Coturnix has an impassioned post comparing the situation of the United States now to this of Yugoslavia in 1990, just before the fighting broke out. Like other bloggers writing about contemporary fascism in the US, he misses two crucial points. First, the new torture bill doesn’t change anything from previous American government practice; the atrocities the CIA has committed worldwide, even after the Cold War ended, show beyond any doubt that the difference between Bush and his predecessors is in the level of tact rather than in the level of harm.
And second, American democracy is structured in such a way that it can’t really be usurped by just one branch of government that oversteps its boundaries. Fascism won’t come from an imperial President; it will come from a mass movement of Dominionists, possibly but not necessarily allied with the militia movement.
Many of my friends and neighbors have not experienced, like I did in Yugoslavia of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the gradual transformation from a nice, sweet, proseprous, freedom-loving country into a bunch of thugs duking it out over land and religion. Tito was dead for ten years. Prime Minister was Ante Markovic. Thousands of small businesses were starting up every week. Small people were getting rich. There was ebullience in the air.
Then, in a manner eerily reminiscent of BuchCo, thugs like Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic hijacked the government and started a civil war, ending with a break up of one big strong country into six small, economically weak and dependent units.
That description is somewhat of an embellishment. Yugoslavia was never Switzerland. In 1990, it had been free from Tito’s grip for ten years; Weimar democracy fell after fourteen. The United States has something Yugoslavia didn’t have – a democratic tradition. It’s no coincidence that in the 1930s, the countries that resisted fascism were generally those with a longstanding democratic tradition: Britain, France, the US, Canada, and Switzerland, but not Germany, Poland, Hungary, or Austria.
Besides, in Yugoslavia there was something clear to fight about: ethnicity, and territorial boundaries. Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia had populist thugs fanning the flames against people of the wrong groups. The US has no such thing, except an amorphous enemy, terrorists. While terrorists are very useful to the government in its quest to oppress its citizens, they alone aren’t enough for a Bosnian-style genocide.
Glenn is optimistic.
He may be right, if we act right now. If not, within three years, I predict that Americans will be fighting Americans on American soil. Just a hunch. An eerie feeling of deja vu from someone who has seen the same signs fifteen years ago.
I don’t see much optimism in Glenn’s post – all I see is a more wonky explanation of my point that most Democrats don’t give a damn about civil liberties, and the unusually large contingent of no votes was exclusively the result of the exemption-for-4.6%-of-the-world amendment.
But anyway, Americans won’t fight Americans on American soil as long as there’s no internal enemy to fan the flames against. Just as Michelle Goldberg made a mistake in not tying in Dominionism to neoconservatism, so is Bora making a mistake in not properly viewing Dominionism as the main threat.
The key fact is that Bush hasn’t used terrorism to strike against atheists or gays, the two minorities Dominionists focus on. Falwell may have blamed secularism for 9/11, but Bush didn’t, and so far the Dominionists’ sole political success has been Alito (even Roberts drew negative comments from James Dobson).
I may have not lived in a country that descended to chaos or fascism, but I learned quite a lot about one. Germany’s usurpation of civil liberties began years before Hitler came to power; beginning in 1930, the Chancellor and the President had to continually use the infamous emergency power clause of the Weimar Constitution. It even violated some of the Versailles Treaty’s demilitarization clauses, though Hitler radically stepped those violations up.
The point is that Hitler didn’t come to power by winning an election and then slowly violating civil liberties in a trumped-up war. That would’ve taken too long. He used an internal enemy, communism, and made sure the people had just enough bare necessities to live and look the other way while he was building a totalitarian state.