John Michael Greer: We Should Fear a Totalitarianism of the Center

Of course John Michael Greer and the Arch Druid Report have been mainstay for those who keep up on peak oil and the future of industrial society for a while now. I may not agree with his pagan revivalism but he does have some worthy things to say. A couple posts (here and here) begin describing a worrisome figure of darkness that we might all take stock of: the figure of Fascism that seems to be resurfacing under altered forms in our time. Neither Left nor Right the fascism of our era is taking up those in the center: the excluded, disaffiliated, and marginalized who have no voice in the political structure of our time. In the first post he gives a short background to the term and its history. Then offers a warning:

If a full-blown fascist movement of what was once the standard type were to appear in America today, it’s a safe bet that nobody except a few historians would recognize it for what it is. What’s more, it’s just as safe a bet that many of those people who think they oppose fascism—even, or especially, those who think they’ve achieved something by spraypainting “(expletive) FACISM” on a concrete wall—would be among the first to cheer on such a movement and fall in line behind its banners.

In the second post after lambasting both Left and Right he points us to those at the center who are now situated outside of politics altogether, and who have no voice in its institutions and not only that but resemble the same situation that one finds in pre-Weimer Germany just before Hitler took over.

In Italy before and during the First World War, and in Germany after it, democratic institutions froze up around a series of problems that the political systems in question were unwilling to confront and therefore were unable to address.  Every mainstream political party was committed to maintaining the status quo in the face of a rising spiral of crisis that made it brutally clear that the status quo no longer worked.  One government after another took office, promising to make things better by continuing the same policies that were making things worse, while the opposition breathed fire and brimstone, promising fierce resistance to the party in power on every issue except those that mattered—and so, in both countries, a figure from outside the political mainstream who was willing to break with the failed consensus won the support of enough of the voters to shoulder his way into power.

“When fascism succeeds in seizing power”, he tells us, “it’s not a right-wing movement, or for that matter a left-wing one. It seizes the abandoned middle ground of politics, takes up the popular causes that all other parties refuse to touch, and imposes a totalitarianism of the center. That’s the secret of fascism’s popularity—and it’s the reason why an outbreak of full-blown fascism is a real and frightening possibility as America stumbles blindly into an unwelcome future.” He tells us he’ll continue this with future posts…(here and here).

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