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Reviewed: Friday, August 11, 2006

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A Response to "On Fascism in American Politics"
Sunday, January 9, 2005

Brian Mastenbrook took umbrage my post about fascism on the right and has responded with one about fascism on the left. I'd first like to thank him for taking the time to respond -- it's nice to know at least one smart person is reading unCLog! I can't, however, say that I agree or even fully understand his essay. Let me try to explain why:

Dictionary.com says that fascism is

A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

Mastenbrook provides several examples of fascism on the left:

  • Michael Moore claiming that Iraqi opposition "is the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win"
  • Markos Zuniga (in Daily KOS) directing anger towards the contractors who were mutilated rather than the Iraqis who did the mutilation.
  • The CBS Bush AWOL memo mess
  • Richard Gere hanging out with comprised people while urging Palestinians to vote.

(I've added links to that you can see the context easily if you so desire).

Mastenbrook views these as examples of "real, hard fascism, of the type that wakes its citizens up in the middle of the night and shoots them in the neck because they complained about the rations last week." The right's brand of Fascism, on the other hand, "consists of the government looking at what books a suspect has checked out from the library."

I'm confused. Let's look at the context: Moore hyperbolic statement occurs in the midst of looking for realspeak in reporting rather than newspeak; Zuniga's (which he later partially retracted) because these contractors were mercenaries and because of the lack of grief towards the 1000's of Iraqis our coalition has killed; CBS took a story that has been simmering for years and screwed it up -- the story, however, remains; finally, Gere asks people to vote and happens to be with some unsavory characters...

I don't see how any of these equate with the bullet in the neck motif now how any of these principals are seeking to build a "system of government marked by centralization of authority".

On the other hand, Neiwert's the Rise of Pseudo Fascism essay (which I have not finished reading) makes a strong case that certain elements of the right are using "socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism." America's main news networks are controlled by a handful of very rich people; what is reported appears to be a very uninformed caricature of what is happening (compare America's press with that of Europe or Asia), government agencies are spying at home, and people like Coulter and Rumbaugh spew hatred and venom and are not checked by the center. I don't think that this is a good thing.

We don't need hate, we need compassion. We don't need sound bites, we need discussion.

Finally, Brian ends his piece criticizing John Kerry for meeting with Bashar al-Assad and saying that unless I think the best action to take when meeting with such a person is to "Threaten his life", I should rethink my relationship with fascism before questioning his.

I don't agree that threatening al-Assad's life is the best way to move the politics of the world forward. Is he a "bad person"? Yes. Would Syria be better off without him? Who knows, it remains unclear that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein. Even if it would be better off, is it the job of the United States to remove all "bad people" from power? I don't think so. As a country we often have good intentions, but historically, our wisdom has been lacking and our vision short sighted.

Finally, I like to give Brian another thank you for forcing me to sit down and think some more about all of this. Having opinions is easy, having informed opinions is very hard. I hope that he'll respond again and explain to me what I found confusing in his original essay.


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