Anna, I don't think Jim minds the occasional 'squatter' - provided we tidy up the chip packets and dishes and don't rearrange the furniture - and I'm sure he's busy being gainfully employed, so probably welcomes the chance of other contributions.kvd is right, of course. A little while back, I learned that it was not necessary for me to respond to every comment when discussion was flowing. I read and enjoy the discussion, but am not a controller. The blog is a platform for open discussion. Most recently when pressures have limited my posting, that discussion has kept the blog alive. I feel really blessed in this regard.
another piece from Art Daily.
This is Peter Paul Rubens’s work Lot and his Daughters (circa 1613-1614). It will be sold by Christie’s as the centerpiece of a curated week of sales, Classic Week, in London this July. I include it because it bears upon our discussion about the changing presentation of the female form.
In a comment, my old friend Sue wrote: " I just read an article by Chris Hedges (5 March 2016) on one of my favourite blogs: Three quarks daily.I would be very interested in reading your views on this article. I also wonder what KVD would make of it. I'm still trying to sort out my thoughts". kvd responded:
"Hi Sue. I read that article but I think I'll let Jim rise to your bait first :) But a couple of things to throw into the pot: 1) fascism seems more achievable in an homogeneous society, which the US is not. Hard to see how the disparate immigrant/racial groups would all align as one. (This assumes the writer is not just throwing it out as an insult/epithet), and 2) I used to think it would be a Biden/Rubio matchup; now I think it will be Biden/Cruz - and to me Cruz is way more scary than Trump.The Hedges piece, The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism, quotes approvingly from Richard Rorty's 1998 book, “Achieving Our Country”.He concludes:
Fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the “losers” who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment. The sociologist Émile Durkheim warned that the disenfranchisement of a class of people from the structures of society produced a state of “anomie”—a “condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals.” Those trapped in this “anomie,” he wrote, are easy prey to propaganda and emotionally driven mass movements.There appear to be three threads in the arguments that Hedges and others are putting forward.
The first is that the process of economic and social change that has taken place in the US and other Western countries over the last part of the twentieth century and the first part of this century has created a growing group who feel left behind, disadvantaged. The resulting angst is felt most strongly among working and middle class people who had previously shared in the benefits of economic growth during the 1950s and 1960s, who had seen advancement as possible, but who now find themselves sliding down the economic and social totem pole in circumstances of ever growing insecurity.
Arguments about overall advancement in national wealth, the argument that economic restructuring has increased aggregate wealth, do not wash with this group. In previous eras including that of the US robber barons, the great disparities between the wealthy extravagant few and the rest of the population could be more easily accepted because, after all, you might achieve wealth yourself or, if not, your children might. Even then, there was a virulence, a violence, in US industrial and class relations lacking in countries such as Australia where the social contract focused more on the collective rather than the individual.
The second thread in the arguments of Hedges and others is that this growing dis-empowered group will look to the leader, the person who promises to make things better. The argument that the leader cannot deliver is neither here nor there. If I feel helpless, if I feel threatened, if the existing order cannot offer at least some hope of solution, then I will go for the person who can. Hope is a powerful weapon, as is the promise of empowerment.
The third thread in the arguments is the way that prospective leaders find enemies that will unite their followers, the threat beyond, while comforting those followers that their values and views are right. The appeal to traditional values is comforting because it affirms the self-worth of those who perceive themselves to be disadvantaged or under threat, while the external enemy unites.
You will find these elements in many movements, including the labour movements. The distinctive feature about twentieth century fascism is that it captured the fears of large groups who had previously been dominant. The labour movements captured the fears and aspirations of groups who were marginalised at the start. The fascist movements captured the fears and aspirations of those who previously had had positions.
But does all this mean that fascism is on the rise in the US? I'm not convinced. It' a very mixed picture, with both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders drawing from the same bedrock, the disillusionment with the current. Both groups reject the previous status quo, both are seeking something new. Further, the arguments about fascism generally come for the left because of the threats posed to their colelctive views.
I don't agree with kvd on the homogeneity point. I think that US society is more homogeneous than he allows. We are dealing here with the influence of labels. Just because one is Hispanic, for example, does not mean that he or she does not share similar concerns to non-Hispanic voters. Nor is it necessary to capture a majority to bring about fascism,
In Germany. the Nazis did not have a majority when they came to power. They were able to build sufficient numbers in the face of a strong minority opposition group, the communists, with a fragmented and disillusioned majority to gain control of the constitutional levers. They then manipulated these to gain power. In so doing, they also delivered enough immediate benefits to the majority to consolidate power. That process of consolidation is something that pays study.
I think that the biggest barrier to the rise of fascism in the United States actually lies in the division of powers within the constitution.Whoever comes to power in this round, will be constrained by that. I also think that both Sanders and Trump are delivering the message that the US requires a new political contract between governors and governed. I think that it will be interesting if sometimes uncomfortable to see how that evolves. .