the kids look good in their brown shirts

Do Americans hunger for dictatorship? Scott McConnell, the editor of the “American Conservative” magazine, made no secret of his contempt for the Bush administration during the last election, but now he’s going a step further and wondering aloud if perhaps Americans just long to be dominated. Here’s a clip from the article:

There was a longing in Europe for fascism before the name was ever invented… for a new authoritarianism with some kind of religious orientation and above all a greater communal belongingness. There are some similarities in the mood then and the mood now, although significant differences.

The article’s quite good, and I think that McConnell does an admirable job of tying in the experiences and opinions of his mentor, Columbia professor Fritz Stern, a man who escaped Hitler’s Germany as a child. Here’s another clip:

Stern had emigrated from Germany as a child in 1938 and spent a career exploring how what may have been Europe’s most civilized country could have turned to barbarism. Central to his work was the notion that the readiness to abandon democracy has deep cultural roots in German soil and that many Europeans, not only Germans, yearned for the safeties and certainties of something like fascism well before the emergence of fascist parties. One could not come away from his classes without a sense of the fragility of democratic systems, a deep gratitude for their success in the Anglo-American world, and a wary belief that even here human nature and political circumstance could bring something else to the fore.

And here, because it seems to fit, is a little article I clipped last week for you about kids in America and how they don’t seem to appreciate the value of the first amendment. Here’s a clip:

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes “too far” in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

I have to go upstairs and finish “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” now, but if you’re a lover of misery and want to continue this line of thought I’d suggest that you start with the 14 defining characteristics of fascism and go from there.

Happy nightmares.

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5 Comments

  1. chris
    Posted February 8, 2005 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Funny, but the rules and guidelines of the Park Slope Food Coop could easily apply to these salient working points as well.

    But I digress, it is funny you should have this here now. Today on NPR I have heard that one of the first attack points for the impotent DNP of Bush’s budget is the cuts in Veterans benefits. They include doubling co-payments for meds and a $250 participation fee (based on the assumption that there are financially secure vets are taking advantage of the VA’s subsidized pharmaceuticals-one VA admin even went so far as to say they were “clogging the system”-those damn welfare soldiers!). I am sure that more outrageous cuts will be discovered.

    So my point is, why hasn’t someone like moveon or the DNP jumped on this shit? Put together a news (CNN, NYT, etc) link page to be forwarded to the email addresses that have been collected by those of us who have received mass emails from lunatic right wing fringe relatives detailing the Christ like qualities of Ollie North or how there is photographic evidence that John Kerry is a commie pinko fag dead baby fucker (Yes, I did receive such emails from someone who though he wears military gear and is in his 50’s has never actively served). Or, opining that if the rich can avoid military service and you can’t, and they can afford quality healthcare then vet’s shouldn’t be able to either.

    Why hasn’t NOW detailed how the administration does not support babies that are born with daycare, healthcare, and a quality education? Start a campaign that abortion is also a post delivery procedure?

    OK, sorry, this is ranting but you might know what I mean. I would get my own blog but I can barely get out of bed in the morning, keep child welfare at bay, and I don’t know how to download music on to my ipod. And of course, the fact that the last three movies I’ve watched were Beloved, City of God, and the Pianist. Oh yeah, and the child welfare thing was a joke.

  2. chris
    Posted February 8, 2005 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Alright, in retrospect, this is a little reactive. However, if done right, ie-covertly, it might start to work. They studied us diligently to win in 2000, we now need to return in like. Of course, managng to avoid the voter fraud of 2004. This is how the REACTIONARY consrvatives did it: mass mailing ala Fingerhut. Every conservative vote came with a free character toilet seat cover.

  3. brett
    Posted February 8, 2005 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    is it just me, or is anyone else getting a little sick of reading a news item like this and having the simultaneous thoughts “That’s the most horrible thing ever” and “Hmm. That’s pretty Typical.”?

  4. Tony Buttons
    Posted February 8, 2005 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I really think the strategy is just to burry us in this avelanche of shit. They’ve been working on this utopian fantasy for years, and it’s like the levy just broke. 99% of us on the progressive side are just busy trying to figure out what in the hell’s going on. We’re too fucking burned out and exhausted to think proactively.

    Who would have thought that Social Security would be under attack, that taxes would be cut during a time of war, that we’d get ourselves involved in a war of choice in the first place, that there would be wholesale rollbacks in environmental protections and workers’ rights? We’ve been caught sleeping and now we’re paying the price. Democracy, as McConnell states, is indeed a fragile thing.

  5. chris
    Posted February 9, 2005 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me or does anyone else find Tony Button’s postings downright sexy? And I am totally serious. Kathleen?

    I love it when a person can add it up in two paragraphs as I so obviously can not, or is it cannot?

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