The Watering Hole, Friday January 4, 2013; “ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR”

I know I’m not alone when it comes to having a deep and abiding concern that major factions in the United States are doggedly pursuing the imposition of a form of government which is classically defined (see: Robert Paxton) as “a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline,” i.e. Fascism. Since the advent of modern “conservative” thought and politics in this country, the slope of decline has been tilted downhill, and moreso than ever before beginning with the “election” of George W. Bush in 2000, followed by the electoral ascendency of the so-called Tea Party in 2010.

And now, as I ponder this notion of fascism slowly tightening its grip on our otherwise “We the people” form of a Constitutional Democratic Republic, for some reason or other I invariably begin to recall phrases written in, of all things, German. Like this one, for example, the words on a post-war sign at divided Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate; the sign read:

ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR.
(Attention, you are leaving the American Sector.)

Germany was, at the time, a country divided and ‘managed’, resp., by the victors in the Second World War, i.e. the US, France, Britain, and the USSR. German fascism had been terminated by the allies, and from the ashes of war a new and democratic nation was emerging in West Germany, one which lay alongside but still quite apart from the communist state — the Soviet sector — in the East. The city of Berlin was itself entirely within the boundaries of East Germany, but West Berlin (British, French, and American sectors) was on full display as a veritable island of democratic prosperity within the otherwise bleak totalitarian state.

Fascism, however, was dead. The allied victory assured it. Well, sort of . . .  save for an apparent embedded tendency of governments in locales all around the globe to gradually succumb to those power and greed-based interests which are invariably common to political “right wing” styles of governance, a reality from which the United States has, sadly and clearly, not been exempted.

In August, 2009, Sara Robinson posted an essay on Firedoglake entitled, FASCIST AMERICA: ARE WE THERE YET? In it she writes:

It’s so easy right now to look at the melee on the right and discount it as pure political theater of the most absurdly ridiculous kind. It’s a freaking puppet show. These people can’t be serious. Sure, they’re angry — but they’re also a minority, out of power and reduced to throwing tantrums. Grown-ups need to worry about them about as much as you’d worry about a furious five-year-old threatening to hold her breath until she turned blue.

Unfortunately, all the noise and bluster actually obscures the danger. These people are as serious as a lynch mob, and have already taken the first steps toward becoming one. And they’re going to walk taller and louder and prouder now that their bumbling efforts at civil disobedience are being committed with the full sanction and support of the country’s most powerful people, who are cynically using them in a last-ditch effort to save their own places of profit and prestige.

We’ve arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we’re slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return.

Ms Robinson notes that she “relied on the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world’s pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist.” Paxton authored, in 1998, a lengthy and very detailed essay that was published in The Journal of Modern History in which he very precisely defined fascism and described the conditions which predict and precurse the evolution of a fascist state. Robinson quotes Paxton and by so doing effectively summarizes his fundamental thesis:

Fascism only grows in the disturbed soil of a mature democracy in crisis. . . .

From . . . the Rapture-ready religious right to the white nationalism promoted by the GOP through various gradients of racist groups, it’s easy to trace how American proto-fascism offered redemption from the upheavals of the 1960s by promising to restore the innocence of a traditional, white, Christian, male-dominated America. This vision has been so thoroughly embraced that the entire Republican party now openly defines itself along these lines. At this late stage, it’s blatantly racist, sexist, repressed, exclusionary, and permanently addicted to the politics of fear and rage. Worse: it doesn’t have a moment’s shame about any of it. No apologies, to anyone. These same narrative threads have woven their way through every fascist movement in history.

I can find no argument to counter the very real prognosis that the Constitutional Democratic Republic, America, in which many around the world have found solace and hope for nearly 250 years is teetering on the brink — not the brink of today’s oft-cited “fiscal cliff,” but one which is far more serious, far more dangerous: the Fascist cliff. And once we fall, the chances of return to what ‘We the people’ have long considered to be reality will automatically disappear; our fate will be sealed. I propose that a sign be posted on the Fascist Cliff’s most visible edge, a sign that reads:

ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN JETZT den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR!

Attention: You Are Leaving NOW the American Sector!

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.  ~Sinclair Lewis, 1935

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. ~Sinclair Lewis, 1935

This is today’s open thread. Speak your mind!

73 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Friday January 4, 2013; “ACHTUNG, SIE VERLASSEN den AMERIKANISCHEN SEKTOR”

  1. Meanwhile, in Arpaioville, a subdivision of dumbfukistan…

    Where are your papers?
    Your papers are not in order and I smell something, please step out of the vehicle.
    Your last name is Campo eh?
    When did you arrive in this country?
    “Well sir, my ancestors and family have lived here before the white man ever arrived”
    Silence! You realize there are penalties for being here illegally?
    Uhm, I’m not here illegally, I have a surfers dialect and have attended U.S. schools my entire life.
    Assume the position, up against the car.
    It’s back to Mexico for you pal.
    “I’m not from Mexico”
    (conversation in squad car)
    ” Hey Dewey, after we process these wetbacks let’s go hit the donut shop for some free donuts and then we go bust some hookers and plant some crack on them”.

    • Arpaio was sheriff of Maricopa County when I lived there. I remember when he took over the position when he defeated his opposition in the election … his opponent’s name was, iirc, Peso Dollar, believe it or not … my first impression of Arpaio was that I thought it odd that his name sounded more Latino than, say, German.

      He was, truly, about as “fascist” as anybody I’d ever remembered seeing in public office … until I became familiar with Dick Cheney and, later, of course the Teabaggers. The fact that Arpaio continues to be elected sheriff of Maricopa is rather blatant testimony to the political travesty that defines at least the majority of Arizona’s most populous county AND the country’s fifth largest city, Phoenix (or so it was, at least, prior to the last census). Sad testimony. Very, very sad.

    • Not far from the truth:

      although it is not AZ, Nevada is its twin state when it comes to ‘papers pleases’:

      Giants’ Romo detained by police at Vegas airport

      The federal Transportation Security Administration issued a statement Thursday saying Romo failed to provide proper identification at a document checkpoint and engaged in a dispute with TSA officers about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

      May or may not have anything to do with the above.
      Romo was born and raised in California: He wore this during the victory parade after the G’s won the World Series.

  2. I had a crazy idea this morning. What about imposing a tax, say 80% tax, on income, including interest/coupoins/dividends/carried interest, other bullshit methods of hiding income, over one million dollars that isn’t spent on products or services made in America, or employing American workers. Call it the invest in America tax. Talk about job creators, that might just work.

  3. Excellent stuff Frugal, and the events of last few months might give us pause and hope, but the rabid gun buying in the wake of Newtown tells us they are all still out there.

    For whatever the Teabaggers *say* is the reason for their astro-turf movement, their actions and demographic call them out clearly as a proto-fascist ideology – anti-government, except when it suits them, anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual, anti-secular, pro-corporate (the supreme irony of the Teabaggers).

    The centre of the American political spectrum is already well to right of the Europe of my youth – at least if you believe what the beltway media tells us, the polls actually say otherwise….
    In my days on Think Progress, I was often happy to troll bash just by characterising their posts by one or more of the ‘Fourteen Points of Fascism’. (“That’s #5 and #8 there Skippy! Achtung!’)

    There’s a commenter on C&L whose tag line is:

    “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in excess fat and carrying a mispelled sign”

  4. Wow, first read of the fourteen points in a while… today’s GOP is hitting all of them…

    1. Nationalism – ‘American exceptionalism’ – Obama doesn’t say this often enough for Fox News.
    2. Torture apologists, drone programs, wiretapping, Guantanamo – oh wait – this is *both* parties
    3. Iran
    4. Cut every program *but* defence – we *need* to spend more than the next 10 countries put together (and most of those are in NATO).
    5. Sandra Fluke, legitimate rape, Viagra yes, the Pill no.
    6. Fox News
    7. There’s a muslim under your bed dontchaknow
    8. War on Christmas, not enough God in schools so our kids die, etc etc
    9. Tax breaks for them but not for you. Kochsuckers everywhere.
    10. Wisconsin, Michigan and bust the teachers unions the commies, but let them take bullets
    11. Shut up hollywood, shut up *professor* Warren
    12. Lock up as many as you can – especially the non-white ones – ‘stand your ground’ – expect for the VAWA – raping indigenous women is just A-OK for whitey.
    13. Kochsuckers, Scott Brown, any and every corrupt GOP politico
    14. 53% vote for Democrats but 47% of the seats are Democratic, GOP wants vote suppression, ACORN, Rick Scott, Ohio again.

      • “~A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.~”

        Henry Wallace

  5. Obama is like Ike and Reagan, with respect to two things:

    “Obama is the first president to achieve the 51 percent mark in two elections since Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, who did it in 1952 and 1956.”

    Then there’s the golf. And:

    “Obama is the second president since World War II to win re-election with a jobless rate above 6 percent. The other was Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984.”

    And that makes Sean Hannity’s head explode.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/124922/Presidential-Approval-Center.aspx

  6. Maurice Sendak on growing old. “It makes me cry only when I see my friends go before me”
    Have Kleenex handy:

    “In late September of 2011, Maurice Sendak spoke one last time with Terry Gross for the NPR program Fresh Air. Ostensibly the interview was to promote Sendak’s final book, Bumble-Ardy, but as the conversation progressed it was clear they just wanted to talk. The beloved children’s writer and illustrator was 83 years old and in declining health. He was feeling the loss of people close to him who had died in recent years. Inevitably, the discussion turned to issues of mortality. As the conversation built to an emotional crescendo, Sendak laid bare the qualities that made him such a great author: sincerity, depth of feeling, and an insuperable need to connect with people in some elemental way.”

    http://www.openculture.com/2013/01/maurice_sendaks_emotional_last_interview_with_nprs_terry_gross_animated.html

  7. California judge rejects ‘birthers’ challenge to Obama re-election

    In a courtroom packed with supporters of the birther movement, U.S. District Court Judge Morrison C. England rejected the petition for a temporary restraining order filed by Orly Taitz, a California dentist and attorney who has lost challenges in several states seeking to prove that Obama is not a U.S. citizen
    ….The motion cited three would-be candidates for president who claimed they would be harmed if Congress counted the Electoral College votes taken in December, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Olsen said none of the candidates could show they were on the ballot in any state. One is serving a federal prison sentence, he said.

  8. Kitty logic: Dry cat food poured in a bowl and set in the floor is not relevant. Dry cat food put on the kitchen counter in a small quantity, taken out of the same bag, out of the same cabinet as the cat treats, are therefore cat treats and immediately eaten.

    • In what is a somewhat funny irony, the movie that Republicans once denounced as a possible propaganda move for Obama’s re-election is now being assailed by the Senate Intelligence Committee as pro-CIA propaganda.

      I very much hope that Bigelow and Boal are in no way investigated for committing a work of art. That would be a horrifying precedent.

  9. Sometimes it makes me want to scream. A local radio show was discussing the USPS and had a couple quotes from Batscat Bachmann. Apparently, we can’t change the bizarre retirement plan funding because “look at Social Security” and we can’t charge more for stamps because it would be a “tax increase”.

    I think I’ve told you folks about my new appreciation for the Postal Service. They will deliver 1kg of goods to my door, registered mail, all the way from Hong Kong for $13.99. Even if UPS or FedEx would deliver from Hong Kong it would be 5-10 times the price. I checked the rates from a different company in Seattle and the big box full of airplane that cost $17.99 shipping would have cost me $49.95 via UPS. It would have been a bit less with FedEx but I would have had to go across town to pick it up since the box was oversize.

    Here’s more.

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/01/04/1401881/house-gop-post-office/

    • The woman who is typically behind the PO window in this small town blames all of the USPS financial problems on “Obamacare.” She got mad at me when I explained the source of the difficulties was due to a lame duck Republican Congress.

      • Anyone who thinks the USPS requirement to fund the retirement of people not yet born can be blamed on Obamacare should STFU about politics and never vote. They would be doing the country a great service. We’ll take care of them.

  10. Watching Texas A&M and Oklahoma, after this game, watching Alabama vs. Notre Dame may seem oddly sedate for a lot of people.

  11. Fascism never died in America, its been around ever since wealthy industrialists in the 1930’s plotted to overthrow FDR and the government. One would think those involved would have been thrown in prison but they were given a slap on the wrist.

    Since then they have bid their time, waiting for the right moment to spring to life. With the advent of the Powell Doctrine and AM hate radio of the 70’s and 80’s the pieces were put into place. Mass brainwashing began as propaganda mixed with patriotism, nationalism, hate and fear began to arise more frequently to more and more Americans who lack critical thinking skills.

    Throw in religion, racism, abortion, guns, taxes, free enterprise, American exceptionalism, a black president and the manipulated and manufactured tea party and you have the monster of fascism rearing its ugly head in every state of the Union.

    Add the internet and other technology and you have a movement that isn’t going to go away, for they are masters of public relations, propaganda and control what their followers think and feel. In short we are one phucked nation.

  12. Corporate personhood moves ahead — in the carpool lane

    Corporate personhood takes a new leap forward Monday as a Marin County motorist challenges his traffic ticket by arguing it was OK to drive in the carpool lane because his corporation was with him.

    The fine for such a violation is $478, but Frieman, 59, of San Rafael, says that if the court rules against him Monday, he’s prepared to appeal the case all the way to the California Supreme Court in an effort to expose the impracticality of corporate personhood.

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