Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Republican Fascism

There have been a number of references from progressive blogosland to this article in the American Conservative, which expresses a concern from the right about the fascist tinges of America's current political climate. In particular, this passage was insightful:

"I dont 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 cant bomb Arabs into submission, or the French, domestic critics of Bush will serve."

If I hadn't known any better, I would have bet my house that that passage had come from some leftish blog or from The Nation. That it is coming from the right is telling.

The AC article is of a special interest, coming as it does on the heels of yet another, previous warning shot from the (admittedly libertarian) right about the new state-embracing, freedom snuffing, "Red-State Bourgeoisie" that has come of age in the hyper-post-9-11-Iraq-War era.

That the conservative movement-turned-establishment harbors anti-democratic tendencies is not news to most of us on the left. It has been evident more or less since the country's founding in one form or another, regardless of whichever party label it cared to clothe itself with for the purposes of the moment. And there are many more capable than I who have outlined the excruciating details of the modern conservative fascist strain (in particular, see David Niewert) , so I won't attempt a further elucidation here, other than to note, as I have previously, what I believe to be its two main, distinguishing features: militant nationalism; and authoritarian religious sentiment; along with a third, more derivative pillar, corporate oligarchy.

This is not to label all Republicans or even all conservatives as fascists. To a large extent, I doubt whether most party adherents and group activists on the right think at this level of abstraction or would salute these darker ends if it was laid out to them.

But I would go further than the AC article's author in identifying the new radical evangelicalism (of both protestant and catholic stripes) as being a considerable source from which this red-state bourgeoisie may emerge. And I believe its a problem that, however present in the masses, is particularly evident in the religious hierachy and elite. Some of these figures and organizations I have identified before: D. James Kennedy (The Coral Ridge Hour television program from Fort Lauderdale, FL), Rod Parsley (from Columbus, OH, and who also hosts his own show on cable), and of course, James Dobson from Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, CO. Each enthusiastically calls for a "return to America's Christian heritage", which manages to combine both a seemingly historical patriotism with a call for greater restrictions on individual liberty and the freedom of conscience.

And as I have also argued previously, it is this threat, more than generalities about improving economic welfare, that should be recognized by the Democratic Party, and because of which, I believe it to be a mistake for Democrats to try to accomodate the right-ward drift in American politics for the purposes of expendiency.

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