In order to understand fascism or its potential in a democracy, it is important to not only see the distinction between the authoritarian and the totalitarian but how democracy can at times be used to limit freedom.
The United States is now approaching the very final days of the Bush administration, a presidency that has been this generation’s example of a very massive grab for centralized power that seems to rebuke the democratic principles this country was supposed to be based upon. There has been much speculation as to what will happen in an Obama presidency, even to the extent as to wonder whether anything will really change. For it is vital to understand the structural nature of power and how it has manifested itself through a general government regardless of changes in particular leaders. And to refer to the Bush administration as fascist requires a very clear and concise definition of what that term means in order to fully describe the past eight years as a concentration of power worthy of a specific critique.
One must begin with the distinction between what is authoritarian and what is totalitarian. The important factor is to understand that brute force is not the sole instrument of power in this case, but rather there needs to be a desire for the self-imposition of repression that is the beginning of ideology. When the human mind is arranged into a conscious resistance and an unconscious acceptance, then there is a true completion of ideology. Ideology becomes ubiquitous to such a degree as to avoid being recognized and repelled as an artificial explanation of reality. In other words, ideology does not need the absolute devotion of followers but only the appearance that individuals can think and act independently of it when in fact they use this structure of meaning to understand how things are. Totalitarian systems with authoritarian parts have an overall ideology and small elements of self interest. Fascism is the appearance of the authoritarian parts that obscures the totalitarian whole. Those who are fascist are those who think they are following a base and greedy self interest, unaware that this ideology encompasses the whole of reality and demands a complete submission of their lives.
To circumvent this completion of ideology, it is necessary to compare aspects of multiculturalism and social pluralism. Multiculturalism is the breaking up of isolated cultures that each have an internal transcendence, or a sense of absolute truth. The only way these cultures can communicate with each other is when the alienated parts of culture are in a process of exchange value within a general commodification. Multiculturalism, even though it is portrayed as a positive sign of global relations, can only work as a function of late capitalism. Social pluralism, on the other hand, is the simultaneous particular cultures that each structure reality in their own way and that exist side by side in their unique nature. The surplus of reality and the gaps of contradiction between cultures is the external immanence of systems of meaning. In social pluralism, each culture exists in parallel to each other and still able to retain its autonomy. The important relationship is not between different cultures but between each culture and the reality it is embedded within. Only then can there be an understanding of culture as a particular method to understand reality. A similar process must be applied in the recognition of ideology in authoritarian and totalitarian governments. Authoritarian governments are the ideological communication of particular self interest, and totalitarian governments are unique self interests embedded in a preexisting ideology. Ironically, even though an authoritarian government seems to be motivated by self interest and a need for power, it creates blind ideological obedience in order to continue. It is usually within totalitarian governments that individuals act toward their own self interest while going through the motions of following the universal ideology.
The overall issue is the movement between immanence and transcendence in structures of power, meaning, and production. The change from an immanent totality to a transcendent category begins when the political, the cultural, and the economic sphere are the creation of immanent structures. They are used in immanent ways for particular purposes as tools for human activity, but not as universal standards that would be enforced regardless of the situation. Transcendence is the inverting of this relationship between the individual or the collective and the structure in immanence. The resulting transcendent structures are the containment of individual and collective free agency. However, there is also the possible movement from a ubiquitous transcendent category to an apparent immanent totality. Through the free agency expressed as an original choice, counter-narratives, and desiring-production in transcendent structures humans can articulate pockets of resistance within limits. The disruption of structures can be an expanded space of opportunity for free agency. In this sense, free agency can be the containment of constituted power by constituent power in acts of autonomy. This autonomy employs a self-awareness of how structures operate in order for humans to control these structures.
This interaction between immanence and transcendence is based on the important relationship between desire and democracy. The subjective self is the separation from objective reality in itself. Systems of meaning arise as the interaction of the subjective self with objective reality after the separation, in order to allow the individual to not be completely isolated. These systems of meaning are a partial difference and partial equivalence of parts of reality within structures. Therefore, systems of meaning are a mediation of reality that includes and excludes parts of reality for human comprehension. When the self interacts with reality, there is an internalization of these systems of meaning. But there are internal changes of these systems of meaning through human desire within the individual unconscious. This is similar to how humans use a shorthand version of language within their own minds rather than the official structure of language used for communication of meaning. The structures change within the unconscious to a degree as an internal individual abstraction of an external collective concrete interaction with reality. The gap between the subjective unconscious and the objective reality in itself is an absolute difference, and can be considered more of a primary conflict than the tension between the individual and the collective. The unconscious has a unique desire that is the expression of autonomy through constituent power. The subsequent creation of immanent structures from the raw material of reality, initiated by desire, is then incorporated into the social field in order to be used in the social field. This individual creation and collective use in the social field is also the immanent relationship between the individual and the collective, and the individual creation and collective use can be seen as the inverting of structural alienation. Therefore, in this respect, the social field is the space for free agency and constituent power.
For each individual, desire is the need for change and drive is the need for preservation. The subjective in reality exercises desire while the objective in reality exercises drive. A subsumption of constituent power by constituted power is the inequality of an expression of desire within structures. The solution to this inequality is through the political as an immanent process, but the amplification of this inequality is through hierarchy as a transcendent process. One can see that desire must be an active element in democracy in order to express constituent power and enact change. Overall, a creation of novelty is conducted by constituent power and structural reproduction is conducted by constituted power. The creation of novelty and structural reproduction can be applied to the law within a social context. The law can be defined as the consistency of representation, a relationship between true and false, and an orientation of the subject. Any internal change of the law within structures would be an action by either constituent power or constituted power, while this internal change of the law within structures would also be through either democracy or established formations of power.
A democracy of the event would be by constituent power and a democracy of the structure would be by constituted power. One can conclude that the type of democracy can determine if an authoritarian government would develop from it. A democracy of the structure, whose goal is to perpetuate constituted power through a majority method, can be the environment where authoritarianism can begin. In other words, a democratic process could enact the final change to a government that would erase that democracy in the future. But a democracy of the event can operate in such a way as to constantly allow for desire to be expressed in the social field and to create immanent structures to solve problems of inequality. In retrospect, the past eight years can definitely be seen as a democracy of the structure where authoritarianism was always around the corner. It is now up to the people to insure that the future is that of a democracy of the event.