October 18, 2004


The appeal of fascism: Fascism is a disease endemic in the human species, a periodic fever whose tremors induce a psychosocial orgasm in its sufferers. Richard Risemberg believes that fever has infected the US. (Richard Risemberg, Asia Times)

What afflicts the people of the United States in these days, that they have developed the capacity not only to tolerate, but even to cherish, the blatant lies and hypocrisies, the injustices, the evasions, and of course the invasions perpetrated by George W Bush and his neo-conservative cabal? How can even conservatives themselves stomach this internationalist, interventionist, activist-court-packing, states'-rights-suppressing cat's-paw of the transnational culture of control that is the only heartfelt homeland of the corporate elite?

Yes, there is opposition, an opposition that comprises most likely a small majority of the country's people - but the supposedly "liberal" media do their best to ignore and even marginalize it, and besides, that yet leaves hundreds of millions here who work themselves into ecstasies of adulation at the words, however fumbling, of this jug-eared cipher, and into equal ecstasies of joyous indignation at the sound of any word that controverts the image his handlers project to the loving masses huddled underneath the balcony ...

Let us not put too fine a point upon it: we are in danger of reverting to fascism.

Fascism is a disease endemic in our species, a periodic fever whose tremors induce a psychosocial orgasm in its sufferers, tantalizing them with physical delusions of both security and power. Far more than its structural and functional ramifications - well illustrated by Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism as "the melding of state and corporate power" and George Orwell's fictional synopsis of a tech-enabled fascist state in Nineteen Eighty-Four - it is fascism's capacity to make a nuanced oppression seem both nurturing and empowering that makes it so dangerous. It is this nuance of fascism - more than the Big Lie techniques and the brute force fascists also employ - that makes the Bush/Cheney administration and its police and propaganda mechanisms a true threat to humanity in general and to the United States - formerly respected as an icon of liberty - specifically.

The signal feature required for the rise of fascism is an internal threat from the far Left such that a violent response is required just to maintain the society, something completely lacking in the United States since the late 1960s-early 1970s. When conservatives dominate every facet of power there's no need for counter-revolution.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2004 9:32 AM

Extraordinarily sophisticated (and nuanced) analysis.

Seems like the same fever infected the US during the Civil War, both World Wars and the Cold War.

Man, are we in trouble....

(And yes, we are at war, Mr. R.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 18, 2004 10:14 AM

A 'psycho-social orgasm', eh? Why is it that sex dominates the left?

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at October 18, 2004 11:13 AM

Fundemental misunderstanding of facism...

Facism is another creature of the Left. MSM always forgets about the socialism part of national socialism.

Facists and communists hate each other as heretics.

Posted by: AML at October 18, 2004 11:20 AM

Fascism is part of the Far Left and Far Right. The political spectrum is not a line, but a circle.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 18, 2004 11:29 AM

Here's a fascinating passage.

"One always feels the need to wash one's hands after being forced to deal with the methods of U.S. interventionism. It is so unpleasant and filthy that one shudders. One hears the pious nonsense of the Jewish-led world plutocracy over the radio or reads them in the press, one need only to look behind the scenes to feel pity for the miseries of mankind. That such a man has the impudence to judge us, to call on God and the world as witnesses of the purity of his deeds, to incite war and send innocent people singing 'Onward Christian Soldiers' to battle for his filthy financial interests can only fill anyone with even the most primitive sense of decency with the deepest horror. Were there only such people in the world, one would have to despise humanity."

Substitute "neo-conservative cabal" for "the Jewish-led world plutocracy" and "corporate elite" for "filthy financial interests," and the sentiments are exactly the same as Risemberg's.

From where did the above passage come? From Joseph Goebbels in a November 30, 1941 article entitled "Mr. Roosevelt - Cross-Examined" in Das Reich, a Nazi propaganda weekly.

Goebbels was attacking Roosevelt with the same fascistic language and imagery that Risemberg is using to condemn Bush. Who is the real fascist here, Bush or Risemberg?

Posted by: at October 18, 2004 11:56 AM

>...the blatant lies and hypocrisies, the
>injustices, the evasions, and of course the
>invasions perpetrated by George W Bush and his
>neo-conservative cabal? How can even
>conservatives themselves stomach this
>internationalist, interventionist, activist-
>court-packing, states'-rights-suppressing ...


doubleplusgood duckspeak, comrade.

Posted by: Ken at October 18, 2004 12:32 PM

(Yawn) Wake me when the education camps open.

Posted by: Rick T. at October 18, 2004 1:07 PM

Mr. Risemberg needs to get a grip. I think he's in love with his own words. Perhaps a valium...

Posted by: DL Meadows at October 18, 2004 2:32 PM

Fascism is not for America and America is not for Fascism. We have the wrong Geist--individualistic, independent, also way too religious. Goebbels whote something about this. National Socialism is really just for Germany. Nazis were flattered by imitations, Goebbels wrote, but different Volker have different ways of thinking and being.

Americans can be pretty tough, as the real Fascists found out in WWII, and have an appreciation of necessity and force, as the Mexicans and all the good Indians learned, but we don't cotton to being told what to do by some Fuhrer or Duce or the like.

The reason creeps such as the writer of the link call us Fascists is that they just don't understand the American Folk. It's part Marine Corps and part National Rifle Association and part religous conservative. We have folk-enemies, but that's mostly their idea, not ours.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 18, 2004 4:23 PM

We couldn't even agree around here last month what fascism was.

It would be modest not to make grand statements about what we cannot even define.

(I think I have a definition, but I doubt everybody would accept it, so that's not much help.)

But IF fascism needs a left movement to react against, that does not mean there is not right despotism in the absence of left movements.

The history of mankind is pretty much all right despotisms.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 18, 2004 5:58 PM

Yes, Right despotism is good. In the democratic era though fascism only arises where there's a stong communist threat. There's a definition in the link.

Posted by: oj at October 18, 2004 6:09 PM

I cannot concur that Fascism is Right-despotism. The confusion here may be a outgrowth of the Communist habit of calling every anti-Communist a Fascist. There are plenty of Right-despotisms that have nothing to do with Fascism. There are Royalists, pluto-kleptocrats, Theocrats. Ancient Egypt was a "Right-despotism," as was Marcos' Phillipines and Palavi's Iran, or for that matter George III's England, but they were not Fascist.

America is not and could not be Fascist, as I said earlier, this is not our folk-way. We are capable of being S.O.B's when necessary, but not Fascist S.O.B.'s. What's the difference? We fight to win, kill as much as we need to win, and when we have won, kill no more. The Fascist kills for the killing.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 18, 2004 8:00 PM

All fascist regimes that I know about were rightist, to the extent that they had any coherent political position at all.

All were supported by the pre-existing rightists in their area.

Orrin is more honest than most in defended despotism

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 19, 2004 11:37 PM

Indeed, fascism is almost always the best alternative where it is adopted. The pecularieties of Nazism make it such an exception that folks like Mr. Paxton end up re-defining fascism to make it fit and in the process define the other fascist regimes right out of fascism.

Posted by: oj at October 19, 2004 11:49 PM

Hoo boy, the stench of denial is thick in the air around here. But there's no avoiding the harsh toke of reality: your darling Bush and his band of merry sociopaths fit the definition of "fascist" to a T.

In fact, now that we've seen just what the neocons do when given the reins of power, there is no longer any question -- they are fascists par excellence.

Not that they necessarily accept that label or think of themselves as fascists. Who would in the post-WW II era? But as the old saying go, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck....

Whatever they may call themselves, the neocons are the new home-grown all-American manifestation of modern capitalism's dark alter ego, lurking in the shadows never far away and always ready to step to the fore when circumstances are right: fascism.

Here's a quick list of some of the chief symptoms of the disease, each of which accurately describes the Bush neocon hitmen who have hijacked the Republican party and the Whitehouse.

Naturally your first reaction will be loud denial, but please, for a moment relax your instinctive combative defensiveness (which I totally understand) and think about the evidence and what Bush and his neocons (who henceforth I will refer to with a more accurate name: "neofascists") have done in Iraq and elsewhere. Consider how radical their techniques and politics really are, how they have utterly rejected and destroyed the traditions and institutions of bipartisan governance, exploited key American groups and beliefs for their own ends, cultivated fear and hatred inside and outside the US, etc. If you can step back and see what they are really doing, you'll see that they are no more Christian conservatives or loyal Republicans than they are communist or Democrat -- they use the right to obtain their goals of power and domination, but they'd shit on Ronnie Reagan and throw the whole Republican congress in jail without a second thought if it furthered their goals.

Here's that list of fascist symptoms, off the top of my head and not meant to be authoritative or the last word, but basically accurate I think:

- the union of corporate and state interests

- exploitation of divisions in the population to gain and maintain power

- demonization of a totally evil "other" to paralyze and control the nation with fear and hatred

- intolerance of dissent or other forms of democratic activity

- the use of violence at home and abroad as a preferred and primary tool rather than the option of last resort

- reliance on propaganda, secrecy, and stealth to manipulate and deceive while implementing an odious hidden agenda

- an obsessive lust for pure power at any cost

- a profound rejection of the humanist Enlightenment values underlying Western democracy and the US Constitution

- deification of an infallible leader who operates by mystical instinct

- fervid anti-intellectualism rejecting reason in favour of mysticism and "faith"

- rigid intolerance of social, cultural, or political difference

- aggressively puritanical moralism imposed on others along with violently attacks on any alternative way of living as "deviant"

- fetishization of military hardware and war

- dehumanization of the demonized "other" including mass murder of "enemy" civilians (sometimes but not necessarily in the form of full-blown genocide)

On the last point, the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet just published a peer-reviewed report on a study undertaken in Iraq using the most up-to-date methods to obtain a best estimate of the number of civilians killed in the war so far -- the conservative number is around 100,000, about half of which were women and children.

The vast majority died as the result of American air raids bombing city areas in attempts to hit specific insurgency targets, conducted with deliberate disregard for the obvious collateral damage and high casualty rate such a mode of attack necessarily includes. Targetted attacks by ground troops would create far fewer civilian deaths, but would also mean higher US troop casualties with the attendant political costs back home.

For Bush's neofascists, the political calculus in this situation is a no-brainer: better to kill a thousand innocent Iraqi civilians in air raids than face the domestic US political costs of losing a fraction of that number of American troops in ground attacks. That this strategy of minimizing one's own troop losses at the expense of local civilian populations is specifically forbidden by international law and the Geneva conventions as a war crime, of course, means nothing to the neofascists. Such constraints are for the weak, not for the ubermensch of Amerika.

So why do the "terrorists" hate America again? Oh yeah, the freedoms. Well, I gotta say that declaring yourself free of the Geneva conventions and of common human decency actually merits some hatred. But if you do have a heart and soul, and still believe in old-fashioned notions like the declaration of human rights, peace, love, understanding, and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, jump off Bush's midnight special express train to fascism now and start the work of repairing the damage he's done to your country and, if you're a Republican, your party.

Posted by: Delysid at November 3, 2004 1:55 AM

Nothing wrong with fascism if your party is running it.

Posted by: oj at November 3, 2004 2:05 AM