Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Fear of Fascism

Mickey Z has a rant on ZNet about the fears of fascism that we keep hearing about from people on the Left. The sentiments he expresses are ones I share. Here's what he writes:

Whether we want to accept it or not; we've heard it all before. The fascists are perpetually at the gate, it seems. But, I submit: Are Bush's efforts truly more frightening than, say, Woodrow Wilson's repressive behavior during World War I?

He might also have mentioned Roosevelt's actions during World War II, what with the internment of the Japanese (something Michelle Malkin's "scholarly" research has brought to the forefrong of our consciousness), or Lincoln's Cvil War, when political dissent was often met with violence in the Union, and the Constitution was treated as "more like guidelines than actual rules" (to quote one of my son's favorite movies). I'm sure historians have a whole host of other examples from U.S. history as well. The point being, all of the things people like Brian Leiter have cited as evidence that a fascist totalitarian state is imminent, have happened before, especially during war time, and thusfar we've avoided outright fasicism.

Still, while I agree with Mickey's general sentiment, I think I might answer one of his questions differently than he would. He asks:

But what should we make of the claims of the Democrats (and the disturbing number of lefties who support them)? What about all the yarns spun about liberties lost...solely due, we hear, to one inarticulate puppet from Texas?

Like I said, I agree that all of these fears are over the top, and the threat of fascism overblown. Still, I for one am glad that people like Leiter and the other "lefties" who are so quick to jump on any attempt to trample on civil liberties, curb dissenting speech, and use fear and war to sell blatantly undemocratic acts, are around. I don't fear a movement towards fascism, but people like Leiter, Timothy Burke, or David Neiwert, hyperbolic as they may be, are the reasons I do not fear it. As long as their voices are heard, fascism will have to fight a steep uphill battle in this country. It's times when dissenting voices were too quiet, or even silent, that the U.S. government has been able to commit atrocities like the Japanese internment. Can you imagine what the government might have done at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, or how much more potentially damaging to democracy the Patriot Act would have been, if there hadn't been a loud and consistent voice of opposition? So, let them rant and rave in a way that makes them look a little foolish at times, I say. These are the sorts of fools that democratic societies cannot live without. This is especially true when, as Mickey (quoting Gore Vidal) says, the U.S. has "managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity-much less dissent."


paperwight said...

The question is, at what point do you stop being a Good German? At some point you have to speak up and say "We are going in a direction which has in the past led to a bad place."

If you ask me, it's better to speak up too early, rather than too late.

Chris said...

Definitely. That's my point. The people who speak up when they perceive any hint of fascism, while they may look a bit loopy, are important, because they keep everyone else in check. I'll take them over "good Germans" every time.

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