President George W. Bush made a point last week of using "Islamofacists" when recently speaking of Hezbullah and Hamas – both, by the way, democratically elected parties. A Canadian government minister from the Conservative Party compared Lebanon’s Hezbullah to Nazi Germany.
The term "Islamofascist" is utterly without meaning, but packed with emotional explosives. It is a propaganda creation worthy of Dr. Goebbels, and the latest expression of the Big Lie technique being used by neocons in Washington’s propaganda war against its enemies in the Muslim World.
This ugly term was probably first coined in Israel – as was the other hugely successful propaganda term, "terrorism" – to dehumanize and demonize opponents and deny them any rational political motivation, hence removing any need to deal with their grievances and demands.
As the brilliant humanist Sir Peter Ustinov so succinctly put it, "Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich."
Both the terms "terrorism" and "fascist" have been so abused and overused that they have lost any original meaning. The best modern definition I’ve read of fascism comes in former Colombia University Professor Robert Paxton’s superb 2004 book, The Anatomy of Fascism.
Paxton defines fascism’s essence, which he aptly terms its "emotional lava" as: 1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief that one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign "contamination."
Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors. All successful fascists regimes, Paxton points out, allied themselves to traditional conservative parties, and to the military-industrial complex.
Highly conservative and militaristic regimes are not necessarily fascist, says Paxton. True fascism requires relentless aggression abroad and a semi-religious adoration of the regime at home.
None of the many Muslim groups opposing US-British control of the Mideast fit Paxton’s definitive analysis. The only truly fascist group ever to emerge in the Mideast was Lebanon’s Maronite Christian Phalange Party in the 1930’s which, ironically, became an ally of Israel’s rightwing in the 1980’s.
It is grotesque watching the Bush Administration and Tony Blair maintain the ludicrous pretense they are re-fighting World War II. The only similarity between that era and today is the cultivation of fear, war fever and racist-religious hate by US neoconservatives and America’s religious far right, which is now boiling with hatred for anything Muslim.
Under the guise of fighting a "third world war" against "Islamic fascism," America’s far right is infecting its own nation with the harbingers of WWII totalitarianism.
In the western world, hatred of Muslims has become a key ideological hallmark of rightwing parties. We see this overtly in the United States, France, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Poland, and, most lately, Canada, and more subtly expressed in Britain and Belgium. The huge uproar over blatantly anti-Muslim cartoons published in Denmark laid bare the seething Islamophobia spreading through western society.
There is nothing in any part of the Muslim World that resembles the corporate fascist states of western history. In fact, clan and tribal-based traditional Islamic society, with its fragmented power structures, local loyalties, and consensus decision-making, is about as far as possible from western industrial state fascism.
The Muslim World is replete with brutal dictatorships, feudal monarchies, and corrupt military-run states, but none of these regimes, however deplorable, fits the standard definition of fascism. Most, in fact, are America’s allies.
Nor do underground Islamic militant groups ("terrorists" in western terminology). They are either focused on liberating land from foreign occupation, overthrowing "un-Islamic" regimes, driving western influence from their region, or imposing theocracy based on early Islamic democracy.
Claims by fevered neoconservatives that Muslim radicals plan to somehow impose a worldwide Islamic caliphate are lurid fantasies worthy of Dr. Fu Manchu and yet another example of the big lie technique that worked so well over Iraq.
As Prof. Andrew Bosworth notes in an incisive essay on so-called Islamic fascism, "Islamic fundamentalism is a transnational movement inherently opposed to the pseudo-nationalism necessary for fascism."
However, there are plenty of modern fascists. But to find them, you have to go to North America and Europe. These neo-fascists advocate "preemptive attacks against all potential enemies," grabbing other nation’s resources, overthrowing uncooperative governments, military dominance of the world, hatred of Semites (Muslims in this case), adherence to biblical prophecies, hatred of all who fail to agree, intensified police controls, and curtailment of "liberal" political rights.
They revel in flag-waving, patriotic melodrama, demonstrations of military power, and use the mantle of patriotism to feather the nests of the military-industrial complex, colluding legislators and lobbyists. They urge war to the death, fought, of course, by other people’s children. They have turned important sectors of the media into propaganda organs and brought the Pentagon largely under their control.
Now, the neoconservatives are busy whipping up war against Syria and Iran to keep themselves in power and maintain the political dynamics of this 21st century revival of fascism.
The real modern fascists are not in the Muslim World, but Washington. The neocons screaming fascist the loudest, are the true fascists themselves. It’s a pity that communist and leftist propaganda so debased the term "neo-fascist" that it has become almost meaningless. Because that is what we should be calling the so-called neocons, for that is what they really are.
August 29, 2006
Eric Margolis, contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website. http://www.ericmargolis.com/
Copyright © 2006 Eric Margolis