Published: Nov 8, 2021
I’m a small-government conservative ..
How are you (a non-Republican) so good at consistently predicting what the Republicans will do next?
I’m a Republican and I can’t guess what they’re going to do next!
Could you please send me whatever method you use to make your predictions?
Scroll down to see video about 14 characteristics
Freedom and liberation are an unending task.
1 2 3 4
abc bcd cde def
Suppose there is a series of political groups in which group one is characterized by the features abc, group two by the features bcd, and so on. Group two is similar to group one since they have two features in common; for the same reasons three is similar to two and four is similar to three. Notice that three is also similar to one (they have in common the feature c). The most curious case is presented by four, obviously similar to three and two, but with no feature in common with one. However, owing to the uninterrupted series of decreasing similarities between one and four, there remains, by a sort of illusory transitivity, a family resemblance between four and one.
Fascism became an all-purpose term because one can eliminate from a fascist regime one or more features, and it will still be recognizable as fascist. Take away imperialism from fascism and you still have Franco and Salazar. Take away colonialism and you still have the Balkan fascism of the Ustashes. Add to the Italian fascism a radical anti-capitalism (which never much fascinated Mussolini) and you have Ezra Pound. Add a cult of Celtic mythology and the Grail mysticism (completely alien to official fascism) and you have one of the most respected fascist gurus, Julius Evola.
But in spite of this fuzziness, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.
1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition. Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counter-revolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but it was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of them indulgently accepted by the Roman Pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages—in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little known religions of Asia.
This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice”; such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and whenever they seem to say different or incompatible things it is only because all are alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.
As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.
One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements. The most influential theoretical source of the theories of the new Italian right, Julius Evola, merged the Holy Grail with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, alchemy with the Holy Roman and Germanic Empire. The very fact that the Italian right, in order to show its open-mindedness, recently broadened its syllabus to include works by De Maistre, Guenon, and Gramsci, is a blatant proof of syncretism.
If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled as New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge—that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism. Both Fascists and Nazis worshiped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon Blood and Earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life, but it mainly concerned the rejection of the Spirit of 1789 (and of 1776, of course). The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Goering’s alleged statement (“When I hear talk of culture I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” “universities are a nest of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
4. No syncretistic faith can withstand analytical criticism. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.
5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity. Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks for consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.
7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the US, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies. When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers must be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such a “final solution” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak. Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people of the world, the members of the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler. Since the group is hierarchically organized (according to a military model), every subordinate leader despises his own underlings, and each of them despises his inferiors. This reinforces the sense of mass elitism.
11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Falangists was Viva la Muerte (in English it should be translated as “Long Live Death!”). In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons—doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view—one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. To have a good instance of qualitative populism we no longer need the Piazza Venezia in Rome or the Nuremberg Stadium. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
Because of its qualitative populism Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments. One of the first sentences uttered by Mussolini in the Italian parliament was “I could have transformed this deaf and gloomy place into a bivouac for my maniples”—“maniples” being a subdivision of the traditional Roman legion. As a matter of fact, he immediately found better housing for his maniples, but a little later he liquidated the parliament. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.
14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in 1984, as the official language of Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.
On the morning of July 27, 1943, I was told that, according to radio reports, fascism had collapsed and Mussolini was under arrest. When my mother sent me out to buy the newspaper, I saw that the papers at the nearest newsstand had different titles. Moreover, after seeing the headlines, I realized that each newspaper said different things. I bought one of them, blindly, and read a message on the first page signed by five or six political parties—among them the Democrazia Cristiana, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Partito d’Azione, and the Liberal Party.
Until then, I had believed that there was a single party in every country and that in Italy it was the Partito Nazionale Fascista. Now I was discovering that in my country several parties could exist at the same time. Since I was a clever boy, I immediately realized that so many parties could not have been born overnight, and they must have existed for some time as clandestine organizations.
The message on the front celebrated the end of the dictatorship and the return of freedom: freedom of speech, of press, of political association. These words, “freedom,” “dictatorship,” “liberty,”—I now read them for the first time in my life. I was reborn as a free Western man by virtue of these new words.
We must keep alert, so that the sense of these words will not be forgotten again. Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier, for us, if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Black Shirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances—every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “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.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.
Let me finish with a poem by Franco Fortini:
Sulla spalletta del ponte
Le teste degli impiccati
Nell’acqua della fonte
La bava degli impiccati.
Sul lastrico del mercato
Le unghie dei fucilati
Sull’erba secca del prato
I denti dei fucilati.
Mordere l’aria mordere i sassi
La nostra carne non è più d’uomini
Mordere l’aria mordere i sassi
Il nostro cuore non è più d’uomini.
Ma noi s’è letto negli occhi dei morti
E sulla terra faremo libertà
Ma l’hanno stretta i pugni dei morti
La giustizia che si farà.
* * *
(On the bridge’s parapet
The heads of the hanged
In the flowing rivulet
The spittle of the hanged.On the cobbles in the market- places
The fingernails of those lined up and shot
On the dry grass in the open spaces
The broken teeth of those lined up and shot.
Biting the air, biting the stones
Our flesh is no longer human
Biting the air, biting the stones
Our hearts are no longer human.
But we have read into the eyes of the dead
And shall bring freedom on the earth
But clenched tight in the fists of the dead
Lies the justice to be served.)
—poem translated by Stephen Sartarelli
— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) September 23, 2021
Bob Sampson@bobsalpha1Complete embrace of authoritarianism framed under “but he fights,” no real interest in conservatism or democracy, just a desire to be the only ones who ever have power.
Translation: As I see it, the only choices are between an illiberal left & an illiberal right. Therefore, I choose to give up liberal democracy entirely and support an illiberal right. Further translation: If I can’t get what I want politically, let’s discard democracy entirely.
Heino GulliksenThis is absolutely insane. Orban is a blatant fascist, shutting down free press and stomping on basic freedoms. But sure, he fights against woke-ism and leftists. Why don’t these people just say out loud that they long for democracy to end, so they can be ruled by a new Il Duce?
Rod’s whole argument can be broken down to this: “Norms of acceptable behavior are changing, (as they always have and always will) and because my beliefs are now considered fringe and unnaceptable in many quarters, though I face no official government sanction and am enjoying all the protections of liberal democracy, I would use the government illiberally to punish those who no longer consider me a mainstream.” At no point does Rod even glance at a place where the government has infringed on his rights to practice his faith or speak his mind, but he is “terrified” that private institutions (businesses, colleges, the media, elites, etc) are not doing exactly what he wants regarding a whole slew of hard to define attitudes and policies. Because of this, he would dispense with liberal democracy! What a ridiculous overreaction!
but you are in a sense giving up and i21:25don’t want to give up on this experiment21:27i in fact that really goes against21:30everything that i kind of believe in21:32like as a conservative all right well21:33let me ask you this um21:35do you have any sons or daughters who21:37have a teenage year in their teenage21:39years i have a 10 year old boy and an21:42eight-year-old boy the reason i ask is21:44this my i have a 17 year old son who’s21:46going to be 18 and he was thinking for a21:48long time about the military21:50about going into the military and i sat21:52down on how to talk with him i never21:54imagined as a conservative that i would21:56have this kind of talk with my son but i21:58uh i i said listen whatever you’re22:00called to do if you if you’re really22:01feeling this calling uh your dad will22:03support you on it but here’s what i want22:05you to think about and i told him about22:08how we were lied to by our government22:11and to get into this iraq war and the22:13generals lied and lied and lied about22:15afghanistan said i don’t want you to22:18give your life in the best years of your22:20life to following leaders that you22:23cannot trust so secondly look what’s22:26happening look look at how our22:27government is changing uh we’re22:30on the lgbt thing now it’s become a huge22:32part of foreign policy uh they’ve openly22:35stated that and22:37are you as an orthodox christian eastern22:39orthodox christian you’re going to get22:40into the military and are you going to22:42have to choose between serving your22:43country you’re serving your conscience22:45are you going to be put in a position22:47where you’re going to have to lie in22:50order to protect your your position in22:52the military do you want to fight for22:53this sort of order an order that is22:55going into other countries like hungary22:58like poland and elsewhere around the22:59world and trying to force them to accept23:03post-christian western standards of23:06morality i don’t think so and he23:08eventually decided he wasn’t going to do23:10it i think it had more to do with what23:11his friends are doing but the point is23:13simply this matt i i used to think i’ve23:15always thought america was a good guy
It can be all too human to jump in too fast and draw quick conclusions on the meaning or reason behind something, adding to what are often irrational beliefs. Often with ambiguous events, a ‘meaning vacuum’ occurs, leaving us without immediate clarity on the event.
We all need to be able to wait patiently and let a situation calm down before deciding what – if anything – we should do about it. This can be the difference between ‘believing’ and ‘knowing’, and I talk more about that distinction later in the video, with some tips on how to carefully help someone make that distinction, and how to dispute irrational beliefs.
Merck, which makes Ivermectrin, says that it is unsafe for humans.
Merck has every incentive to promote it, given that its vaccine trials failed and it is unable to market a covid vaccine of its own.
After ending its own Covid-19 vaccine trials, the company said that it was actively discussing with governments how to help its competitors make their shots.
From Ebola to H.I.V. to river blindness, the American pharmaceutical giant Merck has been on the front lines of the biggest public health emergencies in recent history.
So when the company announced last May that it was a late entrant in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, Merck was a popular pick to win. Even if the company wasn’t first, proponents argued, its expertise as the world’s second-largest vaccine maker gave it a good shot at developing the best product — and manufacturing it quickly.
But then, last month, Merck exited the vaccine race, abandoning its two candidates after early clinical trials flopped. Now, in addition to testing two experimental Covid-19 drugs, the company says that it’s looking for ways to help competitors supply the world with vaccines.
“We are in regular conversation with governments, we’re in regular conversations with the public health authorities, with the foremost experts on all this,” said Michael T. Nally, the chief marketing officer at Merck. The company, he said, is now asking: “With all that we know today, what is the best way for us to help?”
Merck did not provide details about which companies or governments it planned to work with, or how it would help. But as a major vaccine maker, it has factories that specialize in a range of vaccine technologies, as well as ones that fill the bulk product into ready-to-ship vials.
Mr. Nally’s statements follow weeks of speculation in which industry insiders and public figures have called on Merck to do more to help with the vaccine effort, as demand outstrips supply and contagious variants boom around the globe.
“Merck tried to make a vaccine, didn’t succeed,” Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, said earlier this month. “And now they’re going to go off and do other types of drugs. Well, I disagree. I think the federal government should say, no, Merck, you’re producing the vaccines we have now because we have a massive shortage.”
Merck is now considering a range of options, both in the United States and around the world, mindful that anything it chooses to do would take months to bring to fruition, given the complexity of the manufacturing process. For the United States, that could mean shoring up supply later in the year or supplying booster shots needed to fight emerging variants. For other countries that do not have enough vaccines to immunize their populations, Merck’s support could be even more significant.
Given the unknowns about how long current vaccines will work, as well as the spread of variants that may make them less effective, “I think there’s a broader recognition, certainly within the U.S. government, but governments around the world, that this is a bit more complicated than we had at one time thought,” Mr. Nally said. “If there’s a way that we can help think through that, and prepare the world for what we see on the horizon, that’s where we’re focused.”
The turn of events leaves Merck — which brought in $8.3 billion in revenue from vaccines in 2020, second only to GlaxoSmithKline in global vaccine sales — without a starring role in the biggest public health crisis in a century. The spotlight is instead on a major competitor, Pfizer, and an upstart, Moderna, which developed two highly effective vaccines in record time, using a new technology known as mRNA.
“It is really interesting to see what Merck will do next,” said Ronny Gal, a pharmaceutical analyst with the Wall Street firm Bernstein, noting that in abandoning its Covid-19 vaccines, the company has conceded that its technology could not compete with the newer mRNA methods. “And since they have a very large vaccine business, they kind of have to do something.”
Merck has lagged its competitors for a range of reasons, experts say. Early talks with the University of Oxford about a partnership to develop its vaccine fell through, with the university researchers later choosing AstraZeneca. And Moderna chose not to partner with a bigger drug maker on its Covid-19 shot, despite a collaboration with Merck on other vaccines. (Merck has profited from Moderna’s success, however: It sold its stock in Moderna late last year, after Moderna’s share price had skyrocketed.)
Merck may have also simply been a victim of bad luck, as vaccine development is notoriously unpredictable. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, major vaccine makers that have partnered on a Covid-19 vaccine, experienced a major setback when their shot failed to work on older people.
“I was very encouraged when Merck announced their commitment, because I have a high degree of confidence that Merck has what it takes, from a capability perspective and from a corporate commitment to global health,” said Margaret McGlynn, the former president of global vaccines at Merck, who is now on the board of Novavax, a small Maryland company that is developing a Covid-19 vaccine. “But you can only tell what’s going to work by doing the trials.”
Merck, which was founded in 1891, has been in the vaccine business for more than 100 years, having developed some of the world’s most well-known vaccines, including those for mumps, hepatitis A and chickenpox. In 2019, it was the first company to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration for an Ebola vaccine.
When the coronavirus began spreading around the world, however, Merck was slow to announce plans for a vaccine. By the time it provided details about two vaccine candidates in late May, most of its major competitors had already announced deals, and Pfizer and Moderna had already begun early clinical trials.
But Merck didn’t have to be first to win. Executives decided to pursue two projects that they felt had advantages over competitors. One vaccine, developed in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, would rely on the same technology, based on a harmless livestock virus, that had yielded their successful Ebola vaccine. The other, acquired through a purchase of Themis Bioscience, was based on an existing measles vaccine.
Both of the experimental Covid vaccines, the company said, would be tested using a single dose, and Merck was also exploring whether the one using the livestock virus could be given orally — two big edges over potential competitors, especially in the developing world.
In July, Merck’s chief executive, Kenneth C. Frazier, warned against moving too quickly. “I think when people tell the public that there’s going to be a vaccine by the end of 2020, for example, I think they do a grave disservice to the public,” Mr. Frazier said in an interview with a Harvard Business School professor. Mr. Frazier recently announced that he would retire as chief executive later this year, a decision that had been long planned.
In an interview in August, Dr. Nicholas Kartsonis, Merck’s senior vice president of clinical research for vaccines and infectious diseases, said the company’s position as leading vaccine maker gave it the luxury of time. “We are a much larger company. We are not as beholden to having to be first,” he said.
As it turned out, Pfizer and Moderna — who were in a close race to complete their vaccines — not only achieved their goal of producing something by the end of the year, but the results also exceeded expectations. Whereas some thought that the first generation of vaccines would show modest efficacy, akin to a flu vaccine, the shots from Moderna and Pfizer were 95 percent effective in clinical trials.
That set a high bar for other vaccines, one that Merck concluded last month it could not meet. In its announcement two weeks ago, the company said that the vaccines appeared safe, but did not generate immune responses that were comparable to other Covid-19 vaccines.
Saad Omer, a vaccine expert at Yale University, said Merck should get credit for trying, even if it did not succeed this time. “This is not the last pandemic,” he said. “So the more entities we have developing these kinds of things, the better off we are.”
Merck is now redoubling its efforts to develop two drugs to treat Covid-19, both of which are in clinical trials with results expected soon. In December, the company reached a $356 million deal with the federal government to supply up to 100,000 doses of one of them, a drug known as MK-7110 that affects the immune system, if it is shown to work.
Public health experts have said more treatments are needed for Covid-19, because even if vaccines become widely available, they may not work on everyone, and people will still get sick.
Still, some politicians and public health experts have questioned whether Merck should do more to aid the vaccine effort, especially given its expertise. Novartis and Sanofi recently announced deals outside of the United States to pack and fill millions of doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech; the so-called fill and finish process is one of the biggest bottlenecks in manufacturing. On Wednesday, the chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Teva said its company was also considering aiding the vaccine production effort.
“There’s always a chance to build more capacity, but it takes time,” said Ms. McGlynn, the former Merck executive. Still, she said, “until we know that we have ample vaccine to immunize everyone in the world, and not have the access issues that are being predicted by some, I think we have to keep looking under every rock to see where can we find additional capacity.”