1. Beware of Another
2. Who Says It Can’t Happen Here?
3. Mainstream Media’s ‘Victimhood’
4. Is ‘Christianized Fascism’
the Biggest Threat We Face Under
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, March 1, 2017.
Summary: This is an
ordinary crisis log (after some days on the
news about ME/CFS). There
are 4 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the dangers of another Reichstag fire, which I think are quite realistic; item 2 is about people who deny that fascism or neofascism can arrive in the USA: They are mistaken; item 3 is a fine article about the mainstream media; and item 4 is about a video by Abby Martin who interviews Chris Hedges. I liked it but have some comments.
As to the updating
The Danish site is OK again; the Dutch site got finally unstuck of
22 to February 27, but got stuck once again there.
Where it stuck for others I have no idea: It may be December
2015. (They do want immediate
payment if you are a
week behind. They have been destroying my site now for over
a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not
know whether they are doing it or someone secret service is.)
of Another Reichstag Fire
The first item today is by Helene Sinnreich on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
As various commentators compare
President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, a flurry of responses has
claimed that this is an inappropriate comparison because the Nazi
regime murdered millions of men, women and children. It is important to
remember, however, that when Hitler came to power in 1933, he did not
begin with murder. His regime first sought to “encourage emigration” as
a means of ridding Germany of the Jews and turned to genocide only when
these efforts “failed.”
Yes indeed. Also, I realize this is the third
item by specialists on fascism or totalitarianism
who stress the many parallels and analogies between Trump and
Bannon and fascism, and I think they are mostly right.
Then again I regard myself as somewhat of a specialist on fascism and neofascism
as well, in part because both my parents and one grandparent were in
the real communist resistance against Nazism; in part because my father
and grandfather were arrested in June of 1941 and comdemned to
concentration camp imprisonment, which murdered my grandfather; in part
because my father was knighted for designing and mostly building
the National Exhibition on Resistance against Fascism; in part because
I did read a whole lot of politics;
and in part because I am a real philosopher and a real
intellectual who was denied the right to take the M.A.
examination in philosophy because I was not a Marxist and had
criticized the extra-ordinarily rotten "education" I got in the
University of Amsterdam (and after that I got - while I was still ill, as I am now - an excellent
M.A. in psychology).
Again, I am not a scholar of fascism nor of the Holocaust, but
do know more about it and about concentration camps than the vast
Here is a scholar of the Holocaust :
As a scholar of the Holocaust, I
frequently teach about the Nazi rise to power and the attributes of
authoritarian regimes. Such attributes include: a rise to power which
is nationalist in nature, with calls to restore the nation to greatness
or making reference to a mythic great past; racist or anti-foreign
rhetoric; violence or the threat of violence; attacks on the free press
and the promulgation of propaganda; marches or rallies to reinforce
group cohesion; quashing of political opponents and democratic
institutions after rising to power; and stripping away civil liberties.
There is often an assumption made by existing elites that the radical
leader will normalize once in power, but this normalization does not
And this sketches the beginnings of Mussolini
and Hitler, and the beginnings of Trump. Incidentally, all three also
were "democratically elected" . Indeed, Helene
Sinnreich draws the
What is disturbing to scholars of
the Holocaust and genocide is that this also describes President
Trump’s actual activities.
And there is this:
At the same time, Trump’s attacks
on the free press have been extreme, including describing the news
media as the “enemy of the people,” and excluding several major media
outlets from White House briefings.
There is more in the article, that ends as follows:
For most scholars, it is not
difficult to see how, in the current climate, with a president whose
activities closely parallel those of historic authoritarian leaders, a
single crisis might be used to solidify authoritarian power. Trump has
repeatedly warned against a terrorist attack that might be perpetrated
by an undocumented immigrant. For Hitler, it was the Reichstag fire
on Feb. 27, 1933, that led to his political opponents being
incarcerated in Dachau.
Yes, but not only in Dachau: There
were 24 major concentration
camps and many more smaller ones, though it is true Dachau
was the first to be opened.
In any case, I think the warning of Helene Sinnreich and
others (see here) should be
taken very seriously, if only because the parallels and analogies
between Trump and Hitler and Mussolini are fargoing.
2. Who Says It Can’t
The second item is by Harvey Kaye on Common Dreams and originally on
This starts as follows:
Donald Trump’s candidacy and now,
presidency, have resurrected a public discourse not heard in this
country since the Great Depression — an anxious discourse about the
possible triumph in America of a fascist-tinged
authoritarian regime over liberal democracy. It’s a
fear Sinclair Lewis turned into a 1935 bestselling novel, It Can’t Happen Here — although, as
Lewis told it, it sure as hell could happen here.
Yes indeed. Also, this is a decent article
by an American historian and sociologist,
but I will skip most of the history he gives because I have treated it
- in far more
detail - in the over 1500 Nederlogs I wrote only about the crisis .
I do pick out this part:
Not for nothing did Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tell NBC News’ Chuck Todd that
we must be wary of our new president: “When you look at history, the
first thing that dictators do is shut down the press… And I’m not
saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just
saying we need to learn from history.”
Yes, we do. And in that light, we should
recognize that as much as Trump’s anti-democratic rhetoric and
executive orders are driven by his own demagogic nature, they are
propelled by four decades of corporate class war, conservative culture
war and neoliberal political economy and public policies intended to
roll back the democratic rights and achievements of the 1960s and 1930s
— including Social Security, which Trump’s own White House budget
director has called “a Ponzi scheme.”
Yes indeed - and the "four decades of
corporate class war"  started around 1980 and
was started by Ronald Reagan and continued by Bill Clinton and
Barack Obama (the last just scored a contract reported to be worth over
$ 60 million with Penguin: He too is going to end up as a major
millionaire, just like Clinton and Blair did.)
And I also pick out this, because this is
the rise of neofascist
"laws" that may effectively end protests, because simply
protesting will land you for ten years in jail, while in
Holland that is (now at least, and the pas four decades) the punishment
meeted out to murderers:
Revealing their authoritarian
inclinations all the more, right-wing Republican legislators in several
states are introducing bills to criminalize protest activities — and, in Iowa,
for example — to require that only Republicans be appointed to
The article ends as follows (after a lot
of history I have skipped):
The die is cast. To secure American
democratic life, we must resist and overcome not only the initiatives
of the greedy, corrupt, bigoted and narcissistic bully who currently
occupies the White House, but also the anti-democratic ambitions and
schemes of corporate capital and the right. If our parents
and grandparents’ lives tell us anything, it is that it’s not just a
matter of rejecting authoritarianism but of acting in solidarity
to radically enhance freedom, equality and democracy.
Hm. I find this ending pretty conventional
purple prose. And three major differences
between "our parents and grandparents’ lives" and that of the modern generation are that (i) their
parents and grandparents were better educated than the present
generation is; that (ii) they were not continuously spied upon
in secret by the secret services; and that (iii) the press they read
was much better than the modern press.
Mainstream Media’s ‘Victimhood’
This starts as follows:
The third item is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
It’s heartwarming that The New
York Times and The Washington Post are troubled that President Trump is
loosely throwing around accusations of “fake news.” It’s nice that
they now realize that truth does not reliably come from the mouth of
every senior government official or from every official report.
The Times is even taking out full-page
ads in its own pages to offer truisms about truth: “The truth is hard.
The truth is hidden. The truth must be pursued. The truth is hard to
hear. The truth is rarely simple. The truth isn’t so obvious. …”
On Sunday, those truth truisms ran opposite an
alarmist column by Jim Rutenberg entitled, “Will
the Real Democracy Lovers Please Stand Up?” Meanwhile, The
Washington Post launched its own melodramatic slogan, “Dies in
Yet, it was only weeks ago when the Post
and Times were eagerly promoting plans for silencing or blacklisting
independent news sites that didn’t toe the line on what the U.S.
government and its allies were claiming was true.
Yes, indeed! Here is more on the -
to me: extremely sickening - policies of the NYT:
On Nov. 20, the Times published a lead
editorial calling on Facebook and other technology giants to
devise algorithms that could eliminate stories that the Times deemed to
be “fake.” The Times and other mainstream news outlets – along with a
few favored Internet sites – joined a special Google-sponsored task
the First Draft Coalition, to decide what is true and what is
not. If the Times’ editorial recommendations were followed, the
disfavored stories and the sites publishing them would no longer be
accessible through popular search engines and platforms, essentially
blocking the public’s access to them. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What
to Do About ‘Fake News.’”]
On Thanksgiving Day, the Post ran a
front-page story citing an
anonymous group, called PropOrNot, blacklisting 200 Web sites,
including Consortiumnews.com and other important sources of independent
journalism, because we supposedly promoted “Russian propaganda.”
Again, yes indeed: The New
York Times and the Washington Post tried to get rid of the real
journalists by proposing they were to be shut down
for not reporting the "news" that the government (then Obama's
government) liked to hear and read.
Here is some more on what seems to have
moved the NYT and the Washington Post:
Back then, in November, the big
newspapers believed that the truth was easy, simple, obvious, requiring
only access to some well-placed government official or a quick reading
of the executive summary from some official report. Over the last
quarter century or so, the Times, in particular, has made a fetish out
of embracing pretty much whatever
Officialdom declared to be true. After all, such well-dressed
folks with those important-sounding titles couldn’t possibly be lying.
Yes, indeed. And Parry is also correct
that the folks at the NYT ceased being proper journalists at least 25 years
ago, though indeed it also got worse and worse.
Here is Parry's characterization of the
mainstream news agencies:
In other words, when the U.S. government
was gluing black hats on an “enemy” and white hats on a U.S. “ally,”
the Times never seemed to object. Nor did pretty much anyone else in
the mainstream media. No one seemed to note that both sides usually
deserved gray hats. With very few exceptions – when the State
Department or other U.S. agencies were making the charges – the Times
and its cohorts simply stopped
applying responsible journalistic skepticism.
I think that is correct (and found this
out mostly by myself - see here, for
example, which is from 1991 (!), when the first propaganda war
 was faught on TV, which is 26 years ago).
Finally, here is a fine characterization
of "fake news":
That is the best definition I read so far,
and I would only add "propaganda" before "stories" to make it fully
correct. And this is a fine text that I strongly recommend.
Of course, there is a problem with “fake
news,” i.e., stories that are consciously made up for the purpose of
making money from lots of clicks.
Is ‘Christianized Fascism’ the Biggest Threat We Face Under Trump?
The fourth item is not a text but a video which shows an
interview of Chris Hedges by Abby Martin:
The textual item that introduces this (by Emma Niles on Truthdig) starts as follows:
In a new episode of TeleSUR’s “The Empire Files,” host Abby Martin and
Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges analyze the Christian right and
its impact on American politics.
Hedges has a wealth of experience writing about the Christian right movement and its
relationship to fascism, and he draws on this knowledge to explain the
growing threat of “Christianized fascism.”
“The Christian right, like the
alt-right, is endowed with all sorts of conspiracy theories, coupled
with magical thinking, coupled with an utter disdain for historical
fact,” Hedges says. “I think the Christian right are as bigoted as the
He argues that while President Trump’s
“personal life makes a mockery of the very values” the Christian right
claims to hold sacred, the Trump administration can be expected to
further the ideals of political evangelists.
This item is here mostly because I do
both Abby Martin and Chris Hedges. They are real journalists
and are also quite
intelligent and sensible persons.
If this “Christianized fascism” continues
to gain momentum, what would that look like? Hedges explains:
Martin and Hedges also delve into the history
of political evangelists and examine religious populist movements in
other countries. Watch the full interview below:
It’s going to be the fusion of the
American flag with the Christian cross and the Pledge of Allegiance.
We’ve already seen it. It’s going to be assaults on women [and] women’s
rights. It’s going to be assaults against the educational system, where
we’re teaching creationism and magical thinking. It’s going to be
attacks against “those forces of secular humanism that are destroying
the country.” It’s going to be a sanctification of law and order and
imperial adventurism into kind of a crusade. And I think that as
society unravels, they will stoke this demonization of “the other”:
Muslims, undocumented workers, African Americans are on the list,
I did watch the interview, which is 25 m 10 s,
and I liked it and think it is very well worth seeing, but -
see item 1 -
I do want to make five supplementary remarks, that mostly follow the
text of the video.
1. About fascism: I was disappointed with "the
definition" of fascism that Chris Hedges gave, which was mostly
psychological, not systematic, not a real definition,
and which also seemed to derive too much from Robert Paxton.
You can see my disagreements with Paxton articulated in my On
Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions
that is from October 2016, that discusses no less than 22
definitions of fascism, and said that Paxton has
too much psychology in it, and too little
sociology, economics, and
Here is my own definition, that is a proper definition,
and does consider both psychology and sociology,
is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that
suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror,
that propounds an ethics founded
on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is
totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist,
anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian,
rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or
advocating such a social system.
I think this is a much better definition than
any I have heard or read so far (and the credit is mostly not
mine: I merely combined some of the best of the 22 definitions I did
consider, and also gave that combination the proper logical form of a
2. About inverted totalitarianism:
This is a concept and a term of Sheldon Wolin
(<-Wikipedia), who died in 2015, aged 93.
I think there was something to it, and I did my best to comprehend it,
and indeed commented on all of the - quite good - interviews that Chris
Hedges made with him in 2014.
Here is a link to a Nederlog where all eight interviews are
listed (with links to fuller discussions by me): Crisis: The new internet, voter suppresion,
& Wolin, Personal. I think these
interviews are still worth reading and pondering, although
I also think my own definiton of neofascism is better. Here
Neofascism is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where
the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that
propounds an ethics which has profit as
its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist,
anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist,
and that has a corporative
organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are
stronger than a national government or state, b. A political philosophy or
movement based on or advocating such a social system.
Note the main
differences between fascism and neofascism: Neofascism is far more
strongly for profit as the only moral norm CEOs and
corporations ought to consider (as Milton Friedman insisted), and is far
more strongly for multi-national corporations as stronger than
national governments or the state than is fascism.
3. The Christian right:
Chris Hedges speaks of "Christian fascism", which he also insists is a
political rather than a religious phenomenon while he denies they are
I think Hedges is probably correct that this is a rightist political
movement more than
a religious movement, but I also think he may be underestimating their
which he does (if he does, as I think) because his father was a -
genuinely progressive - Christian minister and because Hedges is a Christian minister as well.
In contrast, I am a lifelong atheist, and I believe these Christian
rightists may be "religious" in their own sense, though
I agree with Hedges that sense has little to do
with the message of the New Testament (and think myself it is - once
again - mostly
produced by a combination of stupidity, lack of science, and emotional
and religious bullshit).
4. Neo-nazism: Chris Hedges also briefly discusses
neo-nazism. My problem with that is that I could not find a decent
definition for it, although the following - from Rationalwiki, not the
Wikipedia - is somewhat better than I could find in 2015/16:
5. The alt right and neo-liberal economics
Finally, Hedges blames the neo-liberal economics as the ideology behind
fascism and also behind the Christian right, and he insists the
Christian right is more dangerous than the alt right.
I think Chris Hedges is right about neo-liberal economics: It is not
and never was a real science (as you - also - can infer yourself from the fact
that no neo-liberal economist predicted the crisis of 2008), and indeed
it never was intended to be a real science: It was constructed to look
"scientific" by making it mathematical, but it was in fact an ideology
that simply propounded the interests of the rich, and did so mostly by
adopting factual falsehoods or by neglecting factual truths.
Also, I do not believe that all neo-liberals are insincere or
neofascists, but I do believe
that they are politically and morally very naive.
As to the dangers of the Christian right: Hedges says they are more
dangeroous than the alt right mostly because they are much better
organized. I simply don't know, and
Chris Hedges, who made a study of them, may well be right.
 I know "Holocaust" by
now is the accepted term for what is also called the Shoah and possibly
more (since the modern generation mostly escaped learning history, it
seems), but I still don't like it. If used correctly, it represents the
murder of around 6 million Jews (quite a few who lacked the Jewish
faith) on rather insane "racist" grounds, but I - who doesn't like
euphemisms - would rather have had it referred to for what it is: The
mass murder of the Jews by the Nazis. (I suppose that is "too long",
but at least it is clear.)
Yes. In fact, I am one of those - George Carlin is another (*) - who is
too intelligent to confuse "democracy" and "democratic elections":
Democracy - with equal rights, real news, and many judicial and
political institutions geared to securing equal rights, real access to
politics by the non-rich, and maintaining freedom and toleration - is
not at all the same as going to vote every four years for some
professional political liar.
(*) Here is his text:
“I don't vote.
Two reasons. First of all it's meaningless; this country was bought and
sold a long time ago. The shit they shovel around every 4 years doesn't
mean a fucking thing. Secondly, I believe if you vote, you have
no right to complain. People like to twist that around – they say, 'If
you don't vote, you have no right to complain', but where's the logic
in that? If you vote and you elect dishonest, incompetent people into
office who screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have
done. You caused the problem; you voted them in; you have no right to
complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote, who in fact did not
even leave the house on election day, am in no way responsible for what
these people have done and have every right to complain about the mess
you created that I had nothing to do with".
 This started in 2008 (and I first wrote about it in the crisis series on September 1 of that year, in Dutch) and still continues for everyone who is not rich.
 Actually, I don't believe in "class war" (which is a Marxist
concept), while I do believe that most of the rich have opposite
interests to most of the poor. I reject the term and the concept
because they are too general, too vague and because in actual fact people live in groups - families, friends, colleagues (all of which do groupthinking) - much rather than in "classes".
 By "propaganda war" I mean a real war that is conveyed by the media (the press and the TV) as a kind of amusement for the mass of their stupefied and ignorant readers and viewers. The war of 1991 was the first such war I saw: Almost everything I read and saw about it was not real fact but propaganda. It also differed
quite notably from the Vietnam war, that was not (yet) a propaganda war. For more, see here.