Sunday, July 05, 2009

Godwin Sunday

Gosh. There seems to be some pushback from regular readers at the very suggestion that Stephen Harper has the authoritarian tendencies made infamous by Il Duce and his early supporter F. T. Marinetti.

A private portrait gallery and taking himself for the head of state are symptomatic, but, no, it really
can't happen here. I thought my hed gave the game away, but obviously not.

If fascism were to come to Canada, to paraphrase Halford Luccock (
not Huey Long), it wouldn't be marked by a swastika or even called fascism, but would be entirely Canadian. Yet, like "liberal fascism," that oxymoronic (and I add "oxy-" only out of courtesy) conservative diversion that has already jumped the shark, "Canadian fascism" is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. In case it needs to be said, it takes more than one jumped-up Calgarian to establish a corporate state and build death camps. Even some of Harper's red-meat base might be heard to mutter if such things were mooted. And anyway, Bernie Farber simply wouldn't have it.

So let us leave, then, the alternate universe in which Canada, somehow struggling out of its winter clothes, its diverse national identities, its history of compromise and moderation enforced by countless civic watchdogs, becomes One Empire and One People, under One Leader. This one:

Let's turn, instead, to professional car racing. Quite a different story. Rife with fascism.

No, I'm not making a snide reference to NASCAR and its fan base. I'm referring, of course, to the elite ranks in the world of speed, Formula One.

Once again, F.T. Marinetti had it taped
a hundred years ago. Here are points 4 and 5 of his Futurist Manifesto:

4. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath ... a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

5. We want to sing the man at the wheel, the ideal axis of which crosses the earth, itself hurled along its orbit.

And today we have Formula One's President, Bernie Ecclestone, saying that Adolf Hitler, whatever his peccadillos, was a go-to guy, a fellow who "got things done." (Hard to argue with that, actually: the most destructive war in history, the Holocaust, the humiliation and division of Germany, second-rate watercolours...the list goes on and on.)

Apparently Ecclestone--who once said that women should dress in white "like other domestic appliances"--believes that democracy "hasn't done a lot of good for many countries--including this one [Britain]."

"In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done," he said.

"In the end he got lost, so he wasn't a very good dictator."

Bernie Farber was so taken aback by this that he sounded for all the world like a Speech Warrior™: "I think sometimes when you hold people up to the glare of public attention and let the people decide for themselves once they see what a person is all about, that sometimes is more than enough."

Ecclestone went on to express his preference for strong leaders. Margaret Thatcher. Saddam Hussein. Max Mosely, whom he thinks would make a great British Prime Minister.

Max Mosely?

He's the current president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, which regulates sports racing. He is also--I am rubbing my eyes as I write this--the son of Oswald Mosely. Yup,
that Oswald Mosely. And, come to think of it, that Max Mosely, too.

Need I go on? Never mind old gaffers staggering around Latin America, and the current resurgence of the ultra-right in Austria and Italy. When fascism truly rises again, it will be driving a Maserati.

[h/t LuLu for reminding me of Max's unconventional pleasures]

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