It probably isn’t possible to have rational discussion about the F word. It has been trivialised by overuse as a meaningless term of abuse. But in its real meaning it is an important word, and some people are taking it very seriously just now. So let’s at least try and confront the big F.
Fascism. Some Americans are seriously discussing the issue of fascism in America. This is an excellent piece. It summarises a prominent historian’s definition of fascism, and the five stages of the development of fascism in a country. It concludes that America is now well in to the third stage, the transition stage or “tipping point” beyond which there is no turning back:
Now, the guessing game is over. 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.
We’ve arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we’re slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return.
Much of the behaviour that has driven this issue to the fore is related to the conservative movement’s apparently insane opposition to Obama’s health reform. “Obama is Hitler”, “death panels” and so on — The Standard has covered it here and also in a recent clip. It’s getting crazy in America, e.g. here, here, here. This is a fascinating “confession” from one of the architects of the madness. This piece, “My 1933 Nightmare…” makes a case similar to the first one (quoted above).
It’s not my place to say that America is on the road to fascism, but I do think that it’s worth pointing out that Americans are seriously discussing it. Thank goodness it could never happen here. If you like to believe in happy endings then the author of the first piece has a second on how to turn back from the brink. We live in interesting times.