Monday, August 11, 2003

There hasn't been a good wild one from La Vangua recently; Baltobrain Porcel is on vacation, and someone's told Chemical Lali Sole to go back to howling about gender discrimination rather than to continue howling about the intrinsic evil of the United States. But Jose Ignacio Gonzalez Faus is still in business. Mr. Gonzalez Faus is a Jesuit priest, billed as the "academic director" of Cristianisme i Justicia. Our pal Jose Manuel, who knows a lot about Church matters, says that Gonzalez Faus is "for a Jesuit, a pretty good Marxist." We'll call him Nacho, the nickname for Ignacio, which is especially appropriate because Mr. Gonzalez is about half-flaky and about half-soggy, just like ballpark nachos. He's also pretty indigestible and just generally hard to stomach.

Ten years ago I had already written about the danger that "we will end up selling our prized liberty for a mess of pottage" and that we were on the road to "a world-level Fascism, infinitely more difficult to escape from than when one is dealing with Fascism in one or two countries." It wasn't a fatalistic verdict; life has "surprising mechanisms of correction" and we can expect that we will function. But "perhaps one of these mechanisms is that somebody warn of the danger".

OK, Nacho, you're Cassandra. We are now warned. Shut up already.

Ten years later, my fear is growing. In its yearly report, Amnesty International is launching a similar warning. The situation of the world has gotten worse with the change from the old "balance of terror" to the current unbalanced terror, where only one country can arm itself to the teeth and with no control, while the rest, if they arm themselves, will be condemned to death as a terrorist threat.

Calm down, Nacho. Are you saying China and Russia and Taiwan and India and Pakistan and South Korea and Israel and Britain and France aren't "armed to the teeth"? And are you saying that the United States' defense policy should be under the control of others? What others? Are you saying that Afghanistan and Iraq weren't terrorist threats? Have you noticed those are the only two governments we've taken out? If what we were trying to do was silence criticism, we'd have taken out France, not the Taliban. And are you saying that the world was better BEFORE the fall of the Soviet Union?

The coming Fascism is a transvestite Fascism, dressed up as democracy. This is not negated but sterilized. The separation of powers is annulled in fact, though not by law: the "fourth estate" becomes the property of the executive (the Berlusconi case) and the judicial branch is nominated by the executive which puts it at the executive's service (the Cardenal case).

OK. Globalization is Fascism, huh? Of course, Nacho is using "Fascist" according to the standard leftist definition: "anybody who's smarter than I am." If you're saying the United States is not a democracy, sorry to inform you you're wrong; the government does not own any of the media of communication, and we conservatives like it that way. We don't want either Berlusconi or Red Ken to get hold of any state-controlled media. And, of course, in the US federal judges are nominated by the executive but must be confirmed by the legislative, and if Nacho had the slightest idea about American politics, he'd know that during all of President Bush's term he's been having problems getting judicial appointments confirmed by the Democrats in Congress. He'd also know that some big names, like Robert Bork, have been kept off the bench by the Congress.

A Guatemalan author once said that dictators are not a cause but an effect. Searching for the causes of this devalued democracy, we might point out the neoliberal separation between policics and the economy. Political life is becoming more and more controlled by the economy. Now look: capitalism is an excluding system, while democracy tends to be inclusive--votes for everyone, health and education for everyone. For a while democracy braked and partially held back capitalism. Now capitalism, free of political controls, is threatening to put and end to democracy.

What? Look, doofus, capitalism is not only an ECONOMIC system but the only effective one. Democracy is a POLITICAL system. You could have a (mostly) capitalist democracy (the US), a capitalist dictatorship (Pinochet), a Socialist democracy (Sweden, more or less), or a Socialist dictatorship (the USSR). The United States has plenty of brakes on unscrupulous people who misuse the capitalist system, like the Federal Reserve system, the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the insider-trading laws, the regulation of banks and insurance companies, the regulation of corporations, the antitrust laws, the laws allowing labor unions and collective bargaining, the Treasury Department, the contract-enforcing judicial system, and an extremely long etcetera.

As for votes for everyone, of course. That's democracy. Health care and education for everyone--that's not democracy, that's the welfare state. Don't confuse the two. Now, it is true that I support access for everyone to health care and education, and that's what we've got in the States--sure, a lot of the public schools suck, and only old people (Medicare) and poor people (Medicaid) get government-subsidized health care. You can't be turned away from an emergency room, though. The American welfare-state system could be improved and I yell and scream about it all the time, but it does exist. Most European countries have considerably more generous welfare-state systems than the US, but it's just a lie to imply that capitalism implies no government spending on welfare.

More fertile ground for the new Fascism would be this: human beings, at least today's Occidentals, can be defined as an "insecure animal" And the two great principles of modernity and democracy--the dignity and the liberty of man--imply a sizable dose of insecurity, risk, and trouble as part of human life. Maybe this insecurity is what puts the idea of preventive war, which is not new, into circulation: "We have the moral obligation, we have the obligation to our people, to kill those people who, with no doubt, will kill us." These are not the words of Bush or one of his idolators. They are from a speech by Himmler in 1943. But they coincide with Bush in two points: the "moral duty" to kill and the "no doubt" which justifies it--Saddam Hussein had, without a doubt, weapons of mass destruction.

Oh boy. Comparing Bush with Himmler, huh? That's a new low. It's really obscene, not to mention ignorant. The current War on Terrorism, of which Afghanistan was the first campaign and Iraq the second, is not a preventive war. It was started on September 11, 2001, in case you don't remember, and it's nowhere near finished yet. Second, Himmler was talking about the moral duty to massacre people because of their religion, which is of course sickening; Bush is talking about his sworn duty to defend the United States. Himmler wanted to kill as many Jews as he could; Bush wants to kill as few as possible of anybody who isn't actively fighting for the terrorists and the rogue states.

By the way, all animals are insecure. The rabbit never knows when the fox or hawk is going to get him. Humans today, at least outside Africa, are more secure than they have ever been. A Westerner today is about as safe as any animal has ever been in history; not too many rabbits or foxes or hawks die of old age. And Saddam did have weapons of mass destruction. He used them on the Iranians and the Kurds, and the Boston Globe is reporting that he ordered chemical weapons to be used against Allied troops in the March-April war.

Another factor could be the current "culture of demotivation" that the mass media broadcasts. The people sometimes intuits the danger and protests or goes out in the streets for a few days. But if time is allowed to pass, the people ends up getting tired. Then they can admit freely that they lied: that there was no solid evidence to attack Iraq, that the only solid thing was the desire to drop bombs. The lie will be admitted without anybody's feeling obligated to resign. And when lies become installed in public life, democracy is very threatened.

The fact is that issues like the Iraq war don't affect the people of Spain at all, except for making them somewhat safer in the long run, which they generally don't recognize. There are no immediate benefits or losses for the Spaniards relating to this issue, so a little bit of feel-good, we're-so-moral protesting went on. It was more of a fashion statement than compassion for the Iraqi or Afghani peoples; I still remember TV slut Yola Berrocal showing up on Tele 5 wearing only a bikini, with a "No War" sticker hanging off her tit. If something really affected the lives of Spaniards, like the ETA, you'd see mass demonstrations all over the place. Which you see. It's Maslow's hierarchy; if you've got enough to eat and a place to live and physical safety for yourself, then you can allow yourself to spend your energy demonstrating against the damn Yankees because it makes you feel good about yourself.

But what this people wants is not to struggle (the struggle for life is already tiring enough), but some idol to cheer for and some gadget to become idiotized by. It doesn't matter of they're Beckhams today or Butraguenos tomorrow; modern man needs to identify himself with some social legend in order to feel positive about himself and accept himself peacefully. But when a people has lost its sensitivity to measure the level of its own ridiculousness (the Beckham case), the immunological system of the society is threatened.

Well, sure, there's a lot of stress these days, but "struggle for life"? In Spain, where if you're hungry or homeless it's not the government's fault, life is less of a struggle than anywhere else in history. That's why people can afford to waste time going to public demonstrations instead of, say, digging up worms. And plenty of ridiculous ephemeral shit goes on all the time in any society that can afford it. Methinks that what Nacho is really complaining about is that the lumpenproletariat has plenty of money and spare time, two things that Western democracy and capitalism have provided them with, and they choose to spend their excess money buying tacky garbage they don't need and their excess time absorbed by bad television. Set up the re-education camps! Nacho's in town, and it's 24 hours straight of documentaries about Peruvian fishermen and Social Realist theater! He knows what's best for you!

Some symptoms of this Fascism might be the discredit of democracy, fallen into the hands of the BBA (I'm not referring to any bank but to the trio Bush, Berlusconi, Aznar) Or the different way in which the United States believes that justice should be administered whether we are dealing with alleged American criminals (the negative to the International Criminal Court) or those from other countries (the cases of Guantanamo and Iraq) Typical of all forms of fascism faw the practice of preventive prisons with no judicial process against those who are suspicious or opponents: and now the Department of Justice is justifying the admitted violations of human rights in Guantanamo as necessary to prevent new terrorist acts.

So the United States, Bush, Aznar, and Berlusconi are all Fascists? What the hell definition of Fascism is Nacho using? I thought it had something to do with absolute dictatorship and the (non-capitalist) corporative state, neither of which accurately describes the aovementioned four. (I will freely admit that I think Berlusconi's a crook, but he did get elected, and he's PM of Italy until their judicial system gets him.) As for human rights and Guantanamo, that's a red herring. Nobody's being mistreated there; the Russian citizens--probably mostly Chechens--imprisoned at Gitmo want to stay instead of being sent home to face the music there. What the Gitmo prisoners are is illegal bearers of arms caught in the act. In the old days they'd have been shot out of hand. Today we're not sure what to do with them, but we do know if we turn 'em loose they'll be back in business as fast as a Barcelona mugger.

Oh, yeah, the US problem with the ICC is that a bunch of jokers like you, Nacho, would immediately trump up charges against anyone ever involved with the US government and military. We prefer to try our own citizens, thank you. That's called national sovereignty, which you yourself, Nacho, are so fond of defending when it comes to Cuba or Iraq.

That's enough. If I translate any more of this shit I'll puke. Nacho is really spiteful and hateful, isn't he? I've never read anything angrier with less reason. My guess is he's a transferred nationalist and his base loyalty is to communism and the Soviet Union. The collapse of his dream, everything he spent his life working for, has left him with no God except the one up there he probably doesn't really believe in, and as a dialectical materialist he has a Manichean point of view about good and evil (good: the Party line, evil: everything else). His God's dead but his Satan, the United States, is stronger than ever.

He does mention, toward the end of the article, that Martin Niemoller said, "When they came for the Communists, I wasn't a Communist, so they said nothing. When they came for the union men, I wasn't a union man, so I said nothing. When they came for me there was nobody left to say anything." Well, actually, if I remember correctly, Niemoller mentioned those damn Jews at the top of his list. Nacho has intentionally falsified a quote.

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