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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fascists again 

At times I have commented on the common misuse and overuse of the term "fascist." In fact, I wrote about this ad nauseum back in January 2005. Some lowlights:

I've talked in the past about how certain people like to apply the term "fascist" to anyone with whom they don't agree, and I've also noted that the "Not One Damn Dime" people, who apparently want a complete pullout from Iraq, probably disagree with John Kerry's views on how the war should be prosecuted. In fact, I alleged that they would have no problem chanting "John Kerry is a fascist."

It turns out that there really ARE people who label Kerry as a fascist - which again proves how the term "fascist" is so often misused....

But it's not only the right that is calling Kerry a Fascist. The far far left is also using the term (note that they also use the term "Amerika," but with only one K rather than three; "U.$." is also a nice touch)....

I hate to break it to all the name-callers, but fascism is actually an economic system that is not really related to the foreign policies of George W. Bush or John Kerry, though it can be argued that it is related to their economic policies....

"So-called "corporatism" as practiced by Mussolini and revered by so many intellectuals and policy makers had several key elements: The state comes before the individual....Another keystone of Italian corporatism was the idea that the government's interventions in the economy should not be conducted on an ad hoc basis, but should be "coordinated" by some kind of central planning board....A third defining characteristic of economic fascism is that private property and business ownership are permitted, but are in reality controlled by government through a business-government 'partnership.' As Ayn Rand often noted, however, in such a partnership government is always the senior or dominating partner.'"

To call Bush or Kerry economic fascists is laughable. There is a difference between promoting policies that support business (e.g. Bush's and Kerry's support for guest worker programs and/or amnesty that serve to lower wages) and wanting to have the government exert complete control of business. Imagine Bush or Kerry calling Wal-Mart and telling them to raise their prices 1.3% in their California stores; it strains credibility to believe that either of them want to control business to that level.

Ralph Nader, on the other hand, might be a different story....

Of course, once I said this, I made it a habit in this blog to misuse the term "fascist" every chance I got (along with my two favorite terms, "Communists" and "baby seal clubbers").

However, in this case I'm primarily talking to myself. What happens when a bunch of people are talking together? Often you end up in a situation in which Godwin's Law applies:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Godwin's Law is related to another term:

The term reductio ad Hitlerum (sometimes rendered reductio ad Hitlerem; whimsical Latin for "reduction to Hitler") was originally coined by University of Chicago professor and ethicist Leo Strauss. The phrase comes from the more well-known logical argument reductio ad absurdum. It is a variety of association fallacy and may also be described as argumentum ad nazium....

The reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy is of the form "Adolf Hitler or the Nazi party supported X; therefore X must be evil". This fallacy is often effective due to the near-instant condemnation of anything to do with Hitler or the Nazis.

The fallacious nature of this argument is best illustrated by identifying X as something that Adolf Hitler or his supporters did promote but which is not considered evil — for example, X = "promoting expressways", X = "wearing khakis", X = "painting watercolors", or X ="eating food". It is important to understand that those policies advocated by Hitler and his party that are generally considered evil, are all condemned by themselves, not because Hitler supported them. In other words: they are not evil because Hitler advocated them, but rather Hitler was evil because he advocated them.

Now it's time to drag the Residents into this:

Hitler was a Vegetarian makes up the second part of the Residents' album The Third Reich 'N' Roll, from 1976. It is a medley of various pop tunes made extremely creepy. Swastikas on Parade makes up the first part of the album.

Hitler Was A Vegetarian (18:27)

Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) originally performed by John Fred & His Playboy Band
96 Tears originally performed by ? And The Mysterians
It's My Party originally performed by Lesley Gore
Light My Fire originally performed by The Doors
Ballad Of The Green Berets originally performed by SGT Barry Sadler
Yummy Yummy Yummy originally performed by Ohio Express
Rock Around The Clock originally performed by Bill Haley & His Comets
Pushing Too Hard originally performed by The Seeds
Good Lovin' originally performed by The (Young) Rascals
Gloria originally performed by Them featuring Van Morrison
In A Gadda Da Vida originally performed by Iron Butterfly
Sunshine Of Your Love originally performed by Cream
Hey Jude originally performed by Beatles
Sympathy For The Devil originally performed by Rolling Stones

But I still had fun calling Annika a fascist. But let me redeem myself by addressing a more serious question - was Mussolini a fascist?

As with Nazi Germany the economic policies of Mussolini are difficult to define. There is a messy tangle between economic theory and economic practice which leads to two opposing views - either Mussolini had an economic plan, or he didn't.

To proponents of the first view, Mussolini did have a clear economic agenda, both long and short-term, from the beginning of his rule. The government had two main objectives - to modernise the economy, and to remedy the country's lack of strategic resources.

To stimulate development Mussolini pushed the modern capitalistic sector in the service of the state, intervening directly as needed to create a collaboration between the industrialists, the workers, and the state....In the short-term the government worked to reform the widely-abused tax system, dispose of inefficient state-owned industry, cut government costs, and introduce tariffs to protect the new industries....

To those arguing that Fascist policy was not clear, the view in the preceding paragraphs is based on a naive acceptance of Italian propaganda. Mussolini knew close to nothing of economics and did not care greatly; he put little pressure on industry and the government efforts were ad hoc, rather than following a clearly defined policy. Indeed, certain historians have argued that Italian fascism was actually a negative force on the Italian economy - holding back genuine modernisation and badly distorting economic development, even before the war.

Sounds like pure communist criticism of the Soviet Union - "Oh, but if you had a REAL fascist state, things would have been better."

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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