Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Fascism, Part I

I’m prefacing this with a half-hearted warning: this one might get political. I know politics is the mind killer, but there’s just no way to do without it.

So, the big question on a lot of people’s mind is Fascism. What is it, how do we stop it, is it here, is Donald Trump a Fascist, etc. Lots of questions. But a better, more useful question is: “What does Fascism look like, and what does it look like in my country?” Because while it is easy to imagine cartoon villains, like in Indiana Jones, the real world is not so easy to distinguish. A closer look is necessary.

I’m using for our example, the German Nazi party, as our most uncontroversial instance of Fascism. And since it is a political philosophy, the best place to start to understand it is with their initial party platform, which I will endeavor to explain. In doing so, I hope to “update” this platform, to serve as a clearly generalizable blueprint to identify Fascism today. Let’s see what we find.

One more warning: There’s a lot of history, and it gets a little dense in places.

The following quotes are from the Wikipedia article.

1. We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people's right to self-determination.

I’m not going to delve into the full context of the various debates and struggles to unify the various territories of the historical Austrian and Prussian empires, as they’re far beyond the scope of this entry. This can be best understood as part of the reaction to the Treaty of Versailles, which, among other clauses, forced Germany to relinquish some 65 thousand square kilometers of territory. Since this is not exactly usable in the current historical moment, I will try to render the spirit of this as follows:

1a. We demand the American People’s right to self-determination.

2. We demand equality of rights for the German people in respect to the other nations; abrogation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.

The same issue arises here, as this is a strict reaction to the various peace treaties that marked the end of the Great War (WWI). However, the first clause should stand on its own just fine:

2a. We demand equality of rights for the American People with respect to other nations.

3. We demand land and territory (colonies) for the sustenance of our people, and colonization for our surplus population.

This is the first one that starts to look really strange to modern eyes. Colonization? Territory? Sustenance? But imperialist sentiment was still very much a factor in global politics of the time. The so-called “Scramble for Africa”, occurred just a few decades earlier, and colonies were important sources of revenue, as well as a source of national pride. Having colonies meant that you were a global power, making them a status symbol in addition to a financial boon.

However, Germany was far more concerned about expansion in Europe, and made deliberate efforts to do so (see: World War I). The treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed between Germany and Russia gives us a clear view into the German ambition. This treaty was formally nullified by the Treaty of Versailles, with German colonies and territories formally seized and redistributed. There are many other layers to this one, but I hope it’s not too much of a stretch to restate this for modern times as:

3a. We demand that America’s interests and endeavors be free of interference by any foreign power.

4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently, no Jew can be a member of the race.

And we come to one of the choking points. The historical consequences of these positions have made hard line stances like this one largely unpalatable as a mainstream view. Even if it is privately believed, the public’s stance on the issue makes proclaiming the sentence politically unwise. Therefore, looking for an explicit statement is not a productive enterprise, as it will be easy for our mainstream fascists to publicly decry it for political expediency. What views like this one would look like transferred to our modern political climate is not immediately apparent, but what does see are similar issues being raised about loss of culture due to immigration. We have seen this numerous times throughout history, and into the present day, with many countries concerned over non-assimilating immigrants. Obviously, there are other issues within this point, especially considering the loaded meaning of race (the “Aryan race”). As such, my rephrasing should be taken with a grain of salt, but I believe that our Fascists would approve of the following:

4a. We recognize the necessity for the preservation of our Culture and the American way of life. Any person wishing to become a naturalized citizen of the United States must swear to uphold American Culture and put America first.

To be continued. (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V)

No comments:

Post a Comment