Conservatives accuse liberals of fascism because of their own projection

A thread on BoingBoing recently asked why conservatives always accuse liberals of being fascists. Why choose fascism, when the proposals they are complaining about are closer to socialism?

The reason the question was raised is the letter published in the Wall Street Journal by venture capitalist Tom Perkins, in which he compared Obama’s tax proposals to the Kristallnacht, the first major Nazi pogrom against German Jews.

“Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.”

Mathew O’Brien writing in the Atlantic suggested that that the super-rich do this sort of thing because they feel powerless. But I think it’s the opposite. The reason that the right keeps bringing up Hitler and Nazis is pure projection: They accuse Obama of doing what they would do in the same situation. They accuse Obama of fascism because they admire fascism.

Before you suggest that this is just diving into the Republicans self-made cess-pool of Hitler-calling, let’s consider recent history. Which administration opened secret prisons, condoned torture, and killed hundreds of thousands of people in multiple wars that weren’t necessarily needed?

To understand how deeply “projection” is the basis of the conservative meme of ‘Liberal Fascism,’ we need look no further than conservative writer and bomb-thrower Johnah Goldberg. One of his best-known pieces was this little nugget in his essay “Baghdad Delenda Est“:

So how does all this, or the humble attempt at a history lesson of my last column, justify tearing down the Baghdad regime? Well, I’ve long been an admirer of, if not a full-fledged subscriber to, what I call the “Ledeen Doctrine.” I’m not sure my friend Michael Ledeen will thank me for ascribing authorship to him and he may have only been semi-serious when he crafted it, but here is the bedrock tenet of the Ledeen Doctrine in more or less his own words: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” That’s at least how I remember Michael phrasing it at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute about a decade ago (Ledeen is one of the most entertaining public speakers I’ve ever heard, by the way).

The word fascism comes from the fasces, the bundle of rods binding an axe, that were a symbol of power and authority in Ancient Rome. Fascism is literally the worship of power. Goldberg’s piece above shows exactly where he stands on that score.

But carving out a new definition of fascism, and showing that the GOP matches it, is rather too easy a game to play. If we want the test to be fair, we should go back to a definition that predates Bush and Obam, and see which matches best. For this I suggest we look to Umberto Eco’s ‘Eternal Fascism’ written in 1995.

Eco gives fourteen features of what he calls ‘Ur-Fascism’. I won’t go through the whole list, the comparisons to the Bush administration need little explanation.

The Cult of Tradition: Eco identifies ur-fascism as being based on absolute belief in revealed knowledge from multiple, incompatible sources, and that this means that there can be no advancement of learning. “Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.”

Movement conservatism has been culled from many sources, all of which are asserted to be true beyond question. You can’t question the Bible, you can’t question the works of Ronald Reagan, you can’t question Adam Smith. All of the sources of movement-conservative ideology must be accepted as absolutely and perfectly true, regardless of the obvious contradictions between them.

When Liberals are faced with two contradictory claims, they use science and the scientific method to choose which one to reject, or they accept that neither claim is perfectly true in all circumstances.

Conservatives can’t do that, because the core scriptures of the movement cannot ever be questioned. So the result is intellectual paralysis. There are no intellectuals in movement conservatism, there is only room for theologians who interpret the works of Adam Smith or Ayn Rand or God or whoever is needed to save the appearances to meet the immediate needs of the party.

Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection.

So Bush must invade Iraq to look manly and John McCain must choose Sarah Palin as his VP candidate to look decisive.

The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. “In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.”

Which administration suggested that anti-war protesters were guilty of treason?

The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.

The biggest puzzle of movement conservatism is why so many people who are desperately poor support a party of and for the ultra rich. Its not Mitt Romney and Wall Street that make Joe Six Pack, living in a trailer park, feel inferior and a failure. It’s the people in his class who did better than him, and got ahead, that he resents. He could have got ahead if he had had their chances, he could have gone to college if he had been black and benefited from affirmative action, etc.

For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.  “Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare.”

Thus there must be a War on Terror that will never end.

Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.

And women can’t control their uterus, gays can’t get married, etc. etc.

Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. “Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.”

Or when a political party spends five years trying to prove that the President was born in Kenya.

Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.

And torture is now ‘enhanced interrogation’, kidnapping is ‘extraordinary rendition’, etc. etc.

Now a case could be made that Obama, or the Democrats in general, have done things or made statements that arguably fall under parts of Eco’s definition. But I don’t think anyone could take the whole list and plausibly claim that it describes the Democratic party or the progressive movement in general.

Eco’s list does match the modern Republican party perfectly, however.

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64 Responses to “Conservatives accuse liberals of fascism because of their own projection”

  1. 4th Turning says:

    This theme has been a very interesting piece of the history puzzle to me. It bubbles to the
    surface at intervals then goes away somewhere. I wasn’t in a position to connect with the Eco
    essay in 1995, But having read The Name of the Rose earlier on and already aware of his
    depth of thinking/scholarship, I was prepared for your essay. There was quite a bit of
    fascism alert/discussion going on in the intial years of this decade as you no doubt
    remember with liberals calling out conservative maneuvering as stinking of fascism.
    To what end? You ressurect this chilling spectre again in an attempt to get terms
    properly defined and to shed some light on the truth of who is who in this strange
    lust for power muddle. I am not clear to what end and hopeful you will return with
    a follow-up part 2. I see 63 comments and an unknown number of readers.
    But already this very important topic seems close to falling through the
    “older entries” crack. Fascistic views of the world seem hard-wired and unlikely to
    yield to logic/reason/fact-indeed, elements sparking instant rage? Whatever that
    larger vat of “independents”, the implications of fascism do not appear to even
    trailer across their screens. And us tolerant, live and let live types are at a
    built-in disadvantage not possessing the crush any opposition gene as
    part of our dna.

  2. Anarchy For All says:

    The unholy trinity between Corporate America, the GOP, and the religious right began in 1972.
    George W. Bush was working on the Pat Robertson campaign. Bush witnessed gullible evangelicals absorbing the lies of Robertson like sponges at the bottom of a dried ocean.
    It was at this time George W. Bush reversed himself and declared himself a “Christian”.
    It was an epiphany moment. The GOP had finally located the brainwashed, ignorant, Manchurian Candidate army they had so long strived to achieve.
    The best they could do before was some dumb southern red neck racist named Bubba and his 12 brothers and cousins also named Bubba of Billy Joe Jim Bob.
    Now, disguised under the cloak of religion and Jebus, the Gross Obtuse Putrid Party could sell their snake oil and hate to a wider audience who had already been brainwashed by con-artist evangelical preachers.
    Corporate America would dictate policy. The Gross Obtuse Putrid Party would act as the “Gollums” of capitalism, and the muscle would be provided by those that would rather believe an immoral comic book that lacked good graphics that some called the Bible instead of believing in Scientific Method.
    Intellectual laziness is easy to manipulate.

  3. davisyoung says:

    Anytime I come across a discussion on right wing mentality, I point to Bob Altemeyer’s book The Authoritarians as a guide on how they think. It’s really put together the pieces for me. He’s made it available as a free pdf but I’m sure he’d appreciate it if one were to purchase it as well.

  4. MyrddinWilt says:

    We really don’t know if Christianity was open in its early stages or not. We have no information earlier than about 75AD and no independent commentary until the 2nd century. Josephus purportedly writes about Christians being persecuted in the wake of the Great fire of Rome but he is writing long after the event and the entries may well be interpolations.

    What we do know is that Paul’s church was Judaism being served up for the Hellenistic world. This was a very common thing at the time. The Greeks imported Syrian cults, Egyptian cults, all sorts. The archetype of Mark’s gospel comes over four centuries earlier in Isaiah. And as Richard Carrier points out, dying and rising Gods were very common.

    We don’t even know what the temple cult of Judaism was really about, other than it seems very likely that the Romans insisted on redacting a lot of it after the Jewish war.

  5. MyrddinWilt says:

    No, taxis drivers and building laborers don’t see themselves as being in competition with Romney or the like. The people they resent are the people they knew at school who did better than them.

    Thats why the ‘liberal elites’ stuff strikes a chord. These are people who feel that they could have been a contender if they had had the breaks that other people got handed to them by the government. And they will believe Romney and his ilk when they tell him how they understand that is the case and they are on his side.

  6. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    I know a teensy tiny bit. I did study classical language, literature, and history as an undergrad and while that was a long while ago not all of it has leaked away. I’ve always been impressed by how firmly the secret of the Eleusinian Mysteries was kept. You’d have thought that some sarcastic Christian convert from the patristic period, someone like Tertullian, would have spilled the secret if only to attack and deride it, but that never happened.

  7. BeccaM says:

    The difference between liberals/progressives and the radical conservative right: We just want them to leave us alone. They want us dead, often by the most violent means possible.

  8. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    Gnosticism was pretty screwed up, though. I mean, believing that matter is a corruption of spirit? We criticize Christianity for the streak of hatred of the body and of sex but Gnosticism had all that in spades.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Can’t argue that. However, they are usually forced into the same treatment due to the Christian cult and Republican small town mob mentality.

  10. Zorba says:

    Well, it wasn’t entirely “wide open” from the start.
    The Nestorian controversy occurred three centuries before the Iconoclasts, and involved the whole debate about the nature of Christ. Which led to the split between Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy.
    And then you have Gnosticism, which may have even pre-dated Christianity, in certain forms……….

  11. BeccaM says:

    But the central “mystery” of Christianity was wide open right from the start.

    It was for a time, until the rise of the Iconoclasts, at which point the Christian theocrats gradually introduced ever more distance between adherents and the Christian Trinity (which itself was added on). The Ruud Wall, the creation of Sacraments, the concept of ‘saints’ as necessary intercessors (i.e., people were actively dissuaded from praying to their own deity directly), the banning of statuary and paintings, and even the adoption of Latin as the preferred language of worship — all of these were attempts to reestablish the notion of central mystery, and salvation which could only be granted or unlocked through the intercession of the appointed (and annointed) priest class.

    (BTW, you guys are gettin’ me all hawt. I’d no idea you knew so much about theology and philosophy.)

  12. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    I think I see what you’re getting at. If I may oversimplify: whereas a communistic revolution tries, or at least tries to claim, that it is a reinvention of society, a fascistic revolution claims to be a restoration of it. One view says, “The old way of doing things is killing us. We must advance.” The other view says, “It’s the newfangled ideas that are killing us. We must return to the old truths.”

    I do think, by the way, that it’s a bit wrong to say that Christianity was just some kind of new gloss on the Greek mystery cults. The Eleusinian cult and other similar mysteries were, after all, just that, mysteries. The core and center of those mystery cults’ appeal was the attraction to secret and sacred knowledge, a knowledge that while hidden was also paradoxically available to all regardless of social class. (I’m with Chesterton in finding truth in paradox.) To this day we don’t really know what Eleusis et alii were about, although that hasn’t stopped neo-pagans from pretending that their New Age mishmash is somehow a restoration of that lost tradition. But the central “mystery” of Christianity was wide open right from the start.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Whether the empathy was not taught or acquired as a child, or whether through a quirk in neurology they never had, or whether it was there and then lost, it almost doesn’t matter. The end result is someone who can’t see the problem with children going hungry or women being forced to endure a pregnancy through rape or just about anybody having no alternative but to sleep in a box under a highway.

    It requires a lack of empathy when asked what someone should do if they have don’t have health insurance to shout “Let them die!”

  14. MyrddinWilt says:

    This is the first point in Eco’s text and I think he does not quite nail it. Beca’s post is actually closer to what I think Eco is driving at.

    Eco is not just describing features characteristic of fascism, he is trying to exclude non-fascist ideologies. So he is describing ur-fascism or ‘eternal fascism’ which might well be a subset of fascism.

    All religions are syncretistic, there has never been a religion that is entirely original. They all borrow from earlier religions and many have added elements from later ones. The cult of the virgin Mary developed a thousand years after the gospels were written when crusaders went east and encountered female fertility cults. Judaism is a fusion of Zoroastrianism and the pre-Babylonian exile pagan cult, the pagan demi-Gods becoming angels. Early Christianity was a mashup of the Book of Isaiah, Mythracism and Hellenistic cults. When Constantine took over, the Roman pagan Gods were mashed in as Saints.

    In contrast, Communism is not syncretistic, it is monolithic but attempts to be consistent. Communism isn’t the same thing as fascism.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Brown-nosing is the reason. They think they will get something back.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, exactly. I hear the argument “if all people were like that, they’d be sociopaths, and not everyone is a sociopath.” That’s not the point. Most people can lose empathy in certain situations. Group influence, an us vs. them mentality, brainwashing etc. all have profound effects on people.

    There are still people who think the Holocaust was a hoax, in part because they can’t believe mass amounts of people could be controlled by a dictator. It shows how naive they are.

  17. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    I have to admit, in going over Eco’s essay, it’s his concept of the cult of tradition that is giving me the most trouble, particularly his stipulation that the ur-fascist view of tradition must be syncretistic.

    I can see this as an aspect of a cult of personality: cult leaders often claim to be the first men ever to unify a mass of disparate traditions and grasp the real, central truth behind them. And fascism usually tends to express itself through a cult of personality, I agree. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

    Or perhaps what’s necessary is the claim to continuity of tradition? The syncretism comes into play because the ideologues wish to pretend that their newer, fakey tradition is the true inheritor of older wisdom. The very first modern dictator, Octavianus Augustus (yes, I do subscribe to Ronald Syme’s view that he was essentially a proto-fascist), helped to cement his rule by subsidizing the work of propagandistic historians such as Livy and Dionysus of Halicarnassus, most notably the fusion of the old tradition of Rome’s founding by Romulus and Remus with the yet older Homeric tradition, yielding a new, artificial mythology in which Romulus and Remus were direct descendants of a survivor of the fall of Troy.

  18. 4th Turning says:

    Worthwhile to recall reading and writing abilities were grounds for selling uppity
    slaves down the ribba. And klan terror/lynching in the jim crow years, Hope I
    can muster resolve/courage to watch 12 Years A Slave when it comes around…

  19. Richard says:

    ” The biggest puzzle of movement conservatism is why so many people who
    are desperately poor support a party of and for the ultra rich. ” Yes, I am certainly puzzled by that myself.
    An Excellent article ! And so true.

  20. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    It’s the depth and virulence of the “immediate, frothing rage” on the right that astonishes me. I just can’t imagine investing that much emotional energy into hating someone or something that didn’t injure me personally, do you know what I mean? When I think of the things that I’m most irrational about, the things that come closest to sending me into “frothing rage”, they’re all about individual and personal matters that hurt me directly in some way.

    I mean…I was angry and disappointed when Bush le Petit was “elected” and never had a nice word to say about him, but I’d have to say my overall feeling was one of resignation. I can’t even really say that I hated Bush himself. I held him in contempt, but that’s a different thing. From what I saw online, most liberals felt about the same way: we wanted to send Lil’ Bush packing back to his toy ranch, or maybe to a war crimes tribunal in The Hague, but we didn’t want him dead.

  21. MyrddinWilt says:

    Hitler’s speeches are a good source of information on Hitler, Hitlerism and Fascism.

    What they are not is what they are most frequently used for: Identifying ideas and policies that are characteristically ‘fascist’. The arguments are almost invariably ad-hominem “Hitler said X, Obama said X, therefore Obama is a NAZI’.

    Pointing out that the worship of brute power drove Hitler and his crimes are a direct extension of that worship of brute power is not ad hominem. Hitler is merely one example of a pattern. Goldberg is another. The NSA and their mooks brandishing weapons are another.

  22. Sean says:

    Thank you for sharing Eco’s analysis. It’s important to have a clear idea about just what fascism is, so we can call it out when we see it. Perhaps another reason that right-wingers constantly call their critics fascist is that they want to discredit the label. Recently I read a post in a liberal site where the author, exasperated by another public temper tantrum, called for a permanent ban on the word. I understand the frustration, but that would be a foolish response.

  23. MyrddinWilt says:

    Eco’s explanation of the cult of tradition is very complex despite being short.

    Its not just reverence for the past, it is the reverence for an artificial past created as a composite of multiple pasts Eco identifies as the distinctive feature. So St Augustine by himself is not Ur Fascism but St Augustine and Stonehenge is.

    So Bachman’s invocation of the founders is not ur-fascism per se. But combining the founders who were mostly advocates of slavery fighting to preserve slavery with Lincoln who was fighting to end it is most definitely ur-fascism.

    I think this is very much a form of ‘DoubleThink’ or maybe a consequence. Bachman has no critical thinking ability. Slavery is bad, the founders were chosen by God, ergo the founders must have opposed slavery. Logic forces Bachman to a false conclusion because she is unable to reconsider he axioms. Faced with facts that conflict like the fact Jefferson owned slaves and raped them, Bachman has to find ways to explain the facts away as unimportant rather than reconsider her axioms.

    I am working on another piece on Brute Power which is the opposite of Soft Power which Joe Nye wrote about. Joe prefers the terms ‘coarse or counter-productive’ but describing the NSA as coarse power misses the mark. It is the brute aspects of the NSA activities that repel most people from it. But that is also what the ur-fascists find so attractive.

    Every year the US spends a trillion dollars on the military, only a small fraction, less than 10% of which can be considered defense spending. The vast majority of that money is pissed away on weapons to fight enemies that no longer exist or never existed at all, military contractors, unnecessary military bases to buy off Congress, etc. etc. Any rational observer would look at that and see only waste and fear. But the ur-fascist glories in it because for them creating and extending brute power is the second best thing in the world. The very best thing of course is to use it.

  24. MyrddinWilt says:

    And Eco’s target was much more likely to be Berlusconi and Italian politicians than any US group.

  25. Sean says:

    A great post! I stumbled on this phenomenon a few years ago when I read William Shirer’s “Berlin Diary.” It was amazing how closely the Nazis’ tone and arguments matched that of the far right of today. The basic script never seems to change.

  26. HeartlandLiberal says:

    This sums up the psychology of the American conservative core pretty accurately.

    I would also point out that the racism which is such a defining marker in their thought is expressed the same way. Again and again we see them speak or act in grossly overt racist fashion, and when called on it, they go into a rage and accuse those pointing out their racism of being the real racists.

    I have dealt with this phenomenon with my brothers in Alabama to the point I literally have quit speaking to them and just given up. You should hear them rant and deny any and all facts when I bring up the statistics on the disproportionate ratio of Blacks in prison and on death row. For them, these stats just prove Blacks are inferior and violent.

    Anything, no matter how factual, that I bring up, e.g. on global warming and anthropogenic climate change, sends them into an immediate frothing rage, and all their pent up anger and anxiety just pours out, and they start denouncing every liberal, progressive position they know I hold on any and every topic.

    What really sends them over the top is when I point out that in regard to the Iraq War, they were totally butthurt wrong, and I was absolutely right about the WMDs and everything else.

    We used to drive the 500 plus miles to visit with family at least twice a year. After my mom died, as far as I was concerned, that was enough. I have been back only once in those eight years, and that was because my wife wanted to attend a writers conference at my undergrad alma mater.

  27. rmthunter says:

    I’d argue that empathy is probably hard-wired — it’s one of those characteristics that makes it possible for us to function as social animals, which we undeniably are. Even small children — and our nearest relatives — are touched by the distress of others. What we learn is excluding others from our group, from those for whom it is appropriate to feel empathy — children are more likely to want to include others. That’s why the first recourse of would-be dictators is to find a scapegoat and demonize them, make them un-human — the us/them dichotomy is already set up, it’s just a matter of giving it a focus.

  28. liberalenigma says:

    I hate them because of what they do, they hate me because I know it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I believe empathy is not necessarily lacking in these people, but was never taught. By the time they are old enough to be politicians, it’s a lost cause. They learn that what’s wrong is right, not to act like intelligent humans vs. going with impulses.

  30. karmanot says:

    ” snobs”—–waves impudent hand……and volunteers.

  31. BeccaM says:

    As ever, it’s just more projection on their part.

  32. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    I do believe that American right-wing thought is fundamentally authoritarian, and not just in the political sense of liking authoritarian men. I mean more generally that they regard knowledge of all sorts–scientific knowledge, historical knowledge, social knowledge–as something that’s true only because an authority says it is. You see this clearly in how the American right attacks such things as evolutionary theory or climate science. They really seem to think that the concept of global warming exists only because some hippie eggheads made it up and because Al Gore made it popular, just as a scam to get grant money or book sales. And that’s another thing: because the right has made such a fetish of the profit motive they further assume that the only reason why anyone says or does anything is because they’re on the take.

  33. BeccaM says:

    Rome did a lot of that, too, at the end.

  34. BeccaM says:

    I’m a firm believer in this: “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

    This is the problem with the radical conservatives: They insist all too often on a world-view and on a set of ‘facts’ that is obviously, provably, obviously at odds with reality and recorded history. Like Ted Cruz trying to claim the government shut down last autumn as entirely the Dems’ and Obama’s idea — even though he’s right there, on frickin’ video tape, claiming credit and saying it was a wonderful thing to happen! Or the climate-change deniers who will not acknowledge that disrupted weather patterns — which can result in sudden deep-freezes and unprecedented snowfall amounts — is also predicted by the climate change model. Or those who continue to insist the solution to economic inequality and a lousy economy is to further reduce tax rates on corporations and the wealthy.

  35. BeccaM says:

    Well, hey, it’s surely a GOP-approved skilled trade to make french fries when the timer is busted and you gotta know how to read a clock! ;-)

  36. BeccaM says:

    Great post, Myrddin. Some thoughts, in no particular order:

    – The ‘Cult of Tradition’ in this context also includes an irrational (and often heretical misinterpretation) of America’s ‘Founding Fathers’. It even went so far into the realm of absurdity, this literally religious worship of fallible men, that Michelle Bachmann tried to claim they fought ‘tirelessly’ against slavery. In other words, just like the way they project their own beliefs and desired outcomes onto their professed religion of spiritual faith, they’ve also taken to doing it to secular history itself.

    – As I mentioned below in another comment, before the Forever-War against Terrorism, we had the Forever-War against Drugs. Only the latter has been showing signs of fraying around the edges this last decade…

    – Ur-Fascism also depends on scapegoating, and on the xenophobic identification of ‘enemies’ to be persecuted. LGBTs will do in a pinch, but in recent years they’ve latched onto Muslims, in part because they tend ethnically to come from populations that are…shall we say, less than lily-white in skin tone, and often with non-Western cultural practices that visibly set them apart. Just look at how many of the radical-right insist on the inerrancy of the Gospel of the U.S. Constitution, but declare that freedom of religion is only for Christians. Immigrant-bashing is very big for them — because again, different colored skin, sometimes a different language. Scapegoating is also needed so that the followers never become aware who is really holding them back and taking advantage.

    – Propaganda. This is essential. The followers must be carefully indoctrinated on an ongoing basis, to further cultivate the US vs THEM paranoia. Critical thinking, intellectualism, and science are derided. Unquestioning belief, even of mutually contradictory assertions, is valued above all else. Thus we have Fox News and right-wing hate-talk radio. And the constant assertions that America is the greatest country this planet has ever known and ever will — so that people are conditioned to believe there’s no point in wishing for anything better. Hey, if America can’t afford universal healthcare and decent retirement pensions, it must be a truism that nobody can (even though this is demonstrably false).

    – You mentioned Orwell’s ‘Newspeak’, Myrddin. I’ll also add ‘DoubleThink’ to that. The trained ability to hold two utterly incompatible ideas in one’s mind and believe both of them to be true. ‘They hate us for our freedom’ is one such contradictory notion. As is, “They’ll greet us as liberators” and “We can drone-strike them into loving us.” Or people who claim to be acting by the love dictated by their faith and Jesus’ teachings — who want the death penalty and for gays to suffer and for the poor to go hungry, etc.

  37. Naja pallida says:

    Oh, they know they need skilled labor. They just don’t want any laborers to be paid commensurate with their skill nor even their productivity. Obviously, any profits a corporation earns must be because of superior management, and have nothing to do with the capabilities of their workers.

  38. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    But Republicans hate the skilled trades as well. At the very least they want to do away with the trade unions that have in the past made a career as a skilled laborer a viable option.

  39. BeccaM says:

    No, the pathology of projection is somewhat more complicated than that. But I’ll try to simplify.

    Another critical element is a stunted or missing sense of empathy. The thief assumes everybody else steals because that’s what he would choose to do. He’s incapable of imagining others having a sense of honor or honesty — therefore, in his eyes, nobody does.

    The radical right-wing conservative accuses the left — liberals and progressives — of being fascists bent on controlling every aspect of HIS life, because that’s actually what he wants to do to the liberals and progressives. “I desperately want 100% freedom for me but none for thee” — therefore any resistance by the left is seen through the prism of the radical conservative being denied HIS right to control how others behave, while being exempt himself. Because he’s obsessed with limiting the freedom of others, he cannot imagine others not wanting to limit his.

    The lack of empathy — combined with a somewhat infantile self-centered view of the world — is what makes it possible for someone to insist their momentary rights (let’s say, the right not to sell a cake or flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding) must outweigh the lifetime rights of that same-sex couple to have legal recognition of their relationship and overall freedom from discrimination. Or all those employers claiming their religious freedom is being infringed upon because their employee is eligible for free contraceptive medication under federal law — even if it is at zero cost to the employer. Or worse, to claim that their freedoms are somehow being infringed because some couples they don’t know and never will are receiving governmental recognition of a committed same-sex relationship.

    Or, to engage in hyperbole, the core of opposition to same-sex marriage is because the fundamentalist right wing does not want to have to know there are gay and lesbian families out there who are not suffering.

  40. Naja pallida says:

    People with a functional frontal lobe are dangerous. They might disagree with your desire to poison their water, taint their food, and rob them blind.

  41. BeccaM says:

    It might be worth noting that the ‘War on Drugs’ was the perpetual never-ending war before they tumbled onto having a forever-war against terrorism.

  42. BeccaM says:

    Also with the conservatives in Texas yowling in outrage at the notion of students being taught critical thinking and logic.

  43. Naja pallida says:

    Your line fits well with Texas recently dropping the advanced algebra requirement for high school graduation. Their reasoning was to free up students to take classes for more practical, vocational, skills – things that don’t require a college degree.

  44. Anonymous says:

    As we fight more and our numbers diminish, we only get weaker…

  45. Anonymous says:

    This is true but if you translate the German quotes yourself, they still imply similar things – perhaps in less offensive language.
    And that does not change the fact that wingnuts condone his rhetoric.

  46. MyrddinWilt says:

    The quotations from the english translations of ‘table talk’ have come under some criticism. Seems that they might not really match the German originals and are putting words into Hitler’s mouth.

  47. Anonymous says:

    And why do they do it? Because they might find someone else who’s stealing, so they can say “ha, he’s a thief – I’m not the only one!” Everything they do wrong is meaningless because someone else does it worse. They’re always on that moral higher ground, you know, just slightly above “shit” on the conscience scale.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Translation: keep ’em dumb, keep ’em brainwashed. Even math is a socialist plot!

  49. Anonymous says:

    We had this discussion on MLK day about people forgetting MLK’s actual speeches. Notice how people know about his life but can’t quote his speeches aside from “I Have A Dream.”

    Well, it would behoove people to learn dictators’ quotes as well. If you dare to read Hitler’s sociopathic quotes, about taking advantage of Christianity and the public’s “weak” emotions, it’s terrifying. The most extreme wingnuts actually echo the same sentiments, how they “admire” Hitler’s ability to manipulate others. Yet they still have naive voters trying to turn these obviously dangerous ideas into doublespeak.

    It happened once and it can happen again. Just sayin’.

  50. 4th Turning says:

    February 28, 2012
    From Snobs to ‘Pointy-Headed College Professors’ to ‘Eggheads’
    By Emma Roller

    When Rick Santorum called President Obama “a snob” for wanting more Americans to attend college, it caused quite a stir, leading some fellow Republicans to distance themselves from the remarks.
    “There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor to try to indoctrinate them,” continued Mr. Santorum at a rally in Michigan on Saturday. “Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.”

    “A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.” —Spiro T. Agnew

    Taxpayers should not be asked
    “to subsidize intellectual curiosity.”
    —Ronald Reagan

    Taxpayers’ money is “used to subsidize bizarre and destructive visions of reality” at state universities.
    —Newt Gingrich

    Thanks for another excellent essay. Most of us have been grappling with Umberto’s
    on point points for many years. Relentless repetition of half-truths and outright lies
    via pulpits, talk radio, countless hysterical conspiracy theory websites, etc. leave
    me wondering in the face of such enormous barriers what can be done other than
    staying true to our values, picking up litter, and caring for each other as deeply
    as we do abandoned puppies.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Ooh, you went there. Well, someone said it. The user “aconservativeteacher” called liberals “Nazis who want to kill them [conservatives] all.” Just because I rebutted their argument about Dems being “sexual predators” by pointing out Republican & Christian perverts like Warren Jeffs, the head of FOX, Limpballs etc. They really act on emotion too much, unfortunately, and can’t see how that makes them even more politically dangerous than liberals.

  52. keirmeister says:

    It’s a political rule of thumb: whatever right-wingers accuse you of doing/being, they’re usually describing themselves.

    I laugh/cry when I hear right-wingers talk about Sharia law, then turn around and want to outlaw homosexuality, women’s reproductive choice, and sexual behavior.

    They condemn brutal dictators while gleefully advocating the carpet bombing of whole cities.

    They accuse you of not supporting the troops, then cut VA benefits.

    The 2nd Amendment is SACROSANCT and any effort to regulate guns is KILLING FREEDOM…but privacy rights, equal protection, a free press? Eh, not so important.

    Right-wingers complain that “Government is the Problem;” yet do everything they can to be in government.

    If you give money to the poor, you’re for a welfare state; but unnecessary tax cuts and bailouts to mega billion dollar corporations is fine.

    They blame you for Benghazi, yet voted not to increase money for its security.

    The call you lazy, even though you work 2+ jobs to survive; yet they make sure Congress is barely in session.

    They call you the party of big government, then create laws that force a doctor to LIE to her patient.

    They say you want to “Kill Grandma”; then they try to take away her Social Security.

    The call you anti-family while they are cheating on their second wife.

    They say you hate America…but they only ensure the top 1% enjoy the benefits of this country.

    They say you are full of hatred and venom, then call you every name in the book (“traitor”, “Nazi”, “Communist”, “Anti-American”, “pin head”).

  53. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power. – Benito Mussolini

  54. MyrddinWilt says:

    I used to wonder about the plot line in Plants vs Zombies. I mean, just how can a bunch of plants keep away the undead hordes?

    Then someone pointed out to me that the US has been waging the War on Cannabis for sixty odd years and its the little plant thats winning.

  55. nicho says:

    Conservatives are “fescists.” That comes from the Latin “feces,” meaning a pile of shit.

  56. nicho says:

    It’s actually called “projection.” You accuse someone else of doing what you’re guilty of. It’s a well-known psychological phenomenon. The thief accuses everyone else of stealing.

  57. cole3244 says:

    as usual to the right a good offense is the best defense.

  58. karmanot says:

    Since WWII America wages wars but never wins them.

  59. karmanot says:

    Well done Myrddin!!!

  60. TKO says:

    Funny how throwing that “crappy little country” against the wall always seems to end up biting us on the ass–Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan . . . .

  61. bkmn says:

    This is what Republicans, and the rest of the right wing – including fundie Xtians do. I call it deflection – say the other side is guilty of what they themselves have been doing.

    It’s as if the bubble they live in has a somewhat reflective surface and they can see what they are doing and they can see an image of others behind it and they purposely conflate the two images.

    If you hear a Republican complaining about someone on the left doing something it is probably because that is what they have been doing.

    Prime example – voter fraud.

  62. Silver_Witch says:

    As they say….great minds!

  63. Indigo says:

    Exactly! You beat me to it. :-)

  64. Silver_Witch says:

    i think they are just idiots and don’t really know the difference between either….

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