Thursday, December 9, 2021

American Fascism- Ideological Chaos

 The Republican Party adoption of the Trumpian version of fascism mirrors the mental chaos of Trump and his enablers.  This strain of fascism finds its roots in the ideological work of  Republicans like Wm. F. Buckley Jr., Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich.  As a former and recovering Catholic, I cannot help but be struck by the influence of hyper orthodox  Catholicism with these three as well as the Republican party.

The ideological strains to which I refer in Republicanism include libertarianism, authoritarianism, Catholicism and evangelism. The coalition that is Republicanism has created a dysfunctional merging of these very dissimilar value systems that explains the chaotic nature of this party and its destruction of our attempt at advancing our form of democracy for the past 250 years.

Libertarianism finds its American roots in our esteem for rugged individualism as a part of our national character.   It is highly incompatible with authoritarianism found both the Evangelical and Catholic traditions espoused by many Republicans.  What they have in common with libertarian political thought is a certainty of their rectitude and the undermining of individualism by community responsibility espoused by liberalism.

Magical thinking is a characteristic of libertarianism in common with Evangelism and  Catholicism and their embrace of fantastical ideas such as those found in theology such as miracles, divine intervention and salvation. I attribute the Republican/Trumpite  embrace of conspiracy theories and rejection of critical thinking and the scientific method to this magical thinking to these influences.

This dysfunctional coalition of conflicting ideas and values explains the chaos we experience today in American political life and the inability of people grounded in rationality and logic to find common ground with the American fascist right.  Cynicism found in liberal suspicion of hero worship and myth further accounts for the challenge of unity with Trumpite Republicans.  This explains the challenges for any kind of national reconciliation.

Traditional Republican favor states rights over federal governance has given way to a full blow fascist effort to destroy our federal system.  They fail to embrace the positive contributions federal legislation has made to enhanced citizen rights often neglected or undermined by local governance.

This sabotage of the system envisioned by the founders, combined with American propensity toward myth driven religion largely abandoned in Europe has set the stage for much of our populace embracing authoritarian rule seeking faster, easier, less citizen engagement in government democracy requires. 

The propensity toward faith rather than reason and critical thinking has led to hero worship and acceptance of wild, unverified distortion of truth and unverified, fantastical thinking. The presence now of social media relied upon by many for information has undermined validation, verification and fact based analysis by much of our population.

Some of this chaos can be diminished with regulation of communications outlets and the restoration of the equal time clause to both our conventional and social media outlets.  Enhancement of our civil laws governing harm caused by distortion of  truth and disinformation, holding communicators responsible for harmful speech and go a long way toward restraining  society harming speech and communications. 

The chaos is well understood by our foreign allies and rivals as well.  They observe a country rife with Americans killing one another, including children and a shadow post Trump administration challenging the very basic elements of democracy operative within our country, including our very electoral process.  This week, in the wake of international meetings, we are something of a laughing stock lecturing other countries on how to conduct a democracy in the wake of our own very visible chaos.

 Defenders of democracy embrace critical thinking and the scientific method, not method to madness. We will not convince these autocrats in our midst with logic and rationality embodied in critical thinking and the scientific method.  It appears our only recourse to preserve democracy is to use our legal system to shut down insurrection and punish leaders advocating it with the legal system which must be much more timely and real time, not letting the insurrectionists run out the clock or delay justice.  The passive supporters of this insurrectionist movement at the grassroots, including within our own families must be called out for the betrayal and shunned.  

Fascism wins when the people passively ignore it and fail to engage in the restoration and improvement of our governing system or challenge its betrayal.