American Fascism is Becoming American Nazism, Part II
This is Why CPAC Was So Frightening
Writted by umair haque Feb 28 2021 https://eand.co/american-fascism-is-becoming-american-nazism-part-ii-bd6d153e707
If I’d told you a decade ago that at the Conservative Party Conference of 2021, speakers would be belching lies and raging hate from a stage shaped like a Nazi SS symbol, after which attendees went to worship a giant golden statue of Donald Trump…
Would you have believed me?
Like any sane person, you’ve probably been equal parts horrified, amused, and disgusted by CPAC. But what is it that’s so frightening about it? I’m going to share some ugly truths with you. The kind that you know, but you might not be able to quite articulate yet. The first one goes like this.
Like I said in Part I, Nazism is fascism grown up. And that’s what’s happening in America today. What’s so frightening about CPAC is that we are literally watching American fascism become American Nazism right before our eyes. This is the moment that American fascism transformed into American Nazism — and we all watched it happen.
It’s worth taking a moment to think about what that means — why it probably hits home. What’s missing at CPAC? Well, any semblance of democratic politics. Nobody’s on stage, really, at CPAC issuing a vision or agenda for any of America’s real problems.What to do about growing poverty, or aging infrastructure, the lack of healthcare, unaffordable education, nonexistent retirement, guns, greed, selfishness, the breakdown of social bonds, the fact that life has become a battle for self-preservation and survival, where you have to get up every day, and go to work, just to have basic resources like enough food, water, and money to live on, and if you don’t, or can’t, well, then, mostly, you’re left for dead.
There is no substantive political discussion happening at CPAC at all. It’s not remotely like a normal party conference. Think of one. What happens? Agendas and visions — often competing ones — are highlighted, debated, discussed, raised. This wing of the party thinks that the minimum wage should be this much, that group thinks this is what healthcare should look like, that faction thinks that we should overhaul the retirement system in this way, and so forth. Normal political party conferences are about politics.
Let’s think about who got to take the stage. It wasn’t anybody who was remotely critical of the path Republicans are on. It was only people who expressed unwavering, uncritical, absolute devotion who were allowed to speak in the first place. And so a bizarre coterie of sycophants, extremists, fanatics, and lunatics took to the stage, one after the other. It was the Greatest Hits of Fascism. There was Ted Cruz, the Enabler-in-Chief. Josh Hawley, of “white power salute” fame. There was Kim Guilfoyle and Don Junior, aspiring members of the Trump dynasty. Lauren Boebert, who wants to carry her gun into the Capitol. Rick Scott, Matt Gaetz, Tom Cotton, the list of hard-right Trump supports at CPAC goes on and on.
CPAC is not about politics — at least democratic politics, the raw stuff of it, ideas and visions to fix and shape a badly broken society. Republicans have given up even the pretence of appearing to be interested in actual problems and solutions. It is not about consensus.
So what is it about? It’s about Big Lies. Every speaker, more or less, has to endorse the three formative Big Lies of Trumpism: the election was stolen from us, we need to take this country back, and a hard coup was perfectly justified. It’s about outlandish conspiracy theories to justify those big lies, like QAnon’s “the liberals are pedophiles who drink childrens’ blood.” And it’s about, at the end of the day, the Biggest Lie of all, that underpins all this: America is to be Made Great Again by ethnically cleansing it of the hated subhumans, who are responsible for all the woes of the “real” Americans, by which is obviously meant whites. And it’s about a cult, a belief system, that one belongs to, or not, in a binary way, which is what the golden Trump statue and SS rune shaped stage are really about.
Think about what happened at Democratic conferences, by contrast. Bernie and Liz and Joe and Kamala all got up to put forth their visions of the future for America. Part and parcel of those visions were their plans for fixing America’s problems. Now, they didn’t agree. These were competing visions. The point was just that — to let the best set of ideas win.
That didn’t happen on the Democratic side. The best ideas didn’t win. Bernie and Liz didn’t walk away with the nomination. In that regard, the Dems failed, too. But at least the party conference was more or less what is supposed to happen in a functioning democracy. A set of different agendas and visions for a society’s future were advanced, then debated and discussed, to some degree reasonably, and while the best one didn’t win, at least the most popular one did.
None of that, and I mean none of it, is happening at CPAC. So what is? What’s happening is that fascism is becoming Nazism.
To understand that, think about it this way. Rather than addressing real problems, there seems to be just one overarching theme, idea, agenda, goal at CPAC. To purify America ethnically, racially, socially. That it should belong to “real” Americans again, and those who aren’t are either a) subhumans or b) enemies of the people who are on the side of the subhumans.
What does all that justify? The next thing CPAC’s about, which is violence. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has taken to the stage and apologised for what is increasingly seen as a hard coup that left five people and counting dead. Nobody’s gotten on that Nazi shaped podium and said: “Guys, we went too far — and we need to be decent people again.” Nobody’s said: “You know, a violent and bloody coup is not something this party should support.”
In other words, there is total conformity and uniformity of thought, expression, and belief. No dissent is allowed or permitted, from the fundamental ideas of proudly backing violence, not apologizing, not backing down, lionising Donald Trump as the saviour of the “real” America, painting everyone and anyone else as inferior, from lies, hate, bigotry, and sheer craziness. To have a place on that stage, you have to get behind all that. You cannot express one scintilla of disagreement with the larger set of ideas that America belongs to the pure, the election was stolen, and we have to take all this back, even if by force, right down to death squads roaming the halls of Congress.
What does that mean? CPAC is a totalitarian institution — one which wears its fascist colours proudly. And when you put those two things together — fascist belief systems, married with totalitarian politics, you get Nazism.
There seems to be no political agenda left at CPAC, at least in a normal democratic sense. Nobody is up there saying “Hey, we need to give people healthcare, and here’s how I think we should do it.” Instead, we’ve witnessed a bizarre, grotesque smorgasbord of crackpot thinking, fantastical lies, cultish hero worship, outright delusion, and rabid hate. There is nothing — and I mean nothing — resembling a normal political party left here anymore.
That is why CPAC is so frightening. Before, you and I might have disagreed with the Republicans. “All that wealth sure doesn’t seem to be trickling down,” we might have remarked wryly, or “Do these jokers even get that ‘health insurance’ costs your life savings?” or, “they’re totally wrong, the evidence is that a higher minimum wage sparks growth, not dulls it,” and so on. There was some semblance — even if it was superficial — of the stuff democratic politics is made of: discussion, debate, ideas, reason, evidence, logic, and so forth.
But what on earth are you supposed to say to: “Donald Trump alone is our saviour!” or “The election was stolen from us and we need to steal it back,” or “This should be Donald Trump’s second term!” or “Get off the mat and fight!” or screeching cries of “Freedom!” In the context of a bloody, violent coup?
You can’t say much to that because you are not talking to sane human beings anymore, people who are listening, using their minds, thinking. You are just wasting your breath on hateful people who, at this point, seem to endorse murder. Maybe you. Maybe your representatives. Maybe half of Congress. Maybe all of it. Who knows? What’s for sure is that the point here isn’t to create an atmosphere of reason, consideration, reflection, and consensus. It is to whip people into a frenzy of hate, by stoking their most paranoid persecution fantasies, of “white genocide” and “a stolen election” — and goad them into total conformity and uniformity about the one aspiration and goal left — to take back “their” country by force if necessary, for the purpose of cleansing it into racial and ethnic and ideological purity.
That is Nazism.
CPAC is so frightening because it is the moment American fascism is metastasising into American Nazism proper. Growing up, from an angry teenager to something more like an adult, capable of acting in a much more systematic, organized, deliberate manner.
Let me add one final note of warning. I have seen a lot of societies collapse. I don’t even keep count anymore. I don’t say that to brag, it’s a very painful way to have grown up. I say it to warn you.
American conservatives are now just as extreme — if not more extreme — than the factions and groups I have seen causing society after society to collapse. These folks are not kidding around, and while it might be funny, it’s no joke. When aspirations of ethnic cleansing and hate and violence and brutality and coups are this out in the open, when they are this extreme, when a whole political side sees them as perfectly normal and legitimate ends to pursue — that is about as extreme as you can get.
America’s grass roots right wing appears to have become its Taliban or ISIS. I am 100% not kidding about that. At this point they seem to share the same sense of zeal, the same notion of supremacy, the same endorsement of violence, the same persecution complex which justifies the same brutality. They are led by the same kinds of demagogues pursuing the same kind of anointed salvation on the same kind of crusade of purification and hate. There is very, very little difference between them now. America and Afghanistan are the two places I’ve been where people carrying assault rifles think of themselves as the chosen ones and the rest as subhumans and are committed to the project of destroying a democracy with violence — and that’s being unkind to Afghanistan, because there are, at this point, fewer such people there.
But that’s only half the story. The other half is that a grass-roots Taliban or ISIS now has it’s very own emerging Nazi Party, which is what the GOP’s become. In a sense, it had to, because the base is so extreme. More of them support Trump intensely now than they did right after the coup. So he’s captured the party — it’s his instrument now — and the rest is probably going to be history. Because you know and I know what kind of society it feels like these folks want. Not a democracy. Not a free one. Something much, much more like a theocratic autocracy, a totalitarian ethno-state, a fascist apartheid nation — a modern day Nazi America.
Don’t kid yourself. The Republicans are becoming America’s Nazis. It’s happening right before your eyes. Don’t mess around with it, don’t deny it, don’t let it go. This is your last chance, and if you blow it, before you know it, you are going to be living in a Nazi America. They aren’t interested in winning the next election, after all. They are only interested in “taking it back,” by any means necessary. And what they want to do after that? It’s too unspeakable to discuss, for now.
Heed the warning.
American fascism is becoming American Nazism. Right out in the open. It has lost the last tiny remaining shreds of decency or worry or fear that this might be the wrong path, that the way of violence and hate and ruin is not the right one, that it leads to self destruction for all. Fascism, organized at this level, right out in the open, without a care in the world, as the central and only remaining agenda of a major political party — that is frightening because that is Nazism.
That’s why CPAC is so frightening. Once you admit the ugly reality, you begin to gain the power to change it.