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Fearless Ukemi
25th April 07, 05:32 PM
Found an article in that British rag commonly known as the Guardian. Looking at the current discussions going in here lately, this may be interesting to some. (Although it is quite lengthy)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps


From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Tuesday April 24, 2007
The Guardian


Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.


They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."

Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.

It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2. Create a gulag

Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.

At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.

This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.

Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.

But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3. Develop a thug caste

When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5. Harass citizens' groups

The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.

Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.

In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".

"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.

"I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."

"That'll do it," the man said.

Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.

James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.

Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.

It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.

7. Target key individuals

Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.

Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.

Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.

Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8. Control the press

Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.

Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.

Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.

Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.

You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9. Dissent equals treason

Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.

Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.

In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".

And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.

Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)

We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.

Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10. Suspend the rule of law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.

Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."

Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.

Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".

What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.

What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.

Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.

We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

bob
25th April 07, 07:57 PM
Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.




I was actually in Bangkok for the coup. What she omits to mention is that Thaksin was a crook and most people were happy to see him go. On top of that, Thailand wasn't really a democracy to begin with. The Army had the power, before and after the coup.

As far as shutting down the radio and TV, there was a TV station across the road from where we were staying which got occupied for a couple of days but it made absolutely zero difference, considering the ubiquitous presence of CNN and the internet.

For the rest of it, well it's all interesting but I think the whole amounts to less than the sum of the parts in this case.

WarPhalange
25th April 07, 08:32 PM
For the rest of it, well it's all interesting but I think the whole amounts to less than the sum of the parts in this case.

Yeah. For now, at least.

Bukow
25th April 07, 09:22 PM
Three cheers for overreaction and hyperbole.

Stick
25th April 07, 10:11 PM
I particularly like the bit about a "thug caste".

Cute.

AAAhmed46
25th April 07, 11:31 PM
Thank god for the american checks and balance system.

I like canada's system, but one thing we can learn from the states are the checks and balances.

DerAuslander108
25th April 07, 11:36 PM
Ooooo....what are the attribute requirements for Thug Caste?

Keep in mind...I played Palladium.

Stick
26th April 07, 12:30 AM
Dude, I'm afraid we're YUPPY caste if anything.

WarPhalange
26th April 07, 12:32 AM
I wanna be Dreamcast!!

DerAuslander108
26th April 07, 01:07 AM
Dude, I'm afraid we're YUPPY caste if anything.

Uh...speak for yourself dude...

I don't make enough money or work in the right kind of jobs to be a yuppy...

DerAuslander108
26th April 07, 01:08 AM
I wanna be Dreamcast!!

I oughta fuck your mother for that.

AAAhmed46
26th April 07, 01:23 AM
I wanna be Dreamcast!!

Dreamcast sucks.

DAYoung
26th April 07, 01:42 AM
It's all true.

The details are irrelevant.

MY IDEOLOGY IS RIGHT.

Stick
26th April 07, 01:56 AM
It's all true.

The details are irrelevant.

MY IDEOLOGY IS RIGHT.

You fascist.

Truculent Sheep
26th April 07, 05:34 AM
Naomi Wolf is just some Moonbat living frothing at the mouth. Sometimes I wonder whether her success is down to a right wing conspiracy so she makes everyone who's not a Republican look silly...

Matsufubu
26th April 07, 06:36 AM
Naomi Wolf is just some Moonbat living frothing at the mouth. Sometimes I wonder whether her success is down to a right wing conspiracy so she makes everyone who's not a Republican look silly...

I stopped reading the article at "Naomi Wolf". Speaking as a member of the megachiroptera family, I can definitely say that she gives Moonbats a bad name.

And anybody who takes what the Guardian says seriously needs a lobotomy. Outside of it's readership, the Guardian is viewed as a bit of a lefty, apologist joke.

DAYoung
26th April 07, 06:40 AM
Great read, The Guardian. I love its 'Environment' section.

mrblackmagic
26th April 07, 07:21 AM
It's funny how the most right wing thing in England is only mildly libertarian in America.

Commodore Pipes
26th April 07, 09:19 AM
Yeah. For now, at least.

Right. I don't think W will be able to establish an authoritarian government, if indeed that is what he is attempting. See, God doesn't talk to me directly and tell me what I should do, so I can't see into people's souls to tell if they are good men or not. But regardless of what W wants or means to do, he has weakened our democracy, and if we don't fix it in subsequent administrations, than I think it is reasonable to assume that democracy as we know it will end.


Three cheers for overreaction and hyperbole.

I don't think it's either, necessarily, escept for the 'thug caste' thing. Everything esle is identified as being the start of a process to undermine democratic institutions, and I think that's true, if unintended.

Truculent Sheep
26th April 07, 10:22 AM
I stopped reading the article at "Naomi Wolf". Speaking as a member of the megachiroptera family, I can definitely say that she gives Moonbats a bad name.

And anybody who takes what the Guardian says seriously needs a lobotomy. Outside of it's readership, the Guardian is viewed as a bit of a lefty, apologist joke.

It's also doomed - once there's a change in government, The Grauniad (a reference to its pisspoor sub-editing before you ask) will lose all the ads for jobs in the public sector, which will be purged and trimmed ruthlessly by the Tories. It's also propped up by Auto-Trader, a listings mag where the public flogs its motors. If the 'net were to undermine that, the Guardian would be screwed as the rest of the Scott Trust portfolio depends on AT's profits.

Plus, it's a joke - as you said. Their star writer is some dozy champagne socialist trollop called Polly Toynbee, whose stupidity is legendary (http://www.boris-johnson.com/archives/2006/11/polly_toynbee_the_tory_guru.php). A shame as a left-liberal approach still has a lot to offer, but not when it's a facade for authoritarian megalomania. (AKA, 'The Blair Years'.)

The only winner will be The Independent, which does eco-fascism and thinly veiled anti-semitism so much better anyway.

DAYoung
26th April 07, 12:51 PM
And Madeleine Bunting?

DJR
26th April 07, 03:12 PM
The current US government is right wing and authoritarian, but is still a long way from being fascist.

I think a more dangerous threat of a 'new fascism' in the USA, over the long haul, comes from the fundamentalist Christian right. Chris Hedges, a former New york Times journalist, has written an interesting book about this. Here's a related article he wrote a couple of years ago:


THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT AND THE RISE OF AMERICAN FASCISM

By -- CHRIS HEDGES

15 Nov 2004

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we were his age, he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting the "Christian fascists."

The warning, given to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global, Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.

He was not a man to use the word fascist lightly. He was in Germany in 1935 and 1936 and worked with the underground anti-Nazi church, known as The Confessing Church, led by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Adams was eventually detained and interrogated by the Gestapo, who suggested he might want to consider returning to the United States . It was a suggestion he followed. He left on a night train with framed portraits of Adolph Hitler placed over the contents inside his suitcase to hide the rolls of home movie film he took of the so-called German Christian Church, which was pro-Nazi, and the few individuals who defied them, including the theologians Karl Barth and Albert Schweitzer. The ruse worked when the border police lifted the top of the suitcases, saw the portraits of the Fuhrer and closed them up again. I watched hours of the grainy black and white films as he narrated in his apartment in Cambridge.

He saw in the Christian Right, long before we did, disturbing similarities with the German Christian Church and the Nazi Party, similarities that he said would, in the event of prolonged social instability or a national crisis, see American fascists, under the guise of religion, rise to dismantle the open society. He despaired of liberals, who he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and allure of evil nor the cold reality of how the world worked. The current hand wringing by Democrats in the wake of the election, with many asking how they can reach out to a movement whose leaders brand them "demonic" and "satanic," would not have surprised Adams. Like Bonhoeffer, he did not believe that those who would fight effectively in coming times of turmoil, a fight that for him was an integral part of the Biblical message, would come from the church or the liberal, secular elite.

His critique of the prominent research universities, along with the media, was no less withering. These institutions, self-absorbed, compromised by their close relationship with government and corporations, given enough of the pie to be complacent, were unwilling to deal with the fundamental moral questions and inequities of the age. They had no stomach for a battle that might cost them their prestige and comfort. He told me that if the Nazis took over America "60 percent of the Harvard faculty would begin their lectures with the Nazi salute." This too was not an abstraction. He had watched academics at the University of Heidelberg, including the philosopher Martin Heidegger, raise their arms stiffly to students before class.

Two decades later, even in the face of the growing reach of the Christian Right, his prediction seems apocalyptic. And yet the powerbrokers in the Christian Right have moved from the fringes of society to the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Christian fundamentalists now hold a majority of seats in 36 percent of all Republican Party state committees, or 18 of 50 states, along with large minorities in 81 percent of the rest of the states. Forty-five Senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives earned between an 80 to100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups - The Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and Family Resource Council. Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has included in his campaign to end abortion: a call to impose the death penalty on doctors that carry out abortions once the ban goes into place. Another new senator, John Thune, believes in Creationism. Jim DeMint, the new senator elected from South Carolina, wants to ban single mothers from teaching in schools. The Election Day exit polls found that 22 percent of voters identified themselves as evangelical Christians and Bush won 77 percent of their vote. The polls found that a plurality of voters said that the most important issue in the campaign had been "moral values."

President Bush must further these important objectives, including the march to turn education and social welfare over to the churches with his faith-based initiative, as well as chip away at the wall between church and state with his judicial appointments, if he does not want to face a revolt within his core constituency.

Jim Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, who held weekly telephone conversations with Karl Rove during the campaign, has put the President on notice. He told ABC's "This Week" that "this president has two years, or more broadly the Republican Party has two years, to implement these policies, or certainly four, or I believe they'll pay a price in the next election."

Bush may turn out to be a transition figure, our version of Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck used "values" to energize his base at the end of the 19th century and launched "Kulturkampt," the word from which we get "culture wars," against Catholics and Jews. Bismarck 's attacks split the country, made the discrediting of whole segments of the society an acceptable part of the civil discourse and paved the way for the more virulent racism of the Nazis. This, I suspect, will be George Bush's contribution to our democracy.

DOMINIONISTS AND RECONSTRUCTIONISTS

The Reconstructionist movement, founded in 1973 by Rousas Rushdooney, is the intellectual foundation for the most politically active element within the Christian Right. Rushdooney's 1,600 page three-volume work, Institutes of Biblical Law, argued that American society should be governed according to the Biblical precepts in the Ten Commandments. He wrote that the elect, like Adam and Noah, were given dominion over the earth by God and must subdue the earth, along with all non-believers, so the Messiah could return.

This was a radically new interpretation for many in the evangelical movement. The Messiah, it was traditionally taught, would return in an event called "the Rapture" where there would be wars and chaos. The non-believers would be tormented and killed and the elect would be lifted to heaven. The Rapture was not something that could be manipulated or influenced, although believers often interpreted catastrophes and wars as portents of the imminent Second Coming.

Rushdooney promoted an ideology that advocated violence to create the Christian state. His ideology was the mirror image of Liberation Theology, which came into vogue at about the same time. While the Liberation Theologians crammed the Bible into the box of Marxism, Rushdooney crammed it into the equally distorting box of classical fascism. This clash was first played out in Latin America when I was there as a reporter two decades ago. In El Salvador leftist priests endorsed and even traveled with the rebel movements in Nicaragua and El Salvador, while Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, along with conservative Latin American clerics, backed the Contras fighting against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the murderous military regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile and Argentina.

The Institutes of Biblical Law called for a Christian society that was harsh, unforgiving and violent. Offenses such as adultery, witchcraft, blasphemy and homosexuality, merited the death penalty. The world was to be subdued and ruled by a Christian United States. Rushdooney dismissed the number of 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust as an inflated figure and his theories on race echoed Nazi Eugenics.

"The white man has behind him centuries of Christian culture and the discipline and selective breeding this faith requires...," he wrote. "The Negro is a product of a radically different past, and his heredity has been governed by radically different considerations."

"The background of Negro culture is African and magic, and the purposes of the magic are control and power over God, man, nature, and society. Voodoo, or magic, was the religion and life of American Negroes. Voodoo songs underlie jazz, and old voodoo, with its power goal, has been merely replaced with revolutionary voodoo, a modernized power drive." (see The Religious Right , a publication of the ADL, pg. 124.)

Rushdooney was deeply antagonistic to the federal government. He believed the federal government should concern itself with little more than national defense. Education and social welfare should be handed over to the churches. Biblical law must replace the secular legal code. This ideology remains at the heart of the movement. It is being enacted through school vouchers, with federal dollars now going into Christian schools, and the assault against the federal agencies that deal with poverty and human services. The Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is currently channeling millions in federal funds to groups such Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing , and National Right to Life, as well as to fundamentalist religious charity organizations and programs promoting sexual abstinence.

Rushdooney laid the groundwork for a new way of thinking about political involvement. The Christian state would come about not only through signs and wonders, as those who believed in the rapture believed, but also through the establishment of the Christian nation. But he remained, even within the Christian Right, a deeply controversial figure.

Dr. Tony Evans, the minister of a Dallas church and the founder of Promise Keepers, articulated Rushdooney's extremism in a more palatable form. He called on believers, often during emotional gatherings at football stadiums, to commit to Christ and exercise power within the society as agents of Christ. He also called for a Christian state. But he did not advocate the return of slavery, as Rushdooney did, nor list a string of offenses such as adultery punishable by death, nor did he espouse the Nazi-like race theories. It was through Evans, who was a spiritual mentor to George Bush that Dominionism came to dominate the politically active wing of the Christian Right.The religious utterances from political leaders such as George Bush, Tom Delay, Pat Robertson and Zell Miller are only understandable in light of Rushdooney and Dominionism. These leaders believe that God has selected them to battle the forces of evil, embodied in "secular humanism," to create a Christian nation. Pat Robertson frequently tells believers "our aim is to gain dominion over society." Delay has told supporters, such as at a gathering two years ago at the First Baptist Church in Pearland, Texas , "He [God] is using me, all the time, everywhere, to stand up for biblical worldview in everything I do and everywhere I am. He is training me, He is working with me." Delay went on to tell followers "If we stay inside the church, the culture won't change."

Pat Robertson, who changed the name of his university to Regent University, says he is training his students to rule when the Christian regents take power, part of the reign leading to the return of Christ. Robertson resigned as the head of the Christian Coalition when Bush took office, a sign many took to signal the ascendancy of the first regent. This battle is not rhetorical but one that followers are told will ultimately involve violence. And the enemy is clearly defined and marked for destruction.

"Secular Humanists," the popular Christian Right theologian Francis Schaeffer wrote in one of numerous diatribes, "are the greatest threat to Christianity the world has ever known."

One of the most enlightening books that exposes the ultimate goals of the movement is America's Providential History, the standard textbook used in many Christian schools and a staple of the Christian home schooling movement. It sites Genesis 26, which calls for mankind to "have dominnion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" as evidence that the Bible calls for "Bible believing Christians" to take dominion of America.

"When God brings Noah through the flood to a new earth, He reestablished the Dominion Mandate but now delegates to man the responsibility for governing other men." (page 19). The authors write that God has called the United States to become "the first truly Christian nation" (page 184) and "make disciples of all nations." The book denounces income tax as "idolatry," property tax as "theft" and calls for an abolish of inheritance taxes in the chapter entitled Christian Economics. The loss of such tax revenues will bring about the withering away of the federal government and the empowerment of the authoritarian church, although this is not explict in the text.

Rushdooney's son-in-law, Gary North, a popular writer and founder of the Institute for Christian Economics, laid out the aims of the Christian Right.

"So let's be blunt about it: We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God." (Christianity and Civilization, Spring, 1982)

Dominionists have to operate, for now, in the contaminated environment of the secular, liberal state. They have learned, therefore, to speak in code. The code they use is the key to understanding the dichotomy of the movement, one that has a public and a private face. In this they are no different from the vanguard, as described by Lenin, or the Islamic terrorists who shave off their beards, adopt western dress and watch pay-for-view pornographic movies in their hotel rooms the night before hijacking a plane for a suicide attack.

Joan Bokaer, the Director of Theocracy Watch, a project of the Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy at Cornell University , who runs the encyclopedic web site theocracywatch.org, was on a speaking tour a few years ago in Iowa. She obtained a copy of a memo Pat Robertson handed out to followers at the Iowa Republican County Caucus. It was titled, "How to Participate in a Political Party" and read:

"Rule the world for God."

"Give the impression that you are there to work for the party, not push an ideology.

"Hide your strength.

"Don't flaunt your Christianity.

"Christians need to take leadership positions. Party officers control political parties and so it is very important that mature Christians have a majority of leadership whenever possible, God willing."

President Bush sends frequent coded messages to the faithful. In his address to the nation on the night of September 11, for example, he lifted a line directly from the Gospel of John when he said "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it." He often uses the sentence "when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law," words taken directly from a pro-life manifesto entitled "A Statement of Pro-Life Principle and Concern." He quotes from hymns, prayers, tracts and Biblical passages without attribution. These phrases reassure the elect. They are lost on the uninitiated.

CHRIST THE AVENGER

The Christian Right finds its ideological justification in a narrow segment of the Gospel, in particular the letters of the Apostle Paul, especially the story of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus in the Book of Acts. It draws heavily from the book of Revelations and the Gospel of John. These books share an apocalyptic theology. The Book of Revelations is the only time in the Gospels where Jesus sanctions violence, offering up a vision of Christ as the head of a great and murderous army of heavenly avengers. Martin Luther found the God portrayed in Revelations so hateful and cruel he put the book in the appendix of his German translation of the Bible.

These books rarely speak about Christ's message of love, forgiveness and compassion. They focus on the doom and destruction that will befall unbelievers and the urgent need for personal salvation. The world is divided between good and evil, between those who act as agents of God and those who act as agents of Satan. The Jesus of the other three Gospels, the Jesus who turned the other cheek and embraced his enemies, an idea that was radical and startling in the ancient Roman world, is purged in the narrative selected by the Christian Right.

The cult of masculinity pervades the ideology. Feminism and homosexuality are social forces, believers are told, that have rendered the American male physically and spiritually impotent. Jesus is portrayed as a man of action, casting out demons, battling the Anti-Christ, attacking hypocrites and castigating the corrupt. This cult of masculinity brings with it the glorification of strength, violence and vengeance. It turns Christ into a Rambo-like figure; indeed depictions of Jesus within the movement often show a powerfully built man wielding a huge sword.

This image of Christ as warrior is appealing to many within the movement. The loss of manufacturing jobs, lack of affordable health care, negligible opportunities for education and poor job security has left many millions of Americans locked out. This ideology is attractive because it offers them the hope of power and revenge. It sanctifies their rage. It stokes the paranoia about the outside world maintained through bizarre conspiracy theories, many on display in Pat Robertson's book The New World Order. The book is a xenophobic rant that includes vicious attacks against the United Nations and numerous other international organizations. The abandonment of the working class has been crucial to the success of the movement. Only by reintegrating the working class into society through job creation, access to good education and health care can the Christian Right be effectively blunted. Revolutionary movements are built on the backs of an angry, disenfranchised laboring class. This one is no exception.

The depictions of violence that will befall non-believers are detailed, gruesome and brutal. It speaks to the rage many believers harbor and the thirst for revenge. This, in large part, accounts for the huge sales of the apocalyptic series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In their novel, Glorious Appearing, based on LaHaye's interpretation of Biblical Prophecies about the Second Coming, Christ eviscerates the flesh of millions of non-believers with the mere sound of his voice. There are long descriptions of horror, of how "the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin." Eyes disintegrate. Tongues melt. Flesh dissolves. The novel, part of The Left Behind series, are the best selling adult novels in the country. They preach holy war.

"Any teaching of peace prior to [Christ's] return is heresy." said televangelist James Robison.

Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, instability in Israel and even the fighting of Iraq are seen as signposts. The war in Iraq was predicted according to believers in the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of men." The march towards global war, even nuclear war, is not to be feared but welcomed as the harbinger of the Second Coming. And leading the avenging armies is an angry, violent Messiah who dooms millions of non-believers to a horrible and painful death.

THE CORRUPTION OF SCIENCE AND LAW

The movement seeks the imprint of law and science. It must discredit the rational disciplines that are the pillars of the Enlightenment to abolish the liberal polity of the Enlightenment. This corruption of science and law is vital in promoting the doctrine. Creationism, or "intelligent design," like Eugenics for the Nazis, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline to destroy the discipline of science itself. This is why the Christian Right is working to bring test cases to ensure that school textbooks include "intelligent design" and condemn gay marriage.

The drive by the Christian Right to include crackpot theories in scientific or legal debate is part of the campaign to destroy dispassionate and honest intellectual inquiry. Facts become interchangeable with opinions. An understanding of reality is not to be based on the elaborate gathering of facts and evidence. The ideology alone is true. Facts that get in the way of the ideology can be altered. Lies, in this worldview, become true. Hannah Arendt called this effort "nihilistic relativism" although a better phrase might be collective insanity.

The Christian Right has fought successfully to have Creationist books sold in national park bookstores in the Grand Canyon, taught as a theory in public schools in states like Alabama and Arkansas. "Intelligent design" is promoted in Christian textbooks. All animal species, or at least their progenitors, students read, fit on Noah's ark. The Grand Canyon was created a few thousand years ago by the flood that lifted up Noah's ark, not one billion years ago, as geologists have determined. The earth is only a few thousand years old in line with the literal reading of Genesis. This is not some quaint, homespun view of the world. It is an insidious attempt to undermine rational scientific research and intellectual inquiry.

Tom Delay, following the Columbine shootings, gave voice to this assault when he said that the killings had taken place "because our school systems teach children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial mud." (speech Delay gave in the House on June 16, 1999 )

"What convinces masses are not facts," Hannah Arendt wrote in Origins of Totalitarianism, "and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system which they are presumably part. Repetition, somewhat overrated in importance because of the common belief in the "masses" inferior capacity to grasp and remember, is important because it convinces them of consistency in time." (p.351)

There are more than 6 million elementary and secondary school students attending private schools and 11.5 percent of these students attend schools run by the Christian Right. These "Christian" schools saw an increase of 46 percent in enrollment in the last decade. The 245,000 additional students accounted for 75 percent of the total rise in private school enrollment.

THE LAUNCHING OF THE WAR

Adams told us to watch closely what the Christian Right did to homosexuals. He has seen how the Nazis had used "values" to launch state repression of opponents. Hitler, days after he took power in 1933, imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations. He ordered raids on places where homosexuals gathered culminating with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin . Thousands of volumes from the institute's library were tossed into a bonfire. Adams said that homosexuals would also be the first "deviants" singled out by the Christian Right. We would be the next.

The ban on same sex marriages, passed by eleven states in the election, was part of this march towards our door. A 1996 federal law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman. All of the states with ballot measures, with the exception of Oregon, had outlawed same sex marriages, as do 27 other states. The bans, however, had to be passed, believers were told, to thwart "activist judges" who wanted to overturn them. The Christian family, even the nation, was under threat. The bans served to widen the splits tearing apart the country. The attacks on homosexuals handed to the foot soldiers of the Christian Right an easy target. It gave them a taste of victory. It made them feel empowered. But it is ominous for gays and for us.

All debates with the Christian Right are useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. It is not mollified because John Kerry prays or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School. These naive attempts to reach out to a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to them that we too have "values," would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. They hate us. They hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution. Our opinions do not count.

This movement will not stop until we are ruled by Biblical Law, an authoritarian church intrudes in every aspect of our life, women stay at home and rear children, gays agree to be cured, abortion is considered murder, the press and the schools promote "positive" Christian values, the federal government is gutted, war becomes our primary form of communication with the rest of the world and recalcitrant non-believers see their flesh eviscerated at the sound of the Messiah's voice.

The spark that could set it ablaze may be lying in the hands of an Islamic terrorist cell, in the hands of the ideological twins of the Christian Right. Another catastrophic terrorist attack could be our Reichstag fire, the excuse used to begin the accelerated dismantling of our open society. The ideology of the Christian Right is not one of love and compassion, the central theme of Christ's message, but of violence and hatred. It has a strong appeal to many in our society, but it is also aided by our complacency. Let us not stand at the open city gates waiting passively and meekly for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching rudely towards Bethlehem. Let us, if nothing else, begin to call them by their name.

Chris Hedges, a reporter for The New York Times, is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning . He holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School . His next book , Losing Moses on the Freeway: America 's Broken Covenant With The Ten Commandments is published by The Free Press.

Commodore Pipes
26th April 07, 03:20 PM
I agree, but W. courts that constituency pretty damn hard.

JimmyTheHutt
26th April 07, 03:37 PM
I agree, but W. courts that constituency pretty damn hard.

He is a non-entity in that regards. At this point, the primary issue should be who is trying to recruit that constituency for the next administration. Those are the people interested in continuing a more authoritarian style of government.

While the US is far away from fascism, it has taken a turn against its traditional political ideologies.

Veritas et Lux!
Jimmy The Hutt

Commodore Pipes
26th April 07, 03:56 PM
The far right might be necessary for fascism, but our weakened democracy will be more susceptible to other types of totalitarianism. I am afraid that it is a process that probably won't be reversed, since every executive with the exception of a few has tried to exapnd his power.

ironlurker
26th April 07, 03:57 PM
The current US government is right wing and authoritarian, but is still a long way from being fascist.

I think a more dangerous threat of a 'new fascism' in the USA, over the long haul, comes from the fundamentalist Christian right.
Be jerks? Sure, but I don't see organized religion as a feasible basis for fascism in the US.

In the US I think the new media, such as the internet, will always act as a brake for any type of large movement based on religious principles. What I'm saying is that hypocrisy is quite easily and rapidly revealed, i.e. Ted Haggard, and hypocrisy is the downfall of extremist organized religion. Hitler could hide the fact that many of his henchmen were sexual deviants by Nazi's own standards -as well as his own drug addiction and bizarre personal life-in a way that I don't see a modern politician could possibly do. I think it's a safe bet to say most mainstream media members are hostile to Christian fundamentalists, and you'd need a total capitulation on their part to obviate a 24/7 digging up of dirt on any major candidates.

Moreover, Americans in general cannot stand arrogance, bombast, or the feeling that someone thinks they are better then them. This impression (emphasis on impression) is one of the reasons why people voted for avuncular goofball George Bush over smarmy John Kerry, even while the former was increasingly unpopular. Yes, the US is anti-intellectual, but I would argue that anti-intellectualism is only a manifestation of broader anti-exceptionalism and conformity. I could forsee the possibility of a strongman dictator of the US in the form you see in Latin America, but you're never going to get a Hitler or Khomeini that forcibly remolds society in their own image.

Another issue I see is that fascism is hostile to civil society, and in many areas -and many of these groups- are the product of civil society, both in Muslim and Christian countries. Fascism demands the control and capitulation of civic groups. Participation in the democratic process often moderates groups with extreme claims, especially in a heterogeneous society. Hezbollah in Lebanon is one example, despite the recent "counting coup" with Israel (or because of it, when you consider the broad multireligious support they have)



All debates with the Christian Right are useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion.
Replace Christian Right with Muslims, even Islamic fundamentalists, and you'll see the weakness of this statement. It's a sweeping generalization at best. I think it's asinine if someone believes dinosaurs never existed, but I have to understand the incentives this person has for holding the belief and the factors behind them if I want to reach them, or even just make sure their candidate is not elected. You don't have to agree with someone, you certainly don't have to respect them, but when you reject any attempt to gain an understanding of why they do what they do you are the one paving the way for confrontation.

ironlurker
26th April 07, 04:30 PM
The Election Day exit polls found that 22 percent of voters identified themselves as evangelical Christians and Bush won 77 percent of their vote.
Here's something else. Evangelical does not automatically equal racist, as his (Hedges, not DJR's) use of these statistics and quoting of Rushdooney and fringe Christian identity seeks to say.

I am not now nor have I ever been (lol) an evangelical Christian.
But I see Haitian, Brazlilian, Korean Evangelical churches everywhere I go.
The black churches that spoke out and held meetings against the same-sex marriage law in MA caused consternation for people who believe in these simplistic formulas.
Since Hedges was guided by his father in starting a gay rights advocacy group in college, I'd think he'd realize that some of the most anti-gay Christians are members of minority churches, due to cultural reasons. If these are not t3h r34l evangelicals, then we're playing a definition game.
Ask the Catholic Church if evangelicals are racist and they'll laugh at the question, because they're losing huge chunks of their congregations, especially in South America, to the evangelicals.
"Evangelist christiany tends to appeal to people with poor education frustrated by modern life"= true.
Evangelist= nazi= racist= etc. is the creation of a laundry list of everything bad in the world. Are there overlaps? Definitely. Is it accurate? It's a facile construct.

Truculent Sheep
26th April 07, 05:56 PM
And Madeleine Bunting?

She's reasonably good. Monbiot swings from sensible to bleeding stupid, often in the same paragraph. Tariq Ali is relatively normal. That's it...

Bukow
26th April 07, 06:18 PM
At this point, the primary issue should be who is trying to recruit that constituency for the next administration. Those are the people interested in continuing a more authoritarian style of government.

They're some of the people. The others are those on the left who want to expand the government to provide for their political pet causes. Whether it's the government reaching into the bedroom or government reaching into our wallets, no particular group has a monopoly on lobbying big brother to bully us.



While the US is far away from fascism, it has taken a turn against its traditional political ideologies.


I think a much more remarkable drift came with the end of the Lochner era, and the gradual re-interpretation of the 9th Amendment that eventually made it a non-issue in jurisprudence..

DAYoung
26th April 07, 06:25 PM
She's reasonably good. Monbiot swings from sensible to bleeding stupid, often in the same paragraph. Tariq Ali is relatively normal. That's it...

I emailed Bunting about her piece on the middle-class hijack of the countryside. Interesting piece. I like Ali - I still have a copy of his Clash of Fundamentalisms, which I've not been able to read.

DJR
26th April 07, 06:39 PM
Here's something else. Evangelical does not automatically equal racist

Definitely agree with you on that. I don't think a fascism based on an overt 'white supremacist' discourse is viable as the ideological basis for a mass movement in the the USA anymore.

What I think is useful about Hedges' argument is the idea that fundamentalist Christianity, rather than race, might be able to function as the new ideological 'glue' that holds together a mass far-right movement in the US. This is potentially far more dangerous, I think, than the relatively isolated lunatics of the neo-nazi/KKK far right, whose constituency is intrinsically limited at this point in history.


In the US I think the new media, such as the internet, will always act as a brake for any type of large movement based on religious principles.

Maybe, but we shouldn't underestimate the extent to which the Christian right has been able to construct it's own relatively self-contained 'media universe,' which provides everything from pop-music to films and news programming that reinforces their core ideology.


I think it's a safe bet to say most mainstream media members are hostile to Christian fundamentalists, and you'd need a total capitulation on their part to obviate a 24/7 digging up of dirt on any major candidates.

I agreee that this is the case at present, but there seems to be a long term emphasis in the Christian right on either 'conquering' the mainstream media by either having evangelicals work in it, or by bullying the media through threats of consumer boycotts, etc.. For example, I've recently noticed some of the stations we get from the US have started to 'bleep-out' profanity that references religion (phrases like 'God-damned', etc.). I'm pretty sure this was not the case even a few years ago, and I think reflects the growing social and cultural power of the Christian right.

Hedges' argument is definitely a bit overstated and alarmist, but I think he's on to something about the potential danger the evangelical right could represent over the long term. I don't think they're about to seize state power or anything, but they are dug in for a long, drawn out 'war of position' in which they attempt to slowly gain power and influence in culture, civil society and the state.

DAYoung
26th April 07, 06:46 PM
This is all so foreign. No wonder your atheists are often so militant.

DJR
26th April 07, 07:01 PM
Replace Christian Right with Muslims, even Islamic fundamentalists, and you'll see the weakness of this statement. It's a sweeping generalization at best. I think it's asinine if someone believes dinosaurs never existed, but I have to understand the incentives this person has for holding the belief and the factors behind them if I want to reach them, or even just make sure their candidate is not elected. You don't have to agree with someone, you certainly don't have to respect them, but when you reject any attempt to gain an understanding of why they do what they do you are the one paving the way for confrontation.

I think you're correct here as well. Hedges is wrong to think that you can just stop talking to the social base of the Christian right. Part of the battle will to be win a lot of these people over to a different politics that makes room for their faith, but detaches it from the dangerous authoritarian tendencies. I think there may be hope in doing this if the mainstream left focused more on economic social justice issues rather than 'cultural' issues that rile up conservative Christians so much.

While some people on the left might disagree with me, I don't think there's anything intrinsically fascist about evangelical Christianity. In fact, there are variants of'evangelical Christianity that I think are quite progressive on a lot of issues, like the people who run 'Sojourners' magazine, and some of the people interviewed in this article: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3061/preaching_revolution/

DAYoung
26th April 07, 07:07 PM
I think there may be hope in doing this if the mainstream left focused more on economic social justice issues rather than 'cultural' issues that rile up conservative Christians so much.

Hmmm. That's a tough one. So many of the issues associated with poverty have become 'cultural' ones (e.g. abortion, racial inequality, gender exploitation).

DJR
26th April 07, 07:14 PM
This is all so foreign. No wonder your atheists are often so militant.

Yeah, I think that's sometimes the case in the USA.

We don't have anywhere near the same amount of problems with the Christian right up here in Canada, but I see and read a lot about it because of the amount of US media we're exposed to in Canada. The Christian entertainment/media sector is huge down there, with literally billions of dollars in CD, book, videogame, and movie sales every year, and even crosses over into 'mainstream' success at times. They're very well organised as pressure groups, as well.

DJR
26th April 07, 07:22 PM
Hmmm. That's a tough one. So many of the issues associated with poverty have become 'cultural' ones (e.g. abortion, racial inequality, gender exploitation).

Yeah, you're right.

To be more specific though, the axis of 'left' vs. 'right' debate in the US over the past few years has centred a lot on sexual morality (especially gay marriage). While I personally support gay marriage, etc. I think the US left would be wise to de-emphasize these issues in favour of ones that can win over a wider social base. A lot of the people supporting the Christian right at this stage are from lower and working class backgrounds, and I think could potentially be won over to a a politics that addresses them around issues of social and economic justice, especially as there's a lot of elements of the New Testament that emphasize those issues, and the Christian right seems to largely ignore that dimension of Christian discourse.

Thinkchair
26th April 07, 07:45 PM
Yeah, you're right.

To be more specific though, the axis of 'left' vs. 'right' debate in the US over the past few years has centred a lot on sexual morality (especially gay marriage). While I personally support gay marriage, etc. I think the US left would be wise to de-emphasize these issues in favour of ones that can win over a wider social base. A lot of the people supporting the Christian right at this stage are from lower and working class backgrounds, and I think could potentially be won over to a a politics that addresses them around issues of social and economic justice, especially as there's a lot of elements of the New Testament that emphasize those issues, and the Christian right seems to largely ignore that dimension of Christian discourse.

The problem the left is having in this regard, is that many religious groups perceive the left as anti-religious.

Thinkchair
26th April 07, 07:46 PM
Hmmm. That's a tough one. So many of the issues associated with poverty have become 'cultural' ones (e.g. abortion, racial inequality, gender exploitation).

Day, what does the American political and social climate look like over there in Australia?

DAYoung
26th April 07, 09:49 PM
Day, what does the American political and social climate look like over there in Australia?

Diverse in actuality, but monopolised in the media by simplistic lobby groups and their mouthpieces.

DAYoung
26th April 07, 09:56 PM
Yeah, you're right.

To be more specific though, the axis of 'left' vs. 'right' debate in the US over the past few years has centred a lot on sexual morality (especially gay marriage). While I personally support gay marriage, etc. I think the US left would be wise to de-emphasize these issues in favour of ones that can win over a wider social base. A lot of the people supporting the Christian right at this stage are from lower and working class backgrounds, and I think could potentially be won over to a a politics that addresses them around issues of social and economic justice, especially as there's a lot of elements of the New Testament that emphasize those issues, and the Christian right seems to largely ignore that dimension of Christian discourse.

Yes, this is what I was stressing here (http://www.sociocide.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46545) - Labor (America's Liberals) have been done over by the shift from their traditional working-class base.

As it happens, in Australia it's the Churches that've been picking up the social justice issues that the major political parties have ignored or forgotten.

ironlurker
26th April 07, 11:05 PM
Yes, this is what I was stressing here (http://www.sociocide.com/forums/showthread.php?t=46545) - Labor (America's Liberals) have been done over by the shift from their traditional working-class base.

There's two parts to this I believe. The first part is simply catering to their donors.


Democrats tap professionals for funds

Donor efforts may now top the GOP

By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | April 8, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Democrats appear to have erased the decades-long Republican edge in campaign fund-raising, building a network of well-off donors that rivals that of the GOP -- and that recently has generated more cash.
Article Tools
In dwarfing the sums raised by Republicans in the first three months of this year, Democratic presidential candidates capitalized on growing support from upper-income professionals.
Just as working-class voters have been drawn to the GOP because of the party's emphasis on traditional values, many higher-income, higher-educated voters who once favored Republicans over tax policy have been moving toward the Democrats because of more liberal stands on social issues and a more internationalist perspective on foreign policy. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/04/08/democrats_tap_professionals_for_funds/

These are Obama's top individual contributors:
Notable donors: Peter Chernin, president, News Corp., $2,100 (yes you read that correctly) ; Barry Diller, CEO Interactive Corp., $4,600; Tom Hanks, actor, $4,600; Eddie Murphy, actor, $2,300; Morgan Freeman, actor, $2,300.

Top indidivual donors for Hillary:
Notable donors: Leo J. Hindery Jr., CEO Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, $2,300; Andrea Alberini, Guess, Inc. $4,600; Kate Capshaw Spielberg, actor, $2,300; Candice Bergen Malle, actor, $4,600.

Now, in terms of top group contributors, unions still top the scale for the dem's.
However, Saban Entertainment alone is tenth place beyond many of them.
stats from : http://www.opensecrets.org/parties/contrib.asp?Cmte=RPC&cycle=2000

In my opinion, the Dems went Hollywood, it's a mutually beneficial relationship where the dems get money and press and the entertainment complex gets whatever, and they both get to feel important in different ways by rubbing shoulders with each other. (The Republicans have the NRA, Philip Morris etc of course but I'm just talking a bout the dems here, I'm registered independent)

In MA, which is a traditionally liberal, democratic state, you hear a lot of grumblings and mumblings from union members who are told to hold signs for dem candidates or they won't get good contracts. The personal politics of union members has become widely separated from the unions' (as organizations) reflexive support for the democratic party.

Part two, is the fact that labor in many first-world countries has become a "labor aristocracy". I'll give the wiki because it's better than the tl;dr definition I'd give.


In Marxist theory, those workers (proletarians) in developed countries who benefit from thesuperprofits extracted from the impoverished workers of underdeveloped countries form an "aristocracy of labor." The phrase was popularised by Karl Kautsky in 1901 and theorised by Vladimir Lenin. Lenin's theory contends that companies in the developed world exploit workers in the developing world (where wages are much lower), resulting in increased profits. Because of these increased profits, the companies are able to pay higher wages to their employees "at home" (that is, in the developed world), thus creating a working class satisfied with their standard of living and not inclined to proletarian revolution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_aristocracy

The hourly average wage for United Auto Workers union members is 26$ an hour, with benefits, 65$ an hour. I'm not saying that's wrong, that they don't deserve it or earn it, but in what countries can you get a job that requires no education and pays 25 USD an hour with benefits? Not bloody many. (Actually, now that I think of it, in many countries the likely exception would be army officers, but definitely not factory workers)

DAYoung
26th April 07, 11:07 PM
Yes.

ironlurker
26th April 07, 11:31 PM
Yes.
I think the breaking point between the dems and the unions (don't know enough about the situation in Australia) might come witht he ongoing "free trade"/globilization/open borders situation.

You don't hear this often, but Caesar Chavez (big Mexican-American agrarian union leader) would do vigilante patrols on the Mexican border with his union members and beat to a bloody pulp undocumented workers/illegals they came across. Because, put simply, they were scabs and lowered the wages.

At some point the unions might realize their numbers have shrunk drastically and they've priced themselves out of existence (only 7.4 % of private sector workers -legal workers- are union!). Then you might see a backlash, and if it takes aim at immigrants you might see fascist bullying of the type DJR and others have written of. However, they may just be fat and happy enough to slip into oblivion.

I think you'll see calls for American fascism when the "American way of life" -meaning an economic/consumer state unlike much else on earth- is threatened. Ironically, Bush might have gotten more support if he just said "fuck, let's get cheap oil" and delivered.

The dangerous elements are the borderline elements- no one is as dangerous as someone who thinks they deserve better than they're getting.
Hitler had major support from university professors. Why? The Nazis eliminated thousands of tenured Jewish professors, giving positions to thousands of big intellectuals who gladly took them with no qualms.
So, people can scream about Jesus coming from heaven to kill the gays or whatever, but the specific groups I'd watch out for are those looking for a payoff.

DAYoung
26th April 07, 11:43 PM
I think the breaking point between the dems and the unions (don't know enough about the situation in Australia) might come witht he ongoing "free trade"/globilization/open borders situation.

You don't hear this often, but Caesar Chavez (big Mexican-American agrarian union leader) would do vigilante patrols on the Mexican border with his union members and beat to a bloody pulp undocumented workers/illegals they came across. Because, put simply, they were scabs and lowered the wages.

At some point the unions might realize their numbers have shrunk drastically and they've priced themselves out of existence (only 7.4 % of private sector workers -legal workers- are union!). Then you might see a backlash, and if it takes aim at immigrants you might see fascist bullying of the type DJR and others have written of. However, they may just be fat and happy enough to slip into oblivion.

The unions here are terribly weak, most obviously because the Government has passed anti-union legislation, but also because many workers no longer identify with them. This is a standard response to deindustrialisation, which shifts many workers into 'white collar' professions, or 'upgrades' previously 'proletarian' jobs (makes them professions, however precariously). Unions die because workers no longer identify by class, or even as 'workers' (i.e. they're 'consumers).


The dangerous elements are the borderline elements- no one is as dangerous as someone who thinks they deserve better than they're getting.
Hitler had major support from university professors. Why? The Nazis eliminated thousands of tenured Jewish professors, giving positions to thousands of big intellectuals who gladly took them with no qualms.
So, people can scream about Jesus coming from heaven to kill the gays or whatever, but the specific groups I'd watch out for are those looking for a payoff.


My old mate, Heidegger.

ironlurker
26th April 07, 11:55 PM
My old mate, Heidegger.
Has anyone ever considered his embrace, so to speak, of the regime as Resoluteness? "What kind of stand is one to take in the situation?" as Guignon wrote. My knowledge of Heidegger is limited, so this is likely painfuly obvious or impossible, but when I first read Being and Time this intepretation occurred to me. Might make him slightly better then just a cynical opportunist.

Ever read Ortega y Gasset? His "Revolt of the Masses" I find really apropos to the rise of the various fundementalism. To sum up the thesis, rationalism and objectivity can only predominate for a limited time in a culture before the achievements of reason and science become routinized and taken for granted.

JimmyTheHutt
27th April 07, 12:00 AM
They're some of the people. The others are those on the left who want to expand the government to provide for their political pet causes. Whether it's the government reaching into the bedroom or government reaching into our wallets, no particular group has a monopoly on lobbying big brother to bully us.

This is true. However, the last 6 years have certainly strengthened the prospect from one particular side of the aisle. Until they are suitably curtailed, they are logically the greater concern. The financial cost is less important than the cause of rights, as the ability for self determination, including the activity of wealth building, is non-existent for a greater share of the population under authoritarian rule.

Veritas et Lux!
Jimmy The Hutt

JimmyTheHutt
27th April 07, 12:05 AM
So, people can scream about Jesus coming from heaven to kill the gays or whatever, but the specific groups I'd watch out for are those looking for a payoff.

Interesting point. However, for the Conservative Christian section of the voting block, the payoff comes in the form of legislation to advance their agenda of converting America into a religious nation. What makes them so dangerous is that they really can't be bought off, because they are believers. It is the same thing that makes Islamic Fundamentalism so dangerous. They want what they want, and nothing and no one will deter them.

Veritas et Lux!
Jimmy The Hutt

DerAuslander108
27th April 07, 12:28 AM
I have one thing to say...

Vere are you keeping...ze juize?

Bukow
27th April 07, 12:33 AM
This is true. However, the last 6 years have certainly strengthened the prospect from one particular side of the aisle. Until they are suitably curtailed, they are logically the greater concern. The financial cost is less important than the cause of rights, as the ability for self determination, including the activity of wealth building, is non-existent for a greater share of the population under authoritarian rule.

Veritas et Lux!
Jimmy The Hutt

I don't know if the last 6 years have strengthened their prospects. They have taken quite a beating in exchange for what relatively meagre measures they may have been able to enact, as there has been quite a backlash from not only (predictably) the Dems, but from moderates and libertarian Republicans as well.

Secondly, I don't see what the left wants as simply "financial matters." They have no qualms about violations of property rights, which are every bit the part and parcel of freedom as other rights. "The right of self-determination" is not confined simply to freedom of speech, religion, etc. Part of the persuit of happiness is being allowed to chose one's profession and practice it, and reap the rewards, without undue governmental interference.

ironlurker
27th April 07, 12:49 AM
What makes them so dangerous is that they really can't be bought off, because they are believers. It is the same thing that makes Islamic Fundamentalism so dangerous. They want what they want, and nothing and no one will deter them.
There's a difference between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al-Qaeda, there's a difference between many evangelical churches -as I said earlier, especially for immigrant and minority communities- and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Here's my pro tips for telling the difference:

1. Is the group willing to work within the democratic process?
Muslim Brotherhood yes, Takfir wa Hijra no, Hezbollah yes, Taliban no, some evangelical groups yes, WBC no, Mormon church yes, Mormon separatists no

2. How do they treat women?
The Sayyid Nursi group in Turkey has had women teachers and leaders, the Taliban rips out women's fingernails if they are painted.
Mormon separatists marry their 10 yr old nieces, there are evangelical groups that have women speakers and leaders. The head of the Islamic Society of North American and the Islamic chaplaincy program at the Hartford Seminary are both women.

3. Do members participate in social or civil networks that lie outside of the group in question?
As an advisor of mine once said, "if all of your friends know all of your other friends, you could be in a cult". There are Muslims who participate in unions abroad and Girl Scouts here, there are Muslims who say a woman can not leave her house without a mahram (basically a male relative).

Participation in the democratic process means two things for radical groups: adaptation or failure. The NSDAP is an obvious exception, but Germany was 1000X more homogeneous then the US was even twenty years ago, and was in a condition of abject disaster. If you foresee a similar situation in the US, that's basically science fiction -fortunately- at this point.


they are believers. They want what they want, and nothing and no one will deter them
^ This is a statement of belief, and not a rigorous statement of the complexity of the facts. It doesn't explain the homeless man going into the soup kitchen run by the First Baptist Evangelical Bible Church of the Nazarene Jesus Christ God Crucified (the names do seem to keep getting longer). It doesn't explain the alcholic, drug-addict street woman able to get sober because she needs to pray five times a day.
You can say the food, attention, social opportunities and "love" are exploitive, because obedience -or at least listening to sermons- is required in return. But the fact is people will take exploitation with a smidgin of whatever over futile condescencion any day, and the onus is on those who know better, to do better.
It takes an extraordinary mind to exercise compassion in the absence of dogma, and most people aren't on that level -yet.

If you don't care about these people, then you don't care, but decide if you care or don't care.
It's like sitting and watching a fire spread -decline of public education, poor mental health care, the arrogance and remove of mainstream politicians, the anomie of modern life, the increased depersonalization and disconnect of society- and then crying when your clothes catch fire -whacko political movements.
Bemoaning a situation while expressing a total aversion to grasping it is a strange form of masochism.

DAYoung
27th April 07, 01:01 AM
Has anyone ever considered his embrace, so to speak, of the regime as Resoluteness? "What kind of stand is one to take in the situation?" as Guignon wrote. My knowledge of Heidegger is limited, so this is likely painfuly obvious or impossible, but when I first read Being and Time this intepretation occurred to me. Might make him slightly better then just a cynical opportunist.

From what I can tell, Heidegger was both a genuine believer and a petty opportunist. He fervently believed in the spiritual revival of German, but he also benefitted greatly from the Nazi takeover. And he certainly wasn't going to jeapordise his position by bucking the system (apart from a few minor episodes). The picture of Heidegger painted by Safranski is of a sometime 'resolute', but sometimes incredibly petty and selfish, philosopher.


Ever read Ortega y Gasset? His "Revolt of the Masses" I find really apropos to the rise of the various fundementalism. To sum up the thesis, rationalism and objectivity can only predominate for a limited time in a culture before the achievements of reason and science become routinized and taken for granted.

I haven't read him (to my shame). The notion of 'taken for granted' is a funny one, though - it suggests that these practices exist but aren't valued, whereas what often happens is that genuine rationality is replaced by rules, laws and mechanisms of control and manipulation. Rationality and objectivity aren't taken for granted - they're marginalised and even attacked.

ironlurker
27th April 07, 01:15 AM
I haven't read him (to my shame). The notion of 'taken for granted' is a funny one, though - it suggests that these practices exist but aren't valued, whereas what often happens is that genuine rationality is replaced by rules, laws and mechanisms of control and manipulation. Rationality and objectivity aren't taken for granted - they're marginalised and even attacked.
True, I was not making a denial of agency by depersonalizing this trend. But human beings, I believe, do have a tendency to accept the social, cultural, and technological world they enter as "natural" or "given", even if displeased with it. You do not think about, or feel you need to know, Coulomb's law when you turn on the light switch. All well and fine as long as someone out there does know Coulomb's law.

We are, I fear, the Eloi.

There was a story by Rod Serling, I think, that captured this. It was set in the distant future when all war had become automated, and was carried out ceaselessly by computers and robots on the part of superstates. One man's, well, basically his laptop is broken one day and he rediscovers how to perform mathematics with paper and pen. The end result is the creation of Kamikaze rocket/bomber units that use manual piloting and navigation ca. WWII at an incredible cost reduction with the added bonus of unpredictableness, and the savage escalation of the war.

Or as one Muslim extremist said, "Israel has the neutron bomb, and we have the children bomb"

DAYoung
27th April 07, 01:30 AM
I suspect we're talking about two sides of the same dagger.

The same deference to specialisation also allows influential groups and individuals to use highly-developed mechanisms to control and manipulate things and people.

And this situation is precisely what makes highly-mechanised states vulnerable to 'asymmetrical' warfare - not only are they far too dependent on technologies they don't understand, but these same technologies rob them of the flexible initiative possessed by their more primitive enemies.

DJR
27th April 07, 01:53 AM
as one Muslim extremist said, "Israel has the neutron bomb, and we have the children bomb"

This reminded me of Mike Davis's recent history of the car bomb, called "The Poor Man's Air Force." Here's an article that he later expanded into a book - it's an interesting read:

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2006/04/car_bomb.html

ironlurker
27th April 07, 02:49 AM
This reminded me of Mike Davis's recent history of the car bomb, called "The Poor Man's Air Force." Here's an article that he later expanded into a book - it's an interesting read:

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2006/04/car_bomb.html
Great article.


According to a chronicler of the episode, Abdel Kader el-Husseini, the military leader of the Arab Higher Committee, was so impressed by the success of these operations -- inadvertently inspired by the Stern Gang -- that he authorized an ambitious sequel employing six British deserters. "This time three trucks were used, escorted by a stolen British armored car with a young blond man in police uniform standing in the turret."
Wow determined terrorists figured out a way around racial profiling, what a shock

ICY
27th April 07, 03:23 AM
FRAT, LOL, and that's all I have to say about that.

jubei33
27th April 07, 03:45 AM
meh, will read later, but if you want a good fiction on the subject roth's "the plot against america" is pretty good.

AAAhmed46
27th April 07, 04:03 AM
Dreamcast sucks.

JimmyTheHutt
27th April 07, 09:49 AM
I don't know if the last 6 years have strengthened their prospects. They have taken quite a beating in exchange for what relatively meagre measures they may have been able to enact, as there has been quite a backlash from not only (predictably) the Dems, but from moderates and libertarian Republicans as well.

Secondly, I don't see what the left wants as simply "financial matters." They have no qualms about violations of property rights, which are every bit the part and parcel of freedom as other rights. "The right of self-determination" is not confined simply to freedom of speech, religion, etc. Part of the persuit of happiness is being allowed to chose one's profession and practice it, and reap the rewards, without undue governmental interference.

I think the last 6 years were the (relative) peak of their prospects due to the backlash you mentioned. However, this backlash has yet to materialize. While the DNC did relatively well in the last round of elections, it was not the wholesale rejection of Christian Conservative agenda one would hope for. Libertarian leaning Republicans are still largely siding with the CC due to the advancement of the financial agenda of the GOP.

I can see your point regarding finances and their impact on civil liberties. However, those are in far less danger than the other freedoms you mentioned. Until this is firmly not the case, concerns about the far left and property rights will have to be relegated to a lower priority. Frankly, many overestimate what the DNC would do to those anyway.

Veritas et Lux!
Jimmy The Hutt

JimmyTheHutt
27th April 07, 10:05 AM
There's a difference between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al-Qaeda, there's a difference between many evangelical churches -as I said earlier, especially for immigrant and minority communities- and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Certainly there are differences. However, in the United States, the Christian Conservative movement is largely operating in lockstep. They may be of different faith than radical Islam, but they seem to want a similar outcome (a nation/world under laws based on their interpretation of scripture).


Here's my pro tips for telling the difference:

1. Is the group willing to work within the democratic process?
Muslim Brotherhood yes, Takfir wa Hijra no, Hezbollah yes, Taliban no, some evangelical groups yes, WBC no, Mormon church yes, Mormon separatists no

Evangelicals working within the democratic process seem motivated to its eventual neutering in favor of biblical law. While the framework would remain, it would merely be for show, rather than an actual political process



Participation in the democratic process means two things for radical groups: adaptation or failure. The NSDAP is an obvious exception, but Germany was 1000X more homogeneous then the US was even twenty years ago, and was in a condition of abject disaster. If you foresee a similar situation in the US, that's basically science fiction -fortunately- at this point.

Agreed. However, the issue becomes how much are they adapting to the Democratic process, and how much are we adapting the process to them? While very little has been hard coded into law due to the participation of Conservative Christians, their participation has definitely changed the tone of the political conversation.





^ This is a statement of belief, and not a rigorous statement of the complexity of the facts. It doesn't explain the homeless man going into the soup kitchen run by the First Baptist Evangelical Bible Church of the Nazarene Jesus Christ God Crucified (the names do seem to keep getting longer). It doesn't explain the alcholic, drug-addict street woman able to get sober because she needs to pray five times a day.
You can say the food, attention, social opportunities and "love" are exploitive, because obedience -or at least listening to sermons- is required in return. But the fact is people will take exploitation with a smidgin of whatever over futile condescencion any day, and the onus is on those who know better, to do better.

My concern in regards to evangelicals is not their social works. My concern is their modification of the fundamental tenets of the country. Their social work is fine. However, their political agenda is definitely representative of a lack of willingness to compromise. They are unwilling to negotiate, and only complete adoption of their agenda will satisfy them.



Bemoaning a situation while expressing a total aversion to grasping it is a strange form of masochism.

I am not certain what you mean here. Could you clarify further?

Veritas et Lux!
Jimmy The Hutt

Bukow
27th April 07, 12:27 PM
I think the last 6 years were the (relative) peak of their prospects due to the backlash you mentioned. However, this backlash has yet to materialize. While the DNC did relatively well in the last round of elections, it was not the wholesale rejection of Christian Conservative agenda one would hope for. Libertarian leaning Republicans are still largely siding with the CC due to the advancement of the financial agenda of the GOP.


Fair enough. Your analysis of that seems pretty accurate, though I'm not sure exactly what a "wholesale rejection" of Christian Conservativism would entail, or if such a thing is even possible under a representative system -- especially one wherein the only options are to win or lose particular elections/ballot issues.



I can see your point regarding finances and their impact on civil liberties. However, those are in far less danger than the other freedoms you mentioned. Until this is firmly not the case, concerns about the far left and property rights will have to be relegated to a lower priority. Frankly, many overestimate what the DNC would do to those anyway.


Why do you think they are in far less danger? I almost wonder if the lower priority you (and I'm not pointing this at you in particular, but rather at an assumption widespread through the populace) assign them belies an implicit recognition that those are fine because they are rights already surrendered?

The federal government already takes half of what a lot of people earn, and the state takes more on top of it -- both directly, and through various indirect routes. While it's impossible to compare them in quantifiable terms, wouldn't it be fair to say that a right that has already been severely compromised -- say, 30% or 40% handed to the state -- isn't in more danger than a right that is, say, 10% compromised? In other words, property rights appear to be a lot more curtailed than freedom of speech, religion, assembly, to travel, and so on.

ironlurker
27th April 07, 05:51 PM
Certainly there are differences. However, in the United States, the Christian Conservative movement is largely operating in lockstep. They may be of different faith than radical Islam, but they seem to want a similar outcome (a nation/world under laws based on their interpretation of scripture).

Evangelicals working within the democratic process seem motivated to its eventual neutering in favor of biblical law. While the framework would remain, it would merely be for show, rather than an actual political process
The Abolition movement and the Prohibition movement were both led by fervent, revivalist Bible-centric Christians.


Abolitionism had a strong religious base including Quakers, and people converted by the revivalist fervor of the Second Great Awakening, led by Charles Finney in the North in the 1830s. Belief in abolition contributed to the breaking away of some small denominations, such as the Free Methodist Church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abolitionism


The prohibition or "dry" movement began in the 1840s, spearheaded by pietistic religious denominations, especially the Methodists. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_United_States

The Abolition movement= a good influence. So not everything produced by a fervent religious believer will be oh-no-Jesus-Hitler-taking-away-my-porn.
Prohibition? Dumb, and a pain in the ass. But guess what? It was overturned.
Why? Because of what I said earlier- America is first and foremost a heterogenous, mixed and mixed-up society. Second, Americans do not like to be told what to do.
So when actual constitutional change was forced, it was relatively quickly undone.


Agreed. However, the issue becomes how much are they adapting to the Democratic process, and how much are we adapting the process to them? While very little has been hard coded into law due to the participation of Conservative Christians, their participation has definitely changed the tone of the political conversation.
This is one point with which I disagree. I think questions of "morality" and "character" and the infamous "family values" certainly have been injected into the public political debate. However, this is a sword that cuts both ways. For every Gary Hart and Bill Clinton there's a Ted Haggard and a Jim Bakker. I would think the impeachment of avowed liberal Clinton would be considered a good example of this insidious influence- but it failed in the senate and Gingrich's efforts to play it up backfired in favor of the democrats.

I stand by my statements that the media is more then willing to eviscerate any major evangelical/conservative christian leader, not necessarily because they favor liberals (which, to a degree is certainly true), but because everyone in the US loves a scandal. If you have organized religion, you are going to have hypocrisy, and the further you stick your neck out the easier it is to cut off.

Furthermore, why do those who supposedly stand against the religious masses cater to them?


In a discussion of religious beliefs, Gore admitted to being a born again Christian http://www.americanatheist.org/columns/ontar12-7-99.html

After his heart surgery, Clinton described himself as born again. No one is forcing either of them to make this claim, their major donors as I listed earlier are unions and increasingly hollywood types. It's just a political game, not a Nazi takeover.


My concern in regards to evangelicals is not their social works. My concern is their modification of the fundamental tenets of the country. Their social work is fine. However, their political agenda is definitely representative of a lack of willingness to compromise. They are unwilling to negotiate, and only complete adoption of their agenda will satisfy them.

Did you know Jimmy Carter was a self-described Evangelical? A snake-handler, no less, real back country crazy hick stuff. Was he unwilling to negotiate and only settled for complete adoption of his agenda?

You repeat lines about "lockstep", "unwillingness to negotiate" and like I said, these are just slogans, they do not reflect the full situation.

These seem to be identity-linked axiomatic beliefs, so no evidence I can introduce will likely have an effect on you.

Here's a PBS documentary:



SEVERSON: But not all evangelicals share the same view on abortion or politics. Most African Americans, who make up 15 percent of all evangelicals, vote Democratic, as do most evangelical Hispanics. Our survey found the issues that matter most to African-American and Hispanic evangelicals are the economy and jobs.
SEVERSON: Evangelicals supported the first President Bush, and even a third of them voted for fellow evangelical Bill Clinton, although many voted against him. SEVERSON: Evangelical Tony Campolo says the conservative tilt toward explosive moral issues has come at the expense of what should be evangelicals' main concern -- serving the poor.
Dr. CAMPOLO: [note an evangelical] I think that many evangelicals have re-created God in the image of a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Republican. And they end up worshipping a God that is an incarnation of their own values. The reason why I buy into the Democratic Party more than the Republican Party is because there are over 2,000 verses of Scripture that deal with responding to the needs of the poor. Note: 2,000 verses. [he believes the Bible is literally true, and that its main point is helping the poor]
SEVERSON: Souder disagrees that evangelicals aren't actively involved in helping the poor. This is a gathering of Ft. Wayne evangelical leaders who have contributed service and money to help the inner city's needy. But Souder agrees that caring for the poor will likely not be the rallying cause that gets evangelicals out to vote in 2004.
SEVERSON: But Shaun Casey says Democrats shouldn't write off evangelical voters, because some may be losing faith in the current president.
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week734/special.html

Here's a social study:


Yet, it must be made clear that there is no monolithic consensus among evangelicals on politics, any more than there is on theological matters. While the movement is conservative in many regards, there are many evangelicals who would identify their political orientation as liberal and some, like the Sojourners community in Washington D.C., which are leftist in nature. In terms of party affiliation, the movement has been traditionally perceived as Republican. This impression, however, reflects a bias that centers on the Northern, midwestern evangelicals of the NAE "card-carrying" variety. When the huge numbers of Southern white and black evangelicals are factored in, it is probably more accurate to say that in the years before 1970 the "average" evangelical was more likely to be a Democrat. http://www.wheaton.edu/isae/defining_evangelicalism.html

Are there nuts and assholes out there? Sure. But fringe groups do not succeed in American politics.
The Christian Coalition was the largest and most influential of these groups of all time. Here's what happened to them:



Decline in influence and loss of tax-exempt status

Following Bill Clinton's re-election and Reed's departure in 1997, the organization has made only limited progress and has declined in influence,[11][12][13] with a loss in revenue from a high of $26.5 million in 1996 to $1.3 million in 2004.[1] In 1998, Americans United urged the IRS to review the Coalition’s partisan political activities over the decade in which its tax-exempt status was pending. The following year, the IRS revoked The Coalition’s provisional tax-exemption, in view of the Coalition's distribution of "voter guides" which had a partisan bias. The revocation cost the Coalition up to $300,000 in back taxes and penalties. Following this, the Coalition reorganized as the Christian Coalition of America, as an effort to regain its tax-exempt status.[11][14] Churches that once embraced the Christian Coalition have disassociated themselves for fear of losing their own tax-exempt status.[14] After its tax-exempt status was denied, CCA was able to turn all of its attention to politics. In 2000 the coalition moved from its long-standing base of operations in the Chesapeake Bay area to an office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Coalition_of_America

Show me the overwhelming power and influence of psychotic Christians, and I'll tell you you've been taken in by the classic magician's tactic of drawing your focus to the hand that's not performing the trick.

Who plays this evangelical-nazi threat up so much? The media. Like I said before, they can pull the plug on any movement at any time through exposure.
Jesus and Hitler shouldn't scare you at this moment in history- News Corps and Viacom should. I suggest the following article.

http://www.newint.org/features/2001/04/01/facts/

JimmyTheHutt
27th April 07, 07:41 PM
The Abolition movement and the Prohibition movement were both led by fervent, revivalist Bible-centric Christians.


I should remember that fact. However, what political fundamentalist Christians did 140 years and 100 years ago are not the same as what they do now.



The Abolition movement= a good influence. So not everything produced by a fervent religious believer will be oh-no-Jesus-Hitler-taking-away-my-porn.
Prohibition? Dumb, and a pain in the ass. But guess what? It was overturned.
Why? Because of what I said earlier- America is first and foremost a heterogenous, mixed and mixed-up society. Second, Americans do not like to be told what to do.
So when actual constitutional change was forced, it was relatively quickly undone.


That was 80 years ago. The analogy may not hold for current times and current social issues.


This is one point with which I disagree. I think questions of "morality" and "character" and the infamous "family values" certainly have been injected into the public political debate. However, this is a sword that cuts both ways. For every Gary Hart and Bill Clinton there's a Ted Haggard and a Jim Bakker. I would think the impeachment of avowed liberal Clinton would be considered a good example of this insidious influence- but it failed in the senate and Gingrich's efforts to play it up backfired in favor of the democrats.

Gingrich's efforts backfired against Gingrich, not against the GOP as a whole. They maintained solid control of the legislature until last year. The political fundamentalist Christians still use it as political ammunition any chance they can.


I stand by my statements that the media is more then willing to eviscerate any major evangelical/conservative christian leader, not necessarily because they favor liberals (which, to a degree is certainly true), but because everyone in the US loves a scandal. If you have organized religion, you are going to have hypocrisy, and the further you stick your neck out the easier it is to cut off.

This is true, to an extent. However, given the numerous idiotic and outright wrong statements made by many political fundamentalist Christians, few of them have managed to reduce the momentum and influence of the movement as a whole. Pat Robertson still has his viewers and his ministry and he advocated assasination.



After his heart surgery, Clinton described himself as born again. No one is forcing either of them to make this claim, their major donors as I listed earlier are unions and increasingly hollywood types. It's just a political game, not a Nazi takeover.

Bill Clinton will never hold another office. Therefore his claims carry no weight of responsibility towards the constituency named. However, George W. Bush was used as an ambassador by George H.W. Bush during the 1992 Presidential campaigns. When he claimed membership in their group to garner their political voting block (which is largely monolithic at the polls), he became obligated to advance their agenda. The moratorium on federally funding new stem cell lines, the numerous attempts to limit marriage, these are all act undertaken by the administration and (until last year) a similarly controlled legislature.


Did you know Jimmy Carter was a self-described Evangelical? A snake-handler, no less, real back country crazy hick stuff. Was he unwilling to negotiate and only settled for complete adoption of his agenda?


The current crop would hardly claim him as a member.



Are there nuts and assholes out there? Sure. But fringe groups do not succeed in American politics.
The Christian Coalition was the largest and most influential of these groups of all time. Here's what happened to them:


They succeeded in electing a President. Twice. And they succeeded in controlling the legislature for 12 years. That is hardly something to scoff at.


Show me the overwhelming power and influence of psychotic Christians, and I'll tell you you've been taken in by the classic magician's tactic of drawing your focus to the hand that's not performing the trick.

Who plays this evangelical-nazi threat up so much? The media. Like I said before, they can pull the plug on any movement at any time through exposure.
Jesus and Hitler shouldn't scare you at this moment in history- News Corps and Viacom should. I suggest the following article.

http://www.newint.org/features/2001/04/01/facts/

That is a truly frightening picture. That is something I will have to investigate further.

Veritas et Lux!
Jimmy The Hutt