Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fascism in America: Do We Still Have to Worry?

As Sinclair Lewis wrote about in It Can't Happen Here, published way back in 1935, we all have been conditioned to think that we don't have to worry about Fascism in America.

Noam Chomsky says otherwise. In an article by Matthew Rothschild on The Progressive website, Chomsky, described as "the leading leftwing intellectual", has this to say:

"I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio ... and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering" here at home.
“The [current] level of anger and fear is like nothing I can compare in my lifetime,” he said.
He cited a statistic from a recent poll showing that half the unaffiliated voters say the average tea party member is closer to them than anyone else.
“Ridiculing the tea party shenanigans is a serious error,” Chomsky said.
Chomsky invoked Germany during the Weimar Republic, and drew a parallel between it and the United States. “The Weimar Republic was the peak of Western civilization and was regarded as a model of democracy,” he said.
And he stressed how quickly things deteriorated there.
“In 1928 the Nazis had less than 2 percent of the vote,” he said. “Two years later, millions supported them. The public got tired of the incessant wrangling, and the service to the powerful, and the failure of those in power to deal with their grievances.”
He said the German people were susceptible to appeals about “the greatness of the nation, and defending it against threats, and carrying out the will of eternal providence.”
There's a lot more so go read the whole thing. As a student of history, I've felt for a long time that there have been some eerie parallels between 21st Century America and the Weimar Republic, the collapse of which ushered in the Nazi era (BTW, for an excellent movie about that era, see Cabaret).

But I kind of hoped that all that would have gone away after the smashing defeat of Bushco & Friends in the 2008 election. But I was wrong about a lot of the change that I had hoped for, and in some very basic ways Obama has been a disappointment to me.

But then I'm a leftwing atheist nutjob who thinks that socialism is just dandy, so what do I know?

Well, I do know this: I'll be one of the first ones lined up against the wall with a blindfold and a cigarette. And when that happens, I hope I still have the presence of mind to refuse the cigarette: "No, thanks, I'm trying to quit."