Friday, September 17, 2010

Are Teabaggers Fascists?

The question for the day is whether the Tea Party Movement are a bunch of proto-Nazis.
  1. Is it just Another Populist Movement? In many ways, yes. Populists movements want to "take the county back." They are born during times of economic distress. During such times the rich use their influence with politicians to preserve their wealth at the expense of "small people." Populists movement spawn from the muck of this corruption.
  2. Are Teabaggers patriots? They consider themselves uber-patriots, more American than anybody every was anywhere ever. That is their most dangerous, and least patriotic, conceit.
  3. Are they fascist? Kinda. Straight up populists want to take the government back from the wealthy. Fascists believe religious and racial minorities are the real source of the problem. Fascism is what happens when a populist movement is manipulated so the inherent populist anger is redirected away from the wealthy.
  4. What are populists angry about? Things are tough and they are just generally pissed. Left alone populists will tend to focus their anger on politicians, bankers, and greedy industrialists. In modern terms that would be Bush/Obama, Goldman Sachs, and British Petroleum. But the anger can be easily redirected to scapegoats - minority religions (Jews/Muslims) and foreigners (Mexicans) with claims that these scapegoats are conspiring with politicians to destroy the nation.
  5. Okay, was Hitler a populist? Yes. As was Karl Marx, William Jennings Bryan, Sarah Palin, and Huey Long.
  6. Is Palin a fascist? The truth is I don't know. She paints herself as an ultra-uber-patriot. She is quick to blame all of America's ills on Muslims and foreigners. These are certainly fascist traits. It's hard to picture her subscribing to the bloodier aspects of proto-fascism but it is harder to see her stopping her followers.
  7. Is the anti-intellectualism thing new? Nope. Populists believe that education is a way The Powers That Be suppress the common man. William Jennings Bryan believed the only things that need be read was the Bible and the Constitution. Just like the Nazis believed that German Jews in universities were teaching degenerate anti-German thoughts, Teabaggers believe that secret Muslims are teaching anti-Americanism in US schools.
  8. Should we be afraid? Populist movements tend to peter out (See William Jennings Bryan) because they are just too radical. Their better ideas are absorbed by the country (Social Security, child labor laws) while their more bizarre platforms are left to whither in the field. When a populist movement actually takes control of government is when things get dangerous. Germany in 1933 and Russia in 1917 are examples of what happens when populist movements unleavened by more rational thinking gains total power.
The bottom line is that the Tea Party will probably die as other American populist movements have with some ideas (greater federalism) being accepted. If they win the 2010, and worse, 2012 elections than my advise is to bury your jewelry in the backyard, convert to a fundamentalist Christian sect (especially if you are Muslim or atheist) and hope you survive.

See also: Chomsky on Tea Party
Tea Party fascism in Revolutionary War clothes

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