Apparently the cover of the latest TAC has annoyed some Giuliani supporters. That is distressing. How will we get on without the approval of David Frum and Martin Kramer? We’ll probably manage somehow.
There has been an excessive deployment of the term fascist in our political discourse over the last ten years or so, almost all of it coming from neoconservatives and their allies, especially in the context of foreign policy arguments. I argued late last year against the nonsensical nature of the term Islamofascism, which neoconservative writers use on a regular basis, which belongs to the subtitle of Podhoretz’s latest volume and which forms a central part of neoconservative “analysis” of the threat to this country. Podhoretz, as you will recall, is an advisor to the Giuliani campaign, so there is something more than a little rich about other Giuliani advisors complaining about the reckless and inappropriate use of references to fascism. Their entire foreign policy view is little more than an elaborate version of shouting, “The new Hitler is coming!” Yet they have the temerity to complain when we portray an aggressive, authoritarian, jingoistic nationalist as somehow akin to aggressive jingoistic nationalists? Remarkable.
In America and Europe in the last fifty years or so, the term fascist has normally been used against traditional conservatives and rightists who value national sovereignty and who want to avoid foreign wars whenever possible. Apparently unaware of the irony, Republican admirers of FDR, architect of American state capitalism, have been glad to fling the f-word at the heirs to his Old Right enemies, because we respect the non-interventionist principles of America Firsters. The depiction of Giuliani in brownshirt seems more apt than not in that he has publicly stated his willingness to leave open the first-strike use of tactical nukes against another country, he has made a joke out of torturing detainees and he is on record (along with most conservative pundits) endorsing the aggressive invasion of another country. Giuliani is nothing if he is not a nationalist who believes in exerting strength through war and using the power of the state. According to a proper, specific definition of fascism, Giuliani is not a fascist, because fascism died in 1945 and as a phenomenon it has ceased to exist, but then Giuliani and his supporters long ago abandoned any such proper definitions of the term.
Meanwhile, on a related note, Michael has been a blogging up a storm during my absence from the old tubes.