It's not fascism, folks. It wasn't fascism when George W. Bush opened a prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanomo [sic] Bay. It wasn't fascism when Barack Obama forced out the head of General Motors Corp.
For some reason I can't remember the Pilot's editorial staff getting exercised about Bush being called a fascist for opening and operating Guantanamo. And what does fascism have to do with that facility anyhow? The characteristics of fascism
are the subordination of the individual to the group, economic and social regimentation, the whole thing headed by a supreme leader. Does that describe the Bush administration? Not in my view. But when the country's leader can force out the chairman of General Motors and its entire board of directors, threatens the leaders of the country's major banks with physical harm and tell them what their wages are, and pledges to take over the country's health care and school system, that begins to look less and less like a free market economy and more and more like a fascist state.
The Pilot invokes Godwin's Law only in times when its pet politicians are on the receiving end:
One of the many wonderful things about Internet life is the attention it brings to the forms our debates take. Eighteen years ago, a lawyer named Mike Godwin came up with a law that now bears his name: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or [Adolf] Hitler approaches one."
It's a law equally and sadly useful for modern political conversations, which seem to inevitably devolve into charges that one party or the other is just like the Nazis, or the Soviets, or like George Orwell's imaginings. The problem is that such charges are made with little care for accuracy or historical precedent.
This may be true but is also irrelevant. People invoke Godwin's Law to tell others to "shut up."
The idea that any country, even the US, is immune from degenerating into a collectivist, socialist, fascist or even communist society is not only nonsense, but nonsense on stilts. History is filled with the rise and fall of countries and empires. For some reason, certain people - especially those on the Left - feel that they can fiddle with the social contract endlessly without eventually destroying the basic essence of what makes America unique. In a country where nearly half the people pay no income tax, the fear that the un-taxed can vote themselves the earnings of the taxpayers is real, especially when some members of this government see a 90% tax rate
as their goal.
It is worthwhile to point out that Herr Hitler became Germany's leader legally. That he was a charismatic leader. That he was a skilled speaker able to arouse the emotions of the crowds he addressed. That he had a compliant press. That he came into office at a time of severe economic problems for the German people.
That does not make Obama another Hitler. But what it does make clear is that during times of stress, many people are willing to turn their freedom over to a charismatic leader who promises to protect and aid them if they will only give him the power to fix things.
As I said in a previous post,
the Pilot editorial is designed to leap to the defense of Obama, who has taken control of General Motors, demanded the sale of Chrysler to the French and is temporarily stymied by Ford in his clean sweep of the US auto industry. The nation’s banks are already subservient to Team Obama. Part of the Obama plan is to nationalize health care (in the guise of providing medical insurance to everybody), to control energy production (via drilling bans, cap-and-trade, and CO2 regulation) and to take over the nation’s schools, perhaps using his associate in Chicago school reform, Bill Ayers, as the model for America's schools in the future.
To the casual observer it would seem that well over half of the nation’s economy would be run out of Washington, never mind whose name is found on the door of the doctors’ office, the school, the utility company or the auto manufacturer.
So what would be the name of this type of command and control economy where the government calls the tune?
The Pilot’s editors don’t say, they just don’t want it labeled with terms they don’t like, like Fascism, Socialism or Communism. To them these terms mean millions of dead bodies under Hitler and Stalin. That is what Liberals think of when they call their opponents fascists.
For the historically impaired, that may very well be what comes to mind. But for people whose minds were not molded by schools that no longer teach history, these terms can and do apply.
The reality is that Fascism was not a German phenomenon, but Italian. Jonah Goldberg wrote an excellent book about it called Liberal Fascism
which pointed out that during the 1930s the “progressives” in the US were perfectly fine with the Fascist programs in Europe. In fact, they wished to emulate the command and control aspects of state control of vital industries, believing that they could do a better job than the private sector.
If the Virginian Pilot wishes to shy away from terms that have become tainted by being associated with the Holocaust, the Gulag and World War 2 I can appreciate their squeamishness. But then I would suggest they try to create a new term for a country in which the central government makes the vital decision about our medical care, our cars, our fuel, our electricity, our schools, and the ever increasing amount of our work year we are working not for ourselves but for the government. The last number is about 103 days a year for the average citizen. For the statistically impaired, that’s about one-third of our lives that are not our own. And if you don’t think that number is about to grow, you may also believe in the tooth fairy, be an editorial writer for the Virginian Pilot, be and advocate of a 90% tax rate, or all three..
A growing number of people have a vision of the state where individuals and institutions alike must march in step and take orders from the government. There is nothing like a war or a financial crisis for people who believe in group solidarity to support a government takeover of national functions that in a free system would be left to individuals.
So in a genuine attempt to help the editors of the Virginian Pilot, I'll make a suggestion for a term that can be applied to the American economy as it is evolving: Obamaism.
UPDATE: The Volokh Conspiracy
relives the glory days. The days when Bush was Hitler, or was it Cheney? Funny, I distinctly remember that the Virginian Pilot did not write one editorial saying that their side of the aisle had abandoned reason.
The hard left decided long ago that George W. Bush is Hitler. In maddened corners of the Internet and at swastika-choked antiwar marches, Bush is shown with a Nazi uniform or a Hitler mustache. But does everyone on the far left believe this? Not at all. Some think that Dick Cheney is the real Hitler (he commands America’s “storm-trooper legions,” said former right-wing crackpot and current left-wing crackpot Lyndon LaRouche). Others think Don Rumsfeld is Hitler (both men favored mountaintop retreats, the Action Coalition of Taos points out). These comparisons are still being argued. Air Force veteran Douglas Herman, writing an op-ed piece in Florida, says Rumsfeld is more like Goering, since both men were fighter pilots, while LaRouche decided that Cheney isn’t just Hitler — he’s Lady Macbeth as well.
Many on the left believe that either Ari Fleischer or Karl Rove is Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Or maybe Richard Perle is related to Goebbels. The September issue of Vanity Fair suggested that Perle could be Goebbels’s twin (side by side photos, headlined “Separated at birth?”).
Another vexing question about Rove: Is he Goebbels or Josef Mengele? Goebbels is the top choice among antiwar commentators, but a writer to the MetaFilter site said: “Karl Rove made up stories about John McCain, just as Josef Mengele conducted medical experiments on children in Auschwitz.”
And was it the wildwest Internet making these accusations? Why no. It was luminaries like
Tom Ammiano, SF Board of Supervisors
William Ayers, professor and author
Russell Banks, writer
Ed Begley, Jr.
Dave Berenson, US Green Party, Cleveland
Campus Anti-War Network (CAN)
Tim Carpenter, dir., Progressive Democrats of America
David Cobb, 2004 Green Party Presidential Candidate
US Rep John Conyers Jr.,
Barry Crimmins, writer/correspondent, Air America Radio
Code Pink: Women for Peace
DC Anti-War Network
Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party
Tom Duane, NY State Senator
Michael Eric Dyson, author, Is Bill Cosby Right?
Edwin Ellis, president, Veterans for Peace, LA*
Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Pentagon Papers
Christian Ettinger, exec. producer, The Weather Underground
Jodie Evans, Code Pink
Global Justice & Peace Ministries, Riverside Church, NYC
Senator Mike Gravel
Andy Griggs, Exec. Board, United Teachers of LA*
Paul Haggis, film director/producer, Crash
Impeach Bush Coalition
Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA Relief USA)
Islamic Association of America
Abdeen Jabara, past pres., American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee*
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
Bianca Jagger, actress & activist
Mumia Abu-Jamal, political prisoner, journalist
Rickie Lee Jones, musician
Robin D.G. Kelley, Columbia University
M. Ali Khan, American Muslim Council
C. Clark Kissinger
Ron Kovic, author, Vietnam Veteran
Ray Laforest, organizer, DC 1707, AFSCME; member Pacifica National Board
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun magazine
Bruce Lincoln, prof., History of Religions, Univ. of Chicago
Gregory Maguire, author, Wicked
Lucinda Marshall, founder, Feminist Peace Network*
Bill Martin, philosopher
US Rep. Cynthia McKinney
Bill Mitchell, co-founder, Gold Star Families for Peace*
National Lawyers Guild
Armando Navarro, chair, Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside
Northwestern College Feminists
Not in Our Name
Bertell Ollman, prof., Dept. of Politics, NYU
R. Tomás Olmos, Pres., Mexican-Amer. Bar Found., LA County
Jose Padilla, exec. dir., CA Rural Legal Assistance*
Grace Paley, writer
Patrick Henry Democratic Club
Rosalind Petchesky, prof., Hunter College & Grad Center, CUNY
Jeremy Pikser, screenwriter, Bulworth
Harold Pinter, playwright, 2005 Nobel Prize winner
Frances Fox Piven
Progressive Democrats of America
Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights*
Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector
US Rep. Bobby Rush
San Francisco Bayview Newspaper
John Sayles, filmmaker
Lynne Stewart, lawyer
US Rep. Maxine Waters
Leonard Weinglass, lawyer
Cornel West, Princeton University
Standish E. Willis, Nat. Conference of Black Lawyers
Ann Wright, former US diplomat, resigned in protest of Iraq war
Leland Y. Yee, Speaker pro Tem, CA State Assembly
Juanita Young, leader, October 22nd Coalition*
David Zeiger, filmmaker, Sir, No Sir!
Howard Zinn, historian, A Peoples' History of the United States