The Null Device

Does this fall foul of Godwin's Law?

An Independent piece claiming similarities between Tony Blair and Mussolini:
For a start, Blair extols the virtues of the Third Way, which was the phrase coined by the Fascists, no less, to describe their alternative to capitalism and communism. Blair began as a left-wing pacifist and became a right-wing warmonger. He is dictatorial and ignores Parliament if he can and he is a master of propaganda (spin). He is also a bit of a musician - always a dangerous sign in a politician - and plays the electric guitar. So was Mussolini. He played the violin.
People, especially people on the left, tend to forget - presumably because it is inconvenient to remember - that Mussolini was a revolutionary socialist before he was anything else. They forget, too, that he founded Fascism not as a right-wing dictatorship but as a left-wing revolutionary movement that provided an alternative first to socialism then to communism.

It then goes on to compare Mussolini's Corporate State with the New Labour Third Way of corporatisation and neo-liberal economics. And then there's both statesmen's gift for spin:

A phrase Mussolini often used to describe the Italian parliament was that it was "invincibly nauseous". Fascism transformed political participation from an isolated act involving the ballot box into a daily act of religious faith. Blair has not - heavens, no - abolished democracy as Mussolini did, but democracy has diminished under Blair. The Opposition languishes in torpid impotence. The Prime Minister appears increasingly to resemble some whacky kind of cult leader. He avoids debate in Parliament if he can. He talks to the people direct, via television, as Mussolini did via the piazza. Mussolini was famous for his balcony speeches - his "dialogues with the crowd". A modern Mussolini would not need to do anything so obvious as to tackle democracy head on. He could just side-step it with spin.

(via FmH)

There are 6 comments on "Does this fall foul of Godwin's Law?":

Posted by: mitch http:// Fri Jun 27 08:13:12 2003

Google (esp. the Usenet archive) reveals that people have wondered before about whether references to Mussolini fall within the scope of Godwin's law.

Actually looking that up has taught me something - the law simply states that the probability of a Hitler/Nazi reference approaches 1 as a thread goes on. I always thought the law was that any discussion *effectively ends* once such a reference appears - past that point, there's nothing but flames and trolls. Perhaps this could be considered a "corollary", in the spirit of all those corollaries to Murphy.

Posted by: mark Fri Jun 27 12:07:12 2003

mitch, you're right: not just about the fact that discussion ends, but why. That's one of the most commonly-misunderstood things about Godwin's Law: supposedly it works like "Nazis! That's it, thread's over, go home." The simple fact is, once people resort to calling each other Nazis, any useful discussion is long gone and there's no point to continuing reading the thread.

Posted by: gjw Mon Jun 30 05:31:54 2003

Godwin was clearly a cryptofascist, hell-bent on eliminating any legitimate analysis of National Socialism.

Posted by: Graham Mon Jun 30 08:00:07 2003

gjw, have you been drinking acb's kool-aid?

Posted by: gjw Mon Jun 30 10:06:05 2003

Why yes, yes I have.

Posted by: acb Mon Jun 30 10:14:31 2003

And what's that supposed to mean?

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