On Being More than Just Playmates
Thereâ€™s been a great deal of the use of the word â€œfascismâ€ this week, and for a change, itâ€™s not coming from blogs like this one. Iâ€™ve been trying very hard to avoid the kindergarten sandbox throwing match that is KosHitler vs The Nasty Republicans, but a recent Atrios post compels me to jump in. Mind you, my hands have been dirty for quite some time, as a review of my own writing at Corrente demonstrate rather clearly. When it comes time for us to throw things, trust me when I say sand won't be my only weapon.
Everyone should know the excellent work at Orcinus on the rise of American Pseudofascism; please take a moment to at least skim it if youâ€™ve not done so. Rather than reiterate his evidence, Iâ€™ll just say that I agree with his thesis, in particular this prophetic introduction:
The "conservative movement," however, is a decidedly dogmatic political movement that demands obeisance to its main tenets (and exiles those who dissent) and a distinctly defined agenda. Movement followers proudly announce their membership. (In contrast, there is no "liberal movement" worth speaking of -- just a hodgepodge of loosely associated interests.) Importantly enough, their raison d'etre has transformed from the extenuation of their "conservative" impulses into the Machiavellian acquisition of power, usually through any means necessary.
Todayâ€™s Republican Party is neither "conservative" in any intellectually honest sense of the word, nor interested in a functioning democratic republic. I would like to think that one of the key functions of the blogosphere is to document the evidence that proves this to be true, and direct those who question it to my blogmate Lambertâ€™s fine work, as he sets a standard few can match. But grant for the moment that the people with whom we strive to restore Constitutional democracy have not, are not, and will not play by fair rules. They ignore history and precedent. They lie. They cheat. They steal. They do murder. They agitate for their less empowered followers to do the same. They set cultural standards that enshrine and legitimize such practices. And when someone points this out to them in a way that cannot be refuted, they turn around and project those behaviors upon their accusers. Hence, TNRâ€™s ridiculous accusation that the Kos community is somehow â€œfascist.â€
Iâ€™ve always preferred the term â€œpseudofascistâ€ over the more traditional one, because I believe weâ€™re still witnessing the evolution of this movement. Bluntly, todayâ€™s pseudofascists lack the competence, form and dedication of the more famous German ones. They also possess a sly cleverness, one which allows them to seem to many people to be far less dangerous than they really are. I suspect this is calculated; Rove learned long ago that putting up a puppet that â€œpeople want to have a beer withâ€ is just disingenuous enough distract peopleâ€™s attention from the far more egregious behaviors of the puppetâ€™s underlings/masters. People simply do not want to believe in the extremity, banality, and pervasiveness of the evil that is the administration and the movement that brought it to power.
I was surprised to note that some very savvy individuals had until very recently considered TNR a â€™respectableâ€™ publication. And although I recognize that some people are employed for the purpose of documenting the destruction of our once great free press, for a long time I have felt that to do so is beyond a waste of time for those who are not paid to perform that depressing service. I have littered the blogosphere will calls for people to turn off their TVs, drop their subscriptions to the mainstream publications that offend us all, and to become both citizen-journalists and to remind their neighbors of the depressing truth of the situation, while at the same time introducing them to the blogosphere. My own proudest moment was convincing a die-hard Republican friend to visit this blog once a week in addition to reading the WSJ; Iâ€™m happy to report that our own perspective sits well in my friendâ€™s mind as a balance to what she now admits is a clear ideological bias in that publication.
But beyond arguing from my usual soap box, I want to point out that I think itâ€™s long past time for the more limited communities of the blogosphere, in particular the more popular bloggers, to admit one simple thing: those who practice a form of fascism cannot, and will not change. American pseudofascism is the worst possible combination of historical amnesia, willful stupidity, racist â€œanalysis,â€ and hypocritical apologia. We simply must stop believing that just because we â€œcatch them in the actâ€ of lying, libeling, etc., that this will make any difference in their behavior whatsoever. It wonâ€™t.
Again, Iâ€™m not calling for everyone to suddenly stop reporting that Oâ€™Reilly lies, that Limbaugh is a barely reconstructed fascist, or that Ann Coulter has a penis. Itâ€™s amusing (at times) and provides a useful counterpoint to the other information and narratives we discuss in the blogosphere. But to think that the ~30% of this country that still, yet, and even so supports the Administration are going to stop doing so is foolish, and perhaps even a waste of our limited resources at a critical time in our electoral cycle. It is beyond important for us to show some unity, and embrace the reality of what we are up against. A key recognition: fascists, by definition, cannot change. They can only be removed from power.
One of the main complaints floating around right now concerning the Democrats asks about their â€œlack of vision.â€ In fact, there is not so much a lack of vision, as a plethora of them that lack direction. Democrats must no longer allow the media to occlude their messages, and part of that mean that we have to be the New Media which will goad the various voices in the Democratic party towards directed action. Iâ€™ve recently argued in favor of greater unity among progressive voices, and I argue here that an important part of unity is proudly accepting that we will not ever be correctly understood, described or analyzed by the SCLM. By expecting them to perceive any of our visions, on the war, the economy, the restoration of the Constitution- well, weâ€™re just as likely to meet Godot. Instead we have accept the hard burden of creating a media environment from scratch, and that we simply don't have time to worry about what the old media says as we do so. What they say doesn't matter.
How many of us go to our favorite Democratâ€™s websites and review their various plans or proposals? How often does the blogosphere speak about methods of implementation of these plans? How many strategy sessions are we organizing and documenting, and disseminating to our friends and neighbors. â€œThere is another way,â€ we can and should be suggesting. â€œHereâ€™s how it could be done.â€ We can also engage each other, and use our critical abilities to hone those plans and debate changes before they become actual proposals. We really are all thatâ€™s left this part of the process, a process that once included a critical media. That media is dead and gone. Even as you may think, â€œthe Democrats are the minority party and will never be able to pass anything,â€ Iâ€™ll reply to you that there are wheels within wheels in the halls of Congress. The complexities of the so-called Net Neutrality bill are just one example: can you list right now all the other aspects of that bill being debate and where Democrats actually have a voice and are shaping the legislation? Because they are. We need to be more specific, more educated, and to push harder at key moments when even a minority interest can make a difference. It's time for the Blogosphere to Get Serious, and grow up.
The short version of this post is simply that I want people to change their â€œoperational mode.â€ I want bloggers and readers to stop being disappointed in the traditional media, and to start being the inspirational New Media. I think we waste a lot of time talking about people who will never change, and who take money or receive access from the Republicans to maintain that status. A lot of time. In this crucial election year, do we really want to wake up on November 3 and say, â€œWow, I wonder if my efforts playing in the sandbox with TNR wouldâ€™ve better been spent raising money for Lamont?â€ Because in the end, thatâ€™s what this mess is all about. Lieberman, one of the most powerful Senators in Congress, might actually lose a primary challenge. Reflect on that, as you distill what is valuable from otherwise valueless discourse and exchange. Then think about what you can do (a lot!) to make that happen in "reality."