I’ve basically given up reading the news. There’s nothing beneficial about doing it. And, paradoxically, reading the news kept me less informed. But, I saw a link and read a whole article today. The article was We’re All Fascists Now by Bari Weiss.
The article itself is quite interesting. As a quick summary: she wonders why so many decent people are accused of fascism and how to change it. And, Ms. Weiss makes a lot of good points.
The letter added that [Christina Hoff Sommers’s] invitation amounted to an “act of aggression and violence” and went on to offer a curious definition of free speech: “Freedom of speech is certainly an important tenet to a free, healthy society, but that freedom stops when it has a negative and violent impact on other individuals.”
Yes, these future lawyers believe that free speech is acceptable only when it doesn’t offend them. Which is to say, they don’t believe in it at all.
This is a salient, indubitable statement. But, the second half of the article starts to get strange.
We live in a world in which politically fascistic behavior, if not the actual philosophy, is unquestionably on the rise. Italy just gave the plurality of its vote to a party that is highly sympathetic to Vladimir Putin. The Philippines is in the grip of a homicidal maniac who is allying himself with Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi just anointed himself president for life and has banned the words “Animal Farm” and “disagree” from Chinese internet searches. Bashar al-Assad is winning in Syria, where half a million people have so far been slaughtered. Dictatorship and starvation have descended on Venezuela. At its annual conference in Washington last month, the Conservative Political Action Committee gave its stage, and its enthusiastic applause, to a member of France’s National Front. That’s just a short list.
This is just drivel. It shows nothing about fascism. It doesn’t establish a trend toward fascism. She is only arguing fascism by association and results. Deaths in Venezuela?! Must be fascism. There’s so much projection here. Why attribute everything bad in the world to fascism? That’s the question I want to answer.
But, she continues:
Why are so many demonstrably non-fascist people being accused of fascism?
Partly, this phenomenon is driven by our current political moment, in which millions of Americans — and not just those who identify as liberals or progressives — are horrified by the policies and the rhetoric oozing out of the White House. When the shadow of genuine chaos and extremism looms, people tend to get jumpy.
This is fascinating because it reveals herself as the fascist. She gives the power of well-being for a whole country to one man. She gives him authority over emotions. When one man has authority over, not just policy, but emotions that’s far beyond fascism. That’s utter domination. And, it’s absurd. (Thought questions: does she feel like she has control of her own emotions? Or are they all dependent on others/her environment?)
Will true liberals do what it takes to reverse it? We can only hope so, because the battle against genuine authoritarian threats needs to be waged consistently, credibly and persuasively. For that to happen, words need to mean something. Calling women like Christina Hoff Sommers and Mary Beard fascists and racists only helps the other side.
This is the last paragraph and the most telling. “True liberals,” how do you think Ms. Weiss sees herself? If you need another hint: “only helps the other side”.
Ms. Weiss identifies as a liberal. But, then she sees fascism coming from liberals. So, she tries two different things: first, “we are all fascists” and second, not “true liberals”. Both of these strategies are ineffectual and revealing. She wants to claim all of us are fascists so she’s absolved of her own personal responsibility. She also wants to claim it’s a subset of liberals, a subset to which she does not belong.
Unfortunately for her, the first place to fight fascism is in yourself. Honestly, if she did that she could be quite an insightful, wonderful writer. But, right now her mind is in a state of cognitive dissonance to protect her from the reality that she’s the fascist.
I don’t like my use of the word liberal in this article. I think the word is meaningless. I only used it because it’s part of Ms. Weiss’s identity.