Part 2 – Trust an Italian to know about fascists. (Eco 1)
Part 3 – Fascism cleans the sheets and takes out the trash… (Eco 2)
Part 4 – Fear the Gnomes of Zurich! (Eco 3)
Part 5 - An army boot stamping on an inhuman face -- for as long as we can get away with it (Eco 4)
Part 6 - Real Men Say Our Leader is DoublePlus Good! (Eco 5 and last)
The final post in the series on the Umberto Eco essay, Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. (1995)
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
Hmmm…. HIS will?
Yeah, most all fascists are anti-feminist. It's oh so macho, fascism is. Boys and their phallic toys, as Eco points out. So if you don't have the abilities to rise in the fascist ranks, and you don't want to get killt in an endless fascist war, what does that leave you? You (the man) get to rule the roost! Yeah!
I saw a couple of Nazi propaganda films in college. One of them, Hitlerjunge Quex, included a girl. Or maybe it only looked like a girl. Wait – it didn't look like a girl. A very butch looking young woman, pristine and severe, was the ideal. (Whereas the socialists youth camp had drinking, gluttonous eating, and sex in the woods. The Nazis had kids in uniforms and in rows with big bonfires. Mark me down for socialist youth camp.)
Needless to say, macho but not all faggy and shit.
Since American fascism is well entwined with reactionary Christianity…(dang spellchecker capitalized Christianity there… as some have pointed out, it's not really a Christian faith, but kind of loosely 'christ-based', or maybe Jesus-cultism.) … anyway, since the base culture out of which much American fascism grows is all biblical, we can see so much of the misogynist/anti-feminist crap that comes out of the Radical Right as fascist. Turning the clock back on reproductive rights, hatred and bigotry around homosexuality, the amazing bullshit that is chastity education (or whatever they call it) all are examples. Breeding another crop of soldiers for the Reich – that's what women are good for!
13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
We iz for Da People. Da good people. Da Jesus-lovin', hard-workin', no welfare cheats or nuttin' People.
So you have a populist appeal – like the Preznit – which is totally fake, and is totally not based on the actual will of the people as represented by inconvenient accidents like actually democratic elections. Karl Rove and Bushboy know what Da People Really Want. But they ignore the real people. As Eco says, a Common Will is created – an artificial thing, a "theatrical fiction." And Our Leader knows that Will, and acts on it.
In our case, that will is moderated by God (or as JC General puts it, Republican Jesus) and God speaks special to our Leader.
Then there's this, from Eco's discussion of the point:
Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against "rotten" parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.Republicans running against Government. Nuff said.
14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
Many words have been written about the insanity that this regime gets to spout, that is busily typed down and relayed by our corporate media system. I don't even know where to start about this. Norm Coleman researches corruption in the oil-for-food program, which is dwarfed by the corruption of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Blue Skies Initiative (hah – I started to type Green Skies…) Victory Agenda. Don't criticize in time of war. War on Terror. It's the WMD/Dictator/Democracy in the Middle East/Fight Them There… which has always been the reason we invaded and occupied Iraq.
Eco closes his essay with this…
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task.Commentary on this essay as a whole:
Eco is one of the more widely-quoted and referenced authors writing about fascism in the general press. His points are well-taken; we can see them in historical fascist regimes as well as seeing them reflected in our almost-maybe-do we call it-neo-fascist corporate neo-liberal neo-con Bush regime. But as one reader pointed out – what about the corporations?
Eco is a semiotician – someone who studies symbols. Although he has been rather Marxist in his day, his analysis stays away from the structural/economic – or materialist – points that you might otherwise expect. After all, it was his countryman Mussolini who is reputed to have said:
Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.Next: What's up with industrialists and fascist regimes?