Courtesy of Phu Khang, Saigon Plaza, Pennsauken, NJ.
Or, different decade, same fascists.
For some time it has been the rule in California that persons applying for SERA relief must be registered voters. So men and women would go and register, giving any sort of address, making up one if they had none. Thus it came about that when sample ballots were mailed to the voters, great numbers came back in the mail, marked “moved,” or “unknown,” or “no such address.”
There began suddenly a concerted clamor about registration frauds; wholesale efforts on the part of the EPIC people to pack the Great Register of Voters! Of course, those who made the charges well knew what had happened; they knew that those who had registered from these addresses had not been thinking about voting, but about getting something to eat. But most of them, being poor, were Sinclair supporters; so here was one more campaign cry.
As a matter of fact, the charge was doubly dishonest, for the reason that under our laws a person does not lose his residence until he physically acquires another. All these homeless men who are wandering the highways still have the right to vote in California, if they ever had it. They could come back and vote from their last home, or they could vote by mail. But most of them don’t know the law, and the people who were out to “stop Sinclair” didn’t tell them. There is a general sentiment among our ruling classes that it is dangerous for so many unemployed to have a vote; one of the first aims of would-be Fascists is to get it away from them.
–from Upton Sinclair, I, CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, AND HOW I GOT LICKED
Mainstream liberals tell us that when basic democratic values are under threat from ethnic or religious fundamentalists, we should unite behind the liberal-democratic agenda, save what can be saved, and put aside dreams of more radical social transformation. But there is a fatal flaw in this call for solidarity: it ignores the way in which liberalism and fundamentalism are caught in a vicious cycle. It is the aggressive attempt to export liberal permissiveness that causes fundamentalism to fight back vehemently and assert itself. When we hear today’s politicians offering us a choice between liberal freedom and fundamentalist oppression, and triumphantly asking the rhetorical question, ‘Do you want women to be excluded from public life and deprived of their rights? Do you want every critic of religion to be put to death?’, what should make us suspicious is the very self-evidence of the answer: who would want that? The problem is that liberal universalism has long since lost its innocence. What Max Horkheimer said about capitalism and fascism in the 1930s applies in a different context today: those who don’t want to criticise liberal democracy should also keep quiet about religious fundamentalism.
—Slavoj Žižek, “Barbarism with a Human Face,” London Review of Books 25/4/2014