May 26, 2006

Critiquing neocons and scapegoating Jews: an exchange with a "heartland Democrat"

Twisted anti-elitism is a centerpiece of fascist and other right-wing populist ideology. Right-wing conspiracy theories blame oppression on small groups of evil-doers who supposedly distort the normal workings of society -- such as the Trilateral Commission, Bilderbergers, the World Trade Organization, the Bush family, etc. That's fundamentally different from a systemic analysis of capitalism or imperialism. In addition, many right-wing conspiracy theories explicitly or implicitly scapegoat Jews or other ethnic groups. Nevertheless, such theories have repeatedly found their way into leftist discourse. Exposing and critiquing them is an important part of anti-fascist work.

This problem was brought home to me again last month after I posted my essay "Christian Rightists and Neocons: a 25-year Alliance" to Three Way Fight. A few days later I received an email response from Barbara ---, offering her own critique of the neocons. With a little digging, I found that Barbara's email was a lightly edited excerpt from her blog The Southern Journal, which blends seemingly progressive positions with hatred of Jews and Mexicans and other far-right themes. Although it's easy to condemn Barbara's explicit bigotry, the subtler forms of scapegoating implicit in her portrait of the neocons could find a broad audience.

Here is the beginning of Barbara's email, with a link to the original blog post on which it's based. My reply appears below.

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April 22, 2006

Mr. Lyons

I just read your article about the Christian right and the neo-cons. I have my own theory about the neo-cons and i wonder if you could tell me what you think about it.

Thank you


People usually think of the neo-cons and the liberals as being the opposites of one another and that is true regarding many important issues. Yet in a fundamental way they are the same. Both are busy stirring up hatred against Christians and waging war on American culture and the religion that most of the people in the United States claim to believe....

[For the original blog-published version of this essay, click here]

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May 22, 2006

Thank you for your April 22 email with the essay "Liberals and Neocons are Flip Sides of the Same Coin," excerpted from your blog, The Southern Journal. Your work illustrates how right-wing ideas influence people who don't fit into standard right-wing categories -- even people who are or used to be on the left. In the April 22 email, you argue that neocons and liberals together represent a new power elite that's trying to overthrow the traditional aristocracy, that they're undermining traditional American culture and stirring up hatred against Christians and southerners, that they favor Israeli interests over U.S. ones. These are old claims that paleoconservatives such as Pat Buchanan have been making for years. You back up your argument with quotations from the National Humanities Institute website, a paleocon outfit.

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