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Sun Jul 8, 2018, 10:21 PM

Fintan O'Toole: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.3543375#.W0KcAFSdXNU.facebook

To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being trialled is fascism – a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget “post-fascist” – what we are living with is pre-fascism.

It is easy to dismiss Donald Trump as an ignoramus, not least because he is. But he has an acute understanding of one thing: test marketing. He created himself in the gossip pages of the New York tabloids, where celebrity is manufactured by planting outrageous stories that you can later confirm or deny depending on how they go down. And he recreated himself in reality TV where the storylines can be adjusted according to the ratings. Put something out there, pull it back, adjust, go again.

Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from; and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.

One of the basic tools of fascism is the rigging of elections – we’ve seen that trialled in the election of Trump, in the Brexit referendum and (less successfully) in the French presidential elections. Another is the generation of tribal identities, the division of society into mutually exclusive polarities. Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about 40 per cent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your 40 per cent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too. And fascism of course needs a propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities. Again, the testing for this is very far advanced.

But when you’ve done all this, there is a crucial next step, usually the trickiest of all. You have to undermine moral boundaries, inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. Like hounds, people have to be blooded. They have to be given the taste for savagery. Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group. This allows the members of that group to be dehumanised. Once that has been achieved, you can gradually up the ante, working through the stages from breaking windows to extermination.

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Reply Fintan O'Toole: Trial runs for fascism are in full flow (Original post)
dflprincess Jul 8 OP
Nitram Monday #1
lagomorph777 Monday #2
Blue_Tires Monday #3

Response to dflprincess (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 11:31 AM

1. Yes, this is it.

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Response to dflprincess (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 11:41 AM

2. Throwing babies in cages is the next trial, and it appears to have failed.

This is what has triggered mass outrage and the repeated confrontations of complicit officials. Turns out that Americans are not quite that evil, on the whole.

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Response to dflprincess (Original post)

Mon Jul 9, 2018, 03:10 PM

3. If only somebody tried to warn folks....

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