It’s Time to be Clear 8

The King is Dead, Long Live the King (also lets not forget the Queen). As Paul Street puts it, “It’s hard to get overly excited about Joe Biden on the Left.” as his ascendency to the Presidency of the highest power on the world stage, is premised on an “extremely low bar : he’s not a malignant fascist sociopath.” Street goes on to explain what he describes as Biden’s “corporate, imperial, white-supremacist, and patriarchal record.”

Biden’s second in command, Kamala Harris is, like me, Tamil. She is also African American. Indeed, she represents the present inclusive phase of the ever cycling identitarianism of American exceptionalism. However as Fawzia Afzal-Khan suggests, the identity politics of her election as the first female vice-president of the United States of America has, thus far, been only skin-deep. It is not, she insists, something we should “tout as a badge of honor or pride.” She furthers asserts that what we need instead, is an affiliative identity politics, rather than one that is merely skin-deep. While I sincerely wish America and Americans well in this dawning presidential cycle, I am not very optimistic.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/22/why-biden-may-be-less-evil-than-obama-and-clinton-and-why-this-may-not-matter-all-that-much-in-the-end/

https://counter-currents.com/2017/06/what-is-identitarianism/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/21/will-kamala-do-the-right-thing/

It’s Time to be Clear 7

Donald Trump must not be treated as the cause of the recent debacle of American democracy – its attempted usurpation by fascistic forces. He may have been the catalyst for this ugly scenario but it arose from conditions that are endemic and systemic. We have to remember and accept that 73 million Americans voted for him in the last election. As Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff explain, it is in fact the relentless bipartisan entrenchment of neo-liberal economics by both Republicans and Democrats that has brought this demon seed to fruit. Donald Trump has simply, “peel[ed] back the gilded veneer of democracy in America. His presidency has revealed what neoliberalism has wrought: a post-democratic U.S. ripe for fascism.”

The decimation of America’s public sector and its national industries in cynical programmes of privatization and globalization, as well as the hollowing out of American society by the depletion of support and services for its most vulnerable, have reduced American democracy to being a lifeless shadow of its imagined self. As Peter Fairman shows, while the Reagan administration pushed privatization forward as an overt political ideology, Clinton sold the privatization as a politically neutral management reform. Neoliberal devastation his has been a bipartisan adventure.

As Higdon and Huff go on to say, “Democracy ceases to exist unless the citizenry participates in and respects the process, put its faith in and defends public institutions, accepts verifiable electoral results, and attains the critical thinking and media literacy skills necessary to make well informed and sophisticated decisions.” While the United States of America is our case-in-point, I believe that these criteria are not met in numerous other failing democracies across the world.

https://eand.co/how-many-american-idiots-are-there-73-million-bded995868cf

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/14/ripe-for-fascism-a-post-coup-dtrump-autopsy-of-american-democracy/

https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2994&context=dissertations_1

It’s Time to be Clear 5

In an essay titled Ur Fascism, Umberto Eco lists 14 Fascistic characteristics. This essay appeared in the June 22, 1995 issue of the New York Review. I have taken the liberty of encapsulating Eco’s explanation of these characteristics as follows –
1. A penchant for traditionalism
2. The rejection of modernism
3. The cult of action
4. A prohibition of disagreement
5. A fear of difference
6. An appeal to the middle class
7. A belief in conspiracy theories
8. A feeling of humiliation
9. The glorification of war
10. A contempt for weakness
11. The cult of heroism
12. The cult of machismo
13. A charismatic populism
14. A stupefaction of language

It is instructive to compare, contrast and combine this list with Robert Paxton’s List from his The Anatomy of Fascism which I present in my post titled It’s Time to be Clear 3. It is imperative, given the unprecedented storming of Capitol Hill by Trump supporters, that Americans and, indeed, people of all nations consider their national polity in these terms. As we move deeper into the 21st Century, many other exemplars of democracy, albeit of less consequence on the world stage than the USA, will fare just as badly, if measured against these criteria.

For Americans, I suggest that this means more than seeking retribution from the Donald. While I do not doubt that he is culpable, I feel that such simplistic scapegoating, belies the true nature of American exceptionalism, of the bipartisan dialectic of its military-industrial project: War on Crime – Globalization – War on Terror – Yes, we Can! – Make America Great Again! The Republican Party will want to purge the memory of their willing Trumpian engagement from the record and the Democrats will want to foreground this entanglement for political advantage, but all this will distract us from their reciprocal complicity in their nation descent from democracy into oligarchy and authoritarianism.

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1995/06/22/ur-fascism/?lp_txn_id=1012119

It’s Time to be Clear 4

Fascism must be distinguished from other kinds of authoritarianism and dictatorship and according to Gaetano Salvemini its key characteristic is the displacement of democracy and due process by what Robert Paxton has paraphrased as the “acclamation of the street.” Unlike other forms of oppression, fascism redirects the peoples’ passions into “an obligatory domestic unity” based on scapegoating within the nation and xenophobia without. In this definition the term ‘fascist’ can not be applied to even the most oppressive predemocratic dictatorships as it involves the idea of sliding away from free institutions in pursuit of a nationalist imperative.

In The Anatomy of Fascism Paxton proposes five stages in this decline. Stage One is the establishment of radical Right movements with some explicit or implicit link to fascism. He asserts that this has been the situation in “every industrial, urbanized society with mass politics” since the end of World War II. In Stage Two, these movements become rooted in their political systems as the mainstream elites start to cultivate and direct them against purported internal enemies. Stage Three is the seizure of power, Stage Four, the exercise of power and Stage Five involves the movements radicalization or entropy.

While Donald Trump’s escapade on Capitol Hill is a premature acting out, an impotent folly and a parody of Stage Three, it might also be a foreshadowing of more odious things to come in the United States of America.

http://libcom.org/files/Robert%20O.%20Paxton-The%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20%20-Knopf%20(2004).pdfhttp://libcom.org/files/Robert%20O.%20Paxton-The%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20%20-Knopf%20(2004).pdf
https://time.com/5908244/strongman-fascism-history/

It’s Time to be Clear 3

While Trump has evoked some obscene human emotions in the USA, other world leaders like Putin, Oban, Erdogan, Bolsonaro and Modi have arguably been invoking the very same fascistic emotions in more sophisticated and impactful ways. Robert Paxton describes the “mobilizing passions” of Fascism thus –
• a sense of overwhelming crisis
• the subordination of the individual to the group
• a belief that one’s group’s victimhood
• a fear of the corrosive effects of liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences
• the need for a purer community
• the a natural leader capable of incarnating the group’s historical destiny;
• the superiority of the leader’s instincts over reason
• the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will
• the right to dominate others

I invite you to apply Paxton’s criteria to evaluate your own political environment and to assess the mobilizing strategies of the politicians involved.

http://libcom.org/files/Robert%20O.%20Paxton-The%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20%20-Knopf%20(2004).pdfhttp://libcom.org/files/Robert%20O.%20Paxton-The%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20%20-Knopf%20(2004).pdf

https://time.com/5908244/strongman-fascism-history/

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jair-bolsonaro-brazil-election-results-president-fascism-far-right-fernando-haddad-a8606391.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/06/25/erdogan/

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-narendra-modis-indiahttps://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jair-bolsonaro-brazil-election-results-president-fascism-far-right-fernando-haddad-a8606391.html



It’s Time to be Clear 1

Yesterday’s disturbing events at the United States capitol should give pause to democracies all over the word. Any nation that tolerates its mainstream politicians invoking and deploying extremist sentiments in their political agendas are, in my opinion, courting a similar eventuality. Communal and sectarian sentiments are present in society but they are generally innocuous unless they are exploited and exacerbated by politicians. When extremism is amplified to such an extent that it purports to usurp democracy, fascism must surely lie around the corner.

Adler Dumbs It Down

khadr

Please listen to the radio conversation between Charles Adler of CKNW and Globe and Mail journalist Margaret Wente (linked here ) on the underpinnings of the present debate on the Omar Khadr settlement (if you can bear to), and then ask yourselves dear Canadians, if there is much between us and our neighbours down south. That this broadcast was aired on the CKNW radio station owned by media giant Corus Entertainment which is in turn controlled (85%) by the Shaw family which also controls(78%) Shaw Communications, is in itself a matter worthy of discussion, but that is another story …

I have to declare that, I for one, find in the Canadian government’s apology and settlement in the Omar Khadr case a source of great satisfaction. I am happy that the Canadian judiciary acts independently of the executive and that it does relatively well in defining and upholding what I would call deep Canadian values. By ‘deep’ I mean values that transcend the racist idea that the norms of this land reflect the cultural proclivities of certain dominant groups.  I am writing of more fundamental values that all Canadians might equally subscribe to – the values that ensure a proper level of protection, responsibility and accountability from the Canadian state for all Canadians. The significance  of the executive’s acknowledgement of the likelihood of our Judiciary upholding Khadr’s Charter Rights is in effect the judicial entrenchment of the states obligation to protect all of us – immigrants, natives and yes the old time settlers too, against the excesses and abuses of other states, however powerful or purportedly allied to our own.

While the right to this protection of young Omar Khadr seems, from the tenor of this radio broadcast, to be beyond the ken of many in this nation, I would like to remind everyone that the present case serves to delineate the protections afforded Canadian citizen, particularly children, whatever the complexion of their actions or of their skins. Whether the present executive did right in settling Khadr’s civil suit, as I am convinced they did, is as much a question of fiscal responsibility based on an evaluation of legal outcomes, as it is a question of ethics – the proper determination and honest acknowledgement of executive malfeasance. Both of these questions are, of course, debatable. However, this prime time radio conversation does not begin to unearth and explore this debate … what it does instead is  patently pander to certain sentiments in the Canadian audience and more pertinently, in the Canadian Polity. The fact that this show is is able to remain on air reflects, and reflects upon, the conscience and consciousness of our citizenry, or on the moral and political proclivities of those who control our media, or  on both!

Broadcast available at https://omny.fm/shows/charles-adler-tonight/charles-adler-tonight-a-unique-canadian-conversati

Image http://www.msfanpage.link/canada-pay-10-million-apologize-ex-gitmo-inmate-guilty-murdering-medic/