Saturday, March 08, 2008

Free market tending towards fascism/totalitarianism

Picking up where I left off four years ago. I think there's a connection in both the United States and in general between the rise of fascism and the imposition of free market policies. Conservatives have made a case for it based on the idea of a general collapse of social institutions leading to a vacuum, but there's no reason that the general collapse and dislocation couldn't be on the economic level and caused by the destabilizing effects of an untrammeled free market economy on society.

When people's economic life becomes really unstable, especially after decades where things were relatively prosperous and taken for granted, when people lose the jobs that have made up their careers, their pensions, homes, it's an event that has effects on an ideological and even cultural level. One of the ways this can manifest is through seeing society itself as becoming increasingly corrupt on a cultural and social level. Not just greed causing these things, not just business owners causing them, but the shift towards bad tidings being an indication of a general social decay caused by (insert group here: homosexuals, jews, liberals, illegal immigrants, criminals, elitist hypocrites drinking lattes, radical college professors). Because of this potential deeper fissure, room can open up for a more thorough far right challenge to things than the much too simplistic 'downturns causing demagogues to be popular' scenario. This can in turn metastasize into a call for a fascist government that can take care of the proxy problems.

9/11 provided a great excuse for those in power who didn't want people increasingly questioning why the economy was on a gentle but ever downward going slope. Despite the very unequal up turn of the '90s the U.S. economy had been hollowed out by outsourcing and the consequences of an increasing lack of regulations over business behavior. By having a dramatic event that cost human life, and that was caused by a a religion and a 'people' who were associated in the public mind with racist stereotypes the general malaise and feeling of disruption had something wonderful to pin itself on.

Dear Leader took on a heroic cast and a global war against brown bad people started, culminating in invasions in the Middle East surrounding people portrayed as savage primitives in Afghanistan, never mind that before the Taliban Afghanistan was a modern country, and a person who had already been labeled as another Hitler the first time we invaded Iraq.

And liberals who opposed it and who had been preaching tolerance were now the enemy as well.

That's a relatively decent summary of over six years if I do say so myself. It's a much more dangerous scenario than that of an unpopular leader exploiting outrage over a traumatic act.

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

I think you are using the word fascism too loosely.

Fascism is complex. It needs certain relationship of forces. Fascism involves total aaihilation of the revolutionary movement.

See this.