Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The danger of American proto-fascism

Noam Chomsky on the times:

[The situation in the U.S. today] "is very similar to late Weimar Germany," Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. "The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum [in] which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.

"The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen. Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says 'I have got an answer, we have an enemy'? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don't think all this is very far away."

Chomsky should know, the interviewer points out in his introduction, as he has spent his entire life thinking about politics from an iconoclastic perspective. And I think he's right about how the main difference is the lack of a galvanizing figure, a leader (like that envisioned by "Coach" Daubenmire in his plea for the Tea Party to line up behind him). Not that there aren't plenty of people like Daubenmire and Kenneth Hutcherson and Newt Gingrich. But as Chomsky points out, each is too obviously venal and unstable to attract much of a following.

At least I hope that's true when it comes to Gingrich.

technorati: , ,

No comments: