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Thinking About Fascism


Thinking About Fascism

Cynthia Kaufman

Thinking about Fascism

The 2016 presidential election made me think about 1933 and Hitler's rise to power. I've known that he came to power through constitutional means and then used that power from this inside to destroy a constitutional system of government. This seemed like a good time to better understand the way that someone who was a megalomaniac, not taken seriously by elites, brought to power by pandering to people's fears, could take control of the levers of power.


I don't know anymore - too much have I seen type of thing ?

The problem is deeper - us in effect.

Here is something my wife sent me which rings of truth:


From John C Cremony's seminal, and still unsurpassed "Life Among the Apaches", p.94, softcover, on Indian character:

"He conceives himself not only my equal, but decidedly my superior... He is the man of the woods, the plains, the mountains, and looks upon us as the men of the towns and the cities. For no possible consideration would he change places or accept our domiciliary style of life, and without such domestication all our effects are vain and idle."


One difference between now and the 1930s are that we are in the midst of a climate crisis, probably the worst threat humanity has every faced. Since the US fascists deny this threat existx this requires their followers to completely dissociate themselves from reality. They can only move forward by evoking a make believe world which the majority of Americans know to be false. Most American realize the fate of their children and grandchildren as well as generations afterwards depends on going against the fascists and working to save their country and the world. The alternative is to perish. At the moment the second half of this century would appear to be when the US will end unless strong action is taken. So how many fools are there that will follow the fascists and their lies about the state of the earth. Can that many American possibly be that stupid? Many states are determined to fight climate change regardless of Trump and what sort of nonsense he babbles. In this fight to save the planet for humanity they are the leaders we have to follow. Following Trump will be suicidal for almost the entire human population in the not too distant future.


Is the following statement not unequivocally prescient? -

"one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness."


While the author identifies advantages "the left" has going into the Trump years, "the left" barely exists today in the US compared to the left in the US or abroad during the 30s, and Goebbels pioneering propaganda machine has been refined by gobal corporations that own the Democratic Party, GOP and many parties abroad to the extent that, unlike 1930s Europe, Murkins have been manipulated by the boiling frog formula ever since Saint Ronny's revolution and the formation of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) more than three decades ago.

Whereas the rise of European fascism was relatively rapid, the US' boiling frog formula produced creeping fascism whereby each POTUS is a bit more fascist than his predecessor.

For readers unfamiliar with the boiling frog formula: If you toss a frog into a pot of boiling water it will jump out immediately, If you place a frog into a pot of cold water and turn up the heat gradually the frog boils to death.
Precisely what Murkins have experienced for most of their lifetimes.


Finding the life on the planet (everything wants to live!) is finding something "bigger than one's self", for sure. But it may be too abstract to resonate soon enough. The Bolsheviks over powered the Mensheviks by hollering louder...we now have the great WWW internet, though.
In response to the Great Depression, Italy chose Mussolini and got Fascism, The US chose FDR and got the New Deal. Kaufmann's observation that in these kind of times, we tend to believe everything and nothing is brilliant. And I speak as a 9/11 "truther".


I've posted it more than once, but the principle behind this is an actual conservative tactic, and it has been working so well that there is hardly any "left" left in the US:



Actually, unless the frog has had its nervous system damaged it will jump out of the water if the heat is gradually increased. Frogs that do not jump out have been immobilized.


When one of our greatest problems is inequality and its primary causes are wealth concentration and power centralization, one solution is democratic decentralization. .

Democratic decentralization has allowed the Swiss to survive and thrive during wars of left and right, provided them with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, no boom and bust economy, no WOD and few drug problems, low crime, the best healthcare and education, few immigration problems and more.

Online Direct Democracy


When the Nazi party and Hitler came to power in in the 1930's Germany was in a terrible economic mess, just coming out of WW1 and an economic, depression. Hitler did not use the slogan: MAKE GERMANY GREAT AGAIN, but that is what he told the German people in so many words.

" The mainstream conservatives and business elites made a pact with the devil in order to gain power." Sound familiar? Like Noam Chomsky has said: " ( the Trump administration ) is very similar to the late Weimar Germany. The parallels are striking."


" Can that many Americans possibly be that stupid?"

They elected a climate denier; a charlatan; a plutocrat; a misogynist; and too many other pejoratives to list here...didn't they?


Yup, a crucial dif.

Then: radicalized, large, unionized, industrial working class vs. right wing rich and small business class.

Now: post-industrial, 'atomized' working class, 'hanging on' professional unions, and some liberals among professionals facing a traditionally right wing rich and small business class.

Plus the left had its own political parties, as it has rarely had in the U.S.


10% of US voters voting for communists or socialists in POTUS elections during the first half of the 20th century gave DC politicians cover to toss the 99% a few crumbs in the form of the New Deal to keep the US from going commie.

With fewer than 1% of US voters voting for socialists in 21st century POTUS elections and 95 -98% of voters voting for corporate Democrats or GOP candidates, DC politicians have zero incentive to do anything beneficial for the 99% and every incentive to terminate what little remains of the New Deal.


Frogs are smarter than Americans in that respect lol


I thought that as the heat increases beyond a certain point, the frog does become immobilized (muscles weaken and it becomes lethargic) some time before the boiling point is reached. Graham Kerr used to say the same thing about the "humane" way to boil lobsters by putting them in cold water and gradually heating it.


That is an excellent read. I think any society that truly wants progress has to start at the BOTTOM of the social ladder, with the poorest and most destitute and helping make their lives better first and foremost before looking at the middle class and higher.

It seems all of Western Societies do the exact opposite. They implement policies that make things better for the very weathiest under the discredited notion that the wealth trickles down to all.

I have read that in some of those Cities with homeless, not only are they being fined for sleeping in parks, but the police on finding them will take away their tents and blankets and cloting that keeps them warm. It absolute brutality under the guise of law and order.


Huge gaps in the analysis - no mention of the excessively punitive conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, and no mention of the horrifying inflation that followed. Instead, just another left-vs-right discussion.


I read attentively Ms. Kaufman's timely, creative, improvisatory discussion of U.S. politics in relation to 'classic' fascism. I agree that there are "important resonances." We are in for something like nothing we have experienced before, and it is not clear when an emergent 'one party state' of affairs will end.

Reservations. Broadly, I do not think Ms. Kaufman has thought through the topic - though, to her credit, her opening sentence acknowledges as much.

First, as raydelcamino notes, there was a strong left in the 1930s vs. a weak U.S. left today. That makes our situation more dire, and also fails to note how - in different European nations - fascist movements were stronger or weaker depending on the relative strength of working class left wing movements.

Second, though Ms. Kaufman is good on the psychology of fascism, she does not join psychology to the class bases of 1930s communism versus fascism - the principally industrialized working class base of the left; the mainly small business (aka "petit bourgeoisie") class base of the right...

...'And your point is?' My point is that because she weakly links fascist attitudes to class positions, the turn to fascism is seen as a psychological constant, a historically invariable threat to democracy - "People who feel displaced and dishonored and who have no understanding of the complex process that impact their lives are ripe for fascist ways of thinking." - rather than a historical variable, that, unfortunately, makes the U.S. more vulnerable to fascist tendencies now.

Third, but on the other hand economics is not destiny! And, on that score, Ms. Kaufman does not consider how two-party-culture-U.S. politics have enabled the right - in particular how, by absorbing left wing radicalism into a generically 'liberal' party, Democrats have neutered that "civic culture" she calls for...making consumerism and its anti-civic culture right wingers the 'last man standing'...increasing the likelihood of atomized, post-industrial workers turning to the right...leading to the "Reagan Revolution" and the last national election.

Fourth - on the positive side, Ms. Kaufman's linking of individualistic-gratification consumerism and right wing anti-civic-culture-ism is creative and, as far as I know, original. Thanks, Ms. Kaufman.


This is why it was SO disappointing when Bernie refused Jill's offer to take over the Green Party. I wonder what he thinks know? (I still wonder where all the leftover campaign money (some of it mine) went...)


An excellent point. Any discussion of virtually anything must consider the ramifications of global warming.