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.
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.