Saturday, January 21, 2017

Stop arguing about the definition of "fascism"

This one is really starting to bug me, and it is popping up all over the place.  You may have noticed that I am... not a fan of Donald Trump.  I regularly compare him to Andy Kaufman's "Tony Clifton" character, the Mel Brooks version of King Louis XVI and President Camacho from Idiocracy.  I admit I'm not alone in that last one, but at least some of my references have to be vaguely modern.

A few other patterns might jump out around here.  I often put the term, "democracy," in sarcastic quote marks, followed by the phrase, "whatever that means."  I do that with a lot of contested terms because I don't like arguing about definitions.  My Ph.D. is in political science, but my background is in math.  In math, we don't really care what you call a variable.  Call it x, or call it y.  It doesn't really matter.  There are standard notations, but as long as you tell me what your variables are up-front, I don't really care what notation you use.  I might get annoyed if you reverse everything in an attempt to confuse me, but generally, those of us who come from a math background have a pretty simple rule.  Define your terms and move the fuck on.

So stop arguing about the definition of "fascism."  Arguments about definitions are pointless and stupid.  Is Donald Trump a fascist?  That depends on how you define "fascist."  If you define "fascist" as "incompetent blowhard," then, yes, he is a fascist, but that definition bears no resemblance to the historical use of the term.  Note, too, that Hitler and Mussolini were quite politically different.  We think of fascism as more associated with Hitler even though the term's origins are more closely tied to Mussolini.  Which was the "true" fascist?

Thank you, Admiral Patrick.  The reason it is a stupid question is that the label serves no purpose.  Mussolini was horrible.  Hitler was... Hitler.  Does it matter who gets what label?

So now we have people asking about whether or not the new president is a fascist.  Is he?

Thank you again, Admiral Patrick!  I won't bother to recap the debate, which you can read elsewhere.  The better questions are these:

1)  What is the likelihood of Trump attempting to limit civil rights and/or civil liberties?
2)  What is the likelihood of Trump using the military in either unprovoked or excessive ways?
3)  What is the likelihood of Trump exceeding his constitutional authority in some way?

I could go beyond these questions, but I attempted to write them broadly enough to cover any action that someone might consider "fascist."  Whatever that means.  (See what I did there?)

Is there still room to argue about definitions here?  Sure, but less so, and that's the point.  Arguing about definitions, though, is pointless.  These questions are the more important ones for those concerned with the "fascism" issue.

I'm not especially concerned with these questions.  You may notice that I keep referencing Jimmy Carter on this blog.  He was the outsider, selected by primaries against the wishes of party insiders, who had poor relations with the leaders of his congressional majority.  Um, sound familiar?

Trump doesn't understand politics.  He understands entertainment.  He can't go around firing people anymore.  He is up against a system designed to block action-- a system that he doesn't understand.  At all.

You want something to worry about?  Worry about this.  He is an idiot child with no impulse control, driven by vengeance.  And he now has control of the most dangerous weapons arsenal in history.  Including nuclear weapons.  He doesn't understand that nuclear weapons are deterrents rather than weapons of attack, and doesn't even know what the nuclear triad is.  And that part of the system is not designed to block his actions.

But that has nothing to do with "fascism."  Whatever that means.

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