Trying desperately to drape their ideologically-driven power-grab as somehow noble, by drawing parallels to World War II, the NeoCons in this country have been hammering home talking points about “Islamic Fascism”, “Islamofascists”, “Muslim Fascists”, etc. etc. etc. Donald Rumsfeld, for example, said today that critics of the Bush administration are “morally confused” and trying to “appease a new brand of fascists.”
For the hard-of-thinking out there, I’ll lay out the tenets of “Ur-Fascism” (Eternal Fascism), as outlined by Umberto Eco in his 1995 essay “Eternal Fascism: 14 Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.” Most of these, to be fair, can be seen to apply to the fundamentalist Islamist criminal organizations out there (and let’s call them what they are….criminal organizations, not an enemy nation — The current “War on Terror” makes about as much sense as fighting the Mafia by bombing the shit out of Italy)….but consider how many of them apply to the Neo-Conservative movement, currently occupying our government.
1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
“As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.” Creationism and the Bush Administration’s whole “War on Science” (Global Warming, Stem Cell Research, etc.).
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
“the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.” Constant calls for a return to “Traditional Family Values”, etc.
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.
“Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism.” “Stay the Course”….”We’re gonna Smoke ’em Out”….criticism of Kerry as a “flip-flopper”, etc.
4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
“For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.” Accountable NeoCon officials use words like “morally confused”, leaving out-and-out charges of “treason” to be levelled by paid political hatchetmen like Coulter, Hannity and O’Reilly.
5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
“The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.” “They hate us for our Freedom.” “They want to do us harm.”
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
Which is why you see the constant cries that “Christians are persecuted” — the “Secular War on Christmas”, etc. etc. Christians are apparently oppressed, despite being in charge of the country and running everything.
7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
“I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free….” The NeoCons wrap themselves in the flag.
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
“Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.” The constant contradictory barrage of fear-messages about how the enemy lurks behind every corner, and yet how they cannot defeat the might of the United States.
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
“Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy.” One need look no further than Rumsfeld’s statements today to see this in action. Plus, the framing of everything the NeoCons are doing as “The War on Terror” — a war with no clearly-defined objective, against a nebulous enemy…a recipe for a war that never ends.
10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
“Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world…” The cult of the American, and specifically of the American military. The near-deification of Service. (Yet, oddly, most of the NeoCon elites have never served….in fact, went out of their way to avoid it.)
11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
“In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm.” This is perhaps the one category that applies more to the Islamist movement…although the constant drumbeat of “defending our freedom” as an excuse for every criminal act committed by the NeoCons is an attempt to ascribe heroic motivations to their actions.
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
“This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.” Sex bad, guns good. This is obviously observed by simple comparison of conservative positions regarding reproductive rights, versus their position on gun control.
13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
“Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.” “Activist Judges”, anyone? The portrayal of Ned Lamont and other anti-war candidates as “out of the mainstream”, despite 2/3rds of the American People agreeing with the position….
14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
“Terrorism Surveillance Program”, not “Warrantless Wiretapping of American Citizens.” “Sectarian Violence,” not “Civil War.” There are more examples than can be listed here.
“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.”
–Franklin D. Roosevelt
“When fascism reaches America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”