The following letter is written in response to “Fascism Disguised as ‘Patriotism’“ (January 23, 2007 The Bullet):
The level of contradiction in the term “nationalism” has always startled me. Soldiers are praised for killing someone in the name of their country, but to the other country they are considered murderous villains. How can both of these be true? How can killing another thinking, living, breathing human being be justified?
Leaders of nations attempt to justify killing individuals from other countries in an “us-versus-them” fashion. If that soldier didn’t kill the enemy, other “good” people would have died. Leaders of nations ultimately make the decisions, but in the name of what? If someone is going to create a vicious blood feud like this, it had better be for a damn good reason. Our leaders tell us we must kill others for our own protection, but honestly, what is killing good for?
Most people believe that the United States is akin to the benevolent watchdog of the world. This government has the most powerful military and economy on the planet. Many of us believe that as long as someone, in our case today, the United States, is top dog, then nobody will come to challenge that, and the world will be at peace. The common phrase for this is “Pax Americana,” similar to the term used by the Roman Empire, “Pax Romana”.
If this notion doesn’t justify labeling the United States an empire, I don’t know what would. If I was in the USSR and someone talked about how little crime there was on the streets, I don’t know about you, but I would have a very cynical and snappy response to that. If we can justify mass murder of innocent people on a grand scale so that we can have a period of relative “peace” and “prosperity,” I think it is time we questioned the relation between nationalism, imperialism, war, and genocide.
I appreciate that Brian Ogle refused to support the trend of hypocritical and asymmetrical analysis of patriotism by voicing his views honestly in his article, “Fascism Disguised as ‘Patriotism.'” Although I understand many may feel personally offended by the coupling of the words patriotism and fascism, Brian’s essential argument was that which many others around the world understand; he is removing the hypocrisy entailed in exclusively supporting American patriotism.
The label of fascism is thrown around a lot as an insult to anyone or anything that is authoritarian, and the ideologies are quite similar. In the past, authoritarian power structures have had various names: monarchy, autocracy, oligarchy, etc. As nations progress, these power structures are often broken down so that the power is distributed across a slightly greater number of wealthy people or unequally, based on wealth, across a large number of people–these two examples being a republic and a representative democracy, respectively.
Fascism rose as a response to this movement. Its goals were a reunification of the people in the name of the nation, or as Roger Griffen defines it:
“[F]ascism is best defined as a revolutionary form of nationalism… welding the ‘people’ into a dynamic national community under new elites infused with heroic values…” (Griffith, 1991)
Isn’t it a little odd that people cannot see the connection between nationalism (or patriotism) and fascism? Even worse, some people would spit vile at those who proclaim that there is a connection.
This fear of appearing un-American or unpatriotic is so pervasive that even our two political parties support the ideas of American nationalism. The terms un-American and anti-American started in the McCarthy era and have, unfortunately, stuck.
“Anti-American is an interesting expression, because the accusation of being anti-nation is used typically in totalitarian societies…” (Chomsky, 1995)
In as large an empire as our own, these calls for nationalism are dangerous and support our nation’s leaders in their conquest to gain more power. Their conquest comes at the expense of every common person, like you and I, struggling for freedom to live and the freedom from fear.
It is time we stop this hypocrisy, and stop supporting the pervasive propaganda of the American Fascist Party.
On Violence and Youth—Noam Chomsky interviewed by Pepi Leistyna and Stephen Sherblom, chomsky.info, quoting Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 65, No. 2, Summer 1995 [Fall 1994], <http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/1994—-02.htm>. Retrieved on 2008-01-05
Roger Griffin, Nature of Fascism, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991, p. xi
Jeff May is a junior.