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Voices from the past describe the coming New America

1 February 2013

Summary:  Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the future is to convey the fantastic range of possibilities. Peoples’ minds rebel even at scenarios which are mundane, even likely, from a historical perspective. Let’s open our minds for a minute, and contemplate the possibility that what happened in the recent past can happen again — no matter how dark.

A symbol of unity for nations of the past and perhaps the future.

Colonel Stok (Soviet secret police):  “These Germans, sometimes I wonder how we managed to beat them.

Vaclav (Czechoslovakian secret police):  “The Nazis?”

Stok:  “Oh, we still haven’t beaten them.  The Germans, I mean.”

— From Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin (1964)

Echos from the past

To anyone with a knowledge of history, the political speech of America today echos with familiar tunes about the third way between Left and Right: fascism.  It remains an attractive (to many) modern ideology when stripped of the NAZI madness — the anti-Semitism, racial purification, and the final solution. As both the Left and Right show signs of decay — insularity, doctrinal rigidity, indifference to contrary facts (visible only to their opposition, not themselves), the third way might gain a mass audience. As it did in the 1930s.

Economic hard times (as in Japan and Europe) will help.  As it did in the 1930s.

Since few Americans know much about fascism, we can look to 1930s Italy for a lesson. In the London Review of Books Richard Evans reviews two new books about those times.

Duggan {gives} a general history of Fascism that for the first time treats it, not as a tyranny that allowed ordinary Italians no possibility of expressing themselves freely, nor as the brutal dictatorship of a capitalist class that reduced the great majority of the country’s citizens to the status of victims, but as a regime rooted strongly in popular aspirations and desires. … Italy’s new Fascist unity ‘of descent, of religion, of tongue, of customs, of hopes, of ideals’.

… the Leader bridged social, cultural, generational and regional differences to help bind the nation together.

Of course, there are opponents to even the most idyllic State. Fascist Italy built machinery to suppress these malcontents. Just as Bush and Obama are doing today (technology allows domestic surveillance at lower cost, with far fewer people). Here’s what we can look forward to if we continue down this path:

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Italian style: Fascist HQ

Italian style: Fascist HQ

The political police or ‘PolPol’, formed in 1926, had a budget of 50 million lire, half the amount assigned to the police force as a whole, and liaised with local police through what Duggan calls ‘another vast tentacular organisaton’, OVRA (Organisation for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism, also short for piovra or ‘octopus’), whose job it was to open and copy the correspondence of dissidents. A Special Confidential Service tapped the phones not only of opponents of the regime …

By 1938, the service was employing 462 stenographers just to transcribe the conversations it overheard. OVRA – according to Mussolini, ‘the strongest organisation in the world’ – employed a large number of spies …

Voices of the New America

Listen to America and hear echos of the 1930s. Leftists denouncing “climate denialists” as enemies of humanity, condemning scientists who dare to question their dogma — as well as those who report their work. On the Right they denounce President Obama as a socialist, anarchist, jihadist. UnAmerican and probably not a native-borm American — hence an illegitimate President. Both political parties embrace a massive military, foreign wars, and an ever-growing state security apparatus.

Many people seek an alternative to the increasingly shrill, often mad, extremists who dominate the Republican Party — and who have dragged the Democratic Party so far to the right.  They ask why we cannot all get along, overcoming our divisions, joining together to reforge a powerful America, a nation under God, defending western values against the evil forces of the east.  Following a strong leader to a better future.

These are conditions ripe for fascism.  A people who have become sheep, willing to believe what they’re told (as documented in so many posts here). Eager to be led. To see where we’re going, look at the words shown below by someone who knew how to give people what they wanted. As an exercise, recast this speech for Americans of today.  Could it play to great applause on MSNBC and Fox News?

Note how he denigrates the conventional national divisions, and condemns both Left and Right. This shows how fascism is a third pole to the political spectrum, and the folly of those who label it as Left or Right.  It is revolutionary and reactionary, giving a vitality appealing to a weak people.

From the Bulletin of International News, 6 February 1943:

On the 10th anniversary of his assumption of power Hitler issued a Proclamation which was read to the people by Goebbels on January 30. It followed the usual method of Hitler’s speeches in tracing the course of events from Versailles to the present moment. In a review of the “Democratic-Marxist Germany” which preceded the victory of National Socialism he led to the conclusion that in 1933 Germany was heading for “Jewish Bolshevism” and “the end of the German people”.

He summarized the Nazi work of restoration and achievement, and declared that it was only comparable with the internal development of Fascist Italy. The task has only been accomplished by “a concentration of all the forces of the nation and their uniform orientation towards the aims recognized to be necessary”. To this end not only the political and economic life of the nation was harnessed, but also the press, the radio, and the film. In this connexion he made disparaging reference to parties, creeds, and classes as disintegrating factors.

From: Hitler – Speeches and Proclamations, 1932-1945:

For the tenth time, the day returns on which President Field marshal von Hindenburg entrusted me with the responsibility of leading the Reich. The 14-year struggle by the National Socialist movement, which had developed from a small beginning and has now become by far the strongest party in the Reich with the legal right to form the government, thereby found its successful conclusion.

The capitalist and Bolshevik parties interested in the exploitation of peoples began to hate the new Germany in relation to the degree that it began to become an example for the peaceful resolution of existing social and economic problems. … the new Germany was not willing to bow to international stock-exchange interests, nor to be intimidated by Bolshevik threats.

… It is only today that we fully realize what might have become of Germany and Europe had Providence not effected the transfer of power to National Socialism. After all, the Germany of the classes would not have remained as it was. Its political and economic decay would have {continued}. … there were only two possibilities: either the victory of the National Socialist revolution and the planned social rebuilding of the Reich, or the Bolshevik coup d’etat

The wonderful development of our movement … is conceivable and understandable only as the expression of the will of Providence. It wants to give the German Volk and, beyond this, all Europe, the opportunity to confront this greatest danger of all time.

… The reverses of fortune which the individual might suffer are nothing compared with what all would have to suffer if the barbaric hordes of the east were allowed to sweep over our part of the earth. In earlier times German knights set out for distant lands in order to fight for the ideals of their faith; today our soldiers fight in the vastness of the east in order to save Europe from destruction. Every life that falls in this fight will give life to future generations.

The next decade might be a crucial one for America. Let’s make careful choices.

For More Information about Our Possible Fascist Future

For more about the history of fascism in the 1930s see Three New Deals – Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by the great historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch (2006).

Posts about America, today and tomorrow:

  1. America is the new Rome. Late Republican Rome (not the best of times), 13 October 2011
  2. What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012
  3. A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, 14 May 2012 — Part one.
  4. A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, not the ones we need (part 2), 15 May 2012
  5. More evidence that the military is slowly cutting itself off from civilian control, 15 July 2012
  6. Gallup’s polls show who we trust, pointing to a dark future for our Republic, 15 August 2012
  7. We’ve worked through all 5 stages of grief for the Republic. Now, on to The New America!, 9 January 2013

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