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Fascism revisited

In 1946, George Orwell presciently observed, "The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable.'" He also noted:

In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'.

Today, fascist (along with Nazi, homophobe, and racist, just to name the top few) is a favorite insult used by progressives against anyone espousing a philosophy or policy with which they find any kind of disagreement.

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to use the word fascist in more of a historical context, associating it with the economic and social policies of progressive Europe in the 1930's.

It's not difficult to broaden your understanding of modern-era progressive European fascism if you have access to the Internet and a little time on your hands. For instance, here is an excerpt from a short essay written by Sheldon Richman, editor of Ideas on Liberty and a senior fellow with the Future of Freedom Foundation:

The best example of a fascist economy is the regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Holding that liberalism (by which he meant freedom and free markets) had "reached the end of its historical function," Mussolini wrote: "To Fascism the world is not this material world, as it appears on the surface, where Man is an individual separated from all others and left to himself.... Fascism affirms the State as the true reality of the individual."

This collectivism is captured in the word fascism, which comes from the Latin fasces, meaning a bundle of rods with an axe in it. In economics, fascism was seen as a third way between laissez-faire capitalism and communism. Fascist thought acknowledged the roles of private property and the profit motive as legitimate incentives for productivity--provided that they did not conflict with the interests of the state.

[...]

From 1922 to 1925, Mussolini's regime pursued a laissez-faire economic policy under the liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani. De Stefani reduced taxes, regulations, and trade restrictions and allowed businesses to compete with one another. But his opposition to protectionism and business subsidies alienated some industrial leaders, and De Stefani was eventually forced to resign. After Mussolini consolidated his dictatorship in 1925, Italy entered a new phase. Mussolini, like many leaders at this time, believed that economies did not operate constructively without supervision by the government. Foreshadowing events in Nazi Germany, and to some extent in New Deal America, Mussolini began a program of massive deficit spending, public works, and eventually, militarism.

Mussolini's fascism took another step at this time with the advent of the Corporative State, a supposedly pragmatic arrangement under which economic decisions were made by councils composed of workers and employers who represented trades and industries. By this device the presumed economic rivalry between employers and employees was to be resolved, preventing the class struggle from undermining the national struggle. In the Corporative State, for example, strikes would be illegal and labor disputes would be mediated by a state agency.

Theoretically, the fascist economy was to be guided by a complex network of employer, worker, and jointly run organizations representing crafts and industries at the local, provincial, and national levels. At the summit of this network was the National Council of Corporations. But although syndicalism and corporativism had a place in fascist ideology and were critical to building a consensus in support of the regime, the council did little to steer the economy. The real decisions were made by state agencies such as the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (Istituto per la Ricosstruzione Industriale, or IRI), mediating among interest groups. (emphasis added)

Maybe it's just me, but I see far more parallels between current Obama Administration policy goals and European fascism, than anything that existed during the Bush Administration. As Kim pointed out yesterday, both Obama and Mussolini envisioned state regulation of the economy as a cure for capitalism's supposed fatal flaw - the "boom and bust" cycle. But there is a distinct difference between the old-world goals of Mussolini and the post-modern vision of Barack Obama. For Mussolini, a modernist steeped in a worldview that valued certain groups of people above others, and taught that dominance of the weak by the strong was simply the natural order of things, fascism was a means of transforming Italy into a new Roman Empire.

In stark contrast, Barack Obama is undoubtedly post-modern, educated in universities that liberally dispense the best progressive, post-modern thought in America. It's extremely doubtful that Obama wishes to turn America into a military superpower, or embark on a crusade of conquest throughout North and South America. Instead, Obama and his kindred spirits truly believe that by excising nationalism, cultural superiority, and militarism from their form of fascism, they will have succeeded in exorcising its demons. (Witness our current approach to foreign policy.) What they will accomplish, in their view, is the full realization of a progressive, benevolent, state-managed economy, free from greed and "boom-and-bust" cycles, and devoid of the self-centeredness, intolerance, and violence that hindered their ideological predecessors.

It goes without saying that conservatives have not fallen for this rainbow and unicorn-filled vision of utopia. We believe that the poison in fascism (or any other state-dominated political and economic system) lies in the excess power given to the state, regardless of how benevolent the management of that power is supposed to be. Coincidentally, we share this philosophy with our nation's founding fathers, who envisioned a federalized, representative government constitutionally limited in its ability to interfere with the lives of its citizens.

History tells us that prolonged government interference in the market produces economic stagnation. Sheldon Richman concludes his essay thusly:

As World War II approached, the signs of fascism's failure in Italy were palpable: per capita private consumption had dropped to below 1929 levels, and Italian industrial production between 1929 and 1939 had increased by only 15 percent, lower than the rates for other Western European countries. Labor productivity was low and production costs were uncompetitive. The fault lay in the shift of economic decision-making from entrepreneurs to government bureaucrats, and in the allocation of resources by decree rather than by free markets. Mussolini designed his system to cater to the needs of the state, not of consumers. In the end, it served neither.

This was not the vision that the Founding Fathers had for America. We should not allow it to be our destiny either.


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Comments (52)

"Conservatives, on the othe... (Below threshold)
Jake:

"Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to use the word fascist in more of a historical context."

Unless you're talking about Beck or Hannity or any number of Tea Party participants who use the word fascist interchangeably with socialist, communist, marxist... in much the same way you point that progressives use the word. (I'm assuming that you mean SOME progressives, not ALL progressives, right?)

LaprarieI know you... (Below threshold)
Unrepentant Democrat:

Laprarie

I know you don't give a whit about what a dem or lib thinks about what you write and that you're another of the wungnutter class who has ODS but you ought to try for just a modicum oh honesty in what you write.

This is what you said:
"Today, fascist (along with Nazi, homophobe, and racist, just to name the top few) is a favorite insult used by progressives against anyone espousing a philosophy or policy with which they find any kind of disagreement."

How about exercising just a tiny bit of intellectual honesty and looking at these photos which depict BOTH sides of the fringe political spectrum calling the other fascist, nazis et al.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/15/tea-party-photos-tax-day_n_186752.html

Then there are s few just from the tea parties. See any racism here or references to nazis and fascists here?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/15/tea-party-photos-tax-day_n_186752.html

So please stop with the holier-than-though, we're pure and you're not schtick. Otherwise you look as dopey as the people carrying the signs on both sides.

"...progressive Europe in t... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

"...progressive Europe in the 1930's."

That you consider Mussolini and Franco to have been progressives is cue enough for any non-retarded person to stop reading your shitty blog post.

Franco's army brutally put down the leftist coalition, including liberals, socialists, an assortment of Marxists, and anarchists. (Fascism brought together strange bedfellows.) The arch-conservative, pro-business, Catholic fascist stomped the progressives with Hitler's help while most of the world simply shrugged.

So no, fascism was not a feature of "progressive Europe". Progressivism is antithetical to authoritarianism, which was the most salient feature of both Franco's and Mussolini's governments. Progressives are not communists nor are they fascists. Socialists, sure, but that's hardly a bad word in the minds of most sane people who have ever been to Sweden or Canada.

"Progressivism is antith... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Progressivism is antithetical to authoritarianism," - but it seems odd that progressivism is dependent on authoritarianism to 'progress', since (as seems to be the case in CA) the folks who most espouse progressive politics are the least inclined to allow any dissent or disagreement to their program.

I also have difficulty ignoring the supposedly anti-authoritarian leanings of 'progressive' thought when it's the left that silences speakers when they don't like what's being said through intimidation tactics.

Why no one should be silenced on campus - The Boston Globe

America's campuses are seeing a growing movement by students to shut off debate by organized groups and silence speakers with whom they disagree. Rather than engage in the give-and-take that should be characteristic of the university as a "marketplace of ideas," these students have decided that opposing views don't even bear hearing. And all too often they are aided by administrators whose policies reward hecklers rather than students who wish to engage in civil debate and dialogue.

UMass is one of those campuses. After word got out that students were planning to protest Feder's speech, the UMass-Amherst Police Department pressured Feder's hosts, the Republican Club, into paying nearly three times as much in security costs for the event as they had planned. Of course, the student hecklers disrupted the event anyway with no interference by the police.

Feder's hecklers were thereby handed a double victory by the university - not only did they manage to silence Feder, but they also succeeded in forcing their political enemies on campus to pay a huge security bill for little return. This tactic was so successful it's hard to imagine that the same UMass students won't do it again, and it's unlikely that the lesson has been lost on students who sympathize with Feder.
Funny how it's not the RIGHT that's blocking free speech...

I think if you were to step outside your self-congratulatory thinking on just how wonderfully broad-minded and tolerant and free-thinking you are, you'd see the left isn't at all opposed to authoritarianism, as long as THEY are in control. In fact - it's positively necessary in order to stifle dissent and disagreement.

hyper:Th... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

hyper:

That you consider Mussolini and Franco to have been progressives is cue enough for any non-retarded person to stop reading your shitty blog post.

And since you did not stop reading, I agree with your self-assessment.

Many people on the left spe... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Many people on the left spend an amazing amount of time complaining about the evils of what they call "capitalism," despite the fact that they often willingly and happily participate in the very system that they supposedly hate. Capitalism is a term that is often misunderstood and misapplied by many on the far edges of the left wing. Blaming all of the world's social, political, and economic problems on the evils of capitalism is simply lazy, inaccurate, and sloppy. It's just a LITTLE more complex than many lefties like to paint the picture.

The left often makes the mistake of over-romanticizing ideas about Marxism, socialism, and communism while forgetting about certain folks like Stalin, for example. They also forget to look closely at the actual historical details of people like Che Guevarra. Big mistake, IMO.

However, many people on the left use the word "fascism" as a scary, evil term, more than likely because of its association with Mussolini and the Italian fascists, who were of course associated with the Nazis.

As for the folks on the far right, they like to pretend that they are defending some pure "free market" system that has been in place since the time of the founding fathers. Well, it hasn't. The left has their utopian ideas and so does the right. The utopian ideals of each side are of course different, but sometimes equally founded on the outskirts of reality.

Many people on the right often forget that the US economic system is (and has been) anything but a free market system, let alone a laissez-faire system. Terms such as communism and socialism and are thrown around and often misapplied to refer to anything that supposedly threatens their belief in private property or some utopian free market system that results in Friedmanesque happiness for all.

Some people on the right forget that an increase in GDP or "economic opportunities" by no means guarantees freedom and prosperity across the board. They also forget about the massive problems that an unregulated market system can foster...like huge land trusts and monopolies that build far too much power and wealth in the hands of just a few.

Interestingly, many people on the right use "fascism" as a big scary word as well. So fascism is kind of like the term "Nazi" in that both sides use it when they really want to express their distaste for something. And I think that both sides use such terms in an equally sloppy way. Just an opinion. And Michael's claim that the right somehow uses the word "fascism" in a more historically accurate sense rings pretty hollow.

The point is this: while many of us argue from the extremes, we are all actually quite a lot closer than many imagine. As Jeff Medcalf points out in Kim's post, the difference between all of these economic systems is a matter of degrees, and for the most part the US economic system has treaded the middle of the road that mixes elements of free market capitalism with certain socialist elements.

It's a mixed system, and it has been a mixed system, and we are arguing about the boundaries and the details. This is a good thing, since mankind has yet to invent the perfect economic, political, and social system.

The right complains bitterly when things move a little to the left, and vice versa. I guess this is just all part of our political and rhetorical process. Sometimes it frustrating though.

"If financial institutions ... (Below threshold)

"If financial institutions won't cooperate with us, we will assume that they are sheltering money in tax havens and act accordingly."

Scared, yet?

Anticipating troll response: "Heck no, that's the way it SHOULD be!" Or at least whatever they think about this will boil down to this.

I figure it's just a race at this point - can large companies flee the country before they are nationalized?

Actually, JLawson, progress... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Actually, JLawson, progressives certainly do tolerate dissent with regards to our agenda. How about this: don't like progressivism? Then win a damn election. As for dissent on university campuses, two things: 1) I think it's bullshit that conservatives aren't allowed to speak, as I enjoyed arguing with them during colloquia far more than simply agreeing with leftist speakers; and 2) since when do conservatives care what goes on in the Ivory Tower, insulated as it is from the "real world"?

_Mike_, actually, I didn't read the rest of the post. I have no interest in the bizarro historical revisionism of someone who would equate Franco's opponents' politics with Franco's own politics. It's so stupid that you really have to just laugh about it. That Laprairie is able to form coherent sentences would suggest that it's more than mere ignorance that is the source of such an imbecilic use of the word 'fascism'--it's suggestive of at least a modicum of dishonesty.

Not that it matters what a member of the politically-impotent-yet-disproportionaly-vocal conservative minority has to say about anything, particularly a subject as academic as the nature of fascism on such a non-academic forum as this one.
depp=true

In his original article, "F... (Below threshold)
jmc:

In his original article, "Fascism Anyone?", Laurence Britt (interview) compared the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet and identified 14 characteristics common to those fascist regimes: (Note he did not mention Republicans or Bush he was just looking at these regimes.)

1) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos,Flags are everywhere.

2.) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, etc.

3.) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4.) Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems.

5) Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy

6) Controlled Mass Media: Censorship, especially in war time , is very common.

7) Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses

8.) Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion.

9.) Corporate Power is Protected:

10.) Labor Power is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11.) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia.

12.) Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws.

13.) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption:

14) Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham.

Unlike the far right, who often call anyone they disgree with fascist, progressives, tend to use the term in a way that is historically correct. Since the far-right in America demonstrates many of the above characterristics, one would be remiss not to call them what they are... Fascist.

_Mike_, actually, ... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:
_Mike_, actually, I didn't read the rest of the post. I have no interest in the bizarro historical revisionism of someone who would equate Franco's opponents' politics with Franco's own politics.

I see nothing inaccurate about what was stated above. As far as the Generalissimo, you seem to have been the one to have brought him up here, unless you consider the "European progressives of the 30's" to be an allusion to Franco...

From what I've read, El Duce was a fan of FDR and believed that they were politically close. Obama is attempting to model his politics somewhat after FDR so it's hardly a stretch to compare Mussolini to Obama. IMO, the comparisons are quite valid.

UD - you seem to be having ... (Below threshold)

UD - you seem to be having trouble understanding context.

Conservatives have been using -- and will continue using -- "fascist" and "socialist" to describe the policy goals of the Democratic party. But when we do it, we provide an exhaustive explanation (e.g. the last 5 days worth of posts here at WizBang) of why we use those terms. If you can refute any of our arguments; that is, demonstrate that the Obama Administration's policies are NOT reflective of the social and economic policies of Italy in the 1920's and 1930's, or the policies of the Spanish government under the rule of Franco, then please do so.

On the other hand, liberals use "fascist," "Nazi," etc. purely as smears, as synonyms for racism, hate-mongering, bigotry, etc. Every attempt by liberals to try and equate the Republican party with the Nazi party that I have ever read has either been laughably ignorant with respect to history, or riddled with illogical statements based on gross stereotypes.

Progressives tend to identify movements like fascism solely by their negative attributes. Therefore, they will never admit that what they want is really a form of fascism. "Oh, we're not fascists," they'll argue. "We can't be. We're nice people. We care. We're tolerant. Fascists were racists, bigots, and homophobes (just like Republicans). Fascists believed in violence and genocide. We believe in peace. We just want everyone to be happy and get along."

But washing the stink off a pig and putting lipstick on it still leaves you with a pig. I'm sorry this is hard to deal with, but reality does bite sometimes.

@jmc:The problem w... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

@jmc:

The problem with your excerpt is that none of the characteristics you highlighted are essential to fascism. They are peripheral characteristics at best (with some actually being near antithetical). You actually provide a prime example why the term has been misused to near meaninglessness.

For instance...
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated.

Using this criteria, nearly all governments up to modern times are fascist. This is obviously not an essential characteristic.

Hyper,"Actually, J... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Hyper,

"Actually, JLawson, progressives certainly do tolerate dissent with regards to our agenda. How about this: don't like progressivism?"

Well, to be fair, there are plenty of so-called progressives who are unwilling to listen to opposing points of view. But that's pretty common across the board, and not something unique to left-leaning folks.

"Not that it matters what a member of the politically-impotent-yet-disproportionaly-vocal conservative minority has to say about anything, particularly a subject as academic as the nature of fascism on such a non-academic forum as this one."

I disagree with you here, hyperbolist. Just because "their" side lost does not mean that their opinions are not worth considering. I usually disagree with a large percentage of the usual crowd here, but in the end I think that it's important to listen to all the sides. Even often polemic places like Wizbang.

And I also think that non-academic understandings of academic subjects are important to listen to and understand as well, since the "real" meanings of terms such as "fascism" are not simply held by folks in the halls of academia. There are different social uses and meanings of these kinds of terms, and ignoring them just because they do not adhere to the tenets of the foremost scholars on 20th century fascism is kind of silly, IMO.

The problem with ... (Below threshold)
jmc:
The problem with your excerpt is that none of the characteristics you highlighted are essential to fascism. They are peripheral characteristics at best (with some actually being near antithetical). You actually provide a prime example why the term has been misused to near meaninglessness.

Actualy not true. All of these characteristics are essential to fascisim and every one of the fascist dictators mentioned above employed all of these things. they were not, for instance just a male dominated society.

For instance... The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Using this criteria, nearly all governments up to modern times are fascist. This is obviously not an essential characteristic.

The defining characterisitc is not a male dominated society. that part is perphial, the dominat characterist is rampant sexism that includes, outlawing aborting, attacking gay, rights, having society primarily run by men, (Also not mentioned for brevity but you can check it out) Was that the state begins to hold itself up as the protector of the family.
So you can see it takes a few things tho meet this criteria.

So no, being a male run society does not qualify you for facssicm. Being a male run society, (or wishing for one) along with supressing human rights, having rampant nationislm outlawing aborting suppressing labor unions etc.. makes for a fascist regime.

"Conservatives, on the o... (Below threshold)
mantis:

"Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to use the word fascist in more of a historical context."

Is this becoming a comedy blog? You're satirizing yourself, right?

Progressives t... (Below threshold)
jmc:

Progressives tend to identify movements like fascism solely by their negative attributes.

Well, it is the torture homophobia, and supression of human rights that make people hate fascist. So yeah, the negative atrributes kinda stand out. If I find out fascist like Roses, I'm not gonna worry too much about it. I know I always focus on the negative, but tt's the torture, and other things that worry me. if Hitler liked Roses, I'm not too concerend.

Hyper, you need to read his... (Below threshold)

Hyper, you need to read history a little more closely.

Progressivism is closely integrated with modernist philosophy, which dates from roughly 1880 to 1945. Modernists were driven by the belief that human society was capable of achieving a state of perfection, and that absolute knowledge and absolute certainty was achievable through the rigorous application of science and logical pragmatism to our everyday lives. Contemporary secular humanism is also rooted in this belief.

There is a direct line between this direction of thought (influenced by such figures as Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Pasteur, Darwin, Einstein, etc.) and the ideologies of European political leaders like Mussolini and Hitler who emerged as cult figures in the desperate years after WWI, and who were entrusted with governance by suffering nations eager to reclaim the power and glory that these men promised.

Hitler and Mussolini both believed that national superiority would best be achieved by an efficient and pragmatic government that controlled all aspects of society. In fact, American progressive intellectuals were absolutely fascinated with the European strongman regimes of the 1930's that seemed to be heading their nations in the right direction, away from the greed of capitalists and the fear-mongering and corruption of organized religion, and toward social systems governed by science and reason.

American progressives only abandoned their faith in the Europeans after it became painfully clear that Hitler and Mussolini and Stalin were evil men who held little regard for the value of human life, and who used racism, violence, and intimidation to unify their peoples against "enemies of the state" and justify the destruction of anyone who was an impediment to the "progress" of their regimes.

jmc:the dominat... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

jmc:

the dominat characterist [of fascism] is rampant sexism that includes, outlawing aborting, attacking gay, rights, having society primarily run by men

Highlighting to point out the absurdity.

It might be worth looking a... (Below threshold)

It might be worth looking at what a real fascist, Mussolini, said about fascism instead of fighting about what it is or what it isn't:
==
Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage...

The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State...

The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone...

Highlighting to p... (Below threshold)
jmc:
Highlighting to point out the absurdity


What is absurd about pointing out your misunderstanding? Hitler, pinochet, Franco, Mussolini,
All had a governemnt that had the following:

Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

Along with 13 other traits.

When I said dominant characteristic, I was not saying that sexism in and of itself is the defining characteristic of Fascism, but that
it is one of the 14 and it includes more than just being male dominated, which you tried to reduce the argument to. Meaning trait #6 is rampant sexisim and not just a male dominated society but including a male dominated society along with all the other things. Do you understand now?

14 things occurred in all of those regimes. many are things the far right supports.

Tell you what, find me a western democracy that has even ten of the fourteen?.

When you can't do it (and you won't be able to because these 14 characteristics are things fascists countries do) you can admit the only thing absurd is your inability to understand an argument.

Under Franco in spain:... (Below threshold)
jmc:

Under Franco in spain:

Civil marriages which had taken place under Republican Spain were declared null and void and had to be reconfirmed by the Catholic Church of Spain. Civil marriages were only possible after the couple made a public renunciation to the Catholic Church. Divorce was forbidden, and also contraceptives and abortion.

Franquism professed a devotion to the traditional role of women in society, that is: loving child to her parents and brothers, faithful to her husband, residing with her family. Official propaganda confined her role to family care and motherhood. Immediately after the war the situation of women suddenly became adverse, because most progressive laws passed by the Republic were made void, correspondingly. Women could not become judges, or testify in trial

In other words Rampant sexisim or trait #5 of the 14 traits commonly found in facist governments.

For the black helicopter cr... (Below threshold)
Unrepentant Democrat:

For the black helicopter crowds aka the wingNUTTERY

When did we get rid of the other 2 branches of government or do you folks have a belief that Obama plans to do so or has "secret" plans to take control of them?

By the way Lapraire your non-answer to my challenge to look at the photos by instead repeating your looney theories and patently absurd allegations proves my point.

Why don't we libs try to disprove your economic theories? It'd be like trying to get a paranoid schizophrenic to believe he doesn't hear voices or to convince Sarah Palin Obama isn't a terrorist or a creationist that the world is more than a couple of thousand years old.

Nazi policies toward women ... (Below threshold)
jmc:

Nazi policies toward women strongly encouraged them to stay at home to bear children and keep house. In a September 1934 speech to the National Socialist Women's Organization, Adolf Hitler argued that for the German woman her "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home." This policy was reinforced by bestowing the Cross of Honor of the German Mother on women bearing four or more babies. The unemployment rate was cut substantially, mostly through arms production and sending women home so that men could take their jobs.

In other words Sexisim or trait #5 found in fascist societies.

Benito Mussolini perceived ... (Below threshold)
jmc:

Benito Mussolini perceived women's primary role as childbearers while men should be warriors, once saying "war is to man what maternity is to the woman".[104] The Italian Fascist government during the "Battle for Births" gave financial incentives to women who raised large families as well as policies designed to reduce the number of women employed to allow women to give birth to larger numbers of children.[105] In 1934, Benito Mussolini declared that employment of women was a "major aspect of the thorny problem of unemployment" which Italy was facing at the time and said that women having a habit of working was "incompatible with childbearing".[106] Mussolini went on to say that the solution to unemployment for men was the "exodus of women from the work force".[107] Italian Fascism called for women to be honoured as "reproducers of the nation" and the Italian Fascist government held ritual ceremonies to honour women's role within the Italian nation.[108]

In other words Sexisim or trait #5 found in fascist societies. Man this argument is sure starting to look absurd.

jmc:What... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

jmc:

What is absurd about pointing out your misunderstanding? Hitler, pinochet, Franco, Mussolini,

If that's what you were attempting to do, you hid it well.

Putting aside your garbled grammar and spelling...It is not sexism that differentiates fascism from other (authoritarian) forms of government; therefore, it is not an essential characteristic.

jmc:

Man this argument is sure starting to look absurd.
That's what I said in response to the first time you assert it.

If that's what... (Below threshold)
jmc:

If that's what you were attempting to do, you hid it well.

Just a lack of comprehension from the reader. It is typical on this blog.

Putting aside your garbled grammar and spelling...It is not sexism that differentiates fascism from other (authoritarian) forms of government; therefore, it is not an essential characteristic.

Putting aside your truly appalling logic, and garbled attempts at reason; it is sexism along with 13 other common traits, that differentiate life between fascist and non fascist societies.


That's what I said in response to the first time you assert it.

Which made you look vey foolish after I conclusively proved that sexisim it was policy in Hitler's Germany, Musolini's Italy, and Franco's Spain. I'm beginning to think you are comfortable with that.

jmc:it i... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

jmc:

it is sexism along with 13 other common traits, that differentiate life between fascist and non fascist societies.

You're either incapable of honest discussion or incapable of comprehending what it means to be essential or both. My money is on the 3rd option.

Well, I see the trolls in t... (Below threshold)

Well, I see the trolls in this thread are still trying to address the social mores of Hitler and Mussolini while ignoring their political and economic policies. As anyone who actually read it will immediately realize, my post deals with politics and economics, not with social mores.

Perhaps it's too challenging for the trolls to discuss politics and economics. Maybe they don't want to face the reality that their President is not above using strong-arm tactics to intimidate and coerce private industry to submit to his will ... just like a little man with a bad haircut and a little black caterpillar under his nose did some 70-odd years ago -- and this from a President who promised to govern from the center, to encourage debate and then bring all sides together in unity.

Yes, it's absolutely true that Democrats in general support an entirely different set of social mores that 1930's fascists. But that doesn't mean diddly with respect to the proposed political and economic reforms that Democrats seem to have gotten straight from the fascist playbook.

And don't even get me started on government-run healthcare...

You're either inc... (Below threshold)
jmc:
You're either incapable of honest discussion or incapable of comprehending what it means to be essential or both. My money is on the 3rd option.

And you're just an idiot. There is no other option.

This is apparently impossible for you to grasp, but fascism has no defining, nor essential characteristic, instead it has several common characteristics, that add up to a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology.

14 of those traits I have mentioned, your best response is to say "That isn't essential" over and over like a 4 year old, without either reason, nor facts to back up your position.

jmc:but ... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

jmc:

but fascism has no defining, nor essential characteristic
...
14 of those traits I have mentioned

When things are very similar, it requires many factors to differentiate them.

When things are very different, it requires few factors to differentiate them.

The way I see it... It requires very little to differentiate fascistic governments from the form of government with which most are familiar.

Apparently, the way you see it... It requires 14 factors to differentiate fascism from the form of government with which you are familiar.

Most likely, you're the type that can't differentiate between rote memorization (14 poitns!) and understanding.

Well, I see the t... (Below threshold)
jmc:
Well, I see the trolls in this thread are still trying to address the social mores of Hitler and Mussolini while ignoring their political and economic policies. As anyone who actually read it will immediately realize, my post deals with politics and economics, not with social mores

I see, the guy who wrote this thread is still trying to pass minor incidents in the economy, as similar to the entire range of economic policy that is is used by fascist countries. When, in fact the whole of both economies are quite different.

He seems to do so in an attempt to define what fascism is, without addressing the essential part of facisism, the social mores that govern the way people live (and are strikingly similar to the mores that seemingly he and many of his readers share.)

Perhaps it is to scary, or even challenging to address the issues of mores? Perhaps he wishes to keep fascism as narrowly focused as possible to avoid having to deal with the very real tendency towards fascism in the far-right in this country, and perhaps himself better to focus on the very cases he can find that show the other side is fascist than to look at the many characteristic he shares in common with fascist regimes.

oddly this writer, fears the government running health care(something neither Hitler, nor Mussolini did) but he doesn't fear torture (something both Mussolini and Hitler allowed.)

the most likely explanation is none other than the writer, basically calls anyone he disagrees with a fascist while progressives use the term in a more historically accurate way. That is calling things fascist that would lead us to a way of life similar to what was practiced in those regimes

Hitler and Mussolini stated... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Hitler and Mussolini stated a woman should stay at home and be a wife and mother because they were facist? jmc, the whole world had that view. Cheesh! ww

When things are v... (Below threshold)
jmc:
When things are very similar, it requires many factors to differentiate them.

That makes no sense. if you have indetical twins, for instance, it doesn't take a 100 things to differeate them, it takes one. A scar on the lip for instance, and then you can tell them apart.

When things are very different, it requires few factors to differentiate them.

No. When things are very differnt it is the sum of those many difference that tells them apart. For example, Gisele Bündchen is not a super model, while Rose O'Donnel isn't, because she is blond while Rosie is a brunnete. There are many differnces that add up to a very diferent looking women.


The way I see it... It requires very little to differentiate fascistic governments from the form of government with which most are familiar.

You are wrong, there are many differences, between fascist governemtns and western democries and each is a seprate enitiy becuase of those many differences.

Apparently, the way you see it... It requires 14 factors to differentiate fascism from the form of government with which you are familiar.

The way I see it five of the most notrious goverments in the world had exactly 14 things in common.

Most likely, you're the type that can't differentiate between rote memorization (14 poitns!) and understanding.

With logic like that most likely you can't tell your head form your ass.

Hitler and Mussol... (Below threshold)
jmc:
Hitler and Mussolini stated a woman should stay at home and be a wife and mother because they were facist? jmc, the whole world had that view. Cheesh! ww

No. You missed the point.

Here's the definition of fa... (Below threshold)
Sue:

Here's the definition of fascism:

http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/fascism

"fas·cism audio (fshzm) KEY

NOUN:

1. often Fascism
1. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
2. Oppressive, dictatorial control."

It sounds like what Obama and the Democrats are progressively doing. You make a big deal about the Democrats not being nationalists, but you are worse--Globalists and hatred of the US and those in the US that happen to be white, is just your form of "racism".

JMC post number 9... (Below threshold)
retired military:

JMC post number 9

"1) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos,Flags are everywhere."

How about it's for the children? or for the common good? or it takes a village? or the govt will help you do anything.


2.) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, etc.

How about the rights of people to make the money that they can earn without interfernece form the govt. How about demonization of the rich and affluent, Demonization of Wall street, Demonization of CEOs. How about universal health care (security)


"3.) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: communists; socialists, terrorists, etc."

Big oil, big tobacco, big pharmacies, bankers, Rush Limbaugh, Hannidy, Gun owners, Prolife groups.,

"4.) Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems."

The military (and police) is the only one to be allowed access to guns and they are under the control of the govt leadership.


"5) Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy "

Keep people poor and on the govt dole, keep them in govt schools to get indoctrinated, have the govt claim to provide them with anything and everything.

"6) Controlled Mass Media: Censorship, especially in war time , is very common."

The willing bias of the press


"7) Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses"

Let no good crisis go to waste

"8.) Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion."

The religion of abortion. The religion of gay rights, The religion of environmentalism.


"9.) Corporate Power is Protected: "

In Obama's case the govt is the corporation.

"10.) Labor Power is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. "

The only real threat to a facist govt is guns and the press. THe leftist wants to eliminate guns and already have the press in their pocket. First rule for any dictator "Control the guns and control the press". Use the labor unions as strong arms to further their agenda through intimidation of its members and to support the state.

"11.) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. "

Disdain for a differnece of opinion where anyone not in line with Obama's thinking is considered an extremist.


"12.) Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. "

It is coming as soon as Obama can swing control of the rest of the country. Look at the threats to the companies who filed against the Chrysler govt settlement.

"13.) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: "

Look at Obama and his cabinet. The integral ties between AIG, Fannie and Freddie and the democratic Congress.


"14) Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. "

Can anyone say ACORN?


Unrepentent Democrat<... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Unrepentent Democrat

"When did we get rid of the other 2 branches of government or do you folks have a belief that Obama plans to do so or has "secret" plans to take control of them?

"

Oh you mean the judiciary and congress.

If you look at Congress Obama has it pretty well sewn up and in lockstep with him.

Now for the judiciary. Well all it takes is Congress (that branch that Obama already has control of via Pelosi and Reid) to increase the size of the SCOTUS by 2 members. Problem solved.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

jmc:fasc... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

jmc:

fascism has no defining, nor essential characteristic,

jmc:

without addressing the essential part of facisism,

You two should debate this between yourself..

You purport to explain a <i... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

You purport to explain a philosophical point to me, Michael L? I've got a few hundred philosophical texts on my shelf that I've actually read, including a fair shake of conservatarian thinkers. I wrote a thesis on the meta-ethics of 'well-being' and defended it in front of a panel of Oxford-educated tenured professors at a really good school. I've taught logic, ethics, epistemology, bioethics, and the history of Western thought. So within the context of philosophical discourse, especially moral and political philosophy, I'm qualified to carry on a conversation, the same way someone who studied physics in grad school has earned that right. Et toi? (If you've read much of the canon, good--I'm only skeptical because a lot of people attempt to make 'philosophical' points without considering the possibility that some long-dead Greek or German already made the same argument.) If you're going to try and criticize the progressive movement--and Obama, whose polices have actually disappointed quite a few progressives--by pointing out the stupid things progressives believed in the 1930s, then as a liberal progressive, living in the 21st century, who actually understands the history of Big Ideas, I would thereby get to smear you with the sins of every sexist, racist, anti-Semitic piece of shit "conservative" of the same time period. Sound stupid? Good, 'cause it is. Now think a little harder and stop pulling at straws in a feeble attempt at parallelizing Obama's policies with the worst political projects of the 20th century. (I'm aware that 'parallelizing' isn't a word, but the English language does lend itself pretty well to invention.)

jmc is right: fascist states have all been socially conservative, though perhaps not inherently so. They're authoritarian, and what greater authority with which to bend the will of the people than a stern religious gaze cast upon every citizen? And what authority has been more consistently conservative over the past few centuries than the Catholic church? There might someday be a fascist state that is not socially conservative, but it's difficult to imagine what that would look like. However, jmc, you are incorrect in trying to essentialize fascism vis-a-vis any of the particular 14 characteristics. Still, it's illuminating how little the Obama administration has in common with fascist governments, apart from exercising more control over the economy than the Ayn Rand fan club deems appropriate. Thank goodness they're a disproportionately vocal radical minority.

Michael, thanks for writing... (Below threshold)
Alan:

Michael, thanks for writing this excellent and informative piece. I appreciate the work that went into it and the clarity it brings to the issue. I know I sound sarcastic, but I'm serious.

There are even a number of comments that have been constructive and provided good insights.

hyperbolist,<blockquo... (Below threshold)
maggie:

hyperbolist,

That you consider Mussolini and Franco to have been progressives is cue enough for any non-retarded person to stop reading your shitty blog post.

The next time you infer, post, insinuate, or
directly slur Wizbang by any means, I'm going
to start unpublishing or disemvoweling every
thing you post. Would you like a shovel?
Because it's a goodly way to get yourself
in deep and banned.

teleprompt him Maggie.... (Below threshold)
914:

teleprompt him Maggie.

Hyper" I wrote a t... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Hyper

" I wrote a thesis on the meta-ethics of 'well-being' and defended it in front of a panel of Oxford-educated tenured professors at a really good school."

Mr Metaethics of wellbeing,
Did you explain to them how under certain circumstances you believe it is okay for a doctor to kill a newborn infant?

They're authoritarian, a... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

They're authoritarian, and what greater authority with which to bend the will of the people than a stern religious gaze cast upon every citizen?

How about a cult-of-personality leadership style, Hyper, like NK, the USSR, Pre WW2 Japanese worship of the Emperor (though you could argue that was a pseudo-religious worship), Germany pre WW2, Saddam in his glory days, Quadaffi in Libya, and various third-world kleptocracies?

You don't need religion to bend the will of the people - you just need a lever. And a good secret police force. And both implied AND assured punishment (either from said police force or internal ostracism from other true believers) for those who don't do what Big Brother says. Bend the thinking - and the will follows.

To me, it looks far more like we're headed into a fascistic period NOW in the US than it ever has in the last 30 years. You've got the unquestioning worship of the media for Obama, you have Obama nationalizing businesses and banks, you have Obama identifying everyone who doesn't like his policies as enemies...

What are you waiting for, an Obama flag? (Actually an Ohio flag, but it could be adapted/adopted.) The requirement to put a picture of Obama in every house? Perhaps an official Obama salute?

Just what would it take?

For 8 years every action of Bush was parsed and interpreted with the idea of proving he was a fascist and intending to force the country to follow his dictatorial desires. It seemed a classical case of projection to me - these were the things that the left actually wanted to do, so they had to accuse Bush of them.

Now we've got someone in office who is far more authoritarian than Bush ever was - and you're not seeing anything wrong with it. Frankly, I think your much-vaunted education was wasted, since it seems to have left you unwilling to see past your own rationalizations, rather like a drunk physicist who states that since most matter is simply empty space he should be able to walk through a concrete block wall without any problems.

That theory lasts until the attempt is made, at which point it gets disproved rather firmly. (And it'd likely get a lot of hits on Youtube, too. Might be worth the experiment - know any physicists we could get drunk enough to try it?)

But what would it take to break you out of your preconceptions?

No, unemployed_military, th... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

No, unemployed_military, that didn't come up in the conversation. I'd try and explain it but the subject matter doesn't lend itself to monosyllabism.

JL--if in 2 years, Obama's administration is still torturing suspects; still illegally detaining enemy combatants (uniformed or otherwise); still conducting warrantless wiretaps; still substituting sabre-rattling for diplomacy; still pandering to under-educated 'values-voters'; then I'll have the same problems with his policies that I did with Bush's. I did say that many progressives are disappointed with Obama thus far, and I include myself among them. Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers are disasters, and yet they have Obama's confidence--that sucks.

One need not go to Italy t... (Below threshold)
Brian Richard Allen:

One need not go to Italy to see evidence of the abject failure that hallmarked every one of the 1930s' fascistic experiments.

It wasn't until 1946 that the American economy began to begin to recover from the effect upon it of the (cynically 100%-political) fascistic decisions, activities and actions of the traitor, Roosevelt and of those other traitors, fellow-travelers, fascists, crypto-fascists, assorted un-and-anti Americans and useful idiots that comprised his so-richly-Soviet-agent-larded "administration" and were his Cronies.

And our beloved fraternal republic will never recover from many of the consequences of that gang's cynically 100%-political decisions, activities and actions.

Which consequences include the ever-worsening affect of the "progressivist-ely" more pernicious "presidencies" and "administrations" of those other fascistic traitors, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Cli'ton -- and that of Mister Michellehussein Frank Marshall Davisubambi, the moronic mumble-mouthed mobbed-up Marxist-"theology" motivated Mussolini-modeled modified Marxist murtadd Muslim presently pretending to our nation's presidency!

Brian Richard Allen
Los Angeles - CalifUBAMBIcated 90028
And the Far Abroad

Your post is all wet, M.L.<... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Your post is all wet, M.L.

The epithet "Fascist" aimed at the contemporary Left in the US is hurled by (mostly) right-wing Jews and their employees who in their ignorance forget that fascism and its variants in 1920-1945 Europe was BASED ON MILITARY ORDERS OF BATTLE AND ENABLING ACTS TRANSGRESSING INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN THE NAME OF HERITAGE/PATRIOTISM. (See "War on "Terror" and "PATRIOT Act" today.)

Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" assigns Anton Drexler's brain to Adolf Hitler and it goes downhill from there. Hitler was a spy for the reactionary Reichswehr. Mussolini worked for King Victor Emmanuel II and was allowed to play Julius Caesar as long as he disowned Marx. Mussolini said he disowned Marxist economics in 1919. History agrees.

Retired Military & Unrepent... (Below threshold)

Retired Military & Unrepentent Democrat

Let's also not forget that the empty galabia, Mister Michellehussein Frank Marshall Davisubambi, the moronic mumble-mouthed mobbed-up Marxist-"theology"-motivated Mussolini-modeled modified Marxist murtadd Muslim presently pretending to our nation's presidency, has already, by such ploys as the empowerment and obscene enrichment of such brown-shirt terroristic gangs as ACORN, by the creation, empowerment and enrichment of Hitler-Youth-like "volunteer" gangs of (mandated to be comprised of at least 50%) third-world and inner-city bums, gang-bangers, illiterates and other mindless morons -- and by the appointment of hoards of aptly named "czars" -- (who, by requiring neither the congress's advisement nor its consent, also end-run the United States Constitution!) achieved end-runs around the feral gummint's other branches.

Marry all of those facts -- and the massive electoral fraud that in the first place saw him and half of the congress into office -- with his having politicicized the United States Census? And then what's left of our beloved fraternal republic -- and/or of the very Judeo-Christian/Western/Human Civilization we have long long long both vanguarded and at great sacrifice guarded -- to destroy?

The world's most-dangerous-ever-dullard is, quite simply put, the greatest threat that has ever existed, to both our nation and to Human Civilization.

Brian Richard Allen
Los Angeles - CalifUBAMBIcated 90028
And the Far Abroad

Hyper"No, unemployed... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Hyper
"No, unemployed_military"

Actually I am very much employed. I am retired from the military but that doesnt mean that I dont work. I have worked since I was 13 and often times at 2 or 3 jobs to improve myself and my financial situation. Something that if more liberals would do they wouldnt need so much free stuff from the govt to get by.

"Timothy Geithner and La... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers are disasters, and yet they have Obama's confidence--that sucks."

Well, I take it back. You CAN recognize reality when it whaps you in the face.

Considering Obama's rather flawed judgement so far, I think you're going to have plenty more things to be disappointed with... and you've got NO idea just how hard I'm hoping I'm wrong about that, by the way.

Fascism, like contemporary ... (Below threshold)
Tom C:

Fascism, like contemporary liberalism/progressivism, is just another form of statist/collectivism. Liberalism, in the classical sense, is not. As Locke, Burke, Jefferson, Madison and other thinkers in the classical tradition understood, the state is dangerous and must be limited in it's powers and made as diffuse as is possible (you won't here much about 'checks and balances' reviewing the fascist literature). Centralizers are elitist. All one needs to do is read Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Lenin, et al and compare them to the thought of the American founding generation of constitutionalists and the differences become clear.The progressives need to rationalize away their similarities to the statists or their heads will explode.

Read Stalin? The fuck why? ... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Read Stalin? The fuck why? Why not read something by the Grand Wizard of the KKK instead? Stalin was probably clinically insane. If you want to read about authoritarian Marxism, read Lenin; and if you want to read about social democracy, read your very own John Dewey.

But then it's easier to pick on narcissistic war criminals masquerading as ideological purists rather than address the underlying ideas, isn't it. It's not like I would bring up George W. Bush if I were to make a critique of unfettered capitalism--that's a straw man, as he's economically clueless. I would mention Smith, or Friedman.

You can do better, Tom C.

And Brian Richard Allen: I hope you have a daughter, and she takes a unionized teaching position and marries an engineer from Tehran. Will you call her a traitor?
depp=true
notiz=Do you need a shovel?




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