Thursday, July 26, 2007

Depressing (but good) read of the day

From the pen of Phil Rockstroh comes an essay that at one time could well have been laughed off as emissions from a paranoid conspiracy theorist. And yet the world we now live in, and the way he grounds his thoughts in history, make it hard to just shrug it off. It's not new news for most of us, but I think what he says here is worth repeating:

In this summer of angst and grim foreboding about what further assaults against common sense and common decency the Bush Administration might inflict upon the people of the world, how many times during the day do those of us -- still possessed of mind, heart and conscience -- take pause, hoping we've seen the worst of it, then, fearing we haven't yet, attempt to push down the dread rising within us, so that we might simply make it through the day and be able to rest at night? Accordingly, those who have been paying attention are aware that the outward mechanisms of martial law are in place. We shudder knowing that Bush has issued an executive decree that grants him dictatorial power in the event of some nebulously defined national emergency. In addition, the knowledge nettles us that a vast network of internment camps bristle across the length of the U.S., standing at wait for those who might raise objections to the fascistic fury unloosed by the American empire's version of the Reichstag fire.

Moreover, a closer look would reveal that the inner processes by which an individual begins the act of acceptance of authoritarian excess -- the mixture of chronic passivity, boredom, low grade anxiety and unfocused rage inherent in the citizens/consumers of the corporate state that primes an individual for fascism -- have been in place for quite some time within the psyches of the American populace, both elites and hoi polloi alike. Although, don't look for torch-lit processions thronging the nation's streets and boulevards; rather, look for a Nuremberg Rally of couch-bound brownshirts. Instead of ogling the serried ranks of jut-jawed, SS soldiers, a contemporary Leni Riefenstahl would be forced to film chubby clusters of double-chinned consumers, saluting the new order with their TV remotes. In the contemporary United States, the elation induced by the immersion of one's individual will to the mindless intoxication of the mob might only be possible if Bush seized dictatorial control of the state while simultaneously sending out to all citizens gift certificates to Ikea.

After the catastrophes spawned by the rise of European fascism in the 1930s, a number of brilliant, original thinkers (including Hannah Arendt, Roberto Freire, Wilhelm Reich, and R. D. Laing) set out to study the phenomenon in order to learn how future calamities might be prevented. Although the methodologies and conclusions of these thinkers varied, each noted that alienation and dehumanization festered at the core of the death urge of fascism.

For the rest, click here

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