Friday, February 11, 2005
the question of what to do about it was put to me recently by a friend.
i have no answer. little bouts of zeal are turned back or run themselves out when they are eddies in broader currents. but what does one do when the broader current turns to chaos and destruction? has anyone noticed that that britain and australia both are having similar fits of what might be termed neofascism?
i think what we're faced with is probably beyond the realm of reasoned discourse and modesty to resolve. when nietzschean ethics appeared in the 1890s and subsequently became the common underlying basis of human interaction, individualism in western civilization stepped over something like that same line which it did in rome when the gracchi were killed. these ethics read like the western manifesto now -- but they are profoundly destructive to an orderly society based on rule of law, common cause and compassion. they are the seeds of totalitarianism.
i think the anglophone world relied on the strength and inertia of its institutions -- inherited of the british tradition of the long parliament, locke and the parliament of 1688 which emerged from the wars of religion -- to defend itself from the insidious antisocial nature of unchecked individualism which swelled from the romantics onward through the counter-enlightenment. in latecoming pseudonations like germany and italy, or those with weak and backward political content such as spain and russia, there wasn't much to stem the tide.
it's simply taken several more decades for the empirical, utilitarian, parliamentarian, materialist, lawful british tradition to be undermined and corrupted by the individual idealism encoded by nietzsche. i think we're today adopting fascism under the same influences that constructed the dictatorships of the 1920s and 30s. we exhibit similar symptoms of heroic national destiny, the abstraction of nation-as-individual, rampant militarism, security paranoia, plebiscitarian politics and a bizarre abundance of pride and arrogance. we are at war everywhere against the forces of decay and decline. our leaders openly study the fascists -- which is entirely appropriate, as the aims of neoconservatism and fascism are the same: the reinvigoration of a decadent and declining high civilization in primitivism. when spengler wrote "decline of the west" in 1927, he pinned the decline on "liberalism, democracy, socialism, free-masonry" -- all the products of the empirical tradition. this is terribly familiar rhetoric.
the idea isn't far from marxism, either, except in the diagnosis of the method. fascists find reinvigoration in primitivism -- be they wolfowitz or spengler -- while marxists think they can unlock in revolution the next utopian stage in dialectical materialism. but the central recognition in common is that the west is dying. the 20th century dialogue can be seen as the argument over how best to save civilization in the aftermath of the first world war and the realization of absurdity and decadence.
the events that marked the end of the 20th century clearly resolved that argument: fascism has won the debate over how to preserve the west. materialist marxists, once inveterately modern, rationalist and industrial, have been exposed as utopians, economically discredited, and have been in the main corrupted into socialists -- primitivist individualists all the same. (no surprise then that so many neocons are converted trotskyites.) the modern western leftist now espouses all manner of primitivisms such as environmentalism, sanctity of indigenous culture, controlled trade, limitations of the arts and speech. these are fascist arguments, of which materialists have been convinced or compelled to accept.
socialism was conceived as the confluence and dilution of utilitarian principles with romantic sanctity of the individual. as we're seeing now in the rise of ideological fascism and religious cultism in america, the materialist component has been ever further eroded over the last few decades -- to a point where it is now barely discernable -- allowing government utilities like social security to be butchered for the sake of personal emancipation.
the iterations of socialist policies that now dominate the anglophone west are neither a progressive step to marxist utopia nor a third-way compromise but naked romantic individualist escapism -- the means of foisting the onerous duties of truly free men onto the state so that the nietzschean individual can run about irresponsibly in search of self-fulfillment. their dislocation from any empirical reality can be seen in how they are financed, itself an echo of prior fascist fiscal schema, which were distinctly keynesian.
the end of the cold war -- which long kept the west in a tension that meant realist discipline -- has released nietzschean individualist fantasies of self-indulgence without counterpoint on the west like a storm. i think the united states and britain have grown to be what are essentially fascist systems which are gradually approaching dictatorship -- for example, could congress really stop the president? and would anyone risk trying?
it's going to become more and more apparent over time that congress is a shell of authority that has become an advisory panel. that will eventually be made obvious to all, probably in the resolution of crisis, and some or all the anglophone democracies recognized as fascist dictatorships. and i don't think there's much of anything that can be done to keep it from happening -- after all, fascism has won, for better or worse, the ideological debate for the western future.
UPDATE: other web resources regarding the ascendancy of fascism in america include scott mcconnell at american conservative, paul craig roberts of the stanford university conservative thinktank the hoover institution, justin raimondo as editor of antiwar.com, and mises institute head lew rockwell.
SEE ALSO: national socialism in the contemporary