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Ted Rall: Protofascism comes to America

Ted Rall: Protofascism comes to America

July 22, 2010

From Ted Rall, author of the upcoming Anti-American Manifesto, writing at Altweeklies.com about the rise of the Tea Party in America:

Robert O. Paxton defined fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

Typical Tea Party rants fit the classic fascist mold in several respects. America, Tea Partiers complain, is falling behind. Like Hitler, they blame leftists and liberals for a “stab in the back,” treason on the homefront. The trappings of hypernationalism—flags, bunting, etc.—are notably pervasive at Tea Party rallies, even by American standards. We see “collaboration with traditional elites”—Rush Limbaugh, Congressmen, Republican Party bigwigs (including the most recent vice presidential nominee)—to an extent that is unprecedented in recent history.

Tea Partiers haven’t called for extralegal solutions to the problems they cite—but neither did the National Socialists prior to 1933. Then again, they’re not in power yet. Wait.

… Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay “Eternal Fascism” describes the cult of action for its own sake under fascist regimes and movements: “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.” … Eco also discusses fascism’s “appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.” Guard the borders! Deport the immigrants! Mexicans are stealing our jobs!

So much anger. It’s too bad that the (justifiable) rage of the white male middle-class is directed against their fellow victims. It’s worse that they’re playing into the blood-soaked hands of their own oppressors.

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