Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fascists in Western Democracies

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When people speak of fascism their mind goes back to Hitler and racial tyranny and instances of invasion by one country by another. These are not events that we attribute to 'modern' western democracies. There are no doubt peace activists who might criticise Bush & Blair for being rogue militarists, but what undermines these critics is that they share the same ideological roots as those they criticise. They are in fact the opposite side of the same collectivist coin. Just as its reprehensible to violate the rights other other people (or countries), its equally reprehensible not to defend your own rights, or those of your nation. They are the pertinent values, but are they being meaningfully applied in this context.

The problem is that standards for civilisation are set by the modern democracies. Tyranny grabs hold of the small pockets of the world that western nations are not interested in. By default neglected countries become hostile ones.

The US has demonstrated its capacity for turning around markets. eg. Consider the role of the US in making Japan possible. Japan, and to a lesser example HK and Singapore, were Asian countries that learned by example. South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia saw the success in Japan and wanted a piece of it. The same lead was provided in South America by Chile. Is there an opportunity to establish a similar precedent in Africa? Perhaps that is Ghana...but there are no stand-outs. There are several countries doing well.

The problem with this 'leading by example' was that it was based on a pragmatic desire to catch up to the western by a narrow economic measure. If one looks at Japan, its a hollow victory when you consider the way in which the society is structured to sacrifice the interests of the individual to those of the government and corporations. There is a hierarchy and salarymen and housewives are at the bottom. This hierarchy extends pervasively through the whole of society, whereas in western nations its a concession made by voters who begrudgingly accept their middle class guilt. It does not permeate all of our time. We are for the most part concerned with our own lives even if we rationalise otherwise. That does not mean what we pursue is necessarily in our interests. In nations where values are considered subjective, its inevitable that people would slip up in any of the following respects - by not acting in their self interests because:

  1. Failing to understand the nature as a human being, eg. What they accept as their cognitive tools, eg. They might regard emotions as equally valid as a cognitive tool as rational theory, or they might accept evasion or decoupling from negative thoughts as acceptable, and to this end they can be supported by peers, with a similar interest (set of values)
  2. Hierarchy of values distorted by negative life experiences
  3. Priorities that reflect a distorted sense of life, eg. A sense of scarcity rather than abundance
  4. Poor definition of values, wich undermines their integrity

All these issues are important because they are the foundation upon which fascism is based. Hitler was not created in a day, and he did not exist in a vacuum. He was the product of German philosophical thought that permeated that culture during the 1800s, with intellectual influences like Hegel and Immanuel Kant, which undermined the efficacy of reason as a tool of cognition, and elevating passions, emotions and its corresponding ethics of self-sacrifice.

Looking at society today, these 'dangerous' foundations are evident in our society. There is no conspiracy to introduce socialism or any variant, the political direction of any economy is just people acting as they please, often with little thought to where they are going. The dangerous signs are evident when you analyse events, so lets consider the following in Australia.

Roots of collectivism in Australia

Australia was established as a colony in 1788. From the beginning prosperity did not come easily since the colonies struggled to introduce crops that would grow under the conditions. These hardships necessitated that public-funded governments would carry the burden. Australia was not as fertile or well-plenished with water as the New World (USA) and certainly Australia did not have the early successes with tobacco, cotton and sugar that the USA had. Moveover the hardship in the USA was carried by African slaves, not as with predominately free settlers in Australia. More importantly, the US was established largely in opposition to the tyranny of British monarchy, whereas Australia embraced it. The US had alot easier path to developing export markets with Europe, whereas Australia was far more remote. These early experiences entrenched the values of the 'nanny state' taking care of the citizenry.

Eventually prosperity came because Australia found a niche supplying the Old World

So what have we learned in the modern era. Well by default, the Conservatives in Australian politics have been able to stear the economy towards liberalisation - a global trend stimulated by Margaret Thatcher in the modern era, but really it was purely pragmatic benefits of wealth creation that gave it the momentum, and its been an 'alliance by stealth' between governments, the media and 'big business' representatives that has entrenched this trench, but purely for self-serving objectives. By delivering on wealth creation for those that mattered - big business since their investments determine where jobs are created, incomes are boosted and spending is undertaken. That has brought prosperity, but not without victims.

TALK ABOUT JOHN HOWARD - peace activist deported, Pauline Hanson, political processes, emergency powers

But lets not forget our own ethical principles whilst we are sending troops to the Middle East to defend theirs. Why are we fighting there? Why defend values without explaining why you are there, without providing any explanation. At the same time the Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock has deported the American peace activist Scott Parkin, of Houston, Texas because he participated in a recent protest against US energy company Halliburton, whose commercial interests benefit some members of the US executive. He has not committed a crime, and what risk does he pose by opposing war or highlighting threats to good government. This is on top of the arrest of Pauline Hanson.

Not finished

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Reason is the standard for debate.

- Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com
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