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Robert O Paxton

Extended Book Review

As a distinct form of dictatorship in implementation, Fascism has much in common with other totalitarian forms. Unlike most other total dictatorships, Fascism begins as a movement. It originated in France prior to WWI and found its first national expression in Italy soon after the war ended. In both Italy and Germany, fascists came to power by legitimate means, a key distinction. They only showed their true colors after taking power. Paxton does an admirable job in defining classical Fascism as practiced in Italy and Germany. He did that by describing the conditions that brought the movements into being followed by gaining and wielding power. That process is best understood as proceeded through five steps, quoting Paxton:

  • “The creation of movements.
  • Their rooting in the political system.
  • Their seizure of power.
  • Their exercise of power.
  • The long duration, during which the fascist regime chooses either radicalization or entropy.”

The ultimate fascist is the sociopath, or the more frightening moniker—psychopath. As we have discussed elsewhere, there is no difference between these terms. Sociopaths are quite sane and in full control of their senses. What sets them apart is their lack of any conscience. The most dangerous ones are those with smarts and charisma. Hitler literally held his audiences spellbound, sometimes for an hour or more. Fortunately, true fascists have come to power only twice in spite of a dozen or more serious efforts.
The following is a "Fair Use" partial quote from Huffington Post by Jason Linkins.

"Over at Salon, Glenn Greenwald writes about the experience of watching Fox News explain an experiment conducted by French documentarians, in which participants on a fake game show were instructed to "administer electric shock to unseen contestants each time they answered questions incorrectly, with increasing potency for each wrong answer." [Quoting from Greenwald:]
An off-line offering by Chris on authoritarianism in civilization

In further consideration of "the types sharing aggression, hierarchy, and conventionalism", the resort to aggression can be explained by a lack of integration and superficiality of civilized behaviours, which simultaneously explain rigidity and conventionalism.
George W Bush on National TV



[The high irony of this story is that a war president failed in his major war efforts, yet succeeded in helping to negotiate the handing over of North-Korean nuclear secrets. Neville Chamberlain may have been naive in implementing diplomacy. Nevertheless, when properly applied, diplomacy works better than war anytime.]

His complete remark:

At a New Hampshire Town Hall Meeting, fourth paragraph, in January, McCain answered a question about staying in Iraq for 50 years by declaring:

"Make it a hundred. We’ve been in South Korea, we’ve been in Japan for 60 years, we’ve been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That’d be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured, or harmed, or wounded, or killed. That’s fine with me, I hope it would be fine with you."
Creative insights come with a rush sometimes, but slowly is the usual route. The whipsaw feature of Authoritarianism is one of those insights.
Updated 30 Jan 2010

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