Saturday, May 06, 2006

Running with scissors

One of the more impressive tricks the Far Right has accomplished over the last 20 years or so is the wholesale re-definition of the political playing field. The profile of today's "moderate" conservative would have been seen as John Birch-extreme thirty years ago.

I think it was way back in college that I realized that politics is not a straight line from left to right, but a circle that stitched together where communism and fascism meet. What used to be called radical left - Soviet-style communism -- is a lot closer in many ways to radical right wing dictatorship than it is to what we in the left today believe. Stalin and Hitler had far more in common than just mass murder. The theoretical distinctions between corrupt state ownership and powerful private corporations in bed with corrupt dictators pale in relation to the commonality: oppressive state power.

So given the arbitrary nature of the political yardstick, how did we end up in this sorry place?

I just realized that there is a very cynical explanation for all of this. If you start from the assumption that the political spectrum is a circle, but want to use the straight line metaphor as a political tool to manipulate the unwashed, you simply cut the circle so as to define your location as the middle. In the case of the folks running the Bush cabal, their idea of the middle fits what thirty years ago was considered, if not fascism, its close personal friend. If they had tried to run on their current agenda in 1972 or 1976, they would have been widely seen as the radicals we latter-day libruls still insist they really are. But because they have been the ones wielding the rhetorical scissors, they get to define terms.

The benefits are enormous: they get to sanitize their entire neighborhood, and to define all evil as belonging on the opposite end of the spectrum. When is the last time you heard anybody on the national stage point to a single current real-world example of fascism as such-- not just within the U.S., but anywhere in the world? It never happens -- at the very moment they are cementing the most powerful anti-democratic regime ever to rule our nation, they define the evils of Big Government --any big government -- as a liberal excess.

The pathetic aspect of all this, of course, is that the Democrats acted as if they had no idea what was going on, and fell all over themselves to adopt the Far Right labeling scheme, running rightward in reflexive, uncomprehending obedience to the new Republican taxonomy.
Running scared -- without the scissors.

Please discuss. Turn in your blue books in 1 hour.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think it facism, but then I start thinking I must be wrong because no one around me seems to realize it, but then something slaps me right in the face with its ugliness and I am sure it's facism again until I start to wonder why no one around me is aware of it.


What are the chances that a few of us are only hallucinating that we are living under a fascist government? No, you are not a good person to ask since you are living with the same ugly hallucination...


9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone help me. I have 7 brothers and sisters, all older except one. We had a good upbringing...our parents taught us to believe in God the Father, God the Son, and Franklin Roosevelt. I have two sisters you voted for that Unspeakable Horror in OUR White House...twice!!!! They are both educated and I am so ashamed I can't stand it. How to I live with this stain on the Family? Both Parents are long gone so it's not like I can go tattle.

3:36 AM  
Blogger Dr. Bloor said...

I remember sitting in silent horror with a bunch of housemates on E. College Street as the returns came in and made it obvious that Reagan was going to stomp Carter. We all knew it was coming, but none of us quite believed it when it came.

In retrospect, it's easy to see why it happened; Jimmy Carter was a very, very good man and a very, very bad wizard. Ronald Reagan's vacuous avuncularity was the perfect tonic for the masses yearning a free lunch--military strength, a robust economy, and shining cities on hills--all at a reduced tax rate!

I don't know if Reagan would actually approve of anything Chimpy has done, but the Empty Suit that was his administration provided the current group of greedhead fascists (of course they're fascists) with the perfect empty vessel to fill as they liked after his administration and his higher cognitive functions rode off into the sunset. Say it with a smile and a swagger, tell the masses that it's what Ronnie would have done, and it must be true.

At this point, people won't call it fascism not just because their isn't anything resembling a loyal opposition to call bullshit, but because it would admit that we've aided, abetted and become, well, fascists.

Dear Anonymous:

You're not responsible for your siblings' votes, and I wouldn't recommend spending much energy trying to figure them out or change them. My brother went for Reagan twice in the 80's and might have gone for Bush I. Then he died of AIDS, just a year or two before the emergence of a new generation of very effective antivirals that almost certainly been around earlier had Ronnie had the human decency to utter the word "AIDS" and properly fund research during his administration. Go figure.

6:58 AM  

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