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

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)

Fear the Left!

A checklist for America

  1. Militaristic nationalism:  strong and growing (see the next section).
  2. Rule of elites:  ditto.
  3. 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).
  4. Contempt for cultural liberalism:  present and growing in the increasingly dominant conservative elements of society, and more slowly among liberals (e.g., passive towards loss of civil liberties).
  5. 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).
  6. The desire to create a “people’s community”): individual interests are subordinated to the good of the nation: not yet (a few more years?).

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

Fear the Right!

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.

These should be expected 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 detailed result. It deserves some thought.

Gallup 2011 Confidence in Institutions survey
Gallup 2011 Confidence in Institutions survey

God only knows how this will play out.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the Constitution, about the New America, about Reforming America: steps to new politics, and especially these…

  1. Importantthe Constitution is dying.
  2. A third American regime will arise from the ashes of the present one.
  3. Lewis Lapham explains why America needs a Third Republic.
  4. We’ve worked through all 5 stages of grief for the Republic. Now, on to The New America!
  5. Can we love the Constitution without knowing what it says?
  6. A 4th of July reminder that America is ours to keep – or to lose!
  7. Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.

A great book about the secret power source of the Constitution.

A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture
Available at Amazon.

A Machine that Would Go of Itself:
The Constitution in American Culture
.

By Michael Kammen (the late professor of history at Cornell).

“The Constitution occupies an anomalous role in American cultural history. For almost two centuries it has been swathed in pride yet obscured by indifference: a fulsome rhetoric of reverence more than offset by the reality of ignorance.”

From the publisher…

“Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen explores the U.S. Constitution’s place in the public consciousness and its role as a symbol in American life, from ratification in 1788 to our own time. As he examines what the Constitution has meant to the American people (perceptions and misperceptions, uses and abuses, knowledge and ignorance), Kammen shows that although there are recurrent declarations of reverence most of us neither know nor fully understand our Constitution.

“How did this gap between ideal and reality come about? To explain it, Kammen examines the complex and contradictory feelings about the Constitution that emerged during its preparation and that have been with us ever since.

“He begins with our confusion as to the kind of Union we created, especially with regard to how much sovereignty the states actually surrendered to the central government. This confusion is the source of the constitutional crisis that led to the Civil War and its aftermath. Kammen also describes and analyzes changing perceptions of the differences and similarities between the British and American constitutions; turn-of-the-century debates about states’ rights versus national authority; and disagreements about how easy or difficult it ought to be to amend the Constitution.

“Moving into the twentieth century, he notes the development of a ‘cult of the Constitution’ following World War I, and the conflict over policy issues that persisted despite a shared commitment to the Constitution.”

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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.)

    1. 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.

    2. 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).

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

    1. 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…

  5. 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.

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