Thursday, October 26, 2006

Islamic Fascisms?

Inflammatory Ironies

(professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism)

"President George W. Bush and the neoconservative handlers of his administration have added a new bogeyman to their long and evolving list of enemies: "Islamic fascism," also called "Islamofascism." This wonton flinging of the word "fascism" in reference to radical movements and leaders of the Muslim world, however, is not only inaccurate and oxymoronic, but it is, indeed, also ironic. Of course, it is also offensive and inflammatory and, therefore, detrimental to international understanding and stability.

Fascism is a specific category or concept of statecraft that is based on specific social and historical developments or phenomena. It cannot be conjured up by magic or portrayed by capricious definitions. It arises under conditions of an advanced industrialized economy, that is, under particular historical circumstances. It is a product of big business that is brought about by market or profitability imperatives. It is, in a sense, an "emergency" instrument (a metaphorical fire fighter, if your will) in the arsenal of powerful economic interests that is employed during crisis or critical times in order to remove or extinguish "obstacles" to unhindered operations of big business.

When profitability expectations of giant corporations are threatened or not met under ordinary economic conditions, powerful corporate interests resort to extraordinary measures to meet those expectations. To this end, they mobilize state power in order to remove what they perceive as threats to unrestricted business operations. Therefore, as the 1928 Encyclopedia Italiana puts it, "Fascism should more appropriately be called 'corporatism' because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

While some researchers have attributed this classic definition of fascism to the Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile[1], others believe that it came directly from the horse's mouth, Bonito Mussolini, the prototypical fascist.[2]

While it is important to identify and to warn against the signs of latent or embryonic fascism in and around the Bush administration, it is also necessary to point to the emergence or proliferation of a number of hopeful signs and forces that are evolving to counter the fascistic tendencies of neoconservatism. What are those counteracting forces?"

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