[lbo-talk] questions for the fascist-watchers

Marv Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Sat Feb 20 14:59:08 PST 2010

On 2010-02-20, at 5:21 PM, Doug Henwood wrote:

> I'm still mystified by the curiosity about - I'm deliberately not saying obsession with - the risks of incipient fascism in the U.S. I have two questions I'd love some clarification on:
> 1) How is today's threat a significant departure from more than a century of American political violence? To say that the Klan is some kind of incipient fascist movement is to drain the term of any specific meaning. But over the last 100-150 years, we've had savage repression of labor through public and private means, like national guard units, cops, and Pinkertons. We had lynching. We had serious suppression of civil liberties during and just after World War I. The Panthers were essentially wiped out with death squads. I can understand why mainstream liberals don't want to admit that U.S. history is full of repressive crimes, and want to see George W. Bush or Sarah Palin as some kind of scary departures, but that doesn't characterize subscribers to lbo-talk, does it?
> 2) Why should we worry more about the fascist threat than some real, imminent dangers like a) a turn to fiscal and monetary tightening (Obama's deficit commission, which could give him cover to cut Medicare and SS; the Fed's signaling that it's ready to begin withdrawing its extraordinary stimulus) that could sink us back into recession; b) Obama's friendliness towards offshore drilling and nuclear power; c) the incapacity of the U.S. political system to do anything at all about climate change, even something as corp-friendly as c&t; d) escalation in Afghanistan, and with it an enormous increase in civilian deaths; and e) tightening the screws on Iran, possibly leading to some sort of utterly mad military strike. These are all initiatives either led or supported by a Dem president and Congress, not some scary possibilities that some possible future Rep president and/or Congress could perpetrate. Doesn't all the worrying distract from those realities?
=============================== Why worry about the left's worrying about a "fascist threat"? The usual thought it that it somehow will somehow shore up support for the Democrats. But the core consituencies which form the Democratic base will vote for it anyway because they see it as the party which will defend their interests, however imperfectly, against the Republicans, who oppose them. This won't change until the unions and people of colour as well as other groups who have fought for equal treatment against Republican resistance themselves decide there is no difference between the two parties. That decision would flow from their own experience with the DP, not from exhortations to do so from others on the outside who are already so convinced.

I don't recall how the discussion started, but even for those like myself who do not see any imminent threat from the US far right, the teabaggers are a popular movement which is all over the news, so it's understandable they would provoke interest and discussion, particularly when some on the list have expressed real forebodings about them.

But you're right, these other issues you mention are far more pressing even if less dramatic, and I expect we'll return to them once the list's fascination with the TP exhausts itself. I know I'm just about at that point.

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