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  • Tuesday, February 06, 2007


    Ur-Fascism and American Fundamentalism

    Later in the day after I made my last post here, I picked up a copy of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America by Chris Hedges. I was surprised (but shouldn't have been) that he addressed some of the same issues that bubbled in the back of my mind.

    It took me a moment to understand the lead into the book, an excerpt from "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt" by Umberto Eco, an essay originally published in 1995. All of the points from Eco are worth reading and considering but here's one:

    9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

    Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
    Hedges points out that the Christian values he learned from his minister father and from attending seminary are vastly different from the values espoused by the peculiarly popular and selectively fundamentalist preachers of today.

    The Eco quote is perfect because the reader can't help but draw the parallels between the arrogance and will to power of these kinds of fundamentalists and political fascism between the World Wars. Eco's essay ends with this paragraph:
    Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task. (emphasis mine)

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