Saman Farazdaghi on Sun, 13 Feb 2000 19:54:16 +0100


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Syndicate: Re: easy labels


Hi,  I just read Jon's three succint emails on the use of the term Facist
and Nazi.
He very nicely  echoed, from a different direction, a conversation I was
having last week.

First some a slight introduction and background on where I live.  I live in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and make documentary films with a focuson music
related topics.

The province of Ontario had a euro style social democrat government that
was ousted by a neo-conservative right wing government.  The first thing
this government did was pass legislation that dramatically expanded the
scope
of decisions that could be made by cabinet, and reducing the involvment of
of the provincial parliament.

They proceed to "privatise" government services, "rationalize" social
services,
"amalgamate" metropolitan areas, "uncover and prevent" welfare and social
assistance fraud, "stimulate the economy with appropriate tax incentives",
etc...

This means selling publicly owned corporations and services to cronies at
nominal
fees without a bidding process, dramatically cutting aid to the poor,
gutting the
education system, closing and combining entire ministries, redrawing
municipal boundaries and election district boundaries to ensure that
Conservative party members would have majority for the forseeable future,
cutting corporate taxes and repealing environmental legislation to allow
rampant short term profit taking by manufacturing and natural resource
companies.  The list goes on.  I won't bore people with what
must be an internationally familiar list.

The figurehead for this party, who also took them to re-election a year ago,
was
a folksy affable former skiing instructor, with a talent for oratory, from
one of the
smaller provincial towns.

Someone last week was telling me how Haider is a facist and a nazi.  I
winced
as he used these words.  My problem is a different manifestation of Jon's
"dead
historical epithets."

Here in North America a facist is a monster.  A nazi is a huge monster which
practices any amount of unmentionable atrocities and moral degeneracy.  Too
call someone these terms is an outrageous position to take.  It can
immediately discredit the the rest of the argument.  The term Facist has so
much historical baggage associated with it, of genocide etc., that a common
reaction to it is that it can't happen here.  And it can't.  The genocides
and atrocities of europe in the 30s and 40s are
not about to happen here in Canada.

The use of such broad and inaccurate terms to describe very specific
contemporary
social and political issues only does those issues a disservice.   The terms
are historically loaded and invite the listener to immediately conclude
"well that can't happen here, so obviously everything this guy is saying is
inapplicable."  Analysis
is paralyzed, points of view are not expanded and those that already like
the sound of ones epithets nod their heads and order another espresso.

Haider sounds very much like our "Mike" Harris (here in Ontario), and so
many other
politicians around the world, in his policies and agenda.

His reconciliatory comments toward Austria's role in WWII  sound very
much rooted in Austria's historical trajectory - not in his current policies
(at
least its hard for me to make a connection with current policies based upon
what
I read in the press and on this list).  The xenophobia and anti-immigration
position
is not unique to facism or Nazism.

So, in short, it sounds like a global weather pattern has hit Austria and it
may be
useful to look to the many other governments that have encountered this to
see
what could be the concrete manifestations.  The U.K. in the 80s maybe a good
place to start for some hints.

Saman
Toronto

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