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Monday, March 02, 2015

Toward a definition of fascism

First, a personal note: Thanks from the very depths of my being to those who donated to help my dog Bella. After an extremely terrible period, my beloved hell-hound slept profoundly for more than a day -- and now seems to be rallying.

I'll have more canine reportage below. First, lets have a look at the rest of the world. It's in even worse shape.

Approval ratings. Bibi Netanyahu's approval ratings in the United States have gone up: 45% approval, up from 35% a few years ago. Disapproval ratings hold steady at 23-24 percent. (Also see here.) He is actually more popular in this country than in Israel, where half the voters are dissatisfied with him.

The horrors committed against the Palestinians in Gaza actually seem to have increased Bibi's favorability in the eyes of Americans.

I just don't know what to say.

People wonder why I have lost so much faith in humanity. How can one have faith in one's countrymen and women when they refuse to understand that they are supporting fascism -- not just in Israel, not just in Ukraine, but around the world?

On the other hand, the numbers cited in this piece by David Corn demonstrate that we have reasons for hope. It is one of the great ironies of history that American Jews are at least somewhat more sensible on the issue of Israel than are most American non-Jews.

The rise of the threat posed by ISIS may have led to the rise in Bibi's numbers. Most Americans see Israel as a bulwark against ISIS. Most Americans foolishly equate ISIS with Islam. Most Americans are absolutely ineducable when it comes to comprehending the divisions within Islam. Most Americans do not understand -- will not understand -- that both Israel and the government of the United States have quietly supported ISIS in our mad determination to topple Assad of Syria.

I've decided to post Norman Finkelstein's latest words about babbling Bibi. This interview is brief -- under ten minutes -- and it's quite insightful.

As Finkelstein makes clear, people like Alan Dershowitz are so quick to scream "Nazi!" that the accusation has lost all meaning. I think that Israel's blinkered defenders understand this fact, but they have become so psychologically addicted to the Godwin Gambit that they cannot stop themselves.

The F word. I suppose some will accuse me of self-contradiction because I scored the Dershowitzians for over-reliance on the Godwin Gambit while simultaneously scoring my fellow Americans for turning a blind eye to fascism. But there is no contradiction here.

We've been gulled into a false equivalence: Fascism = Nazism = anti-Semitism. This false equivalence remains lodged in the minds of many even when the Israelis act in a robustly fascist manner, and even when the Israeli police allow young thugs to behave like the brownshirts of old.

Fascism does not equate to anti-Semitism. Mussolini invented fascism -- at least, he invented the term; the concept had been burbling up for nearly a century -- yet he was not notably anti-Semitic. He even had a Jewish mistress.

(The Italian dictator adopted an anti-Jewish stance only after he became reliant on Hitler. There is a fair amount of interesting debate among historians about whether Musolini's later anti-Semitic tendencies reflected personal belief or political calculation.)

Neither, I am sorry to say, is democracy a reliable check on fascism. As noted in an earlier post, one of the most fascistic acts ever committed by this nation was the relocation of the Cherokee, which occurred during the administration of Andrew Jackson. He was elected fairly, and he enacted the popular will -- yet he oversaw an atrocity reminiscent of the worst of Hitler's deeds.

Not long ago, John Pilger had a few choice words to say about the modern recrudescence of fascism:
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 "strike sorties" against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that "most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten".

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a "rebel" bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: "We came, we saw, he died." His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning "genocide" against his own people. "We knew... that if we waited one more day," said President Obama, "Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be "a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda". Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato's inferno, described by David Cameron as a "humanitarian intervention".

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain's SAS, many of the "rebels" would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.
This, perhaps, takes us a step toward a more subtle and realistic definition of the new fascism: A willingness to believe lies. The endless struggle to sort fiction from fact seems so insurmountably difficult to the average person that many of us stop making the attempt. We choose "truths" which accord not with external reality but with convenience, self-interest or prejudice.

There is another factor. In order to strike the necessary populist chord, fascism must always play to the resentments held by the average person. The fascist wins when he manages to convince small people that they are not small. The fascist whispers these words into the ear of Mr. and Ms. Average:

"It does not matter if your personal accomplishments are few or nonexistent. It does not matter if you lack the intelligence and skill you pretend to have. Just by virtue of being born into a certain group -- or within the borders of a certain nation -- you can count yourself among the elect. You don't have to do anything: You are superior by accident of geography and genetics."

In short: One may usefully define the fascist as "He who seeks political advantage by manipulating the average person's fear of insignificance."

Thus, the very concept of American exceptionalism is inherently fascistic.

The same may be said of any other form of exceptionalism, except for that which is earned by individual achievement. And even when contemplating the works of history's few truly great individuals -- Michelangelo, Mahler, plug in whatever names you choose -- it is good to recall that, in the end, we are all worms. Even the best of us. We are all worms: Those four words are the best disinfectant against fascism that I know.

(Churchill accepted that formulation gladly, but added: "I do believe that I am a glow worm.")
Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being," said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, "The sovereign is he who decides the exception." This sums up Americanism, the world's dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture.
Back to personal matters. In my preceding post, I did not tell the full truth about poor Bella. When she first became disoriented, I was away from home. We live with an older lady, who let Bella out of her room. The dog frantically wandered throughout the upper floor in a bizarre fashion, bumping into walls and trying to squeeze into impossibly small spaces, as though she had lost all sense of her own size. Then she rushed toward the stairs. The aforementioned lady tried to stop the dog but lost her own footing, and would have suffered serious injury if she had not grabbed the railing.

So my dog fell down a flight of stairs. At first, Bella seemed to suffer no physical injury, but late that night, she began to limp, and now cannot put much weight on her back leg. I fear that a torn ligament has turned her into a tripod dog. She spent a very strange and agonized night, still feeling compelled to wander aimlessly, yet unable to walk without pain.

Frankly, I prepared myself for the worst. But then I received a message from my brother, who told me that his son had (for professional reasons) recently met Aron Ralston, the man who was trapped under a boulder and had to amputate his own arm. My brother's message was simple: Never give up.

As dawn came, my dog finally fell asleep, and the sleep became peaceful. Now she eats and drinks and piddles normally. Although a larger dog with a torn ligament usually requires surgery, a smaller dog may heal. A brace -- not a terribly expensive item -- may help.

What caused her strange mental state? I no longer think that it was the product of vestibular disease. I think that she is experiencing "doggie Alheimers," or cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Signs of this disorder had cropped up throughout the preceding year, although they were subtle: Difficulty with stairs, not reacting when her name was called.

Frankly, it is difficult to tell when a dog is not quite in her right mind because...well, let's face it: Dogs are always kind of goofy, even at their best. We expect both humans and beasts to change with age, to become less playful and more obstinate.

The good news -- good not just for my dog, not just for your dog, but perhaps for all of us -- is that we now have a treatment option in the form of a drug called Anipryl. This drug is rather pricey, but the generic version -- Seleginil -- is much more affordable. I've read some accounts of pets that have seen remarkable improvement. There are also natural approaches which may be of aid.

If there are treatments for canine Alzheimers, then perhaps we humans have less to fear.

My great task now is to convince the vet to write a prescription without requiring expensive tests. Research indicates that those tests will cost more than we can afford, and may not be necessary.

Had I taken my beloved quadruped to the veterinarian on that first night, he probably would have pressured us to put the animal to sleep. Frankly, I still fear he will so advise. As long as my pooch is not in serious pain, as long as she enjoys good food and sleeps in comfort and gives my nose the occasional lick, the motto remains: Never give up.

Thanks for putting up with my ramblings, folks. I never claimed to be anything other than a small man who treasures his small family.

Was unable to comment on the doggie thread. You feed tuna? Have you considered mercury poisoning or worse, Fukushima entering the food chain?

When your pet/companion gets older and frail and at times sick, that period of time when you are nursing them back to health is in a strange way, a very happy time. You see them getting better and the wto of you become closer. You love doing everything you can for them and they are so appreciative. I had an elderly cat I gave warm water baths and blow dried his fur. He ate chicken breasts and mashed potatoes and took a short list of daily medications, but I loved doing everything I could to make him happy, comfortable and safe because he had given me so much during a very sad and lonely time in my life. I also had a cat that had kitty Alzeihmers. He would face the walls and meow. Everytime I came through the door, he would run to his food bowl regardless of the time. My pets a part of my small family, too. Bella will recover. She will do it for you.
Coconut oil, coconut milk (unsweetened out of a can) or coconut water. Any or all are great for many health issues. Coconut water is especially good for hydration and contains lots of electrolytes.
Google coconut oil for dogs and you'll find loads of information. So great for any kind of infection as it's antimicrobial, and improves the dry skin and coat that elderly pets have. Lubricates old joints also and helps heal wounds faster.

I've been using coconut oil for about 9 years but hadn't really thought about giving it to my pets until recently. Turns out most love it and will lick it right off the spoon.

It also improves Alzheimer's. I first read about this a few years ago where a Dr. Mary Newport was giving it to her husband and getting impressive results.

I've just been reading a book called Coconut Therapy for Pets, by Bruce Fife who's written a lot of books on coconut oil. I've had some of them for years, and used some of his recipes.

There are a few brands that make coconut products just for pets. One, called CocoTherapy makes coconut treats out of flakes that you can crumble into their food. Or you can just buy plain flakes at the health food store as long as they have no sugar or other additives. The coconut oil itself you can buy any brand of virgin coconut oil like Nutiva.

About a teaspoon a day per 10 pounds of body weight. I started with a 1/2 tsp. with my kitties, but worked up pretty fast as they're still very young and healthy and didn't have any detox reactions.

I agree with Ben you want to take it easy on the tuna. Or maybe avoid it entirely. Mercury does cause those kinds of dementia symptoms.

Miss Kitty
I want to thank everyone who has offered suggestions for non-standard therapies. Believe me, I'm open to all sorts of possibilities -- and I'll definitely try coconut oil.

I had switched over to tuna because so many web sites said that fish oil was helpful to dogs, and this seemed to be a convenient source. Right now, all she seems to want is chicken.

One sign of mercury poisoning is reddened gums, which, I am happy to say, is NOT among the things wrong with Bella.

Anon, that story about your elderly cat was incredibly touching. Frankly, part of me would like to take a couple of weeks' "vacation" from politics. Perhaps we can turn Cannonfire into a temporary pet blog, where we can all share heartwarming stories...?
Here is a link to the original Alfred McCoy essay quoted by John Pilger:

Tomgram: Alfred W. McCoy, The Unwritten American Rules of the Road | TomDispatch
TIP JAR, you flaming asshole. DO IT NOW. ;-)
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