Monday, May 30, 2016

Fasces - We are stronger together

I am seeing a number of observations about Hillary Clinton's new campaign slogan. There have been so many slip-ups you have to wonder about the quality of whomever is running the communications department. So many needless own-goals. The new slogan is "We are stronger together" and it appears completely blind to Western Civilization and any historical knowledge.

It has the benefit of echoing her long ago book It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. Consistency - check.

The problem is that for anyone center, or right of center, that particular title can be a red flag for feel good socialism. Being reminded of that title is therefore not necessarily a plus if you are campaigning for the whole electorate. It only makes sense if you are focusing on the 20% of the electorate who self-identify as liberal. That makes sense at the beginning of the primary season when you have to appeal to the base. Late in the season, though? Whatever is said now will bleed into the general election.

The other problem, the bigger problem, is that it doesn't take much cultural depth to pick up on the subliminal implications of "We are stronger together." Ann Althouse has probably the best round-up of the sotto voce issue. Her blog post is titled "No one wakes up with a passion to pursue togetherness. Half of the country is comprised of introverts, loners, and competitive a-holes", quoting Scott Adams.

The real problem centers on Fasces, a bundle of sticks. In the West, the symbolism of sticks goes back to the Romans and Etruscans. A single stick is easily broken but a bundle of sticks, fasces, is much stronger and indeed often near impossible to break. They are stronger together. It is a metaphor adopted over the centuries by innumerable authoritarian and totalitarian movements, parties and leaders.

From Wikipedia:
Fasces (/ˈfæsiːz/, (Italian: Fasci, Latin pronunciation: [ˈfa.skeːs], a plurale tantum, from the Latin word fascis, meaning "bundle")[1] is a bound bundle of wooden rods, sometimes including an axe with its blade emerging. The fasces had its origin in the Etruscan civilization, and was passed on to ancient Rome, where it symbolized a magistrate's power and jurisdiction. The image has survived in the modern world as a representation of magisterial or collective power. The fasces frequently occurs as a charge in heraldry, it is present on an older design of the Mercury dime and behind the podium in the United States House of Representatives, it is used as the symbol of a number of Italian syndicalist groups, including the Unione Sindacale Italiana, and it was the origin of the name of the National Fascist Party in Italy (from which the term fascism is derived).
Collective power - the very antithesis of the American constitution, designed, in part, to divide power and decision-making so that the citizenry might never suffer from the rod of unconstrained authority.

You would think that a candidate already dogged by accusations of illegal and extra-legal activities and frequently charged with coercive authoritarianism would seek to avoid associating herself with well established symbols of fascism. Particularly when she is wanting to make those charges against her political adversary.

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