Before we can determine if America has succumbed to fascism, we first must have a good definition and understanding of what fascism really is.
Is America Fascist?
From the Streets of Little Beirut
Before we can determine if America has succumbed to fascism, we first must have a good definition and understanding of what fascism really is. A good starting definition was given by Heywood Broun, a noted American columnist in the 1930s.
"Fascism, is a dictatorship from the extreme right or to put it a little more closely into our local idiom, a government which is run by a small group of large industrialists and financial lords...I think it is not unfair to say that any businessman in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions is laying the foundations for fascism."
Another good definition was that of Franklin Roosevelt.
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group.”
Another good description comes from the Army’s Program 64 which sought to teach the troops what they were fighting against. The following excerpts come from their training manual entitled Three Ways to Spot a Fascist.
Pitting religion, racial, and economic groups against one another in order to break our national unity is a device of the divide and conquer technique used by Hitler to gain power in Germany and in other countries. With slight variations, to suit local conditions, fascists everywhere have used this Hitler method. In many countries, anti-Semitism is a dominant devise of fascism. In the United States native fascists have often been anti-Catholic, anti-Jew, anti-Negro, anti-Labor and anti-foreign born. In South America native fascists use the same scapegoats except that they substitute anti-Protestantism for anti-Catholicism.
Fascism cannot tolerate such religious and ethical concepts as the brotherhood of man. Fascists deny the need for international cooperation. These ideas contradict the fascist theory of the master race. The color, race, creed or nationality-have rights. International cooperation, as expressed in the Dumbarton Oaks proposals, run counter to the fascist program of war and world domination.
Many fascists make the spurious claim that the world has but two choices---either fascism or communism and they label as communist everyone who refuses to support them.
Although the quotes above were penned nearly a half century ago they provide an eerie and scary description of today’s political environment. Reading those quotes a reasonable person would conclude that the United States is indeed fascist. However, as I pointed out in The Nazi Hydra In America (available at Amazon.com) which details the past history of fascism in this country, it’s impossible to determine the precise point where a democracy turns into fascism. Only, by examining the traits of fascism are we able to determine the extent of fascism and hence the danger of turning into a fascist state.
In my book, The Nazi Hydra In America I provided a list of traits for fascism, which for the most part is analogous to Dr. Britt’s list with one major exception. The exception is all fascist movements are top-down movements, which immediately separates it from socialist movements as socialism is driven from the bottom-up. It is precisely for this reason of being driven from the top that makes fascism so insidious that it seeps into every facet of our lives until suddenly it blossoms into the full-blown virulent police state such as Nazi Germany. Fascism is simply a last ditch attempt at maintaining control over a democratic capitalist society by a group of elites. For this reason fascism typically raises its ugly head during periods of economic upheaval like the present economic crisis. Such a movement beginning at the top does not require a revolution. After all, Hitler was appointed chancellor and Mussolini gained power in what amounted to nothing more than a noisy street march.
Franklin Roosevelt narrowly avoided fascism in the 1930s by implementing a program of aid for the jobless and needy. However, it is painfully clear that today’s Republicans have no such plan and that today’s Democratics are woefully inept. Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan’s budget plan is the exact opposite to the New Deal and is a Path To Ruin Not Prosperity. It eliminates or severely restricts all programs providing aid to the poor and working class people. It is an outright assault on Medicare and seeks to eliminate the program. Following the plan is a prescription for disaster that would certainly drive this fragile economy into a full depression more serve than the Great Depression of the 1930s. While cutting aid to the poor Ryan’s plan lavishes tax breaks on the rich and grants vast tax loopholes that Ryan calls tax cuts to multinational corporations. Such a plan is an affront to every principal of civilization, humanity, justice and morality. However, Paul Ryan doesn’t have a problem with spending $700 for two bottles of wine for a dinner. Maybe we are paying the congressman too damn much.
Moreover, we see this same support for the elite in Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker’s attack on the working class. Walker’s first act as governor was to grant corporations massive tax breaks thus creating the state deficit. Is well known that Walker’s support is coming directly from the wealthy Koch brothers and their carefully cloaked front groups as well as support from the national Chamber of Commerce, which is controlled by about fifteen multinational corporations. He receives additional support from Karl Rove’s various groups.
There is an abundance of additional evidence that today’s government operates for the benefit of the wealthy and corporate elite. For instance, George W. Bush’s bailout of the banks that allowed the damn bankers most responsible for the banking crisis to receive huge bonuses that far exceed what most Americans will make in a lifetime, which was no different than forcing the tax payer to pay the bank robber for stealing his money. From the 1930s to the last years of the Clinton administration, the Glass Steagall protected us from such banking crisis. Once repealed it only took the bankers 10 years to drive the country to the point of bankruptcy. Deregulation doesn’t work it’s a prescription for disaster with plenty of evidence to support that such as the saving and loan crisis in the 1980s and the continued failure and bankruptcy of airlines.
In the past the constitution provided us protection in the past from attacks from the wealthy, however, that protection has been gradually reduced through the years largely by right wing judicial activism such as the recent Citizens United ruling allowing corporations to buy the best politicians they can afford. During the early part of the 1800s the erosion of our freedoms at the expense of corporate power was gradual. The pace increased as a wealthy elite class rose with the emergence of the robber barons and for this reason many of the early court cases involved the railroads as the country expanded west. Starting with the Reagan administration the pace turned into a full assault on our justice system by the rightwing. The Koch brothers have provided much of the funding for the Federalist Society, which is a group promoting corporations among lawyers and presently Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito are all members of the Federalist Society serving on the Supreme Court, which reflects the pro-corporate agenda of the present court.
While there is an abundance of evidence that the United States is now controlled and ruled by a group of corporate elites the extent of fascism can only be determined by examining the traits of fascism.
Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: The evidence of nationalism was readily evident following 9/11 with the widespread fanatical display of flags. One did not dare to criticize President Bush without fear of being rebutted angrily. It is evident every evening in what passes for network news. Listening to these broadcasts would lead one to think the world was limited to just one country, the United States.
Military Supremacy: The United States currently have over 100 overseas military bases and is currently at war with three countries, while blowing the shit out of two additional countries using drones. The 2009 U.S. military budget is approaching 700 billion dollars and accounts for approximately 40% of global arms spending and is over six times larger than the military budget of China. In fact, when viewing the country inlight of the previous trait the country is best considered an empire.
Disdain for Human Rights: This trait allows us to judge how far fascism has proceded. The closer we get to the full blown Nazi police state the greater the distain for human rights. The Patriotic Act was a full scale assault on our rights and was recently extended and expanded by the Obama administration. The extent of our loss of rights can be best illustrated by the brutal treatment being dished out to Bradley Manning.
Further in 2006 Halliburton was awarded a 385 million dollar contract for the construction of concentration camps. The cover story was they were for a sudden influx of immigrants. The country runs and maintains secret concentration camps throughout the country that are currently empty. More recently, congress has included a provision in a bill that is currently working its way through the senate that would allow the military to arrest and detain civilians without charges and holding them indefinitely.
Besides the assault on our constitutional rights this distain carries further in that the Republicans want to do away with all aid to the poor. They are willing to deny people the right to food, the right to housing and the right to medical care. A good example was Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota’s former governor, who stole $400 million from Minnesota Care. This had the effect of not only pulling the plug on granny but throwing the old bat into the street. Teapaw likes to say he borrowed this money from Minnesota Care in one of his budget balancing schemes, but there is no repayment schedule. So until the money has been returned to Minnesota Care it is stolen. Meanwhile, granny is still in the street waiting for care that is if she is still alive.
During the student council meeting of the insane asylum, which the media called the Republican Presidential candidates debate, one of the pathological sociopaths proudly proclaimed he would privatize Social Security. He was absolutely sure this would work because the model worked in Chile. Before Allende was ousted in a coup Chile had a prospering middle class and a universal pension system similar to our Social Security. The coup established the brutal fascist dictator Pinochet, who narrowly avoid trial for crimes against humanity because of his health. The regime sent assassins world wide to eliminate any critics of the Pinochet regime, including a car bombing on the streets of Washington D.C. The Pinochet regime privatized the government pension system and followed the economics of Milton Friedman and the boys from the Chicago school of economics. Unemployment soared to a record 54%. Chile is still recovering today from the Pinochet regime and only about 50% of the people participate in the private pension system because of the meager payouts. But this is the Republican vision for America.
Contrast this with another country that followed the Chicago school of economics, Iceland. Iceland was the first country to file for bankruptcy. However, the people there took to the streets and formed a new government, which arrested the bankers responsible. The bankers that managed to make it to Europe before the new government could arrest them are now hiding from Interpol.
We have a choice of roads to take. We could follow the path set by the Icelanders and return to freedom or we could follow the path of Pinochet and sink into a fascist hellhole. George W. Bush’s bailout of the bankers has set us on the wrong course, a course leading to the Gestapo, concentration camps and death squads seeking out all those that dare to oppose it.
Moreover there are now several reports of corporations using state, local and the federal government to collect their bad loans from debt ridden consumers. Minnesota is one of the friendliest states towards lenders. In other states corporations running private prisons are trying to get new laws passed making it a crime to be in debt in order to fill their beds to generate greater profits. So if this trend is not checked debtor prisons will soon be in America’s future where inmates will be forced to work for pennies a day to pay off their debts. These will not be that much different than the slave labor camps, inmates will receive only minimum medical treatment, nutrition and beatings will be commonplace as will deaths.
Identification of Enemies: Britt describes this group as the targeting certain groups such as unions, liberals, blacks, or religious groups. Certainly the Republican party has singled out the Moslems for such hatred. It also is readily apparent in the Republican governors’ and Scott Walker’s attack on unions and the venom laced attack on public employees.
Rampant Sexism: Can this nation go six months without a sex scandal in Washington? Fascist regimes tend to be dominated by men; women play only a subservient role. Fascists are preoccupied with limiting homosexuality and abortion. One of the first groups sent to the concentration camps in Germany were homosexuals. The recent case of Anthony Weiner is a good example here. However, there was much more to the Weiner scandal than the news presented. The biggest factor in forcing Weiner to resign was he was conducting an investigation of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas received support for his nomination from Citizen United yet, he failed to excuse himself in the recent Citizen United ruling that allows corporations to buy political elections. In fact, Justice Thomas has turned his seat on the Supreme Court into a lucrative business venture by becoming the best god damn shake down artist in Washington. Just ask yourself how this judge affords to live in a multimillion dollar home.
Obsession with National Security: The most blatant assault on our freedoms was the passage of the ill named Patriot Act. Obama just renewed and strengthen its already draconian provisions and even signed it with his electronic pen to prevent the act from expiring even if only for a day. . There are disturbing reports of the FBI investigating and arresting union members and peace activist that took part in the demonstrations in St Paul, Minnesota at the Republican 2010 convention. There are only three requirements for a police state
1. Federal and state police serve the central government instead of serving the citizens.
2. Federal and state police enforce the policies of the central government instead of responding primarily to criminal misdeeds.
3. Federal and state police spy on and intimidate citizens.
The third requirement of the police was fully abundant during the Bush regime as Bush has even admitted he authorized law the FBI to tap citizens’ phone lines with the aid of several of the phone companies. This spying has continued under Obama and all internet usage is currently monitored by the NSA. The second requirement is fully evident in the government’s attack on wikileaks and Julian Assange, who has committed no crime. The FBI and NSA only interest is in protecting and serving the regime; the citizens can go to hell. The activist mentioned above is a good example of both the first and third requirement of a police state. They broke no laws, they only opposed government policy. The first requirement is best illustrated with the number of political prisoners we currently have behind bars.
Controlled Mass Media or Censorship: The Bush administration asked the CIA twice to provide damaging information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war. Moreover Cheney was guilty of outing Valerie Palme because she wouldn’t lie and support the yellow cake story to justify the invasion of Iraq.
However, the best evidence of media censorship comes from Fox and what passes for news on that channel. On its broadcast about the Wisconsin demonstration against Scott Walker in March, Fox played a video tape in the background with people fighting in an effort to clearly imply that the peaceful protest was indeed a riot. However, one can be absolutely sure the tape was a fake as palm trees were clearly visible and I’m damn sure palm trees don’t grow where there is snow and frigid temperatures.
Another good example of censorship was the removal of Dan Rather once he began looking at George W. Bush’s service record.
The censorship extends across all media but the most grievous censorship occurs with the censoring of school textbooks. Most of the textbooks used have been approved by a Texas board of examiners. However, that board is controlled by members of the religious right. No textbook ever mentions the attempted coup to remove FDR or how U.S. industrialist supported Hitler.
Religion and Government are Intertwined: The Republican party is preoccupied with religious issues such as school pray, homosexuality and abortion. It should not be forgotten that Hitler required the reciting of a Christian pray daily in the schools.
Corporate Power is Protected: Ryan’s Plan for Ruin , Scott Walker and other Republican governors as well as the Republicans in Washington have backed increased tax cuts for corporations as well as elimination of regulations. The fact is government’s business is to regulate business to protect the consumers. The banking crisis was the result of a failure to regulate not from overregulation. There are 29 dead coal miners in West Virginia that died for the lack of regulation and not from over regulation and finally BP’s Gulf oil spill was not the result of regulation but the result of a failure to regulate. The recent Citizens United Supreme Court ruling only further enhances corporate power. Corporations have privatized all profits but are socializing all costs such as environmental cost and even labor costs. When a corporation doesn’t pay its employee’s a living wage the government must then supplement the employee’s wage through welfare, hence part of his wage has been socialized.
The access to the courts system for an average person in the United States is severely limited. The United States ranks about 80th in the world for court access. We rank just ahead of the bastion of freedom, Pakistan. Meanwhile, the current Supreme Court is working hard to further limit our ability to sue corporations and have severely curtailed the use of class action suits.
Its time we end the fool’s folly of allowing criminals to hide behind a corporate charter. There are approximately 10,000 murders in the streets each year in this country but over ten times or 100,000 employees are killed each year on the job. But not one single CEO has ever faced murder charges even in the case of 29 dead coal miners in West Virginia. Nor have they been held accountable to the victim’s family, they haven’t shed a single crocodile tear for the dead employee as they were too damn busy counting their money. Some studies peg street crime at $1.7 trillion dollars annually. However the cost of white collar crime would dwarf that figure. The amount of fraud on Wall Street alone would surpass the cost of street crime in insider trading and just plain fraud. The banks are foreclosing on people, stealing their homes and are unable to produce the original mortgage to prove they have a right to foreclose. The consumer ends up over paying on every item he buys due to the excessive salaries of the CEOs and also ends up paying higher taxes because the multinational corporations no longer pay any taxes while they ship our jobs overseas.
In the Nazi Hydra, I include an example of a constitutional amendment we need to pass to end corporate personhood and power to stop this insanity. The CEOs, board members and most importantly the greedy stock holders must be held fully liable both civilly and criminally.
Labor Power is Suppressed: Scott Walker and the Republican governors are leading the fight to break the unions. Moreover there is a wealth of anti-union laws already on the books such as the Taft-Harley bill. Incidentally Fred Hartley praised Japan and Tojo on the floor of congress up until the day they bombed Pearl Harbor. Unions were the first group to be outlawed by Hitler.
Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: The Republicans are currently carrying out a vendetta against public schools. They seek to end public education and privatize schools. Scott Walker even had plans to privatize the University of Wisconsin.
Obsession with Crime and Punishment: The United States has more prisoners than any other country in the world. The prisons are over crowded largely due to the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing. Moreover we execute more prisoners than most nations. Currently the United States ranks fifth in the world in the number of executions right behind that citadel of freedom, Yemen.
Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Both the dead coal miners and the BP spill points to the revolving door between corporations and the government regulatory agencies that is the heart of cronyism. When a corporate insider serves in a government regulatory agency too often his former company is served rather than the country. That door must be shoved shut forever to preserve our freedom.
Fraudulent Elections: Both the 2000 and 2004 presidential election was stolen. It is unknown how many congressional and governor election were stolen. Moreover, if they don’t like the results of the election like the California governor’s election they forced a new election for Arnold to take over. The election fraud extends to ballot box tampering and stuffing, electronic balloting which can be rigged with a few key strokes and voter suppression. Many of the Republican governors are passing laws aimed at preventing college students from voting and eliminating black voters.
By looking at the traits of fascism we can definitely conclude the United States is well advance on the path to fascism. The tools of the police state are already present including the concentration camps. There is one other factor that aided the Nazis in their quest for power---minority government. In the parliament system the framers of the German Republic didn’t make allowance for a minority government. In the period leading up to the Nazi takeover, Germany was ruled by a series of short-lived coalition governments that were paralyzed by partisan bickering. This is precisely what the Republicans are doing at the present time. They are failing to negotiate in good faith and are intent on shutting the government down or at the very lease causing the economy to tank so they can gain more power in the next election.
Those readers that still think they can avert fascism by enacting change at the ballot box are delusional and are whistling pass the graveyard. The Republicans have been aligned with the Nazis since the 1930ss. In the Nazi Hydra, I provide a couple of headlines from New York papers in 1936 exposing the connection between the Republicans and the Nazis. In one the Republicans were paying for the Nazis’ broadcast from Times Square attacking the Jews in the other they had hired a known Nazi to run their congressional election campaign.
The Democrats are just the other side of the coin. After the defeat of McGovern in 1972 the Democrats kicked out the real liberals and made it impossible for any grass root candidate to ever get the nomination without the approval of the central committee. This left the Democratic party with nothing but pantie waste progressives scared of their own shadow and corporate apologists. This includes Obama. The last two democrat presidents where dark horses that hardly anyone heard of. But the central committee didn’t approve of any of the other candidates and once they vetted Clinton and Obama along with Wall Street they became the darlings of the media and no other candidate had a chance. While Obama may talk a good game when it comes to action he is just like a dung heap he just stinks and has even proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the debt limit debate.
There is only one sure way to separate out candidates that would work for the people rather than the corporations. That is they must pledge to hold war crime trials for all senior members of the Bush regime and Obama and his secretaries of state and defense. Those convicted would be hung publicly in the Washington mall and the event televised world wide to let it know justice has returned with a vengeance to the United States complete with popcorn, hotdog and beer vendors in the gallery. Their would be no legal loop holes and now dismissal for humanity because they were too sick. I don’t give a damn if they have to wheel Cheney to the gallows in a hospital bed attached to a heart lung machine the bastard hangs.
This may seem harsh and even over the top to many but one reason we are in this mess is because the Democrats have rolled over and played dead. They are afraid of any violence so they let the Republicans bully them. Unless we’re able to run and elect a candidate willing to hold war crime trials and to follow them up with crimes against the people and bring the bankers that cause this mess to trail we’re doomed to become a fascist hellhole. We’re already well along that road and have taken the wrong option in the bank bailout already.
It would be best to run these candidates on a third party ticket, as the Democratic party is hopelessly corrupted. A party that hasn’t taken a god damn dime from corporations. We still might be able to advert the Nazi police state if enough people took to the streets However, failing at that the only recourse will be a bloody revolution. So if you value your freedoms and want to stay free, grab your gun Johnny, you’re going to need it. See you in the streets.