HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 24, 2008

 
Political Participation - The Real Fascism

by dday

Jesse Taylor at Pandagon had a remarkably insightful piece today about the wingnut carping over the Barack Obama speech in Berlin, the media reaction, and his popularity generally. I really think this is important to understand. The right has always held a goal of minimizing political participation; normally this is done through voter suppression, onerous voter ID or ballot access laws, and generally disenfranchising those for whom it is hardest to engage in the process. Now they've taken it a step further, basically planting the seed that ANY participation whatsoever, not just voting but showing up for a rally or working a phone bank or donating money, is toxic and inherently fascistic. Because their deficit in this election year is enthusiasm, they're trying to make such support and excitement untenable. Behold:

But what (author of Liberal Fascism Jonah) Goldberg has done is provide intellectual cover for a growing meme: Obama is the leader of a new fascist revolution. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s all got to do with the defining downward of fascism towards a gooey puddle that virtually anyone not a movement conservative can step in.

The Goldbergian view of fascism (and I’m sure he’ll deny it, which will then be followed by a criticism of my argument, which will in turn be fascist, which will in turn be the exact point he was trying make) is that the marriage of any measurable popularity whatsoever to any state action whatsoever outside the boundaries of Reaganite conservatism is de facto fascist. The point was never to explore fascism or provide an analysis of the phenomenon that cast new light on it - a feat of which Goldberg was summarily incapable - but instead to provide the exact utility we see on display now, and provide a way to brand any popular Democrat or liberal as the handmaiden of evil.

In a way, Goldberg lucked out (but he’s used to that) - Obama’s popularity and McCain’s plodding campaign provide the perfect stand-in for his argument. A Republican candidate with any stature, any devotion from the base, anyone who’s invested in seeing him elected for reasons that extend beyond his party affiliation, and it’s entirely ruined. A boring Republican running a bad campaign (Bob Dole, Gerald Ford) inevitably creates a fascist Democrat, not by anything they’ve said or done but by the simple act of showing up and not being a dumbass.


Yep. And because McCain is running such an awful campaign, conservatives must then rationalize that there's something deeply wrong with the popular and competent campaign that Barack Obama is running. And so he becomes a leader of a fascist movement. His creation of fliers for his Berlin event in the language of the country where he's appearing becomes proof. So does the location of the event in front of a Nazi monument. And his head is tilted in profile in the picture - just like Hitler! Because electoral history has shown that imitating Hitler is a surefire vote-getter. Those supporters are being lured by music and food they have to pay for into worshipping this false idol who will lead us down a path to destruction.

But that's all subtext, of course. The idea is to create the connection between large crowds and enthralled supporters in the 1930s and in the Obama campaign today. And that is meant to induce feelings of revulsion and shame, not just in those voters who are more passive and see these images on television, but among the very participants themselves. Going to an Obama rally? You're a mindless pawn. Send him money? You are funding a cult. Work on his behalf? You have drank the Kool-Aid and are pathologically creepy.

This pervades the media conception of the Obama candidacy, too. Never in my life have I seen such a concern troll statement like this from a political reporter.

Candy Crowley on CNN: Barack Obama was, indeed, awesome in his Berlin speech tonight, but watch out! Americans might decide he was a little too awesome.


Obama has to be "careful." He mustn't be too presumptuous. He has to scale back with the soaring rhetoric and the inspiration and the winning, you see. It's decidedly unfair of him to run a decent campaign and soak up all the media attention at the expense of the guy who shows up at the German sausage restaurant on the same day as the Berlin speech.

The biggest fear of the GOP is that the great silent majority, the people who don't get involved in politics and don't even vote, are spurred to consistent action. This manifests itself in the concern that they're losing the new media war, which they'll surely throw billions at in the next decade. But there's another element of this project: marginalization. Here's an example: yesterday Color of Change and MoveOn put together a great protest of Fox News' racist attacks on Obama, delivering hundreds of thousands of petitions and enlisting rapper Nas, who actually has a new track called "Sly Fox" about the channel, to be their spokesman. So Bill O'Reilly had to respond.

Fox officials are not only attacking Nas for selling his album (which already topped the charts), some are likening the anti-racism activists to the KKK. MTV reports that Bill O'Reilly also responded, deriding protesters such as MoveOn as "the new Klan" with "a radical left agenda." He continued:

"The latest smear from Move On is telling their Kool-Aid-drinking zombie followers that Fox News is smearing Barack Obama and is a racist concern. Of course, that's a lie. This broadcast and FNC in general have been exceedingly fair to Senator Obama. ... But in order to intimidate anyone from criticizing Obama in any way, Move On is playing the race card."


It's a fairly rare coalition that can include Nas AND the Klan, but that's the world according to BillO.

Being a member of MoveOn for almost its entire 10 years, it's pretty clear to me that they represent a kind of passive liberalism which engages people online who otherwise might not participate.

MoveOn's success (and, indeed, its limitations) is powered by its appeal to today's non-shouters. Though its politics are in many ways the opposite of the Nixon silent majority's, they share a disposition. They are people not inclined to protest but whose rising unease with the direction of the country has led to a new political consciousness. For citizens angered, upset and disappointed with their government but unsure how to channel those sentiments, MoveOn provides simple, discrete actions: sign this petition, donate money to run this ad, show up at this vigil. "Before I joined MoveOn," says staffer Anna Galland, "I was organizing in Rhode Island doing faith-based antiwar activism. In March 2003, MoveOn had put out an action alert for a vigil against the Iraq War. There were 500 people on the steps of the Capitol, and I remember thinking, 'I know all the activists in the state; where did all these people come from?' I think many people have a MoveOn moment where they look around and realize that this organization has managed to tap into a much broader range of people than they might have seen at past activist events."


MoveOn is essentially a conduit for ordinary Americans to collect their voices and mobilize political power. Color of Change is doing the same thing in the African-American community. They aren't the Klan - they're actually you, your friends and neighbors. They have fairly baseline liberal beliefs, nothing shocking. This kind of activism isn't going to change the world - clicking "send" isn't the final step on the road to salvation - but it's a gateway into more civic engagement and participation. And when it's demonized as "the Klan" or some outpost on the dirty hippie left, the goal is obvious - to strangle activism at the very outset. If MoveOn is smeared and made radical, there's not very much hope at REALLY engaging people (That's why it was so damn stupid for the Democratic Congress to condemn MoveOn for the "Betrayus" ad last year). And it's the same with the more intense activism of the Obama campaign, from their MyBO social media tool to the volunteer events and the like.

We have to recognize this and understand it. There is a very concerted and completely ahistorical effort to make "fascism" synonymous with "popularity." As Jesse Taylor notes:

On the one hand, it’s an awful abuse of the concept of fascism, disrespecting the millions upon millions of people whose lives and livelihoods were destroyed because of the dream of nationalist identity and corporate power uber alles. On the other hand, it is remarkably entertaining to see them try to figure out how Barack Obama’s favorite ice cream flavor plays right into the hands of the fascist dream.


Entertaining, but also dangerous. They're taking a hip campaign and trying to make it radioactive. Those silent masses could easily be turned off by something they are browbeaten into considering the work of wild-eyed cultists. It's absurd, but it can be effective if we don't head it off. With growing numbers of the politically active and engaged, the Republican Party withers and dies. This is their latest suppression tactic.


.