BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN
Social media in recent years has been increasingly punctuated by accusations of “fascist!” and “Nazi!”, hurled back and forth with remarkable recklessness. Considering that we can’t define Republicanism (big R) or “middle-class”, its clear that as a nation, we’ve never had much of a political vocabulary to begin with.
Americans also don’t have a clear sense of history, and this lack becomes frighteningly important the more we toss historically vital connections around as if they are up for grabs. This is particularly true of Russia.
Neither Russia nor the former Soviet Union were/are fascist states, although the USSR came close under Stalin. The USSR’s most historically significant connection to facism is the 50 million lives it lost defending the Eastern Front (by itself) against real fascists during World War Two.
Above: Real Nazis
The other Allies began planning to betray the Russians well before the victory that would not have possible without them – and every agreement made with the USSR was broken soon after the war’s end.
Trump is not a fascist either. He is an unfettered capitalist, representing an economic system directly responsible for many of the world’s bloodiest, most repressive dictatorships. Let’s not obscure the nature of capitalism by labeling it’s crimes and champions fascist.
Fascism is a specific political ideology with its own history and body of theory. It has maintained itself as such since its development in 1920s Italy, periodically emerging during periods of crisis. Because the current global crisis represents an ideal climate for fascism’s development, it’s crucial that we stop throwing the word around. If every oppressive voice/interest is fascist, the term will lose its meaning – just when the need to recognize real fascism is more acute than it has been since the only real Nazis were defeated in 1945.
Mussolini reviewing troops
I’m going back out before the rain starts falling:
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison.
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten.
Where Black is the color and none is the number.
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinking
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing.
It’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard:
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
Excerpt from Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan
We do not have to like or even know someone to understand that when he is attacked in specific ways, in specific political contexts, we must immediately respond as if we are all being attacked – because we are. Any one of us could be next.
Good luck with that.
JEREMIAH KAUFFMAN: HIS WORLD of ART and POETRY
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