I’m going to start, as I promised, by holding Angry Black Lady’s coat, with a quick follow-on to ABL’s magnificent rant about Rand Paul’s thugs and their head-cracking approach to power.
It is truly incredible that the assailant, Mr. Proffitt, now believes that his victim owes him apology for the vicious assault of her head on his boot – but not surprising, not at all. This is how it works when you know you are doing ordained work. There is precedent
Yup, I’m going to go all Godwin on you right here, right now.
Here’s Adolf Hitler, speaking to the Industry Club of Düssledorf in January, 1932, (I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine contemporary analogues to that venue) explaining why the wealthy industrialists in his audience should actually welcome the inconvenience of Nazi-led street battles and Brown Shirt beat-downs of passing soft targets.
“I know perfectly well, gentlemen, that when the National Socialists march through the streets and there is a sudden tumult and uproar, the Bürger …looks out and says ‘they’re disturbing my rest again.’”
But consider, Hitler argued, the suffering endured by those forced to brutalize a seemingly endless parade of random targets. , Remember, he said “It is also a sacrifice when hundreds of thousands of men of the SA and SS have to get into trucks every day to protect meetings and make marches.”
And what’s more – there would be no need for such sacrifice, nor for the ruffled comfort of the comfortable. All that was needed was to sign on to the vision that set the Brown Shirts off. If everyone were a thug, Hitler promised, if only “the whole nation had the same faith in its calling as these hundreds of thousands, if the whole nation possessed this idealism, a quite different Germany would be standing before the world today.” (Gordon Craig, Germany: 1866-1945, Oxford: 1978, p.556)
As indeed it was, barely a year later.
Please note: I’m not arguing here that Paul is some Gauleiter, bent on unleashing fascist hordes throughout Kentucky or the nation. But it’s important to remember just what it means when you base your politics on “the bitch/liberal/gay/black/unbeliever/coastal/whoever had it coming.”
It means the next stomping may well not be far behind, obviously. But what scares me more is that it also means that sh*t like this slides by the easier when no one actually bleeds at the end of the day. It’s harder to get worked up when it’s just some folks who aren’t American enough (not candidates for that very different Germany) won’t get to cast a ballot this time around.
At this late date it’s not news understood that voting does not necessarily a democracy makes. There are elections and elections, and what we’re seeing now is just a hint of how – as we know from history – democracies can wither amidst the full pageantry of the campaign.
I got some wonkier stuff that it’s taking me a bit of time to put together. So for now, let me use this downer as a way of tiptoeing into this house.
Image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, “In Bed,” 1893.
I hear he’s got wonderful plans for Minehead!
It sounds a lot like how domestic abusers know not to leave obvious bruises.
Though I don’t like him and think he’s one the other side of the crazy line, I actually don’t think that Paul is a fascist, but this particular act is certainly protofascist. The movement still lacks two crucial elements before the protofascism turns into fascism proper: 1) the emergence of a recognized leader; 2) a critical mass of young people in the ranks.
I’m not sure if that’s true. I think that he believes if he is brazen enough, he can force the media into a he said/she said, instead of having them focus on the fact that he stomped on a woman’s head.
Normal people don’t want to believe that psychopaths exist. They want to believe that he had a good reason to beat this woman. Naturally, the media will assist him, by giving equal time to “his side of the story”.
She is a “move on dot org” member, after all, which places her somewhere between the Weather Underground and Saddam Hussein. Why else would someone stomp on her head?
It’s the “big lie” in action… and it will work.
Greetings, sir. Had supper yet? I hear you liberals eat your dinner at a late hour. It’s just simple fare, but good for you.
Elections themselves are the last thing to go. Most dictatorial regimes maintain the pretense of elections as they confer a sense of legitimacy.
I’m sad to say that Americans have become rather blase in the face of this kind of brutality after a decade of sanitized war coverage and the insidious cruelty of reality TV. We have been trained to tolerate things that would not have been tolerated twenty years ago. I’m not sure what the answer is, but we can start by studying how the German left failed and then try to come up with an opposite strategy.
When current conditions warrant the movement toward equilibrium with actual Nazi behavior then Godwin’s Law is diluted until such equilibrium is reached and the argued analogy becomes one with the continuum of space and time when Peak Wingnut is realized that supercedes Mr. Godwin.
And so it goes.
Link to TPM not working
Boehner To Appear with Nazi Reenactor
Whenever these randroid teabagger assholes mouth the word “freedom” like a cadence, I’m reminded of East Germany calling itself the German Democratic Republic.
You know who else said that stuff?
@jrg: It will work and over time people will come to identify with the perpetrators of such political violence because they will see them as strong and as “winners”. It is not terribly difficult to turn of most humans’ empathy switches to the point where perfectly normal people will rejoice at the sight of their “enemies” children being slaughtered. We have to put a stop to this NOW or it could easily get to that point.
@beltane: “I’m not sure what the answer is, but we can start by studying how the German left failed and then try to come up with an opposite strategy.”
The answer seems obvious once you stop making the error of equating American liberal activists with the “German left” of pre-WWII.
Liberalism is about education as the bulwark against tyranny. Nothing to do with revolution or overthrow. Nothing “leftist” about providing good reality-based education.
@gbear: Yup. Saw this just I pressed publish on this…thanks for getting it in here.
@jwb: I agree that Paul is not himself a fascist … But I am saying that this is the ground from which bad things emerge.
And with that, I’m going all old guy on you all and passing out. I’ll re-engage in the a.m.
@jwb: Is youth really necessary for a fascist movement? Or is it just necessary for a lasting one?
In any case, the curb stompers were definitely youthful by Republican standards: they were big men who weren’t in scooters. Some old limp-dick big men out to prove their virility by stomping a woman — probably also known as Republican Kentucky’s “young guns.”
ahhh, it’s a Mr. Mc Goering on the line, he says he knows a place where we can hire bombers by the hour…
@gbear: Snort. Made me gurgle, you did.
@Karen: I agree. I also think Proffitt’s comment also is in the same class. “She made me do it.” “It’s her fault.” “She should apologize to me.” This episode (and, no, I don’t believe it’s the last) just leaves me sad and weary.
@jeffreyw: Yum. It’s time for my dinner, anyway.
@bootsy: Old fat people make very poor brownshirts. So, yes, to move from protofascism to fascism you need a critical mass of youth.
ETA: the difference between what happened with the Rand supporters and fascism proper is the order of magnitude. When you have 500 (or so) Rand supporters acting in concert and stomping people’s heads en masse, then you have advanced to the actual state.
@jwb: I’m not willing to call the Pauls fascists either. But what troubles me is the unwillingness and failure to say, “no, this is not acceptable.” The no-enemies-to-the-left/right school of thought is trouble from the beginning. I couldn’t imagine running a campaign where someone in charge of a county would think it is ok to physically assault someone.
@ornery curmudgeon: We do not have time to adequately educate the public. In that sense liberalism has already failed. I want to know what we can do now.
@jwb: Old fat armed people can make a big damn mess.
I’m not sure if I believe that. The picture of the Vietnamese girl with her back on fire did help to bring an end to the Vietnam war…
But then again, if you had asked me on Monday how many people would defend a grown man stomping on a woman’s head, I would have said “very, very few”. I would have been wrong.
@KG: I concur completely. I’m actually curious how this is playing in KY outside of the national media. Are people taken back by this at all? Are they concerned that Paul hasn’t really denounced it?
Nice post, Tom and welcome.
I love the historical approach to frame these events we are seeing unfold. This isn’t something new we are seeing out of the TeaTards and it’s not something new that we are seeing out of the sorry-assed demonic rich fucks like the Koch Brothers and their ilk that are pulling the strings in the background.
I was reading through Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” the other day and it is eerie how the similarities are between these times and those he writes about in Chapter 15, “Self-Help in Hard Times”
The TeaTards actions are so similar to how Hitler and his thugs started out. I sure as hell hope something causes all of this shit to derail, but I don’t think anything can now. I think that Citizens United v. FEC was the final nail in the coffin for us as a Republic.
edited to fix f’d up spelling
@jwb: Aren’t there enough younger people in the Aryan Nations, though?
I find it hard to believe that Neo-Nazis would have much significant disagreement with Rand Paul. They would forgive his more mealy-mouthed public statements, while knowing that he sent enough signals that he was actually on their side. (Like Paul’s statement against forcing restaurant owners to not be Racist. See also: Reagan’s speech about “states’ rights.”)
ETA: OK, maybe they haven’t all merged yet. Now I’m just scaring myself :(
kommrade reproductive vigor
That would be redundant.
Really, there’s no need to import German creeps when there are plenty of domestic creeps.
@WyldPirate: Actually there is no clear leader right now for the movement, and it strikes me that this lack of a leader isn’t an accident—it’s the main reason, I believe, that Palin and Beck have been pushed to the front of the movement. Both are eminently controllable by money, believed to be easily eliminated if they get out of hand, and they keep anyone else from getting a foothold in a leadership position. It does make me wonder, however, if someone might have been able to say something similar about Hitler c. 1930.
@jrg: People are weird. They can get all worked up over an image they see on TV but have no problem with their neighbors getting dragged out of their home and shot. Back in 1990, who the hell thought there would be mass executions and ethnic cleansing happening in Europe, carried out by people who probably got all weeping watching Hollywood films?
You’re right about this, OC, but we have a lot of serious problems. We have an awful apparatus tp do the “educating”, a corrupt and venal media and a populace with too many distractions and the attention span of a gnat. And these are just a few of the problems
What was it Twain said? “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” This is the most intractable problem of all–stemming the flood of propaganda.
fwiw – LGF has a new video of the incident, which might explain why the woman was explained, but doesn’t really explain stomping on her head after she’d been restrained.
@beltane: you don’t have time? Is the end of the world coming? you may lose an election but that doesn’t mean all is lost. There is still time to turn things around, but it’s not a quick fix. It’s going to take time, well more than one or two election cycles. It took the conservative movement a long time to bounce back from Goldwater’s loss (four presidential cycles). Liberalism can make a come back, I still believe that Obama can do for liberalism what Reagan did for conservativism. But it’s not something that is going to happen overnight. There’s more to it than this election.
The German Left failed to thwart National Socialism for many reasons, but primarily because of a civil war between moderate SPD and the more radical KPD. Each saw the other as the primary threat, and historical nemesis, until it was too late to avoid the disaster that happened. Maybe this should be the lesson?
Also too, I can’t help but underline Hitler’s image of good German Burgers disturbed by the racket of political street violence. This too is a symptom of deep political pathology. The middle class, the bulwark of liberal democracy, can rouse itself politically only as far as the front window to shout at all the noisy hoodlums below. And here is, for me, the sad analogy with the great Rally for Sanity from Stewart. A political center left whose platform consists of nothing more than shouting “Loud Noises” while shaking their fists at the SA and Reichsbanner alike.
@bootsy: The potential for a critical mass may be there, but I haven’t seen it assembled yet. It’s actually something I’ve been looking for at the teatard rallies. If unemployment continues on its current trend, I expect to start seeing young people join the movement in significant numbers by next summer. Something to look forward to.
@jwb: not in Kentucky, so I don’t know. But I did read somewhere that the guy has been banned from the campaign. Still, I’d have preferred a statement, ideally at a news conference along the lines of, “this is unacceptable and unamerican, we do not meet political disagreement with violence, we are better than that.”
This is an excellent point, jwb. I’ve been mulling this over in my mind. I’m still undecided if one has yet to surface or that we are simply seeing the “manipulators” just whip-sawing the political apparatus back and forth so nothing can be changed.
kommrade reproductive vigor
Especially that “Oh shit, the cops aren’t on our side?” moment. I guess they younger people could make the older people’s Hoverounds into armored vehicles, but that would buy them a few extra minutes, at most.
James E. Powell
It is truly incredible that the assailant, Mr. Proffitt, now believes that his victim owes him apology for the vicious assault of her head on his boot –
What is also incredible is that a fair-sized chunk of the good people of the Commonwealth of Kentucy and, no doubt, the United States of America, agree with him.
@James E. Powell: Do you have evidence of your claim—or are you going by the rantings of the media and on the intertubes?
Y’all need to remember that Rand Daddy Ron Paul (sounds like an L. Ron Hubbard cult hero, but them’s the breaks) ran himself a string of nice little newsletters down in Texas. Twas a modestly entitled group of rags: Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report,
Ron Paul Does Dallas– you see where the man got his inspiration from. Those fine inspiring publications all had his byline, and most of the articles in them seemed to have been written by.. gee, just take a guess.. Mr Congressman Dr Rand Daddy Ron Paul. Well, not so long ago, some cussed librul reporters began sniffing around, and they discovered that those articles were pretty ripe and rich, even by Texas standards. You want conspiracy theories? Rand Daddy had them by the bucketload. Want some touchyfeely quality gangbang time with the militias? Ron Paul has you covered. Don’t like blacks or Jews or gays? Your old buddy Ron Paul knows how you feel – there in black and white. Much embarrassment, briefly. It says something that even Jamie Kirchick and TNR found them just a bit too much to stomach. Andrew Sullivan briefly demanded an explanation, and clutched some very British pearls.
And then Ron Paul denied all and any knowledge. Apparently his Ron Paul newsletters had never crossed his desk, much less affronted his virtuous eyes, although he kind of sort of had to admit that yes, he owned them, if you wanted to be technical.
And all was well, the sun shone, Andrew Sullivan decided that Rand Daddy was his cat daddy for the presidency, and people all happily agreed to forget that Ron Paul was a weaseling, bigoted, paranoid, conspiracy junkie, fruitcake hypocrite in good GOP standing, who’d published enough hate about Americans to make even Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh feel a little envious and troubled for their job security. And so it was that Ron Paul became the happy libertarian warrior that we all know and love.
Except a few unAmerican libruls – but who cares about them, anyway?
Just what is it with this lot and insisting that victim apologize? Cheney and his bestest buddy Harry Whittington a.k.a. Mr. Sitting Quail, Virginia Thomas and Anita Hill. . .
How about the ground that belched forth the war in Iraq, torture, the economic rape of the country, etc., etc., etc.?
The soil has been poisoned for some time now.
The tea party is not a cause, it’s a symptom.
@plawless: Thanks for that. I really think this deserves more discussion.
@scav: If you start, as they do, with the assumption that they are the victims, it follows. It is idiotic, but it does follow logically from the initial assumption.
Not really. They saw a surge in their numbers after Obama’s election but their numbers are still very, very tiny in relation to the population as a whole.
Ironically, the thing that may be saving our asses in this situation is that we have a two party, winner-take-all system so it’s actually very difficult for a small insurgent party (like, say, the National SociaIist Party) to get just enough seats in the legislature to start forming alliances. Remember, the Nazi Party never had a majority in the legislature until Hitler became chancellor and successfully outlawed the Communist Party in the wake of the Reichstag Fire. And Hitler only became Chancellor because the conservative parties decided they could control him and appointed him — he was never elected to the position.
Qui s’excuse, s’accuse.
I think it’s interesting that we are not looking back at the precedent for this type of action. A sort of friedman unit perspective on these incidents where we are looking at when will the next one occur instead of realizing that maybe this is the actual next one.
After this guy stands outside with a gun: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/11/protester-with-gun-found_n_256614.html
After this 62 year old woman gets injured: http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/opedne_matthew__060506_rumself_protester_in.htm
After Sarah Palin crowd members get violent on a protester after he tries to exit peacefully: http://www.mediaite.com/online/conservative-woodstock-gets-out-off-to-bad-start-hecklers-pulled-by-hair-dragged-out-by-arms/
Argh. Can someone please release me from moderation hell? It’s hard to talk about history when one of the main words under discussion triggers moderation.
@wilfred: “The tea party is not a cause, it’s a symptom.” Yes, and if you want the cause, following the money will rarely lead you astray.
@Omnes Omnibus: if so, it’s the first logical thing they’ve done. I’m thinking it’s more pathological than logical en soi.
Inserting a period or two in the middle of the word is often a good bet e.g. Soc.ial.ism.
I usually use Yutsano’s trick of substituting a capital i for the problem L, but I forgot in the heat of commenting and now I’m trapped. Feh.
@scav: Remember you can’t spell pathological without logical.
This is a really sharp observation.
This is from Howard Zinn:
“There was some truth to the standard picture of the twenties as a time of prosperity and fun-the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties. Unemployment was down, from 4,270,000 in 1921 to a little over 2 million in 1927. The general level of wages for workers rose. Some farmers made a lot of money. The 40 percent of all families who made over $2,000 a year could buy new gadgets: autos, radios, refrigerators. Millions of people were not doing badly-and they could be shut out of the picture the others-the tenant farmers, black and white, the immigrant families in the big cities either without work or not making enough to get the basic necessities.”….
“There were enough well-off people to push the others into the background. And with the rich controlling the means of dispensing information, who would tell? Historian Merle Curti observed about the twenties:
It was, in fact, only the upper ten percent of the population that enjoyed a marked increase in real income. But the protests which such facts normally have evoked could not make themselves widely or effectively felt. This was in part the result of the grand strategy of the major political parties. In part it was the result of the fact that almost all the chief avenues to mass opinion were now controlled by large-scale publishing industries.
Some writers tried to break through: Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Lewis Mumford. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in an article, “Echoes of the Jazz Age,” said: “It was borrowed time anyway-the whole upper tenth of a nation living with the insouciance of a grand due and the casualness of chorus girls.” He saw ominous signs amid that prosperity: drunkenness, unhappiness, violence:”
“Same as it ever was….”
lol, found this video from one of the earlier links i posted with this comment very appropriate
“Say, you know which *other* party rally in America draped itself in American flags and used violence against hecklers…”
@Mnemosyne: I like the cedilla for the c, cause it looks more soçialist.
@Omnes Omnibus: that was rather the basis of the bon mot I was aiming for. Try it this way: perhaps the apparent logical chain is a symptom, not the root cause (which may or may not be viral or bacterial).
Waah waaah waaah.
You people call the elected dems wussies and you respond to the teatard direct action neck stomping with concern troll jeremiads about Nazis. Talk about assymetric warfare…
@Omnes Omnibus: OK, that was hysterical! Glad I had set the drink down.
Change, is that you, son?
@someguy: Vee vas not NOOZees VE VAS NATZIS!
black lady. hitler. this is all so disturbing.
Angry Black Lady
at your service!
(this was in response to someone asking to be released from moderation hell. so many comments! it’s hard to drink beer and keep up!)
You should be arguing that these guys are gauleiters. We’re edging closer and closer to Kristalnacht. Only a matter of time.
Prediction: the next time a liberal woman gets head-stomped by a Repub campaign goon, police will help. Real police. Actual on-duty cops. They’ll hold her down while the gauleiter head-stomps her. That’s the next step, mark my words.
Assymetric warfare is when you moon the opposition. Asymmetric warfare, on the other hand…
Goodness, that’s not ‘psychopath’ behavior. That’s ‘narcisstic personality disorder’ behavior. Well, behavior that shows obvious leanings in that direction. ‘Blame The Victim’ is an old game used by most abusers. In the narcissist’s head everything is about themselves, which means what they did to you isn’t important, only what you did to them. The whole Tea Party movement is built on this kind of thinking.
They have a leader. Every time I’ve seen sociologists, pollsters, or anybody else study the Tea Partiers they find out that Glenn Beck is the leader. Period. They worship the ground he walks on.
I reiterate as I have in every other thread: We are not on the road to fascism. Not because these people don’t want to be. They totally want to be. We are not on the road to fascism because they don’t have an army of thugs willing to be violent for them. They’ve got an over-hyped following of hate-filled cowards, the vast majority of whom are eldery and infirm. We could be looking at another Oklahoma City Bombing (which I am not suggesting is an acceptable thing), but not a Krystalnacht. They don’t have the dedicated manpower. They’ve got the 101st Chairborne Commandos. Loud, but useless.
A lone, petite woman beaten up at a Rand Paul Rally is about their level of bravery.
But “youth” is a relative term. The core of the brownshirts, at least at the beginning, were angry WWI veterans. They were young enough to be physically active, but not necessarily young in the contemporary sense of college age or recent graduate. Plenty of people in their thirties and forties are still vigorous enough to be effective brownshirts.
I agree with mnem; we shouldn’t have to rely on clever workarounds to discuss a certain major political/economic system. I don’t know what plugin is being used to catch spamwords, but I can’t believe it isn’t configurable.
This is particularly dangerous because of the feedback loop twixt the military and the police. A friend mentioned that returning troops go into civilian police duty at about a 95% rate. Becoming a cop offers guaranteed job security and excellent pay in this recession, so you get this huge feeder function of ex-military becoming cops.
But what did the military learn in Iraq? They learned to shoot anything that moved, kick in the doors of innocent people, kill everyone inside the house, then claim they were all insurgents. The military learned to torture people to death. The military learned shoot to kill on mere suspicion — if that brown guy acted hinky, he deserved to be shot dead at the Green Zone checkpoint.
This translates directly into fascism in America. The local cop used to be a soldier deployed in Iraq. He came back and used the same techniques on the streets in America that he used in Iraq: some brown guy acts hinky at a traffic stop, light his ass up, he deserved it. Obvious perp. Some suspect won’t talk? Taser him until he confesses. Shoot anything that moves, kick in the doors of innocent people, kill everyone in the house, then claim they were all drug dealers.
That’s how the fascism creeps into everyday life. Ex-military become cops, use the same tactics in America they used in Iraq.
Levenson is on the Stalin side of the political spectrum, where a bunch of dissidents are tossed in the back of a truck and taken out to small towns where they’re run over by Soviet trucks—much more efficient than a mere jackboot, those Bolshie shitheads like Levenson…!
An army of “thugs” isn’t necessary for fascism. We have the authoritarianism and the corporate control of the state being asserted in a serious way. It isn’t necessary to have thuggish beatdowns if the populace is to distracted and self-absorbed to notice.
this is the whole point behind the “what’s good for General Motors is good for America” shit and the “BP deserves an apology shit”.
Thomas — a bit belated, but welcome to the front page!
Yep, those black helicopters are always around, don’t forget about the black choppers to take you away to the holding area until you’re processed into the main factory area. Being worked to death should be a novel experience for a lazyass shit-flopper like you.
Yep, this is a key point for the enforcement side–have the thugs ready, trained and on the leash.
gotta break out an oldie but goodie…The 14 characteristics of Fascism
Take a look at this CDC map of obesity trends in the US in the US and note how many Southern states had obesity rates of 25% or more by 2009. I think the number of “vigorous” adults in their 30s and 40s is way lower than you think, especially in the South.
Plus the proportion of war veterans in the population is far lower compared to post-WWI Germany. Pretty much every able-bodied man in the country fought in the war, which is not the case with Iraq/Afghanistan.
deleted double post — d’oh!
It’s interesting that he listed 14 characteristics but hid the 15th characteristic in the first paragraph: he identified all of those regimes by the name of their leaders. All of those things need to coalesce around a strong leader. Without them, you get what David Niewart has been terming pseudo fascism (PDF) for years now.
There needs to be a ’cause’ that you can use to rationalize the attitude. In Milgram it was the experiment and the assurance from the authority figure that everything was okay. In broader cultural actions, there’s still a leader, or a group feeding the justifications and explanations for the actions. A lot of people jumped on Cheney’s torture bandwagon – the ticking timebomb, saving American lives, etc.
With the photo of Kim Phuc, a lot of the public wasn’t buying the cause any longer. It had passed across a number of different leaders. Democrats that might have trusted Johnson didn’t trust Nixon on the war. And the photo was taken almost the same day as the Watergate break-in, so trust in Nixon steadily eroded after that, and so their willingness to accept the rationalization of the war eroded as well.
Aw, you have yourself a cyberstalker!
I’ve never seen daveinboca comment around here in all the years I’ve been a denizen of BJ, but I have seen him around other parts. He is the quintessential white douchebag from Boca Raton who is not rich, yet thinks he may be one day, if it weren’t for those damn liberals! Basically, he was a Teatard before the term existed.
I hope your presence keeps him around. We haven’t had a good moron to kick around since Darrell left town.
Looks like Rush Limbaugh is the role model in more ways than one for the teabaggers.
How often have you been worked to death? Are you unsatisfied with your worked to death experience? Do you feel life as a zombie troll is more rewarding?
@John S.: daveinboca has been here before. He’s gotten his butt kicked numerous times around these parts. Me personally I regard it as a fish/barrel situation, but I’ll never deprive someone of a good troll fucking with.
I think something like Francisco Franco’s Spain (authoritarian/theocratic/nativist-fascist) is closer to what the Tea Party and their candidates are aiming for.
But that cuts both ways. People who are too fat and out of shape to be effective brownshirts are likely to be too fat and out of shape to effectively resist the brownshirts. Part of the reason the Nazis needed such a large paramilitary is that their political opponents also had large paramilitary groups. If there’s no organized resistance, you can get away with a much smaller gang of thugs.
And remember that the paramilitaries are most useful in areas where the party is trying to take over. Once the party controls the government it can use the existing police and military to maintain control. That’s why Hitler was able to do away with the brownshirts without diminishing his power.
First off, thanks for posting up that Neiwert link. I used to have so much trouble accessing his blog that I finally just quit trying. But since I have this, I’ll be all over it reading it tomorrow.
I think that if we go by strict definitions, what you say, and what Neiwert says above about a need for leaders, then yes, I would agree with you. On the other hand, if you look at the end results of a classical fascist state–which is basically a melding of corporate interests and governance in its most simplistic form—then why does it really matter that we have a specific leader emerge?
Just reading the first page or so of your link, this part really stood out:
This essay by Neiwert is five years old now. i haven’t read anything from him recently, but I would say–and Neiwert and Paxton both would probably agree–that we are in the midst of ” catastrophic setbacks and polarization” right now.
Political systems–at least the ones that survive–are extremely malleable. I can’t answer whether we are drifting towards fascism here. I’m certainly not a political scientist. What I do know is that what is happening today certainly bears a close resemblance to what is my historical understanding of what fascism is.
I guess time will tell. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m cynical as hell about our future and I think we are drifting in the direction of fascism.
Probably but, again, where is their Franco? He was in power for 40 years but the whole thing fell apart once he died. They even ended up inviting the king to return.
Oddly, the film that brought the Franco regime home to me was a comedy called Dying of Laughter (Muertos de risa), which I saw at a Spanish film festival. Early on in the film, one of the characters plays a practical joke on the other that involves him being convinced he’s about to be arrested by the secret police, and it’s that “joke” that poisons the relationship between the two of them for the rest of their lives. But the whole movie is really funny, in an incredibly dark way.
I really disagree. The US is over 3.5 million square miles. You’re going to need an awfully big gang of thugs to control it, especially when you get to the heavily populated (and mostly blue) coasts.
We can’t effectively use our existing military to maintain control of a country with a population of 29 million people right now. How do you envision using that same military to control a population of 300 million? Most cities are already short on cops, so you’re not going to get masses of shock troops from those ranks, either.
I think some kind of civil war and division of the country is much more likely than a single political group successfully taking the country over in one big chunk. Frankly, we’re just too huge, and it’s not like the Soviet Union or China where you had a mostly-rural population that didn’t much care who was in charge, the czar or the chairman.
Mostly because it’s never happened. The Soviet Union coalesced around Lenin. China formed around Mao. They were able to maintain the countries beyond those leaders, but mostly by turning Lenin and Mao into atheist saints, if you will, constantly watching you from beyond the grave. Totalitarian and fascist countries tend to have short lifespans because they burn out fairly quickly (assuming that you take the long view and think of the 70 years of the USSR as “fairly quickly”).
As I said to Roger above, I think a civil war that breaks the country into pieces is much more likely than a single group managing to wrest control of the whole shebang. Some of those pieces may well coalesce into fascist/authoritarian states.
ETA: In case you weren’t sure, I’m not saying a civil war and the resulting fascist states would be a happy scenario for anyone, just the more likely one than a single entity gaining control IMO. Even in The Handmaid’s Tale the nutty Christianists don’t control the whole country and Offred is able to escape over the border.
@ Mnemosyne: Probably but, again, where is their Franco?
I dunno. They’ll find him if given the chance. What’s Bob Dornan up to these days? In any case, 40 years is a long time (hilarious as it may have been).
That’s a really good point that you bring up in your comment to Roger. It is also one I take great comfort in. I fully agree that America is just too massive and diverse both geographically and culturally, to be controlled as one “fascist state” like the Soviet Union of old or China under Mao.
What I could see changing this is a radical crisis like complete financial system collapse, severe fuel, food or water shortages or climate change that made vast portions of the US uninhabitable. These would be the sort of trigger events or “crisis of democracy” that Neiwert suggests would make “… almost inevitable that the differences between fascism and pseudo-fascism will vanish”.
BTW, I’ve enjoyed the exchange. It’s nice to find out that perhaps neither of us are quite the assholes we may have thought, no?
No, I’m pretty much an asshole online. ;-) But historical discussions have enough distance that I don’t get caught up in the nuh-uh! / uh-huh! / nuh-uh! loop like we do with current events, and evidence is less slippery 30 or more years down the line than it is when you’re trying to interpret events as they’re happening.
Even then, I would envision a breakup unless something truly weird happened that pushed the entire population into a single (reasonably) contiguous area. If there’s total chaos, it will be a lot easier for, say, California, Washington and Oregon to band together for mutual protection than for California and New York to do it.
Spain under Franco wasn’t so much a fascist state as it was an authoritarian dictatorship. Franco quickly alienated -declawed- his fascist/falangist-nativist base once in power and ruled as a quasi military dictator backed by a coalition of elitists theocratic authoritarianians (Catholic Church/religious culture warriors), Carlists (to Spain what states rights advocates are to the US) and a colalition of corporate business and military power aristocracy.
It is a lot easier to dominate a country when you speak the same language and have really extensive intelligence. Still, the lessons of Iraq are clear to any paranoid person, left or right, who needs to prepare for a totalitarian militarist occupation. As ever, boots need to be on the ground to protect the economic and political assets to manage the population. You can’t do that effectively if every truck or car is at risk from IEDs. Guns are pointless, because the totalitarian state will always have more and bigger guns, and more armor, than you do. But the IEDs can be scaled up right alongside the armor, the increased patrols, and so on.
Imagine what the communists in central and eastern Europe could have done to the Nazis if they had the sort of explosives and remote technology that the Iraqi insurgents have.
Dang, and I missed all the fun. I guess I just haven’t had the time to hang around like back in the day. You all keep on having fun for me.
Jumping down to say that this is a very, very, important observation. And its also why, on some level, the idea of putting together instant job relief in the form of a CCC corps was dead on arrival. From the moment Obama got in the right has been agitating to prevent him from assuming the role of (in their eyes) Hitler–remember all the “Obama wants a civilian military corps under his own control! and the attacks on the idea of job relief? That was all to prevent Obama and the Dems from appearing as saviors to the young and jobless. These guys are not fools–they locked up the old angry white vote for next to nothing but they will also be looking for the young angry white vote.
How about the ground that belched forth the war in Iraq, torture, the economic rape of the country, etc., etc., etc.?
The soil has been poisoned for some time now.
The tea party is not a cause, it’s a symptom.
True, however, the forces that caused one are also the forces that are supporting the Tea party movement. Fox news, corporate america fatcats, Koch, it doesn’t really matter. I believe the frightening issue here is that that the forces that allowed Nazism to arise in Germany weren’t really fascists themselves either. Like Rand they were just using them to advance their corporate agendas. They were willing to look the other way while Brownshirts were stomping on the heads of a few liberal/socialist leaning elitists and outsiders.
Niemoller had it right. by the time the “behind the curtains”, manipulators were at risk it was too late to stop the chaos. There were plenty of ‘good guys’ in the Wehrmacht who were horrified by the SS but they were the ones who were willing to look the other way while it benefited them.
that’s why we have John Boehner appearing today with a guy who thinks its OK to dress up like a war criminal/terrorist on the weekends. The GOP has decided its OK to hang with people who are inches away, ideologically, from Goering and Himmler. They aren’t going to notice the danger until the TeaZombies start ripping their vital organs out. By then the fatcats that put them in power will either be infected too or hanging with BushCo at the ranch in Paraguay.
I miss Billmon. Used to love his blog.
He was Godwin up the ass, all the time. Had no problem Photoshopping pictures of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, onto the bodies of SS officers sitting in the dock at Nuremberg, frinstance. And in his text, he often juxtaposed quotes from Republicans with quotes from Nazis, especially if they were damn near identical.
He was a great blogger, sad to see him quit.