I’ve been doing some reading on Fascism. I keep coming across the subject. Jonah Goldberg has just released a volume on the subject and I have read several reviews on his book. (Most of them were not very complimentary.) Jonah’s premise is that Liberals (read Democrats) are Fascists. He apparently challenges the notion that Fascism is a right wing phenomena and insists quite to the contrary that we are living with a left wing version of it today. Quite to the contrary Keith Olberman of MSNBC fame, and a renown liberal recently gave a torrid 10 minute commentary on how George Bush and Republicans are Fascists. I grew up with television and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ‘news commentary’ more hot than what Olberman flamed (you can watch it here if you care to).
Now, I am a little familiar with this subject but it has been years since I have looked at it. I will give you the premise now and periodically keep you updated on how my theory is fitting up against my renewed study. Before giving my premise I think that we must recognize that the word ‘Fascist’ has become somewhat like the word ‘racist,’ in as much as it is often thrown around by people as just a way of closing down the conversation. Consequently, perhaps what will happen as we probe this is to get to a closer definition of what Fascism is. Anyway… my premise is that both Jonah Goldberg and Keith Olberman are correct. Jonah is correct is saying that Liberals are Fascists and Olberman is correct saying that Republicans are Fascists.
What people seem to be missing today is that the real battle going on today in American is not between what has been dubbed ‘the left’ and ‘the right.’ Rather the battle that is going on today is somewhat akin to the battles that waged in Berlin in the 1920’s between the Communists and the National Socialists. The battle then, and the battle now is a war between national socialist expressions of the Left (current neo-con Republicans) and international socialist expressons of the left (current liberal Democrats), and BOTH are incarnating themselves in Fascist like manifestations. Conservatives or the ‘Right’ don’t have a dog in this fight. Our dog died a long time ago. If the reader wants another metaphor in terms of how two guys in black hats can be at each others throats think about the war between Stalin and Trotksy.
Our problem today as Christians is that we have a hard time realizing that where the conflict is raging hottest in our current ideology wars is that we don’t have a champion in the cause but we think that one of the few options that is offered up must be better than the other. Stalin is not our guy but neither is Trotsky. Goldberg is not our guy but neither is Olbermann. The Democrats are not our guys but neither are the Republicans. The most that we can hope for is that these guys will bury each other and clear the field for a real option.
As we consider Fascism we must first realize that it is a Worldview one component of which is the disappearance of the Transcendent or perhaps better put the relocation of the Transcendent. Ernst Nolte defined Fascism as ‘the practical and violent resistance to transcendence.’ Fascism decries the idea of a moral order or being who stands in judgment over any attempt to re-construct society and as such they relocate that Transcendent to concrete, corporeal, and immanent notions of blood and soil so that the situated community, speaking with a mass voice, as embodied in the State, becomes the Transcendent in their Worldview.
Such a view does not negate all thinking about the importance of blood and soil when it comes to National identity but it does negate talk about blood and soil when the Transcendent is identified as equivalent of the nation and its people. Obviously then when we think of Fascism we have strong emphasis on Nationalism.
This violent opposition to the Transcendent that ends with a virulent Nationalism also brings expression to another aspect of Fascism and that is the loss of the individual. Fascism comes from the fascis, meaning “bundle.” It was used in ancient Rome to symbolize that he who carried the ‘bundle’ acted for the people, with the reflexive meaning being that the people were acting in the ruler. Fascism in its 20th century incarnation has meant societies and cultures that were monolithic in their thinking, and behavior. In Fascists cultures there isn’t much room for individuality as mass consciousness becomes the order for the day.
Given these two beginning descriptors it is not difficult to see lineaments of Fascism in our culture. These United States have lost their belief in the Transcendent and with the constant assault by the Federal State on the mediating institutions of Church, Family and local governments increasingly the only backdrop that is erected for the individual to define himself or her self against is provided by the State and the mass media, which shares in the same anti-Transcendent conviction, that the State holds. The result of this is the exchange of the individual as individual for the individual as mass man.
Now, the only battle that is left is which flavor of Fascism will Americans embrace. Will we embrace the Fascism of Fox network and Rupert Murdoch or will we embrace the Fascism of the mainline media. This is where the warfare is hot and heavy between neo-cons and liberals. Both tend towards Fascism. Neither can see their own Fascistic tendencies. Both insist that they are the preservers of freedom and the American way against the evil intentions of their enemies.
As Christians we have to keep going back to the Word of God in order to use it as the standard by which we judge the two current alternatives that basically give us a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. For Christians the poles are not ‘left’ and ‘right,’ but rather ‘adheres to God’s Word’ and ‘doesn’t adhere to God’s Word.’
More on Fascism as I return to my earlier reads and explore a few new ones.