Monday, October 31, 2016

Accusations of Fascism

For John, BLUFThen there is the question of "Stalinism".  Don't get me started.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

"Fascism begins to creep into the Government."

I just heard that on Fox News, from Bernard Whitman.

When people don't even understand what is Fascism, they should be barred from holding political office.  Period.

I would commend to people like Mr Whitman the Foreign Affairs article, "Populism Is Not Fascism".  That said, the sub-headline of Ms sheri Berman's article is "But It Could Be a Harbinger".  Of course it could, just as the proposals of Senator Bernie Sanders could be a harbinger of Bolivarian Socialism.

Here are the first three paragraphs:

As right-wing movements have mounted increasingly strong challenges to political establishments across Europe and North America, many commentators have drawn parallels to the rise of fascism during the 1920s and 1930s.  Last year, a French court ruled that opponents of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, had the right to call her a “fascist”—a right they have frequently exercised.  This May, after Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, nearly won that country’s presidential election, The Guardian asked, “How can so many Austrians flirt with this barely disguised fascism?”  And in an article that same month about the rise of Donald Trump, the Republican U.S. presidential candidate, the conservative columnist Robert Kagan warned, “This is how fascism comes to America.”  “Fascist” has served as a generic term of political abuse for many decades, but for the first time in ages, mainstream observers are using it seriously to describe major politicians and parties.

Fascism is associated most closely with Europe between the world wars, when movements bearing this name took power in Italy and Germany and wreaked havoc in many other European countries.  Although fascists differed from country to country, they shared a virulent opposition to democracy and liberalism, as well as a deep suspicion of capitalism.  They also believed that the nation—often defined in religious or racial terms—represented the most important source of identity for all true citizens.  And so they promised a revolution that would replace liberal democracy with a new type of political order devoted to nurturing a unified and purified nation under the guidance of a powerful leader.

Although today’s right-wing populists share some similarities with the interwar fascists, the differences are more significant.  And more important, what today’s comparisons often fail to explain is how noxious politicians and parties grow into the type of revolutionary movements capable of fundamentally threatening democracy, as interwar fascism did.  In order to understand this process, it is not nearly enough to examine the programs and appeal of right-wing extremist parties, the personalities of their politicians, or the inclinations of their supporters.  Instead, one must carefully consider the broader political context.  What turned fascists from marginal extremists into rulers of much of Europe was the failure of democratic elites and institutions to deal with the crises facing their societies during the interwar years.  Despite real problems, the West today is confronting nowhere near the same type of breakdown it did in the 1930s.  So calling Le Pen, Trump, and other right-wing populists “fascists” obscures more than it clarifies.

Let us focus on the line "So calling Le Pen, Trump, and other right-wing populists “fascists” obscures more than it clarifies."

What do we gain from obscuring rather than clarifying?  To answer my own question—nothing.

Regards  —  Cliff

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