I have come to the conclusion that millions of people can be led around by their noses by as small a group of people as six or eight. They’re sheep led by wolves, and the sheep are of course deluded, since they don’t know they’re led by wolves.
When I talk to people who claim they are "conservatives" I find they don't truly know what conservatism is. They are invariably Republicans, but being a true conservative and a Republican don’t have much in common. Instead, what they spout is closer to leftism than conservatism. Anyone close to a true conservative, such as the late Russell Kirk, they have ever heard of.
Whenever I tell these faux-conservatives I am against the wars they almost invariably think I'm a Democrat or a liberal. When I tell them I'm a conservative (actually a conservative libertarian, but why confuse them any more than they are?) they can't comprehend it. Their idea of a conservative is the thrice-divorced, military-evading, lying dopehead Rush Limbaugh.
All of this is sad. The left-wing neocons have done a pretty good job of redefining conservatism. Since there are a dozen or so of the most influential ones, it's what I mean by a handful of people leading millions of uneducated -- indeed ignorant -- people around by their noses. Worse, the people even put the rings into their noses.
This here's-my-nose-put-the-ring-into-it eagerness has got to be some kind of instinct in people, otherwise they wouldn't fall so easily for these con jobs. And it certainly proves the contention of religion that people are inherently flawed and fallen.
The late Norman Mailer, who developed a brain at the age of 80, made the comment he believed fascism is the natural state of mankind. Fascism is generally defined as everyone a part of the State, no one outside of it. I think it’s "tribalism." That's what I mean by "instinct.": people have an instinct to belong to a tribe. If we didn't, we’d be closer to independent cats than social dogs, as we are.
A voluntary tribe is one thing; an involuntary tribe is quite another indeed. "Involuntary tribe" is as short of a two-word definition of fascism as I can come up with.
There is no such thing as an involuntary tribe without leaders. Perhaps I should say priest-kings. That's what we've got today, in part: people trying to coerce others into membership in their tribe, one led by priest-kings. Those who don't want to join are insulted and ostracized. To maintain tribal cohesiveness there must be an enemy, one whose is defined as a insane, fatal threat, and whose strength is always overestimated.
I see no evidence human nature has changed in all of recorded history. We consider as completely nuts the worshipers of Moloch who rolled infants into the fire-filled stone belly of their idol, but aren't we far worse when we engage in total war, kill thousands of babies and children and pregnant women, and call them collateral damage? I see the same psychology at work: if we don't sacrifice these people, bad things will happen to us.
In many ways, people are still barbarians, only now we have advanced technology to more easily rub out lots more of our "enemies."
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn made the comment we are subject to at least two conflicting drives: "identity" and "diversity." The desire for identity -- which he said we share with animals, which is why I consider it an instinct -- is the desire for everyone to be the same. It is the basis for tribalism, and politically, leftism and fascism. Everyone part of the State, no one outside of it.
Since at least the French Revolution, there has been an added component to fascist tribalism: what Francis Schaeffer, Rael Jean and Erich Isaac in their 1983 book called "coercive utopianism." All tribes consider themselves to be God's own; all want to return to the Garden of Eden, ignoring the fact that in the story there is a angel with a flaming sword preventing re-entry.
Currently, the best definition of leftism I've been able to come up with is this: the attempt to coerce people to involuntarily join a tribe, one with priest-kings as leaders. The tribe will consider itself to be chosen of God, and therefore will have messianic tendencies. Those outside the tribe will be considered less than human, insane, and a exaggerated threat that, unless neutralized, will destroy the tribe.
Non-fascism, on the other hand, would be voluntary groups, with religious leaders but no priest-kings, that considers individuals but not groups to be of God, and does not consider outsiders to be insane sub-humans that have no other purpose than to slaughter and destroy.
These days, the United States in some measure fits my definition of fascism. It has afflicted both parties. The Republicans appear to be warfare/welfare, while the Democrats are welfare/warfare. The problem ultimately is two things: the involuntarily coercive tribe known as the State, and hubristic human nature when it considers its tribe as the chosen of God, and therefore messianic. That combination is a potent witches' brew that will always lead to catastrophe.