Thursday, November 26, 2009
Politics of Polarization in America?
Is it possible that the vicious rhetoric and the threats of violence coming from demogogues such as Glenn Beck, and the organized mobs known as Tea Parties, are potential prelude to a politics of violence? John Naar, an artist and political activist for most of a century, has coined the term "Weimarization" to stand for just what might be happening to American society. The historian Fritz Stern, who lived through the Weimar era in Germany, saw the rise of Nazism but escaped to the US to survive into the present, has just published a letter in the November 9, 2009 New York Times to offer a similar point of view. The cleavages between the political parties are growing, with the Beck/Palin partisans ousting moderate Republicans and thereby pushing the Republicans, who are always more disciplined than the Democrats, into a unified position on the far right. Think of the many proto- and not so proto-fascist parties, e.g., the French Poujadistes; Le Pen's followers; the late Haider's in Austria; and so many others, that had a similar rightwing-militant lower middle class anti-tax, anti-immigrant, racist, outlook. History offers too many lessons about the formation of a social base of the angry, the disenfranchised, and the alienated, all set for a neo-fascist politics that leads by its very nature into mob violence.