Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Best of the Blogosphere, Part 4: David Neiwert on Pseudo-Fascism

(Fourth in an occasional and entirely whimsical series. . Other entries here.)

And now for something completely serious.

David Neiwert is a journalist who has covered, among other topics, the far-right militia movement in the 1990's (the people who brought you the second worst terrorist attack in American history). For the last several years, he's been running a blog named Orcinus. One of his key topics has been the increasing rise of something he calls pseudo-fascism: something that is -- to be clear -- not yet fascism, but something that is also clearly on its way. He's written many posts about this, including ones which document the rise of what he terms "eliminationist" rhetoric -- and its increasing use on the mainstream right in this country.

Neiwert's work is important because of its care and rigor as well as its forcefulness. Neiwert isn't just some grumpy lefty throwing around the term "fascism" -- indeed, he opposes such careless usage because it makes authentic fascism harder to see and warn about (for all the obvious boy-who-cried-wolf reasons). So he goes out of his way to note with care precise definitions of fascism from people like Robert Paxton, and to evaluate the ways in which the right wing in this country has and has not adopted fascist forms of rhetoric, thinking and action.

Neiwert's work is a call to action. Fascism, he notes, is almost impossible to stop once it gains control of a country; so it is important to recognize fascist thinking as it develops. And on those grounds, we have a lot to worry about in this country.

If you're worried about what the right has become in this country -- if you, too, wonder what happened to those boring-but-unthreatening Republicans you used to know -- you owe it to yourself, and your country,* to read this series.

Neiwert has written a lot of important posts on this topic, but none has been more important than two of his multi-part series, "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" and "The Rise of Pseudo Fascism" . My only hesitation in linking to it, honestly, is that they are well celebrated in the blogosphere, winning the left-blogosphere's highest award, the Koufax Award**, in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Heck, even I've linked to them before, in my own post on pseudo-fascism. But I think that a few people read my blog who don't read other blogs regularly -- and, hell, it's my award. So I hereby declare that the fourth official Attempts Best of the Blogosphere™ award goes, in a tie, to David Neiwert's two most important series.

Indeed, so well-recognized are these series that you can actually read them in multiple formats and places. First, they are available as their original, plain-old blog posts. The first post of each is here: Rush, Newspeak and Fascism and The Rise of Pseudo Fascism; the last post of each (which contain handy links to the entire set) are here: Rush, and Pseudo Fascism.
Second, each post has been reformatted as a pdfs, although for those downloading the pdfs, Neiwert requests a five dollar donation (information at his blog.) You can get the pdf versions here: Rush, Newspeak and Fascism and The Rise of Pseudo Fascism. Finally, for the first of these only (and the more complicated one, since it is in fifteen (!) parts instead of only (!!) seven), you can read it at Cursor, reformatted and with added art: Rush, Newspeak and Fascism -- that's probably the easiest way to read that first series.

These are not only two of the best pieces the blogosphere has produced to date; they are two of the most important political essays for understanding the last decade.

If you haven't read them, go read! And even if you have, read them again: they're worth rereading. And then, in whatever way seems best to you, join the struggle against the forces that, in Neiwert's words, "could very well devastate the world."
* This is true even for any non-American readers, since your country -- whichever country it is -- would be terribly threatened if the pseudo-fascist right continues to metastasize in this country.

** Why "Koufax"? Because Sandy Koufax was one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time.

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