The more I think about Naomi Wolf’s article of yesterday, the sillier it becomes.
A Cedar Lounge Revolutionary is right:
Nowhere in the piece does Wolf exhibit any kind of understanding of what fascism actually is or was (I’d recommend Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism for a serious and informative discussion of the subject). Rather she picks the definition that fits the examples she can find which, while certainly to credit to Bush and the rest fall far short of the kind of tyranny Wolf seeks to invoke.
In a moment of boredom this morning, I decided to test her 10 easy steps by applying them to another country: ‘Troubles’-era Northern Ireland. What follows are my attempts to make Northern Ireland fit the bill of a fascist tyranny according to Wolf’s prescriptions. So -lest anyone is tempted to argue the contrary- I’m not trying to imply Northern Ireland was fascist.
That said, SS RUC! (only joking)
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
2. Create a gulag
3. Develop a thug caste
Ulster Defence Association.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system
Confidential telephone: 0800 666 999, if I recall correctly.
5. Harass citizen’s groups
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
7. Target key individuals
8. Control the Press
OK, I can’t think of any germane examples here. The dubbing of Sinn Fein voices is a bit feeble. Someone have a go.
9. Dissent equals treason
Pass. Someone else have a go.
10. Suspend the rule of law
Collusion with loyalist paramilitary forces.
So there you go. As I have amply demonstrated, Troubles-era Northern Ireland was a fascist regime, by the criteria Naomi Wolf lays down.
One problem with this sort of writing (hers, not mine – mine is immaculate) is that it resorts to an preoccupation with categories as a means of gaining publicity.
‘Fascist’ is a word that pushes certain buttons, in the same way that ‘racist’ does. As in ‘Jade: I’m No Racist!’. In this case, the concern is not with the actions of the person herself and their effects, but instead with whether or not they ought to be branded racist. Likewise, in Wolf’s piece, importance is weighted upon the resonance of the category of ‘fascist’, and the sensation this might provoke among her readers, rather than the brute reality of life under the Bush administration, and the system that gives it legitimacy.
Anyway, here’s Youth Against Fascism by Sonic Youth. In the original version, I believe the lyrics are ‘and yeah the president sucks/he’s a war pig fuck’.