Anis Shivani's comparison of today's US fascist movement to Mussolini's Italy gave me insight and chills. Shivani protrays fascism as a reaction to democracy's failure to deliver equality and security. It's a corporatist state which begins with minority support and keeps power by brutal war against internal and external "enemies". Thus racism and war are inevitable. Control of media is essential, to sell the lies upon which it depends.
We ought not to be swayed by the temporary ascendancies of this or that group within the fascist hierarchy, whether it is Steve Bannon or Michael Flynn who rises or falls. Fascism is greater than the individuals who make up its core at any given moment. Fascism requires the strongman at the center to make it move, yet if a given personality fails to do the job, another can be found as replacement.
Fascism is highly adaptable to different needs and conditions, just as its opposite, democracy, is similarly flexible. This also suggests that fascism is a viable ideology just like democracy, because it can appear in different guises at different times, even under the same leadership, without losing credibility. In considering Trump and the movement he has sparked, we would be better off looking at the overall aims of the regime, rather than get carried away by feints in one direction or another. Their aim, it should be clear, is to end democracy, since that is the energy fascism feeds on.
Mussolini, though an inveterate atheist, made peace with the Vatican, in the famous Lateran Accords of 1929, abandoning his most cherished beliefs in order to gain the complicity of the Catholic church. Such mutations are par for the course for fascists, they’re nothing to get excited about.
Fascism will often borrow the symbolism, legal architecture and academic norms of pre-existing society, rather than throw them overboard.
In Italy’s case, … In northern cities like Turin and Milan, fascism flourished side by side with avant-garde political and cultural thinking. [emphasis mine]
Given civilized norms in a democratic society, it is always going to be difficult for fascists to muster an outright numerical majority. The point is their relative strength in terms of raw power. Moreover, in periods of emergencies (such as Bush after 9/11 and in the lead-up to the Iraq war), more than a majority can usually be cobbled together.
Trump too is trying to make predictions of chaos and violence a self-fulfilling prophecy, but this is a staple of all fascist regimes: They bring about and thrive on the disorder that they then claim to be the only ones to be able to suppress.
Only a small minority need give overt consent. The rest can be quiet, or complacent, or complicit, unless they feel their personal security threatened, for example because of war that might spin out of control. That is all that’s needed for fascism to go on its merry way, so it’s quite beside the point to argue its minority status. [emphasis mine]
Liberal scholars … are not likely to credit their mortal opponent with ideological clarity. We too, lazily, ascribe the same lack of ideology to Trumpism, and interpret events in terms of personality and contingency. I would say that fascist ideology has always, since its inception a hundred years ago, been so strong that it takes democracy an extremely favorable environment, and a huge amount of luck, to sustain itself.
Fascist ideology aims for nothing but to weaken and end democracy.
For Italy, all its wars were financially ruinous (and this has been true of our own wars after 9/11 as well), exerting unsustainable pressures. To the extent that the wars undermined democracy, breeding fascism at home, they were certainly successful. In our present and future wars, that is the criterion we must keep in mind. It’s not what a particular policy is doing to the budget or our diplomatic standing or the state of the culture, but how a policy serves to undermine democracy. [emphasis mine]
Our homegrown brew of Fox News, Breitbart, Alex Jones, border militias like the Minutemen, millenarian Christianity, the Tea Party and gun culture, combined with simplistic beliefs in “free market” capitalism and American exceptionalism, … doesn’t have traction with anyone with the least amount of liberal education.
So-called conspiratorial thinking is a unifying strand — I already mentioned Alex Jones — which connects many of the strands of ultra-conservative ideology throughout the past century. The Reds become Jews and then Muslims; the substitutions are not that difficult to make.
Masculinity — or shall we say faux masculinity — is an important part of this cultural style, … Fascism relies on activation of our most atavistic, violent and primitive selves, … [emphasis mine]
Fascism, like all forms of government not based on the consent of the majority, requires more and more energy to keep the population under control as time goes by. Once the façade of virile domesticity starts getting exposed, war becomes the only option to keep the regime going. Fascism always claims that war is not of its choosing, that it is forced into war by others, but it is a voluntary, even eager, action to perpetuate the regime. At some point, the boomeranging negative energy — violence inflicted upon the fascist power in return — is so great that the tide of opinion turns. Even if war might be fought to an end, the internal consensus, including among fascist believers, is gone.
It is absolutely key that Trump began his campaign by proclaiming a genocidal manifesto against Mexicans — and then Muslims and Arabs — and has continued to keep it as his central point of action. Because fascism is not competing on an even ideological terrain — most people in any civilized country are not given to violence — it must imagine enemies powerful enough to sustain a majority reaction.
Just as war is inevitable, so is virulent racism. Both go together in fascism. One provides an external enemy while the other provides an internal enemy. If they can be linked together — the worldwide Jewish banking conspiracy, or the worldwide Islamic terror conspiracy — so much the better. War becomes more comprehensible, for fascist supporters, when the internal enemy is attached to the endless cycle of wars abroad, which is said to stem from the same root threat to virile nationalist probity. [emphasis mine]
The Italian press, when Mussolini took over the country, was extremely vigorous.
Mussolini himself had run socialist newspapers … for the majority of his adult career, and knew that to neutralize the press was his first order of business. He did so in stages, eventually ushering in a regime of complete censorship after 1925, particularly after failed assassination attempts gave him the excuse. He installed fascist stooges at all the newspapers and carefully monitored their every word for the rest of his regime. Loyalty oaths were likewise instituted everywhere, from higher education to civil service.
Italians tried every form of resistance we can imagine, including getting themselves and their families killed or imprisoned, as countless lives were lost in the fascist tyranny. Nothing worked. Nothing ever works until fascism’s logic, the logic of empire, stands discredited to the point where no denial and no media coverup is possible anymore. [emphasis mine]
The thing to notice is that fascism, in all the places it’s been known to arise, converts an admittedly minority point of view into a mass energy that soon overwhelms every civilized instinct.
I'm feeling overwhelmed and scared and angry after reading that!
So even though it’s really easy to feel terrible [...] there is some hope. [...] [the Indivisible Guide is] intended to empower citizens who are fed up with their members of congress doing fuckall to represent and listen to them. It’s based on the phenomenal success the Tea Party had disrupting President Obama’s popular agenda, and everyone who cares about starting a resistance so that we don’t need a rebellion, should read it and pass it around, so we can use it to disrupt and defeat Trump and Paul Ryan’s unpopular agenda.[...] In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. [...] Together, we have the power to resist — and we have the power to win.We know this because we’ve seen it before. The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own members of Congress to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism — and they won.We believe that protecting our values and neighbors will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. [...] If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Barack Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide [...] intended to be equally useful for stiffening Democratic spines and weakening pro-Trump Republican resolve. [...]
The FDR quote is damned near worth the entire post ... and it is positively prescient.
I like how someone pointed out that with tRump's campaign-trail "jokes" about "Second Amendment" solutions, about assassinating a President Hillary Clinton or her judicial nominees (and nobody is ever "just joking"), the party of Lincoln has become the party of John Wilkes Booth.
(And that's still apt, with the Republican president*'s budget blueprint that would likely kill more people every quarter than Al Qaeda or ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks have over the last twenty years!)
Tom, I remember "The Southern Strategy" that was plainly racist. I remember 1968 when riots broke out over the entire country with Blacks demanding civil and equal rights. It was a horrific time to be a U.S. citizen. The billy club was used on non-violent crowds. I received a sharp whack from a mounted policeman using a billy club.
I wonder when U.S. citizens are going to have enough of this lunatic POTUS 45? He is outrageous.
Back to my garden.
Have you ever considered writing a book on your experiences? We need more women writers to share their experiences, their dreams and hopes, for a better world.
The fact that I disagree with the most is the entire von Clownstick regime and that includes President Bannon. Even if I have some of the words wrong here most of you know exactly what I mean.
She hits every nail squarely on its head. The first order of business is to oppose Gorsuch for the supreme court. Gorsuch is a cruel right wing extremist. Read this story:
I have no idea how to block his appt. This man is bad news for freethinkers like us and should be opposed any way we can. Do we want a march, a strike?