By Albert DeSimone
Athens is the penultimate city of left-wing activism, perhaps only losing the last most left position to San Francisco.
Let me be clear: I bear the activist no animosity, no more than I do his or her right-wing counterpart.
But I’m going to drop a dime on the activist.
The U.S. dime had an interesting symbol on its reverse from 1916 to 1945, a fasces. A fasces is a bundle of sticks tied together to represent strength in unity. It is represented as such in Aesop’s fable “The Old Man and His Sons.”
The word “fascism” is derived from “fasces.” The fasces has been used by Romans, Mussolini, and Hitler as a symbol of unity, but forced unity by authority.
In the pre-Nazi, Aesop’s fable, sense of the word, activists are fascists, as are their right-wing counterparts, the reactionists. Activists and reactionists bring the like-minded together and create a strength and ability to more effectively promote their agenda through numbers.
In this sense, fascism is indistinguishable from activism or reactionism.
I envy the heart and passion of each group. I envy their resolve and grow weary of my own penchant to avoid attachment to causes. I’m consoled by my unwavering resolve to practice the ways of the classical liberal, but tire of having to explain why a rainbow crosswalk can coexist with a Confederate statue. Or why I can be pro-choice but highly sympathetic to the pro-life view. Or why I think the solutions to inequity and climate change reside in capitalism.
We need the activists of the world, without the violent George Floyd protests. We need the reactionists of the world, without the violence of January 6. We need their high-profile, bi-directional resistance to jolt and jar our leaders. Their extremism defines the boundaries that create the middle ground of compromise.
As Thomas Jefferson said, “And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”
Keep up the good fight. Without your resistance we end up with a monolithic government catering to an oppressive majority denying the rights of the few.