[ExI] What is meant here by "fascism"?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Oct 9 03:39:48 UTC 2007

Keith writes

> At 09:29 PM 10/7/2007, Lee wrote:
> > James writes
> > > If you're trying to infer from my post that I only consider America or
> > > Americans to be fascist, that would be totally incorrect.
> > 
> > Glad to hear it. Then you'll join me, I imagine, in noting how
> > strange it is that the word is never used except as a pejorative
> > against certain patriotic (or hyper-patriotic) Americans and
> > their allies. How strange.  Especially since the people in question
> > *never* use the term to describe themselves.
> Of course not.  But by the above definition it applies to groups that
> are facing war or something similar.  About 20 years ago I noted:
>      "Some memes (for example Nazism) are observed to thrive
>      during periods of economic chaos just as diseases flourish in
>      an undernourished population.  Thus it is not much of a surprise
>      that Nazi-related beliefs emerged in the Western farm states 
>      during the recent hard times."

If we do use a "base line" of democracy and democratic
institutions in the West---which is not unreasonable---
then the Weimar Republic and potentially today the U.S.
and other Western nations are logically potentially subject
to the same mechanism.  In other words, yes, it could
happen here too.

But I'm a little perplexed about the part of "western farm
states". Clearly a reference to the United States, it was
apparent that Neo-Nazi activity was stronger in those
states than in, say, New York?  I don't have any memory
of such geographical relatedness.  Can you elaborate?
(Perhaps I've misunderstood you.)

> snip (Fascist as epithet)
> > Let's face it.  It's a code word spoken by liberals/leftists/progressives/
> > collectivists/... (those labels keep evolving at a high rate, but I do
> > think it appropriate to call people by the descriptions they themselves
> > provide).  The code word is used as a signal of solidarity among
> > them to each other---and, equally, as a signal to their adversaries.
> > It's really worse than the <n-word> , because at least the <n-word>
> > is often used among the very targeted people themselves!
> Solidarity is the correct way to put it.

Ha!  That's ironic!  We might then slightly more abstractly consider
all those people who are very prone to use coded political-speak
(i.e. all those people whose political allegiance you can tell from
their vocabulary) as displaying fascist tendencies!

Logically, I suppose, it fits. Signs of such group solidarity would
go hand in hand with elevating the goals of the group, and so would
clear the way towards making sacrifices for the group, up to and
including some people in a democracy persecuting others and
depriving them of their ostensible rights.  I am reminded of those
who on the one hand defend the first amendment and on the other
are eager to shout down all opposing voices, drive them off of
radio stations, and even shut down newpapers (as FDR did). 

> The "bundle" of wood bound up made the point that you could
> break the individual stick but it was much harder to break a
> number of bound up stick or a group of aligned people than
> single sticks or people one at a time.
> http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=fascist
> 1921, from It. partito nazionale fascista, the anti-communist political
> movement organized 1919 under Benito Mussolini...

The following quote is extremely important, I think, in trying
to delineate what "Fascism" means to many people on this

>   "A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation
>    with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by
>    compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a
>    mass-based party of committed....

So far, this would apply to the left as well as the right, but now it
gets interesting:

> nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration
> with traditional elites,

A key factor I'm beginning to think!  Castro can do any number of
things to any number of people, but he's not a fascist simply because
he was never aligned with the traditional elites!

> abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence
> and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and
> external expansion." [Robert O. Paxton, "The Anatomy of Fascism," 2004]

Thanks for the quote.

> Which is just what you would expect from a stone age tribe about to
> go to war because times are looking bleak.

Well, yes, but I would say not *exclusively* because times are looking
bleak. An attitude marked by "obsessive preoccupation with 
community decline, humiliation or victimhood"  would apply to 
black militants and reactionary conservatives. 

But notice!  My conjecture is strengthened.  The black militants would
never be called fascists---and it seems to me that the main reason is
that they are not in collusion with traditional elites!

So the epithet "fascism" really revolves around an ancient left/right
split ever since the French Revolution.  Any lamentable activity
(again from the standard of Western democracy and Western
principles) that is allied with older elites can be called "fascist".
The name-calling (again, no current group embraces the label)
has the practical effect of making lamentable activies by leftists
less visible.


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