Re: [sixties-l] Re: coup coup coup

From: William M. Mandel (
Date: 12/22/00

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    State terror is not what distinguishes fascism for, as you point out, the former
    can exist in many forms. Fascism is the willingness of citizens (Brown Shirts,
    Black Shirts [fascisti], Falange, Cross and Arrow) to deprive citizens holding
    other opinions of their civil liberties by force, stimulated by unbounded populist
    demagogy by the fascist leaders. My definition excludes, say, the Ku Klux Klan,
    because it was focused not on civil liberties but on race and religion (Blacks,
    Jews, Catholics). Fascism may, of course, include racist components, as
    particularly in Germany, but it is the civil liberties aspect that is universal.
                                        William Mandel
    Carrol Cox wrote:
    > Jesse Lemisch wrote:
    > > C'mon, Bill: a coup without the use of (or even threatened use of) arms? Why
    > > should such a wise fellow as yourself contribute to this dead-end notion,
    > > which obscures just what it is that we are fighing against? If everything
    > > bad is a "coup," or "fascist," or "slavery," etc. -- the we have no way of
    > > comprehending and fighting the originals.
    > This has been bothering me more and more the last 5 years of so --
    > so much that I have recently begun to wonder if "fascism" was
    > *ever* a useful term -- even for fascist Italy or Nazi Germany.
    > Why let the enemy name himself? Was the White Terror launched
    > by the 30 tyrants in ancient Athens "fascism." Was it fascism when
    > they hanged leaders of the Chartist Movement? When they slaughtered
    > workers in Paris in 1848 or 1871? When they crucified slaves after
    > a slave revolt in ancient Rome? One could go on and on. State
    > terror, censorship, etc etc etc are characteristic of the wildest
    > variety of state formations. Don't we need something more
    > specific than being nasty to describe a state or a tendency as
    > fascist?
    > We need to find new labels. Fascism was a very specific
    > development in a very few nations between the two
    > world wars. It really isn't very useful as a metaphor for
    > everything we don't like. Anyhow the Democratic Party
    > is currently a far greater threat to various rights than
    > any officially right-wing movement.
    > Carrol

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