Can "democratization" and "modernization" be blamed for fascism?, a reply to Michael Mann
to www.marxmail.org on
I first stumbled across Mann in the pages of the NLR where he had written a completely wrong-headed article arguing that German workers backed Hitler. I answered him here:
http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/fascism_and_war/fascism.htm (A long article--do a search on "Mann" to find the exact reference.)
Mann is still writing silly stuff on fascism apparently. He
not only believes that the nation-state is to blame for fascism, but connects
goose-stepping to democratization as well. In
What's missing from this neo-Weberian's account is any kind of historical or economic analysis. Genocidal violence is not a function of economic crisis, but a drive for "rule by the people". He discounts the tendency of economic collapse, arguing that the true explanation for fascism is the desire for "modernization", like Mussolini getting the trains to run on time. McLemee writes in his customarily detached fashion, "In Mr. Mann's analysis, fascism appealed not only to people seeking to preserve the status quo, or retreat to an early form of social order, but also to those who wanted modernization to continue under the firm hand of the nation-state."
Although McLemee is far too professional and far too cagey to express his own opinion, one might assume that he agrees sufficiently with this characterization of Mann to have included it:
But according to David
D. Laitin, a professor of political science at
Mr. Laitin also suggests that the argument of The Dark Side of Democracy itself rests on a kind of basic confusion. "Mann implies that because democracy and genocide are both modern, they implicate one another," he writes. "Logically, Mann is incorrectly linking two phenomena that are temporally but not causally linked. This type of reasoning would make democracy culpable for world war, AIDS, and rap music."
I understand that the prolific Professor Mann has also written a book on imperialism. I might take some time to read it after I have retired and after I have finished reading the collected Mark Twain.