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Re: <nettime> Fascism in the USA?
wade tillett on Tue, 3 Jun 2003 13:01:28 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Fascism in the USA?

Just two weeks ago, I was detained, frisked, interrogated, threatened with
indefinite detention and had my camera and film taken from me because I
was taking pictures from a public road in the direction of a British
Petroleum oil tank facility in East Chicago, Indiana. I was told this was
all in order to prevent terrorrism. They told me they could detain me for
48 hours and that the feds could hold me up to six months maybe longer, if
I did not cooperate and give them the film. They were very specific in
stating that I would not be under arrest nor charged with a crime but that
I would be detained. The police told me that they would develop the film,
see what I had been taking pictures of, and send them on to the FBI.
(Although they did not end up developing the film.) Then they told me I
needed BP and governmental permission to photograph in East Chicago and if
they saw me again taking photographs I would be immediately taken in. All
that, and I was honestly just taking pictures of things anyone sees as
they drive down the road. In case you don't believe me, I uploaded the
police report and evidence tag they put on my camera at:

The crime listed is "suspicious circumstance."

But the interesting thing has been how people react when I tell them what
happened. They say that the terror level was just raised, that the oil
tanks are a potential target, and that as long as I got my camera and film
back - no harm done, right? Maybe they would feel different if it was


The fact that people tend to side with police, or that they believe Bush's
lies, it seems to me to be, at this point, still a sort of voluntary
blindness. It is part of the same myopia that refuses to see that the
american lifestyle is based on global exploitation and fundamentally
unsustainable. However, while this truth is only available in the abstract
if you are really looking - due to the structure of american
(segregated/mediated) society, what people _are_ accutely aware of is
their own relation to the government and economy. That state work is on
hold- that major cuts in jobs and services provided by the state are in
effect. When your job or paycheck is effected, when the change is real to
you, forced on you, there is a natural awakening. Healthcare is a prime
example - there is a national healthcare crisis and _everyone_ knows it.
No one I know is happy with their healthcare - including business owners.

What does this have to do with fascism?

Well, terror is still operating in the abstract - as an image of fear of
the omnipresent yet invisible other. It is this abstract and invisible
character that is the 'problem' so to speak of developing a full-fledged
fascism. If the gutting and exploitation is to involve all aspects of life
for even those that have traditionally been in a better position, then it
seems that the justification for that loss must be made more real. As the
effects become more real from abstract policy changes, the justification
must become more real. As the system collapses on itself cannibalizing
even its own constituents it must produce a real fear, terror and
scapegoat.  I dont feel that has been effectively done yet. Lack of
healthcare, jobs, decrease in living standards, increase in (busy) work
have not yet been clearly tied to a (islamic) scapegoat. Not for lack of
trying, but the War of Terror remains removed (as do Muslims) from most
people's lives. A more immediate terror, and more visible omnipresent
enemy is needed. And will no doubt be provided, if the US continues to
play the game so bluntly.

However, there is a more subtle form, as Kermit Snelson suggested.  As he
mentioned in his post, the 'humane vision' of ruling by the mind is really
the goal. I think Clinton was far more effective at this (the American
Game as Mark Twain calls it - see below again).  Empire's civil war for
american resource/military based or transnational capital based world
domination are really not necessarily exclusive, and one is not
necessarily more 'fascist' than another. Because they are part of the same
system - a system where certain elites set up the questions, possibilities
(and limits) of a safe space for others to inhabit. What Kermit seems to
be getting at is: How do we know if we are merely inhabiting such a safe
space, or worse, creating them?

outtake from:
To the Person Sitting in Darkness
By Mark Twain

The Blessings of Civilization are all right, and a good commercial
property; there could not be a better, in a dim light. In the right kind
of a light, and at a proper distance, with the goods a little out of
focus, they furnish this desirable exhibit to the Gentlemen who Sit in

EDUCATION, -- and so on.

There. Is it good? Sir, it is pie. It will bring into camp any idiot that
sits in darkness anywhere. But not if we adulterate it. It is proper to be
emphatic upon that point. This brand is strictly for Export -- apparently.
Apparently. Privately and confidentially, it is nothing of the kind.
Privately and confidentially, it is merely an outside cover, gay and
pretty and attractive, displaying the special patterns of our Civilization
which we reserve for Home Consumption, while inside the bale is the Actual
Thing that the Customer Sitting in Darkness buys with his blood and tears
and land and liberty. That Actual Thing is, indeed, Civilization, but it
is only for Export. Is there a difference between the two brands? In some
of the details, yes.

We all know that the Business is being ruined. The reason is not far to
seek. It is because our Mr. McKinley, and Mr. Chamberlain, and the Kaiser,
and the Czar and the French have been exporting the Actual Thing with the
outside cover left off. This is bad for the Game. It shows that these new
players of it are not sufficiently acquainted with it....

The more we examine the mistake, the more clearly we perceive that it is
going to be bad for the Business. The Person Sitting in Darkness is almost
sure to say: "There is something curious about this -- curious and
unaccountable. There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free,
and one that takes a once-captive's new freedom away from him, and picks a
quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his

The truth is, the Person Sitting in Darkness is saying things like that;
and for the sake of the Business we must persuade him to look at the
Philippine matter in another and healthier way. We must arrange his
opinions for him....

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