An Inclusive Litany

10/28/02

From "The Power, the Name, and the Word," an essay by novelist Carlos Fuentes published in the Mexican newspaper Reforma, September 27, 2002, excerpts translated by the New Republic:
Today, it is not about exalting an individual, a führer, a duce, but an entire nation. Hitler and Stalin made the mistake, part of ancient authoritarian culture, of demanding personal homage superior to those deserved by their own nations: to exalt the name. Washington's circle of power is infinitely more capable. It shields itself within the Nation and it gives it a total and exclusive ecumenical value....

Just as Hitler advanced in the name of the German Volk and Stalin in the name of the Proletariat, Bush claims to act in the name of the people of the United States, "the only surviving model of human progress." Such a declaration locates us, once more, before "the great lie" that Hitler so astutely invoked....

The terrible thing about a declaration like Bush's is that, subliminally and pragmatically, it prepares the extinction of all models of progress that are not the American one. With all due respect, and with due consideration to the American democratic civilization: that's what Hitler and Stalin thought of their respective models....

We have entered a new era in which an imperial government and its leaders no longer deserve historic epithets or mythic reigns. Bush Il Duce, Cheney the Masked One, Ashcroft the Warden, Lady Condoleezza of the Potomac, Rumsfeld the Lone Ranger, and Powell Tonto? No need. These characters represent profiles of power that are mutable, mutating, and even mindless. They can be replaced without worry. Hitler and Stalin were immovable. Bush and Cheney are not. This is the hope. That the group in charge of the White House will be expelled in November 2004.

Fuentes again on October 5, responding to his essay's numerous critics:
I don't compare Bush with Hitler and Stalin to equate them, but to distinguish them. The Nazi and Soviet dictators faced other powerful states. Today's U.S. president governs a country with no external counterforce, something that has not occurred since the height of the Roman Empire.... But neither Hitler nor Stalin had the military power that Bush has. Next to Bush, Hitler and Stalin were but petty officers.... [N]o, Bush is neither Hitler nor Stalin. But he has more power than they. This is the danger.

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