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This Machine Kills Fascists

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I found this great picture on the web the other day. It’s now the background on my laptop instead of that insipid blue that comes with Windows. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Woody Guthrie (he’s the guy that wrote “This Land Is Your Land”) but it’s a famous picture of him. 300px-This_Machine_Kills_Fascists

It appears as though he had just finished giving a concert somewhere or other; there’s a person standing behind him looking like they are getting ready to help him on with a coat, and he has his guitar slung in front of him like a weapon. Scrawled in a messy hand around the face of the guitar’s body are the words “This Machine Kills Fascists”.

I thought to myself, how appropriate. This machine I’m typing on does the same thing. Yep, my little laptop is the equivalent of Woody’s guitar. Now that may sound a little over the top, comparing myself to Woody Guthrie, and I’m probably nowhere near to being in his league, but it sure is a standard to shoot for.

Since I hear the sound of blood starting to boil, I should backtrack a little and deal with the ‘f’ word. When in doubt, check Wikipedia. There they tell us that fascism is a system that:

…exalts the nation and party above the individual, with the state apparatus being supreme. Stresses loyalty to a single leader, and submission to a single culture; engages in economic totalitarinism through the creation of a Corporatist State, where the divergent economic and social interests of different races and classes are combined with the interests of the State.

Benito Mussolini, the leader of the Italian Fascist Party was much more succinct in his definanition: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” As you can see by these definitions, there is no particular political leaning assigned to this term. It can either be used to describe a left leaning or right leaning dictatorship.

It has to be one of the most misused terms tossed about in politics. I’m ashamed to say that far too many people on the left really don’t understand what they are saying when they call someone a fascist. You can call George Bush a mysogynist, a homophobe, a xeonophobe, or a warmonger to your heart’s content, but for all that, he is not a fascist.

In fact, no Republican could ever be fascist, with their anathema for state intervention in the economy. In fact, some people will say that it sounds suspiciously leftist in its “for the state, by the state” doctrine. But those are the same people who confuse Soviet-style communism with socialism. Government regulation of business and aspects of the economy are not the same thing as state control over every aspect of your life.

Technically speaking, the closest we would come to fascism in our society would be the Christian right. They would demand that all aspects of everybody’s lives be lived according to what they refer to as the word of God. One charismatic leader, everything within Christianity, nothing outside of Christianity, and nothing against Christianity. Another example would be extreme Islam as practised by the Iranian theocracy.

The reason fascism is so dangerous is because it allows no room for dissent or disscussion. Everyone must think the same, act the same, and be the same. It is the worst sort of oppression imaginable: the opression of the human spirit and creative thought.

Have you ever noticed that the more oppressive the regime, the less true artistic expression occurs? Inevitably, those considered most dangerous by the state are artists and other abstract thinkers like scientists and philosophers. These are the people whose minds work not in ordered patterns, but jump all over the place and continually want to explore new territory.

Nothing could be more dangerous to a government that believes in total conformity than somone who thinks outside the box. Even in our relativly liberal societies, an artist is looked upon as different. Imagine how they would be considered where any original thought is considered a sin.

Sure, there is the shock value implied by saying “This Machine Kills Fascists”, but in truth it means that this machine enables me to speak my mind loud and clear, much in the way Woody Guthrie’s guitar allowed him to speak his mind through song. That, if nothing else, is death to fascism.


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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • Gypsyman, ya doggone pinko, you make it hard to spite you when you get all reasonable and careful like this.

  • Yeah, what’s the deal Gypsyman – most of what you post is so loony, yet this is right on target. You seem more sensible in general discussion than when you get distracted by current events. Intriguing.

    >>Have you ever noticed that the more oppressive the regime, the less true artistic expression occurs?<< I guess you haven't seen my fine collection of Socialist Realist posters from the 1960s and 70s. Dave

  • Wow, gypsyman, this piece is awesome. The picture is now on my desktop but with a caption:

    This machine kills Christian oppression

  • Shark

    Gypsy, nice writing.

    question / note: I’m pretty sure that slogan was Photoshopped onto Woody’s guitar. (There’s a t-shirt available that has a rock guitar and that slogan on it; sounds pretty darn contemporary to me.)

    Anyone have the time and patience to verify?


    PS: Dave, do you have your poster images scanned and available on a site? I love that stuff!

  • Shark, verification here, I think.

  • Shark


    Thanks Lisa, your the best!

  • It’s what I do 😉

  • Its cause i like to mess with your heads guys…he he he

  • Nancy

    Gypsyman – very excellent post. All: please explain: how is it that the current US administration is not fascist? From what I read/hear, this administration, which is pretty much run by the neocon faction, does indeed place maximum emphasis on the primacy of the state, altho I guess it could more properly be classified as an oligarchic plutocracy or some such. Comments? Thanks so much. I like to get my definitions in order where nuances are concerned.

  • The Shrubites display some fascist tendencies (and so do some leftist organizations), but as dangerous and vile as they are, it is indeed incorrect to label them “fascist.” But man, it sounds good. “Fascist” is a fun word to say, sort of like “annihilation.”

  • Nancy, ask your question again in 2008 — but only if Presidential elections do not take place then.

  • Shark


    Facists wear boots, but not cowboy boots.

    Facists often carry chain saws, but they cut off heads instead of clearing brush.

    Facists don’t jog or ride bikes.

    Hope that helps!


  • Nancy

    …? Um, DrPat, you’ll have to explain that comment; it went over my lil punkin’ haid. Thanks.

  • see, America is diverse, it means different things to different people.

    I love America and all that it can be, and all the opportunity that it’s supposed to afford me, but I live in a fascist state, I live under an aristocracy (elite ruling class) and I also currently live under theocratic rule, but I have many more freedoms than I would elsewhere in the world.

    Go figure.

  • By rights, it would be closer to say that we have a “socialist” state, but the practical differences between socialists and communists are pretty much NIL.

    Either way, it’s silly to say that the Bush administration has turned us into a “fascist” state. If we are, then we were before he got here. The basic picture of the government hasn’t changed one iota since Dubya came to town.

    It’s a new administration, not a new regime. The nature and powers and function haven’t significantly changed. Bush is more willing to militarily defend the country than Clinton was, but then Clinton didn’t have to deal with 9/11.

    Other than that, Bush and the Republican Congress are marginally somewhat more socialists than the Democrats, in the practice.

  • >>PS: Dave, do you have your poster images scanned and available on a site? I love that stuff!<< They're huge and printed on really crappy paper, so I've been keeping them rolled until I can mount more of them - then I'd have to do digital photos. Not a bad idea though. The anti-drunkenness posters are the funniest. Dave

  • >>I love America and all that it can be, and all the opportunity that it’s supposed to afford me, but I live in a fascist state, I live under an aristocracy (elite ruling class) and I also currently live under theocratic rule, but I have many more freedoms than I would elsewhere in the world.<< Been sipping a bit too deep from the well of hyperbole there, Steve? Change that to mindless bureaucratic state, meritocracy and quasi-moralistic rule and I might go along with you. Dave

  • not by my definition, Dave. There is clearly classism in America. I don’t believe anybody can claim otherwise.

    Fascism is playing a little loose with the term, granted, but I could probably find an analogy that fits if I cared to.

    Theocratic. That one I clearly believe I live under.

  • Yeah, gypsyman, you’re captain sensible.

  • I’ve just painted “this machine kills globalists” on my Browning 30-06. Am I missing the point?


  • Dave, I had to read the damn thing again to remember what the point was in the first place: I don’t know, do globalists prevent you from a free and creative expression of your ideas, and is your Browning 30-06 your means of expressing said ideas…if so than that is directly the point. But it was not meant as literaly killing facists, anyway my little laptop, wouldn’t even put in a dent in most hard headed politcal idiots, so I can only do stuff in the abstract…I guess if you’re creative in your means of ballistic expression you’d be on target so to speak.


  • Dave Nalle

    Well put, Richard. And yes, I think that my machine might be the more effective response to globalist fascism, though music is nice too in its way.


  • Paul Butterfield

    An example of living fascisim:-
    You cannot run a country were politics and religion are so inter-twinned for the benefit of the state. Other sections of the populous suffer. ie the Arabs and Christians.

    logo of its “star of david” and it’s deep meaning.

    The state is above all. Indiviuals mean nothing.

    Except if your a soldier. I don’t understand this Israeli logic. Let’s kill more innocent people just to get back our soldiers, who are pawns anyway, and are fighting for the bigger cause. America and Britian are losing soldiers in wars around the world, without bombing cities in an attempt to get them back.

  • i hate to break it to you Paul but Irael is no more a religious state than Canada is. As Canada happens to be a predominantely Christian country Israel is predominatel Jewish. They have Saturday closing laws instead of Sunday closing laws, and their dietary laws, (which are not enforced by the state anyway) are identical to those of their Muslim neighbours.

    Unlike any of their Arab neighbours they have a government that is voted for by all citizens – including Arabs – there is even an Arab party. There are some parties that are religious, but they only have small percentages of the vote and only have influence when the Likud is in power.

    Any of the decisions being made now by that country, are being made by a secular government elected by it’s people. (that doesn’t make the decisions right or wrong, anymore then any other country’s decisions are right or wrong)

    In fact if you want to get into that arguement, the United States is far more controlled by Christiona religion, including aspects of its foreign policy – no aid to the developed world if there is any mention of family planning – that impacts the same if not more on their minority faith people.

    What would you call a country with laws that enforce worship of the Christian God in school through school prayer, whose leadership talks about family values based on a Christian ideal, and every major Christian holiday is rubbed into everyone’s face.

    Just because a country’s population has a different majority faith does not make them facist. If they were a theocracy like Iran, or the Vatican, or any country which has no seperation of church and state, you could call them facist.

    Otherwise you just sound bigoted, which I doubt that you are. Disagree with Israel’s policies all that you want but please make sure it is for the right reasons.


    Richard Marcus

  • Timmothy Pealer

    “In fact, no Republican could ever be fascist, with their anathema for state intervention in the economy.” This is only correct in rhetoric. Republican governments have consistently practiced quite radical state intervention. Well known examples, include technology funding through the pentagon system, farm subsidies, recent federal reserve actions to attempt to stabilize the housing market. Generally there is an extremely high amount of state intervention under republican (and dem.) administrations, although it’s true that American political figures *say* they don’t like state intervention.

  • Indeed, much too much state intervention by everyone, but none of what you describe above could be remotely characterized as fascist.


  • John T

    He never said that it could be.

  • Sharon

    I love your writing. It’s lovely, I just wanted you to elaborate as to how is your laptop considered as “this machine”. Is it because you can speak your free thoughts or etc? I would love to know! i’m getting a laptop sticker of this quote and I did believe a connection that my laptop would be considered but wasn’t exactly sure how? Thanks!