Thursday, 13 January 2011
Built in Hardware for a Fascist Revolution
Zeroing in on an electorate ripe for the picking?
I have to start today by correcting a possible contradiction. I said I didn't care about guns in the last column. That could be misinterpreted as me having no opinion on gun control issues. What I meant was I see no valid reason for civilians to own firearms, full stop. For me, the issue scarcely warrants me thinking about it, much less debating it. Hence the dismissal of guns which could have been misconstrued as indifference towards them on my part, which is not the case. On the contrary, I am very concerned about the implications of a widely and heavily armed population to the south of Canada. My short shrift of the subject is due to my amazement of the "two-sided" debate that rages on over the issue (whether or not its ok to "legally" procure and own guns) despite it representing one of the obvious scourges to humanity's progress and future survival.
It is important I talk about this today because the Arizona Jan 9 mass shooting has, for the first time in several mass shootings, rekindled a debate about gun control that occurs outside the U.S., here in Canada, and never seems to really fully happen in the U.S. This isn't a Michael Moore style-rose coloured glasses love in of my country and the comparative lack of violence; I try to avoid such facile conjecture. In my mind the fact remains, though, that Sarah Palin will, in some sense, always have blood on her hands for putting Gabrielle Giffords face on a map of candidates that the tea party believed beatable during the fall 2010 mid term elections with targets on their faces and the motto "Don't retreat. Reload." As much as she will try to deny this connection and say it is below the belt to bring it up, I mentioned this item recently to three thoroughly apolitical and disinterested people whose faces instantly melted into consternation and disgust upon hearing it, which was all the validation I need.
The widespread use of firearms is now stoked by an extremist popular discourse heavy on intimidation and thuggery. Tea Party Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from Minnesota has also told her constituents they need to be "armed and dangerous", failed Nevada Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle said something like she was going to "throttle the hell out of" her opponent, Harry Reid, and failed Tea Party New Yorker Carl Paladino said he was going to take a "baseball bat" to work in the legislature on his first day if he was victorious. In the wake of the safeway shooting, during period of heightened sensitivity, such people are now trying to portray their schtick as innocuous and accuse those making the observation that such aggressive and angry statements could be having adverse side effects of sinking even lower than them. In fact, going lower than them isn't possible. Their defence doesn't hold water in the big picture. The steroid, rough and tough, macho, Ima git you n kick yore ass bullshit has permeated the American culture on so many levels over time, through 1,001 openings, and we are a long way off from general agreement that there is something sick in a culture that responds so favourably to it. The guns and ammo sloganeering tea partiers' refusal to admit that at this point, and ramping up of their attacks rather than taking a perfect oppurtunity to tone it down and apologize, demonstrates that this tragic event has if nothing else emboldened them, and given an even better charge to "reload" with for their future plans.
There has been no shortage of excellent media reporting in the last week condemning the above tendencies, statements, and actions and linking them directly to the massacre, even though it doesn't appear to have been politically motivated. And the people getting blamed responded recently with the strip mall sovereign spokesperson in chief Sarah issuing a 7 minute video accusing her opponents of cyncically trying to put the blame on her for political profit and renewing her commitment to "fight for people's freedom", including the 2nd amendement of the constitution.
Ah, The constitution. Now there's a document getting trotted around by these same TP folks who love the stirring "we the people" intro to stir up supporters in favour of their favourite cause, "Restoring America's greatness". They would be wise, however, not to presume the 335 year old document as all-important or infallible. Let us remember that a document is, after all, just a document. It does not retain untouchable status as societies and peoples evolve over time, and people will do what they will without feeling the need to refer or defer to it at every occasion because it is open to interpretation. A case in point would be the "sacred" coran, the literal belief of which plenty of hateful and misogynist islamists wave around like it is a piece of smoking gun evidence exonerating them in the courtroom. Yet how many people listen to them despite their correct interpretation of the "all-powerful" work. When Glenn Beck et al. talk about the founding fathers and defending the constitution, they are committing this same fraud, using a document that has nothing to do with them to raise themselves on a higher plane than everybody else. Be warned that people who reflexively refer to the same inanimate object they consider infallible whenever they are confronted with an opposing viewpoint are usually the most full of crap. They act as though the highest ideals enunciated in the documents they site only apply to them; while simultaneously behaving like the biggest hypocrites possible. These people don't deserve the time of day. As for "greatness", they would do well to caution themselves in doing an objective assessment of what was so great about America at that time. I will never forget comedian Dave Chappelle's remark about why he didn't like American money - "To me, our money looks like baseball cards with slave owners on them". A true statement which, made during a stand-up comedy routine, actually holds up under the most serious academic magnifying glass.
Consider the historical scrutiny, and resulting negative public and popular opinions imposed on other powerful nation state entities. The Catholic Church gets a lot of grief for its most atrocious recent offence, paedophilia and molestation, but the backlash against it (what lapsed Catholics euphemistically refer to as their "issues with the Catholic church") is really due to a wide range of bad behavoiur throughout the ages, like the crusades and supporting the nazis, combined with the ridiculousness and patent absurdity of its doctrines, like forbidding non-procreation-purpose sex and claiming that its staff is entirely made up of males who have never ejaculated in their lives. High roads elsewhere are picked and chosen: China's beating up of Tibet and Falun Gong is well known and even a cause célèbre in certain North American conservative circles. Turkey still can't shake the bad rap from that damn genocide 95 years ago. Western legislatures continue to put motions forward year after year condemning it. Yet the obvious fact that the 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms, was placed in such high priority by the founding fathers, out of a need to accomplish two vital tasks to its achieving dominance: keeping a restive population of slaves dormant and carrying out an ongoing genocide against first nations, bears no such scrutiny. It instead referred to as "greatness".
Greatness, real or perceived, is one of the root causes of nationalism, a non-tangible and enigmatic force rooted in the equally undefinable "national psyche" term. It fell out of vogue after the second world war precisely because of the far-right fascist movements it gave rise to and the devastation that they wrought, and were also wrought on their own populations by the allies. A couple of instructive treatises recommending us to abandon nationalism can be found here.
That heavy text, unfortunately, is not the music to many millions to the south of us' ears that the talk radio/book tour/cable news/conservative blog racket it. That it is not being pointed to as instructive is why I believe conditions are perfect for fascism to take hold in the United States.
The tragic incident of Jan 9 aside, there is no doubt that the people who are hard-wired nutty have monopolized a sizeable part of public debate and their declarations resonate with a lot of people. Once you can capitalize successfully on the notion that people are worse off due to external forces that their "enemies" control, you have the basic groundwork for fascism. This is capitalizing on people's captive brains, of which there seems to be enough ripe for the picking when you look at Beck or Palin or O'Reilly's book sales and Savages radio numbers. I will call that the software of a fascist revolution, which is then mixed with the standard ingredients of 20th century fascism: High unemployment, low levels of education, high levels of military pride, religious puritanism and distrust of foreigners, adult males sitting around with nothing to do all day, and economic and political humiliation, a fall from grace if you will, or "greatness".
A New Flag for a New Country
Now that we have determined what software is required and already running to get a fascist revolution off the ground (and yes, I do not employ this term lightly and I would call it that at this point), all that is left to happen is for all the sometimes-used hardware sitting there to be activated in order to propel the fascists to power. And there's even this flag for them I stumbled upon. It might get ugly, but it may also have benefits like a gradual unwinding of empire and the rotten boom-bust-trap-bailout-consume sequence they seem determined to have the whole world living in "in everyone's best interest". I just don't know what sort of marshall plan IT will be available to help prop up the system when it crashes; I think reinstalling the software that allowed the talk radio hosts, fox newscasters, and political oppurtunists to prosper and flourish will be firmly out of the question.