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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Monday, August 01, 2005

Fascism - fourteen points explained

When fascism comes to America, it will be draped in the American flag.
Huey Long

Laurence W. Britt penned warnings on fascism that I posted previous to this one.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.

The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the peoples attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice, relentless propaganda and disinformation were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite spontaneous acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and terrorists. Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.

Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism.

Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media.

Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes excesses.

7. Obsession with national security.

Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting national security, and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.

Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elites behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug.

Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the godless. A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected.

Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of have-not citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.

Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.

Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal.

Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment.

Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Normal and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or traitors was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.

Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections.

Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating an disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

Laurence Britts novel, 'June, 2004,' depicts a future America dominated by right-wing extremists.


At Mon Aug 01, 08:01:00 AM MDT, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

This would be funny if it wasn't true. Fascism is a form of slavery that encompasses all, regardless of race, creed, or color. This is scary, real scary. I guess we live in a time of "what goes around comes around" ... No wonder we are a nation of overweight and unhappy human beings ... we hold in our thoughts and succumb to fear too easily.

Is there hope for a nation that has fallen prey to oppression? Yes, I believe so. We have been hypnotized and for us to wake up, we need to snap our mind, if you know what I mean.

Information like this is very useful in snapping sleeping mind awake … First thing we need to do is get rid of the “electoral system”, let the popuplar vote rule as it should. At least this would be a beginning. After that, we need to revamp our voting system. I don’t know how, but I know it needs to be done. This seems to be the key to breaking the hold our current Fascism Government has over us.

But how do we wake up our youth? Maybe we need to start rapping about Fascism … maybe this will help since they are down into rap music, and it won’t be going away anytime soon. Young white youth buys more rap music then black youth, and that could be because they can afford to. Maybe we need to think about turning the table … using simple method that works!

Maybe I am just dreaming …. Oh well, that’s my two cent!

At Mon Aug 01, 08:16:00 AM MDT, Blogger Luis Andrade said...

As I watch Bolton being appointed as US Ambassador to te UN (between bouts of coughing "pitbull, muzzle him"...) I have to say that I really liked the metaphor of the frog being slowly boiled alive, by "Poems". When the people wakes up it would be a little slap and when awake all will say: What? How did this happen? Sad indeed.

Sigh, if they only knew what kind of life is that like.

At Mon Aug 01, 04:01:00 PM MDT, Blogger Renee Wagemans said...

Thank you so much for sharing this

Not only your country is trapped in such a system, but my own country (the Netherlands) is hard on its way to walk the same path. They pay no attention to all the people that protest against thes things

They even go against their own own constitution in the acts and laws they make and then schmoozing and buttering up, sweettalking just as long as evereyone is asleep


At Tue Aug 09, 12:26:00 PM MDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is time for us to wake up. Bush is a fascist dictator under the influence of an extremley well organized and powerful neo-conservative ideology. The scariest part is that so few of us recognize the state of our country and the direction it is taking. Moreover, we rely too heavily on media for our facts when in fact, the media is strong-armed by money to give us news that will keep us suppressed and fearful of questioning our administration. Sick and wrong.

At Wed Sep 21, 05:24:00 AM MDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, Even My leader has become Truely Fascist ... fter allhe is apolice Colonel before becoming Businessman and Politicians


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