Second City Fascism

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Here’s some fascinating information forwarded to me by an attentive LRC reader:

Charles, upon reading your piece about American statolatry I thought that you might be interested in seeing pictures of the entrances to Chicago’s City Hall and the County Building. (It’s basically one building but referred to by different names.) Fasces abound there, and one can be seen at Wikipedia. Of course, you can see all of them with street view at Google maps, and I count a total of 10 fasces for all four sides of the building. Notice also the Obama banners in the foreground on La Salle St..

There are fasces elsewhere, too, in Chicago. For example, they are at the Columbus memorial, located at the sound end of Grant Park. (Zoom in. The memorial is near the northeast corner of the intersection of S. Columbus Dr. and E. Roosevelt Road.) The fasces are difficult to make out on Google street view, but one is on each face of the semicircular structure behind Columbus. On the north side of the city, in Lincoln Park, there’s a memorial to Richard J. Oglesby, a politician and an army officer during the Mexican-American war and the war to reunify the empire. A pair of fasces are on what appears in the image to be a large gravestone, to the left of the statue.

It’s by the way that we have also a street named after Italo Balbo as well as a monument named for that fascist. Supposedly the column came from an ancient Roman theater.

In discussing Windy City fascism or its symbolism, note the fasces which can be seen clearly in a document published by the Chicago Park District. “Bishop Bernard J. Shiel [sic] blessed the monument” which, claims the CPD, “conveyed the spirit of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal”.

While we’re still on the subject of political imagery, let’s revisit the seal of the United States Senate. Probably you’ve noticed the axes at the bottom, but look again at what they’re inserted into. What may appear at first to be bundles of rods in the usual design of fasces are instead like tubes, and the tubes have an interior diameter that is much larger than needed to accommodate the ax handles. Now, why would the Senate’s seal have been drawn like that? The 1831 seal was much different.

It’s common for fasces to be described as symbols of magisterial jurisdiction and power, but the Senate’s fasces, if even we call them that, are like mere sheaths for the storage of a weapon. Could it be that there was a deliberate intent to convey a posture that couldn’t be readily conveyed by ax handles bound tightly within bundles of rods? It seems that the Senate and the people of Philadelphia, or of Washington, D.C., as they were in the 1880s no longer feared widespread awareness of a longstanding project to unify more and more of the world under Columbia‘s power and might. The Senate, says the seal, will move with less reluctance than ever before to [ahem] defend the Senators’ liberty to do what the Senate’s masters want done. It’s no random coincidence, I think, that the continental territory of Publius’ empire was then being consolidated or that American imperialism in the Caribbean and in the Pacific Ocean was becoming the important feature of the DC’s politics that it remains to this day. (See “Columbia’s Easter Bonnet”.)

Also, let’s be careful with our use of the terms fascism and Fascism so that we distinguish American fascism as of 1 August, 2013, from Mussolini’s variant. The two species have their similarities and tend to converge, but they retain important differences nonetheless. The American type of fascism has proved itself to be more durable, its foundations are less polluted by populism and bleeding heartedness, and Mussolini’s fascism was far more hostile to individualism and private property, as we should expect given the Marxist ancestry of Mussolini’s movement.

Finally in NYC there’s an interesting statue of Geo. Washington. Notice what is next to the subject’s right foot and slightly obscured by the cloak. It’s not clear if there’s an ax, too, represented there, but it seems not. Compare that to the much less obscured absence of axes of the Lincoln memorial. Lincoln’s hands are resting gently over the edge of the armrests and there are no axes to be seen in or around the bundles of rods

10:55 pm on August 1, 2013