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He who fights with monsters must take care that he does not become a monster.
- Nietzsche



Where the Term Can Obscure


Carrol Cox


I've always had some reservations about the use of the terms "fascism" or "nazism" to describe repressive trends in bourgeois democracy. Increasingly I feel that perhaps "Fascism" (and "Nazism") should be historical categories tied to a specific historical era.

I feel that a focus on the category of fascism can have at least two ill effects:

1. Obscure the repressive practice of most (all) bourgeois democracies. Jim Crow lynchings were a symptom of bourgeois democracy, not of fascism. The slaughter of strikers ar Republic Steel in the early '30s was a feature of bourgeois democracy, not fascism. The internment of Japanese during WW2 was a feature of bourgeois democracy, not of fascism. The common practice of torture in U.S. police stations - once known by the euphemism of "third degree - has been a practice of bourgeois democracy, not fascism. The Smith Act was passed by the legislature of a bourgeois democracy, not decreed by a fascist state.

2. The world changes. A focus on preventing fascism could obscure the rise of other authoritarian threats. Under National Socialism this maillist would not be allowed. Can we be sure that there will not develop a form of authoritarianism which (a) will continue to allow such maillists and (b) be as destructive as was National Socialism? We would look silly fussing about the danger of a return to Divine Right Monarchy. Fascism as we know it might be as different from the next form of despotic state as it was from Louis XIV.



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