Saturday, August 08, 2009

Framing Fascism

In her recent article, Sara Robinson argues the United States is well on its way to becoming a totalitarian, fascist state. As evidence of this inevitability, she cites current town hall disruptions and threats received by public officials.

Not to quibble with her observation that we have been on a dangerous trajectory for some time, but the anti-democratic movement in America is bi-partisan, and is already well-entrenched. Both Obama and Bush are part of it.

While GOP thuggery is a deplorable means of exercising political influence, self-immersion in political panic or fascist hysteria is not what's called for. To her credit, Ms. Robinson soberly examines some of the attributes of rising fascism in response to social decline that deserve consideration, but fitting recurrent misbehavior -- mobilized for political purposes -- into a fascist framework is perhaps not the most effective analysis.

Addressing the underlying causes of disatisfaction, such as widespread institutional and market fraud, while less amenable to a partisan agenda, is nevertheless more strategically sound in defending democracy. Not to impune Ms. Robinson's motives, but there is a partisan aspect to her critique.

The anti-democratic movement, as Sara notes, is a serious threat to our freedom and well-being; framing that threat with inappropriate models, however, can lead to confusion about how to address that threat. The habit of linear thinking is not always conducive to public health.

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