Cross posted to A Magnificent Wreckage
David Neiwert, of Orcinus, has been doing yeoman’s work chronicling the rise of “fascimentalism” (the melding of the American Fundamentalist movement and ur-fascism) in the U.S. From the mid 1990’s patriot movement to the recent ridiculousness involving the Minutemen Militia or Justice Sunday, Neiwert has managed to present a grand unified theory of the proto-fascism that has taken over significant portions of the conservative media and movement.
One of Neiwert’s points is not that the Republican party is fascist…it is not. But the party has made itself available to fascism, creating within itself the terms and conditions necessary for easy hijacking by future fascistic movements. Every day, it seems that new bricks are laid down in an incipient architecture of proto-fascism, an architecture merely waiting to be occupied by the appropriate demogogue. Consider the so-called “Real ID”, a terrible idea in and of itself, and the near dictatorial powers about to be awarded to the Department of Homeland Security. One can at least make the case for some kind of national ID, even one as half-assed as this, but there is no excuse for the kind of jury-rigged martial law provisions in the Homeland Security proposal. Both measures, though, are ripe for hijacking by determined proto-fascists.
One wonders, of course, just how easy such “hijacking” would be. Is it likely that the office of the President will ever represent the locus of fascist power, a la the Chancellorship in post-Weimar Germany? I believe that this is highly unlikely, as the forms of American democracy are deeply ingrained in the American psyche, even the psyche’s of those who do not have the best interests of the Republic at heart. Any attempt to subvert these norms and forms of democracy would likely be resisted, even by the great apathetic American polis.
More likely than the imposition of fascistic power upon the executive branch is a situation similar to that which existed in Soviet Russia, or that exists today in theocratic Iran, in which a technically extragovernmental unit (the Communist Party in Russia, the “guardianship of the jurisprudent in Iran) acts as a gateway to political power. In this sort of situation, the extragovernmental entity effectively controls the political organs of the state by designating particular policies or politicians as “acceptable.” Indeed we see the beginnings of just such an institution forming with events like “Justice Sunday” which attempts to define the parameters of acceptibility for nominees to the judicial branch and to regulate acceptible judicial behavior. Any future “il Duce” would likely serve as head of such an organization and would likely possess resonances with Iranian Ayatollahs.
Of course, it is to be hoped that this sort of outcome is never realized. There are emerging signs that indicate the American body politic is becoming increasingly concerned with the fanaticism incarnate in the extremes of the Republican party. But forewarned is forearmed.