Special to the Mirror by Paul Plante
In a recent Cape Charles Mirror article entitled “Andy Zahn: The 5th Column,” mention was made of the term, “anarchy.”
For those not really familiar with the term, since we are not supposed to have anarchy here in the United States of America, although we certainly do, and on a seemingly increasing scale, the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary defines an “ANARCHIST” as “one who believes in and advocates anarchism,” and “ANARCHISM” as “the theory that all forms of government are incompatible with individual and social liberty and should be abolished,” while “ANARCHY” itself is defined as “lawless confusion and political disorder.”
From those definitions, anyone who is sane and rational can readily discern why it is that we are not supposed to have anarchy here in our Republic, and yet it appears, at least on the surface, from the San Francisco Chronicle article “Masked anarchists violently rout right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley” by Lizzie Johnson, Erin Allday, Michael Cabanatuan and Nanette Asimov dated 28 August 2017, that we do indeed have it here, despite any claims to the contrary that it can’t happen here, to wit:
An army of anarchists in black clothing and masks routed a small group of right-wing demonstrators who had gathered in a Berkeley park Sunday to rail against the city’s famed progressive politics, driving them out – sometimes violently — while overwhelming a huge contingent of police officers.
The swamping of right-wing political ideas by left-wing demonstrators has become a recurring theme in Berkeley and other California cities.
But are those really an “army of anarchists” as the San Francisco Chronicle claims, or are they something entirely different, such as a paramilitary wing of one of our major political parties, a party with a long and well-documented history of using violence and paramilitary forces to impose its will on others while suppressing the voices of those it does not want heard?
Afterall, who can forget that in the 1870s, Democrats gradually regained power in the Southern legislatures by using insurgent paramilitary groups, such as the White League and Red Shirts, to disrupt Republican organizing, run Republican officeholders out of town, and intimidate blacks to suppress their voting.
As to the White League, it was an American white supremacist paramilitary terrorist organization started in 1874 to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing.
Affiliated with the Democratic Party, the White League was one of the paramilitary groups described as “the military arm of the Democratic Party,” and through violence and intimidation, its members suppressed Republican voting and contributed to the Democrats’ taking control of the Louisiana Legislature in 1876.
The Red Shirts or Redshirts of the Southern United States were white supremacist terrorist groups that were active in the late 19th century after the end of the Reconstruction era of the United States, and they first appeared in Mississippi in 1875, when Democratic Party private terror units adopted red shirts to make themselves more visible and threatening to Southern Republicans, both white and freedmen.
The Red Shirts were one of several paramilitary organizations arising in the continuing efforts of white Democrats to regain political power in the South in the 1870s.
These groups acted as “the military arm of the Democratic Party” and they had one goal: the restoration of the Democrats to power by getting rid of Republicans, which usually meant repressing civil rights and voting by the freedmen, and during the 1876, 1898 and 1900 campaigns in North Carolina, the Red Shirts played prominent roles in intimidating non-Democratic voters.
So, would a political party with a well-documented history of using paramilitary forces to inflict its will on others be averse to using paramilitary forces to do the same today?
As we ponder that question, let us consider the New York Times article “‘Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right” by Thomas Fuller, Alan Feuer and Serge F. Kovaleski on August 17, 2017, wherein we were informed:
Last weekend, when a 27-year-old bike messenger showed up at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., he came ready for battle.
He joined a human chain that stretched in front of Emancipation Park and linked his arms with others, blocking waves of white supremacists — some of them in full Nazi regalia — from entering.
“As soon as they got close,” said the young man, who declined to give his real name and goes by Frank Sabaté after the famous Spanish anarchist, “they started swinging clubs, fists, shields.”
“When you look at this grave and dangerous threat — and the violence it has already caused — is it more dangerous to do nothing and tolerate it, or should we confront it?” Frank Sabaté said.
“Their existence itself is violent and dangerous, so I don’t think using force or violence to oppose them is unethical.”
When not attending what he called “big mobilizations” like the one in Charlottesville, Frank Sabaté has done ordinary community organizing, advocating prison reform and distributing anarchist literature at punk rock shows.
Now, while these people might call themselves “anarchists,” those of us with memories who remember history recognize their tactics as being very much those of the fascist Hitler Youth, an integral part of Hitler’s Sturmabteilung, the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, with its primary purposes being providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties and fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, which is exactly what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, recently, as well as in Berkeley, California.
So what is really going on here, people?
As Andy Zahn asked in his recent article, what has happened to this country?
According to the New York Times, members of this so-called “antifa” have shown no qualms about using their fists, sticks or canisters of pepper spray to meet an array of right-wing antagonists whom they call a fascist threat to American democracy.
And that reference to “a fascist threat to American Democracy” takes us back a year and five months in time to a Daily Intelligencer article from May 1, 2016, entitled “America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny,” wherein the writer of that article, Andrew Sullivan, makes this statement about these times we are now firmly into as follows:
This is the Weimar aspect of our current moment.
And while a critical element of 20th-century fascism — its organized street violence — is missing, you can begin to see it in embryonic form.
Those words were written a year and five months ago, now, and since then, we have seen the embryo hatch as we watch organized street violence erupting in this country as was detailed in the San Francisco Chronicle article “Masked anarchists violently rout right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley” by Lizzie Johnson, Erin Allday, Michael Cabanatuan and Nanette Asimov dated 28 August 2017, I cite above, our "Weimar Moment," as writer Andrew Sullivan calls it.
The meaning of the term "our Weimar Moment," sadly or otherwise, since the train has left the station since Andrew Sullivan wrote whose words, and it is going down a steep grade with no brakes with a hairpin turn coming up, escapes modern people in America today, especially those at the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, so a bit of history is necessary here.
The term "Weimar Moment," of course, refers to the largely-unknown today Weimar Republic of Germany which ended with the rug-chewing madman Adolph Hitler coming to power in Germany, as was detailed in the chapter entitled "The Great Depression and the Nazis" at p.170 of his book "World Wars And Revolutions," where the author, Walter Phelps Hall, PhD, of Princeton, copyrighted 1943, gives us this contemporary view:
The chancellor was Bruning, a Centrist.
For support at home he had to depend on a slight majority made up of many different party groups and on the backing of the President of the Republic, the octogenarian Hindenburg.
Support outside his country he had none.
A customs union with Austria which might have helped save the day had been vetoed by the French, a veto upheld on technical grounds by the World Court at the Hague.
Neither politically nor financially was the republic to be aided in her death struggle.
Meanwhile, unemployment rose by leaps and bounds, and starvation threatened.
The very liberalism of the Weimar Republic was telling now against it.
For years the Nationalists and the Nazis had been organizing and drilling informal private armies of their own, the former the Steel Helmets, the latter the Sturmabteilung (Brown Shirts).
Even the peaceful Social Democrats had done likewise with the Reichsbanner corps.
Germany was seething with violent disorder.
Armed bands were attacking Jews and Communists, the former not retaliating, the latter fighting back.
Between the accession of Bruning in March, 1930, and the burning of the Reichstag building in February, 1933, which threw Germany into Hitler's power, the utmost confusion reigned.
Plot and counterplot followed.
There were two presidential and two Reichstag elections; there were innumerable street riots and many murders; and the political balance swayed backward and forward between the defenders of Weimar and the Nationalists, the Nazis, and the Communists who hated the republic.
Which raises the question of whether the very liberalism of our Republic is telling now against it, as was the case ijn the Weimar Republic of Germany, and to answer my own question, I would say it is in our late-stage democracy where every lifestyle is allowed and deference to any sort of authority has withered, and multiculturalism and sexual freedom have created a country where family hierarchies are inverted and a father habituates himself to be like his child and fear his sons, and a son habituates himself to be like his father and to have no shame before or fear of his parents, while in classrooms, as the teacher … is frightened of the pupils and fawns on them, so the students make light of their teachers.
Late-stage democracy historically ends with a tyranny, and the question in here is will we such a thing in this country in our lifetimes?
Getting back to the “Weimar Moment,” having first been informed of all of that Weimar Republic history back when I was five years old in kindergarten at the end of WWII (yes, people, at five years old, I was aware there was a world around me, and that it did not revolve around me as its sun), and having studied the period, I find that an accurate capsule summary of the “Weimar moment” writer Andrew Sullivan is referring to above here, and I also think it helps us to understand the rise of neo-fascism in the country today of the guise of Democrat party "progressivism."
As to the term "FASCISM," which term is not really understood in this country, as the United States of America was supposed to have defeated fascism in Europe in WWII, and we were never supposed to have it here in our own now-dead Republic, the Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary defines it as "a one party system of government in which each class has its distinct place, function and representation in government, BUT the individual is subordinated to the state and control is maintained by military force, secret police, rigid censorship and governmental regimentation of industry and finance."
Focus for a moment on the words “but the individual is subordinated to the state,” because as we explore this subject further, it is to those words that we shall find ourselves returning.
As to where the term “fascism” derives from, under the heading "Fasces," WIKIPEDIA tells us thusly:
Fasces is a bound bundle of wooden rods, sometimes including an axe with its blade emerging.
The fasces had its origin in the Etruscan civilization, and was passed on to ancient Rome, where it symbolized a magistrate's power and jurisdiction.
The image has survived in the modern world as a representation of magisterial or collective power, law and governance.
The fasces frequently occurs as a charge in heraldry, it is present on an older design of the Mercury dime and behind the podium in the United States House of Representatives, it is used as the symbol of a number of Italian syndicalist groups, including the Unione Sindacale Italiana, and it was the origin of
the name of the National Fascist Party in Italy (from which the term fascism is derived).
During the first half of the 20th century both the fasces and the swastika (each symbol having its own unique ancient religious and mythological associations), became heavily identified with the authoritarian/ fascist political movements of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
So there is where the term "fascism" derives from, and for our purposes, then, we can consider it as it was in ancient Rome and in Europe in the 1930s - i.e. authoritarian government.
At pp. 152,153 of "World Wars And Revolutions" by Walter Phelps Hall, PhD, of Princeton, copyrighted 1943, he informs us as follows concerning "fascism" in Europe during their "Weimar Moment:"
Fascism is an all-embracing doctrine which demands a one hundred percent surrender of the individual will in the name of mystical nationalism - with ends not clearly defined.
This nationalism is beyond good and evil, and thus is deified.
Therefore, fascism properly should be classed as a kind of religion like communism, the latter based on class-consciousness, the former on nationalism.
As such, fascism is compounded of three elements - violence, state socialism, totalitarianism.
Direct and clear is its repudiation of the Sermon on the Mount, for the Fascist insists that he only is blessed who smites and smites again.
Emphatic is its assertion that the economic life of the people must be controlled by governmental agencies.
And furthermore, since the be-all and the end-all of life is the exaltation of the state, all members of it must act alike, think alike, obey alike.
Such, in general outline, is the Spartan-like philosophy of twentieth century fascism.
How to explain its origin?
Such an extreme reversal of the main currents of European culture, especially since the Renaissance, could only come about through revolutionary unheavals produced by disillusionment, sharp suffering, social anarchy.
This was the case in both Italy and Germany.
Both countries felt that they had been cheated by the peace treaties (end of WWI); both suffered enormously from economic maladjustment; both were at the mercy of politicians, unable to bring order out of chaos; and, what is more important, in both there were large numbers of ex-soldiers, young but toughened by war, unemployed, bitter, finding after four years in the trenches that back home there was "greed in the saddle, disorder in the street, and poverty on the hearth."
And as we ponder the question of whether Democrat Party Progressivism is really neo-fascism in a thin disguise, consider this sentence from the above, because we will be sure to be back to it shortly: And furthermore, since the be-all and the end-all of life is the exaltation of the state, all members of it must act alike, think alike, obey alike.
Where have we heard that before, and that answer was right here in the pages of the Cape Charles Mirror on August 6 2017, in the thread “Paul Plante: A Better Deal for America, and such a Deal it is! – Part 2” http://www.capecharlesmirror.com/news/paul-plante-a-better-deal-for-america-and-such-a-deal-it-is-part-2/ when failed Democrat presidential contender and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, endorsed Hillary Clinton on July 12th, saying as follows:
“I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee … there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”
And referring to that same document, the 2016 Democrat Party Manifesto, in an article in the Washington Post entitled “Bernie Sanders is right: It’s time to support Hillary Clinton now – Democrats need to unite against Donald Trump this week” by Sally Kohn, an essayist, community organizer by training and temperament, and CNN political commentator, we were further informed thusly:
The Democratic Party platform – the most progressive platform in American political history – actively reflects Sanders’s campaign and vision.
Getting back to our Weimar Moment, today, here in the United States of America, we feel that we have been cheated by trade treaties like NAFTA, and we certainly suffer enormously from economic maladjustment, and we are at the mercy of politicians who are not unable to bring order out of chaos, but more to the point, are seen as stoking the violence that leads to the chaos, and in the United States today, there are indeed large numbers of ex-soldiers, young but toughened by war, unemployed, bitter, finding after years in the trenches that back home there is "greed in the saddle, disorder in the street, and poverty on the hearth."
So, are we ripe for the rise of fascism, or authoritarian government, in the United States of America today, as was the case in Germany and Italy back before WWII?
Any quesses, people?
The candid world would like to know.