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October 26, 2004

Every 50 Years - American fascism in 2004

It would seem that every 50 years in America ... a form of fascism rears its ugly head.

I first got sent Thom Hartmann's The Ghost of Vice President Wallace Warns: "It Can Happen Here" (or excerpts here) about two months ago (from A.N.) and while I generally agreed with the parallels drawn, I felt it was too inflammatory. But as time has gone by and with reflection, tracking Al Gore's excellent series of speeches and the The New Yorker interview of Al Gore The Wilderness Campaign and with the reading of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. book Crimes Against Nature (and the like-named Rolling Stone article Crimes Against Nature, and with watching ever more Republican dirty tricks, lies, divisivness, etc. I realized I had let myself fall into a trap: to shy away from seeing the Bush administration as a resurgent form of fascism because it was unpleasant to accept what we've come to rather than to face it would be to refuse to learn from history. So I came back at it with a fresh eye.

We are currently faced with a political witch's brew:

  • religious evangelical fervor manipulated by
  • those with huge war chests excersizing tyrannical power for
  • corporate gain
  • under a lazy media eye that acts as megaphone for distortions instead of as a searchlight exposing them

Many people have touched on these issues. So without rehashing them, here's how I've organized them in my own mind:

  • power at all costs via a culture of spreading divisiveness in society
  • focus on feeding corporations
  • unexamined certainty in their own rightness

Power at all costs via a culture of spreading divisiveness in society

  • lies about, mocking & denigrating opposition candidates
  • disenfranchising ever larger segments of the population
  • demonizing certain segments of the population
  • using inflammatory issues to fog voter vision about the range of issues

abortion
flag burning
pledge
gay marriage

  • hyper-patriotism in all things as a bludgeon

flag desecration
pledge of allegiance
if you dissent, you are supporting the enemy
if you disagree with the Commander-In-Chief, you are supporting the enemy

  • implementation of the tyranny of the majority

no respect for the political opposition, even though it represents almost half of the citizens
releasing legislation to vote with no time for the opposition to read it
throwing arbitrary differences into house bills so that they have to be "resolved" in house-senate joint conferences without a vote in the senate
implementing constitutionally invalid legislation and regulations knowing that it will take a few years before they can be adjudicated in the courts

  • court-stripping
  • indefinite detentions with no hapeus corpus

Focus on feeding corporations

  • energy - task force of corporations only
  • environmental roll-backs, eliminating appeals, etc.
  • haliburton no-bid contracts
  • industry lobbyists becoming agency heads across the board
  • industry writing regulations secretly

Unexamined certainty in their own rightness

  • convinced of their own greatness, they isolate themselves from disagreement, from dissent, from allies, and ultimately from the majority of America, such as Clarke, O'Neil
  • "free speech cages"
  • proof of loyalty to attend campgaign rallies
  • wearing a t-shirt saying "Protect Our Civil Liberties or asking uncomfortable questions can get you arrested
  • repudiating treaties
  • distancing the country from 200-year American allies
  • ignoring swing voters and focusing ever more narrowly on evangelicals

Franklin D. Roosevelt had quite a bit to say about this and more:

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes strong than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power."

"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."

"We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we now know that it is bad economics."

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