Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is the Tea Party a form of fascism?

Just got round to reading The Guardian of 10th September, where it reports that the Taxpayers Alliance in Britain, a lobby group for low taxes and small government, is taking advice from Freedom Works, one of the well-funded organisations behind the Tea Party.  Taxpayers Alliance founder Matthew Elliott wants to organise mass anti-union demonstrations next time there’s a tube strike in London.

A working definition of fascism is a mass movement mobilised in the interests of big business.  Fascist movements take steps to hide their pro-business aims from supporters by adopting anti-business slogans.  Think of the anti-Wall Street rhetoric of the Tea Party.

There's a video of an hour-long Noam Chomsky lecture on this, on, off all places, the Veterans Today website (Military Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal). He says “Ridiculing the tea party shenanigans is a serious error,” and “I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio, and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering here at home.” 
He talks about the bitter the class war relentlessly waged by the US business community, a business community which, he says, is unusual amongst industrial societies for being intensely class conscious. The date is April this year.

Amongst the aims of Freedom Works are to "Fight The Left ...[and to create] a grassroots juggernaut capable of going toe-to-toe with the unions, extreme enviros, and the MoveOn.org's of the world." 

According to the The Guardian, Freedom Works has received funding from the tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris. The Guardian also reports that local branches of Freedom Works' sister organization, Americans for Prosperity have also received tobacco money and oppose smoke-free workplace laws and cigarette taxes. 

Information in the two preceding paragraphs from SourceWatch. See my comment on this.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting, and thought provoking piece. I have to admit that I know little about The Tea Party, and find it hard to take notice of a group with such a daft name. Maybe I should pay more attention.

    But in terms of your main point, The Tea Party don't sound fascist to me. I remember reading about the Spanish Civil War in a book you bought me about 10 years ago, and also the Eric Hobsbawme book Age Of Extremes. I was fascinated to learn about the rise of the fascist movement in the early 20th century. I'd never really known exactly what fascism was, but just simply thought it was a 'dirty' word, like 'Nazi', a word that nobody would dare own up to sympathising with in our day and age. So, it was eye-opening to learn that fascism was a genuine political ideology, with understandable (albeit not at all agreeable to me) roots and motives.

    However, from what (little) knowledge of fascism I have managed to retain over the past 10 years, I think of it as a strongly nationalistic, authoritarian system. The Tea Party seem to advocate liberalism, not something that I think fascism agrees with.

    In my head I associate fascism with a dictator ruling over a society where it is that society ,and not the individual, is key. In this respect I see it as a right wing counterpart to communism. In fact, this seems a good point to introduce my own visual metaphor for the political spectrum. Think of it as a sphere. You're on the near side. Immediately to your left are socialists, immediately to your right are capitalists. If you go further left and right you get the communists and fascists respectively. If you travel even further in each direction, you end up meeting yourself on the other side of the sphere, and regardless of which way you have gone, you end up meeting an oppressive dictator. I know that metaphor is somewhat ingenuous, and one of the interesting quandaries I seem to recall when trying to get my head around fascism 10 years ago, is that it doesn't seem, really, to align itself with right-wing ideology much more than it does left wing ideology.