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Tilting at the Mills in the Empire: Or, Fascism Real and Imaginary

Vladimir Golstein

In the real world, fascists come to power when Western democracies imposed unbelievably harsh sanctions on Germany, and when the genuine German lefties were crushed by the unhealthy alliance of the liberals and right-wingers.

In the real world, fascists come to power after they targeted a particular group of people as the object of vicious, culturally shaped demonizing, and then destroyed any opposition by accusing it of its connection with a demonized group.

In the real world, fascists put those who challenge them into the camps, where they are brutally killed, along with all the demonized groups.

In the real world, fascists use all the means at their disposal – propaganda in particular — to manipulate, brainwash, and turn its own population into irrational haters.

In the real world, fascists and their armies are crushed by Russians, who die in their millions in order to put an end to the brutal fascist occupation of their country.

But we are not talking about the real world in the 21st century. We are now inhabiting the world of simulacra, the imaginary world of today’s West, where fascists and racists are those who don’t share liberal PC mantras.

In this imaginary world, it is the noble and wise Western democracies that crush the fascists and other authoritarians whom Western democracies depict as fascist.

In this imaginary world, fascists become those who happened to win an election despite all the manipulation of the establishment and its approved candidates.

In this imaginary world, all the power of the state apparatus, including spy agencies and domestic police, are directing their efforts to subvert the politician – designated as fascist — who won despite the democratic elections.

In the imaginary world, the fascist is the victorious politician, who is constantly harassed, mocked, bullied, and humiliated by the corporate press and the establishment, which prefers name-calling to analysis and self-scrutiny.

In the imaginary world, the fascist is the person, from whom his rival politicians or the members of the press can demand the answer to the question: “Are you a fascist and a traitor, and how can you prove that you are not?” And when the accused politician refuses to answer, his rivals continue calling for the ever increasing number of investigations in order to get to the bottom of this refusal to answer.

In this imaginary world, anyone who is one way or another connected to Russians — the people who defeated real-world fascists — is suspected in being an agent of fascism.

In this imaginary world, the mocked politician who is constantly accused of being a fascist, and those who dare to support him or question the accusations, are dismissed as ignorant bastards living in the fake world, as opposed to the press and the establishment politicians who imagine that they live in the real world.

Of course, we all know that arguing with an irrational person inhabiting an imaginary world is as futile as it is frustrating. One of the wisest humans, Miguel Cervantes, had described the endlessly failing efforts of those who tried to talk sense into a delusional Don Quixote. Cervantes just smiled at the deluded knight and at the efforts of those who tried to wake him up, and described–with his unparalleled humor–the misadventures of the hidalgo who preferred the imaginary world to the real.

Vladimir Golstein is an Associate Professor of Russian and Chair of the Department of Slavic Studies at Brown University.
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Robbobbobin
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Robbobbobin

“Socrates on Heraclitus”

What I have understood is good; and so, I think, what I have not understood is; only the book requires a Delian diver to get at the meaning of it. –Diogenes Laërtius, reporting(?) Socrates on writings by Heraclitus

Diogenes L was like a Hollywood gossip columnist, about as selective as a 10cm sieve when it came to separating facts from entertaining bullshit. If you “quote” then cite fully, unless you seek to resemble an L Harding who’s mistaken this place for hIs spiritual home in a central London sewer (still not an excuse but at least true to form).

Gezzah Potts
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Gezzah Potts

Thanks Vladimir for your article. I’ve come to realise how futile and frustrating it is attempting to point out the reality of the World to my friends and acquaintances who completely believe the nonsensical dogs poo put out by alleged journalists in alleged News organisations. It has been immensely frustrating indeed. Being well into middle age, what woke me up was the invasion of Grenada way back in 1983 just after I’d left high school, and then later became involved with Central American and East Timor solidarity groups which really opened my eyes to how the World was, and have… Read more »

sabelmouse
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sabelmouse

it’s a different fascism now.

harry stotle
Reader
harry stotle

Whilst agreeing with the thrust of Vladimir Goldstein’s article I think we have to be wary when using loaded terms like fascism, not because the powers he alludes to are not fascistic, but because such labels carry so much baggage that debate often ends up disappearing down a historical rabbit hole. These days what we are up against is corporate gangsterism, and its evil twin, neoconservatism and the long reach both exert on our political systems, security services and media. Perception management is a key ingredient when it comes to persuading the general public that certain policies, up to and… Read more »

DunGroanin
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DunGroanin

Serve the power
Or else!

Ignore reality.
Believe the fantasy.
Or else!

bevin
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bevin

The appeal of the fascists that allowed them to graduate from the political margins to power was that they offered the wealthy a bulwark protecting their property and their socio-political power from democracy. Fascists hold the view that property, in a democracy, is always at risk from the ‘envious’ poor who, using the force of numbers could impose their greed for subsistence and services on society-presenting the wealthy with the bill, in the form of progressive taxation. The EU is guided by the ideas of the Austrian school of Economists, including von Hayek, who taught that to preserve property, essential… Read more »

Francis Lee
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Francis Lee

”The EU is guided by the ideas of the Austrian school of Economists, including von Hayek, who taught that to preserve property, essential in their view to civilisation, democracies must be prevented from interference in the ‘natural’ course of economic development.” Not quite. The Austrians would have been adamantly against bailing out the banks or any other failing business since this would have resulted in what they termed a ‘moral hazard’ whereby bailing out unsuccessful businesses would only have encouraged more malinvestment and encouraged, aided and abetted by state intervention designed to protect the interests of the rich. Twentieth century… Read more »

bevin
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bevin

It seems to me that nothing that you say conflicts with what I claimed which was that the EU, following the Austrian Economists, sees itsr role as the protection of private property against the state, when the state acts democratically, which is to say in the interests of the many. Of course the EU made no objection when HMG handed billions of dollars over to financiers in 2008. Though it draws the line at nationalisation. It is fine to hand over subsidies to the rich but werong to do so to the poor. This has a very long pedigree, as… Read more »

Maggie
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Maggie

This is how the cockroaches should have been dealt with..

Off-anything
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Off-anything

Peter Dale Scott discusses the Shadow Government
https://youtu.be/kg_AnEsGDDE

The Deep State: The Unelected Shadow Government
https://youtu.be/vjdw3Is9mT4

The Path to Total Dictatorship: America’s Shadow Government & Its Silent Coup
https://youtu.be/mkC8FaQ6b8s

Norcal
Reader
Norcal

Excellent links, thank you.

BigB
Reader
BigB

It seems to me most remainers prefer the imaginary to the real: allying with proto-fascism, in the form of the EU, is vital to the national interest. That we will no longer have a national interest in the EU is lost to the imagination. 🙁

mohandeer
Reader

@BigB This request has nothing whatsoever to do with OffG’s article above but I value your opnion. I have recently read an article and was left bewildered. It could be just me and I have the wrong end of the stick, I don’t tolerate bigotry however “incidental” it is, but since I’m not that quick to comprehend sometimes, I did not want to dismiss the article for lack of understanding. If I’ve got it wrong I can reblog it, but I need you or Bevin to read it first and give a verdict. https://www.unz.com/article/the-diversity-miracle/ probably a bit of a cheek… Read more »

BigB
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BigB

Susan I am both flattered and a little miffed that you would ask my opinion. I think you undervalue your own perspicacity and intuition, particularly on the text in hand. As you asked: in no way should you reblog this article. It is intellectually eugenicist in the extreme …IMHO that is. A sure fire way of confirming is to read the comments BTL. Have a bucket handy. And you will need to go for a long walk to regain your sense of humanity. When someone says “don’t mention the Bell Curve”: they actually mean “reach for the Bell Curve”. It… Read more »

vexarb
Reader

BigB. Wot ‘e sed. As for my tuppence worth, I was discussing Marian Anderson with a USan Jewish Israeli lady, and we got talking about the good old days of the Civil Rights movement where Jewish USans and Afro USans were on the same side. She said relations between these two ethnic groups in the USA had soured. What happened? As a born cynic I suggested that the root of the trouble is, both groups are competing for First place in the Victim Stakes. But there is a more serious issue here: most people have below average IQ; and even… Read more »

vexarb
Reader

…their dutiful daughters…

Derek
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Derek

In the real world, fascists use all the means at their disposal – propaganda in particular — to manipulate, brainwash, and turn its own population into irrational haters. Don’t kid yourself mate or us (for that matter) as they all use these tactics – Russophiles like yourself included. In the real world, fascists and their armies are crushed by Russians, who die in their millions in order to put an end to the brutal fascist occupation of their country. Yes indeed like Poland in 1919 or Finland or perhaps Poland again in 1941 and then all those countries they “liberated”… Read more »

mark
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mark

Perhaps you will listen to a few facts before dismissing me as a “Russian groupie.” Russia was defeated in the war with Poland in 1920. The Poles seized huge territories in the east from Russia where virtually no Poles lived. All the inhabitants were White Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians. Poland was about 150,000 square miles in 1939. About 70,000 square miles was of this was this territory seized from Russia. The Polish government of the day could be legitimately described as fascist. It was certainly very repressive and no democracy. It had crazy dreams of recreating a Polish empire of the… Read more »

vexarb
Reader

Derek, you forgot to mention Poland invading Cheko-Slovakia in the wake of its occupation by Nazi Germany in 1938, and biting off a morsel. “Poland is haunted by annexation of Zaolzie from Czechoslovakia, annexation at the very moment Czechoslovakia got deserted by all supposed allies. I wish the Polish government at the time had come to the right decisions, and had not chosen the easy but wrong way. Churchill called the Polish action “Hyena”, and I am afraid he hit the mark in this case. https://www.quora.com/Why-did-Poland-invade-Czechoslovakia-in-1938-And-how-did-the-Allies-react The Polish Holocaust under the Nazis was as great as the Russian Holocaust under… Read more »

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

‘“Never do anyone a favour; give people a hand, and they will resent your not giving the the whole arm.” — Aristotle, Ethics’

Care to sharpen up that citation (with ‘Nicomachean’ being assumed)?

Vladimir
Reader
Vladimir

How do your square your ignorance with reading OffGuardian, which presupposes factual knowledge? Trolling and paranoia maybe?
1919: no Fascists yet. Poland invades new Soviets hoping to expand. Gets as far as Kiev. Eventually they are kicked back but still retain 200 km east of Curzon liborder set after WWI. Should I go further, mate?

olavleivar
Reader
olavleivar

May be the Article had noble Intentions
Alas .. due to completely FALSE HISTORICAL NARRATIVE
the Author SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE FOOT
and his Article becomes BLABBERDASH
where the Writer demonstrates his LACK of FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE
albeit HIDING behind some partial TRUTH which after many years of honest struggle
are completely IMPOSSIBLE for the AUthor to deny

BESIDES BEING FALSE … THE ARTICLE IS WORTHLESS !

Yarkob
Reader
Yarkob

can you point out what’s wrong or is it just a generic dislike? Not a particularly helpful comment

Narrative
Reader
Narrative

“fascists come to power after they targeted a particular group of people as the object of vicious, culturally shaped demonizing, and then destroyed any opposition by accusing it of its connection with a demonized group”

And this is precisely what took a remarkable acceleration immediately with the events of 11th September 2001. Note how eagerly some groups propelled the demonisation of every person of the Muslim faith –every person they could reach– after those events..

binra
Reader

Instead of old labels, what of the underlying acceptance and belief in ideas that result in the nature of the world we see (co-create)?
The personification of conflicted ideas is the self-entranced matrix of a reactive identity.

Narrative
Reader
Narrative

I see concrete plans have been in place for some time to divide and mislead people, using whatever mean possible that may resonate with any crowd. It’s not that people wished this onto themselves.

binra
Reader

Yes – but we are already disposed to do this to themselves even without ‘help’.
label-identity is often a way of asserting what we are not, or are ‘anti’.

binra
Reader

In this world, everything used as a weapon can and will be used against you. In the imposition of the grievance of the past upon the reality of a genuine present, is the future condemned to repeat in, in ever shifting forms. In a world of vengeance, fear demonizes and attacks under the belief in order. In the world of deceit multiplied, no one knows quite who the enemy is and therefore who they are, and is nostalgic for old clear simple demarcations – as if that was reality and a new world has gone mad. The human world is… Read more »

Carmel MacIntyre
Reader
Carmel MacIntyre

does anybody understand any of this?

vexarb
Reader

Mac, I find that a missive by Binra is like the curate’s egg: Parts of it are excellent.

“The bits that I could understand were excellent; I have no reason to believe that the rest was not equally excellent”. — Socrates on Heraclitus.

rogerglewis
Reader

This is a very provocative and yet so on target post.

This regarding EU Fascism comes to mind which appeared in these pages last year I think.

http://www.defenddemocracy.press/president-belgian-magistrates-neoliberalism-form-fascism/

Neo Liberalism is Corporate Fascism.

rogerglewis
Reader