Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Some notes on fascism, note 2
I have two words for you

After all our discussion of fascism, I'm not sure the word has any practical use in the situation we face. I'm speaking just of the word. I say this for two reasons.

First, the other side won't play along with us. Even if my worst paranoid fantasies come true and we have a police state by summer, they will not put on the black and brown shirts. They will not use the swastika. They will not put the politicians in uniforms. When they take umbrage at the word they will be genuine and sincere, because they will not see themselves as fascists.

Second, for the last forty years lefties of all stripes have so generously spread the word around that it has become a parody. Now that rightists are using it for any lefties to whom they object, it really is a joke. However accurate and perceptive its application may be, it has no impact on most audiences.

Imperialism has the same problem. We ruined it through overuse. By calling even silly exercises of authority like restaurant dress codes "fascist" or "imperialist" we have denied ourselves the use of the terms when faced with real fascists and imperialists. In the coming days, as we try to oppose these trends in our society, we will need to make up a new vocabulary.

I'm open for suggestions.

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