Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fascism and 9/11

A good example of economic and social causes for fascism is how people responded to 9/11. I thought that the reaction on the part of Americans to the 9/11 events was made possible by the hollowing out of the economy over the decade that preceded 9/11. Alienation was increasing, times were getting harder, and the destruction of the twin towers was the trigger that transformed these latent problems into ugly, nationalistic, fury. The absolute hatred of both arabs and people questioning the reasons for 9/11 was scapegoating by people who were unsure of themselves before 9/11, people who had a general disconnect from public life, had suspicions about enemies responsible for their state....which talk radio pegged on liberals. The people responsible were now liberals, arabs, Muslims, Saddam Hussein, traitrous leftists. The hate channeled and enflamed by the Bush administration and conservative talk radio was based on long standing feelings of exclusion by working people and by middle class people who didn't obviously fit into either a liberal or conservative political slot.

This was the absolute worst way to address these concerns. Instead of blaming the hollowing out of America on corporations, it became the product of decadent liberals. Instead of pointing to a political system bought for and paid for by the rich they attacked liberals preaching tolerance and diversity, which were made into an all encompassing dogma pushed by elites that working people had to swallow against their will. That just about no one was actually doing anything near what they were accused of made no difference.

I think it was based on economics. White people who are working class have felt left out for a long time, for decades, because of the lack of attention to economic concerns. The reaction that happened after 9/11 was based on this resentment. Now, eight years after Bush became President, we have gotten over reactionary solutions for economic concerns. We now have an incoming President who is Progressive and who has given progressive solutions to these economic concerns.

Ultimately, it was all based on Globalization and global economics. Now, surprise surprise, globalization is dead, America has defaulted, and there's a mildly social democratic person getting into office. The fury of resentment may have spent itself, or it may not of; only time will tell.

*on edit: although I would call this possibly the worst written article I've produced, I was writing it before collapsing to sleep, I think it hits the basic points pretty well.

There seems to have been two things going on in the reaction to 9/11: first, the mobilization of resentment on the part of the working class and some of their middle class allies by right wing talk radio, television, and by the Bush administration itself; second was something that I'd call the pod people effect, in reference to the movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" which dealt with the descent of the U.S. into McCarthyism in metaphorical terms. The folks who suddenly and inexplicably went from being seemingly reasonable people to folks who endorsed torture, domestic spying, and war against both Afghanistan and Iraq, appear to have been unfortunate products of our political culture, which talked high about freedom and civil rights but in reality didn't believe in them at all. With 9/11 the emptiness of that rhetoric was exposed on the part of these folks, proving that in a pinch, when it really counted, there are millions of middle class people who would support fascism in the United States.

I have little insight on why elements of the middle class did this, except that it reveals the basic hypocrisy of bourgeois society.

The big bourgeois and capitalist elites of the U.S., at least those sophisticated, seem to have either taken a mercenary position of supporting the reaction while not really believing in it or being against it partially as something that lower class people believed in and therefore declasse. Alternately, the opposition to the reaction on the part of some members of the upper classes could be explained by the fact that, in Chomsky's explanation, they were actually given decent educations about politics that allowed them to more easily evaluate things from a semi-realistic point of view, leading to more dissent against frankly insane policies. Chomsky makes the case that elites are much better educated than average Americans because they're the people who will have to run the country, therefore making heavy indoctrination counterproductive.

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