Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More American fascism

Piece of Mind takes exception on several counts to my American Fascism post below. I thought the post was clear; it still seems clear to me. But Piece of Mind has managed to find a number of things in it that I never intended to say.

What I said was that a number of acts of the Bush administration came closer to my dictionary's definition of fascism than anything I have ever seen in my lifetime. Piece of Mind seems to believe that I said I had never seen any of those things until Bush came along. That was not my point. My point was that Bush put all of the parts together in a way I had never seen.

I said that Bush had attacked countries that had not attacked us. I did not say that had never happened before.

I said that we then ran those countries with a seamless marriage of corporate, military and governmental interests. Perhaps a better word would have been "unprecedented" rather than "seamless"; still, the statement stands. None of the examples he cites comes close, in my view.

I said that we adopted torture for the first time in American history. I didn't say that we had never used torture before. But the Bush administration was the first American administration I know of (Piece of Mind provides no counter examples) that made torture a deliberate, and purportedly legal, part of its information-gathering arsenal. That's why I said "adopted," not "used."

Piece of Mind makes it his mission to pry the motes from editors' eyes. Maybe it is time he saw the beam in his own.

4 comments:

Ken & Carol said...

I just re-read your note on American Fascism and this one and Piece of Mind's response. I thought they were pretty much in agreement with a few nits picked from each other's slightly off balance political slurs.

Mark T said...

If nothing Bush did was unprecedented, and if he only formalized the torture process, then there doesn't seem to be much difference between Bush's behavior and that of administrations past, and your post seems rather pointless. Why bother pointing out those things that went on 2001-08 that also went on since the end of WWII (and long before, probably) unless you actually thought there was significant change under Bush?

We weren't any closer to fascism under Bush. He just went public with it.

Regarding the marriage of corporate, military and governmental interests running foreign countries, I suggest you read "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" by Eduardo Galeano. This is the book Hugo Chavez gave to Obama. The nuptials you talk about are not even a recent phenomenon ... not any any means.

Motes and beams and all of that ... journalists are subject to the constraints of power. To be in it, you have to buy in to it. I've probably written a half a dozen times that my own (unglamorous) profession is similarly constrained, and behaves badly. Power makes us do things we don't like doing - if we can't change it, we internalize it. I only thought that you, like me, being on the outside looking in and all (self-employed), saw more than you apparently do.

By the way, I take loads of crap from people who are examining the beams in my eyes. It's cleansing. A lot of times they are right. You should enjoy it as much as I do.

David said...

Mark,
Because there was significant change under Bush. I'm not sure why you are having trouble grasping this.

To take just one prong: U.S. policy, since George Washington, has been the torture is wrong and beneath our values. That principle has never been in dispute, even if actual performance hasn't always matched our ideals.

Making torture a deliberate part of U.S. policy is an extraordinarily significant change. And it moved us closer to fascism than anything I have seen in my lifetime. I can say that without cleansing, or closing, my eyes.

Mark T said...

It's not that our "performance hasn't always matched our ideals". It's that our ideals have always been at odds with our performance, and we've never really come to grips with that. We act as if our ideals were our reality, when our actions are the reality.

Bush went public. That's all.

By the way, the Brits did the same thing - no doubt the Dutch and the Spanish and the Romans. It is how powerful people behave. They do repugnant things and cherish high values all at once.