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August 29, 2006

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Those lazy neocons have to use someone else's language and White(wash) House plagiarists know what emotional stimulus is created when anything "Hitler" is used.

How about Islamo-Nazis? Rove would simply proffer the Mohammad Amin al-Husayni and Third Reich relationship.

But it's not "lazy" (not to mention inaccurate) to talk of "Fascism, American Style"! Talk about "emotional stimulus." Good grief!

Doctor, heal thyself.

Terry, this is an excellent follow-up to your August 27 post. Once again, when the occasion arises to consider a ruthless, violent, tyrannical enemy, your habitual perversity leads you to plant the greater criticism at the door of your own country (though levied squarely against your political opponents, of course).

You preach that a term such as fascism shouldn’t be bandied about carelessly. However, you’re not troubled by using the term to characterize the policies of the current American government. Given what fascism is famous for, one should indeed take care in applying the term. You don’t.

I could agree with you if your post was merely a quibble about the strict meaning of the term fascism. However, given that the worst that can be said about “Islamo-fascism” is that it uses “fascism” as carelessly as the left has traditionally bandied around the term, the quibble falls a little flat.

In any case, fascism has commonly been used to mean something along the lines of “brutal, totalitarian tyranny,” which is adequate shorthand for Islamic extremism. To apply the term to the Bush Administration is simply vile, and one's appealing to a more pedantic definition of the word is no defense. It’s not unlike the discreditable way you insinuated that the American government provided Saddam Hussein with poison gas (and then appealed to weasel words to back out of the insinuation, once challenged).

What you’ve attempted to do here leverage a superficial resemblance someone bears to something in order to apply a disgusting label to them. It’s a little like noticing someone loves children and slandering them as a “pedophile.”

But even the supposed superficial resemblance is erroneous. Consider the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on corporatism:

Historically, corporatism or corporativism (Italian corporativismo) is a political system in which legislative power is given to civic assemblies that represent economic, industrial, agrarian, and professional groups. Unlike pluralism, in which many groups must compete for control of the state, in corporatism, certain unelected bodies take a critical role in the decision-making process. These corporatist assemblies are not the same as contemporary business corporations or incorporated groups.

The point of the last sentence is reinforced later in the article. Consider also this well-expressed gloss by Steve Maurer, commenting recently over at Blue Oregon (Aug. 13, 5:14:33 p.m.):


In Italian, the term means (literally) "bodies of people" but might be better figuratively translated in modern terms as "NGOs" (non-governmental organizations), by which Mussolinit meant everything from trade unions, to churches, to social organizations. According to his political viewpoint, giving these non-elected organizations explicit power within the government (in exchange for some governmental control of their actions) would result in a more efficiently run state, because it would reduce bickering and actions taken directly in opposition to the nations best interests. The idea had nothing to do with modern day business "corporations", other than a similarity of the name, though it does bear a striking similarity to the way many modern day Asian countries are run, in which the government has a liason just about everywhere. But that is not the way the term is used in modern parlance. I see it being almost entirely used as a blanket criticism of any business organization over a certain size, especially by Socialists who hate the idea of international trade - so they can "save" the impoverished developing world from development. It certainly is not a self-descriptive used by any set of people to identify themselves - not even Republicans use the term, much less the DLC. Not the craziest Republican has ever proposed governmental control of private corporations.

By limiting herself to the quibble and not committing the slander, Katha Pollit makes a more defensible point. But she errs when trying to draw anything more than a pedantic distinction. Will “Islamofascism” cause people to “fear more”? One can only hope so, along with simultaneously thinking more. The problem is that many influential people seem determined to minimize the threat posed by Islamic extremists.

The fear-mongering so hypocritically indulged in by associating the current administration with fascism is a lot harder to defend, to say the least.

This post is just another reason why we all breathe a sigh of relief that Terry is no longer spreading his toxic hatred of America to our school kids.

Good substantial comment, Idler, especially contrasted with Pozey's "toxic hatred of America" reaction. You keep me on my toes.

I still stand by my definition of fascism, however. It's clear that under Bush, regulations and even some legislation have been written by (and for) business and corporate interests. That, combined with Bush's blatant and unapologetic militarism, is distilled and naked fascism.

By the way, until I see evidence to the contrary, I firmly hold to my belief that America and its western allies are complicit in the "crimes" of Saddam Hussein, including providing him with the chemical weapons he used against Iran and then against the Kurds. Here's a quote from a CounterPunch article based on the reporting of the New York Times:

"... not only did Ronald Reagan's Washington turn a blind-eye to the Hussein regime's repeated use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Iraq's Kurdish minority, but the US helped Iraq develop its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs."

And, since you'll likely dismiss CounterPunch as a fringe left-wing site, here's another from a Wikipedia entry on chemical warfare:

Despite the removal of Saddam and his regime by Coalition forces, there is deep resentment and anger in Iran that it was Western companies based in West Germany, France, and the U.S. that helped Iraq develop its chemical weapons arsenal in the first place, and that the world did nothing to punish Iraq for its use of chemical weapons throughout the war."

Terry, thanks for the compliment. I appreciate your good nature in the give and take.

Unfortunately, I don't see how you can stand by your definition unless you feel free just to make stuff up. The fact is that you bought into the notion that corporate-friendliness equals "corporativism," which in turn equates to Mussolini's notion of fascist "corporativismo." It doesn't; you've fallen for an ignorant comparison motivated by irrational animus. Persisting in such error is a demonstration of invincible ignorance -- and the same kind of malice that gave rise to the erroneous comparison in the first place. It's a sad spectacle when otherwise smart people allow hatred to overwhelm intellectual rigor to such a degree.

It's one thing to disagree with the relatively corporate-friendly policies of an adminstration; it's another to accuse it of "distilled and naked fascism." That you do so while carping about alarming people over Islamic extremism is amazing to behold.

It's also possible to disagree with recourse to military power without insisting that it amounts to "fascism." Bush isn't more "militaristic" than Wilson, Roosevelt or JFK were.

The world has seen "distilled naked fascism" and it looks very different than the current American government. To suggest otherwise is hysterical. To do so while resisting comparisons to fascism of current actors whose behavior indeed does resemble that of fascists is to indulge in the perverse special pleading that I called you on with regard to your previous post.

With regard to the chemical weapon stuff, I accept what you cite but insist that there's a difference between having something to do with capabilities in a general sense, along with other states, and being the sole identified enabler of a specific atrocity somehow related to those capabilities.

It's healthy to examine the actions of one's country out of a desire to improve its conduct. It's not healthy to impulsively and uncritically seize upon the most melodramatic and damning construction of events, as you did in the case of Hussein's gassing of the Kurds.

You have to call a spade a spade. I have a friend whose family in Spain will not visit the U.S. right now because they think Bush and cronies are fascists. They have had their own experience with fascism and can recognize it when they see it. I also have other friends in Europe who see our current government through the same lens. I think it's a sad spectacle when people refuse to see reality.

Marcia, all you're saying is you know Europeans suffering the same hysteria as Terry. You're hardly the first to observe that phenomenon.

Funny how this began as a criticism of the use of "Islamofascism" on technical grounds. It proceeded with Terry arguing that actually the American government was more appropriately called fascist because it partakes of Mussolini-style corporatism. Unfortunately, that's clearly not the case, as I demonstrated above.

That gambit having failed, you approve use of the term on the strength of some pal who has family in Spain with anti-American opinions.

By this time, we've entirely forgotten that Terry sought to foist the label on the Administration by the slimy use of a technicality in order to do what he does best: turn away from any consideration of real threats and enemies and cast the United States in the worst possible light. Thus Terry insinuates that a benign government is grossly repressive, while people who actually are grossly repressive and ruthlessly violent and cruel get a pass.

I await anxiously to see whether Terry is as scrupulous in adjudicating the terminological propriety your friend's (and his family's) use of the "fascist" label as he was in Bush's. The fact is that the fascist label has been thrown around indiscriminately by people on the left for decades. It's only when the term is used by the right that the left suddenly become strict lexicographers.

But as necessary as all this explication is, it distracts from a more important point. As you said, "you have to call a spade a spade." And you're right, "it's a sad spectacle when people refuse to see reality."

Spain suffered under a fascist dictatorship in the wake of a murderous civil war. People were imprisoned and executed for their opinions and political activities and many intellectuals and others were forced into exile. Anybody who draws a parallel between that state of affairs and the United States today, is indeed out of touch with reality -- and Spain didn't suffer the worst that fascism had to offer.

Back to the original conflict: not just the United States but the entire West, indeed the entire world, is faced with the problem of Islamic extremism, a doctrine that is spreading violence all over the world and which is arguably even more repressive than fascism. Samuel Huntington in the early 1990s in his controversial essay "The Clash of Civilizations" made the uncontroversial observation that "Islam has bloody borders." Those borders have grown even bloodier in the intervening decade and a half since the phrase was coined. And where Islamism has established itself as a political force, even in the more stable environs of Saudi Arabia, you'll see a very different concept of individual rights than you see in the United States.

What makes the charge of your Spanish friends all the more ludicrous is that in George Bush's America, individuals have significantly greater freedom than in Europe, where one can be prosecuted for one's writings, for example, where police have far greater power for investigation and detention, where there is no right to bear arms, and where individual economic activity is more regulated, taxed and otherwise restricted.

Idler, maybe I didn't make myself clear. I thought Bush and cronies were fascists before my friends in Europe. I just agreed with them.

Marcia, then you also share their hysteria. The good news is that since this isn't a fascist regime, the government isn't going to come looking for you.

The same wouldn't apply under an Islamofascist government (forgive my etymological inexactitude!).

Idler, I'd say it's not hysteria. It's disgust. You might want to watch this video from MSNBC.
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/08/30/keith-olbermann-delivers-one-hell-of-a-commentary-on-rumsfeld/

What Idler seems to gloss over in his reaction to "fascist" re: Bush is that the only NGO that seems to have been neglected is Labor or anything smacking of the Left.

When there are enemies of Freedom without and within, the ones within, like Idler, are the ones to combat first. The ones without are fairly simple, you kill them or otherwise marginalize them. Killing Idler isn't legal, marginalizing him by destroying his infrastructure isn't legal, you simply have to vote his ilk out. If they get too far out of line, the 2nd Ammendment is still there (silly oversight by the Bushleague).

Idler frequently hands out ammuntition to his opponents, why would a Bushite bring up fear mongering? C'mon Idler, you spew fear like a little girl at the campfire ghost story. It is truly entertaining to watch this macho crap all wrapped up in "oooooh, I'm so skeeert." All the nice traditional Conservative views regarding governmental interference in private life evaporate in the face of some pissant's threat. While GWB got busy playing cowboy in Iraq and getting dressed up in a flight suit American troops and Iraqi civilians died and Ossama just grinned. What the heck happened to catching the bad guys, Idler? Since GWB is so damn incompetent his recourse is to abridge the BOR and kick the snot out of the Constitution, not concentrate on Terrorists.

Somehow Idler argues that the rights and perogatives of Americans are subservient to the needs of the incompetence of the government. Standard intelligence provided all the needed information to roll up the 9/11 bunch, they were too incompetent and turf hungry to do it. Remember, 9/11 is their justification. Remember that 9/11 involved the pointless tragedy of 3000 deaths, Iraq is nearing that in US troops and vastly exceeding it in Iraqi deaths. And then stop to remember that US citizens are at more danger in their everyday lives from their everyday lives than they are from terrorists. These people are fear mongers of the first water and when you let them define the terms they're succeeding.

Marcia, hysteria and disgust are by no means incompatible emotional conditions.

As it happens I saw the Olbermann clip and laughed out loud. If you want to discuss its merits I'd be happy to.

I'll limit myself for the moment to saying that if the Bush Administration can simultaneously be both Hitler ("fascist") and Chamberlain, it doesn't say much for the verbal precision and historical acumen of its critics.

Chuck, I'd be happy to respond if I could make head or tail out of what you wrote. You might want to point out specific things that I've said and try to demonstrate precisely where I've gone wrong. Good luck.

The only hysteria I feel is when I think of the possibility of the idiots in power (and I do mean OUR government) being there for more than the rest of Bush's term. With more than a few people with the same outlook as Idler, I feel a definite sense of hysteria when I contemplate that possiblity.

Well, Marcia, you don't even bother to deal with my arguments here, which may be just as well.

Sorry about your hysteria. Hope you feel better.

Idler, I am truly sorry to disappoint you. There really isn't much to argue about. You seem to think Bush is not a fascist , and I think the opposite. There's an old saying, don't wrestle with a pig, you just get dirty, and the pig likes it. Not that I'm calling you a pig, mind you. But here's another article on the latest fascist move by the Village Idiot.
http://susanohanian.org/show_outrages.html?id=6547

Marcia,

Again, you avoid engaging with the arguments that have taken place here and have to do with what Terry actually posted.

One of Terry’s points was that the term “fascism” was being used loosely on the right. The other was that the Bush Administration’s policies were “fascist,” based on Mussolini’s concept of “corporativismo.”

I’ve demonstrated clearly that Terry has fallen for an error, and however corporate-friendly the Bush Administration’s policies may be, they bear no resemblance to Mussolini’s corporativismo.

I also said it was a bit rich for the left to jump on the right’s application of the term fascism to horrible, violent tyrants and would-be tyrants in the Middle East, given that the left has traditionally bandied the word fascism about with abandon.

Then you come along and merely cite European lefties indulging in that old abandon and make a statement of your own determination to throw the term around and definitions be damned.

The result of all this is ridiculous and not at all flattering to Terry and you. Terry says we mustn’t be careless and then proceeds to be just that; you simply ignore the argument all together and provide a couple of prime examples of the left’s careless use of the term, while simultaneously demonstrating either inability or refusal to follow an argument.

You make this too easy.

Idler, did you follow the link posted above? Orwellian, don't you think, when a president bars people from access to public records regarding the disintegration of the environment, given that it might hurt corporate profits if made to clean up their acts. I'd say this related to Terry's original post.

Marcia,

I'll say this: we could no doubt have a discussion about whether the Bush Admistration has done something wrong here, but it doesn't bear on the essential question of whether the term fascist is appropriate, or more appropriate for the Bush Administration than for Islamic extremists.

The article you link to is far from sober in its interpretation of the Administration's actions. That by no means that what the Administration did was right or defensible or whatever. But I'd certainly want to look at other information. For a start, is such an action uncommon or unprecedented, and is the stated rationale so implausible? Have such resources always been accessible in the way PEER prefers? If not, when and under what circumstances were they? Were these resources singled out, or were they part of a larger category of cost centers that were eliminated without any discernible malicious targeting, so to speak?

The single source you offer is seriously intemperate in its language and crystal clear in its partisan animus. Again, that doesn't mean it's wrong, entirely or in part, but its paranoid rhetoric doesn't inspire confidence.

That's my answer to your tangential point, made with very flimsy evidence and argumentation. If you want to establish that we live under a fascist regime, you've got a lot of work ahead of you and you'll need to ignore the fact that we live in a free country and in fact enjoy greater freedom than Europeans do on their home turf (ask Oriana Fallaci about that).

Now, what do you have to say about my arguments? Are those crickets I hear...?

Just call me paranoid.

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