile energy, enlisting the masses as "foot
soldiers of a civic religion." As Mosse points out, fascism seeks a higher
form of democracy even as it rejects the customary forms of representative
government. Propaganda is pervasive in America; we only need to delineate
its descent from the Nazi form. Mosse rejects the notion that fascism
ruled through terror; "it was built upon a popular consensus." Fascism is
a higher consensus seeking to bring about the "new man" rooted in
Christian doctrine. Can there be a better description of the nineties
American culture wars instigated by the proto-fascists than the

When fascists spoke of culture, they meant a proper attitude toward life:
encompassing the ability to accept a faith, the work ethic, and
discipline, but also receptivity to art and the appreciation of the native
landscape. The true community was symbolized by factors opposed to
materialism, by art and literature, the symbols of the past and the
stereotypes of the present. The National Socialist emphasis upon myth,
symbol, literature and art is indeed common to all fascism. 

Most of this is obvious, except the reference to literature and art; but
think of the fetishization of the Great Books and the mythical classical
curriculum by Bennett and his like. In thus viewing fascism above all as a
cultural movement, the objection might be raised that American fascism
lacks a distinctive stylistic expression that iconizes youth and war.
Instead, it might be argued that it suffers from callow endorsement by
dour old white males, whose cultural appeal is limited in the discredited
stylistic forms they employ. To some extent this is true, but one must
never underestimate the fertile ground American anti-intellectualism
provides for more banal forms of propaganda and cultural terrorism than
needed to be deployed by Nazism. (Eminem does electrocute Cheney in his
video, but in real life Cheney rules.) American communication technology,
as was true of Nazi Germany, has pioneered whole new methods of
trivialization of "mass death" and elevation of brutality as a "great

War is both necessary and great, and that is America's continuation of the
fascist fascination with revitalization of "basic moral values."
Furthermore, the puritanism of American fascism does not necessarily
conflict with the Nazi emphasis on style and beauty: Nazism annexed "the
pillars of respectability: hard work, self-discipline, and good manners,"
which explains "the puritanism of National Socialism, its emphasis upon
chastity, the family, good manners, and the banishment of women from
public life." The analogs to Karl May's widely circulated novels in Weimar
and Nazi Germany can probably be found here, as can America's answer to
Max Nordau, rebelling against decadence in art and literature, and
maintaining that "lack of clarity, inability to uphold moral standards,
and absence of self-discipline all sprang from the degeneration of their
[artists'] physical organism." Think only of the demonization of
Mapplethorpe and others, the emasculation of the NEA, and the continued
attack on alleged artistic deg
eneracy. We must be willing to consider expanded definitions of how
romanticism has been incorporated by American fascism. 

Liberals might complain that in America there hasn't been a declared
revolution, a transformation that asserts itself as such. But as noted
above fascism simply takes over the liberals' language of "clarity,
decency, and natural laws," as well as its ideals of "tolerance and
freedom." That sounds like the sleight-of-hand performed by the fascists
here. As Mosse says: 

Tolerance. . .was claimed by fascists in antithesis to their supposedly
intolerant enemies, while freedom was placed within the community. To be
tolerant meant not tolerating those who opposed fascism: individual
liberty was possible only within the collectivity. Here once more,
concepts that had become part and parcel of established patterns of
thought were not rejected (as so many historians have claimed) but instead
co-opted - fascism would bring about ideals with which people were
comfortable, but only on its own terms. 

So to be liberal means to be intolerant, out of sync with the American
democratic spirit. That suggestion has taken hold among large numbers of

The current American aesthetic appreciation of technology ("smart" bombs)
is also of a piece with Hitler's passion. Fascism is not a deviance from
popular cultural trends, but only the taming of activism within revived
nationalist myths. Mosse holds that fascism didn't diverge from mainstream
European culture; it absorbed most of what held great mass appeal. It
never decried workers' tastelessness; it accepted these realities. The
same principles apply to American fascism. 

Umberto Eco, in his essay "Ur-Fascism," identifies fourteen
characteristics of "eternal fascism": not all of them have to be present
at the same time for a system to be considered fascist, and some of them
may even be contradictory: "There was only one Nazism, and we cannot
describe the ultra-Catholic Falangism of Franco as Nazism, given that
Nazism is fundamentally pagan, polytheistic, and anti-Christian, otherwise
it is not Nazism." Eco is intelligent enough to suggest a family of
resemblance, overlap, and kinship, and the analyst's task is to note which
particular characteristics apply to a system, and understand the reasons
for the absence of others, rather than dismiss the fascist categorization
if a single feature from a previous fascist variant doesn't apply: "Remove
the imperialist dimension from Fascism, and you get Franco or Salazar;
remove the colonialist dimension, and you get Balkan Fascism. Add to
Italian Fascism a dash of radical anti-Capitalism (which never appealed to
Mussolini), and you get
 Ezra Pound. Add the cult of Celtic mythology and the mysticism of the
Grail (completely extraneous to official Fascism), and you get one of the
most respected gurus of Fascism, Julius Evola."
It is noteworthy about Eco's matrix that all fourteen of his
characteristics of ur-fascism apply to America to some degree: 1. "the
cult of tradition" (which may be "syncretic" and able to "tolerate
contradictions"); 2. "the rejection of modernism" and "irrationalism"; 3.
"the cult of action for action's sake"; 4. "dissent is betrayal"; 5. "fear
of difference," or racism; 6. "the appeal to the frustrated middle
classes" [this seems to cause the most trouble to American liberals; Eco
clarifies, "In our day, in which the old 'proletarians' are becoming
petits bourgeois (and the lumpen proletariat has excluded itself from the
political arena), Fascism will find its audience in this new majority.];
7. "obsession with conspiracies," along with xenophobia and nationalism;
8. "the enemy is at once too strong and too weak" [note the simultaneous
characterization of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and no doubt future
Islamic "terrorists" as capable of irrevocably harming us and being
impotent to really do so]; 9. 'Pa
cifism is. . .collusion with the enemy," "life is a permanent war," and
only a "final solution" can herald an age of peace; 10. "scorn for the
weak" imposed by a mass elite; 11. "the cult of death" [American fascists
ascribe this characteristic to terrorists, when in fact it is one of their
own supreme defining characteristics]; 12. transferring of the "will to
power onto sexual questions," or "machismo"; 13. "individuals have no
rights," and fascism "has to oppose 'rotten' parliamentary governments";
and 14. "Ur-Fascism uses newspeak." 

No doubt, fascism is a descriptor too carelessly thrown around; but Nixon
and Reagan, no matter how reprehensible their politics, were not quite
fascist. Bush is the most dangerous man in contemporary history: Hitler
didn't have access to weapons that could blow up the world, and no
American or other leader since World War II with access to such weapons
has been as out of control. Perhaps a non-controversial statement may be
that the fascist tendency always exists, at the very least latent and
dormant. But when more and more of the latency becomes actualized, there
comes a point when the nature of the problem has to be redefined. We may
already have crossed that point. As Eco notes, "Ur-Fascism can still
return in the most innocent of guises. Our duty is to unmask it and to
point the finger at each of its new forms ú every day, in every part of
the world." And as Eco reminds us, Roosevelt issued a similar warning. 

Since liberals don't understand the magnitude of the crisis global
capitalism faces, they don't understand the extent of the desperate,
last-ditch effort to find an ideological glue ("terror") to hold together
the centrifugal forces in the American population. Part of the confusion
is that this is fascism but not really fascism ú it is only its
simulation, although no less horrifying for that reason ú because all the
twentieth-century ideologies (liberalism, conservatism, and socialism) are
rapidly dissolving. 

Anis Shivani studied economics at Harvard, and is the author of two
novels, The Age of Critics and Memoirs of a Terrorist. He welcomes
comments at:

Anis_Shivani_ab92 post.harvard.edu

    too jan! to die...
[jesus built my hotrod]   


[English translation]
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