Plan for Tonight
- Clarification on Assignments and Syllabus Changes
- Plan for the Rest of the Semester
- Conspiracy Theories–Presentation for SEACS
- I try to put up notes for my Conference Presentations–thanks, COVID-19
- Definitions for Introducing American Politics
- Kevin Passmore’s Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (pp. 92-155)
- Propaganda Fun Part 3
Remember, we will not meet as a class the next two weeks: 3/14 and 3/21. Our next face-to-face meeting will be 3/28 after I return from a conference. You have reading to do, and I suspect reading to catch up on. I’m going to be much more likely to call on you in class for participation, so have the material read before class, and, while in class, demonstrate you’re reflecting on it.
We won’t have a Midterm Exam, so I’m adjusting the syllabus and grade distribution. If you turned in a draft for the Critical Thinking Essay–on time…after 3 extensions–you’ll get 100 points. If you didn’t you won’t get 100 points, but that will NOT count against you. Your next essay’s draft (Due April 11th) will be worth 100 points, and not doing it WILL ABSOLUTELY count against you. Therefore, some of you will have a course total out of 900 points, and the rest of you will have a course total out of 1000 points.
By the way, you have these two assignments due this week:
- Critical Thinking Essay (Due Friday, 3/10, 11:00pm–no extensions)
- Weekly Discussion Post #8 (Due Friday, 3/10, 11:00pm–as always, no extensions)
You won’t have Weekly Discussion Posts for the next 2 weeks, but you will for the week of 3/28, and it will be on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Highlights from Introducing American Politics (pp. 82-176)
After that cheery conversation, let’s discuss something benign like US politics. Before jumping over to February 7th’s page, let’s have some definitions:
- politics: consider the extended definitions from Merriam-Webster.
- Entry #5 is what I refer to often as “little-p politics.”
- political philosophy: often has a definition related to government, but that’s not the entirety of the definition.
- political philosophy: this definition is perfect for our course on The Rhetoric of Fear
Kevin Passmore’s Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (pp. 92-155)
Now that you’re experts on F/fascism, you can officially use the term(s) to win arguments, denigrate political opponents, and win debates.* Obviously, Passmore’s book was more of an exploration on the variety of elements of fascism, and, in the spirit of postmodernism, it resists a grand narrative. What I hope you noticed–and what I’ll call on you (perhaps directly to you…yes, you)–was that there are political elements that seem(ed) to be fascistic that are alive and well today. Although Passmore resists telling us that the contemporary** far right is specifically fascist in the pure “sense,” just mentioning “the far right” in the context of fascism juxtaposes these concepts. Not to put words into his mouth, but it’s hard not to notice that even he recognizes the uncanny resemblance. However, his last chapter provides an important warning for our discussion on rhetoric, in general, and the rhetoric of fear, specifically.
*Speaking of debates…
**contemporary: now, perhaps the past decade or so; modern: the Enlightenment forward; modernism: usually the first half of the 20th century.
Some key areas to focus our discussion:
- p. 92: Overall, I’m behind Passmore’s desire not to make F/fascism be anything; however, I think Eco’s point was more of a warning based on his lived experience in the Fascist state of Italy.
- The end of Eco’s essay “Ur-Fascism” makes the point clear with a quotation:
“I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land” (Franklin Roosevelt, 4 Nov. 1938)
- Passmore is correct about the need for falsifiability, as we read…
- The end of Eco’s essay “Ur-Fascism” makes the point clear with a quotation:
- p. 95: “…the Patriot Movement: a hotch-potch of militias…”
- “Only the gun-toting citizen could defend the original constitution…”
- “This hostility to a pro-globalization federal government…
- It’s important to consider that globalization (like evolution) exists whether you believe in it or not, whether you support it or (think you do) not.
- p. 97: “The [Alleanza Nationale] AN cited revolutionaries of left and right…”
- “…the Italian right’s most extreme element is [Il Lega Nord], which is obsessed with immigrations and believes the EU to be run by pedophiles.
- Sound familiar? What to Matt Gaetz and Silvio Berlusconi have in common?
- p. 100: spiritual nationalism in post-Soviet Russia.
- Gennady Andreyevich Zyuganov is still alive.
- p. 101: “The very conservative [Russian] Orthodox Church possesses considerable influence–it sees homosexuality as a threat to the nation.”
- p. 102: In Western Europe, the far right castigates the European Union (EU) as an agent of globalization just as Americans attack the UN.
- There’s a common fear of world government in far-right (and far-left) groups and conspiracies about secret groups that are leading us there.
- p. 103: “The [American and French] student uprisings of 1968….Students indiscriminately accused contemporary governments of fascism, and helped empty the term of specific content.”
- p. 105: “Economic difficulty coincides with a sense of cultural disadvantage.”
- p. 108: The race question is equally complex in the recent resurgence of the far right. Anti-immigration policies are universally important but extermination is rare.
- Not sure that’s a silver lining…
- “The bringing of the African to America planted the first seed of disunion” (beginning of The Birth of a Nation ).
- Although there’s some question about whether or no Woodrow Wilson said the film was “…like writing history with lightning. My only regret is that it is all so terribly true,” (c.f. Mark E. Benbow) there’s no doubt that this film was hugely popular.
- p. 118: “Fascism sought to complete Italian Unification, an objective justified by the need to compete with [non-white] ‘races’.”
- p. 119: “Mussolini promoted Fascist universalism as an alternative to Nazi racism. In 1930, he ridiculed biological racism.”
- p. 120: David Duke’s kinder, gentler Klan.
- p. 123: “Yet the very vagueness of their principles permits resists to adapt their ideas to whatever purpose they espouse.”
- p. 126: “‘Natalist campaigns implied that woman were primarily mothers, and should perhaps be for bidden in other roles.”
- pp. 127-128: “Women must inculcate national values in their children, and as consumers…they must ensure that families consumed national products.”
- p. 132: Anti-birth control policies.
- p. 133: “And although most women reject the feminist label, they take for granted many of the conquests of feminism.”
- p. 136: “The resulting diversity of fascism was such that potentially any social group could find anything to please it.”
- p. 140-2: Corporatism not synonymous with fascism…but not irrelevant either.
- p. 144: Business won out because strikes were banned and unions were declared to be agents of the state.
- p. 146: “…big business has demonstrated an enormous ability to adapt to regimes to which it is opposed in principle.”
- p. 151: “Fascism is a contradictory set of interrelated and contested ideologies and practices that cannot easily be categorized in terms of binary opposites such as tradition and modernity or radical and reactionary.”
Anti-Union Message (“Contemporary”)
Vincent Curatola (aka. Johnny Sacks from The Sopranos) did a couple anti-union ads in 2008. Let’s see if we can’t analyze them rhetorically.
- “CDW Minnesota Senate Ad on Private Ballots” (2008)
- Coalition for a Democratic Workplace “Changes” (2008)
Consider Curatola’s Mafia persona as a crime boss from the show (Tony was under him). Also, consider the various Mafia myths you might be familiar with from popular culture. What do these ads try to communicate about this law?
Propaganda Fun Part 3 (sort of…)
I seem to have messed up my division of this documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against The West. We ended at around 35 min last class (2/21). The entire film is 1 hour 20 min. To draw our attention to specific areas, let’s watch the following excerpts that will be relevant to today’s discussion:
- 42 min 15 sec – 49 min 44 sec
- 59 min 30 sec –1 hr 15 min (essentially the end)
Refer to p. of Passmore’s book for a reference to the Nazi-al-Husseini pseudo-alliance. Also, in case it gets lost, this film is propaganda, and I’m showing parts of it to demonstrate how the rhetoric of fear is used in relation to Nazism in very bizarre, contradictory ways. I’m not promoting the film’s ideas at all.
Next Couple of Weeks
Remember, no class next week (3/14) or the week after (3/21). Our next class meeting will be 3/28, and we’ll discuss George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. I’m not going to provide many quotations because I want you to have them. Each of you should have 10 important quotations* to discuss. By discuss, I mean you have the quotation and can say something about how it relates to a key theme in the book and/or to our discussions of fascism (and totalitarianism). You can ask questions as participation, but you need to have already made many connections between the book themes and our class focus on the rhetoric of fear.
*Why 10 quotations…well, more likely than not, several of you will have similar quotations if not the exact same ones. I’ve already chosen these, so you have to find others:
1) War is Peace
2) Freedom is Slavery
3) Ignorance is strength