Monday, 30 January 2017

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Programme... talk about fascism. Yes, fascism. Why, you may ask? (Ha, ha; no, I'm pretty sure you know why.)

I was hoping to check out (at the usual age) before the dreadful day arrived, because frankly I am a coward but no; here we are. We've watched this time come barrelling down the pike for many years, as everyone said no, no, It Can't Happen Here. After all, we fought a mighty big war against it! As it turns out, there are plenty of people who like fascism just fine when it is them doing it to other people and not other people doing it to them.

By the way, I'm seeing lots of people - politically motivated and presumably attention-paying people - commenting about how what the Trump administration is doing is "Crazy", "Disorganized" or "Impulsive". NO IT IS NOT.

It is the bog-standard method of transitioning a democracy to a fascist regime.

There are a lot of people out there with smarter things to say about all this than me; I hope I can be helpful by collating a useful conglomeration of history, information, ways to think about things, and things to do. Most of this is reasonably short and "easy" reading.

This is a very preliminary list. I will add more as I find it; please leave your suggestions for reading material in the comments. I hope to put up another post in a week or so with more concrete action suggestions.

For an Overview on Fascism/Authoritarianism in General:

Umberto Eco Makes a List of the Fourteen Common Features of Fascism.

Ur-Fascism (Umberto Eco again). 

The Authoritarians. Bob Altemeyer. Book is free pdf file at site. It's long (it's a book) but READ IT.

Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce & Politics. Jane Jacobs You will actually have to buy the book somehow (or check it out from the library if you can) if you want to read this, but I highly recommend it. It makes terrific companion reading to the The Authoritarians. Altemeyer is more about the psychology of authoritarians; Jane Jacobs talks about the moral structures (and therefore the social and political structures arising from 2 modes of interacting with the world, and what happens when those 2 modes are not upheld as they should be).

ADDED 17/01/31 12:05 pm: and, on a more ominous note, Major-General Smedley Butlers's War is a Racket

ADDED  17/01/31 3:00 pm Excerpt from They Thought They Were Free. Milton Mayer.

For Information About the American Situation Specifically:

Everything You Need to Know About Steve Bannon, Breitbart, & Russia. Daily Kos.

Is Donald Trump a Fascist? (Spoiler: yes. From fucking Newsweek no kidding.)

I was trained for the culture wars...  Kieran Darkwater

ADDED 17/01/30 9:19 am: A Realistic but Hopeful Assessment from Eliot A. Cohen at The Atlantic.

ADDED 17/01/30 10:07 am: Trial Balloon for a Coup? Yonatan Zunger. 

Now What?

How to Survive an Authoritarian Government. Larwunia at ExtraNewsfeed.

The Complete 4-Page Guide to Surviving an Authoritarian Regime. from your Eastern European friends. 

Autocracy: Rules for Survival. Masha Gessen at New York Review of Books.

Here's What You Can Do to Beat Trump. Student Activism, but pretty universally applicable.

ADDED 17/01/31 8:48 am: Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit


Amber said...

Thank you for this.
Haven't had a chance to look at this yet, but it might be an appropriate addition to your list?

Emmalina said...

Exactly and precisely this. Apparently my obsession with WW2 and the resistance was not for nothing. It's here and facebook is not going to fix it.

Anne said...

Yes! Might I also recommend Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit; it's a great way to point out all the lies and inconsistencies.

Ferdzy said...

Amber; thanks for the suggestion but I have to say I did not find that particularly useful; it starts with both-sides-do-it-ism and moves on to their own personal jargon; never a good sign. (I have to admit to not reading the whole thing.)

Emmalina, yeah a perspective on history is both helpful and terrifying, isn't it.

Ann; good catch! I'm adding it.

Megan said...

Thanks for this very timely reading list. It's fascinating to read Umberto Eco's piece, especially given it was written in 1995 (long before current political events took shape).

May I add my 2 cents:

It's a great time to get politically active. We should all remind ourselves that instead of (or in addition to?) reading/posting online comments, there is power in writing personal letters to elected representatives. There is power in demonstrating to support worthwhile causes. And there is power in supporting organizations that support democracy and look after the most vulnerable among us.

There is much good that can be done. Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.

Ferdzy said...

Indeed, Megan. I liked that it was an older piece too, since the point is that we are not adapting the definition of fascism to Trump and the GOP, they are conforming to the existing definition of fascism.

I was particularly struck by Eco's description of how fuzzy and ill-defined Mussolini's political ideology actually was.

And yeah, there is a lot that needs to be done. I'm starting to work on that post (and that work.)