The last time we read a book was Bob Woodward’s “Fear.” We’ve also read Comey, Spicer, Ivanka, Hillbilly Elegy etc, and those links are at the top of the included thread:
Send drinks to paypal.me/riseandbeheard or to Venmo at Linda-Tirado-3
See y’all at 5pm Eastern or so!
Usually I am reading books so that you don’t have to, but in this instance we are reading a book because we all should! So if you want to buy the thing, you can do that here: amazon.com/Anatomy-Fascis…
I don’t think the midterms staved off disaster. I think they created friction. I think disaster has one more check on it now.
The election is over now, and it’s time to talk reality.
So let’s discuss those now.
But I think their concerns are echoed in this recent concern about the Senate’s representation
He also liked to talk about his war wounds and was organizing veterans, who were the core of his support.
Veterans organizing as a union to ensure their benefits and influence on policy are one thing.
Veterans organizing to take armed political action is a thing we maybe want to be aware of especially.
For decades, there have been armed hyper-nationalistic bands of ex-cops and service personnel doing “patrols.”
Many of you will know the Minutemen
Y’all do the same and we will come back to how people defined fascism as it was forming and why it’s got us all confused to this day!
Now back to the fascism.
Do you know how many marginalized groups of people have found themselves with passport trouble in the last years? It’s a lot. There’s news about it all the time. Just it’s never enough people at once to make major headlines, and so we miss it.
So that’s that defined clearly as well. That’s the thing that’s so infuriating about all this coverage; we don’t need to ask what’s happening.
But: sound familiar?
“Fascism’s radical instrumentalization of truth explains why fascists never bothered to write any casuistical literature when they changed their program, as they did often and without compunction.”
Which basically means think of “liberals” in this book as people who mostly held on to ideas that were progressive a century before but loved the whole free market concept
Which is a nice way of summing up how we came into 2016 really.
“fascism, far from static, was a succession of processes and choices: seeking a following, forming alliances, bidding for power, then exercising it.”
And the book was written years ago.
As I said, it’s worth reading the book, I’m into the bare highlights here
“Those who had survived the trenches could not forgive those who had sent them there.”
So, you know, there’s that we sometimes point out too.
“Even scholars who specialize in the quest for fascism’s intellectual and cultural origins, such as George Mosse, declare that the establishment of a “mood” is more important than “the search for some individual precursors.”
And I’m like “my dudes it’s more a gut thing.”
Because it is. Damn.
It’s not a diagnostic assessment
But one point he makes clearly is that fascism needed mass communication to develop. It needed direct propaganda.
“Elected representatives struggled to find the necessary minimum of common ground to make difficult policy choices.“
“Assumptions about the adequacy of a self-regulating market, even if believable in the long run, seemed laughably inadequate in the face of immediate national and international economic dislocations.”
Maybe pour another for yourself for the rest of this chapter as well.
“It may be that the earliest phenomenon that can be functionally related to fascism is American: the Ku Klux Klan.”
The parallel seems to be civic engagement generally; people already involved are hard to recruit.
“To conclude that Nazism or other forms of fascism are forms of mental disturbance is doubly dangerous: it offers an alibi to the multitude of “normal” fascists, and it ill prepares us to recognize the utter normality of authentic fascism.”
Not all violence is borne of disorder. There’s a lot of plain violent assholes in the world.
When they organize, we should worry.
“Between the two world wars, almost every nation on earth, and certainly all those with mass politics, generated some intellectual current or activist movement akin to fascism.”
“Becoming a successful participant in electoral or pressure-group politics forced young fascist movements to focus their words and actions more precisely.”
I am shocked by this. I don’t know about you people. But I am.
So this is a good time to go back and look at all the coverage of Trump voters from late 2016 through mid 2017 or so, in light of this and the previous quote.
The common thread - through the old-guard pearl-wearing GOP women to the militants who staged an armed standoff with the feds in Oregon - was the sense that something in politics was broken.
That sense that you have built on sand and the tide is coming? That’s where fascism finds a niche.
“Comparison acquires some bite at this point: only some societies experienced so severe a breakdown of existing systems that citizens began to look to outsiders for salvation.”
So here’s this next sentence then:
“Fascists encouraged a distinction between members of the nation who merited protection and outsiders who deserved rough handling.”
I 100% believe city folk don’t give a fuck about the rurals.
(For those following along, we are in Chapter Three of Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism, which you should buy for yourself!)
Not at the red state/blue state level, but really delve into the data. How many people vote at various income levels? Who voted, demographically speaking, and for whom?
Did that hold true for the GOP vote in 2018? Did increased turnout explain the white suburban lady vote or did they really flip?
What narratives have you been given and how true are they? Look that up.
“This suggests fascist interlopers cannot easily break into a political system that is functioning tolerably well. Only when the state and existing institutions fail badly do they open opportunities for newcomers.
“Degrelle’s rapid rise and equally rapid decline reveals how hard it is for a fascist leader to keep the bubble intact after managing to assemble a heterogeneous protest vote. Rapid flows of the vote into a new catch-all party could be a two-way current.”
This book states and restates the obvious: there needs to be certain circumstances.
I haven’t worried that the parties were the same exactly?
It’s been the faltering.
I worry that they’re making the wrong compromises and letting the wrong things slide.
I would argue that the gathering or holding of power alone isn’t an affirmative defense to enabling, even if you meant to gain enough power to unseat evil.
But also because the author is so determinedly scientific about this. For example:
There’s such temptation to define one’s topic, and fascism is best left undefined, and he does that.
So let’s talk about this, then.
Then what the fuck have we been doing exactly in the last two years? Trump’s tax returns are back in the news.
The ones that every other candidate much less elected has released.
More importantly: how do we undercut these trends? Can you starve fascism once it’s begun, or do you have to hope it just sputters out?
But if he doesn’t? If they don’t stick? If the seating of Kavanaugh and the replacement of Sessions was enough to cover the right asses?
I mean, y’all heard that during the Hillary thing, Comey was using gmail for official business, yeah?
Rule of law?
“The exhaustion of older political options, now apparently incapable of offering satisfying expression to all the postwar feelings, is an important part of the story.”
Now. I am a country-ass Millennial.
Let’s talk “satisfying expression.”
This is a workable polity, I guess, on paper, and also this has got us to here.
That’s not me not valuing experience or performing ageism; that’s me saying that I am among a very specific five years of human development where I had the internet and adolescence show up at the same time with insistence.
For example, I guarantee you someone a decade my senior would never have befriended one of their trolls out of respect.
But I kinda respect the skill and dedication. It’s not belligerent.
But damn do I appreciate and understand sockpuppets and the value that a smart person can bring to the public square playing court jester.
Now tell me that is a thing people who didn’t grow up online get like I do.
That’s not something anyone older than me has considered. I know that because they didn’t do fuck-all about it when they had power.
In 2012-2013, my combat vet ran into a VA “glitch” that didn’t pay out his GI bill.
It’s 2018, and a headline today is “Glitch results in GI Bill nonpayment”
I just don’t buy that my generation ain’t got commonalities with that post-war generation.
Post-WW1. Not the New Dealers.
We left off talking about how easy it is to recruit disaffected groups or individuals, and how easy it is to make people feel disaffected with some decently effective propaganda
“Polarization was in the interest of both.”
Now this hits the heart of another of my gut-level discomforts because polarization is in so many people’s interests right now.
There’s billions being poured into polarization campaigns instead.
I’m not talking media or politics proper even. I’m talking the PACs and nonprofits and policy shops with scary mailers.
Polarization is good for everyone there too.
The warning here is that laws can be changed once someone has gained office.
“In particular, conservative leaders had to decide whether to try to coopt fascism or force it back to the margins. One crucial decision was whether the police and the courts would compel the fascists to obey the law.”
So. In this iteration, who’s been trying to make all this feel normal or respectable? From day one?
Who legitimized this dude?
This expert, in his book on fascism: “Another seductive fascist offer was a way to overcome the climate of disorder that the fascists themselves had helped cause.”
If you’re willing to play in the fascist toolbox IDK you have the strongest case when you tell me it’s you or the fascists.
“A central ingredient in the conservatives’ calculation was that the Austrian corporal and the greenhorn Italian would not have the faintest idea what to do with high office. They would be incapable of governing without the cultivated conservative leaders’ savoir faire.”
Which is always the fatal flaw of the wealthy. Seems like every generation they repurchase that whole merit thing (whatever the age defines merit as) and they don’t guard.
Bring in a street brawler, they’ll win every time while the room sputters “but you can’t DO that!” and other such hand-wringing pablum
Basically, people already in power have to decide to share with any nascent movement.
It’s hard to explain to Americans generally how that’s apples to our system’s oranges. So a microlength explanation of how parliamentary systems work:
Second thing, they have more parties, which means any particular ideology needs fewer people backing it.
Point is, you make nice with two minor parties in a coalition they can force major parties.
We also sometimes read about legal takeovers of major parties and don’t understand how incremental those steps really were in that other system.
“Once again, several paths were open to them. They chose not to press their doubts over Mussolini to the point of active steps to remove him, however, fearful that this would open the way to renewed chaos or to a government of the Left.”
But part of it was political chaos and the jockeying that came with parliamentary politics.
“Junior partnerships within authoritarian regimes proved disastrous for fascist movements. Playing second fiddle fit badly with fascists’ extravagant claims to transform their peoples and redirect history.”
Let us rejoice at the small things.
But as this book makes clear, more fascisms fail than succeed. So let’s continue!
(Here’s Chris Cantwell crying anyway)
“Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian fascist leader whose name furnished the very word for a puppet government, actually had little authority in occupied Norway.”
This has been your quick aside into linguistic insult that makes the infamous immortal
If I have a Barbie doll and a knockoff Barbie doll, I’m still looking at a doll that would have back problems if it were an actual woman with those measurement.
“Comparison suggests that fascist success in reaching power varies less with the brilliance of fascist intellectuals and the qualities of fascist chiefs than with the depth of crisis and the desperation of potential allies.”
Also if anyone’s got questions about the book so far, or wants a clarification on something I left out, this is a good part of the text for that.
Sometimes you can’t articulate what’s too obvious for words.
I would venture that many of the people who’ve told me they feel helpless also felt lost, not knowing the story
I ran around in moderately panicked circles, checking the places I knew to look for her.
There wasn’t anything for me to do because I didn’t know where to look. There was no point tearing the clothes out of the closet or the cabinet doors from their hinges. So I went paralyzed until I could figure out what the fuck.
For example, no serious observer would say that DC ain’t been deadlocked for a while now. But when did that start? Who started it, if anyone did, or is this Hatfield and McCoys?
I argue that it’s direct mail, as pioneered by celebrity pastors and congregations. Here’s a fun fact: Evangelicals used to largely support abortion.
I don’t think I could overemphasize what it meant to today’s political calculus.
It’s not the only starting point, but it’s the one I point to
So what was going on before the fascism then? Can *that* be blamed on one particular part of society?
So what does that look like in our context? I’d argue it looks like the reaction to 9/11, the management of these endless wars, the banking fuckery that is still allowed
Because it’s *hope.*
They want a fucking monorail guy.
But I think there are far fewer people drawn to the racism itself than there are to the authoritarian rule that promises to fix everything.
It’s symbiotic, though. Something has to step into the breach, and once it does it becomes a hostile partnership.
For example, the horse-trading in Congress with the very rule of law.
Some will say to look at budgets and policy proposals to rebut this.
Congressional approval bottomed out at 9% in 2013. It’s 21% now.
The parties need him now, because they’ve brought him into this little dance.
They saw the danger in each other, and it blinded them to anything else.
“Crises of the political and economic system made a space available to fascism, but it was the unfortunate choices by a few powerful Establishment leaders that actually put the fascists into that space.”