Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Without Hyperbole -- How Conservatives Follow the Models of Communism and Fascism

When I say that the modern Republican and Conservative movements follow the legacy of Communism and Fascism, I don't mean it in the everyday college freshman/Burning Man/ U.S. Out Of Vermont sense. What I am speaking to are the practices that the Communist Party in the former Soviet Union, as well as the National Socialists in Germany, used to gain and maintain power. Two of modern Conservatism's intellectual founders, Leo Strauss and Irving Kristol, both formed their early opinions of shaping political discourse from Nationalism in Germany and Stalinism/Trotskyism in Russia.

An obscure German Jewish political philosopher, Leo Strauss came to the U.S. from a country devastated by the Holocaust. He taught at the University of Chicago in the 50s and 60s, where he said of liberalism: "Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed. Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united - and they can only be united against other people." Strauss advocated both The Big Lie and the perpetual war. Among his students were Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, both architects of the Iraq War.

The other founding father of modern Conservatism was Irving Kristol, who began his political life at the City University of New York in the 1930s as a follower of Leon Trotsky. Kristol drew lesson from Trotsky which he applied to politics: the idea of "permanent revolution" and "exporting Communism" without any concession to other political ideologies. In 1983, Kristol wrote, "Patriotism springs from love of the nation's past; nationalism arises out of the hope for the nation's future. Neoconservatives believe that the goals of American foreign policy must go beyond a narrow, too literal definition of `national security'. It is the national interest of a world power, as this is defined by a sense of national destiny, not a myopic national security." Kristol wanted to export American Democracy, but for him Democracy had nothing to do with social equality and populism. For Kristol, it meant exporting American economic hegemony and private corporate enterprise.

Neoconservative thought originated in the early middle of the century and fermented in the years following the Republican Great Depression and WWII, until the Reagan Revolution. The Reagan years became a testing ground of policy and practice with regards to ecomonic imperialism, oligarchy, and "the permanent campaign" that would later be implemented fully during George W. Bush's administration. Adolph Hitler used the term "Third Reich," which meant the 1,000 year German Nazi rule, which Karl Rove took a cue from when he voiced his grand goal of establishing a "one hundred year Republican rule." In addition to a Nazi/Stalinist belief in endless single party control, the GOP has also adapted Hitler's term "homeland" as a carefully calculated propaganda tool to, in Straussian form, unite the people of a nation against a common, abstract enemy. For Hitler is was "the Jewish menace," and for Bush it's the "threat of terrorism." Along with seizing power under the guise of constant danger to the country from an outside threat, the Neoconservatives also seized onto the Stalinist/Straussian idea of perpetual war (see Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Iran this summer) to keep the populace afraid and patriotic. A form of social control over dissent that goes all the way back to Machiavelli.

By now you're wondering "Hey Patrick, what's with the history lesson?" Well, regular readers of Idiolexicon know that I love to hear myself talk, but that's not the real reason. Well, I mean, it sort of is, but we'll pretend it's not. This past weekend, three major news stories got me thinking about a nexus tying them all together with the thread of this Neoconservative philosophy based on the worst forms of 20th century propaganda tools.

I recently wrote about the Media Matters & Center for American Progress study detailing that Americans are by and large progressive in their social and political leanings. However, almost all progressive views are squashed in media, whether it be in newspapers, on television, and especially on radio. The latter was the subject of a new report this weekend citing the severe one-sidedness of talk radio. In fact, 90% of all voices on talk radio in America are Conservatives, and most of them far right. This study sent off a firestorm on talk radio by Conservatives hosts all saying that "if liberal talk radio worked the free market would have shown it." This is all bull.

Ed Shultz, the #1 rated talk show host in America is only on 100 stations nationwide. In almost every market in which he goes head to head with Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly he wins, but he can't get on a major network. Why? Oligarchy. Ownership. Most radio stations are owned by a handful of companies who don't want to broadcast progressive opinion, whether it's profitable or not. Massive corporate ownership is also the reason why newspapers and television are so roundly conservative and refuse in depth reporting. It's all about the bottom line and quelling dissenting voices. When Monica Goodling revealed to Congress that Karl Rove underling Tim Griffin had directed caging efforts for George Bush in Florida during the 2000 election, it didn't appear on any network news or national newspapers. She admitted before Congress that not only had the Republican party (which is under a restraining order against caging) violated the law, but they had suppressed the minority vote and subsequently stolen the election.

Every day the Republican National Committee sends out a list of talking points to all the conservative radio hosts, TV pundits, and newspaper editors in America for them to use and distribute via the media. Complete one party control of media has been a GOP project for more than thirty years, taking their cues, again, from the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany where one state sponsored media outlet spoke with one voice, and that voice was always the lockstep of the party.

Another practice of the Soviet Union, especially in their occupation of satellite states, was the altering of history. Photographs with people removed, names stricken from records, books burned, etc. The Bush administration has taken this to heart. We've all seen Jon Stewart play a clip of Tony Snow saying something one day, and then a clip denying whatever it was he said in the first clip was ever said. Heck, even over on they had Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic party, listed as Republican (the Republican Party wasn't even founded until 1854) until recently when public outcry forced a change. We found out during the Alberto Gonzalez hearings that the Bush Whitehouse, instead of conducting government business on mandatory Whitehouse servers, have been using the RNC email service. This weekend we learned the RNC has deleted literally hundreds of thousands of emails from the Whitehouse, thus erasing the historical record and making it, for the purposes of history and Congressional inquiry, Bush's word against anyone else's. In addition this weekend we learned that Dick Cheney routinely destroys all records of his office's dealings, as well as his Secret Service visitor logs. History is the enemy of the propaganda machine, unless history can be altered. Remember Milan Kundera's famous quip, "the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

The third story from this past weekend is the one that ties all of this together, because it looks forward to the next presidential election. Senator Richard Luger (R-IN) called this weekend for a timely withdrawal from Iraq, saying the current policy isn't working. The media has jumped all over this story, and it's just what the GOP wants. Along with Senators John Warner and Chuck Hagel, we're beginning to see the media advancing a thread of Republican dissent to end the occupation in Iraq. Last month when the GOP in Congress forced the Democrats to pass a war funding bill without timelines, they effectively handed off responsibility for the occupation over to the Democratic Congress. We're going to see a Republican game plan play out this year that marries the media machine to our penchant for forgetting: the GOP wants us to believe that the Democrats could have ended the occupation but didn't, and now the noble Senate Republicans are stepping in to do what the Dems couldn't.

The vast majority of the Democratic platform heading into the 2008 election involves running against the occupation of Iraq. The GOP is planning to pull that rug out from under them, and left simply isn't prepared for it.

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