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Neo-conservatism or neo-fascism?


Flying_Mollusk
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Youd think such an argument linking conservative actions lately to facism would come from guys like Moore. But this is an interesting read from the American Conservative on shifts in actions:

 

Hunger for Dictatorship

 

War to export democracy may wreck our own.

 

 

by Scott McConnell

 

 

Students of history inevitably think in terms of periods: the New Deal, McCarthyism, ?the Sixties? (1964-1973), the NEP, the purge trials?all have their dates. Weimar, whose cultural excesses made effective propaganda for the Nazis, now seems like the antechamber to Nazism, though surely no Weimar figures perceived their time that way as they were living it. We may pretend to know what lies ahead, feigning certainty to score polemical points, but we never do.

 

Nonetheless, there are foreshadowings well worth noting. The last weeks of 2004 saw several explicit warnings from the antiwar Right about the coming of an American fascism. Paul Craig Roberts in these pages wrote of the ?brownshirting? of American conservatism?a word that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking.

 

Several weeks later, Justin Raimondo, editor of the popular Antiwar.com website, wrote a column headlined, ?Today?s Conservatives are Fascists.? Pointing to the justification of torture by conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of ?fascism with a democratic face.? His fellow libertarian, Mises Institute president Lew Rockwell, wrote a year-end piece called ?The Reality of Red State Fascism,? which claimed that ?the most significant socio-political shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central state, particularly its military wing.?

 

I would argue that Rockwell?who makes the most systematic argument of the three?overstates the libertarian component of the 1994 Republican victory, which could just as readily be credited to heartland rejection of the ?60s cultural liberalism that came into office with the Clintons. And it is difficult to imagine any scenario, after 9/11, that would not lead to some expansion of federal power. The United States was suddenly at war, mobilizing to strike at a Taliban government on the other side of the world. The emergence of terrorism as the central security issue had to lead, at the very least, to increased domestic surveillance?of Muslim immigrants especially. War is the health of the state, as the libertarians helpfully remind us, but it doesn?t mean that war leads to fascism.

 

But Rockwell (and Roberts and Raimondo) is correct in drawing attention to a mood among some conservatives that is at least latently fascist. Rockwell describes a populist Right website that originally rallied for the impeachment of Bill Clinton as ?hate-filled ... advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now.? One of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly calls for the mass destruction of Arab cities. Letters that come to this magazine from the pro-war Right leave no doubt that their writers would welcome the jailing of dissidents. And of course it?s not just us. When USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column suggesting that American troops be brought home sooner rather than later, he was blown away by letters comparing him to Tokyo Rose and demanding that he be tried as a traitor. That mood, Rockwell notes, dwarfs anything that existed during the Cold War. ?It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth?not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.?

 

The warnings from these three writers would have been significant even if they had not been complemented by what for me was the most striking straw in the wind. Earlier this month the New York Times published a profile of Fritz Stern, the now retired but still very active professor of history at Columbia University and one of my first and most significant mentors. I met Stern as an undergraduate in the spring of 1974. His lecture course on 20th-century Europe combined intellectual lucidity and passion in a way I had never imagined possible. It led me to graduate school, and if I later became diverted from academia into journalism, it was no fault of his. In grad school, I took his seminars and he sat on my orals and dissertation committee. As was likely the case for many of Stern?s students, I read sections of his books The Politics of Cultural Despair and The Failure of Illiberalism again and again in my early twenties, their phraseology becoming imbedded in my own consciousness.

 

Stern had emigrated from Germany as a child in 1938 and spent a career exploring how what may have been Europe?s most civilized country could have turned to barbarism. Central to his work was the notion that the readiness to abandon democracy has deep cultural roots in German soil and that many Europeans, not only Germans, yearned for the safeties and certainties of something like fascism well before the emergence of fascist parties. One could not come away from his classes without a sense of the fragility of democratic systems, a deep gratitude for their success in the Anglo-American world, and a wary belief that even here human nature and political circumstance could bring something else to the fore.

 

He is not a man of the Left. He would have been on the Right side of the spectrum of the Ivy League professoriat?seriously anticommunist, and an open and courageous opponent of university concessions to the ?revolutionary students? of 1968. He might have described himself as a conservative social democrat, of the sort that might plausibly gravitate toward neoconservatism. An essay of his in Commentary in the mid-1970s drew my attention to the magazine for the first time.

 

But he did not go further in that direction, perhaps understanding something about the neocons that I missed at the time. One afternoon in the early 1980s, during a period when I was reading Commentary regularly and was beginning to write for it, he told me, clearly enjoying the pun, that my views had apparently ?Kristolized.?

 

It is impossible to overstate my pleasure at being on the same side of the barricades with him today. That side is, of course, that of the antiwar movement; the side of a conservatism (or liberalism) that finds Bush?s policies reckless and absurd and the neoconservatives who inspire and implement them deluded and dangerous. In the past year, I had seen Stern?s letters to the editor in the Times (?Now the word ?freedom? has become a newly invoked justification for the occupation of a country that did not attack us, whose people have not greeted our soldiers as liberators. ? The world knows that all manner of traditional rights associated with freedom are threatened in our own country. ... The essential element of a democratic society?trust?has been weakened, as secrecy, mendacity and intimidation have become the hallmarks of this administration. ... Now ?freedom? is being emptied of meaning and reduced to a slogan. But one doesn?t demean the concept without injuring the substance.?) In the profile of him in the Times, he sounds an alarm of the very phenomenon Roberts, Raimondo, and Rockwell are speaking about openly.

 

To an audience at the Leo Baeck Institute, on the occasion of receiving a prize from Germany?s foreign minister, Stern noted that Hitler had seen himself as ?the instrument of providence? and fused his ?racial dogma with Germanic Christianity.? This ?pseudo?religious transfiguration of politics ? largely ensured his success.? The Times? Chris Hedges asked Stern about the parallels between Germany then and America now. He spoke of national mood?drawing on a lifetime of scholarship that saw fascism coming from below as much as imposed by elites above. ?There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented... for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although significant differences.?

 

This is characteristic Stern?measured and precise?but signals to me that the warning from the libertarians ought not be simply dismissed as rhetorical excess. I don?t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them ?hungry to bomb foreigners and smash those Americans who might object. And when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind. They could be propelled into power by a populace ever more frustrated that the imperialist war it has supported?generally for the most banal of patriotic reasons?cannot possibly end in victory. And so scapegoats are sought, and if we can?t bomb Arabs into submission, or the French, domestic critics of Bush will serve.

 

Stern points to the religious (and more explicitly Protestant) component in the rise of Nazism?but I don?t think the proto-fascist mood is strongest among the so-called Christian Right. The critical letters this magazine receives from self-identified evangelical Christians are almost always civil in tone; those from Christian Zionists may quote Scripture about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in ways that are maddeningly nonrational and indisputably pre-Enlightenment?but these are not the letters foaming with a hatred for those with the presumption to oppose George W. Bush?s wars for freedom and democracy. The genuinely devout are perhaps less inclined to see the United States as ?God marching on earth.?

 

Secondly, it is necessary to distinguish between a sudden proliferation of fascist tendencies and an imminent danger. There may be, among some neocons and some more populist right-wingers, unmistakable antidemocratic tendencies. But America hasn?t yet experienced organized street violence against dissenters or a state that is willing?in an unambiguous fashion?to jail its critics. The administration certainly has its far Right ideologues?the Washington Post?s recent profile of Alberto Gonzales, whose memos are literally written for him by Cheney aide David Addington, provides striking evidence. But the Bush administration still seems more embarrassed than proud of its most authoritarian aspects. Gonzales takes some pains to present himself as an opponent of torture; hypocrisy in this realm is perhaps preferable to open contempt for international law and the Bill of Rights.

 

And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of core American freedoms. That would be the titanic irony of course, the mother of them all?that a war initiated under the pretense of spreading democracy would lead to its destruction in one of its very birthplaces. But as historians know, history is full of ironies.

 

 

http://www.amconmag.com/2005_02_14/article.html

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Another lefty gone looney due to lack of ability to win elections. There's no threat to democracy because conservatives showed up in greater numbers than all the liberals who stayed home on election day.

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:banghead :banghead

Did you even read the article?

 

I do think the author makes some good points. I don't think it's ever good for a country to be run by the extremist elements of either side of the political spectrum, be they far right, or far left.

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Another lefty gone looney due to lack of ability to win elections.? There's no threat to democracy because conservatives showed up in greater numbers than all the liberals who stayed home on election day.

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Its from the American conservative. The guy is a clear and obvious libertarian conservative. Had it been from a lefty, I may not of posted it since it would have been dismissed but the fact that a righty wrote it and points out nothing but what righties have to say on the subject makes it tougher for you to dismiss....unless anyone who is anti Bush is a liberal. Typical.

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Another lefty gone looney due to lack of ability to win elections. There's no threat to democracy because conservatives showed up in greater numbers than all the liberals who stayed home on election day.

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Its from the American conservative. The guy is a clear and obvious libertarian conservative. Had it been from a lefty, I may not of posted it since it would have been dismissed but the fact that a righty wrote it and points out nothing but what righties have to say on the subject makes it tougher for you to dismiss....unless anyone who is anti Bush is a liberal. Typical.

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Clearly chewbacca has nothing to say that's worth listening to anymore, since he clearly just hates liberals in general, much like Ann Coulter.

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There are a few good points there. But we must analyze what has led to the central govt loving neocons ascension in the republican party. I wont go into a whole lecture again on what a neocon is but we must remmeber that the neocons are the socially conservative wing of the democratic party that were chased away by the Mcgovern revolution. They then joined the republican party, which was mostly the 'libertarian' wing. The libertarian wing, the moderate wing, and the extremist soically conservative wing (neocons) formed an alliance in order to defeat the left. Whats scary about this alliance is that a fiscally moderate and very socially conservative candidate is still preferential to a true libertarian than a fiscal liberal who is socially liberal. The imbecils running the libertarian party have focused more on social issues altely and that has been their downfall. The true and original libertarians are mostly focused on fiscal matters. So the only way for the democrats to stop the neocon revolution is to win libertarian votes by going closer to center on fiscal issues. Unti lthat happens the future doesnt look good.

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by going closer to center on fiscal issues

 

What exactly is your opinion on the center for fiscal issues because I think Clinton's presidency showed the dems to be fiscally moderate?

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Compared to the reckless spending Bush has undertaken, Clinton was a fiscal moderate.

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Another lefty gone looney due to lack of ability to win elections.? There's no threat to democracy because conservatives showed up in greater numbers than all the liberals who stayed home on election day.

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Its from the American conservative. The guy is a clear and obvious libertarian conservative. Had it been from a lefty, I may not of posted it since it would have been dismissed but the fact that a righty wrote it and points out nothing but what righties have to say on the subject makes it tougher for you to dismiss....unless anyone who is anti Bush is a liberal. Typical.

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An article saying we're in danger of some having some kinda religious totalatarism is about as insane as it gets. Bush won because Americans believed he was strong on national security and the Democrats nominated a bad candidate. It doesn't signal I don?t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is a constituency for facists that want to bomb foreigners and "smash" Americans who object. There's some looney people on the right but they are insignificant.

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Another lefty gone looney due to lack of ability to win elections.? There's no threat to democracy because conservatives showed up in greater numbers than all the liberals who stayed home on election day.

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Its from the American conservative. The guy is a clear and obvious libertarian conservative. Had it been from a lefty, I may not of posted it since it would have been dismissed but the fact that a righty wrote it and points out nothing but what righties have to say on the subject makes it tougher for you to dismiss....unless anyone who is anti Bush is a liberal. Typical.

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An article saying we're in danger of some having some kinda religious totalatarism is about as insane as it gets. Bush won because Americans believed he was strong on national security and the Democrats nominated a bad candidate. It doesn't signal I don?t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is a constituency for facists that want to bomb foreigners and "smash" Americans who object. There's some looney people on the right but they are insignificant.

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Fascists don't advocate religion nitwit. They advocate the betterment of the community and purging the community of all dissenters, religion nonwithstanding.

 

 

 

And BTW: You are one of those looney people on the right. While Tonyi is a Democrat spiter and is a closet republican, he backs his stuff up most of the time. You on the other hand, just go on about how we are bitter that we lost the election blah blah blah. Yeah I am a little bitter but life goes on and I can raise as much hell as I wanna.

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Clinton had the DotCom boom pumping tax coffers for him. Its easy to appear fiscally moderate with that kind of cash covering up for your profligacy.

 

If you've got Excel, this chart shows this quite clearly in column "I"

 

HISTORICAL BUDGET

 

It also clearly shows the dramatic dropoff in tax receipts PRIOR to the Bush tax cuts taking effect.

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Clinton was more fiscally center than say someone like Kerry. Aside from what tonyi said, Clinton also had a heavily fiscal conservative bunch in congress such as Gingrich. Kennedy was a pretty fiscally conservative democrat actually. Since then there really havent been anymore, but I defintely prefer clinton to anything else that has come since

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ex. toss the radical gay agenda overboard for now, this country isn't ready for it yet).

 

 

Wanna show me where the democratic party has made a radical gay agenda part of its platform? Individuals are entitled to make challenges to courts of law and not be controlled by politics of parties are they not. Last time I checked it was Republicans that brought gay marriage issue to the national political forefront and not some gay people in Massachusetts who, "gasp!" tried to ask the Mass. Supreme Court to preserve their rights of equal protection under the "gasp!" Mass. Constitution. I guess thats that love of federalism that republicans always rant about.

 

 

btw how exactly does a man who rips FDR into the ground also claim that that was a better time when FDR's policies were at their peak? Fiscally speaking, democrats were much more liberal 20 years ago then today. I guess we will just have to chalk this up as another tonyism.

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ex. toss the radical gay agenda overboard for now, this country isn't ready for it yet).

 

 

Wanna show me where the democratic party has made a radical gay agenda part of its platform?

Platform shmatform. Nobody ever reads a platform, and no party ever adheres to one.

 

You brought'em to the party and haven't distanced yourself from them, so you're going to pay the price in the public's mind for it.

 

I'm not telling you how it should be, I'm telling you HOW IT IS.

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How does a party distinguish itself from a extremist view other than to say we think differently? Should the Republican party be held accountable for the views of its extremists? I didnt hear them distancing themselves from Ann Coulter for saying we should invade the Mid East and force conversion upon them. Nor did I hear them do the same for stuff Falwell and others have said. What do you want, a public execution?

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How does a party distinguish itself from a extremist view other than to say we think differently? Should the Republican party be held accountable for the views of its extremists? I didnt hear them distancing themselves from Ann Coulter for saying we should invade the Mid East and force conversion upon them. Nor did I hear them do the same for stuff Falwell and others have said. What do you want, a public execution?

 

Coulter isn't a right wing extremist, she's just a shill who's job is to whip the radical left into a frenzy because when the radical left mouths off, republicans gain ground. She said this very directly in a Time mag interview I quoted a while ago. The left takes the bait every time :plain Why would they distance themselves from someone who is helping them?

 

Falwell is just a kook who nobody with any brains pays much attention to.

 

Here's a simple question. Do you think the radical gays who pushed that crap in MA "helped" John Kerry last year?

 

Its like this - the far left's base is completely energized right now. You CAN'T gain anymore ground there because there's simply none to be had. If there were, Kerry would be prez right now.

 

The republicans are in a compeltely different position. With ~50% of the electorate disengaged typically, they're in a position to draw on Nixon's "silent majority" if sufficient motivation from the radical left is provided (this is where Coulter's provocations to the left come in)

 

The dems need to recognize the demographics is turning against them. The rise of the Hispanics doesn't bode well for anyone pushing certain hotbutton topics that clash with traditional hispanic culture - abortion and the gay thing being two real killers among catholics.

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A lot of tip-toeing, but you didnt answer my question:

 

How does a party distinguish itself from a extremist view other than to say we think differently? What do you want, a public execution?

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A lot of tip-toeing, but you didnt answer my question:

 

How does a party distinguish itself from a extremist view other than to say we think differently? What do you want, a public execution?

Words don't mean squat. Actions mean everything. If words could talk a man into the whitehouse, Kerry would be prez.

 

People are gonna look at who'd contributed to campaigns, and how dems voted on issues that concern them.

 

How do you think clinton got elected twice? That boy is sharp at finding the middle and staying there. You can't go left and pick up much of the 50% of people who usually don't vote. You CAN go left and start running up against their values though.

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Yeah, the average voter makes those critical distinctions necessary to clear things up. People will listen to what the political distortion campaigns tell them. However Kerry voted, the ads still will say Kerry and the liberals have an extremist view knowing full well the average nitwit cant sort things out on his own. If the Mass decision doesnt come down, they wont connect Kerry to DOMA and to the extreme views. But notice that Rove didnt agressively connect Kerry to DOMA anyway? Could it be that he just wanted the Mass court to do its own talking and link all dems anway?

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interesting read anyway, thanks for the post f_m

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And the minute I become involved in yet another political debate, I think my body would self combust. I'd sooner watch a Hornet's game than partake in any discussion relating (but not limited to) political policies, agendas, or conspiracies.

 

It's too close to baseball season for me to worry about this nonsense. I think we should all take a breather from government issues, and let Blitzer and Mathews degrade the United States all on their own. We've done quite enough with the Middle East for now, and terrorism only thrives off of our inability to agree on anything policy-wise.

 

Let's all collectively shut our conspiratory mouths and watch the extremists beg for attention.

 

Or...We could just keep debating. Not a bad second option. :thumbup

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You are one of those looney people on the right.

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I'm a looney person on the right? Define a right-wing looney and how I am somehow one. Of course, thiscoming from someone who had a sig saying "We must stop this age from neo-cons." And then it went on to say how you would fight to stop it or something. Sounds like the tone of a wacko suicide bomber. Maybe you should look at yourself for looney.

 

Of course F_M posts an article calling the other side facists, nothing partisan about that at all. Didn't someone post an article calling liberals commies? What's the major difference?

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Of course F_M posts an article calling the other side facists, nothing partisan about that at all. Didn't someone post an article calling liberals commies? What's the major difference?

 

I cant seem to get through to you. If someone posted an article from a credible liberal looking into the actions of other liberals, I would definately give it a good response and not just say the person is somehow anti liberal. The only reason I felt I could post this was that it was coming from a source that is a proxy conservative used to bash conservatives. And if you noticed, I did highlight a portion I thought tempered most of the article. Ill highlight it again for you:

 

But America hasn?t yet experienced organized street violence against dissenters or a state that is willing?in an unambiguous fashion?to jail its critics. The administration certainly has its far Right ideologues?the Washington Post?s recent profile of Alberto Gonzales, whose memos are literally written for him by Cheney aide David Addington, provides striking evidence. But the Bush administration still seems more embarrassed than proud of its most authoritarian aspects.

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Could it be that he just wanted the Mass court to do its own talking and link all dems anway?

 

Of course.

 

But if there weren't a bunch of dems standing there to be painted with that brush, it would be much more difficult.

 

I'm still baffled as to why some behind the scenes dem honchos didn't go to MA and tell those people to stifle it until the election was over. The fallout was as predictable as a sunrise.

 

Even Clinton told Kerry to toss'em overboard and Kerry refused.

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I suppose integrity had something to do with it. An individual should put aside his Constitutional rights for a political party? Sheesh...gotta love what this country has turned into. Politicians now control the people rather than the people controlling politicians.

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some might even say.... Do whatever you have to do, mislead, pander, etc, to get into office, THEN do the things you feel strongly about. Because unless you get into office, all those noble ideas you've had might not ever see the light of day.

 

It's not the way I'd chose to do it in an ideal setting, but with the state of negative campaigning and media, it may be an unfortunate reality.

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