Omigod fascism everywhere!

Perhaps this diary should be a play:

The "Right": Omigod Ministry of Truth! Stop the steal! Biden's a FASCIST!

The "Left: Omigod cult of personality! Racism! Steve Bannon! Trump's a FASCIST!

Zelenskyy supporters: "Putin's a FASCIST!"

Putin supporters: "Zelenskyy's a FASCIST!"

Four-part harmony, key of C7th: fascist -- fascist -- fascist -- fascist --

Now, sure, there may be some actual Fascism floating about. But the word "FASCIST" is experiencing an overuse in the territory of meaninglessness, toward its ultimate end: FASCIST = "I don't like it." It's so ironic that an epithet seeking power over the enemies of those who use it will end up being powerless.

*****

In 1884 and 1885 there was a conference in Berlin at which the European "Great Powers" agreed to divide Africa into various colonial territories. At the time, the capitalists of these Great Powers (and elsewhere) were making big money on the boom-bust cycles of the times. These cycles also occurred in the United States, which experienced a vast economic growth punctuated by various panics, from the Panic of 1873 to the Panic of 1893 to the Panic of 1896 to the Panic of 1901 to the Panic of 1907 and so on. Periodic spurts of activity were accompanied by busts which disciplined the working class. None of this activity in the least dampened the hunger for profit of the capitalists, who sought military profits which ultimately culminated in World War I.

Needless to say, World War I was a disastrous strategy from the capitalist perspective, bringing the armies of various countries to ruin. It was exacerbated by the various attitudes of denial issuing from both sides in the war, especially from the French and from the Germans, and it was accompanied by one of the worst pandemics in history. After the war, some of the afflicted countries turned to authoritarianism, and some of this authoritarianism was called "Fascism." Fascism was a between-the-wars form of governance which sought to cement the profit rate into place through dictatorial fiat. Today the same goal is achieved by Congress printing money and handing it to rich people. Pretty soon, now, it will also be accomplished by the Federal Reserve's war or the working class.

*****

Once upon a time, actually in the Thirties and early Forties, there was a tendency called the "Popular Front," that sought to unite all forces against Fascism. Michael Denning did a beautiful book about the cultural end of it. Today, the "Popular Front" has become a Biden for President Front, so that when Joe tells us the economy's never been so good, we nod and say "yes sir!"

*****

The apex of fascism was Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Hitler had plans of global conquest. Part of Hitler's motivation in starting the European phase of the war (Asia having already begun) by attacking Poland in 1939 was that he could satisfy his creditors' demands by stealing countries and sucking them dry of wealth. When compared to what Hitler did, no present-day claim of FASCISM is impressive, though this could change. Today, capitalism is the problem. Its endgame is government, both national and global, so completely owned by the super-rich that no reformist alternative has become thinkable. "Fascism" is the domain of lazy slobs like Trump and Biden, and thieves like Zelenskyy and Putin. All these people will do is continue with capitalism, which is bad enough at this point.

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it isn't? Seems to me to be the economic system, with government support, everywhere you look.
They all find scapegoats according to location, or other factors.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@on the cusp

Now, sure, there may be some actual Fascism floating about.

But we'll never know if we call every political phenomenon we don't like "Fascism." As for the rest of your comment:

Seems to me to be the economic system, with government support, everywhere you look.

Of course the government props up the economic system. That's what capitalism is about. Mercantilism is not fascism. The East India Company was not fascism. Utilities are not fascist entities. Government regulation is not fascist. Property and business laws are not fascist. Subsidies are not fascist.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus have a very different definition, or mind set about fascism.
I will agree that the word is tossed all the time. As is communism.
I say the way I define it is an economic system blended with government to the point it is indistinguishable. I have never used it in hate terms. Hitler did, with great effect.
Anyway, the word, a pejorative, is too prevalent.
Tankie is as well.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@on the cusp -- were the people who called Donald Trump a "fascist" and then cozied up to George W. Bush, who was demonstrably an inferior President.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

snoopydawg's picture

Either word works for me because that’s what we got right now. We haven’t had a true democracy or republic in decades if ever. Watch the video ggersh posted in my essay. It’s a must watch.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Cassiodorus's picture

@snoopydawg is a perfectly respectable term, and Sheldon Wolin a perfectly respectable, though passed away at this point, political analyst. Wolin, however, wrote about mechanisms for holding onto power which actually existed. There is, moreover, a reason Wolin called the existing system "inverted totalitarianism," which was to distinguish it from totalitarianism of the sort that existed in the 20th century. The Wikipedia page provides a good summary of the distinctions.

Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno anticipated Wolin's type of analysis in their article "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception," originally written in Santa Monica in 1944. Here's what they said:

The analysis Tocqueville offered a century ago has in the meantime proved wholly accurate. Under the private culture monopoly it is a fact that “tyranny leaves the body free and directs its attack at the soul. The ruler no longer says: You must think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do; your life, your property, everything shall remain yours, but from this day on you are a stranger among us.” Not to conform means to be rendered powerless, economically and therefore spiritually – to be “self-employed.”

Horkheimer and Adorno, arguably, knew what regular Fascism was -- they had been exiled by it. Adorno had waited until 1934 to get out of Germany.

As for ggersh's video, I see no purpose achieved in spreading paranoia about putting microchips in people's heads. The elites are doing just fine without them.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

not to derail the discussion, but has there been a time other than the Great Depression/WW2 when the wealthy and political class didn't essentially rule without consequence? The degree of surveillance and control the government, along with the wealthy and powerful corporations seems unprecedented. Does it matter what the system is called when they all look like a boot smashing a face for all time.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Snode

Does it matter what the system is called when they all look like a boot smashing a face for all time.

If we call it "capitalism" then we can, y'know, maybe figure out how it works rather than engaging in pointless paranoia about it?

ps I missed the boot in the face at the first Woodstock concert in 1969. Maybe the movie didn't cover it?

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

I think whatever the wealthy and powerful say capitalism is....that's what it is. Everything else, health care, education, farming, entertainment, politics..everything is just a subsystem of capitalism governed by those made up and flexible rules.

I'd like to hear about Woodstock. I'm glad the boot missed you.

I just fractured a quote from "1984". ‘If You Want a Picture of the Future, Imagine a Boot Stamping on a Human Face – for Ever’. "1984" was always held up as warning about communism, and maybe it is of the Soviet style Stalin era communism. I think he'd say the same of American totalitarianism. Orwell also said ‘Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.’

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