Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Are we heading towards fascism?

Will Wilkinson has an interesting post up, debating whether you can classify the direction the United Stats is taking as "fascist."

It is important because strong words like that can evoke strong reactions. Giving people a concrete historical example to tie our current policies to can certainly be useful.

However, strictly philosophically speaking, this argument is irrelevant. When comparing our government's actions with historical examples of "fascism," it struck me that authoritarian micro-management of a country can take on so many flavors, that giving each a name is futile.

That's why, in the last century alone, we have so many names for authoritarianism - fascism, socialism, nazism, communism.

Each incarnation of authoritarianism gives itself a new name, because it believes that it's trying truly new things. "I know centrally planning an economy has failed every time in history, but my ideas are different."

Of course the real point here isn't that the US government is turning itself into some historical bogeyman. It's that all flavors of authoritarianism are, at their root, the same - no matter what they put the emphasis on or what policies they enact. Socialism, fascism, and whatever-you-want-to-call-what-the-US-government-is-doing-ism are all just instances of bloated state control. And none of them work.

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