Fascism

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General Snoopy
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Fascism

Post by General Snoopy » Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:10 am

Is it my imagination or is Fascism everywhere? Definition is below. I am specifically referring to the Berkeley riots, antifa, far-right emergence in Europe, alt-right in USA, and many other recent developments. I know these things have been simmering below the surface for a long time, but it looks like they have become a major political force to be reckoned with. Things don't look good.
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Robert Paxton is an American historian and emeritus professor of history at Columbia University. In his book, The Anatomy of Fascism, he develops the following definition:

“Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a massed-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.” (Paxton, op. cit., p. 218)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Paxton

IlliniDave
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Re: Fascism

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Feb 04, 2017 8:45 am

I think "fascism" means different things to different people. Most of the time when it gets tossed around in political discourse it is essentially a rhetorical/hyperbole allusion to Nazi Germany where somehow a group of violent sociopaths managed to take over a nation that was very much "down and out" in the wake of WWI and the following depression.

The definition you cite is broad enough, and humans by nature are sufficiently adept at pattern recognition, that parallels can be drawn with many situations. Many of those characteristics are relatively normal and have existed benignly on the political landscape forever. Drawing the lines is the hard part. Where does legitimate concern for the local community become obsession? When does an "interest group" become a cult. When do protests/marches become "militant"? I suppose the things to watch out for if you fear a rebirth of the Third Reich is movements that start with violence and use violence/distortion to demonize and silence all alternate voices and advance their interests. There are fringe groups all over the democratic world that operate that way, but I think we're a long way off from that becoming mainstream.

The caveat to my opinion is that I'm often accused of being an optimist.

General Snoopy
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Re: Fascism

Post by General Snoopy » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:22 pm

I am not necessarily referring to Nazism. That was a specific brand of Fascism. I am referring more to Mussolini's and Franco's Fascism.
IlliniDave wrote:I suppose the things to watch out for if you fear a rebirth of the Third Reich is movements that start with violence and use violence/distortion to demonize and silence all alternate voices and advance their interests.
This is exactly what I am seeing. I have not seen it like this in my lifetime; although, I don't remember the '60s very well - I was a toddler then. We have the Berkeley riots which was exactly to silence a speaker. The Antifa exists precisely to silence opposition. Fascism in Europe has largely been dormant, but there has been an alarming increase in the popularity of far-right political parties. The alt-right has risen in the USA.

The Left is acting like Fascists. The Right is acting like Fascists. The Center is fading away.

IlliniDave
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Re: Fascism

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:37 pm

General Snoopy, I get what you're saying and there's some merit to it, sadly. But I think there's a gulf between having a few symptoms that can also be attributed to fascism and fascism proper. But like I said, I'm maybe too much of an optimist. Mostly right now I see wide scale adolescent behavior rather than true malevolence.

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Dragline
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Re: Fascism

Post by Dragline » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:14 pm

It's casual use is so misplaced as to have become virtually meaningless, or meaning "people with strong views that I don't like". So you end up with dumb arguments about "who are the real fascists" and "who are the real victims".

The inventor of fascism describes the actual doctrines and philosophies here, which necessarily involves controlling state functions and politics: http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaste ... solini.htm

Fascism is complex and has many components that require state control to operate and be implemented. Because fascism views the state as a "living entity" similar to LeBon's crowds but organized, it necessarily involves state action in forms of suppression of individuals and democratic institutions. Engaging in war is of the highest value and fascism is incompatible with peace or with international cooperation.

Key components of fascism and fascist thought include:

"[L]ife, as conceived of by the Fascist, is serious, austere, and religious; all its manifestations are poised in a world sustained by moral forces and subject to spiritual responsibilities. The Fascist disdains an “easy" life. The Fascist conception of life is a religious one, in which man is viewed in his immanent relation to a higher law, endowed with an objective will transcending the individual and raising him to conscious membership of a spiritual society. "Those who perceive nothing beyond opportunistic considerations in the religious policy of the Fascist regime fail to realize that Fascism is not only a system of government but also and above all a system of thought."

"In the Fascist conception of history, man is man only by virtue of the spiritual process to which he contributes as a member of the family, the social group, the nation, and in function of history to which all nations bring their contribution. Hence the great value of tradition in records, in language, in customs, in the rules of social life. Outside history man is a nonentity."

"REJECTION OF INDIVIDUALISM AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STATE: Fascism is therefore opposed to all individualistic abstractions based on eighteenth century materialism; and it is opposed to all Jacobinistic utopias and innovations. It does not believe in the possibility of "happiness" on earth as conceived by the economistic literature of the XVIIIth century, and it therefore rejects the theological notion that at some future time the human family will secure a final settlement of all its difficulties."

"FASCIST STATE AS A SPIRITUAL FORCE: The Fascist State, as a higher and more powerful expression of personality, is a force, but a spiritual one. It sums up all the manifestations of the moral and intellectual life of man. Its functions cannot therefore be limited to those of enforcing order and keeping the peace, as the liberal doctrine had it. It is no mere mechanical device for defining the sphere within which the individual may duly exercise his supposed rights."

"REJECTION OF PACIFISM: First of all, as regards the future development of mankind, and quite apart from all present political considerations. Fascism does not, generally speaking, believe in the possibility or utility of perpetual peace. It therefore discards pacifism as a cloak for cowardly supine renunciation in contradistinction to self-sacrifice. War alone keys up all human energies to their maximum tension and sets the seal of nobility on those peoples who have the courage to face it.. All other tests are substitutes which never place a man face to face with himself before the alternative of life or death. Therefore all doctrines which postulate peace at all costs are incompatible with Fascism. Equally foreign to the spirit of Fascism, even if accepted as useful in meeting special political situations -- are all internationalistic or League superstructures which, as history shows, crumble to the ground whenever the heart of nations is deeply stirred by sentimental, idealistic or practical considerations."

"REJECTION OF MARXISM: Such a conception of life makes Fascism the resolute negation of the doctrine underlying so-called scientific and Marxian socialism, the doctrine of historic materialism which would explain the history of mankind in terms of the class struggle and by changes in the processes and instruments of production, to the exclusion of all else."

"REJECTION OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY AS A SHAM AND A FRAUD: After socialism, Fascism trains its guns on the whole block of democratic ideologies, and rejects both their premises and their practical applications and implements. Fascism denies that numbers, as such, can be the determining factor in human society; it denies the right of numbers to govern by means of periodical consultations; it asserts the irremediable and fertile and beneficent inequality of men who cannot be leveled by any such mechanical and extrinsic device as universal suffrage."

"REJECTION OF EGALITARIANISM: In rejecting democracy, Fascism rejects the absurd conventional lie of political equalitarianism, the habit of collective irresponsibility, the myth of felicity and indefinite progress."

"THE ABSOLUTE PRIMACY OF THE STATE: The keystone of the Fascist doctrine is its conception of the State, of its essence, its functions, and its aims. For Fascism the State is absolute, individuals and groups relative. Individuals and groups are admissible in so far as they come within the State. Instead of directing the game and guiding the material and moral progress of the community, the liberal State restricts its activities to recording results. The Fascist State is wide awake and has a will of its own. For this reason it can be described as " ethical ".

Campitor
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Re: Fascism

Post by Campitor » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:35 pm

I think this this blogger states effectively what I think of our past and current state of politics as it relates to fascism/Hitler comparisons: https://regiehammblog.wordpress.com/201 ... -nonsense/

steveo73
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Re: Fascism

Post by steveo73 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:43 pm

General Snoopy wrote:The Left is acting like Fascists. The Right is acting like Fascists. The Center is fading away.
I agree with this but maybe fascism is the wrong word. I would state that both sides appear to be extremists.

The left are really extreme and are acting like morons. They don't care about facts and their righteous anger I find so far over the top.

Although the left are really bad and I think the right is a whole lot better I find that the right are just way too harsh. Maybe they are ready for a fight all too easily because of the way the left have been and are behaving but I still think they are way too harsh.

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Re: Fascism

Post by jacob » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:13 pm

@Dragline - I'm sure you're familiar with Umberto Eco's list of ur-fascist traits from 1995 too(?)
http://interglacial.com/pub/text/Umbert ... scism.html

It's indeed somewhat frustrating that "fascist" has turned into a meaningless insult directed at the violent fringes on the [mostly narrow and rather one-dimensional] left-right spectrum. Several people/parties called themselves fascists in the years after WWII until the word became highly unfashionable and universally dumbed down to just meaning "violent people we disagree with"(*) so that now it's used to describe "bad lefties" and "bad righties" even though it's a distinct concept that summarizes a whole range of values and perceptions just like "liberal" and "conservative" also summarize whole sets of values and ways of seeing the world.

(*) Also noticing that many are much quicker to dismiss political violence if it originates from the "side" they agree with.

Just to add a bit/clarify a few points to your link and Eco's list.

In terms of organizing the state, fascism has an eusocial basis that takes the form of either syndicalism (not widespread, but basically a system based on unions, think maybe Soviets ... or maybe in more modern times think various government departments insofar they're big and independent) or corporatism (widespread, it's pretty much capitalism) but organized with the nation as the primary focus. Metaphorically speaking, fascism uses either unions or corporations as [body]parts to organize the nation much like a human body. There's a head at the top, a strong leader, which does all the commanding; and then there are various body-parts (unions, government entities, or corporations) that the head orders around in service of the body (nation). Keypoint here is that the leader (head) is not in it for personal gain or to act as a parasite ... but that he/she truly believes he/she is the only one capable of acting as the personal brain of the whole thing.

tl;dr - A fascist state is essentially a totalitarian state but arranged in a more sophisticated way than just a big boss and bunch of individual minions. The minions must be arranged in large groups (corporations, unions, or government departments) like the limbs of a body; they must be coordinated by the head of state; and service to the national interest overrides all other concerns (e.g. profit, shareholders, individual rights, ... ). A crucial point wrt fascism is that _individuals have no value on their own_! "The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few"---and that not meant in a self-sacrificial kind of way .. what this means is that a fascist state doesn't think twice about sacrificing a few parts [of the body] in the interest of the whole.

In terms of philosophy and mythology, fascism tends to enjoy heavy doses of symbolism. I don't think "religion" describes it well. I think mystical covers it better. The Nazis borrowed heavily from Norse mythology. The Swastika was borrowed from India (where it meant something completely different) but actually widely used at the time. You can find it on beer labels, etc. The mysticism is also "primeval" by which I mean "warrior-like" if that makes sense? Think Blood and honor. Lots of flag waving. Your own special banner or totem for your squad or group. This happened all along with professing themselves to be Christians. Overall it was a big mess of symbols snatched from all around. Ideally, there's no internal coherence to all this which is why I don't think "religion" covers it well. A very common theme is that of rebirth (Phoenix) and establishing a nation that will last a thousand years. I.e. the past was great and we'll do this again. Jungian psychologists would have a field day with this.

tl;dr - What's important are snazzy uniforms, symbols, secret stuff, initiation rites, branding, ... if there's no overall coherence to it all, so much the better. It's the props that matter, not the thinking ... which brings me to my next point.

In terms of individual values and culture, fascism prefers action for the sake of action. Going back to how the state is a body and how the state-body parts are composed of yet other (eusocial) bodies ... fascism worships the healthy, vigorous, youthful, etc... think of the stereotypical Nazi poster depicting the German youth. Conversely, it hates the contemplative intellectual. Wait and see or thinking things through before moving are seen as signs of weakness. A good fascist can never been seen as having second doubts or wanting to gather more information before they act.

tl;dr - Fascism would like everybody to look like the prom king and queen, ideally the football quarterback who makes split second decisions and wins the game. Not the nerd who likes math, the undecisive thinker, or the misfit artist. Fascism prefers to be intense!

I think it's also worth mentioning that fascism absolutely and utterly thrives on inherent contradictions. This is why "1984" and 'Doublethink' is associated with fascism. It's why the book was written originally. For example, the people must be simultaneously see themselves both as very strong but also as very weak and unable to perform without a strong leader. The nation (as a body) must simultaneously reject intellectualism and science while at the same time enjoying and worshipping technology. It must dislike globalism but enjoy expanding its global influence.

To conclude, fascism exists on a scale just like conservatism, etc. does. Countries may display traits to various degrees and be more or less fascist. Same thing with individuals. There are always some fascist individuals around but usually numbers are pretty low. Fascist individuals tend to source in greater numbers from economic downturns. Sometimes they reach critical concentration making it possible to create a fascist state. This happened in a few countries during the 1930s. It could certainly happen again.

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Dragline
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Re: Fascism

Post by Dragline » Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:08 pm

jacob wrote:@Dragline - I'm sure you're familiar with Umberto Eco's list of ur-fascist traits from 1995 too(?)
http://interglacial.com/pub/text/Umbert ... scism.html

Just to add a bit/clarify a few points to your link and Eco's list.

In terms of organizing the state, fascism has an eusocial basis that takes the form of either syndicalism (not widespread, but basically a system based on unions, think maybe Soviets ... or maybe in more modern times think various government departments insofar they're big and independent) or corporatism (widespread, it's pretty much capitalism) but organized with the nation as the primary focus. Metaphorically speaking, fascism uses either unions or corporations as [body]parts to organize the nation much like a human body. There's a head at the top, a strong leader, which does all the commanding; and then there are various body-parts (unions, government entities, or corporations) that the head orders around in service of the body (nation). Keypoint here is that the leader (head) is not in it for personal gain or to act as a parasite ... but that he/she truly believes he/she is the only one capable of acting as the personal brain of the whole thing.

tl;dr - A fascist state is essentially a totalitarian state but arranged in a more sophisticated way than just a big boss and bunch of individual minions. The minions must be arranged in large groups (corporations, unions, or government departments) like the limbs of a body; they must be coordinated by the head of state; and service to the national interest overrides all other concerns (e.g. profit, shareholders, individual rights, ... ). A crucial point wrt fascism is that _individuals have no value on their own_! "The needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few"---and that not meant in a self-sacrificial kind of way .. what this means is that a fascist state doesn't think twice about sacrificing a few parts [of the body] in the interest of the whole.

In terms of philosophy and mythology, fascism tends to enjoy heavy doses of symbolism. I don't think "religion" describes it well. I think mystical covers it better. The Nazis borrowed heavily from Norse mythology. The Swastika was borrowed from India (where it meant something completely different) but actually widely used at the time. You can find it on beer labels, etc. The mysticism is also "primeval" by which I mean "warrior-like" if that makes sense? Think Blood and honor. Lots of flag waving. Your own special banner or totem for your squad or group. This happened all along with professing themselves to be Christians. Overall it was a big mess of symbols snatched from all around. Ideally, there's no internal coherence to all this which is why I don't think "religion" covers it well. A very common theme is that of rebirth (Phoenix) and establishing a nation that will last a thousand years. I.e. the past was great and we'll do this again. Jungian psychologists would have a field day with this.
Yeah, I'm familiar with Eco, but you know how I like to go "back to the source." The best evidence about anything is usually the statements of its proponents.

But I do think fascism is a modern recreation of a "hard core tribal" or "teamwork on steroids" ethic -- it is not "new" in terms of human behavior but is "sooped up" with modern technology, particularly in communications and weapons. Ian Morris, the archaeologist and historian, divides human history into essentially three periods: (1) the hunter-gatherer period; (2) the agricultural society period; and (3) the industrial/fossil fuel period, which only just began in the late 18th century and reached fruition in the 20th.

You will find "fascist" societies in all three, although not much of a record in the first period except for murder sites, Spartans and Mongols and lots of others in the second period and the usual suspects in modern times, but with a lot better technology to implement that action for actions sake. The basic narrative is the same though -- warrior cultures in which all in the group act as one, are directed from the top down. and dissenters and artistic expressions are crushed. The most important command in a fascist society is to "do what you think the leader would do in your shoes." This is how German judges were instructed to mete out justice in the 1930s and 40s.

To understand what its like to live in this kind of society as an "average person who loves country but with a conscience" and how such a society functions on a practical level, the biography of Sophie Scholl (Sophie Scholl and the White Rose) is worth reading and there is a 2005 movie about her life as well. Here is a shortened version (not as good): http://www.biographyonline.net/women/sophie-scholl.html

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Re: Fascism

Post by steveo73 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:02 pm

Dragline wrote:But I do think fascism is a modern recreation of a "hard core tribal" or "teamwork on steroids" ethic -- it is not "new" in terms of human behavior but is "sooped up" with modern technology, particularly in communications and weapons.
This is what I think we have now. It's not about calmly working through the issues and the facts. It's about supporting your team. So you get all riled up about something that you have poor knowledge of. You basically just support your team and therefore yelling abuse, illogical arguments etc are all good.

I think now the difference is that it's so easy to get onto the Internet and your view confirmed or even radicalised.

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Re: Fascism

Post by Farm_or » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:28 am

@dragline & jacob

I've never noticed it before, but reading the descriptive doctrine line items is almost identical to one of the four personality types (Jung/Hippocrates)?

The dominant, director​, driver, non-thinking, action type? The born leaders?

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Riggerjack
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Re: Fascism

Post by Riggerjack » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:11 pm

https://tompepinsky.com/2017/02/09/demo ... democrats/
In an interview with ThinkProgress yesterday, I made a related point about President Trump and his administration. Many observers worry that President Trump is at heart an authoritarian, or that he has surrounded himself by authoritarians. The effort then goes to trying to divine the internal mental states or private beliefs and desires of key administration figures. In that interview, I pushed against this tendency, urging a focus instead on administration actions and decisions.

Why? Because the better way to think about political regimes—the general term for democracies and dictatorships—is to think about them as systems. Systems may have features that are independent of the features of the units that comprise them. Political regimes are comprised of individuals arranged into parties, bureaucracies, factions, movements, organizations, and other social aggregates that interact with one another and with the individuals that comprise them. “Democracy” then is a feature of a system—the regime—rather than a feature of the individuals who comprise it. This view draws on political science research since O’Donnell and Schmitter [PDF] which has focused less on mass or elite attitudes and more on the choices and strategies of actors and groups.
It follows that an authoritarian regime is also not a government or rule by authoritarians. For some this may be reassuring, but it is not necessarily so. As I commented to ThinkProgress,

You can become authoritarian without trying. If you corrode systems of parliamentary order to get things done you might undermine institutions that sustain them.

Just as democracies can be governed by authoritarians, so too can true-believing democrats lay the groundwork for authoritarianism.
This BTW, is why I opposed Clinton. I have no idea if she was truly corrupt, I never looked at source materials, or met her. But she had a reputation of corruption. Electing her would do more long term damage to society, in eroding our political institutions, in particular, abhorrence of corruption, the the Douche will do short term. This is not to minimize the damage that electing a reality TV star is likely to do to our political institutions. I simply prefer incompetence to corruption, though I expect some of both from any President.

He has another great post: https://tompepinsky.com/2017/01/06/ever ... tolerable/
The mental image that most American harbor of what actual authoritarianism looks like is fantastical and cartoonish. This vision of authoritarian rule has jackbooted thugs, all-powerful elites acting with impunity, poverty and desperate hardship for everyone else, strict controls on political expression and mobilization, and a dictator who spends his time ordering the murder or disappearance of his opponents using an effective and wholly compliant security apparatus. This image of authoritarianism comes from the popular media (dictators in movies are never constrained by anything but open insurrection), from American mythmaking about the Founding (and the Second World War and the Cold War), and from a kind of “imaginary othering” in which the opposite of democracy is the absence of everything that characterizes the one democracy that one knows.
"Days of rage" https://www.amazon.com/Days-Rage-Underg ... 0143107976 was a great book for looking at radical violence, and how forgiving society can be when we sympathize with terrorists, vs when we don't. And it will put today's "facists" in perspective.

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BRUTE
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Re: Fascism

Post by BRUTE » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:24 pm

Riggerjack wrote:He has another great post: https://tompepinsky.com/2017/01/06/ever ... tolerable/
great article. brute especially liked this last part:
It is also the case the many people find democracy rather intolerable too. By this I do not mean that people do not value democracy. Rather, I mean that in democracy, it is also the case that most of the very things that motivate people to oppose authoritarian rule—corruption, cronyism, inequality, unfairness—usually still exist.
this is definitely the case with brute, and why he's mostly amused at the "WHY AREN'T ALL HUMANS OUTRAGED BY TRUMP" crowd. overt corruption/authoritarianism might have gone from 46% to 49%, but likely, many other markers will fare better under Trump than Clinton - including sneaky corruption (i.e. more sophisticated than "buy Ivanka's fashion items", frog-boiling tactics, economy, military.. not bad odds.

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Dragline
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Re: Fascism

Post by Dragline » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:49 pm

The idea of the "benign despot" is as old as governments themselves. Plutarch illustrates the good and the bad with his contrasting biographies of Solon and Sulla. The principal argument against democratic institutions is that the inevitably devolve into populist despots. Our Constitution and checks/balances system is supposed to have "solved" that problem. It is being tested again now.

I think this is one of the reasons NN Taleb likes Trump - he is hoping for a situation like that which existed in the late 19th Century Austro-Hungarian empire under Emperor Franz Joseph -- a benign autocracy that allowed science and other thought to flourish in places like Vienna. But I think he confuses Franz Joseph with Kaiser Wilhelm II. And terrorism under Franz Joseph was omnipresent, with the last act setting off WWI.

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BRUTE
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Re: Fascism

Post by BRUTE » Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:03 pm

huh? who's talking about a benign despot?

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Riggerjack
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Re: Fascism

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:03 am

Well, from the Trump hater perspective, Trump is authoritarian/dictatorial/totalitarian, the antithesis of democracy, cuz, you know, he won an election, and he wasn't even a Democrat. So anyone not actively opposing him in all thoughts and deeds, must want despotic rule.

It is only their charitable nature that allows them to assume anyone who fails to agree with them, wants their despot "benign".

Still, as I posted above, all of this is still pretty mild compared to the crazy shit radicals were up to in the 50-70's. You know, like the spree shooting in the house of Representatives, while they were in session, wounding 5 congressman. Strange how that never came up in history class.

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