YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

September 17, 2017

Fascism and The Big Lie

 Conservative Dinesh D’Souza sums up his new book The Big Lie thus: The Left is Fascist, not the Right as the Left alleges.

What is wrong with D’Souza’s picture?

1. It is true that there is no agreement among scholars about whether or not there is such a thing as “generic fascism,” but historians have created a mountain of scholarship attacking the general notion of “fascism” as a generalized type. I have myself made the distinction between specific forms of “fascism” here, trying perhaps to get out of the muddle by making autodidacts empowered by the printing press the underlying target of authoritarian wrath. (See https://clarespark.com/2013/04/21/fascism-what-it-is-what-it-is-not/.) My opinion: D’Souza is throwing around dated concepts he doesn’t understand; 1930s Pop Front/New Deal liberals accused their conservative opponents of “fascism,” while some liberals returned the favor by smearing the New Left with the same moniker (and with respect to the New Left mystification of class relations, the liberals were accurate).

2. D’Souza has misappropriated the notion of the ‘Big Lie” as propagated by Hitler in Mein Kampf. Hitler was blaming the Allies (specifically Britain) for war propaganda and above all “the Jews” for being bad fathers to the German Volk. (See https://clarespark.com/2014/01/16/hitler-and-the-big-lie-corrected/.) In other words, a sharply divided Germany could be united without the analysis provided by (evil, materialist) Jewish Bolshevists (the Communists). In this, I agree with the Left that fascism was a counter-revolution. I would add that “fascism” is continuous with the Counter-Reformation and even (Protestant) organic conservatism (https://clarespark.com/2015/01/23/what-is-an-organic-conservative/.)

3. Scholars are at odds over the relationship of social democracy and Nazism. Some of my (conservative) FB friends have pointed out some structural similarities between “the planning state” and Hitler’s regime. I countered with the notion of Hitler’s “Fuehrer principle” that overrode inevitable divisions among Nazi bureaucrats. (With this point, I agree with some anticommunist social psychologists. See https://clarespark.com/2011/03/27/progressive-mind-managers-ca-1941-42/. The social psychologists were tools of the New Deal, however, and partook of their authoritarian irrationalism and snobbery regarding the masses who were not “trained to rule.”)

4. I still do not know how to answer the question I posed at Pacifica radio (KPFK-FM) in Los Angeles in the late 1980s-90s: “How Do We Know When We  Are Not Fascists?” The much vaunted notion of “free speech” is, in my view, a ploy by “antifascists” to legitimate the Democratic Party and the forces against “political correctness.” No one has solved the problem of authoritarianism, that can be either subtle or direct. I continue to puzzle over this baffling ambiguity.

That is the tortuous path that I, as a freethinker, tread. D’Souza would have done well to read https://clarespark.com/2014/12/10/were-nazis-socialists/.

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June 21, 2013

Apocalyptic landscapes and the escape artist

Pierre Massine's Apocalypse

Pierre Massine’s Apocalypse

Here is a sampling of prior blogs on the subject of apocalypse as irrationalist insistence on inevitable decadence.

https://clarespark.com/2009/11/17/melencolia-i-and-the-apocalypse-1938/

https://clarespark.com/2009/07/04/unfinished-revolutions-and-contested-notions-of-identity/

https://clarespark.com/2009/11/16/panic-attacks-and-separation-anxiety/

https://clarespark.com/2009/11/19/the-scary-city-lamprecht-becker-lynd/

https://clarespark.com/2011/04/03/progressives-the-luxury-debate-and-decadence/ (read this first)

https://clarespark.com/2012/09/22/materialist-history-and-the-idea-of-progress/

https://clarespark.com/2013/03/22/traditionalists-on-the-culture-front/

https://clarespark.com/2014/06/25/penny-dreadfuls-sinister-significance/

Commentary: All parents are aware that toddlers go through years of fearing “monsters.”  Many sleep problems are associated with such imagos (images instigated by angry parents of either gender, or fighting in front of children, or images gleaned from mass media and some religions).

Counter-Enlightenment publicists mobilize such childhood fears (reinforced in popular culture and political propaganda) to influence public opinion in directions that are statist, even protofascist.  For instance, “progressive” schools introduce such terrifying subjects as the monstrosities of the Holocaust or of slavery before students have the emotional equipment to deal with them as events in the past, or to evaluate the claims that their effects linger in the present. Is it any wonder that teen-agers lap up horror movies featuring vampires and zombies, movies that may trivialize real life horrors or in the knowable past and predictable future? These kids are easy marks for movie and television producers who would have them live in a world populated by monsters–monsters who disappear when the lights go on; these and other propagandists denigrate the science and technology that will enable youngsters to navigate, with realism, all grown-up controversies.

My argument: it is impossible to have rational political debate on controversial subjects such as environmentalism or immigration reform in this infantilized atmosphere. What is increasingly clear to me is that the forces of reaction have the upper hand in popular culture. Have we turned into a nation of escape artists—escaping the responsibilities of citizenship through socially-induced regression? How convenient it is for the morally and politically lazy to pronounce that we are doomed.  Both liberals and conservatives should think through their own views on progress before they inflict their possible pessimism and depression on the young.

Here is an example of how a liberal publication criticizes apocalyptic thinking in order to argue for political action to halt man-made climate change. We need a more comprehensive critique of apocalyptic thinking than The Atlantic  offers us here: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/how-apocalyptic-thinking-prevents-us-from-taking-political-action/255758/.

Oil refinery as The End

Oil refinery as The End

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