Yeeee...sss! Conservatorii incep sa recunoasca incet-incet ceea ce era
vizibil de 4 ani. Ca fascismul american a luat amploare! Atentie: Nu
Michael Moore il compara pe Bush cu Hitler, ci oamenii lui Bush insusi
au inceput sa traga semnalul de alarma. Articolul a fost publicat
intr-una din cele mai prestigioase reviste ale dreptei americane, the
American Conservative. 

Asa ca apelul meu pt sleahta de pupicuristi ai lui Bush (Schiau-
Jigodia Nazista, Bouleanu' turnatoru' securist, Valachus per Rasistus
Libidinosus) e simplu: cumparati-va repede 100 suluri de hartie
igienica si stergeti-va vartos la gura dupa fiecare mesaj postat pe

February 14, 2005 Issue
Copyright © 2005 The American Conservative

Hunger for Dictatorship: War to export democracy may wreck our own.
by Scott McConnell

Students of history inevitably think in terms of periods: the New
Deal, McCarthyism, "the Sixties" (1964-1973), the NEP, the
trials—all have their dates. Weimar, whose cultural excesses made
effective propaganda for the Nazis, now seems like the antechamber to
Nazism, though surely no Weimar figures perceived their time that way
as they were living it. We may pretend to know what lies ahead,
feigning certainty to score polemical points, but we never do.

Nonetheless, there are foreshadowings well worth noting. The last
weeks of 2004 saw several explicit warnings from the antiwar Right
about the coming of an American fascism. Paul Craig Roberts in these
pages wrote of the "brownshirting" of American
conservatism—a word
that might not have surprised had it come from Michael Moore or
Michael Lerner. But from a Hoover Institution senior fellow, former
assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, and
one-time Wall Street Journal editor, it was striking.

Several weeks later, Justin Raimondo, editor of the popular website, wrote a column headlined, "Today's
are Fascists." Pointing to the justification of torture by
conservative legal theorists, widespread support for a militaristic
foreign policy, and a retrospective backing of Japanese internment
during World War II, Raimondo raised the prospect of "fascism
with a
democratic face." His fellow libertarian, Mises Institute
Lew Rockwell, wrote a year-end piece called "The Reality of Red
Fascism," which claimed that "the most significant
shift in our time has gone almost completely unremarked, and even
unnoticed. It is the dramatic shift of the red-state bourgeoisie from
leave-us-alone libertarianism, manifested in the Congressional
elections of 1994, to almost totalitarian statist nationalism. Whereas
the conservative middle class once cheered the circumscribing of the
federal government, it now celebrates power and adores the central
state, particularly its military wing."

I would argue that Rockwell—who makes the most systematic
argument of
the three—overstates the libertarian component of the 1994
victory, which could just as readily be credited to heartland
rejection of the '60s cultural liberalism that came into office
the Clintons. And it is difficult to imagine any scenario, after 9/11,
that would not lead to some expansion of federal power. The United
States was suddenly at war, mobilizing to strike at a Taliban
government on the other side of the world. The emergence of terrorism
as the central security issue had to lead, at the very least, to
increased domestic surveillance—of Muslim immigrants especially.
is the health of the state, as the libertarians helpfully remind us,
but it doesn't mean that war leads to fascism.

But Rockwell (and Roberts and Raimondo) is correct in drawing
attention to a mood among some conservatives that is at least latently
fascist. Rockwell describes a populist Right website that originally
rallied for the impeachment of Bill Clinton as "hate-filled ...
advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year
now." One of the biggest right-wing talk-radio hosts regularly
for the mass destruction of Arab cities. Letters that come to this
magazine from the pro-war Right leave no doubt that their writers
would welcome the jailing of dissidents. And of course it's not
us. When USA Today founder Al Neuharth wrote a column suggesting that
American troops be brought home sooner rather than later, he was blown
away by letters comparing him to Tokyo Rose and demanding that he be
tried as a traitor. That mood, Rockwell notes, dwarfs anything that
existed during the Cold War. "It celebrates the shedding of
blood, and
exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the
red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God
marching on earth—not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy
God himself."

The warnings from these three writers would have been significant even
if they had not been complemented by what for me was the most striking
straw in the wind. Earlier this month the New York Times published a
profile of Fritz Stern, the now retired but still very active
professor of history at Columbia University and one of my first and
most significant mentors. I met Stern as an undergraduate in the
spring of 1974. His lecture course on 20th-century Europe combined
intellectual lucidity and passion in a way I had never imagined
possible. It led me to graduate school, and if I later became diverted
from academia into journalism, it was no fault of his. In grad school,
I took his seminars and he sat on my orals and dissertation committee.
As was likely the case for many of Stern's students, I read
of his books The Politics of Cultural Despair and The Failure of
Illiberalism again and again in my early twenties, their phraseology
becoming imbedded in my own consciousness.

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
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.

He is not a man of the Left. He would have been on the Right side of
the spectrum of the Ivy League professoriat—seriously
and an open and courageous opponent of university concessions to the
"revolutionary students" of 1968. He might have described
himself as a
conservative social democrat, of the sort that might plausibly
gravitate toward neoconservatism. An essay of his in Commentary in the
mid-1970s drew my attention to the magazine for the first time.

But he did not go further in that direction, perhaps understanding
something about the neocons that I missed at the time. One afternoon
in the early 1980s, during a period when I was reading Commentary
regularly and was beginning to write for it, he told me, clearly
enjoying the pun, that my views had apparently "Kristolized."

It is impossible to overstate my pleasure at being on the same side of
the barricades with him today. That side is, of course, that of the
antiwar movement; the side of a conservatism (or liberalism) that
finds Bush's policies reckless and absurd and the
neoconservatives who
inspire and implement them deluded and dangerous. In the past year, I
had seen Stern's letters to the editor in the Times ("Now the
`freedom' has become a newly invoked justification for the
of a country that did not attack us, whose people have not greeted our
soldiers as liberators. … The world knows that all manner of
traditional rights associated with freedom are threatened in our own
country. ... The essential element of a democratic
been weakened, as secrecy, mendacity and intimidation have become the
hallmarks of this administration. ... Now `freedom' is being
of meaning and reduced to a slogan. But one doesn't demean the
without injuring the substance.") In the profile of him in the
he sounds an alarm of the very phenomenon Roberts, Raimondo, and
Rockwell are speaking about openly.

To an audience at the Leo Baeck Institute, on the occasion of
receiving a prize from Germany's foreign minister, Stern noted
Hitler had seen himself as "the instrument of providence" and
his "racial dogma with Germanic Christianity." This
transfiguration of politics … largely ensured his success."
The Times'
Chris Hedges asked Stern about the parallels between Germany then and
America now. He spoke of national mood—drawing on a lifetime of
scholarship that saw fascism coming from below as much as imposed by
elites above. "There was a longing in Europe for fascism before
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."

This is characteristic Stern—measured and precise—but signals
to me
that the warning from the libertarians ought not be simply dismissed
as rhetorical excess. I don't think there are yet real fascists
in the
administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them
—hungry to bomb foreigners and smash those Americans who might
And when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind. They
could be propelled into power by a populace ever more frustrated that
the imperialist war it has supported—generally for the most banal
patriotic reasons—cannot possibly end in victory. And so
are sought, and if we can't bomb Arabs into submission, or the
domestic critics of Bush will serve.

Stern points to the religious (and more explicitly Protestant)
component in the rise of Nazism—but I don't think the
mood is strongest among the so-called Christian Right. The critical
letters this magazine receives from self-identified evangelical
Christians are almost always civil in tone; those from Christian
Zionists may quote Scripture about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in
ways that are maddeningly nonrational and indisputably
pre-Enlightenment—but these are not the letters foaming with a
for those with the presumption to oppose George W. Bush's wars for
freedom and democracy. The genuinely devout are perhaps less inclined
to see the United States as "God marching on earth."

Secondly, it is necessary to distinguish between a sudden
proliferation of fascist tendencies and an imminent danger. There may
be, among some neocons and some more populist right-wingers,
unmistakable antidemocratic tendencies. But America hasn't yet
experienced organized street violence against dissenters or a state
that is willing—in an unambiguous fashion—to jail its
critics. The
administration certainly has its far Right ideologues—the
Post's recent profile of Alberto Gonzales, whose memos are
written for him by Cheney aide David Addington, provides striking
evidence. But the Bush administration still seems more embarrassed
than proud of its most authoritarian aspects. Gonzales takes some
pains to present himself as an opponent of torture; hypocrisy in this
realm is perhaps preferable to open contempt for international law and
the Bill of Rights.

And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an
American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new
period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to
American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right
that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of
core American freedoms. That would be the titanic irony of course, the
mother of them all—that a war initiated under the pretense of
spreading democracy would lead to its destruction in one of its very
birthplaces. But as historians know, history is full of ironies.   

February 14, 2005 Issue

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