Monday, June 12, 2017

What Does Freedom Mean When, Under Law, It Produces Fascism Or Trumpism?

I wasn't going to mention the Aussie geologist who wants to vandalize the Grand Canyon to prove young earth creationism but I noticed the sleazebag,  uh, lawyer who is bringing a lawsuit on his behalf claiming that the National Parks Service is trying to cover up his science is from an outfit called "Alliance Defending Freedom".    Freedom to vandalize national parks to do bogus science to support a story in Genesis that only means anything real if you don't take it literally, apparently. Though freedom to spread absurd conspiracy narratives is probably more literally true.  As with the phony Randi "Million Dollar Challenge" the real value of the thing is not in someone winning it, it is to have the propaganda value of the thing.

It is worth noticing that the geologist, Dr. Andrew A. Snelling is listed on his Wikipedia page as having "a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Sydney and has worked as a consulting geologist," so the claim that he isn't a scientist can't be made.  Though apparently in addition to the kind of rocks he wants to look at being available outside of the park so there is no reason to let him vandalize those in the park, it's noted that he has had no scientific affiliation or activity for 35 years.  That's a long time to have your oars out of the water.  But, as the rocks are available in other places where he doesn't need permission of the Parks Service to take samples, it's clear to me that it's a Randi type PR scam, nothing more.

But the thing that got me to look into this was the word "Freedom" in the name of the "Alliance Defending Freedom" because I've begun to notice how many far right groups, even neo-Nazi groups whose ideology has everything to do with destroying freedom sell themselves with the word.

The thing that first got me noticing that was looking at the Southern Poverty Law Center's listing of hate groups and noticed that at least ten fascist or Nazi groups used the words "Freedom" or "Free" in their names.  I suspect that when you look at right-wing groups that are dedicated to the opposite of equality and freedom, some of which don't make the SPLC's list of hate groups, the number will be far higher.  And their use of the words as slogans in their propaganda is both contradicted by their goals and it is ubiquitous.   And such use of "freedom" also plays a large part in their propaganda and legal promotions.

In the plague of Nazi and white supremacist rallies that are springing up around the country, fueled by the Trump regime and online hate networking, organizing and recruiting, claims of "freedom of speech" and "freedom of assembly" or, rather the claims of the violation of those when they inevitably provoke a reaction from people opposed to Nazism and white supremacy.   Granted in too many cases it is the not that all different idiots from their best friends in that effort, play lefties of a violent bent in black bloc anarchism and other such nihilistic folk seeking not much but thrills through violence and hate, themselves.  If there is one thing the real left needs to do it is to disavow and dump that burden.  

That kind of stuff has been pioneered by such clean-fingered right wingers and opponents of equality as David Horowitz and used by such media haters as the skanky Ann Coulter.

The concept of freedom as antagonistic to equality was something I first heard from the genteel fascist, William F. Buckley, a fascist who PBS carried for years and who could push some pretty awful stuff and still be considered a gentleman.   Though, in the past twenty years of looking more critically at the use of words with such universally positive denotations I've noticed that, in fact, the opponents of equality have always called the attempt to establish equal justice a violation of their freedoms and rights.  It was one of the most frequent claims of slave holders and dictatorial husbands and fathers that their rights and freedoms were violated when the rights of those held in slavery and women were advocated for.

Freedom can be a very dangerous slogan, especially when it is not specified where it ends as it destroys the rights and freedoms of other people and the common good.  All of those things exist in tension with each other, and the freedoms and rights of people do, too.  And that dynamic of tension includes the common good, all of which must be there and which must be preserved in order for there to be democracy and a decent life for all.   In American culture, the one which has the most potential to do the most damage, right now, is the uncritical assertion and permission of freedom.

That kind of sloganeering use of "freedom" by Nazis will fool lots of people, lots of them in the media and lots of them with college degrees.  It is exactly that ploy which has been behind the enablement and permission of Nazis, white supremacists, etc. by the genteel lawyers of the ACLU. Which is why the laws of the United States are willfully stupid when it comes to making the most obvious distinctions between the freedom to speak for the advocacy of equal justice, equal rights, economic justice and a decent life and the freedom to try to gain power to destroy equal justice, to destroy equal rights, to impose gangster economics that rob people and which turns life into a homicidal blood bath under a regime of terror.  The gaudy flowering of liberties in the Weimar Republic with its raucous theater romanticized in post-war theatrical crap about it went into Nazism pretty fast when the Nazis exercised their freedoms under its regime of freedoms.   The plan behind the Nazis use of lying and deception was laid out specifically by Hitler in Mein Kampf

The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another.

I would say that that is exactly how Trump became president, by finding the psychological form that will arrest attention and appeal to the hearts of masses.  What I would point out is that in the United States, under the judicial and legal regime that insists on pretending that there isn't everything in the world that is different between the advocacy of equal rights and the advocacy of the freedom to destroy democracy because justice must be blind to such difference, the legal system has willfully adopted the pose of being just as like the "crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another" that Hitler took as being his ideal audience of willing idiots.   And doing so using the slogans of "freedom" as contained in the tragically undetailed and unspecific Bill of Rights.  The vagaries of the Bill as composed in mediocre 18th century poetry comprise a loop hole that was big enough to allow slavery and extermination policies and Jim Crow and the subjugation of women in our past, there is every reason to suspect it can produce worse now.   Especially when our judges and lawyers are so willing to play the fool.  When it is considered the very definition of judicious, legal thinking to ignore those glaring realities and their complete and entire realness.   That is when they aren't actual fascists of the Federalist variety, themselves, looking to destroy equality, democracy and a decent life for the benefit of inequality and privilege.  Such privileged people have seldom if ever actually had any limits placed on their freedom.  But that will get me back into the difference between real liberalism and "enlightenment" liberalism as expressed in the savants of the late 18th century.

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