Saturday, July 19, 2008

What fascism looks like

There's a pretty decent description in Genoa and the Culture of Fascism. A quote from the Nick Davies article:
That is about fascism. There are plenty of rumours that the police and carabinieri and prison staff belonged to fascist groups, but no evidence to support that. Pastore argues that that misses the bigger point: “It is not just a matter of a few drunken fascists. This is mass behaviour by the police. No one said ‘No.’ This is a culture of fascism.” At its heart, this involved what Zucca described in his report as “a situation in which every rule of law appears to have been suspended.”

Fifty-two days after the attack on the Diaz school, 19 men used planes full of passengers as flying bombs and shifted the bedrock of assumptions on which western democracies had based their business. Since then, politicians who would never describe themselves as fascists have allowed the mass tapping of telephones and monitoring of emails, detention without trial, systematic torture, the calibrated drowning of detainees, unlimited house arrest and the targeted killing of suspects, while the procedure of extradition has been replaced by “extraordinary rendition”. This isn’t fascism with jack-booted dictators with foam on their lips. It’s the pragmatism of nicely turned-out politicians. But the result looks very similar. Genoa tells us that when the state feels threatened, the rule of law can be suspended. Anywhere.
This is the fascism of pasty men wearing suits and ties. Certainly there appears to be a good deal of similarity between the patterns of behavior of the US, UK, and Italian regimes that should give us good reason to be alarmed and outraged. We saw these same patterns in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, as well as in Pinochet's Chile in the 1970s (Pinochet seems to be the darling of Italy's right-wingers). The use of torture seems to characterize our contemporary regimes' fascist impulses, along with the demonizing and persecution of ethnic minorities. In Italy, it's the Roma who are once more being targeted; in the US, it's people of Latin-American descent who are subjected to demonization (the use of "illegals" as a noun used to characterize brown-skinned people regardless of their citizenship or documentation, the return of Operation Wetback signs) and persecution (ICE raids, vigilantism, driving while Hispanic) with deadly consequences (as my friend Manny has made mention over the last couple years with regard to deaths of people trying to cross the desert border).

Yes, there are patterns. Going back to RickB:
History is full of warning signs and recognisable patterns, just as it is also full of people who ignore them. The way this story has been covered and the impunity for the majority of the perpetrators is significant. But then every day I wake up in a country headed by war criminals, take a breath, step back, this is where we are.
Ignorance is not bliss.

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