The New Fascism?

James Bennett has a chilling piece on how the anti-American sentiment sweeping Europe is reminiscent of the old fascism of the 1940’s.

Integral to the fascist message were the hatred of individualism and free markets and hostility to the Anglo-American culture that they saw (accurately enough) as the source of those values in the modern world. They hated the popular culture that they saw as eroding respect for the traditional forms of European cultural authority. Of course, they despised the Jews as agents of modernism among them, but that current was muted in post-war Europe, since the fascists had successfully achieved their agenda of destroying the Jewish communities as significant economic and cultural forces on the European continent.

Above all, fascists everywhere enshrined the role of the state as the focus of national life and the source of meaning and value. This separates fascism from other movements of political violence and racial caste conflict (like the Klan, for example) and unites it with the superficially liberal but state-exhalting European nationalist movements of the 19th century of which fascist movements are ultimately mutated descendents. This value also unites fascism with the purposive and directive state of European bureaucrats today.

Particularly, they resented the loss of political power by Europe to America, and sought to revive the integrated European economy they had achieved from 1940 to 1944 in order to recreate a European counterweight.

While Europe is nowhere near as militaristic as it was throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the rhetoric of Europe Ascendent then and now is largely the same. Certainly Eurocrats like Dominique de Villepin and Romano Prodi are hardly analogues to Hitler or Mussolini, but they could well be the ones who make it easier for a future dictator to once again plunge Europe into war.

My issue with the European Union is not necessarily that it is trying to compete with the United States. Free-market competition is perfectly fine. What I see is an institution that has few checks and balances, is unaccountable to the people it attempts to rule, and is ignoring a serious growth of truly dangerous groups operating in its borders. Coupled with the political use of rising anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiment across the continent, there is some reason to be concerned about the future of Europe. The EU was designed to be a benign political and economic union of Europe – a goal that is perhaps optimistic but hardly dangerous. However, the system that is being created may prove to later have concentrated too much power in the hands of too few. While it may seem outlandish to say that at some point the EU may devolve into fascism, the troubling confluence of radicalist politics and concentrated power make such a horrible descent all the more possible.

UPDATE: Steven Den Beste has a insightful but chilling look into how a decaying France may be pulling a fast one on the Europeans. I’m not totally convinced that Den Beste has found evidence of some grand conspiracy, but I do generally think that many of the EUrocrats are using the EU and EU expansion as a way of buttressing their creaking and ossified welfare states for a while before their inevitable collapse. What is truly frightening is that France, a country I do profess to have some admiration for, has fallen that far. As much as I dislike the Chirac Administration and the French political elite in general, to see France heading in the direction it is gives me absolutely no joy whatsoever.

3 thoughts on “The New Fascism?

  1. Nothing much more amusing than listening to issues like the Electoral College and the “limited checks and balances in the European Union” turn conservatives into raving populists. The Electoral College’s redistribution of votes is defended on the grounds that the “mighty and powerful states” will grind the “small, struggling states” into dust unless we devise a “vote tax” that takes from the rich and redistributes to the poor.

    Now, the right warns us that the unification of European nations is “putting too much power into too few hands,” which of course must be the case since European Union leaders disagree with America. If they disagree with America, it must mean that they have too few checks and balances. It’s impossible that more than a tiny fraction of people from other countries, all of whom happen to have jobs in the selective EU bureaucracy of course, could possibly disagree with America right?

    It’s difficult to get a handle on the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t populism of the American right. THey are horrified at the cataclysmic consequences of “too few having too much power” when it comes to the Electoral College and the European Union. On these issues, they are the “little guy’s best friend in the world”. Yet on every issue that seems to be important to these same “little guys” on economic issues, the new right continues to embrace the same “let ’em starve” mindset they always have, and are actually treating them with more contempt and disdain than ever.

  2. A couple of things that need to be examined in a comparitive sense

    1) Racism- France surely does not have the most racist society in Europe. The cultural scene is full of black and arab sports stars, musicians, actors, etc. Hell.. the French soccer and track teams now have white athletes in the minority. How different it is to see French people of all races being cheered as opposed to Germany, where they threw bananas at black soccer players as recently as the mid-90’s.

    2) The political situation is dicey, as minorities, especially Arabs are massively underrepresented. But the same can be said in the UK, Germany (which has the worst record in Europe on that), Portugal, Holland, Sweden, etc.. The UK is moderately better in minority representation, but not enough so that France should be singled out for unique criticism.

    3) National unity- this is a key thing that nations like the UK and Spain lack. With the exception of a few pesky Corsicans, France has kept a highly regionally distinct society (flemings, bretons, basques, catalans, provencals, alsatians) together in a cohesive state. The recent regional devolution bill will only help that. Meanwhile, our good friend Blair has practically surrendered to a campaign of murder and ethnic cleansing against his citizens in Northern Ireland, has done nothing to stop the the dramatic rise of the Scottish National Party, and refuses to address Welsh issues either. Hell.. he even wants to give away Gibraltar against the will of its people. Meanwhile France REFUSED to give up Mayotte to Comoros when the Mahorais people proclaimed their loyality to France. The UK will cease to exist within 30 years (tops), and England will have to go it alone, no longer an empire. Spain meanwhile continues to struggle with sepratist movements in Catalunya, Euskadi, and Galicia and does little to assauge cultural grievances.

    3) I strongly disagree with statements on French peacekeeping forces. They were the most active of any Europeans in Bosnia, are one of the leading nations of the rapidly improving rapid reaction force, and have shown immense tact in Cote D’Ivoire (it was the political settlement that sucked, not the actual peacekeeping, blame Chirac- not French troops currently in Abidijan). France and Britain have comproble armies.

    Frances problems neeed to be examined within the context of Europe. Only then will the truth be seen. I still agree with a lot of what this article posted here said. But those were my attempts to expose a few of its flaws.

  3. Hello All,
    after reading this article, I couldn’t really remenber what country the author was tlking about…no kidding. I do live in Paris, in a middle-class area, and everyone live in peace, no matter what their origins are. I’ve never seen a place where arabics, blacks and white were living together like that n the U.S. For example, I’ve been to D.C, where there was only afros(besides in the town center), and in san Diego, where it was only whites people in “La Jolla”…do you really think that France is a racist state?? segregation is still there in the U.S.just the signs have been removed! How many afro-friend do you have(I mean FRIEND=you see the person more than once a week)?
    It is true that 1/4 of the workforce works for the republic, and so what? we have a good health care, and the rate of child-death is in average not as high as in Africa, or in african-origined populations in the U.S!!
    I’ll write more about this article, but I’ve got to go to the European Parliament…to work! you may not believe it, but europe is actually building itself, and seing it from the inside, it is well done.

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