left biblioblography: J’ACCUSE!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

J’ACCUSE!


What if you did?
What if you lied?
What if I avenge?
What if eye for an eye?
What if your words could be judged like a crime?”

Creed – What if?

I’m going to level a fairly strong accusation here – one that’s been burning in the back of my mind since the 2000 election debacle.

The time for silence is long past.

http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html  - Umberto Eco


1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages -- in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.
This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, "the combination of different forms of belief or practice;" such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.
As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.
[Snipped]
We’re seeing this all the time. Education, and the advancement thereof, is in the sorriest state ever in this country. Of course, we see the bulldozing of basic civil rights, loss of liberties, all this done in the tradition of religion. Of course, the conservative bewails the loss of all the trappings of the ‘good ole days’, blissfully unaware of the extravagant costs incurred. Or, as Ned Flanders put it so aptly: “I miss the good old days, that were only good in my own mind.” (paraphrase)
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.
Again, religion. Not individually based, no: these covert Theonomists. These faith-based initiatives. Our prez is taking advice from God, no less. The slandering of those ‘pinko commie liberals!’
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.
Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
I don’t know where to begin with this. We see dissent squelched, criticism silenced, academic professors defamed for speaking up. Any thought given to pointing out illogic is shouted down, bullied out of the political arena.
Oh, does this sound familiar? “We’ve got to do something?” Blasting straight into Iraq, hell bent for leather, no questions asked? The slur of ‘Pseudo Intellectual’ spewed from sputtering, foam-flecked lips, an accusation that has no meaning whatsoever!
4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.
See commentary above.
5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.
Hmmm. Who’s the latest on the list of fear of difference?
Arab Islamists. Or, as Carlos Mencia put so well, “When 9/11 happened, the blacks and Mexicans ran over, tagged the Arabs, and said, ‘You’re it!’ (Paraphrased).
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old "proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.
Gee, why do I think of Fox News when I read #6?
7. To people whom feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson's The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.
Sound the least bit familiar? Thanks, Woodrow Wilson, you asshole. We had an ‘Evil Empire’, they’re gone now, so we have the looming specter of Islamo-Fascism, wielding a bloody scimitar, just over the horizon.
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.
Why do I think of Iraq when I read that last sentence?
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
Carrot on a stick syndrome, coupled with the Chicken Little Syndrome, coupled with…oh, too many to list here, I think. ‘With us or against us!’ ‘Giving aid and comfort to the enemy’, when the slightest criticism arises.
Pavlovian conditioning, with no true reward in sight.

10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.

We see this constantly in this country: ‘Homeless people choose to be that way’, or ‘Why didn’t the poor folk in New Orleans just pick up and leave?’, or even B. Bush’s idiotic remark. Yeah, let’s blame the victim, rather than seeking solutions. Our national identity out of control, spiraling downward. It’s one thing to be proud of one’s nation: it’s another entirely to look down the collective nose at any who are not citizens.
11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte ("Long Live Death!"). In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.
And here we have yet another bubble to burst: Americans are no better than, or no worse than, anyone else on this damn planet. It’s one thing entirely to take some sort of pride in our country – it is the best damn government this world’s ever seen – but by no means are we automatically the member of some race of ubermensche upon birth, or citizenship. National identity doth make fools of its citizens.
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
Gee, do the phrases gay marriage and abortion ring a bell with anyone?

13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view -- one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People are conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against "rotten" parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

Oh my. Between the argument from popularity, the complete emasculation of the Democratic Party, the ‘Oh, I guess we’ve got to trade in a few liberties for safety’, I think this fits in very well with our current administration.

14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.

Gee willikers, don’t that ring a few bells. Between commercial jingoism, talk-show vocabulary, constant reframing (the infamous ‘Free Speech Zones’ spring immediately to mind, implemented by Clinton, but abused by Bush)
* * *
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task.

I see all these symptoms – have seen them for some time – in this country. It saddens me to say this: but our country is falling under the black flag of fascism. We as citizens must tear down this flagpole, reclaim our nation, ere it becomes a hollow echo of that which we once loved. This is our country, our nation. It belongs not to the religious, the conservatives, nor does it belong to the liberals, the gay population, or any other majority or minority one can name:

It belongs to all of us. To discriminate against one citizen is to discriminate against us all.

I will gladly take correction, if I am off in any of this.

Please tell me I’m wrong.

Please.

“It is the duty of the patriot to defend his country against its government” – Paine.
“My country, right or wrong: right to keep right, wrong to make right.” - Stephen Decatur

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10 comments:

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Coincidence striked again, Uncy...
and how!
I just checked out a book of Eco's essays from the local library two days ago, where this is included.
Okay, so I read it for the first time several years ago, but still...
And yes... it is, indeed, very much a blueprint of Coulter-ish propaganda.

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
I guess then, that poetic minds think alike?
I fear for my country: alas, it is swirling, swirling down the drain, in so concentric a circle, blood drawing spiralling fingers that vanish into the pipes.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

On another note...
Please don't ever, EVER utter lines from the crapfest that is Creed EVER gain!
My brain, despite its well nigh supernatural powers, can't stand such a rape of neurons.

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
Please don't ever, EVER utter lines from the crapfest that is Creed EVER gain!
Excuse me?
Wouldn't be infringin' on me freedom o' speech, wouldja?
I happen to like Creed, was listen' to it at the time.
I also happen to like Billy Idol, Coldplay, Jethro Tull. I have a varied taste.
So I'll take it under advisement.
But that's all.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Relucty:
"Excuse me?
Wouldn't be infringin' on me freedom o' speech, wouldja?"

Of course I would!
I am the Blog Gestapo!
Did ya not notice my armband?

Hehh...
No, at least we can agree on the Coldplay part.
(I absolutely am in AWE of "clocks").
But Creed?
I can't stomach their singer's pompous-ass jesus-wannabe cream-puffiness. Sorry... If I find STRONGER words than those, I'll pass 'em along.
He just strikes me as the type who
masturbates while looking in the mirror... Hehh... guess I -DID- find those words of multi-vehemence after all.

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
I am the Blog Gestapo!
& who is it you report to? Hehehehe.
Creed's all right, but I'd not attend a concert.
Smashing Pumpkins is purty cool.
I'm an old fart anyways, what do I know?

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Relucty:
"I'm an old fart anyways"...

Well...
Old? Only somewhat.
Fart? Not as far as I can olfactorily deduce, Uncy.


"who is it you report to?"

Well, that'd be tellin',
now wouldn't it?
Let's jus' say her name starts with "K" and ends in "aren".
Yeah, I know, it's a tough code to crack for someone of yer limited caliber, but I'm sure you'll tumble upon the dark o' it if you just apply yourself.

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
Fart? Not as far as I can olfactorily deduce, Uncy.
Yeah, thus far I've only been able to reach the Eastern seaboard. Gonna have to double up the chili input.
Let's jus' say her name starts with "K" and ends in "aren".
Sorry, no good at puzzles. ;)

say no to christ said...

BRAVO RA! You hit it right on the mark! Our country has become a fascist nation and very few of us even noticed. That just goes to show how easy it is to fool people. A sad reality. :(

say no to christ said...

Hairless said: "No, at least we can agree on the Coldplay part.
(I absolutely am in AWE of "clocks").
But Creed?
I can't stomach their singer's pompous-ass jesus-wannabe cream-puffiness. Sorry... If I find STRONGER words than those, I'll pass 'em along.
He just strikes me as the type who
masturbates while looking in the mirror... Hehh... guess I -DID- find those words of multi-vehemence after all."


I'm with you on that! It may be silly but I stick to bands that are humanist and godless. One would think that it would limit your music selection, but it doesnt. There are a lot of great godless bands out there. TOOL, System of a down, lamb of god, Coheed and Cambrian, and Korn are a few of my favorites.