Another Take on Civility

From an author who called Trump a "fascist" two years ago, a surprisingly sane take.
The presence of armed thugs in service of a political agenda is a key indicator of rising fascism, one that is completely absent today. There are no Brownshirts in America in 2018. Trump has no paramilitary organization. There are no militias that guard his events or beat his opponents. The 2016 election was contentious and hinged on unlikely electoral math and was possibly tainted by foreign meddling, but it was not marred by street violence.

The militias and the gun-rights advocates of 21st-century America are far too libertarian to ever fall into lockstep behind an emerging American tyrant. The neo-Nazi riot in Charlottesville last year was troubling but, so far, was a one-off. Left-wing street violence from groups like AntiFa has been more common than from right-wing counterparts.
Also, no Reichstag event:
Emergency decrees, legal changes to the constitutional order, and the abolition of checks and balances among branches of government are key indicators that authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and fascism are taking root.

There has been no large-scale terrorist attack in the United States since Trump took office. The closest would be the truck attack in New York on Halloween last year that killed eight. Trump did not propose and the Republican Congress did not pass any amendment to the U.S. Constitution and made no changes to the balance of power between branches of government before or after that attack. There is no provision for an emergency suspension of the Bill of Rights, which remains in full force.
Conclusion as regards civility:
On balance, the times still call for civility. The trends, while troubling, are developing within a still-functional democracy.... It is important to discern the moment rightly. The left is in danger of creating the very situation they oppose by overreacting. If they jettison all semblance of democratic norms, if they give up on the process and insist on its fundamental illegitimacy, they will only add fuel to the fire. They will give Trump and his successors every pretext they need to go further down the road towards authoritarianism and worse.

This is true even if Trump, or the next nationalist president, really is a fascist.
He isn't, really. The closest things to fascism that Trump attains to are moves like his recent attack on Harley Davidson, which is responding to European tariffs by shifting production overseas. Trump would like the corporation to show a kind of loyalty to the American nation, which is similar to but distinct from the fascist idea that all corporations should be aligned with the goals of the state. Trump wants Harleys built here because he wants jobs for Americans, not because he wants to use American corporations to extend American power. In fact, a far clearer example of an attempt to align corporations with the state occurred under Obama with the NSA's program to enlist social media giants in its international spying agenda.

Most of the things people object to are problems with the Federal government, in other words, not the President. If you think ICE should be abolished, understand that ICE isn't 100% made up of Trump supporters. The same DOJ that is celebrated for investigating Trump is defending ICE's moves in court. The same Health and Human Services that runs all those beloved social programs is running the Office of Refugee Resettlement that's doing things that cause people on the Left anger and fury. These people aren't Trumpists, they're government bureaucrats. Careerists. Your real enemy, those of you who oppose Trump as a fascist, is the Federal bureaucracy. It's a government with too much power, too many overstretched claims to authority, too many police exercising too much control. It isn't the right that put those structures in place.

Indeed, civility might be helpful in identifying some points of commonality. If you do get around to wanting to dismantle much of the Federal government and its power, we could get together on that. I'd be up for a minarchist version of the Federal government, one that did what Jefferson described envisioning as the Federal government's role in his letters: looking out, to relations between nations or in cases of issues that really were between two or more American states. You still have to have borders, and an army and navy to defend them, but we could do without Health and Human Services. Or the IRS. Or the FBI's law enforcement functions, as opposed to its counterintelligence mission. In fact, we could do with a whole lot less government all the way around.

Probably those who oppose Trump don't want that much less government. In fact, I suspect they really want more -- they just want to run it, so they can be the ones using these 'fascist' levers to force compliance with their vision of right and justice and goodness. If so, we aren't going to find common ground. The conclusion that the government is too powerful to be entrusted to your enemies ought to lead you to defang it, rather than simply to trying to ensure that your side always wins. The former conclusion is one we could all live with. The latter is going to force conflict.


E Hines said...

The presence of armed thugs in service of a political agenda is a key indicator of rising fascism, one that is completely absent today.

Miller is openly lying. He's ignoring the Left's Antifa and BLM, he's ignoring the Progressive-Democrats' Maxine Waters and her calls for open "thuggery," he's ignoring a Leftist's murderous assault on Republicans, he's ignoring the Left's use of flamethrowers at a kook-right Charlottesville demonstration, he's ignoring the Left's open assaults on Conservative government officials at movies and theaters.

And on and on.

There is a fascist movement blooming, and it's the Left's, aided and abetted by the Progressive-Democratic Party. Regarding the latter, we can disregard Schumer's "call" for Waters to tone it down. She told him to sit down and shut up, and he did. Pelosi's call was similarly brief.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

No, he talks about Antifa in the full piece. He's clear on the fact that they're present mostly on the other side. I just didn't quote that part.

Grim said...

Actually, I did quote that part. So I think your comment is a misreading of him. Clearly he is more worried about Trump than I am, and less worried about the Left, but I don't think it's fair to say that he's lying.

E Hines said...

I stand by my claim. He said in so many words that there is no indication of rising fascism. My error regarding Antifa in no way means he's not lying about the rise of fascism, on the Left.

I have no reason to believe he doesn't know better. The quote below of his illustrates the depths of his cynical distortions:

the Republican Congress did not pass any amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Nor can any Congress pass amendments to our Constitution. Congress can only propose amendments to be put to the People. He knows this, yet he chose to distort in order to continue his point.

Eric Hines

Gringo said...

Consider this quote:
Left-wing street violence from groups like AntiFa has been more common than from right-wing counterparts.

That is an admission that one manifestation of Fascism- street violence -is coming more from the left than from the right in this country.

E Hines said...

But he denies it's a manifestation of fascism; it's only street violence--which is what inner city gangs do. He denies that there is a rising fascism.

Eric Hines

Dad29 said...

...we could do without Health and Human Services. Or the IRS....

Yes. We did very well without the IRS until 1916, surviving only on tariffs of about 20%.

Trump the Throwback!!

MikeD said...

The conclusion that the government is too powerful to be entrusted to your enemies ought to lead you to defang it, rather than simply to trying to ensure that your side always wins.

Back when President Obama unilaterally declared his authority to kill American citizens via drone strikes without due process (so long as his star chamber said they were members of a terrorist organization) I complained mightily, and my friends on the Left really tried to argue that it wasn't an overreach. I told them in no uncertain terms that they only felt that way (at the time) because it was their guy in charge, and that one day that power would be in the hands of the other side's guy, and they might want to think about that before becoming too comfortable with the idea of giving that kind of power to an Administration. And I honestly think they just assumed that it wouldn't ever happen.

Frankly, I'm shocked that none of them have said a peep about the fact that President Trump actually has the same power Obama delegated to himself, but that might just be because they forgot about it entirely. It's things like this that encourage me to always advocate for smaller government. If you cannot trust that kind of power in the hands of people you find reprehensible, then keep that power out of the hands of the folks on your side as well. Because the reins of government change frequently, and the other side WILL get those same powers when they get in the chair. Surrender powers to the government at your own peril.

Korora said...

"There was a certain man who was going to his own house and his enemy went with him. And his house was beyond a river too swift to swim and too deep to wade. And he could go no faster than his enemy. While he was on his journey his wife sent to him and said, 'You know that there is only one bridge across the river: tell me, shall I destroy it that the enemy may not cross; or shall I leave it standing that you may cross?'” -- Reason, The Pilgrim's Regress

Grim said...

In general, destroying the bridge sounds superior in that it provides one advantage that the other option does not: an advantage of knowledge. Knowing the bridge will not be there, you can make provision along the way for a boat or a raft that your enemy will not know to make, and thus win across before him after all.

But if it were truly an enemy, it were wiser still to say: "Leave the bridge, but lay an ambush."

ymarsakar said...

This strangely reminds me of when the South in 1830s thought that the North was the one pressuring and infringing on them, even though Southern aristos were using bounty hunters to kill and lynch abolitionists in Northern States for daring to speak against the Slave Power Institute.

The propaganda when it is totally inconsistent with reality, produces certain distortions in the human matrix consciousness. These distortions often lead to wars due to cultural miscalculations about one's enemies.

An Antifa that believes they are the righteous innocents, will do even more extreme things as they fight against the Power. Little do they know, that they are the Power they purport to fight against. Thus the war started and nobody told them.