William Rivers Pitt: “The New Fascism”

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William Rivers Pitt contends in his latest essay, “The New Fascism,” that fascism “is here with us in America today, and it is growing.” He purports to quote Umberto Eco at length from his 1995 essay "Ur-Fascism,”

"Parliamentary democracy is by definition rotten, because it does not represent the voice of the people, which is that of the sublime leader. Doctrine outstrips reason, and science is always suspect. The national identity is provided by the nation's enemies. Argument is tantamount to treason. Perpetually at war, the state must govern with the instruments of fear. Citizens do not act; they play the supporting role of 'the people' in the grand opera that is the state."

Unfortunately, these words are from Lewis Lapham’s paraphrase of Eco from an essay in the October 2005 issue of Harper’s. In using Lapham’s words rather than Eco’s—and thereby reducing a fourteen-item list to six—Pitt oversimplifies somewhat, but his conclusion is still a strong one:

We must disenthrall ourselves from the idea that our institutions, our traditions, the barriers that protect us from absolute and authoritarian powers, cannot be broken down. They are being dismantled a brick at a time. The separation of powers has already been annihilated. It is a whispered fascism, not yet marching down your street or pounding upon your door in the dead of night. But it is here, and it is laying deep roots. We must listen beyond the whispered fascism of today to the shouted fascism of tomorrow. We must look beyond the lies and the myths, beyond the dogmas by which we sleep.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on January 17, 2006 11:23 PM.

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