Several years ago I was fortunate to sit in on a graduate Political Science class at UWM. The entire focus, even the title, of that class was Fascism. After a great deal of reading, research, and discussion, at the end of the semester we still did not have a definition of ‘fascism’. We asked the professor if he could give us a working definition. In essence, his answer was that fascism is “an apparatus that uses existing things to achieve its goals.”
For our purposes, apparatus can be thought of as a complex structure within an organization or system. Existing things can be institutions, organizations, societies, or people individually or as part of a group. A significant method by which these apparatuses insinuate themselves is frequently co-optation: defined by Merriam Webster as a taking over or appropriation of something for a new or different purpose. Robert Paxton, in his classic 1998 paper "The Five Stages of Fascism," suggests that fascism cannot be defined solely by its ideology, since fascism is a complex political phenomenon rather than a relatively coherent body of doctrine and that we should look to processes, not cosmetic features like flags and uniforms, to understand fascism.
The book, It Can’t Happen Here, released in the mid-thirties by renowned American author Sinclair Lewis, shows us how fascism can co-opt almost anything. In his story one of the first ‘things’ to fall was the Rotary, a service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. Most people think of Rotary as fairly innocuous, but how they were co-opted was astonishing.Read more
HERE WE GO AGAIN
Republicans have realized their most fervent wish: control over all three branches of government. And, in their rush to obliterate the progressive gains of the last eighty plus years, they are as busy as a hive of little worker bees. Do not be surprised to see more activity by the Right in one day than they have produced cumulatively in the last eight years.
Paul Ryan has gleefully resurrected his plan to transform Medicare: first turn it into a voucher program and then do away with it completely by the year 2022. Most of us are probably pretty familiar with this government program. It’s certainly one that enjoys widespread popularity. But it is also frightening to realize how many recipients of its benefits don’t really understand much about Medicare. Apparently many Americans don’t even understand that it’s a government program! The goal of this article is to touch on some of the serious impacts the changes Mr. Ryan is suggesting will have.
First, there’s Medicare’s impact on longevity. Just based on observation, doesn’t it seem that people today are living longer than in the past? When you were a child, how many of the elderly were living well into their eighties, even into their nineties? Every day we hear of more and more people who have attained the age of 100! Is the implementation of Medicare alone responsible for this trend? Probably not: advances in technology and changes to life style in general have had an impact. “Data on age-specific death probabilities every 10 years since 1900, that is, before as well as after Medicare was enacted, provide an alternative way to test for the effect of Medicare on longevity. They also provide strong support for the hypothesis that Medicare increased the survival rate of the elderly, by about 13 percent” (Effects of Medicare on Health Care Utilization and Outcomes). Since that article was published in 1998, there have been even more advances. But the bottom line is that new, lifespan-increasing technologies will do no good if people cannot access them!
But longevity is only a piece of the picture. Here are some of the most harmful changes the Republican proposal may entail.Read more
Pat Slutske wants to volunteer 2014-05-22 11:13:02 -0500
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