Friday, October 08, 2004



David Neiwert, a journalist-blogger of the website Orcinus, is writing a series that he calls "The Rise of Pseudo-fascism." I recommend it highly. To date he has posted Part 1: The Morphing of the Conservative Movement, Part 2: The Architecture of Fascism and Part 3: The Pseudo-Fascist Campaign.

If I have a quibble (well, perhaps more than a quibble), it is that I cannot find a definition of "pseudo-fascism" in his writing. To put it another way, if the political movement we are witnessing is to be termed "pseudo-fascism," in what ways does it differ from "authentic" fascism?

For me, the closest Neiwert comes to suggesting a definition is in this paragraph from Part 3—

... a hollow, pale imitation of a fraud -- which is what the pseudo-fascism now being practiced by the conservative movement amounts to -- can be readily revealed for what it is, if its opponents have the strength of character to stand up to them.

The fraud to which Neiwert refers is fascism itself. But I don't find "an imitation of a fraud" to be very satisfactory as a definition. In fairness, the paragraph occurs in the context of a discussion of George Bush, so I easily sense what Neiwert is getting at—at least when speaking of Bush, who lacks the essential commitment necessary to being a good fascist and is therefore "a fraud of a fraud."1

But I'm not so certain that the people surrounding Bush lack that commitment. It appears to me more likely that they have made a tactical error by picking the wrong poster boy. And not only do I think so, I strongly suspect that they now think so as well.

And who is "they"? Cheney and the neo-conservatives, both in and out of the administration, who have been able to find common cause with anti-democratic Christian and Jewish groups.

As Neiwert continues his series, I may return to the topic. But in the meantime, it is important to ask—Aside from the lack of a true leader, what aspects, if any, of this latest ascension of fascism are fake? If this political movement may be distinguished from "genuine" fascism, is it less dangerous? Does it have the potential of morphing into "authentic" fascism?

I will ask Neiwert for his view and post it here, if he would like to reply.

Related posts:
Dominionism and the Yurica Report


1 A glance at the biographies of the two great classical fascists—Hitler and Mussolini—reveals them both to have come from humble backgrounds. You might say that they were both a "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" kind of guy. Nothing could be further from either the background or experience of George Bush.

I think a better historical comparison might be made between Bush and King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 and was then bestowed the title "Duke of Windsor." Edward had an undoubted affinity for fascism, but his feelings ran shallow. Like George, he would never have let it interfere with his lifestyle.

As described at,

In 1937, the Duke and Duchess visited Germany as personal guests of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, a visit much publicized by the German media. The couple then settled in France. When the Germans invaded the north of France in May 1940, the Windsors fled south, first to Biarritz, then in June to Spain. In July the pair moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where they lived at first in the home of a banker with close German Embassy contacts. The British Foreign Office strenuously objected when the pair planned to tour aboard a yacht belonging to a Swedish magnate, Axel Wenner-Gren, whom American intelligence considered to be a close friend of Hermann Goering, one of Hitler's top lieutenant. A "defeatist" interview with the Duke that received wide distribution may have served as the last straw for the British government: in August a British warship dispatched the pair to the Bahamas. The Duke of Windsor was installed as Governor, and became the first British monarch to ever hold a civilian political office. He enjoyed the position, and was praised for his efforts to comabat poverty on the island nation. He held the post until the end of World War II in 1945. The couple then retired once again to France, where they spent much of the remainder of their lives.

In recent years, some have suggested that the Duke (and especially the Duchess) sympathised with Fascism before and during World War II, and had to remain in the Bahamas to minimize their opportunities to act on those feelings. These revised assessments of his career hinge on some wartime information released in 1996, and on further secret files released by the U.K. government in 2003. The files had remained closed for decades, as Whitehall judged that they would cause the Queen Mother substantial distress if released during her lifetime. U.S. naval intelligence revealed a confidential report of a conference of German foreign officials in October 1941, that judged the Duke "no enemy to Germany" and the only English representative with whom Hitler would negotiate any peace terms, "the logical director of England's destiny after the war". President Roosevelt had ordered covert surveillance of the Duke and Duchess when they visited Palm Beach, Florida, in April 1941. The former Duke of Wurttemberg (then a monk in an American monastery) convinced the FBI that the Duchess had been sleeping with the German ambassador in London, Joachim von Ribbentrop, had remained in constant contact with him, and continued to leak secrets.

To be fair to the Duke in comparing him with George Bush, Edward proposed himself to serve in the military during World War I and wanted to fight at the front, but was refused by the British government. And in one other matter the Duke has bested Bush. According to the official website of the British monarchy—
The first monarch to be a qualified pilot, Edward created The King's Flight (now known as 32 (The Royal) Squadron) in 1936 to provide air transport for the Royal family's official duties.

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