Saturday, June 25, 2022

National Citizens Conferences


Over 70-million US-Americans voted for Trump.  According to CounterPunch's Paul Street they are all hopeless fascists. (So far as I can tell it, Street's agenda is to write venom-filled journal entries about his country's downfall until his own mortal limitations kick in or civilization has completely collapsed around him.)  But what does it mean to be a "fascist"?  Fascism is a 20th-Century political movement that espoused national unity under an authoritarian dictator who is, himself, also the leader of a mass movement.  This mass movement represents the leader's hodge-podge of ideas with some of the most important being national greatness, racial purity, anti-socialism, anti-capitalism and anti-semitism and other forms of racism. [What's that you say?  "How can fascism be both anti-socialist and anti-capitalist?"  Hitler and Mussolini believed that industry had a part to play in building their societies.  They also believed people had some sorts of rights with regards to their individual property.  But they also believed that the free-market and capitalism were excessively individualistic and that capitalists had to be controlled for the benefit of the nation-state.  Industry and finance could be told what needed to be produced, their profits could be heavily taxed but for the most part there was no expropriation and the wealthy got to remain wealthy.  Think of it this way: Hitler really did sit down to breakfast with the newspaper and if he read about a criminal being convicted of something and he thought the sentence was too lenient he would call up the judge and tell him what the sentence should be and the judge would have to impose Hitler's decision.  It was the same thing with the economy.  Everything would trundle along as before, with the capitalists still in charge of their firms, but if Hitler wanted them to do something, then they would have to do it.]

One of my big problems with the historical portrait of Hitler in our world culture is that he is so often portrayed as this demonic abberation, an unprecedentedly evil being of otherworldly origins.  Something in the German's national character made them succumb to this monster and a form of national psychosis ensued leading them to become the most evil people in the world for around ten years.  I reject this narrative because the fact of the matter was that Hitler was just a man.  He apparently had a prodigious memory for facts and a way of public speaking that many (but not all) of his countrymen found thrilling.  His grab-bag of delusions appealed to conservative Germans (capitalists liked his anti-communism, the military liked his national re-armament, anti-Semites liked his anti-Semitism, etc.,) and since conservatives tend to dominate the societies they wish to conserve, these elements of German society supported his movement.  He rose to power because his country was in an exceedingly bad way and traditional politics were seen to have failed.  German people were looking for some sort of radical change with many moving left and others (including strongly traditional people) to Hitler's right-wing.  More centrist parties retained some of their supporters.  The normal ways of doing things didn't completely collapse.

It's important to understand that Hitler was just a [fucked-up] human being and that ordinary fascists were just [fucked-up in some way] individuals.  Fascism became a viable political movement because circumstances made a certain kind of person more amenable to extreme alternatives.  And that "certain kind of person" is always around.  The people who want a "strong man" to impose the values that this certain kind of person supports on other people.  The upholder of "traditional values" against innovations they find distasteful or frightening (of frighteningly seductive).  The racists who fear people who look different and who have different cultures.  The people who blame single-mothers on welfare for their grim economic predicaments more than the capitalists who are the real exploiters. Just look at the ways the COVID-deniers go on about "globalists."  Aside from the anti-Semitism, these people have no problem with saying that Wall Street is corrupt or that this or that giant corporation is bad.  But they also strongly support an idealized notion of capitalism and free-market competition and private property.  They rail against "elites" but they also revere the odd individual capitalist tycoon.  Many of them are small business owners themselves.  They don't reject capitalism.  They believe that it has been contaminated by corrupt "elites" and their political henchmen.  (After a certain point their ideas collapse into incoherence.)

I'm tired of typing for now.  I've got stuff to do.  I'll write more in another post.

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