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Depression and Fascism: Krugman’s Analysis

Hun­gar­ian Job­bik Party Mem­bers on Parade

COMMENT: Although he insists on refrain­ing from using the “F” word for what is tran­spir­ing in Europe, Nobel Prize-winning econ­o­mist Paul Krug­man has noted in a New York Times col­umn that the “aus­ter­ity” mea­sures cham­pi­oned by Ger­many (and also the GOP in the U.S.) and being cur­rently imple­mented, are dri­ving for­ward extreme right pol­i­tics in Hun­gary, among other coun­tries.

It might be noted that it was the “aus­ter­ity” pro­gram of chan­cel­lor Brunning’s regime of 1930–1932, in com­bi­na­tion with the Great Depres­sion, that drove the  peo­ple into the arms of Hitler.

In Hun­gary, the very cut­backs being man­dated by advo­cates of “aus­ter­ity” are dri­ving sen­ti­ment in the direc­tion of the Job­bik party, an assem­bly of old-line “street fas­cists.” Author and appar­ent ben­e­fi­ciary of those cut­backs and the reac­tion they pro­duce is Fidesz, the gov­ern­ing right-wing party that has con­sis­tently and suc­cess­fully flanked Job­bik on the right.

It is note­wor­thy that here, too, the brazen imple­men­ta­tion of fas­cism (in a for­mer Axis ally) has taken place out in the open and with very lit­tle fanfare.

Not with a bang but a whimper.

“Depres­sion and Democ­racy” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 12/11/2011.

EXCERPT: It’s time to start call­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion what it is: a depres­sion. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depres­sion, but that’s cold com­fort. Unem­ploy­ment in both Amer­ica and Europe remains dis­as­trously high. Lead­ers and insti­tu­tions are increas­ingly dis­cred­ited. And demo­c­ra­tic val­ues are under siege.

On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the polit­i­cal as on the eco­nomic front it’s impor­tant not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unem­ploy­ment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 lev­els; omi­nous polit­i­cal trends shouldn’t be dis­missed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.

Let’s talk, in par­tic­u­lar, about what’s hap­pen­ing in Europe — not because all is well with Amer­ica, but because the grav­ity of Euro­pean polit­i­cal devel­op­ments isn’t widely understood.

First of all, the cri­sis of the euro is killing the Euro­pean dream. The shared cur­rency, which was sup­posed to bind nations together, has instead cre­ated an atmos­phere of bit­ter acrimony.

Specif­i­cally, demands for ever-harsher aus­ter­ity, with no off­set­ting effort to fos­ter growth, have done dou­ble dam­age. They have failed as eco­nomic pol­icy, wors­en­ing unem­ploy­ment with­out restor­ing con­fi­dence; a Europe-wide reces­sion now looks likely even if the imme­di­ate threat of finan­cial cri­sis is con­tained. And they have cre­ated immense anger, with many Euro­peans furi­ous at what is per­ceived, fairly or unfairly (or actu­ally a bit of both), as a heavy-handed exer­cise of Ger­man power.

Nobody famil­iar with Europe’s his­tory can look at this resur­gence of hos­til­ity with­out feel­ing a shiver. Yet there may be worse things happening.

Right-wing pop­ulists are on the rise from Aus­tria, where the Free­dom Party (whose leader used to have neo-Nazi con­nec­tions) runs neck-and-neck in the polls with estab­lished par­ties, to Fin­land, where the anti-immigrant True Finns party had a strong elec­toral show­ing last April. And these are rich coun­tries whose economies have held up fairly well. Mat­ters look even more omi­nous in the poorer nations of Cen­tral and East­ern Europe.

Last month the Euro­pean Bank for Recon­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment doc­u­mented a sharp drop in pub­lic sup­port for democ­racy in the “new E.U.” coun­tries, the nations that joined the Euro­pean Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not sur­pris­ingly, the loss of faith in democ­racy has been great­est in the coun­tries that suf­fered the deep­est eco­nomic slumps.

And in at least one nation, Hun­gary, demo­c­ra­tic insti­tu­tions are being under­mined as we speak.

One of Hungary’s major par­ties, Job­bik, is a night­mare out of the 1930s: it’s anti-Roma (Gypsy), it’s anti-Semitic, and it even had a para­mil­i­tary arm. But the imme­di­ate threat comes from Fidesz, the gov­ern­ing center-right party.

Fidesz won an over­whelm­ing Par­lia­men­tary major­ity last year, at least partly for eco­nomic rea­sons; Hun­gary isn’t on the euro, but it suf­fered severely because of large-scale bor­row­ing in for­eign cur­ren­cies and also, to be frank, thanks to mis­man­age­ment and cor­rup­tion on the part of the then-governing left-liberal par­ties. Now Fidesz, which rammed through a new Con­sti­tu­tion last spring on a party-line vote, seems bent on estab­lish­ing a per­ma­nent hold on power.

The details are com­plex. Kim Lane Schep­pele, who is the direc­tor of Princeton’s Law and Pub­lic Affairs pro­gram — and has been fol­low­ing the Hun­gar­ian sit­u­a­tion closely — tells me that Fidesz is rely­ing on over­lap­ping mea­sures to sup­press oppo­si­tion. A pro­posed elec­tion law cre­ates ger­ry­man­dered dis­tricts designed to make it almost impos­si­ble for other par­ties to form a gov­ern­ment; judi­cial inde­pen­dence has been com­pro­mised, and the courts packed with party loy­al­ists; state-run media have been con­verted into party organs, and there’s a crack­down on inde­pen­dent media; and a pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional adden­dum would effec­tively crim­i­nal­ize the lead­ing left­ist party.

Taken together, all this amounts to the re-establishment of author­i­tar­ian rule, under a paper-thin veneer of democ­racy, in the heart of Europe. And it’s a sam­ple of what may hap­pen much more widely if this depres­sion continues. . . .


14 comments for “Depression and Fascism: Krugman’s Analysis”

  1. A les­son from “Fas­cist takeovers 201″: True con­trol means con­trol­ling the hearts and minds:


    Revan­chism in Budapest
    Hungary’s Right-Wing War on Culture

    By Philipp Oehmke

    István Márta says that he hasn’t given up yet, but he knows he’s fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle. He is stand­ing in the audi­to­rium of his the­ater with a cam­era and act­ing as if all was well in the theater.

    “What can I do?” he asks, a lit­tle too loudly and with a touch of annoy­ance in his voice.

    “Noth­ing,” says his assis­tant. “We can do nothing.”

    On stage, actors are rehears­ing a scene from “Don Car­los.” Together, they move for­ward and begin to moan, snort and gasp. Here on the stage in Budapest, mod­ern director’s the­ater feels no dif­fer­ent than it does in Ger­man cities like Bochum, Freiburg or Cologne. “Don Car­los” will be Márta’s penul­ti­mate pro­duc­tion, to be fol­lowed by “The Magic Moun­tain.” And then it’ll be all over for Márta.

    His the­ater will soon be under new man­age­ment. Márta’s suc­ces­sors are an actor who recently cam­paigned for the right-wing extrem­ist Job­bik Party and a play­wright who is a pro­fessed anti-Semite.


    A Bat­tle for People’s Thoughts

    But a country’s cul­ture can’t be changed that eas­ily. In Hun­gary, cul­ture is left­ist and lib­eral, as it is in many other Euro­pean coun­tries. Cul­ture does what it pleases and what it thinks. But to gain com­plete con­trol over a coun­try, one has to con­trol what peo­ple think. This is pre­cisely the issue on many people’s minds in Hun­gary today: a bat­tle for people’s thoughts.

    Already in recent months, the direc­tors of a few provin­cial the­aters have been replaced by gov­ern­ment sym­pa­thiz­ers. In Budapest, the artis­tic direc­tor of the National Opera was let go. Márta, at the New The­ater, will be the next to go, and there is talk that the gay direc­tor of the National The­ater may also be dri­ven out.


    A coun­try is impos­ing a new way of think­ing and a new cul­ture on itself, a cul­ture that ties in with pre-1920 Greater Hun­gary. Hun­gary today is a coun­try try­ing to awaken a sense of national iden­tity that never actu­ally existed.

    ‘Rep­tile of Hun­gar­ian Politics’

    Márta, the cur­rent direc­tor of the New The­ater, did noth­ing wrong. The the­ater is mak­ing money, and the pro­duc­tions have been favor­ably reviewed. He has pro­duced the inter­na­tional the­atri­cal canon, includ­ing works by Molière and Ostrowski, Büch­ner, Schiller and Shake­speare, as well as by Hun­gar­ian writ­ers. Márta didn’t expect to encounter a prob­lem when he sent the mayor a 200-page doc­u­ment in the fall: his con­cept for the theater’s artis­tic and finan­cial future.

    The mayor, István Tar­lós, entered office since last year after 20 years of lib­eral lead­er­ship in the city. The writer Rudolf Ungváry describes Tar­lós, a sup­porter of the gov­ern­ing party, as “a rep­tile of Hun­gar­ian pol­i­tics, mus­cu­lar and well-fed.” Sud­denly a sec­ond appli­ca­tion for the direc­tor­ship of the New The­ater appeared on Tarlós’s desk. It was less than 20 pages long, vague and incom­plete. Those who saw it say it was obvi­ously thrown together with lit­tle atten­tion to detail.

    It was sub­mit­ted by György Dörner. Dörner, 58, does voice overs for Mel Gib­son char­ac­ters in the Hun­gar­ian ver­sions of Hol­ly­wood films. He is a mod­er­ately suc­cess­ful actor who recited folk poetry at cam­paign events of the far-right Job­bik Party last year.

    In his appli­ca­tion, Dörner wrote that not only did he intend to rename the New The­ater as the “Home Front The­ater,” but that he would also put an end to “degen­er­ate, sick, lib­eral hege­mony.” The mayor liked what he read, although Dörner’s sug­ges­tion to rename the the­ater went too far, even for Tar­lós. In his appli­ca­tion, Dörner also wrote that he intended to run the the­ater together with his friend István Csurka.

    Every­one in Hun­gary knows István Csurka. Once a cel­e­brated poet, he wrote sto­ries and plays with such poetic force that even his rivals praised his works. Csurka was also a hero. As a well-known con­ser­v­a­tive dis­si­dent, he was arrested dur­ing the 1956 upris­ing, although it soon emerged that he had also coop­er­ated with the Hun­gar­ian secret police dur­ing com­mu­nist rule.

    Part 2: ‘Blab­bing on about Jews’

    It is a Thurs­day morn­ing in mid-November and Dörner, who lives out­side Budapest, is still sleep­ing. The woman who answers the phone says that he was up late the night before shoot­ing a film. When we finally reach Dörner at around noon, he says, in his Mel Gib­son voice, that he prefers to exer­cise his right to make no com­ment. He adds that he has noth­ing to explain — and hangs up.


    Here at his weekly news­pa­per, Csurka has recently begun writ­ing com­men­taries under the head­line “Ascher Café,” dia­tribes filled with hate and accu­sa­tions. “Peo­ple make fun of our appli­ca­tion,” Csurka writes, “because in it we expressed national thoughts and not their lib­eral consensus.”

    The commentary’s title “Ascher Café” is a ref­er­ence to Tamás Ascher, per­haps Hungary’s most famous film direc­tor, the Direc­tor of the Acad­emy of Drama and Film, and a Jew. For Csurka, Ascher sym­bol­izes the Jewish-liberal cof­fee­house cul­tural con­spir­acy he has been fight­ing for decades. Csurka writes: “It isn’t just the social-liberal cul­tural pol­icy, but also the Ascher Café’s dom­i­nance over the the­ater that is so oppres­sive. We are with­draw­ing cul­ture from the con­trol of Tamás Ascher, the head of the café, the great direc­tor, who also directs films in Los Ange­les and is, with all cer­tainty, descended from a fam­ily of Ashke­nazi Jews from Odessa.”


    “We Hun­gar­i­ans, espe­cially those on the right, are at the polit­i­cal state of con­scious­ness that existed in 1948. We stopped think­ing after that, and only started think­ing again in 1989,” says Hun­gar­ian jour­nal­ist Rudolf Ungváry.

    Even today, many Hun­gar­i­ans believe that only the Ger­mans were respon­si­ble for the 560,000 Hun­gar­ian Jews who were mur­dered dur­ing the Holo­caust. But, says Ungváry, Adolf Eichmann’s staff in Hun­gary con­sisted of only two dozen mem­bers of the SS. Accord­ing to Ungváry, it was the Hun­gar­ian police force that orga­nized the depor­ta­tion of the Jews to the Ger­man exter­mi­na­tion camps. But the coun­try has never con­fronted this part of its past. In post­war Ger­many, the con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment of then-Chancellor Kon­rad Ade­nauer also took for­mer Nazis on the road to West­ern democ­racy, whereas in Hun­gary the mem­bers of the far right went under­ground. They have since resur­faced as hor­rific zom­bies and are try­ing to gain con­trol over the country.

    Among these zom­bies is Sán­dor Pörzse. One of the most promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik, he is also a mem­ber of par­lia­ment, the editor-in-chief of the party mag­a­zine Barikád and a found­ing mem­ber of the party’s para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion, the Hun­gar­ian Guard, which is now banned.


    He agrees to meet with us in the lobby of the par­lia­ment build­ing, which once housed the com­mu­nist cen­tral com­mit­tee. It is a clear ges­ture that says: Look, this party is legit­i­mate, Job­bik is the third-largest force in the par­lia­ment and will soon be the second-largest. Pörzse is a for­mer pro­fes­sional foot­ball player and was later a well-known TV host at the right-wing sta­tions HIR and Echo-TV. Today, he is a fascist.

    “Wrong,” Pörzse says imme­di­ately, look­ing oddly calm and relaxed. Fas­cists were the sup­port­ers of Mus­solini, he says, but he isn’t one. He is a sup­porter of Hungary.

    And what does he think about the Nazis? Pörzse stretches, takes a deep breath and thinks for a moment, clearly enjoy­ing the ten­sion. Finally he says, smil­ing con­tent­edly, “They were war criminals.”

    He is still on good terms with Prime Min­is­ter Orbán. The two men used to play foot­ball together. But the gov­ern­ment, says Pörzse, is far too mod­er­ate and half-hearted. It pub­licly dis­tances itself from Jobbik’s radicalism.

    A Cul­ture War

    We must resort to harsh tac­tics now,” he says. “The coun­try is so sick that aspirin is no longer effec­tive.” The Hun­gar­ian peo­ple seem to agree with Job­bik, as evi­denced by the party’s rise in pop­u­lar­ity in pub­lic opin­ion polls. This is partly because Job­bik has fig­ured out how to reach peo­ple — not through pol­i­tics, but through resent­ments dis­guised as cul­ture. This explains the uni­forms, the torch­light parades, the nation­al­ist song-singing evenings and the para­mil­i­tary organization.

    “After the polit­i­cal turn­around has been com­pleted,” Pörzse says, “we must now recap­ture our spot in the culture.”


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2011, 2:27 pm
  2. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2011–12-19/neo-nazis-serial-killings/52083006/1

    Ger­many Links Ser­ial Killings to Neo-Nazis

    20th Decem­ber 2011

    “Many peo­ple don’t see the prob­lem,” said Flo­rian Kröckel, 32, from Hal­ber­stadt in east­ern Ger­many, where vio­lence against those seen as not “Ger­man enough” occurred often. “They don’t want to see the prob­lem.” Wag­ner was blunt: “(Right-wing crime) has been hushed-up. Politi­cians want Ger­many to make a good impres­sion on other countries.”

    By Ruby Rus­sell, Spe­cial for USA TODAY

    BERLIN – The first to die was Enver Sim­sek , 38, a flower ven­dor shot in the face in Nurem­berg in 2000. The last was Halit Yoz­gat, 21, shot in the head in the Inter­net café he ran in Kas­sel, six years later.

    In between, seven more peo­ple — mostly Turks — were mur­dered across Ger­many in killings that police had sur­mised were the work of drug syn­di­cates, money laun­der­ers or homi­ci­dal rel­a­tives. Law enforce­ment appeared to ignore the pos­si­bil­ity of right-wing ter­ror­ism, in spite of Germany’s legacy of decades of peri­odic vio­lence against minori­ties by neo-Nazis.

    But the recent dis­cov­ery that the killings were the work of neo-Nazis has led to soul search­ing and shame among Ger­man offi­cials and rage in the Turkish-German community.

    “If eight or nine Ger­mans had been killed in Turkey with the same weapon and the mur­der­ers not found for years, Euro­peans would be up in arms,” Elif Kubasik, whose hus­band Mehmet Kubasik was mur­dered in Dort­mund in 2006, told Turk­ish news­pa­per Sabah.

    Worse, the neo-Nazis accused of the crimes were known to law enforce­ment as early as the 1990s on sus­pi­cion of com­mit­ting racist acts and had con­tacts with infor­mants work­ing for Germany’s equiv­a­lent of the FBI, the BfV, accord­ing to the agency.

    “I am not sur­prised that right extrem­ists are killing peo­ple in Ger­many,” said for­mer police offi­cer Bernd Wag­ner, who left the force in 1991 and set up an orga­ni­za­tion that coun­sels neo-Nazis to reject their ways. ” They would have seen this com­ing had they read the writ­ing on the wall.”

    Uwe Mund­los, Uwe Böhn­hardt and Beate Zschäpe were friends who started out young on their racist careers in the mid-1990s. As a teen, Böhn­hardt hung a man­nequin over a bridge with a Star of David on it, accord­ing to Ger­man media reports. By 1998, all three were wanted by police for plot­ting bomb attacks.

    The two men and pos­si­bly oth­ers, such as Zschäpe, com­mit­ted their first mur­der Sept. 9, 2000, shoot­ing Sim­sek eight times in Nurem­berg, states the Fed­eral Prosecutor’s Office. Eight more would die over the next six years, but it wasn’t until the fifth exe­cu­tion that police deter­mined the deaths were connected.

    The gun used to kill Yunus Turgut in 2004 as he opened his kebab shop in Ros­tock in east­ern Ger­many was the same Czech pis­tol used in the pre­vi­ous four mur­ders. But still the killers were not caught. Two years and four vic­tims later, the killings ceased and the case went quiet until last month.

    On Nov. 4, a bank in the east­ern town of Eise­nach was robbed by two masked men. As police raced to find the rob­bers they came across a burned out camper van with two corpses inside. Mund­los, 38, had shot Böhn­hardt, 34, and killed him­self, says the Fed­eral Crim­i­nal Police Office, or BKA. .

    Zschäpe, 36, fled after allegedly set­ting fire to the apart­ment the three shared in the east­ern Ger­man town of Zwickau. She turned her­self in to police a few days later. Among the charred remains inves­ti­ga­tors found guns, includ­ing the Ceska pis­tol used in the mur­ders. They also found DVDs in which the two men say they were part of the National Social­ist Under­ground and brag about the mur­ders. They called the killing spree the “Ger­many Tour: 9 Turks shot,” though one of the vic­tims was of Greek heritage.

    Zschäpe is await­ing trial on charges of arson and ter­ror­ism. Her lawyer has said pros­e­cu­tors do not have enough evi­dence for the ter­ror­ism charge.

    Mean­while there have been near daily rev­e­la­tions in the Ger­man news media that the trio had been under sur­veil­lance by police and domes­tic intel­li­gence since the mid-1990s but were never viewed as sus­pects in the killings for more than a dozen years.

    BKA head Jörg Zier­cke said police had to fol­low all leads includ­ing pos­si­ble involve­ment of drugs and gam­bling, and insisted there had been no indi­ca­tion at the time of right-wing extrem­ism. And the BfV has admit­ted that one of its agents was seen at the Inter­net café where Yoz­gat worked on the day he was killed.

    “There seems to have been peo­ple who knew about the whole thing and the strik­ing thing is that the (intel­li­gence agency) had peo­ple in there and they didn’t (fig­ure) it out,” said Andreas Hierony­mus of the Hamburg-based Insti­tute of Migra­tion and Racism Research.

    Kenan Kolat, chair­man of the Mus­lim Com­mu­nity in Ger­many, said he believes police have failed to see that racism was at the root of the vio­lence because they did not want to dredge up Germany’s Nazi past. Oth­ers say the fail­ure was part of a reluc­tance by lead­ers to tar­nish Germany’s image abroad.

    “Many peo­ple don’t see the prob­lem,” said Flo­rian Kröckel, 32, from Hal­ber­stadt in east­ern Ger­many, where vio­lence against those seen as not “Ger­man enough” occurred often. “They don’t want to see the problem.”

    Wag­ner was blunt: “(Right-wing crime) has been hushed-up. Politi­cians want Ger­many to make a good impres­sion on other countries.”

    Posted by R. Wilson | December 22, 2011, 9:16 pm
  3. This is def­i­nitely wor­ri­some. Who knows how many more Euro­pean coun­tries will fall into total­i­tar­i­an­ism before the end of this decade?
    There may be some hope for the U.S., how­ever, as many mil­lions have woken up to the Tea-Freakers and their bull­shit. One can only hope that the Hun­gar­ian peo­ple will soon awaken as well.

    Posted by Steven l. | December 23, 2011, 5:51 am
  4. @Steven L.: And let’s hope the US’s ultra-wealthy wake up soon to the real­ity that the pub­lic no longer buys the notion that our ultra-wealthy have actu­ally “earned” their ultra-wealth. It might avoid future embar­rass­ments like this. Given the pro­found stu­pid­ity on dis­play by the global lead­er­ship when it comes to any sort of envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity over the next cen­tury, I’d imag­ine some of these guys are gen­uinely as clue­less as Taibbi’s arti­cle makes them seem and don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to turn the world into a giant serf plan­ta­tion man­aged by islands of unac­count­able wealth and power. Or at least that’s the Christ­mas mir­a­cle I’m hop­ing for this year.

    *jin­gle jin­gle jingle*

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 23, 2011, 7:05 pm
  5. The miss­ing F-word notwith­stand­ing, one big prob­lem I see in Krug­man, and in any main­stream cri­tique of the unrav­el­ling in Europe, is this word Democ­racy. The EU is a cen­tral­iz­ing force, not a democ­ra­tiz­ing one, in any sense of the term. The ris­ing sup­port and legit­imiza­tion of far-right and nation­al­ist move­ments in Europe is not in oppo­si­tion to any­thing resem­bling democ­racy, any more than the polit­i­cal left is work­ing in the inter­ests of work­ing class peo­ple. God bless Paul K., but he writes (has to write) in NY Times code, where ‘democ­racy’ refers to the sham of elec­toral pol­i­tics and ‘rep­re­sen­ta­tive’ gov­ern­ment, owned and oper­ated by con­glom­er­ate inter­ests. If we can stand back, we see the entire cri­sis — nose­div­ing cur­rency, far right thug­gery, polit­i­cal and eco­nomic chaos, etc. — is itself a mass-marketed com­mod­ity, serv­ing and ben­e­fit­ing a solid core of inter­ests. This tele­scop­ing lack of an inci­sive, mean­ing­ful vocab­u­lary — espe­cially in the hands of St. Paul The Econ­o­mist — gives the lie to the whole system.

    Posted by Rob Coogan | December 25, 2011, 10:10 am
  6. Indeed, well said, Mr. Coogan.

    Some­times I feel fool­ish, point­ing out process at work for decades, suc­cess­fully so.

    And the process is indeed, the real­iza­tion of fascism.

    That was the whole pur­pose of the Friedrich List’s sys­tem and the Reich’s adop­tion of it.

    Look up Ist­van Csurka with the search func­tion. (He’s one of the Hun­gar­ian fas­cists who have been hard at work for decades restor­ing their beloved system.)

    He’s been around along time, and is now real­iz­ing his agenda.

    Csurka was recently quoted in the “New York Times” on the sub­ject of Hun­gar­ian politics.

    Posted by Dave Emory | December 25, 2011, 4:44 pm
  7. @ Rob Coogan. Yes indeed. The Eu is a cen­tral­iz­ing force that is in fact the nega­tion of democ­racy. What fools the major­ity of Euro­peans is that they remem­ber that fas­cism came before WWII through right-wing plat­forms. And now, see­ing a resur­gence of right-wing par­ties and sen­si­bil­i­ties, they fear that the same sce­nario might repeat itself. But the fact is, fas­cism has now cloaked itself under the guise of left-wing ele­ments, polit­i­cal par­ties, NGOs, etc. When you look at the bureacracy of the EU and many of left-wing par­ti­sans in Europe, you see the new fas­cists, 2.0 if you want, at work. As you say your­self, nation­al­ism is not incom­pat­i­ble with democ­racy, not any­more than social­ists really defend work­ers. What makes present-day pol­i­tics so dif­fi­cult to ana­lyze is that author­i­tar­ian, total­i­tar­ian elites don’t really care about the gar­ment that they have to wear. SS uni­forms are no longer nec­es­sary, if you know how to craft and deliver the decep­tions. All that mat­ters for them is the end, which is con­trol. It is a great com­men­tary Rob, thanks for shar­ing it.

    @ Dave. Con­cern­ing Hun­gary, it seems that they were more patient or stub­born, depend­ing on how you look at it, than oth­ers in their desire to keep the label or brand of “extreme-right” or “fas­cist”. I guess they are now in a posi­tion to cash in the prof­its after a half cen­tury of strug­gle and bare sur­vival. Those who remained faith­ful to extreme-right fas­cism through­out Europe might ben­e­fit from the destruc­tion of democ­racy that the EU is bring­ing. By col­lab­o­rat­ing with EU bureau­crats and so-called social­ists, they might, I am afraid, be vic­to­ri­ous in the end, if noth­ing is done on our part.

    Posted by Claude | December 26, 2011, 12:44 pm
  8. Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 28, 2011, 3:32 pm
  9. I want to echo and extend Rob’s obser­va­tions about lan­guage. The main­stream par­a­digm of ‘democ­racy’ has become so cor­rupt that it’s dif­fi­cult to envi­sion democ­racy as any­thing but a staged and futile for­mal­ity. Obvi­ously, one way the rel­a­tive pres­ence of democ­racy is proved or dis­proved is whether or not the wishes and pol­icy of the major­ity are being actively pur­sued and accom­plished, rather than whether or not cam­paigns and elec­tions take place. Also obvi­ously, democ­racy isn’t equiv­a­lent to any spe­cific eco­nomic sys­tem. Insist­ing on a return to sen­si­ble con­sen­sual def­i­n­i­tions (or even read­ing a dic­tio­nary) is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary act. Mus­solini could have added “Fas­cism is atavism” because its advo­cates con­sis­tently are con­temp­tu­ous of the care­ful use of rea­son and language.

    Posted by Dwight | December 29, 2011, 3:27 am
  10. @Dwight: Well, although I must agree with you on the seri­ous issues West­ern Democ­racy now faces, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber as well that fas­cists HATE, and DESPISE, true demo­c­ra­tic think­ing. This is why you see the Tea-Freakers and all the other extreme right-wing use­ful idiots, pup­pets, and shills for the Estab­lish­ment here in Amer­ica mak­ing these highly ridicu­lous claims of “Amer­i­can is a repub­lic, not a democ­racy”, and such, when in fact, this coun­try as it was founded, had the most unique form of gov­ern­ment in the world back in 1776: The world’s first rep­re­sen­ta­tive, con­sti­tu­tional, demo­c­ra­tic repub­lic. And yet, the extreme right wishes to take away democ­racy and trans­form us into a coun­try sim­i­lar to Mussolini’s Italy(or post-Mao China!) in the ‘30s, or Pinochet’s Chile in the ‘70s, or Galtieri’s Argentina in the early ‘80s. One of their most favored tac­tics, is quote min­ing and tak­ing things com­pletely out of con­text, as what they’ve done with the Founders in par­tic­u­lar. And sadly, some morons have really bought into this garbage. Hope­fully, we can edu­cate peo­ple before it’s too late, because if not, these atti­tudes will con­tinue to take us down a path which has already given us things like the ‘PATRIOT’ Act......and we could very well end up at least like the South Africa of the pre-Mandela period. Maybe even worse!

    Posted by Steven L. | December 29, 2011, 5:48 pm
  11. With the eurozone’s ‘aus­ter­ity’ drive run­ning strong with no end in site and the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion dete­ri­o­rat­ing rapidly in the P.I.I.G.S, pre­dic­tions of eco­nomic growth in 2012 are already being dashed and it’s look­ing like a reces­sion will prob­a­bly take place in the euro­zone way this year. And now there’s chat­ter about a ‘lost decade’. That should do won­ders for the anti-democratic forces of the world eager to offer a new vision. On the plus side, at least the euro has fallen so much against the yen and dol­lar that Germany’s exports are even more com­pet­i­tive on the world stage. Well, I guess self-reinforcing cycles of ‘aus­ter­ity’ and a ‘lost decade’ for the euro­zone won’t be ALL bad:

    In Euro Zone, Aus­ter­ity Seems to Hit Its Limits

    Pub­lished: Jan­u­ary 1, 2012

    Europe’s lead­ers braced their nations for a tur­bu­lent year as their belea­guered economies faced a threat on two fronts: widen­ing deficits that force more bor­row­ing but increas­ing aus­ter­ity mea­sures that put growth fur­ther out of reach.


    While the eco­nomic pic­ture in the United States has bright­ened recently with more upbeat employ­ment fig­ures, Europe remains mired in a slump. Most econ­o­mists are fore­cast­ing a reces­sion for 2012, which will heighten the pres­sure gov­ern­ments and finan­cial insti­tu­tions across the Con­ti­nent are see­ing.


    Despite crit­i­cism from many econ­o­mists, though, most Euro­pean gov­ern­ments are stick­ing to aus­ter­ity plans, reject­ing the Key­ne­sian approach of eco­nomic stim­u­lus favored by Wash­ing­ton after the finan­cial cri­sis in 2008, in a bid to show investors they are seri­ous about fis­cal discipline.

    This cycle was evi­dent on Fri­day, when Spain sur­prised observers by announc­ing a larger-than-expected bud­get gap for 2011 even as the new con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment there laid out plans to increase prop­erty and income taxes in 2012.

    Indeed, even in the coun­try where the cri­sis began, Greece, the cycle of spend­ing cuts, tax increases and con­trac­tion has not resulted in a course cor­rec­tion, and the same path now lies in store for much larger economies like those of Italy and Spain.

    “Every gov­ern­ment in Europe with the excep­tion of Ger­many is bend­ing over back­wards to prove to the mar­ket that they won’t hes­i­tate to do what it takes,” said Charles Wyplosz, a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at the Grad­u­ate Insti­tute of Geneva. “We’re going straight into a wall with this kind of pol­icy. It’s sheer madness.”

    Rather than the aus­ter­ity mea­sures now being imposed, Mr. Wyplosz said he would like to see gov­ern­ments halt the recent tax increases and spend­ing reduc­tions, and instead cut con­sump­tion taxes in a bid to encour­age con­sumer spend­ing. More belt-tightening, he said, increases the like­li­hood that Europe will see a “lost decade” of eco­nomic tor­por like Japan faced in the 1990s.

    In fact, econ­o­mists and strate­gists on both sides of the Atlantic have been steadily ratch­et­ing down their growth expec­ta­tions for 2012.

    “Europe is likely to have a mean­ing­ful reces­sion in 2012,” said Tobias Lev­kovich, Citigroup’s chief equity strate­gist. While Mr. Lev­kovich does not see that as a sig­nif­i­cant threat to the bot­tom line of most Amer­i­can busi­nesses — he esti­mates that Europe accounts for about 8.5 per­cent of sales for the typ­i­cal com­pany in the Stan­dard & Poor’s 500-stock index — the psy­cho­log­i­cal effects on global mar­kets will be mag­ni­fied if polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion to aus­ter­ity increases.


    The Continent’s eco­nomic out­look will take cen­ter stage on Jan. 9, when Mrs. Merkel and Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy of France will dis­cuss a new fis­cal treaty intended to impose strin­gent bud­get require­ments on Euro­pean Union nations. Then on Jan. 30, Euro­pean Union lead­ers will gather in Brus­sels to dis­cuss ways to spur growth.

    There are some bright spots as Europe enters 2012. The recent drop of the euro cur­rency against for­eign rivals like the yen and the dol­lar makes Euro­pean exports more com­pet­i­tive — a crit­i­cal advan­tage for Ger­many, Europe’s largest exporter and its largest econ­omy. Ger­man unem­ploy­ment now stands at 5.5 per­cent, the low­est since Ger­man reunification.

    About 15 per­cent of the euro zone’s gross domes­tic prod­uct comes from Ger­man con­sumer spend­ing, more than the con­tri­bu­tion of Greece, Spain, Por­tu­gal and Ire­land com­bined, accord­ing to Mr. Hill.


    An addi­tion bright spot in this whole mess is that now the world gets to see what hap­pens when a cur­rency union tries to shift from one rooted pri­mar­ily in trade between mem­ber nations into one rooted pri­mar­ily on the eco­nomic clout of a few strong nations export­ing to the rest of the world with the assis­tance of a weak cur­rency after the rest of the cur­rency union mem­bers become eco­nomic bas­ket cases (sort of like what Putin’s Eurasian Union will prob­a­bly look like). These cur­rency unions sure are flexible.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 1, 2012, 8:08 pm
  12. Here’s an inter­est­ing behind the scenes peek at the eurozone’s New Nor­mal:

    Merkel under fire over phone bid to oust Berlusconi

    Michael Day


    Sat­ur­day 31 Decem­ber 2011


    Yesterday’s Wall Street Jour­nal sug­gested that Ms Merkel had “inter­vened” on 20 Octo­ber and tele­phoned Mr Napoli­tano in Rome, urg­ing him to “nudge Berlus­coni off the stage”. Ger­many, it said, was alarmed by the Berlus­coni government’s inabil­ity to fight the debt cri­sis and intro­duce the reforms demanded by the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank.

    Ms Merkel called on Mr Napoli­tano to do what was “within your pow­ers”. The report adds that within days the pres­i­dent “qui­etly began sound­ing out Italy’s polit­i­cal par­ties to test the sup­port for a new gov­ern­ment if Mr Berlus­coni couldn’t sat­isfy Europe and the markets”.

    It could be argued that such activ­i­ties were in line with the president’s job descrip­tion, and that he might have taken such a course any­way, given the eco­nomic cri­sis and the weak­ness of the Berlus­coni administration.

    But the WSJ said its claims, which were based on inter­views with more than two dozen pol­icy mak­ers – none of whom is named – as well as key doc­u­ments, reveal “how Ger­many responded to the dan­gers in Italy by impos­ing its power on a divided euro zone”.

    Daniele Capez­zone, a PDL spokesman, said the phone call appeared “author­i­ta­tive and inva­sive”. Another PDL MP, Mela­nia de Nichilo Riz­zoli, said: “We are not a Ger­man colony. The Euro­pean treaties do not allow the inter­fer­ence of one state in the polit­i­cal affairs of another Euro­pean state.”

    A state­ment released by Napolitano’s office did not deny that the call took place. But it said there was no dis­cus­sion ”of any issue of inter­nal Ital­ian pol­i­tics, nor any request to replace the pre­mier“. ”The rea­son for the con­ver­sa­tion was only about the mea­sures taken and to be taken to reduce the deficit, in defence of the euro and in rela­tion to struc­tural reforms,“ it said.

    How­ever, sus­pi­cions that Mr Napoli­tano was keen to speed Mr Berlusconi’s depar­ture may have been height­ened by com­ments made in the week before Christ­mas — vir­tu­ally unprece­dented for an Ital­ian head of state — in which he said the media mogul’s admin­is­tra­tion had become inter­na­tion­ally “untenable”.

    Mr Berlus­coni lost his par­lia­men­tary major­ity on 8 Novem­ber. That evening he announced his would resign as soon as an emergency-budget had been passed. Later that week, as doubts mounted regard­ing Mr Berlusconi’s inten­tion to step down, the pres­i­dent made an unusu­ally force­ful dec­la­ra­tion say­ing that the 75-year-old tycoon was indeed about to quit, leav­ing him with no choice but to go within days.


    One could opti­misti­cally just view this whole inci­dent as a form of qui­ety coop­er­a­tion:

    Merkel Tells Nation She’ll ’Do Every­thing’ to Save Euro in 2012
    Jan­u­ary 01, 2012, 1:26 PM EST

    By Brian Parkin

    Jan. 1 (Bloomberg) — Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel said she expects tur­bu­lence in 2012 as she does “every­thing” to save the euro and end Europe’s sov­er­eign debt crisis.

    “The path to over­com­ing this won’t be with­out set­backs but at the end of this path Europe will emerge stronger from the cri­sis than before,” Merkel said in a New Year’s tele­vi­sion speech yes­ter­day. In his New Year’s mes­sage, Greek Prime Min­is­ter Lucas Papademos said his nation will con­front a “dif­fi­cult” 2012 and must con­tinue efforts to stay in the euro.

    Merkel will meet with French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy in Berlin on Jan. 9 to dis­cuss revi­sions to Europe’s fis­cal rule­book fol­low­ing deci­sions made at a Dec. 9 sum­mit. A final accord by euro lead­ers on the German-French pro­pos­als agreed at the sum­mit is due in March.

    “Today, you can trust that I will do every­thing to strengthen the euro,” Merkel said. “This will only suc­ceed if Europe learns from the mis­takes of the past. One of these is that a com­mon cur­rency can only be suc­cess­ful if we coop­er­ate more than in the past in Europe.”

    The euro had a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive annual loss against the dol­lar in 2011 for the first time in a decade as ris­ing yields on the region’s sov­er­eign debt reflected spec­u­la­tion about defaults and stalling eco­nomic growth.

    In its 13th year of exis­tence, the 17-nation cur­rency fell below 100 yen for the first time since 2001 as the region’s lead­ers bailed out Por­tu­gal, and Italy, with the world’s third– largest bond mar­ket, had its worst year since at least 1992. The Swiss franc rose against a major­ity of its most-traded coun­ter­parts as Europe’s debt cri­sis spurred demand for safety.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 1, 2012, 11:31 pm
  13. Good points! The NYT con­flates (or should I say inten­tion­ally mud­dles) neolib­eral “free mar­ket” eco­nom­ics (aka glob­al­i­sa­tion: 21st Cen­tury cor­po­ratism) with the word “democ­racy” all the time. Orwellian dou­ble speak.


    Posted by ce399 | January 3, 2012, 8:29 pm
  14. A cou­ple of remarks on terminology...

    First, I believe that “Nazi” is the proper term to use for this polit­i­cal milieu, since their roots (some of them unin­ter­rupt­edly) go straight back to their alliance with the lead­er­ship of Nazi Ger­many. Fas­cism is a phe­nom­e­non that pre­dates Hitler’s Third Reich and even Mussolini’s Fas­cist Italy (although the Duce named it). It also post­dates both in places that can­not be directly con­nected with the afore­men­tioned: for instance, some of the fas­cist regimes of Latin Amer­ica and the native fas­cists within Rus­sia and the Ukraine. Fas­cism is a gen­eral term for the extrale­gal attempts of forces allied to the rul­ing indus­tri­al­ists and bankers to force the “lower” classes to accept grov­el­ing aus­ter­ity and a cruel skew­ing of the labor mar­ket to their dis­ad­van­tage, usu­ally, but not always or nec­es­sar­ily, involv­ing armed gangs in the streets but always involv­ing cav­a­lierly exe­cuted polit­i­cal mur­der (note the cog­ni­tive con­nec­tion of the word “cav­a­lier” to the knights of feu­dal­ism and the equi­tes of the Roman Imperium).

    Sec­ond, is the name of those in Hun­gary who would iden­tify them­selves as “Lovari” rather than “Romani” (which is the uni­ver­sal term decided upon by the Roma Con­gress funded by George Soros), although “romano”/“rromano” does in fact mean “hus­band” in most of the Gypsy dialects. “Gypsy” is still the pre­ferred term among those of this eth­nic­ity I know per­son­ally in the U.S., since there are over a dozen Gypsy tribes with their own unique names.

    This lat­ter remark puts me in mind of the way Gyp­sies have been cru­elly treated under what we would con­sider lib­eral regimes, such as that of the U.K. under Tony Blair and France under Sarkozy. My knowl­edge of the Russ­ian Gyp­sies (aside from their mar­velous con­tri­bu­tions to Russ­ian folk music) comes from a Russ­ian Jew­ish “refugee” I met in the U.S. (the oppres­sion of the Jews in the U.S.S.R., accord­ing to him, has largely been a myth), who informed me that the implaca­ble hatred that one type among the Gyp­sies (described also by George Bur­rows and other anthro­pol­o­gists) have for man­ual labor was solved by the Soviet lead­er­ship by orga­niz­ing them into an act­ing troop, which can be seen in Табор уходит в небо (The Camp van­ishes into Heaven) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkXLhc4ZQu4 (my Russ­ian friend took me with this fam­ily to see the film at his syn­a­gogue). The Irish Repub­lic and the Czech Repub­lic have also done well by the Gyp­sies: they don’t HAVE to be left to fend for them­selves with­out employ­ment and with lit­tle or no help from the gov­ern­ment, as has been the case in Hungary.

    Posted by Atlanta Bill | October 16, 2013, 4:07 am

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