Monday, November 14, 2005

Van Susteren Not a Supporter of Fascists; A Retraction

Although book reviewer Roger Moore called neither Urban Van Susteren nor his daughter Greta fascists, the Orlando Sentinel apologized for the implication in his review of The Age of Anxiety that they support fascists.

Moore agreed that his review "went beyond the factual associations made in the book" but explained, "I wasn't suggesting she [Van Susteren] was fascist in the least." His dart, he intimated, was aimed at the perceived political leanings of her employer, which professes balance but tilts right.
Symbols aside, conservatism is not fascism, and overreaching to assail others' beliefs -- on the left or the right -- is as objectionable today as it was in McCarthy's time.

That is true. The term "fascism" gets thrown around casually a lot, and conservatives in America cannot rightly be called fascists, although they fit most of the criteria according to many definitions:

  • system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism.
  • They also used emotive slogans and old prejudices (for example, against the Jews) to bolster the leader's strongman appeal.
  • A social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms.
  • A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts the nation above the individual; characterized by a centralized government and headed by a dictatorial leader.
  • An extreme form of nationalism that played on fears of communism and rejected individual freedom, liberal individualism, democracy, and limitations on the state.
  • Fascist governments are often closely associated with large corporations and sometimes with extreme nationalism and racist activities. Modern fascism is often called "CORPORATISM".
  • Neofascism is generally used to describe post-WWII movements seen to have fascist attributes. (Wikipedia)

Today's conservatives miss one important element in the definition of classic Fascism: state control of the means of production, including harsh punishments for war profiteering and usury. Although conservatives in America today seem to encourage and reward usury and war profiteering, they fight against state control of business, preferring instead for business to control the state. Hey, doesn't that amount to the same thing?

But it's still not right to call it "fascism."
David Neiwert
But what is so deeply disturbing about the current state of the conservative movement is that it has otherwise plainly adopted not only many of the cosmetic traits of fascism, its larger architecture -- derived from its core impulses -- now almost exactly replicates that by which fascists came to power in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s.

It is in this sense that I call it Pseudo Fascism. Unlike the genuine article, it presents itself under a normative, rather than a revolutionary, guise; and rather than openly exulting in violence, it pays lip service to law and order. Moreover, even in the areas where it resembles real fascism, the similarities are often more familial than exact. It is, in essence, less virulent and less violent, and thus more likely to gain broad acceptance within a longtime stable democratic system like that of the United States.

And even in the key areas of difference, it is not difficult to discern that those dissimilarities are gradually shrinking, and in danger of disappearing. That this is happening should not be a great surprise. After all, as I've already explored in great detail, the mainstream conservative movement has increasingly had contact with the genuine American proto-fascists of the extremist right over the past decade or more, particularly in the trafficking of ideas, agendas and the memes that propel them. [quote from Wikipedia]

It was wrong of Roger Moore or for me to have insinuated that the Van Susterens supported fascists or fascist organizations. That is simply not true. The correct term would have been Neo-Fascist or Pseudo Fascist. My apologies for any confusion.

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