February 2005
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Day February 14, 2005

50 Book Challenge #6: Anatomy of Fascism by Robert Paxton

Paxton’s analysis of fascism was a pretty amazing read. He takes as his central problem the difficulty of precisely defining “fascism,” given the great diversity among the movements bearing that label. Anatomy of Fascism (AoF) is then an extended essay aimed at understanding what fascism is by understanding the diverse ways in which ultra-right wing, popular nationalist movements crystallize, (very) occasionally gain power, and then either moderate (Mussolini) or radicalize (Nazi Germany) while in power.

Paxton’s focus on variability is the key to the present-day value in AoF. If fascism could possibly gain power in a modern democratic state, we should not expect it to look precisely like fascisms of the past, or to resemble the fantasies of marginalized “neo-legacy” fascist groups of the current day. Neither America nor any European country is likely to be overtaken by today’s neo-Nazi fringe, simply because the intervening 60 years have created a strong antipathy to the outward symbols and modalities of 1930’s fascist movements. Paxton’s achievement is to articulate the underlying elements that fascisms of the past have held in common, as a way of understanding the potential pathways that future fascisms — here or elsewhere — could take, and under what circumstances.

If you read one book on fascism this year, I know the temptation will be to read Philip Roth’s Plot Against America, but I’d recommend Paxton instead. It’s that good. More on this subject in the near future, and probably over at Progressive Commons.

Random cocktail generator

In keeping with the “interesting cocktail” theme that I’ve been on lately (thanks to Jay at Sambar and Ernie at May), here’s a Random Cocktail Generator. Those wacky Brits…

Try reloading a couple of times…it took awhile before I saw something remotely drinkable. After all, anything with “banana milk” in it isn’t fit for human consumption. Though a combination of Goldschlager, white rum, and lemonade has possibilities…

(tip from Bob at Unfogged)

Happy Darwin Day….a bit late

Saturday was Darwin’s birthday, an event now known in some circles as “Darwin Day.” I’d have posted on this over the weekend, but my adventures in reducing veal stock took my mind off things Darwinian for a brief moment. Last year, we celebrated by having a lecture series over in Ellensburg at Central Washington University, but this year I guess we were all too busy.

But Happy Darwin Day, everyone!