[lit-ideas] What is the difference between ...

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2009 13:30:49 -0600

Is there any difference between fascism, totalitarianism, autocracy, monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, plutocracy, theocracy, and dictatorship? All are forms of governance in which "an individual person or 'dictator', an assembly, a committee, a junta, or a party monopolizes political power by means of an official all-embracing ideology and propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that controls the state, the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of state terrorism" (thanks to Wiki for the wording). I will use the single term fascism to refer to all the above. Tribalism, feudalism, communism and capitalism have all thrived under fascism at times throughout history. There's nothing inherently fascistic about a communist economic system. The kibbutzim movement in Israel was founded and operated as pure communist societies for a while -- I don't know if any remain so. There's nothing inherently democratic about capitalism. Indeed, capitalism has never backed away from fascism when fascism suited its needs -- which has been rather frequent in the last 300 or so years. The communism of the Soviet Union was fascistic from the get-go, and those liberal intellectuals who embraced its iron fist as a necessary evil, an essential early stage of development into universal brotherhood were dupes of their own ideological mind-set. I get a kick out of Lawrence's need to paint liberals as illiberal and conservatives as the true liberals, especially considering the fact that conservatives have done everything in the book to turn "liberal" into a dirty word. Liberal liberals don't think that conservatives are evil. They believe that the social vision of conservatism will result in a hellish society, a return to the days of the Industrial Revolution, and I believe the liberals are right in believing that. And worse, liberals fear that conservatism values immediate profit over than the life of the planet.

Eric, in his post about the poet-turned-book-banner, asks: "why is this syndrome more characteristic of liberal zealots than conservative zealots?" I don't believe that it is. Why that poet is being a fascist, I have no way of knowing. I would suspect that the tendency has always been there. But certainly it is not the liberals who try to have books banned from libraries, it is not liberals who have symbolic "book burnings" as some churches around here do. The moral watch-dogs have always been affiliated with conservatism, not liberalism in my experience. But of course, liberals can be fascists, too.

Mike Geary

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