Friday, June 14, 2013

Is the Republican Party fascist?

A friend posed an interesting question on Facebook, wondering whether the Republican Party is fascist:
“Since fascism is defined by ultranationalism, ethocentrism, and militarism, is the current Republican party fascist?”
It’s a question that’s often asked by progressives and even true libertarians (about which, more later). Here’s how I answered the question:
No, I don't think that the current Republican Party is fascist, though it's proto-fascist in many ways. Fascist regimes, historically, have all involved the usurpation of legitimate government in favour of a military dictatorship. Republicans don't need to do that when they can use the current system to achieve their goal, namely, a corporatocracy (the system in which corporations control the government and its policies).

Republicans, through their control of state legislatures (changes to state electoral law) and the US Supreme Court (Citizens United, Bush v. Gore), have stacked the electoral deck against mainstream Americans (and minorities in particular). This means that they can continue to win elections they'd lose in a fairer, more democratic system. That allows them to set policy even when they're technically not in power—like, for example, they don't control the US Senate or presidency, but they still call the shots.

So, they don't need to usurp the US Constitution to establish a dictatorship as true fascists would; instead, they just game the current system to enable them to do the bidding of the plutocrats and oligarchs. As long as the elites are satisfied enough, the Republicans don't need to go full fascist—but that could change, and they ARE a long way down that road already.
As I see it, many Republican Party priorities, and its socially conservative ideology, are certainly consistent with traditional fascism, but overall they are more proto-fascist, that is, have much in common with true fascism, and they could yet morph into true fascists, but they’re not there yet. As I said in my reply, I don’t think they need to be fascist to achieve their goal of a corporatocracy, which is a subject in itself.

Republicans venerate the US Constitution and the men who wrote it with what would be called religious zeal if they didn’t display actual religious zeal (whether that overt religiosity is real or cynical acting is beside the point). While Republicans do sometimes advocate usurping the Constitution, most of the time they don’t.

Libertarians are an interesting bunch. True libertarians—none of whom are currently elected to national office—deplore fascism, socialism and modern liberal social democracy with pretty much equal fervour. However, the faux libertarian “tea party” is, more often than not, an actual fascist movement. For example, they preach authoritarian actions to suppress dissent by liberals, gays, “activist judges”, gun control activists, “the media”—basically, everyone they don’t like. Two years ago, I talked about some of the fascist and proto-fascist actions by “tea party” politicians at that time. Not much has changed.

The bigger problem is that a party that flirts with fascist ideology is one that’s already started down the road. The “tea party” folks are well on the way, and they call the shots in the Republican Party—can full fascist ideology be far away? Or, can saner heads prevail and pull the party back from that moral and intellectual darkness? I honestly don’t know.

What do you think? Is the Republican Party fascist? Or, do you, like me, say it isn’t but it’s at least sympathetic with some fascist ideology? And, if the answer to either question is yes, can the party be saved? Or do you thing the very idea is absurd? I welcome your comments, either here or in a post on your own site (if you do that latter, come back and leave a comment with a link).

The more we discuss these sorts of questions, the less likely we are to have to worry about the answers.

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