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This is not a rhetorical question.

I really want to understand what is going on inside the minds of American conservative Republicans. I could point to a billion examples of how people who call themselves "libertarians" or "Republicans" (the right wing of the party) are the first to try to legislate morality, legislate how we can spend our money, where we can go, what we can do, and so on. That is, they want to put the government into personal business. I won't even get into how they seem to support corporations over people lately, even though corporations look much more like governments than individual people do.

Libertarians and conservatives are both groups that I once understood to support the notions of "Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" and "Government out of my business," among other things. They complain about the "nanny state that liberals want to impose," and they fear "socialism," which - if you listen to their cries - they clearly don't understand.

They way they behave sounds less like their chosen political identifiers and much more like fascism. Here's the Wikipedia definition of fascism, which is pretty good:

Fascists advocate the creation of a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through indoctrination, physical education, and family policy including eugenics. Fascists seek to purge forces and ideas deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration and produce their nation's rebirth based on commitment to the national community based on organic unity where individuals are bound together by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and "blood." Fascists believe that a nation requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. Fascist governments forbid and suppress opposition to the state. Fascists promote violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality. Fascists exalt militarism as providing positive transformation in society, in providing spiritual renovation, education, instilling of a will to dominate in people's character, and creating national comradeship through military service.

Let's examine this point-by-point. First sentence:

Remember the "Permanent Majority" the Republicans desired and still believe they can attain? Check. Can't get more thorough indoctrination than creating a news empire dedicated to spreading your word, plus using the Church to glorify your views and vilify the enemy. Check. Family policy - goodness, name a Republican in office who believes in a woman's right to choose, who supports same-sex marriage, and who supports alternate family structures. Check. Mouth-frothing fears about decadence and degeneration? Check. Nationalistic fervor with exclusion of peoples from other cultures? Check. Every word in the next sentence - and here I include the war-hawk "liberals" (What's that term again? Can be from either party...), too - fits. Check. Next sentence: "Free Speech Zones," anyone? Check. Next sentence as the previous one: Check. Because I feel uncomfortable and un-American even saying that the last sentence is a check suggests that it's also true of our entire culture. Finally, USA PATRIOT Act, anyone?

Whatever happened to the dream that was the United States of America, home of liberty, land of the free, beacon of potential? Whatever happened to the dream of the USA as a symbol of the good that humans can build, the shape of the perfect society, the "melting pot," where ideas could grow and develop? Hell, whatever happened to our mantle as ethical leader of the world?

Please help me understand what's going on in this country, because I don't want to believe we're becoming a fascist state.

And if we are, what can we do to stop it?

Chris

Comments

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
bogwitch64
May. 17th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
If you get a straight and/or serious answer, Chris, let me know, because I'd LOVE to hear it. I truly would.
m_danson
May. 17th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
Reduce fear. It will give people space to think.
clevermanka
May. 17th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
You're assuming people want to think. One of the biggest problems here is that people don't want to think on their own. They would rather be told what to do/believe.
(no title) - m_danson - May. 17th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - clevermanka - May. 17th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - rose_lemberg - May. 17th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - rose_lemberg - May. 18th, 2011 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
emt_hawk
May. 17th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
I'm an American, and I don't get it either.
“When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” --Sinclair Lewis

The people I see supporting this sort of position tend to be primarily Caucasian. Most are male, but there are some who are female, and have bought into this bullshit.

I know one guy who's on welfare/unemployment and medicaid who's ravenously against taxing the companies more, under the premise that school teachers, and firemen, and nurses are the problem with America, not the fact that the top 5 oil refinery companies get billions of dollars in tax money. Screams "Don't Tread On Me" whenever you mention national health care. Wraps himself in the 10th Amendment whenever you talk about the government.

The Tenthers scare me, since they have a habit of carrying illegal automatic weapons, and surprising cops with them. Just a matter of time before they start going after firemen and EMT's too, just because we wear uniforms.

If you look at the Republican party, most are white, rich folks to begin with. Their concern is to protect their money, and the money of Companies who donate to them.

The Black Republican web site doesn't voluntarily tell you how many Black Republicans are in Congress. They do tell you about all the bad things that southern Democrats do, but not how many Black Republicans there are.

There aren't that many Latinos or other cultures represented, either.

--Hawk
clevermanka
May. 17th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
The tragedy here is that I agree the 10th Amendment is important. It keeps us from becoming too much of a monoculture. Of course, with courts disregarding all sorts of items from various parts of the constitution, I suppose the 10th is as vulnerable to interpretation and exploitation as everything else.
mckitterick
May. 18th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm an American, and I don't get it either.
I believe you're right about the racial composition of the people I'm talking about, which is part of what makes them scary: If you're not also Caucasian (and the right brand of Christian, and come from the right background, and male or willing to accept males as dominant, and...), you're an outsider and dangerous.

I don't agree that most Republicans are rich - only those in high office, but then anyone in high office is rich, despite political alignment. Only way to achieve high office is money.

I think they still very much respect "those who serve," including emergency workers... until they start talkin' like a Socialist, mister.

I don't understand why there are Black Republicans, or Gay Republicans... heck, I don't understand why anyone is a Republican these days. Or a Democrat, for that matter. Except that this nation is a two-party nation, despite our Founding Fathers' warning about such.
mckitterick
May. 17th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, I hear you, and that's why I decided to use it as an evaluatory (is that a word?) tool for analyzing our culture. Are you saying that you don't think the word has any meaning anymore? I think it does if you measure it in these ways. Or are you saying something else?

Regardless, I'm trying to understand how those who promulgate liberty and freedom are the same people who seek to dictate and regulate our personal lives....
(no title) - tully01 - May. 18th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - tully01 - May. 18th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
dsgood
May. 17th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
This is not new. Your library system should have -- or be able to get -- John Roy Carlson's 1943 book Under Cover. It's an account of his investigation of American fascists and their allies. Those allies included some prominent Republican politicians. (Oddly, also some Black separatists.)
clevermanka
May. 17th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
I think what is new, though, is the prevalence. The fact that the book you mention is called Under Cover implies that the idea wasn't at the top of every media outlet's coverage. Whereas today I can't get away from news about people wanting government to get all up in people's bidness.

True, there's nothing new under the sun. But it sure seems like there's a hell of a lot more of it lately.
itmightbemiles
May. 17th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Hell, whatever happened to our mantle as ethical leader of the world?

We forgot what "ethics" means. American Exceptionalism and the philosophies following it (I'm looking at you, Randian Objectivism) have corrupted our capacity to listen to ourselves or create a unified voice or direction. That, and we decided that money was a virtue. True Democracy is incompatible with capitalism.

I don't know what can be done, apart from openly challenging the implementation of "less-than-democratic" ideas and trying to keep people from becoming apathetic... and hoping that technology will help find elegant solutions for solving disputes with people that just need to be punched in the face.
mckitterick
May. 18th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
I think you're right on the mark:

American Exceptionalism and the philosophies following it (I'm looking at you, Randian Objectivism) have corrupted our capacity to listen to ourselves or create a unified voice or direction. That, and we decided that money was a virtue. True Democracy is incompatible with capitalism.

But what does that mean? Socialism seems to lead to its own brands of totalitarianism, only you get lots of poor people and rich people and no middle class... oh, wait, that's where we're headed now with our capitalistic state, isn't it?

Benevolent dictatorship? But who takes over after the mythical kind and wise king dies?

Maybe this is yet another benefit of the coming of AI: We put them in charge, because they won't be driven by emotion and petty desires; they won't be burdened with millions of years of evoltionary baggage, or the need to acquire, or even a desire for much in the way of resources. On the downside, they might decide our animal desires and needs are obsolete traits and dictate that we abandon our bodies.

Hm.
clevermanka
May. 17th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
whatever happened to our mantle as ethical leader of the world?

I'm just curious, when was it that we wore this mantle?

There's historical support for the idea of the USA as a beacon of potential, hope, and freedom. But as for it ever being "the shape of the perfect society" or "ethical leader of the world"...I think that's painting it with a very idealized brush.

I agree with you that things are getting more and more rotten, but I wouldn't put the US on quite so high a pedestal.
mckitterick
May. 18th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
I don't think we ever actually were those things, but we stood for them. As an example, the French people gave us this little trinket in appreciation of what we stood for, a literal beacon:

(no title) - clevermanka - May. 18th, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Francis Murphy
May. 17th, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
Frequent reader, first time caller here, I believe.

Ah, as someone who holds some views which are right of center, near as I can tell, the Republicans are split between a more moderate component and a more radical component, namely the Tea Party. In my mind the moderate component probably would not advocate a return to unbridled capitalism, dialing the clock back to 1885. I know I wouldn't.

The Tea Party, on the other hand, seems to believe that the later half of the 19th Century was an ideal time in American History.

Given that there is a split in the Republican Party, and for the record, this is not the first time either national party has split into distinct subgroups, I find it hard to believe that they will be able to establish a permanent majority as a prelude to a fascist state. Too many sane people will vote against that sort of thing.

As for free speech zones, we've had moments in our history where we have restricted speech in the past. The Adams Administration did it with the Alien and Sedition Acts, both of which were unconstitutional. The Wilson Administration did it with the Espionage and Sedition Acts.

To my way of viewing it, the United States of America tends to swing from one political pole to the other over the course of two to three decades before swinging back again. When the seeming majority swing away from our own personal position, things look the worst. When they swing our way, they look pretty good to us, bad for those that oppose us.

Tis the way of things and no, I do not believe we are becoming a fascist state, anymore than I believe we are becoming a truly socialist one.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
On the Outer Marches
mckitterick
May. 18th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
Francis, good to see you here! Thanks for the comment. I hope you're right, that this is just another swing, but I fear what's different this time is that the crazy people have applied social science to their methods and wrapped themselves in religious righteousness, too. That and the corporations aren't just in bed with government, they have become our government, to the point where the Supreme Court gives them rights most of us cannot exercise.
carmy_w
May. 17th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
I don't want to believe it either, but I'm sure worried that it's happening right in front of us.

And I thought that getting involved in politics was a good place to start. And now today, I find that my County no longer has a local Democratic Party group-I guess my next step is the District Group.

Did you know that according to a bill passed in the State Senate, we aren't going to have a presidential primary in 2012? Please note-this has not passed the House yet, and also, it is only for the presidential primary, not local offices.
But I was absolutely blown away by it. I would think that Republican voters would go ballistic at not having the right to elect their candidate. To me, this is tantamount to being unconstitutional, even if it's not my party!

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in the Twilight Zone....
mckitterick
May. 18th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
I don't know what's wrong with Kansas these days. I'm afraid that the majority of this state represents exactly what I'm talking about in this post.

It's sad: The thing I find most heroic about our state is how we stood for freedom and liberty during the Civil War - to the point that KU's mascot is the Jayhawk! Just try to name another mascot with such an honorable heritage. But today, Kansas is known for social conservatism to the point that everyone else in the nation (maybe the world) thinks the Phelpses represent us.

Ugh.
(no title) - carmy_w - May. 18th, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
carmy_w
May. 17th, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry-I've never figured out the code to italicize quoted sections
Let's examine this point-by-point. First sentence:

Remember the "Permanent Majority" the Republicans desired and still believe they can attain? Check.
--Don't know what to do about this one, other than to keep registering people to vote, and urging people to vote, and attempting to keep them informed.

Can't get more thorough indoctrination than creating a news empire dedicated to spreading your word, plus using the Church to glorify your views and vilify the enemy. Check.
--I really, really, REALLY feel that the Fair Reporting Act needs to be reinstated!

Family policy - goodness, name a Republican in office who believes in a woman's right to choose, who supports same-sex marriage, and who supports alternate family structures. Check.
--Yep. They may have one, but it seems they never have all three.
While on the other side, the extreme right wing is attempting to reduce divorce by taking away the option to divorce by virtue of a "covenant marriage." *shudder* They aren't even thinking about same-sex marriage-that is an abomination.
My only remedy to this one is like the first one-Keep working on extending franchise to the disenfranchised, so they realize they can change things.

Mouth-frothing fears about decadence and degeneration? Check.
--Except for the top 2%, of course-they don't count!

Nationalistic fervor with exclusion of peoples from other cultures? Check. Every word in the next sentence - and here I include the war-hawk "liberals" (What's that term again? Can be from either party...), too - fits. Check.

--For this one, I like a quote from Star Trek:
"The spear in the other's heart is the spear in your own. You are he."

Next sentence: "Free Speech Zones," anyone? Check.
--This one will just take civil disobedience, but it would be better to work on it AFTER we get one more person on the Supreme Court. Right now, the Roberts Court would probably rule against the people. Funny how the left wing is supposed to be the side with the activist judges!

Next sentence as the previous one: Check. Because I feel uncomfortable and un-American even saying that the last sentence is a check suggests that it's also true of our entire culture. Finally, USA PATRIOT Act, anyone?
--I got nothing. Other than I feel like the Patriot Act is a huge waste. If anyone attempted anything on a plane now, after 9/11, after realizing that we will die, so we might as well die fighting? NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. They would be swarmed under and immobilized, at the least, if not flat out killed.

Whatever happened to the dream that was the United States of America, home of liberty, land of the free, beacon of potential? Whatever happened to the dream of the USA as a symbol of the good that humans can build, the shape of the perfect society, the "melting pot," where ideas could grow and develop? Hell, whatever happened to our mantle as ethical leader of the world?

--I know-I always felt that the U.S. was here to give people a hand up, both to the underprivileged in our own country, and in others. I always felt like our government existed primarily to protect the small man from the big corporate bullies.
And now I feel like we are right back in the days before unions even existed, when workers owed their souls to the company store, and if you got hurt, well, there's the street corner-go beg.

And my largest frustration is that a lot of online commenting by the progressives is along the lines of "I'm not going to vote Democrat-they didn't get enough done yet!"
So the steps we've taken over the past 3 years are not enough. They want it all, and they want it right now!
Which, to me, means they aren't going to get any of it.

My only bright spot of hope is that, if we can hold on for just a few years, the kids now in school who are seeing the effects of the Republicans tight-fisted ways will be voting, the balance will tip from right to left, and the people who are blindly following the Republicans down the path to the poorhouse, and, as you say, to fascism, will either wake up, or will not be around to vote anymore.
But it's going to take a lot of people in the 20 to 50 year range doing a lot of thankless work for the next decade for that to happen.
mckitterick
May. 18th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry-I've never figured out the code to italicize quoted sections
Now I'm getting depressed.
etcet
May. 18th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
And if we are, what can we do to stop it?

Vote for the Democrats, for one thing. They've at least got the sense to not try and legislate morality, and will entertain the more socially-progressive positions on drug legalization, abortion, and so forth (you know, like the small-l libertarians ostensibly do).

If you have idiot-proof (I'm sorry, "filibuster-proof") majorities of the party that doesn't espouse these kinds of insane policy positions (and who have, quite cleverly, suckered people into buying into the notion that fiscal conservatism has anything at all to do with social conservatism; at best, they're both cards in a poker hand, not the same side of a flipped coin).... since the turn of the century, the GOP has aggressively pushed congressional procedure to the point where the filibuster is SOP, rather than the tool of last resort, because they have ratcheted up the tenor of the rhetoric to the point where if you're not screaming, you're being ignored, almost regardless of the context or the conversation. (I draw a lot of flack for employing this tactic myself, but, after watching milquetoast people whose policies I tend to agree with get steamrolled by loud-mouthed assholes, I decided that I'm pretty good at being a loud-mouthed asshole, and I *know* I agree with the points I'm making).

To illustrate the above point: http://etcet.livejournal.com/878624.html

You can't argue rationally against irrational behavior. It doesn't fucking work. Scared and stupid is an intractable foxhole from which to attempt to extricate anyone, even dropping tactical fact nukes (see also: birthers, the poor white evangelicals who support the pro-business, pro-wealthy GOP party line despite it being very clearly contrary to their own self-interest, because "THEM GAYS IS MARRYING AND BY GOD EVERY FETUS IS SACRED AND I AIN'T GONNA STAND FOR THAT IN MY COUNTRY, ONE NATION UNDER THIS-HERE GOD.")

I may also harbor strong opinions on the subject of how flat fucking wrong and evil and, yes, fascist the party against which I vote.
clevermanka
May. 18th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
You can't argue rationally against irrational behavior. It doesn't fucking work. Scared and stupid is an intractable foxhole from which to attempt to extricate anyone, even dropping tactical fact nukes

Yup. Facts rarely affect belief.
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - carmy_w - May. 18th, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - May. 18th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - carmy_w - May. 18th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
the_themiscyran
May. 18th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
*headdesk*
Well, there's always the conspiracy theory that the near-revolution of the 1960s and early 70s by educated college kids scared those in power so much that they tanked the quality of education in this country on purpose in order to keep us docile and easily led.

Or it all boils down to a pre-school-age story: On one side we have a herd of intelligent, thoughtful cats who want the world to be a better place and largely agree on what that would look like. Unfortunately, the cats are individuals who all have different ideas about how to get there, so there's a LOT of discussion and disagreement about what to do first, and then when the cats finally DO agree on something, they have to use a lot of big words to convey the complexity of their plans.

On the other side, there are packs of dogs who only understand short words that look like THIS!!! (with lots of exclamation points) - like FEAR!!!, and VALUES!!! So when the cats try to explain their ideas, the dogs get confused and upset, and besides, their masters told them to CHASE THE CATS!!!! So they do, because the other dogs are barking and running, too. And pretty soon, they couldn't hear the cats even if they wanted to, and we end up with a bunch of treed cats agreeing to stuff they don't want just to get out of the tree.

So mostly what we need are some cats who speak fluent dog?
mckitterick
May. 18th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
Re: *headdesk*
Once upon a time, I believed that we could support a third party - say, the Libertarian party - which would serve the needs of both the right and left. I mean, libertarians desire personal freedom, reduced government intervention in our lives and the business of other nations, and so forth, while also being able to defend our nation against aggression, collect taxes, and related things.

Lately, however, the Libertarian party has been co-opted by the Tea Party, which is all about the opposite. No way liberals could stomach that style of L.

I'm afraid your analogy works very well to describe the two primary flavors of human politics. Sadly.
Matt Beat
May. 18th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
Authoritarian
Excellent question and discussion. I believe most people like to claim themselves as "libertarian" (little "l"), but in reality they lean fascist, meaning they do not value individual freedom as much as they value order, security, and protection. You could also argue that most people think they are "nonconformist," when in reality everything they say or do came directly from or was at least influenced by someone or something else. Naturally, I do feel people like the idea of freedom, and want to be free, but feel they have to compromise that idea. Maybe fascism is the wrong term since it usually implies "right-wing." Maybe authoritarianism is a better word. Are we becoming an authoritarian state? Well, our government is significantly much bigger than it was even compared to a couple decades ago. So I would argue yes.
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