pegsioux: (Default)
[personal profile] pegsioux
I just read a fantastic article on the idea that we're literally becoming a fascist state. You can read the whole thing here.

Here's my own recap of the first part of the article, with direct quotes in italics.

There are the five stages of how facsism unfolds in modern society, according to historian Robert Paxton (a big-time authority on fascist movements).

Stage One
A movement emerges based on a nationalist revival.

They come together to restore a broken social order, always drawing on themes of unity, order, and purity. Reason is rejected in favor of passionate emotion. The way the organizing story is told varies from country to country; but it's always rooted in the promise of restoring lost national pride by resurrecting the culture's traditional myths and values, and purging society of the toxic influence of the outsiders and intellectuals who are blamed for their current misery.

Stage Two
The fascist movement establishes itself as a valid political force, acquires real power and seizes a seat at the table.

Paxton wrote that succeeding at the second stage "depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner."

..And more ominously: "The most important variables...are the conservative elites' willingness to work with the fascists (along with a reciprocal flexibility on the part of the fascist leaders) and the depth of the crisis that induces them to cooperate."

That description sounds eerily like the dire straits our Congressional Republicans find themselves in right now. Though the GOP has been humiliated, rejected, and reduced to rump status by a series of epic national catastrophes mostly of its own making, its leadership can't even imagine governing cooperatively with the newly mobilized and ascendant Democrats. Lacking legitimate routes back to power, their last hope is to invest the hardcore remainder of their base with an undeserved legitimacy, recruit them as shock troops, and overthrow American democracy by force. If they can't win elections or policy fights, they're more than willing to take it to the streets, and seize power by bullying Americans into silence and complicity.

When that unholy alliance is made, the third stage -- the transition to full-fledged government fascism -- begins.

Stage Three
The third stage is what Paxton simply calls the arrival to power. Full power, at least that's what I think he means.

What terrifies me is that the article says hey, that's what we as a nation are on the brink of RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas -- the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer -- being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We've seen Armey's own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process -- and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We've seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

This is the sign we were waiting for -- the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America's conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their political or economic bidding.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It's also our very last chance to stop it.

Do we even need to get to Stages Four and Five?

Jesus fucking CHRIST this stuff scares the piss outta me.

Date: 2009-08-07 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Actually, I was deathly afraid of something like this prior to Obama's having succeeded so handily in the last election. I'm not saying the crisis has passed, but I'm not whiteknuckling now like I was last summer, when it truly looked as though the wingnuts were gaining legitimacy and power through really awful tactics.

It's too early for complacency, but the fact that Sotomayor was confirmed by such a nice, healthy margin, and the likelihood that Obama will have more opportunities to replace SP justices gives me hope that the crisis has been (narrowly) averted.

Date: 2009-08-10 06:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Frankly, being raised by paranoid hippies, I tend to think this kind of stuff is going on all the time. I'm totally a left-wing government conspiracy theorist.

Date: 2009-08-11 03:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Old American Century, if you do not know about it, has an article by Laurence Britt 14 Points of Facism ( the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and Pinoche.

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