Systemic Alignment of Factors
By Norman Pollack
March 29, 2015
Let’s not bandy about terms. “Fascism” (aka, the militarized face of capitalism in its advanced stage of development) reveals the historical integration of political-structural-ideological factors, among others, pointed toward a totalitarian mindset of consensus on the values and policy of hegemonic expansion, the “Neo” component merely being the liberal patina to gloss an essentially traditional Rightist posture of class-rule and socio-cultural regimentation at home, commercial-financial penetration, the rigging of the international trade and monetary systems, alongside their corollaries, war, intervention, and regime change abroad. In sum, pretty much where we’re presently at. To say, therefore, as I do here, that the US inclines toward fascism, does not mean necessarily a permanent indictment, the inevitability of a one-way street toward the concentration camp and gas ovens, and in fact in its present guise there is no need for overt repression, at least of the Homeland, when the fictions of democracy, liberty, and market freedom ring the air. As for core-destructiveness, that can be, and IS, projected outward instead, as in incinerating whole countries (e.g.,Vietnam) and enabling dictators to forge systems of imprisonment for their own people whenever the respective national interests coincide (from Latin America to Asia and beyond), meanwhile, again for the Homeland, infusing the folk with self-righteous pride of achievement.
As bad as all that? Yes, gradually fewer exits, rest stops, u-turn opportunities for that one-way street as America knuckles down to the realization that its unilateral global domination following World War II is no longer feasible, is in fact breaking down, with the rise of new centers of power and a decentralization of the World System. Before, it had everything its own way, buying and selling “friends and allies” at will in sustained counterrevolutionary mode; no longer, for the natives are rising up, piercing the disguises and subterfuges of liberal humanitarianism, only angering Behemoth to raise the stakes, a more forcible world response accompanied by pressures for greater conformity at home. To all intents and purposes, America is a One-Party State when it comes to militarism, from defining the national budget to infusing society with a cultural spirit of superior destiny in fighting Evil—anything less being soft on a multitude of enemies waiting in the wings (many, of course, given birth and sustenance through our own actions in heightened Cold War fashion, i.e., the Taliban, conversely, death squads in Central America, the military dictators in Chile, having the effect of creating opposition to American policy heretofore neutral or even friendly).
Behemoth scratches, more of the world’s population rises in protest. Cuba, earlier, Venezuela, a more recent example. And that, in our neighborhood. What of the Middle East, South Asia, parts of Africa, even restiveness in the EU? Hegemony is becoming frayed at the edges, summoning the bugle call to National Greatness. Obama wears Bush’s shoes, a continuity of self-justifying arrogance which, in the near future, offers little prospect of change, and rather, the intensification of: Neo-Fascism, political, structural, ideological, exemplified in status quo consensus, interpenetration/co-partnership of the State and capitalism, an ethnocentric defensive (at once military and psychological) shield. The synchronous workings of the three ensures the narrowing of societal purpose, a holding action against history done in the name of history. Call it the prerogatives of Exceptionalism, to save the world, or the inevitableness of economic concentration (a light-hearted case of monopolization, this week’s $41B merger of Heintz and Kraft to the tune of “Everybody’s doing it”), but as American capitalism monolithically proceeds, it grows more belligerent, more appetitive, more war-like. John Bolton’s NYT op-ed (March 26) entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,” captures a rare moment encapsulating the national will, a microcosm of pent-up hatred to all things perceived menacing awaiting to explode.
America is on the edge: Democrats sliding further Right, disappearing into the vortex or is it maelstrom of pathologic self-pity over no longer exercising world supremacy and striking out accordingly; business, in turn, not satisfied with deregulation, calling for regression on all fronts, from the social safety net to labor organization, weakening both while making of itself a state-within-the-state, sitting willingly at the feet of the military; and, yes, ideology, a transcendent vision of Capitalistic Godhead, certifiably pure for putting down all resistance. America can’t lose; or, will April showers bring May flowers? Not if present trends continue. Little on the horizon, political, structural, ideological, gives grounds for assurance that a real alternative to militarized capitalism will arise in politics, that the democratization of capitalism will occur in political economy, or that an hierarchically-arranged orchestration of social values pertaining to class, race, status, legitimating a fundamental inequality throughout society, will finally be brought to an end.
The Bolton article, though a straw in the wind, deserves perusal by CP readers, a fine illustration of what I would term the Paradigm of the Fascist Mindset; here then my New York Times Comment on the piece, same date, follows:
Bolton wants to portray Obama as the Neville Chamberlain of our time. His own recommendation, a la Strangelove, is to bomb Iran, creating a vaster regional turmoil than already exists.
Here Bolton reveals his right-wing credentials pulling no punches, a poster boy for US global militarism (as has been his wont in the past) excelling that of most hawks. Ironically, he underestimates the gift Obama bestows on the Right and on Militarism with policies of war,intervention, regime change, and, the apple of Obama’s eye, targeted drone assassination. That Bolton doesn’t appreciate how far the US, under Obama, has already veered so far to the Right, suggests his own being out of touch.
With Brennan at his side, and cementing the White House closeness to the military and intelligence communities, Obama is no appeaser, but rather a global hegemonist of the first water. Perhaps what saves America from completely going off the deep end is the conflict among our Patriots, Bolton’s critique of Obama being a case in point.
NYT, by all means give Bolton a hearing. I mean that sincerely. Because in that way we have the position of the Far Right usefully articulated. Regrettably, not that it matters, because the nation itself has shifted significantly rightward as it is. There is, on essentials, bipartisan unity, as testified to by the size of the arms budget, support for Ukraine, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in sum, an ESCALATION in the confrontation with Russia and China.
Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.