What is fascism?
Basically it is the government working in partnership with the corporate establishment to secure political power (for government) and profits and power (for businesses).
What we have now is a soft fascist system, crony capitalism. It’s only soft in the sense that the Gestapo for the most part is not breaking down doors willy nilly (though there are exceptions to this, and more and more). Soft fascism becomes very hard when it comes down on you or your business, but it is not Hitler’s fascism, yet.
Interestingly our special brand of fascism is being driven in large part (but by no means solely) by people who would reject the “fascist” term out of hand. Not just because it is a pejorative in modern America, but because they honestly believe that their political ideology has nothing to do with fascism and is in fact counter to it.
There is a whole group of people in this country who associate themselves with what has been called the American “Left” who exhibit all the tendencies of fascism but honestly believe they can’t be fascists because “fascism” is an ideology of the “Right.”
The overarching problem here is the dated definition of what is “Right” and what is “Left.” There used to be some sense to the shorthand, but now it makes little sense at all. In this old way of looking at the world the battle is between 2 clubs seeking the power of the state defined by their own style. The Dems want to expand social programs, the Republicans want to expand the Military Industrial Complex and farm subsidies.
Though the Republicans have appropriated “small government” language for decades, the debate during the modern political era has never really been about more government versus less government. Despite what we have been told our entire lives, the real debate instead has always been about the style of government. Fundamentally modern American politics has been about which constituencies get to leverage the state apparatus for their benefit. So it’s understandable that the neo-fascists, the soft fascists, are confused about their own ideology. They are still thinking in 20th Century terms.
Times, as they always do, have changed and the Internet has driven much of this change.
A sizable part of the American people, largely empowered by the Net, people who long thought that the Republican Party honest to God wanted smaller government, have finally come to see that smaller government is not the goal. Millions and millions of citizens have come to see that the trajectory of Leviathan is always toward growth, no matter who is in power. They are not happy about it. They recognize that as the government expands, their lives are less their own.
Yet people live in a world which empowers them with information more and more. As the government seizes ever greater bits of the economy and life in general, the tools by which everyday people can run their own lives are becoming ubiquitous. An open source society is emerging just as the state seeks to take everything over.
And it’s not just Republicans. People of many political dispositions are starting to understand that the intellectual drive has shifted from those who favor central planning to those who favor an open source, transparent, free society. To a society which encourages innovation and real change, not central planning and Obama-style “change.”
Matt Drudge recently posted a tweet that speaks to the shift. He said recently that it’s not about “Right” and “Left” anymore. It’s authoritarian versus libertarian.
The term “libertarian” has different meanings for different people and I won’t go into an examination of the term right now, but in Drudge’s case I think he is talking about those who advocate for an open source society. The “libertarians” in his eyes are those fighting to keep things open, be they markets, the political process, whatever. The people who resent and are resisting the central planners and the socialist reactionaries, the soft (for now) fascists.
Many of the reactionary forces in today’s political world call themselves “Progressives.” The enemies of a free society (what true “liberals” advocate for) honestly think that are forward looking. They believe that they are bushwhacking a bright new future. Sadly they are just advocating tired old collectivism.
Many of these folks draw their inspiration from the Marxist critique, haves versus have-nots, or in this country historical “oppressors” versus “the oppressed.” (The class thing never worked well for the collectivists in this country so they embraced the latter nuanced critique in the US.)
The state is to be the great liberator of the proletariat, or “the oppressed.” The state is to be the great arbiter and benevolent disseminator of wealth, power, and privilege.
What many of my progressive friends (and I am thankful to have a number of real progressive friends whom I respect) fail to understand, and Marx didn’t understand this either, is that state collectivism is just another recipe for feudalism. It has a different flavor. The state and the bureaucracy become the lords, but the people end up in the same place. Actually they often end up in an even worse place because prices are obfuscated in an effort to keep bread flowing to the serfs and to keep them quiet. Soon the shortages begin, the bread tends to disappear, and draconian efforts are introduced to keep order. Think Stalin’s USSR.
Regardless a dictatorship of the proletariat is still a dictatorship. It is just another form of the ugliness which has defined much of humanity’s political and economic history. A strong state brings misery to most sooner or later. It is life under a king of another name. It is more of the same.
But see Nick, we can’t be fascists. As you say we are commies (I mean this in the best possible term) fundamentally. Commies and Nazis hate and hated each other.
Yes this is true. The Bloods and the Cryps (the 2 largest Southern California street gangs) hate each other too. They often fight each other to the death. But it’s not because their “ideologies” are different. Both groups want to sell crack and make as much money as possible. They fight over territory. Likewise the Fascists and the Communists (or socialists to use the polite term) hated each other because they were fighting over territory, specifically the European working class which intellectuals in both the fascist and commie camps knew was the key to power in the 20th Century.
To be sure there are important differences. The socialists wanted the state to control all the means of production explicitly. The National Socialists, the fascists, wanted to partner with big firms mostly for expediency sake. But make no mistake. Both groups had and have collectivist dispositions. Both groups are advocates of the “it takes a village” mentality. Both are enemies of an open source society. Of a classically liberal society. Of a crowd sourced society. Of a “libertarian” society. Of a society which actually is free, with free prices, and opportunity, and dynamic markets, and free speech.
Frankly, American “progressives” though they like to tie themselves to the Marxist critique appear to have much more in common with the fascists than the 20th and 19th century socialists. Today’s “progressives” now openly partner with large, nominally private enterprises.
The folks at MSNBC and many other “progressive” news outlets are a classic examples of this. In the specific case of MSNBC while they rail against their chief rivals at Fox News for its pro-corporate disposition (which is absolutely true) they openly advocate for a White House which has done everything it can to ingratiate itself with corporate America. GE, GM, Chrysler, Goldman Sachs, Honeywell, UBS, Citibank, Bank of America, Bain Capital, AIG, a myriad of “green companies” many which have failed or are failing, Berkshire Hathaway, Walmart, the big pharmaceutical companies (via Obamacare,) Big Ag, Monsanto, George Soros, Carlos Slim, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, all have partnered with this administration to some degree and there are many other companies and wealthy individuals which have also.
Yet Rachael Maddow goes on about how progressives are on the side of the just, how big government helps the “little guy,” how this president is working in the interests of the American citizenry.
Maddow is not stupid. But she knows where her bread is buttered. She likes being rich. (Nothing wrong with that, just to be clear.) She likes her position of privilege and she has made her deal. Indeed had she not come to terms (and my bet is that at some point she did have to come to terms – probably right after she got her first large paycheck) with being an outward advocate for “progressive values” while carrying the water for corporate America seeking to rig the game in its favor, we would have never heard of her.
Some “progressives” just come out and say they advocate crony capitalism, or soft fascism. In an article from earlier this year in The New Republic Bill Sher advocates partnering with Walmart to further the gun control agenda. He argues that when “liberals” (this term has been so corrupted in this country) partner with corporations things “liberals” like get done.
Indeed this is true. When corporations can use the cover of “the public interest” to further their agenda through government they will do so. If the government bureaucracy can use “private” businesses to further its goals it will do so. This is crony capitalism, and this is what many progressives advocate, though they will swear that they don’t. (Except perhaps for Mr. Sher. We salute your honesty and your open advocacy of crony capitalism. Way to go.)
One can dress up crony capitalism in army issue glasses made by Ralph Lauren, and drive it around in a Chevy Volt, but it’s still ugly, it’s still fascism. “Progressives,” your interests may be furthered in the short run by partnering with corporate America. You might indeed get more financing for windmills (made by GE of course), you might get Obamacare (which benefits big pharma to the tune of billions of course), you might get electric cars (made by GM at a cost of $250,000 tax dollars per copy of course). But make no mistake, you have turned your back on real human progress.
Human progress is (measured by me anyway) is the degree to which the average person can live free of coercion, to the degree he or she can realize their specific potential, the degree to which those who would steal in the name of the king, the lord, or the state are minimized in everyday life. People should be free. This is the great hope for humanity. Free minds. Free prices. Human dignity. Free markets. Freedom, true freedom, to do as one wishes so long as one does not harm others. The opportunity to actualize one’s potential (and not to do it at the detriment of someone else.) Truly to lift the collective level of human consciousness.
Those who would stifle the movement toward freedom, those who would stifle an open source society, those who fight the decentralization of systems and the empowerment of individuals are the reactionaries, not the advocates of small government.
Call them the hipster fascists. We all knew them in college. They were the ones enforcing the speech codes, and complaining about oppression when they themselves came from privilege. The kids who wore the Che Guevara shirts without irony. The kids who invariably ended up on the student council.
I don’t know about you but I had enough of these people in college. I am not keen on letting them run our society any further into the statist ground.