Il fascismo

Anyone who has ever been a lefty college freshman has probably uttered the word “fascist” more times than she can count. Everyone who insisted on any type of rule–like the Resident Assistant, the Floor Fascist–merited that appellation. But it turns out–as it has so often these days–that the college freshman has a better sense of “fascism” than does our current Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. In a recent speech, he says:

> I recount this history because once again we face the same kind of challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism.

>Today, another enemy — a different kind of enemy — has also made clear its intentions — in places like New York, Washington, D.C., Bali, London, Madrid, and Moscow. But it is apparent that many have still not learned history’s lessons.

As il Duce instructed us, fascism is defined by its insistence on totalitarian State power. In order to be a fascist state, in other words, you have to be a *state.* So the terrorists–who don’t have a state, as Rumsfeld said elsewhere in the speech (read the whole thing, it’s a gem)–aren’t fascists. While the totalitarian Resident Assistant may not be a fascist, he is at least in the right category. It’s one thing in political speeches to use words for pure rhetorical effect, but it’s another to pick words that only highlight the impropriety all of your historical analogies.

The terrorists aren’t fascists and it’s not 1938.

9 thoughts on “Il fascismo”

  1. i’ve noticed this term popping up in nearly every speech that comes from the house that is white. sure the formulations are different (sometimes they’re “Islaqmnic fascists”), but the intent is the same–to create an improper sense of guilt by association in the general public. the war in iraq is becoming increasingly separated from the war on terror, despite the insistence of the house that is white. ergo, they must create an alternative justification for the continued occupation of iraq–now we’re back at war with the commies. when does mccarthyism II begin? this glaring ignorance of history is nothing new to rummy, but the blind insistence on establishing a new jusitification for a failed war effort every 6 months has grown weary.

  2. The fascist are bad now? Rummy needs to do a history check; Japan remained fascist after the war and we’ve been pretty close with them since then, although they had a new boss it was the same as the old boss. Maybe he should look into our support of totalitarian regimes in South America since the 50’s, there were plenty of fascist regimes we were extremely close to, or maybe he should look the history of Iran and Operation Ajax. I don’t think Rummy is oblivious of this historical facts but this sort of devious rhetoric to incite support for the “War on Terror” is just Machiavellian, what’s even scarier is that there are people oblivious to this historical facts that believe the refuse that rummy pronounces.

  3. But the Islamic terrorists want to have a totalitarian state. They explicitly advocate the imposition of sharia law and a restoration of the Caliphate. Would you say that when the Nazi brownshirts were fighting in the streets, that they weren\’t really fascists, because they hadn\’t yet established the Third Reich? It seems to be that Rumsfeld\’s claim is pretty compelling.

  4. I’d like to respond to the above.

    1. Just because *some* of what Rumsfeld calls “the terrorists” want to restore the Caliphate, does not mean *all* of the enemy do. They don’t. Consider the insurgency in Iraq. As they are embroiled in a civil war, they even differ with each other (Sunni from Shiite, Baathist from Islamist, and so on).

    2. Fascism (in its Mussolini formulation) springs from nationalism.

    3. Fascism founds itself on the absolute power of the state, not the absolute power of God. The *theocracy* advocated by the terrorists is not fascism.

    By fascism, as I meant to point out, Rumsfelf means the terrorists want “something bad.” We can all agree to that. But it’s wrong to lump it under the general and incorrect heading of “fascism.”

  5. also, as mussolini also proved, “compelling” does not cash out to “correct.” rumsfeld might be characterized as offering the former because, as dr. casey stated, we can all agree that what terrorists to is bad; in the same vein, we can also agree that what fascists do is bad. however, in regards to the veracity of rumsfeld’s equation of fascism with radical islamism, his claims fall far short. it seems attractive to call terrorists “fascists” because no one likes fascists and we don’t want anyone to like, or sympathize with, or even try to understand these terrorists; yet, the attraction here is fool’s gold. it glimmers of richness, but is, in fact, just a rock.

  6. Two points:
    First, by applying a term like “fascism” to a phenomenon like terrorism, Rummy is emptying it of content, thus rendering it basically an emotive term: “fascism is bad.” It’s sort of the inverse strategy of using reducing the terms “freedom” and “democracy” to emotive terms so that they can be applied to programs and institutions that are anything but (like the Bush White House, for instance).
    Second, I suspect that the use of the term in these recent speeches is part of a clever rhetorical strategy to deflect criticism away from the Administration’s authoritarian policies. Once the equation of terrorism and fascism is planted in the public’s mind, to accuse the Bush admin. of fascistic behavior is to equate them with the terrorists, and the criticism finds itself outside the realm of “serious” discourse.
    It’s Orwellian language, pure and simple.

  7. Donald Rumsfeld had this comment on what he said:

    >”Thought and careful preparation went into what I said,” Rumsfeld wrote in the letter. “It is absolutely essential for us to look at lessons of history in this critical moment in the war on terror.” I was honored by the reception my statements received from our veterans.

    His “thought and careful preparation” have not learned him any of the lessons of history

  8. apparently mr. rumsfeld was unaware of the reception his statements recieved from this veteran…..

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