Matthew Rothschild's commentary in The Progressive about the yearning for Fascism in America is important reading. It's important because his warning is real, and because it represents a rare example of more or less "mainstream" media taking the work of people like Chris Hedges seriously. It is not enough for good-hearted liberals and traditional, tolerant Americans to simply dislike people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, we need to do more to discredit them, relieve them of their audience, and put them to work at minimum-wage jobs doing things like cleaning bathrooms and cooking "freedom fries" and whatnot. Yes, this rising anger and intolerance is approaching truly dangerous proportions, and we ignore it at our peril. But we have to remember that this wave of hatred has been building for quite awhile, and Mr. Rothschild and others fail when they attribute it to the lack of jobs and the current recession.
Let's not pretend that this all started with Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin; It goes back at least to the origins of Fox News and to the (first) ascendancy of Rush Limbaugh. It goes back at least as far as Pat Buchanan and Ronald Reagan; indeed, it may go back much further than that. The intolerant right was alive and well during the prosperous Clinton years, and incubated people like Timothy McVeigh and set the stage for the near-fascist reign of George W. Bush (which I'm sure Mr. Rothschild remembers well.) So to assert, as Mr. Rothschild and others do, that the solution to this rising tide of fascism is to provide more jobs is both wrong (and therefore ineffective) and dangerous. Wrong in the sense that providing more jobs, if possible, is not going to solve the problem, and dangerous in the sense that advocating this as a solution will compound the problem. The yearning for fascism runs deep, and telling people that they will be less likely to be such blathering idiots if we only figure out how to put them to work in dehumanizing, demoralising, and purposeless jobs is one sure way to trigger even deeper resentment.
Please, please, please people -- and I say this to all my good-hearted liberal friends and cohorts -- let's stop trying to recreate the (recent) past, to resurrect a lifestyle that was built on an unsustainable and artificial economy, and truly have the courage to take on the big picture. We need to destroy the American Empire, in all its bigness and global-ness and highly developed and disconnected prosperity, and resurrect what it means for human beings to live in local communities in relationship to nature. You may respond to your heart's content that this isn't possible; yet I have become convinced that it will not be possible for society (as we knew it) to survive otherwise.
The thing is is that Glenn Beck is right about at least one thing: America has lost her honor. But of course it didn't happen with the election of Barack Obama nor with the passage of health care reform; it didn't happen with the financial bailouts or the rise of uncontrolled immigration. No, a country as vast as this doesn't lose her honor with one event or over just a few years; it takes concerted effort. Perhaps that effort began with the bombing of Nagasaki, or withe the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, or with Vietnam, or Watergate. Perhaps it began with the colonization of native Americans and the invasion of Hawaii. Perhaps it began with the Iran-Contra scandal or the training of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, or perhaps with claims of phony weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't matter much precisely when it began; what we know is that Mr. Beck has done his level best to assure us that it is indeed entrenched in our political psyche that we Americans do indeed believe that we have no honor, and in that I believe he is right. We don't. And please don't tell me that offering me some mind-numbing job in some office somewhere, helping to produce and distribute yet more worthless crap that the world doesn't need -- even if the job does provide full medical and dental -- is going to restore my honor. It won't.