Saturday, September 02, 2006

'Islamofascism' as Propaganda Catchword

A concise slapdown of the right-wing blogger term "Islamofascism" -- recently adopted by the Bush administration -- is found in an essay by Eric Margolis.

The term 'Islamofascist' is utterly without meaning, but packed with emotional explosives. It is a propaganda creation worthy Dr. Goebbels, and the latest expression of the big lie technique being used by neocons in Washington's propaganda war against its enemies in the Muslim World.

This ugly term was coined -- as was the other hugely successful propaganda term, 'terrorism' to dehumanize and demonize opponents and deny them any rational political motivation, hence removing any need to deal with their grievances and demands.

As the brilliant humanist Sir Peter Ustinov so succinctly put it, "terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich."

Both the terms 'terrorism' and 'fascist' have been so abused and over used that they have lost any original meaning. The best modern definition I've read of fascism comes in former Colombia University Professor Robert Paxton's superb 2004 book, 'The Anatomy of Fascism.'

Paxton defines fascism's essence, which he aptly terms its 'emotional lava' as: 1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief one's group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign 'contamination.'

Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors. All successful fascists regimes, Paxton points out, allied themselves to traditional conservative parties, and to the military-industrial complex.

Highly conservative and militaristic regimes are not necessarily fascist, says Paxton. True fascism requires relentless aggression abroad and a semi-religious adoration of the regime at home.

None of the many Muslim groups opposing US-British control of the Mideast fit Paxton's definitive analysis. The only truly fascist group ever to emerge in the Mideast was Lebanon's Maronite Christian Phalange Party in the 1930's which, ironically, became an ally of Israel's rightwing in the 1980's. ...

The Muslim World is replete with brutal dictatorships, feudal monarchies, and corrupt military-run states, but none of these regimes, however deplorable, fits the standard definition of fascism. Most, in fact, are America's allies.

Nor do underground Islamic militant groups ('terrorists' in western terminology). They are either focused on liberating land from foreign occupation, overthrowing 'un-Islamic' regimes, driving western influence from their region, or imposing theocracy based on early Islamic democracy.

Claims by fevered neoconservatives that Muslim radicals plan to somehow impose a worldwide Islamic caliphate are lurid fantasies worthy of Dr. Fu Manchu and yet another example of the big lie technique that worked so well over Iraq.

As Prof. Andrew Bosworth notes in an incisive essay on so-called Islamic fascism, "Islamic fundamentalism is a transnational movement inherently opposed to the pseudo-nationalism necessary for fascism."

However, there are plenty of modern far rightists with neo-fascist tendencies. But to find them, you have to go to North America and Europe. They advocate 'preemptive attacks against all potential enemies,' grabbing other nation's resources, overthrowing uncooperative governments, military dominance of the world, hatred of Semites (Muslims in this case), adherence to biblical prophecies, hatred of all who fail to agree, intensified police controls, and curtailment of 'liberal' political rights.

They revel in flag-waving, patriotic melodrama, demonstrations of military power, and use the mantle of patriotism to feather the nests of the military-industrial complex, colluding legislators and lobbyists. They urge war to the death, fought, of course, by other people's children. They have turned important sectors of the media into propaganda organs and brought the Pentagon largely under their control.

And now they are furiously whipping up war fever against Syria and Iran as a last desperate effort to keep themselves in power after the debacles they created in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Lebanon.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's an excellent Eric Margolis column -- he writes for the Toronto Sun too -- I wonder if they published it? I hope so...

It does strike me as a frightening case of projection -- GWB + friends calling everyone that they don't like fascists... but what is far, far worse is how many Americans/Canadians, etc. -- who have the benefit of an education -- lap it up without thinking about it at all... They actually are worried about the fact that their daughters/wives etc. will be wearing burkas if they don't start nuking immediately!

Dena

9/02/2006 11:18 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...

Dena:

It is definitely projection in action.

And this name-calling works wonders simplifying a complicated world for the overworked American masses. Even the educated people only vaguely recognise the term "fascism" enough to know that it is one of those things that we are supposed to be against.

I understand what you are saying about the popular fears that the Islamists will be our masters if we don't take action now. A lot of that crap must be coming to them from their churchgoing habit. It does not have to be their minister or priest doing the convincing, their chit-chatting fellow believers can transmit the message.

9/02/2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger DrewL said...

The "Islamofascism" tag is conveniently being thrown about as a precursor to conflict with Iran, no doubt. Before long, Iran will be billed as the Fourth Reich, the present day reincarnation of Hitler and his minions. And it will be our duty to save the world from this monstrous threat to freedom and democracy.

First it was terrorism that threatened our existence. All of a sudden, that's not good enough. Now it's "Islamofascism", whatever the hell that is. More nonsense from our nonsensical leaders who prey upon the ignorance and stupidity of the majority of American citizens.

9/02/2006 4:51 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

DrewL:

Very cogent point you make about the "Islamofascist" tag being connected to the upcoming Iran campaign.

Iran is, after all, the one of the few players in the Islamic fundamentist world which are actual states--which is one of the basic prerequisites of being fascist. Not that the auteurs of that term are really very strict with their facts.

But it could be a revealing hint as to the mindset of the players who understand the real definition of fascism.

9/02/2006 5:06 PM  
Blogger DrewL said...

The latest al-Zawahri video is an interesting addendum to the Islamofascist meme. And now they've got the American dude taking center stage. What better way to frighten ignorant, Christian Americans into believing that the Islamofascists are aiming to convert them to Islam? The whole charade seems a little too suspicious this time around.

9/03/2006 10:00 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

DrewL:

I have found Adam Gadahn to be a very suspicious case too. His open call for Americans to convert would, as you say, be perfect to rally the GOP's religious base. The gooper bloggers are now throwing mud at the two Fox News employees who were forced to convert in Gaza at the point of a gun, as if such a potentially life-preserving act is an affront to the Christian values that made this nation great.

So a meme illustrating the threat of mass conversions of Americans -- and someone who is publicly calling for the same -- is bound to work with certain elements in this country.

9/04/2006 7:36 AM  
Blogger DrewL said...

The old message was that they wanted Americans and non-Muslims to die. But to many Christians, the threat of conversion to Islam might be considered to be a fate worse than death, no? So, to that segment of the U.S. population that is obsessed with such things, doesn't this latest "threat" up the ante?

9/04/2006 10:25 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

DrewL:

You are probably right that the "conversion" threat does up the ante for the Christofascists.

That is probably why we are hearing the message right now. To inspire the GOP "base" not to sit idly by while the country is forced at the point of a sword to renounce JC.

On a related note, some time ago I saw an essay by Mark Crispin Miller about the election skullduggery. His thesis is that the only group with sufficient manpower and motivation to throw elections in the U.S. are the fundamentalist Christians. They see us at war with the elements of Satan, and are willing to go to great extremes to do their part.

His logic about the helpfulness of a large group of operatives at the grassroots level who are trusted to be election officials is inarguable.

9/05/2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger DrewL said...

No doubt, these people will resort to the old adage that "God helps those who help themselves." Apparently, in their twisted minds, they are, indeed, just helping themselves...to whatever they please.

Hmmmm. Mighty Christian of them. But WWJD?

9/05/2006 10:55 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...

DrewL:

But WWJD?

Oh, I reckon that he would be wandering our country searching (mostly in vain) for people who actually follow his teachings.

9/06/2006 9:27 AM  

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