It’s a good read, to know about the original, how soft fascism is used today, and the use of fascism as the equivalent of “unbeliever” or “evil” or “mentally ill”, a tool for social control, not a tool for accurate description.
The view that the New Deal was “fascism without the billy clubs” was well-nigh universal among FDR’s opponents on the Left (e.g. Norman Thomas), as well as on the Right (Herbert Hoover). It could hardly have been otherwise since the essence of the National Industrial Recovery Act—the involuntary inclusion of all participants in categories of economic activity and their subjection to government-dictated prices, wages, and working conditions—was at least as detailed as those in fascism’s corporate law. The U.S. government had brushed aside the Supreme Court’s objections to the National Recovery Administration in A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States (1935). By 1942, in Wickard v. Filburn (still “good law” today), the Court approved regulation of all manner of enterprise with reasoning stricter than any Mussolini had used in 1926. Today, by the same token, Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposed “Accountable Capitalism Act” would also force corporations to enroll into a legal scheme in which the government would force them to service various stakeholders as government regulators would decide from time to time. Such tools are far more powerful than billy clubs.The Original Fascist, From movement to epithet. by Angelo M. Codevilla
American soft fascists are a good deal smarter than the European hard fascists.
The kept power for a far longer time, too.
This author first encountered the scam in 1963 as a student at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute. The text assigned us, Herbert McClosky’s “Conservatism and Personality” (American Political Science Review, 1958), consisted of one questionnaire to measure conservatism, as defined by McClosky, and a second designed to measure personality traits, most of which were translations of Adorno’s F-scale. The article touted its scientific bona fides by stating that both sets of definitions had been submitted to, and certified by, experts, including McClosky’s graduate students. Not surprisingly, the project’s results showed a strong correlation between conservatism and repulsive, dangerous personality traits.
Having received permission to do a term paper on that article, I replicated it as “Liberalism and Personality,” using the same “scientific” methods—likeminded friends—to validate the questionnaires as McClosky had for his. What do you know? The results showed that liberals suffer from even worse disorders than conservatives, many unmentionable in a family publication. Only one of my professors cracked a smile.The Original Fascist, From movement to epithet. by Angelo M. Codevilla
Reminds me of the “Dog rape culture” study, properly published in a peer-review journal.
Albright herself, and other “high-end” establishmentarians, dance suggestively around the charge that Trump—and those who vote for him—are fascists. At least, they say, Trump and his supporters are undemocratic. They so threaten “democratic institutions” and are enough like fascists to make us legitimately worry that they might be fascist. They do not explain how officials elected by the people—some overwhelmingly, like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán—can be undemocratic. But the power to define anything any way you like, and to pin any label on anyone you dislike, absolves you from having to explain your words’ relationship to reality. All you have to explain is how urgent it is to exclude from polite society whoever disagrees with you.
In “The Failure to Define Fascism Today,” published on the New Republic’s website last June, Geoffrey Cain ritually bows before the fact that today’s circumstances are nothing like those of the 1920s and ’30s, and that the DNA of today’s political movements is peculiar to our circumstances. Nevertheless, he quickly falls back on the authoritative opinions of academics, who certify that today’s conservatives sure look like fascists, and fulfill what the experts say are fascism’s essential definition: “an alliance of hardline and moderate conservatives…a campaign to convert the working classes to nationalism, to make them angry and violent, to convince them that they’ve been betrayed by their global-elite leaders.” Note well that this definition is not history, but rather another made-to-order F-scale. These are easy enough to manufacture. Anyone can make one to order. So can you.The Original Fascist, From movement to epithet. by Angelo M. Codevilla
The problem with the soft fascists of today is that they won, decades ago.
(Waves to FDR.)
But they still need to manufacture an enemy, a way to attack people who challenge their power and authority.
The people who despise the modern “Government-Corporate Partnership” paradigm. Who will not bend the knee to the Leader, or the Experts, or to the White Smocks, or to the Black Robes (priestly or judicial).
What better stick for the Powerful to hit the Weak with, than with the stick of Fascism?
(Well, you can kill more people with Communism: but the abortion blood sacrifices are more tidy, and just as satisfying.
“It’s important to show God and His supporters who’s boss, and who isn’t.”)
But what is the point of repeating from society’s commanding heights that the ruling class’s opponents are fascists, fascistizing, near-fascists, Nazis, white supremacists, racists, and so forth?
Today, those words mean simply that those so indicted have no right to challenge the ruling class. Whatever they do in that regard is illegitimate. Whatever may be done to quash them is legitimate, because it involves saving all things decent. The accusation’s primary audience is all who exercise any kind of power over others. The accusations authorize, indeed urge this audience to inflict summary punishment. The indictments’ volume and vehemence, the variety of places whence they come, reassures whoever would use them that they may be sure of support as they indulge their noble rage to hurt those so indicted.
The most authoritative opinions from the most authoritative sources now urge doing whatever possible to exclude conservatives, now defined as fascist, etc., from government and the professions, from the possibility of wealth and influence, indeed from polite society. Why should bureaucrats, corporate officials, police and prosecutors, judges, reporters, editors, and others hold back from following such authoritative judgments? And if conservatives resist being marginalized, or just protest, all manner of regulations can be invoked, and administrative devices can be used to limit, isolate, discredit them, and to shut them up. And if that does not suffice, the authorities can stand aside serenely as groups such as Antifa (the famous “anti-fascists”) and the Service Employees International Union’s organizers disrupt them forcibly and hurt them physically. Sponsoring or simply tolerating gangsters who attack your enemies is a time-dishonored practice from every nasty regime that ever was.The Original Fascist, From movement to epithet. by Angelo M. Codevilla
“Power Justifies All Things.”
Our ruling class increasingly labels people fascists—but not for doing or saying things other than what they did or said in previous decades. Those who are so labeled have not changed. Indeed, those who call them fascists chastise them for refusing to abandon their ways. Nor has fascism changed. It is one of history’s closed chapters—except for the theory and practice of political economy that it invented and that is now well-nigh universal. Hence, the invidious labeling and the punitive consequences result from a change in those who impose them. We may understand that change as the progressive deformation of liberalism.
That people who still sometimes call themselves “liberal,” who had once defined themselves in terms of all manner of freedom, should vilify and try to hurt those with whom they disagree is counterintuitive. But our liberal, or formerly liberal, ruling class’s claim exclusively to embody enlightenment and righteousness, its taste for humbling those outside itself, is our time’s predominant reality. That claim, that taste, are impervious to reason.
We may understand why they are impervious, and hence why fighting that class is the only alternative to submission, by reference to the German sociologist Robert Michels. At the turn of the 20th century, he developed what he called the “iron law of oligarchy,” which argued that any and all human organizations, regardless of their ostensible purpose or structure, end up serving the interests of their leaders. These interests, he said, are inherently selfish. Michels made his case in terms of modern social science. But his thesis is anything but modern. One need only mention Lord Acton’s dictum that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as well as the Book of Genesis’s illustration of pride as the origin of sin. Not incidentally, Michels moved to Italy and joined Mussolini.The Original Fascist, From movement to epithet. by Angelo M. Codevilla
When today’s soft fascism dies, it will be the Progressives — who always adored the idea of centralizing power in the Right Hands — who will scream the loudest.