[p2p-research] Godwin's Law of Nazi Comparisons on the Internet

Andy Robinson ldxar1 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 27 08:04:11 CET 2009

Perhaps it would be more apposite to observe that, sadly, there is a lot in
the contemporary world that is reminiscent of some aspect or other of
fascist regimes?

Fascism is an outgrowth of a particular set of forces in capitalist/statist
modernity which have not gone away, and not at all as dissimilar to other
regimes as the extremity of its atrocities, or the condemnations of them,
suggest.  Hence it's actually quite accurate to suggest that many aspects of
everyday authoritarianism are what Guattari terms 'microfascist'.  (This I
think is where we get the "Soup Nazi", "council planning board Nazis" and
the like).

In addition, fascism makes an effective reductio ad absurdum because it is
highly unlikely that someone will respond by endorsing the fascist example.
And reductio ad absurdum is an accepted form of logical argumentation for
exposing flawed arguments.  (For instance, when arguing with someone who
thinks it is never ethically justified to use direct action against an
elected government's policies).

There is also a kind of 'state fascism' (similar to Francoist, Mussolinist
and bureaucratic-Nazi mindsets) which is widespread in 'deep states' and
which parallels with fascist regimes precisely because these regimes were
outgrowths of the 'deep state' either directly (as in the various
dictatorships arising from coups) or indirectly (as in the Nazi case,
involving demobilised soldiers who reconstituted themselves in militarised
organisations).  It is subtly different from the kind of movement-fascism
associated with neo-Nazi groups, but is possibly just as dangerous - it is I
suspect the basic form of fascism, whereas movement-fascism is the form it
takes when blocked in some way.  (This is where we get the designation of
policies or politicians as Nazi - the Patriot Act for example).

Finally, I'd add that this kind of 'return' of fascism - probably as the
emotional heat of discussions increases - is proof of its status as a kind
of 'traumatic object' in capitalist/statist modernity.  It is because
fascism is an unwanted symptom of modernity, a side-effect of practices *most
people endorse and take part in*, that it is disavowed and warded off,
wrongly labelled as an instance of extreme Otherness.  And it is because of
this traumatic status that it periodically returns as an expression of
emotional hostility to a position - most often (though not always) to a
position that brings out the dark underside of
capitalism/statism/modernity.  It is, paradoxically, in this emotional
'return' that the truth of the situation is revealed - at the very least (in
the less appropriate cases of use), in showing the traumatic status of
fascism and its 'extimate' relationship to supposedly 'non-fascist'
capitalist/statist societies; and very often, also revealing the real
continuities arising from its symptomatic status.
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