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A Practical Guide to American Fascism: The Psychopathology of Liberalism

Republicans are the designated whipping boys for Reaction covering a wide swath of political culture, thought, and activity in America. The content is obvious, summarized as the militarization of advanced capitalism as it seeks to maintain its unilateral course of global supremacy, the effort breaking down in a world of decentralizing power relations, and thereby forcing America to ever greater extremes of action in order to keep its place. The strains are showing: an integral racism in the historical-national mindset quiescent for a time and now once more erupting; worldwide covert operations and meddling in others’ internal affairs, ongoing since the 1940s but now so regularized and done with impunity and urgency as to be hardly noticed; the use of trade as a battering ram for geopolitical/geostrategic purposes to shape the hegemonic balance-of-power with respect to China and Russia, while serving notice on US partners of forcible financial-commercial penetration, so that all alike are destructively affected; in sum, quick on-the-trigger hammering out of a stable ideological environment for America’s true spirit of ethnocentrism and xenophobia, consciously and unconsciously working on behalf of a corporatistic system of widening differentials in wealth, power, racial and ethnic superior-inferior rankings, a tightening of the screws on patriotic conformity, all of the foregoing wrapped tightly around the intensive concentration of business and banking power into amoral unrestrained monoliths based in or using America for protective cover.

This is the crucial societal phenomenon, a capitalistic polity showing no mercy to real yet often imagined adversaries, domestic critics silenced through self-castration and habituation to a submission to power via consumerism, bread and circuses, and—with massive surveillance—instinctive fear, and on the world scene, nations suitably awed by a nuclear arsenal second to none and, hinted strongly, ready for use, so that the US pre-eminence taken for granted enlists the support and acceptance of the American public, regardless of party. In one sense, Republicans have had a bad rap, Democrats being equally if not more responsible for unleashing the structure, planning, and energies of militarized capitalism. Obama is the perfect embodiment of the American comprador, a black president, an added convenience to liberals in sanctioning policies of intervention, conquest, and at home corporate consolidation (all of which he has exemplified as well if not better than any president in memory), his compradorean stature earned as the intermediary for the American war machine, foreign policy establishment, and as the mock-regulator of the business system, the seemingly benign, because of race, representative of America’s ruling class—yes, despite liberals’ denials, a ruling class to which some are members and others gladly serve.

So, we proudly proclaim our Americanism, Republican and Democrat, world-beaters, a happy consensus of exploiters, even or especially of our own, the message being one of pride taken that, as citizens, many of us can also be victims of the systemic processes used to subjugate others. We are grateful to serve our masters Leviathan/Mammon, a rare privilege for this “two-fer” allegiance. But as for enemies “real yet often imagined,” we should not blanch from the obvious: some are real; America is hated, perhaps not universally outside its boundaries, then certainly where regime change has occurred, boycotts and embargoes have resulted in intense social misery, native habitats destroyed, military bases erected both for offensive operations and shoring up friendly domestic governments, outsourcing imposed coercive labor conditions and arrangements, in short, wherever the imperium has flexed its muscles, usually the business and military communities in the driver’s seat. Still, even “real” enemies are worn in American inner circles as a badge of honor, testifying to the efficacy of power and deity-endorsed Exceptionalism. Where the “often imagined” comes in concerns the psychological projection of aggression onto others that we harbor for them. Russia and China are not about to destroy America. Perhaps one-tenth of our belief in that outcome derives from guilt, that narrow window of recognition of harm done the rest of the world; but so much of the aggression manifested toward them is power politics with an ideological cutting edge betraying varying degrees of awareness that advanced capitalism has leveled out and has begun its descent into what Marx might have seen as implosive contradiction but, in the hell-bent aim of unsullied survival, might simply be termed, we—or nothing, and let the world come crashing down.

Liberalism here is political psychopathology carried to Everest-heights, an utter sham, unworthy of even the possessive individualism Macpherson so well described emanating from a Lockean philosophic base. Our liberalism is warmed-over market imperialism zipped up militarily to stabilize a world order in which counterrevolution becomes the modus operandi to stave off decline—the more gargantuan the military forces the more safety we feel. Every push for democratization, incremental or large, is perceived as a mortal threat. The problem is, the world can’t wait on our neuroses, actually, psychoses, after seventy years of stirred-up anticommunism which has taken its toll of shifting the political-ideological spectrum rightward. Greetings, 2016: a leadership choice so pitiful, reactionary, confrontational as to provide a macabre shadow over the land. Pity the Republicans, they do not enjoy a monopoly on war-preparation and feelings, a subservience to wealth, despisement of the environment, etc. Democrats will do in a pinch, if not already crowding them out.

More articles by:

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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