Wednesday, July 14, 2004

American Fascism's Possible Future

The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma.

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Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only insofar as his interests coincide with those of the State, which stands for the conscience and the universal, will of man as a historic entity. It is opposed to classical liberalism which arose as a reaction to absolutism and exhausted its historical function when the State became the expression of the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual. And if liberty is to he the attribute of living men and not of abstract dummies invented by individualistic liberalism, then Fascism stands for liberty, and for the only liberty worth having, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. The Fascist conception of the State is all embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism, is totalitarian, and the Fascist State - a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values - interprets, develops, and potentates the whole life of a people.
The second quote is from Benito Mussolini. He -- not Adolf Hitler -- was the author and progenitor of fascism. Hitler's Germany was merely a variation on the theme of Mussolini's Italy, adding a hazy concept of biological determinism to the country's extant anti-Semitism to create Nazism's particular loathesomeness.

It's important to understand that, when it comes to examining the moral value of a political system, the Holocaust may serve as a potential distraction. Its horror is so great that we tend to focus solely on it, allowing it to exclude consideration of the philosophies that truly enabled the crime. The root of genocide was not simply anti-Semitism. It was the widespread acceptance of the idea that state and society were the supreme entity, the only one cognizable by man, capable of telling us all what is good and what is evil, who is human and who is not, that gave the Nazis the intellectual "power" and "freedom" to do what they did. The evil of Anti-Semitism had its role to play in the crime. But even Christian anti-Semitism at its worst could not provide a society with the intellectual and moral framework required to conceive and implement the Final Solution. Fascism's idea that the state, and nothing else, defines human identity did that. It's worth bearing in mind because of the first quote's author.

The first quote, which calls for civilized secular states to do battle against the primitives who cling to religious sources of identity and direction, is from Robert Reich. Reich's brilliant career propelled him to one of the most powerful positions in American government. He now teaches at a prestigious university and writes extensively for respectable journals. That he can do so while being himself a fascist (and he is not new to the cause) is a sign of the times, of the corruption of the society in which we live. The new fascists have been busy fostering the idea that the state is the only arbiter of right and wrong, even of who is human and who is not. They rail today, as they did seventy years ago, at the Church which tells them they are wrong:
Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community - however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things - whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.
Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge, ¶ 8 (1937)
The fascists didn't like it then, and they don't like it now: "I think Archbishop Burke has gone too far; he is now delving into politics," says pro-abortion fascist William Lacy Clay, a congressman from St. Louis, "Perhaps the Catholic Church should surrender their 501-C status."

Yes, perhaps the Catholic Church ought to be destroyed as a visible, influential social institution if it's going to "delve into politics" by telling fascists like Clay and Reich that human beings do, in fact, owe their allegiance and identity to something higher than the state:
This God, this Sovereign Master, has issued commandments whose value is independent of time and space, country and race. As God's sun shines on every human face so His law knows neither privilege nor exception. Rulers and subjects, crowned and uncrowned, rich and poor are equally subject to His word. From the fullness of the Creators' right there naturally arises the fullness of His right to be obeyed by individuals and communities, whoever they are. This obedience permeates all branches of activity in which moral values claim harmony with the law of God, and pervades all integration of the ever-changing laws of man into the immutable laws of God.
Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge, ¶ 10 (1937)
When the Church tells us to obey the civil authority, men like Clay and Reich nod and smile, comfortable with the healthy role the Church is playing in politics. But when the Church preaches an uncomfortable truth, the Clays and Reich of the world thunder imprecations, and recite totalitarianism's dark and threatening litanies. The fascists, you see, know that the Church should serve God. They just disagree with her about who God is, and they get angry when their divinity isn't properly recognized.

Here's a religious dogma for Mr. Reich: There can be no more harmony between Catholicism and fascism than that which exists between Christ and Belial. The fascists will try to destroy the Church, here, in this country, just as they have done in other countries where men who think like Clay and Reich, Diocletian and Trajan, have ruled:
And yet a hackneyed reproach of old date is leveled against her, that the Church is opposed to the rightful aims of the civil government, and is wholly unable to afford help in spreading that welfare and progress which justly and naturally are sought after by every well-regulated State. From the very beginning Christians were harassed by slanderous accusations of this nature, and on that account were held up to hatred and execration, for being (so they were called) enemies of the Empire.
Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, ¶ 2 (1885)
The old Romans, like the new fascists, have some truth in their accusations. We are enemies of an Empire, the one ruled by principalities and powers, by spiritual wickedness that encourages men to regard themselves as gods, with the rights and powers of gods.

You think you can subdue Christ's Church with tax laws, Mr. Clay? How little you know Him. Be our guest, if it must come to that. Revoke our 501(c)(3) status. Make us the only body of Christians in America who are deprived of the benefit of your laws. Send us into poverty, make us social outcasts, fugitives from the state's "righteous" claim to total power. Then blame us for the chaos and suffering that will happen when our hospitals close, our schools shut down, and our charities lock their doors. Nero did it. Why shouldn't his children delight in their inheritance? His modern children will reap the same harvest as their father, increasing our numbers tenfold. When that happens, and we threaten to overwhelm America's new tinpot theocracy, other men will come along and do even harsher things, as they always have, confident that Christ can be killed by the state, eager for men to have no king but Caesar.

Let them come, if come they must. Let them revoke the laws that let us vote, own property, hold decent jobs. Let them do their worst, if that is what God wills. It will not matter. In the end their Empire will be dead and gone. Its ruins will echo with the laughter of children.

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