Neocon regalia

Neocon Bald-faced EagleFor decades after the Second World War, German vets would get together in beer halls to remember the great days of the Third Reich. The Nazi cause may have become perverted, but its ideals were certainly grandiose: a Germany reborn as the worker’s utopia, a master race unshackled to bring order to a never-before united Europe.

My father grew up in occupied Norway. He remembers the incomparable German swagger. To this day he judges the authenticity of war movies based on whether the actors capture the arrogance of the German officers in their walk. I remember reading a Wehrmacht soldier’s autobiography reflecting on the initial ease with which Germany had overrun its neighbors. “It was impossible in those days not to feel immense pride in being a German.”

German regalia is highly collectible now, though my father remembers the days immediately following the war when Norwegians wouldn’t deign to pick up the Nazi medals, ribbons and flags strewn outside the German headquarters in newly freed Oslo.

Of course the German WWII regalia is collected fervently also because it was esthetic. A deliberate malevolence was courted by the fascists, a darkness amplified by the visual design of their uniforms, equipment and printed material. Albert Speer and Leni Reifenstahl were widely condemned for their contributions to the glorification of Nazi culture.

So when old SS veterans are clanging their glasses in memory of Germany’s grab for the brass ring, the nostalgia has quite a bit of pomp and polish. It was an Aryan dream in smart costumes and effective looking machinery.

Are ex-American servicemen going to look back at the U.S. adventures in Fascism with equal nostalgia? What trappings do the Neocons offer to distinguish their racist machinations? Wrap-around Oakleys? Kneepads and leggings? The mercenaries’ gold chains and Hawaiian shirts? And what stateside? Yellow ribbons? Cheap suits? Americans exude nothing but our simpleton arrogance I’m afraid. Yankee Fascism has probably required banality to disguise it. Later Americans will have to own up to our inhumanity and hubris with the additional shame that we couldn’t even transcend our ugliness for the occasion.

9 thoughts on “Neocon regalia

  1. I have also wondered about this, and have also often thought that one of the dangers of any fascist resurgence is precisely that it won’t bear any of the outward visual signs of a historically recognizable period of fascism. It’s also possible that you don’t need these symbols when you have corporate symbolic hegemony and the American flag. You’re right, though, that we are in an extremely pathetic period for national aesethetics and design. Maybe it’s a good thing?

  2. It’s a GLORIOUSLY good thing! I do think US Fascism has gotten this far by looking improbably dumb and dumber. Maybe I lack the imagination because I cannot think how someone will ever find the lipstick to wax nostalgic about this pig.

  3. The Crusader’s Cross aka Knight’s Cross aka Iron Cross is on a huge binge right now. Because of that dumber-than-dirt motorcycle building “reality show” on the cable.

    It used to be a Skinhead thing, and they would beat somebody down for using it, poaching “their” colors.

    I almost laughed my arse off when I saw a black guy down to the soup kitchen with it tattooed on his arm. Guess some guys have a much shorter memory than others.

  4. Of course there is always the elegant yet simpleminded yellow ribbon.
    I dig the SchutzStaffel eagle at the top there, he’s holding a dead elephant.

  5. The genius of the Bushies is that they’ve done it all under symbols that Americans already trust, and that DON’T invoke any nods toward fascism: the cross, Chevy Trucks, the Wal-Mart sign, for example, and it’s pseudo humble-pie. I’ll never forget those huge racks of yellow ribbons right when you walked in the entrance in 2002 when it all started, which is just a sentimental symbol drawn up from the Vietnam era (though I think most people think it was WWII). They built their consensus on selling people a Trojan horse wrapped in the idea of their own values, which they already bought long ago.

  6. Chevy or rather GM did an advertising blitz after 9-11 where they pictured a whole bunch of GM employees, (with the full support of the Auto Workers union… which thought was most tacky) driving new Chevy pickup trucks to Nueva Jork and knocking on the door of a fire station, somehow in Manhattan they actually found block after block of empty parking spaces but I digress… A Fire Fighter with the Classic Irish Jaw opens the door, the union representative hands him the keys to the first pick up truck….

    Of course, the real transfer of trucks (no no, really, there seriously were some trucks given) to FDNY for the purposes of Ground Zero cleanup had not taken place yet, the trucks were not the new model year 2002 pickups, they were dump trucks (dump trucks were not considered sexy enough for the commercial), the Fire Captain happened to not be an employee of FDNY nor even from Nueva Jork, but an actor hired by the company, what a surprise there. and the trucks in question were not the 2002 model, they were the now (and then) obsolete ones which GM already had on deep discount sale (I’m tempted to say fire sale but that would be too tacky even for me, so I won’t) because the construction industry had tanked, once again, and nobody was buying them even at the deep discount.

    The typical bidness solution was and is to sell them by the ton for scrap metal, to a GM subsidiary, and get a tax cut for the loss, the difference between the MANUFACTURER’S suggested retail price, and the cost per ton for the scrap metal.
    Notice a couple of things here, the GM subsidiary, before reducing the trucks to their component metals, would first strip them of useable parts, like the brakes, wheels, axles and basically everything except the frame itself, and sell them through the GM Parts (Mr Goodwrench strikes again) division. ooops I mean sale was TO not through, there is a fine legal distinction there.

    The other is that GM gets to tell the government exactly what their tax write off should be, because the MSRP, even though it is company generated, is what the IRS considers the “fair market value” of the trucks.

    Try using the cost of your children’s school supplies as a legitimate tax deduction, which it actually is, and a credit for the Earned Income Credit, and see how fast you get audited.

    This goes far and away beyond “double dipping”, the amount of dips involved would require a quadratic equation to measure it.

    That the UAW participated in this brilliant scam, I find tragic.
    That the surviving members of the FDNY didn’t go up to GM for a publicity shoot and, on camera, demonstrate the Irish way of dealing with contemptuous rich bitches, well that was a lost opportunity. Maybe next time, and there certainly be a next time.

  7. The differences are quite a bit between today’s Republican American Right and the German Nazis. Hitler came to power in a defeated country that was somewhat disarmed. It was not an empire at all. The American Right of today has had decades of bipartisan support in building up a huge military machine that already occupies the entire world.

    Perhaps, there are more similarities to the French, Dutch, Belgium, and British Right wings of the past, that happened also to already have established colonial empires, than to the German fascists? Still, a very ugly comparison, too.

    In the US, it has become fasionable for liberals to compare what we have now to fascism. Most of the Third World just calls us NEO-COLONIALIST. I think that they get it right, while the American liberals get it quite wrong. If one had been a Brit protesting on the streets against British occupation of the Indian sub-continent back then, the response would have been brutal. The British Empire was not fascist exactly, but definitely treated others just as if it was. It was colonialist.

  8. That seems fair, Tony, but I think neo-colonial is too generous, too soft. It invokes a far-too-distant past. “Fascist” doesn’t work because it’s seen as overly extremist, paranoid, conspiratorial, in the same way that equating Bush with Hitler fails. “Neo-Con,” however, rings perfectly, even if it doesn’t fully capture it.

  9. This one pisses off the far right, but you know the words fascism, socialism and communism mean exactly the same thing … United We Stand.
    But in our guerilla journalism I think more that we are pissing off the far right. They need to be goaded into making the stupid comments and other mistakes that will ultimately bring them down.

    The only other way is through force of arms, can’t even be compared to amputating the leg to cure a blister on the foot so I won’t use a metaphor like that. What it would amount to is killing Americans, to keep Americans from killing Americans. Nor would it be any less nor any more righteous and moral than killing anybody or everybody else in the world.

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