Sunday, July 13, 2008

How to make fascism return

Have no viable alternative on the left. Yes, it really is that simple:
But Milne makes a further point. The rise of neo-fascism in Italy, and elsewhere, is tied to the collapse -- or rather the surrender -- of center-left parties to the pernicious doctrines of the Right. Everywhere, these parties --- Democrats in America, Labour in the UK, various Social Democrats throughout Europe – have turned themselves into pale copies of conservative parties, adopting policies that have degraded society, destroyed communities, entrenched injustice, rewarded greed, poisoned the earth, embraced militarism and aggression, inflicted vast suffering on developing nations (through the straightjacket of "market reforms," i.e., corporate-crony welfare), subverted democracy, diminished liberty and gutted the very notion of the common good.

[Yet we are being too kind in calling this process a "surrender." As Arthur Silber has pointed out many times, the Democrats – and New Labour and other craven centre-left parties – have embraced the Right's agenda of elitist domination, militarism and scorn for the common good because they agree with it. Any figures with genuinely "progressive" views have been winnowed out or marginalized by the big money machines that run the parties. Such people are always a minority amongst the self-interested factions who vie for domination over a nation's affairs, of course. But there used to be a more substantial minority of such folks in U.S. politics, with enough leverage to sometimes affect national policy and even score some successes. But this strain has been almost completely bred out, as we have seen in the latest Democratic Congress – the most reviled and unpopular Congress in American history.]
All this is in the context of the Italian government's recent decision to basically persecute an entire ethnic group, the Roma (or Gypsies as most know them), who have been historically persecuted (in the last century, fascist governments such as the Nazi government in Germany perpetrated genocide against the Roma). From what I gather, center-left parties back then tended to collaborate with the more fascist elements of the right. That certainly seems the case now. How many of these liberal, labor, or social democratic parties have accepted the basic premises underlying neoliberalism? For those of us looking for something of an alternative, that can be thoroughly discouraging. I know that feeling well. What I keep holding on to is the thought that organization does not occur overnight, and that it is still possible for those of us who might feel like voices in the wilderness to drop a few palabras, plant seeds that will grow over time.

The coming decades will be difficult - not insurmountably so, but realistically we need to remember that we're fighting against a structure that has had decades to metastasize. Connections to one another will be critical using all tools available to us, including of course the electronic means of communication. It is also critical to think outside of the traditional party systems in our respective nations, and to work towards making attractive alternatives viable. In my nation, socialism has had a bad name for so long that even mentioning the term in a positive light is the height of political incorrectness. The unraveling of the structures that have maintained neoliberalism's stranglehold on political discourse open a potential space for us to offer alternatives that actually promote social and economic justice. Prepare now, and remember that the alternative is guaranteed to be fatal for large proportions of humanity.

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