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What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism.

29 March 2012

Summary:  America moves steadily along a dark path, as we refused to see the obvious.  Here we again attempt to awaken ourselves, by showing what we become.  Nothing is written, as we have to power to choose a different future.  Otherwise we’ll learn that the great national evils, like fascism, never die — but only assume new forms for a new generation.

Although fascist parties and movements differed significantly from each other, they had many characteristics in common, including extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and political and cultural liberalism, a belief in natural social hierarchy and the rule of elites, and the desire to create a Volksgemeinschaft (German: “people’s community”), in which individual interests would be subordinated to the good of the nation.  (from the Britannica)

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A checklist for America

  1. militaristic nationalism:  strong and growing (see the next section).
  2. contempt for electoral democracy:  present and growing (eg, lawless wars, President Hope and Change morphing to Bush III, ignoring the Constitution, ignoring the Courts and Congress).
  3. contempt for cultural liberalism:  present and growing in the increasingly dominant conservative elements of society, and more slowly among liberals (eg, passive towards loss of civil liberties).
  4. belief in natural social hierarchy:  present in elites and growing in the population (evident in the rising inequality of wealth & income plus low social mobility, and growing acceptance of this).
  5. rule of elites:  ditto, as above.
  6. the desire to create a “people’s community”), in which individual interests are subordinated to the good of the nation: not yet (a few more years?).

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Score this as you will.  The trend is obvious.  Only the future remains uncertain.

About militaristic nationalism

An easily frightened people (as our reaction to 9-11 proved), people having low confidence in their political institutions, people facing great challenges — who will they turn to?  Gallup’s 2011 Confidence in Institutions survey provides the answer. Military and police are the most trusted institutions (small businesses are not an “institution”), and among the few in whose our confidence has increased since the 1999 survey. Not surprising results for a frightened people who have lost the capacity for self-government.  A people growing ready for tyranny.

  • Military:  up 10%, from 68% to 78%
  • Police: unchanged at 56%

Here’s the detail; it deserves some thought.

Gallup 2011 Confidence in Institutions survey

Gallup 2011 Confidence in Institutions survey

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God only knows how this will play out.

For more information

  1. America’s Most Dangerous Enemy, 1 March 2006
  2. The guilty ones responsible for the loss of our liberties, 11 September 2011
  3. Fear the enemies within America more than those outside, 21 December 2011
  4. Some foes of the Republic revealed themselves by sponsoring the Enemy Expatriation Act, 30 January 2012
  5. Our leaders explain that we’re sheep. Our role: to obey. Rebel sheep will be imprisoned or destroyed., 7 March 2012
  6. With a stroke of his pen President Hope and Change erased much of America, 20 March 2012

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. david jones permalink
    29 March 2012 1:22 pm

    Wow, Congress is dead last, ranking *below* HMO’s! That says a lot.

    Like

    • 29 March 2012 1:28 pm

      What does it say?

      My guess (emphasis on guess) is that the low rating of Congress reflects our disengagement from America’s political process. As we lie on our couches, we flatter ourselves that Congress does not deserve our awesomeness.

      In other words, low confidence in Congress is a rationalization for our abdication of responsibility. It prevents cognitive dissonence from our passivity. Not the other way around.

      Like

    • david jones permalink
      30 March 2012 4:36 pm

      Yeah… I was thinking that it was a sign of hopelessness, from being repeatedly let down by our Congress. But it’s an abdication of responsibility too. That’s a more constructive way to look at it.

      Problem is we (that is, everyone represented by the poll) have to fight the two party system itself. I think most people actually do understand this on a gut level, but it’s a daunting task.

      Like

  2. 29 March 2012 1:42 pm

    Either it will all go away and America will become no more Fascist than, say, some democratic European countries are currently, with the institutions, legal framework and technology to be a police state without actually becoming one, or it would first lead to civil war and the destruction of the US Federation, with some Fascist states and some non-Fascist states. Depends greatly on what Obama can and wants to do in his second term. But all bets are off if he doesn’t get a second term.

    Like

  3. Bluestocking permalink
    29 March 2012 3:08 pm

    Personally, FM, I’m a little disappointed by your choice of picture for this post. The fact that the donkey of the Democratic Party has been substituted for the swastika reinforces the rather disingenuous argument put forward by such people as Jonah Goldberg that fascism is actually a left-wing rather than right-wing phenomenon and nothing more than a different twist on communism instead of acknowledging that the more extreme the right wing and left wing become, the more they begin to resemble each other in terms of the repressive tactics used and their effect on the people as a whole. This argument conveniently promotes the self-serving (not to mention false) belief that there’s no such thing as right-wing authoritarianism or totalitarianism — and I already know that you don’t support this argument since I’ve seen comments from people on this site which have made this same argument and the responses which you have made refuting it.

    I realize that you were probably limited by the images you were able to locate online. If I’d been able to find any sufficiently visceral images from the 1981 TV movie “The Wave” online, I’d have suggested that you use one of them. (For those who don’t know or don’t remember, “The Wave” is based on a true story and depicts the way in which a high school teacher showed his skeptical students how Adolf Hitler managed to sway the German people into supporting him. Frankly, I think this show ought to be required viewing.)

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    • 29 March 2012 3:23 pm

      Goldberg’s argument was not disingenuous. The book was well-researched and copiously footnoted. Mussolini was a man of the left, and Hitler rejected Soviet international communism, for his own German-spirited version.

      More importantly, fascism is not a “left-right” thing; it is a “state tyranny destroying personal freedoms” thing.

      Like

    • 29 March 2012 6:45 pm

      Don’t you see that’s the game they play? As long as we keep thinking that fascism only exists on one ‘side’ of the political spectrum or the other, we’ll be too busy fighting each other instead of turning America around. It’s what they want and we are stupid enough to fall for it.

      Incidentally (or maybe not?), Hitler needed support from both the street fighting rabble AND the banks, industry and military; this point was made in The Man who Crossed Hitler (2011, see IMDB).

      Like

    • 30 March 2012 2:53 am

      See Thomsa Moore’s reply below, which explains the situation quite well.

      I added a version of the pic with the GOP logo.

      Like

  4. User Hostile permalink
    29 March 2012 10:13 pm

    You forget another aspect of facism: the willingness to mythologize the past (the Master race) and willingness twist science for one’s own political means (eugenics), while renouncing other aspects of science (Jewish physics).

    Like

    • User Hostile permalink
      29 March 2012 10:14 pm

      ETA: should have specified Nazi Germany.

      Like

    • 30 March 2012 1:32 am

      Fascism is a term for a broad historical movement. It’s not a synomym for NATZI.

      Like

  5. Leper permalink
    29 March 2012 11:29 pm

    For people who like checklists, Umberto Eco gives the following as properties of fascism:

    • “The Cult of Tradition”, combining cultural syncretism with a rejection of modernism (often disguised as a rejection of capitalism).
    • “The Cult of Action for Action’s Sake”, which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.
    • “Disagreement Is Treason” – fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action.
    • “Fear of Difference”, which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.
    • “Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class”, fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.
    • “Obsession with a Plot” and the hyping-up of an enemy threat. This often involves an appeal to xenophobia or the identification of an internal security threat. He cites Pat Robertson’s book The New World Order as a prominent example of a plot obsession.
    • “Pacifism Is Trafficking with the Enemy” because “Life is Permanent Warfare” – there must always be an enemy to fight.
    • “Contempt for the Weak” – although a fascist society is elitist, everybody in the society is educated to become a hero.
    • “Selective Populism” – the People have a common will, which is not delegated but interpreted by a leader. This may involve doubt being cast upon a democratic institution, because “it no longer represents the Voice of the People”.
    • “Newspeak” – fascism employs and promotes an impoverished vocabulary in order to limit critical reasoning.

    Similar in concept to Fabius’, but describing some different undesirable properties that have unfortunately become reality in America.

    Like

    • Bluestocking permalink
      30 March 2012 9:29 pm

      Let’s just run down the list, shall we?

      • “The Cult Of Tradition” — HALF A CHECK (conservative attempts to return the country to the 1950’s)
      • “The Cult Of Action For Action’s Sake” — CHECK (the ever-changing rationale for the War In Iraq, when Iraq was not involved in 9-11 and had no weapons of mass destruction)
      • “Disagreement Is Treason” — CHECK (particularly during the Bush administration)
      • “Fear Of Difference” — CHECK (scapegoating of undocumented workers, continued ad hoc persecution of Muslims and the LGBT community)
      • “Appeal To A Frustrated Middle Class” — HALF A CHECK (exaggerated or false arguments directed at the middle class designed to convince them to unwittingly permit their own exploitation and vote for policies which go against their own interests)
      • “Obsession With A Plot” — CHECK (the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, etc.)
      • “Pacifism Is Trafficking With The Enemy” — CHECK (compromise, diplomacy, and negotiation treated like dirty words).
      • “Contempt For The Weak” — CHECK (dismissing the poor, the uninsured, the unemployed, etc)
      • “Selective Populism” — CHECK (mounting evidence suggesting that many members of Congress no longer respect, listen to, or even know what their constituents want).
      • “Newspeak” — CHECK (increasing civic and functional illiteracy, criticism of public education, increasing emphasis on standardized testing)

      That’s about eight out of ten…not a good sign. Not a good sign at all…

      Like

  6. Thomas Moore permalink
    30 March 2012 12:05 am

    Bluestocking’s criticism of the picture featuring the Democratic donkey photoshopped into the 1930s Nazi propaganda poster seems to miss the point that the original version of that photoshopped Nazi poster featured the Republican elephant.

    The commenter has entirely missed FM’s point — which is that both the Democratic and the Republican parties are now complicit in abandoning the rule of law, disregarding the most basic requirements of the constitution (such as the absolute requirement for trial by jury before the government can murder its own citizens), and the rampant militarization of civilian society which is rapidly turning America into an armed garrison camp ruled by paramilitary groups like no-knock SWAT teams and JSOC assassins who pay no attention to minutia like “due process of law” or “separation of powers” or “rules of evidence.”

    Here, incidentally, is the original version of that photoshopped Nazi poster.

    Like

    • 30 March 2012 1:47 am

      Thank you for the explanation, which is exactly right!

      Also, thank you for the original. I’ve added it to the post.

      Like

  7. annanic permalink
    30 March 2012 1:13 am

    Perhaps as well you dont have a Left wing party to elect , or you could rerun the Spanish Civil War .

    Like

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