Is It Fascism Yet?

By
November 28th, 2006

Bush Salute

In 2005, Lewis Lapham, former Editor of Harper's magazine, and a towering figure in "relatively mainstream" American journalism, wrote an editorial for Harpers, titled, Welcome to American Fascism.

The notion that America is now a fascist state is pretty widespread among dissident types, mostly on the left, but some also on the right. Various lists have been floating around that try to define what qualities make for a fascist state; the general implication being that the United States, under Bush, qualifies. One popular idea is that Mussolini reduced fascism down to corporatism. In point of fact, Mussolini's vision seems to have been of a highly disciplined martial society — a culture of spiritual warriors that doesn't readily equate with a corpulent culture where most "fascists" are happy to dial up Fox News on the remote and leave the discipline and self-sacrifice to a small, underpaid sector of the underclass.

I thought it would be interesting to ask a few folks representing a variety of views whether they think America is now a fascist state. Somewhere in the back of my mind, was the auxiliary question, "Does it matter?" In other words, certain levels of repression and intolerance are being manifested in various public, political, and legal spheres. If we can legitimately label it all fascism, will that help to generate a successful opposition? I always wonder when I see some protester carrying one of those (relatively rare, actually) "Bush = Hitler" protest signs: How do they think that's helping? Do they think somebody walking down the street who is sort of neutral is going to see this sign and say, "Oh, Bush equals Hitler! Why didn't you say so? I'm going to revolt now."



OK, some people are easy targets of ridicule, but the question that I emailed to our panelists: "Do we live in a fascist state? Why, or why not?" is a serious one. Let's see what they have to say about it.

(NOTE: Many of these answers were written before the recent mid-term elections.)

Featuring (click to jump to their answers):
  • Ken Layne
  • Rabbi Michael Lerner
  • Douglas Rushkoff
  • Norman Solomon
  • The guy who told Dick Cheney to "go fuck yourself," and others.

    Allen Hacker
    Campaign consultant for Michael Badnarik, 2004 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate and 2006 candidate for Congress in Texas; Libertarian Party activist

    Do we live in a fascist state?

    Are you kidding? Yes. Absolutely, and very unfortunately, yes.

    Let's analyze the Dictionary.com definition of fascism. It begins with "a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power." George Bush and his administration are assuming vast powers not delegated to them by the Constitution. President Bush has developed a habit of issuing "signing statements," declaring what portions of legislation he chooses to enforce or ignore.

    Fascism, "forcibly suppress[es] opposition and criticism." There is growing concern and mounting evidence that the 2000 and 2004 presidential election results were manipulated using electronic voting machines and physical intimidation. As the 2004 Libertarian Presidential nominee, I joined with Green Party nominee, David Cobb, to challenge the vote totals in Ohio. One precinct in Ohio recorded 4,000 votes for George Bush, 2,000 votes for John Kerry, in a precinct with only 600 registered voters. There are numerous reports of people being handcuffed and escorted away from George Bush's campaign events simply because they wore pro-Liberty t-shirts, or asked the President embarrassing questions.

    Fascism includes "regimenting all industry, commerce, etc." which can be summed up nicely by mentioning NAFTA, GATT, and the "Free Trade Area of the Americas" (FTAA). Our government has been subsidizing the oil and automotive industry for nearly a century, and now the pharmaceutical companies are getting blatant assistance in a vast array of regulations that put smaller drug companies out of business. If patients in the United States are not allowed to purchase drugs from Canada because "they're not safe," then why did American companies sell the drugs to Canada in the first place?

    The definition ends with, "emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism." How many times does George Bush have to say, "You're either with us or against us," before people realize that anyone critical of our government is now viewed by the administration as a potential terrorist? The government already controls and manipulates our health care system. The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) will soon give the government control over most of our food supply by requiring Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on all farm animals. The REAL ID Act has already been passed, and will require every drivers license and passport to contain an RFID chip as early as 2008.

    In my book, Good To Be King: The Foundation of Our Constitutional Freedom, I analyze the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto and draw the disturbing conclusion that the United States is already a communist country, a position that I have held for over a decade. Keep in mind that fascism and communism are philosophical twins, both of them emphasizing collectivism over individualism. People need to understand that there is no such thing as "community rights" because communities are abstract collections of individuals. Every individual in the community has rights, but no more or less simply because they are alone or surrounded by others.

    The good news is that the government is growing so fast, and taking so much control over people's lives, that discontent with the status quo is growing even faster. The real question is not whether the United States has a fascist government, but whether enough people will be willing to stand against it, potentially risking their lives to assert their individual independence.

    Only time will tell. "I know not what course others may take, but as for me... give me Liberty, or give me death!"

    Douglas Rushkoff
    Media theorist; author; host of Frontline documentaries "The Merchants of Cool" and "The Persuaders."

    Yeah, for sure we do. I'm actually just starting a book on this subject. The weirdest part, though, is that it's not all bad. That's what's so pernicious about it. The corporatism envisioned by Ford and Mussolini came to pass, but without the starkness of the racial purity sought by Hitler. It's more of a Borgification — assimilation of all. Even the work of folks like us who call it what it is.

    Adorno saw it clearly, as did Walter Benjamin. But if we're really going to understand it, I think we have to analyze it from pop culture up, rather than from the halls of the White House down. They're just players in this game — not the true rule-makers. The rules for this particular game scenario were written back in the 1500s.

    Or better, look at the article I wrote the month before Lewis Lapham's, saying basically the same thing:

    Howard Rheingold
    Digital culture legend; author of The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs.

    I don't think that it is useful to reduce complex issues to simple answers. I certainly see that the elements of fascism — centralization of authoritarian power over policy, close coordination with private industry, divisive propaganda, criminalization of dissent, extensive state surveillance — are being put into place. Who could deny that? Extreme conservatives like Bob Barr and Richard Armey as well as ex-generals and ex-intelligence managers have said as much. Books have been written about it. I don't see the slide toward fascism, accelerated by this administration, as inevitable. I believe it can be stopped and reversed. It's not too late yet. I've contributed dollars and hours to the mid-term Congressional elections.

    John Shirley
    Science fiction author; script writer ("The Crow"); occasional Blue Oyster Cult lyricist

    Is the first gust of wind from a hurricane itself a hurricane? It is not. And like a hurricane, this storm of right-wing extremism may "change direction" and pass us by, blow itself out. But also like a community in the path of a hurricane, we're in serious danger.

    The right to have opposition parties which can be voted into power is not characteristic of fascism. Before the recent midterm election I was quite worried about the GOP stealing the vote, which to me is a precursor to a fascist state — and I'm still worried about it. According to Marc Baber of Truth in Voting:
    The only reason the Democrats did so well in 2006 is that Democrats actually won by margins of 6-8% greater than the official results showed.

    I ran through the list of close races where Republicans won and there was only one race (Tennessee Ford(D) vs. Corker(R)) on the Senate side, however in the House, at least 15 races were within 6%, meaning that the Dems probably should have won an additional 15 seats or so in the House if the Republicans hadn't rigged the system this year, assuming that the error is in the official results (not the exit polls) and that the bias was a fairly uniform 6% nationwide. These are, of course, very rough estimates. And alarming too.

    So the GOP will try again, with more voting fraud, in 2008 — just more broadly, more desperately, more emphatically. We could still lose democracy. And that would leave us with something like fascism.

    There's still a good deal of freedom of speech in this country — even though it was revealed recently that the Pentagon is monitoring antiwar email, because it's "subversive" and might represent a danger, e.g., the dangerous, scary Quakers they've been monitoring. Freedom of speech is not characteristic of fascism.



    Right now, we're in a borderline theocracy, a near-theocracy cynically manipulated by our real overlords, the pharmaceutical companies, the oil companies, big business in general. They spend hundreds of millions on lobbyists on K Street, pulling the strings on Congress, consolidating their control. We'll see if it changes in the next few years — the national will is there to make it change. If it doesn't, we will find ourselves in an early stage of the 21st century version of a fascist state: a country with few freedoms, controlled by multinational corporations.

    Ken Layne
    West Coast Bureau Chief, Wonkette

    Fascism is such a twisted, loaded and abused word. We need a completely new term.

    Humorless liberals yell "Fascist!" at anything they don't like: NASCAR, Wal-Mart, or especially somebody enjoying a nice hamburger.

    The Neocons have made the bizarre decision that Fascism is actually a 1,400-year-old Semitic religion from Arabia, even though that religion is virtually indistinguishable from the monotheistic Semitic religions they claim to follow. Of course, the Neocons are the closest thing to a purely Fascist party in America.

    And my beloved libertarians have the bad habit of believing Fascism is a mom asking grandpa not to blow cigar smoke on the babies, or the cops asking some target shooters to point away from the pre-school.

    So what the hell is Fascism in 2006? Russia provides a pretty good example: Media directly controlled by the Kremlin, ethnic minorities literally deported by the military (re: Georgians), oil companies nationalized (and their executives jailed), official skinheads attacking farmers markets, faux-terrorist apartment bombings in Moscow used to justify aggressive wars against bordering ethnic states, and the murder of investigative journalists.

    It isn't so obvious in the United States. There are only a few hundred people in America (that we know of) being tortured and jailed forever due to alleged "terrorist" activities. A handful of powerful government/corporate insiders are assassinated each year — see Philip Merrill — and the corporate media ignores these murders because it's just too horrifying to go down that bloody path.

    But the laws have changed since 9/11, and those laws were drawn up before 9/11. Today, even a U.S. citizen can be locked up and sodomized forever by a robot just for turning up on some government list. Yet the multi-ethnic character of America's urban elite makes it tough to lock up all the Asians or Mexicans or Muslims or Negroes or Homosexuals or Presbyterians or Atheists — old-school Fascism needs an internal ethnic enemy.

    Habeas corpus is gone. Military tribunals have been officially authorized to sentence those who go against White House policy. Much of the news media is either directly owned or covertly financed by the Not So Secret Elite. Idiots and Jesus Freaks are paid to stir up the yokels. Election machines are increasingly owned and operated by the GOP interests, and vote stealing is all but ignored. American culture has intentionally become idiotic, as American education has become both widespread and anti-intellectual. Today's college graduate is much dumber than an 8th grader from the 1940s.

    New passport laws restrict even going across the Mexican and Canadian borders. Proposed "homeland security" laws will make it impossible for any dissident to travel by sea or air to other nations.

    It's not fascism, yet. And it's unlikely that the USA's post-9/11 dystopia will ever be called Fascism by future historians. It will never become outright Fascism if enough of us take our guns to D.C. and clean house.

    Ben Marble, MD
    During a photo op in New Orleans during the Katrina debacle, Ben Marble was heard on national TV saying, "Go Fuck Yourself, Mr. Cheney. Go Fuck Yourself, Asshole." He is also a doctor, a punk rock musician and a writer.

    Yes! The U.S.A. is now ruled by a Dictator. His name is Dicktator Cheney. We all know the delusional optimist, Dubya Gump, is the world's most famous cheerleader, i.e., the cheerleader-in-chief who is sent out to raa raa the BUSHEEP. Surely you can't tell me with a straight face that you honestly believe that Dubya Gump is the real decision maker in this administration? If you believe that I have some water front property on the moon I want to sell you! So yes, The Dicktator Cheney is the "real" president. His most esteemed advisers are Karl "Sweet Cheeks" Rove, Ronald Donefailed, [ed: written before Rumsfeld's departure] and Condhoeasy Rice.

    So how is this consortium of circus freaks fascist? Well let's look at the definition of "fascism":

    a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

    b. Oppressive, dictatorial control.

    Well for those who don't understand, they should realize that we have a rare situation in U.S. history on our hands in that these assholes control all three branches of the U.S. government (executive via the presidency, legislative via the majority in Congress, and judicial via Dubya Gump's lame Supreme Court appointments). [ed: written before recent election] So there is no question that the Dubya Gump administration is a dictatorship! Also for those doubters, I would encourage them to look into Dubya Gump's "signing statements." A signing statement is where the president chooses to not follow the law and writes a statement explaining why he is not going to follow the law. It turns out that Dubya Gump has more signing statements than all other presidents combined!... No other president has abused power in this way before. Only those in denial (BUSHEEP go "baaaa") would argue against what is so obvious to the rest of the world, i.e., the entire power of the U.S. government is in the hands of the Dubya Gump administration.

    Who can forget how, after 091101, the entire world was on our side? Well, Dubya Gump made the entire world forget by taking his eye off of the ball in Afghanistan and invading Iraq. Now the entire world loathes us much the same way people loathed Nazi Germany.

    These asses have wiped their holes with the bible, the American flag, and the U.S. constitution over and over. It is truly amazing that they still have some die-hard followers and maintain an unbelievable amount of support via the BUSHEEP. Yes they do have some really powerful brainwashing techniques.



    I personally blame the "duopoly" for this problem. Because in the U.S.A. we have the PSEUDO-CHRISTIAN BUSHEEP MINORITY running the Republican party and the PC UTOPIAN FASCIST MINORITY running the Democratic party. So with MINORITY EXTREMIST agendas controlling both sides of the duopoly, the MAJORITY of Americans were forced to vote for the "lesser of two evils" in 2004, giving us the re-election of the single worst president in the history of our nation, and proof that the DUOPOLY is a miserable failure...

    Perhaps by 2008 we shall have a viable 3rd party that is willing to compromise instead of sticking to extremist minority agendas, and shall represent the MAJORITY OF AMERICANS, i.e., THE REAL PARTY.

    Norman Solomon
    Media critic; founding member of Fairness and Accuracy In Media (FAIR), a left-liberal media watchdog organization; author, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (Wiley, 2005)

    No, "we" — residents of the United States — are not living in a "fascist state." There are elements of fascism in our midst, including the Bush administration's largely successful efforts to undermine habeas corpus. But elements of fascism do not necessarily add up to fascism. As I write, in October 2006, we have significant elements of democracy — which doesn't make us "a democracy" any more than the existing elements of fascism make the USA a "fascist state."

    (Lewis Lapham's essay a year ago, "We Now Live In A Fascist State," is disappointing. It conveys more look-down-the-nose elitist anger than persuasive analysis. I'm angry too, and I've been actively working against militarism in the United States since the mid/late 1960s. I don't see how the essay helps us understand clearly where we are and what we need to do.)

    Rabbi Michael Lerner
    Founder and Editor of Tikkun; progressive Jewish activist; author; National Chair of The Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP)

    If you are talking about "we" as the people of the U.S., then no, we are not living in a fascist society yet, though we are not far from it and are on a slippery slope in that direction. But if the "we" is the people of the world, under the global economic and military system ruled by the U.S. with the other G8 countries as major lieutenants, then yes, there is much of the world that is in fact already living in a fascist society, and we cannot separate ourselves from them and say, "no, we are not in a fascist society," because in fact their fate is imposed by the indifference, ignorance, fear, and sense of futility that characterizes many of the people living in the U.S. today.

    Inside the U.S., the similarity to fascism is in the power of corporations to control government, media, universities, and the economic lives of most of our citizens. Plus the massive power of these institutions working together and through the mass media to shape a world view and filters in the individual consciousness of many Americans. That is massive power, beyond anything that has ever existed in the history of the human race before.

    It would be best to have a different name for this massively oppressive reality, rather than to use a term developed to describe a different reality in the first half of the twentieth century, a reality whose memory gets invoked in the hope of making people tremble at how bad the current reality is. But it would be far more impactful if we simply described this reality and did not seek to draw historical comparisons which may shake and rattle the consciousness of historians and intellectuals but which are increasingly irrelevant to people born after 1960 and who do not have the same associations with this word.

    The truth is that if we lived in a fascist society as it used to be, we'd be trembling at having this conversation and having our names attached to it, knowing that we might be subject to prison for even raising this topic. The fact is that America retains much of its democratic and human rights for most (not all) of its citizens, and that is more than we can say for many of the countries on earth. Such a society cannot be fascist.

    Yet we can be on the path. The recent torture bill was a significant step, and the failure of Democrats to wage a filibuster against it once again demonstrates to those who would move more quickly in the direction of a full-scaled fascism that their opponents have no backbone and hence are not to be worried about. It seems unlikely that the Democrats in power will revoke that bill.

    Some have invented the term "friendly fascism" or "soft fascism" to describe the contemporary reality. Well, perhaps. But if you want to use that term, you want to because you want to milk the remaining negative energy toward the word "fascism" while in fact acknowledging that the situation is qualitatively different. When a full-scale fascism arrives in all its authenticity, you will know it by its deeds and there will not be an argument among progressives about whether it is here or not. Chances are great that instead we will be locked up in some modern style concentration camp, or possibly even subjected to torture. I'm not looking forward to such a period — I was sent to prison by the Nixon White House for my role as a national leader of the anti-war movement at that time, and it wasn't fun, and yet it was easy compared to what we may face when fascism fully arrives.

    Meanwhile, I'm building a Network of Spiritual Progressives precisely to speak to people who can yet be won away from the tendencies toward fascism. It is that conversation that is deeply needed in the contemporary Moment — check it out by reading my book The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right and by joining our network at www.spiritualprogressives.org.

    Scott J. Thompson
    Director of Research, Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate; taught courses at New College of California including, "From Berlin Bohemia to Hitler: The Weimar Republic's Crisis Democracy & The Emergence of German Fascism" and "The Virulent Phoenix: The Theory and Practice of Fascism."

    HAS THE U.S. GONE FASCIST?!@$%!?&$*?!!!!

    Serious theorists and intellectuals have posed this question for quite some time.

    Writing a review in 1942 of Franz Neumann's classic analysis, "Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism," C. Wright Mills wrote the following:
    The analysis of Behemoth casts light upon capitalism in democracies. ... if you read his book thoroughly, you see the harsh outlines of possible futures close around you. With leftwing thought confused and split and dribbling trivialities, he locates the enemy with a 500-watt glare. And Nazi is only one of his names.

    Seven years prior to this, Sinclair Lewis had written a novel, a bad one, entitled, "It Can't Happen Here," a rather thinly veiled reference to the MacGuire Affair, i.e., the 1934 attempt by the DuPonts, J.P. Morgan, the Remingtons, and others to enlist Gen. Smedley Butler in a coup d'etat. Lewis made the comment that when fascism came to America, it would come draped in the flag and carrying a bible.

    Prescient words.

    In his The Anatomy of Fascism, Robert Paxton considers the Ku Klux Klan to be perhaps the first example of "the earliest phenomenon that can be functionally related to fascism..."
    By adopting a uniform (white robe and hood), as well as by their techniques of intimidation and their conviction that violence was justified in the cause of their group's destiny, the first version of the Klan in the defeated American
    South was arguably a remarkable preview of the way fascist movements were to function in interwar Europe. (Paxton:2004)

    There have long been fascistic elements alive and well in the United States. Depending on who you are, your ethnicity and your class, you may come into contact with these elements more often than other people. For a poor and uneducated illegal immigrant, for a poor black kid in the ’hood, the U.S. remains Amerikkka, and the Klan are still in power. But a privileged upper-middle class white woman shopping in Needless Markup might not have any idea what you're talking about because she can do whatever she wants. If you're an Arab Muslim man getting ready to board an airplane in Los Angeles, you wonder whether fascism has come to America when you're told that you will not be allowed on the plane, etc. And what about all these American Arabs who have simply disappeared over the past few years?

    In my opinion, however, this word "fascism" is used much too recklessly. All too often "fascism" and "fascist" is simply invective. It has come to mean "violent, intolerant, racist reactionary." That's not good enough. The Italian communist theoretician Togliatti warned against confusing the word as a theoretical term with its use for "agitational purposes."

    Was the Roman Sejanus a "fascist"? He certainly instituted a police state in Rome replete with sophisticated surveillance system, like the Gestapo. Everybody was ratting on everybody else.

    Unfortunately, precious few people have any idea what "fascism" is. More and more, it is equated with very simplistic formulae: a merger of the state and corporations. Were that the basis of fascism, as a generic category in political science, one would still have to account for all the horror associated with it.

    How many people know what the platform of Mussolini's first Fascist Movement stood for? Let's take a look:
    ...it proposed women's suffrage and the vote at 18, abolition of the upper house, convocation of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution for Italy (presumably without the monarchy), the eight-hour workday, worker participation in "the technical management of industry," the "partial expropriation of all kinds of wealth" by a heavy and progressive tax on capital, the seizure of certain Church properties, and the confiscation of 85 percent of war profits. (Paxton: 2004:5)

    The problem is that particular examples of what is generically called "fascism," such as Mussolini's Partito Nazionale Fascista (PNF) and Hitler's NSDAP, continually redefined themselves: on the road to power, in power, and at war.

    When faced with this question of whether the U.S. has "gone fascist," commentator Bill Mandel a few years ago answered in the negative. He was of the opinion that the essential paramilitary element was totally missing here. I completely agree with him.

    What about the Black Shirts? Mussolini's paramilitary squadristis. What about all that castor oil and truncheon action? Hitler's Sturm Abteilung? Where's the parallel here? Can you name paramilitary squads on that scale at play in the U.S.A.?

    I defy anyone reading this to point to a threat like that. Yes, there are plenty of small groups like the Michigan Militia and Dominionist types. Yes, Battle Cry is scary. But, get real. No real parallel... at all.

    Could we have this discussion if the U.S. were a fascist totalitarian dictatorship? Could I write what Cheney & Co. would consider "subversive" emails all day long in such a regime? Could I do my radio show on KPOO in San Francisco? Would the Democrats, whatever you think of them, have ousted the Republicans from Congress under a fascist dictatorship? Would Rumsfeld have been forced out?

    There has been a tendency for far too long to equate generic fascism with the last rung on the ladder, the very worst, a synonym for kakistocracy, "the rule of the worst."

    I suggest that it would be possible for the US to outdo the Nazis in their atrocities without being fascist.

    The U.S. is not a fascist state, but there are fascistic elements alive and well in our society. The U.S. is, for want of a better definition, a neo-liberal, plutocratic National Security State.

    The "authoritarian personality" investigated by Theodor Adorno and earlier by Wilhelm Reich (Mass Psychology of Fascism), however, can be found throughout the United States today. Abu Ghraib prison and the ongoing torture atrocities being practiced in state and privatized penitentiaries are an area for investigation here. These infernal regions also need to be seen within the context of the explosion of heterosexual and homosexual BD/SM pornography all over the world, but mostly emanating from the USA. I think Hans-Juergen Syberberg was quite correct in seeing a link between sado-masochist pornography and Nazism. The image of the inflatable plastic "fuck-me" doll with open mouth in his film "Hitler: A Film from Germany" and the narrator's words "Hitler, here is your victory" accompanying this image, is pure brilliance.



    By reducing love and affection to disposable kitsch, we are mass producing sociopaths out of our soldiers, and inculcating what I believe to be the real essence of a fascist personality structure. My own provisional definition of fascism, a mere paraphrase of Wilhelm Reich and Roger Griffin, is the following:

    Fascism is the progressively all-inclusive and martial re-organization of society according to a violent re-assertion of masculine stereotypes through symbols of nationalism and ethnicity. Fascists call for a re-awakened virility to rejuvenate the nation.

    This assertion of "virility" is the reaction to what fascists fear: everything feminine. Historian Roger Griffin has written that the fascist reality is "a radical misogyny or flight from the feminine, manifesting itself in a pathological fear of being engulfed by anything in external reality associated with softness, with dissolution, or the uncontrollable."

    The avenue of research for this subject should follow the lead of Klaus Theweleit ("Male Fantasies", 1977) and Dagmar Herzog ("Sex After Fascism", 2005).

    And people serious about pursuing this subject must stop being afraid to look at and refer to internet pornography for their evidence and proof. It's ubiquitous and taboo at the same time, and scholars act as if it didn't exist.

    The Road from "sexandsubmission.com" to Abu Ghraib may be a tortuous stretch, but it is not a long one.

    Susie Bright
    Sexpert

    My response would be, "it's a reasonable question to ask." It's not hysterical. Does one understand that something is definitively "fascist" these days only in retrospect? What would it mean to use the term in a descriptive, accurate way today?

    In terms of the recent legislation we've seen, the post-911 shredding, the constitution, particularly the first amendment and the right to a fair trial, have been gutted. Our elections are rigged, our Supreme Court is stacked... what alternative are we left with?

    And yet Americans are still so complacent, apathetic, and invested in the middle class American dream — regardless if it has an economic basis or not — that they haven't notice there's no THERE THERE anymore. But ultimately they will.

    I do have one concern about my objectivity, and that is my age and the perhaps innocent naive I bring with it.

    I can remember interviewing older folks who suffered under the worst of McCarthyism, or Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps. I have family and friends who saw the most frightening elements of the Kennedy/MLK assassinations or watched the high circus of the Chicago 8 trial and Mayor Daley's thugs in Chicago.

    And if we looked back at our grandparents' and our great-grandparents' histories, similar disgrace and outrage would continue to be cataloged. Was our constitution any stronger when "pioneers" were shooting Indians on sight like vermin? Were the Depression and the violent attacks on the early labor movement some shining hour for the Bill of Rights? Just open your history book and pick a bloody page.

    Maybe, as Byrne once sang, "it's same as it ever was," and I've just finally reached the age where I can't take it anymore. Or maybe it's because I WAS a child of the 60s and saw such a remarkable, progressive renaissance. This nation has always been about violence and prejudice and hypocrisy. What was unusual was the moments when it was SOMETHING ELSE, when peace, love, and compassion were celebrated and practiced.

    I was in the New Left and everyone was constantly running around with their history books trying to decide the precise SECOND when you could say that fascism was officially in motion. Nixon had a lot of people shook up, that's for sure. Now I tend to see history in motion with the worst of authoritarianism always in play, always aggressive. Global capitalism without a leash doesn't amount to anything else. The more interesting question to ask is, "Is there anything to counteract it?"


    See Also:
    Prior Permission From Government To Be Required For Each Flight
    Iraq YouTube Battle Footage
    Art or Bioterrorism: Who Cares?
    Did Bush Spin Like Nixon?
    The QuestionAuthority Proposal
    Don't Go There: Top 20 Taboo Topics for Presidential Candidates

    Subscribe to this site with:
    RSS
    Google
    Yahoo
    Bloglines
    My AOL
    Newsgator
    Rojo
    Add to:
    Digg | | Reddit
     

    Send to a Friend:





    E-mail this story
    to a friend

     

     




     
  • 28 Responses to “Is It Fascism Yet?”

    1. klevenstein Says:

      Great writing, all (a great read for me as I wake up). I love the upright perspectives and lack of hyperbole. It should be a serious question, and we should never stop asking it.

      Thanks…

    2. buzzflash.net Says:

      Is it fascism yet? America speaks

      A funny but serious attempt to answer the question: Is the Bush administration fascist? Includes quotes from Douglas Rushkoff, Tikkun’s Rabbi Michael Lerner, FAIR’s Norman Solomon, plus Wonkette’s editor Ken Layne, columnist Susie Bright, and the g…

    3. okfuture Says:

      A very serious article, on a very serious topic. The twin powers of authoritarianism, fascism and communism, are always knocking at the door of free societies everywhere. A slide into Big Daddyism can only be prevented by the hyper-vigilance of the citizenry. If you doubt the above statements, take note of the miserable state of freedom of the U.K., and reflect upon this cogent truth: what occurs in the U.K. will, in a mutated form, occur here after a short lag of time. A kind of “soft” fascism is settling across the Anglo-Saxon world, and in the finest tradition of those peoples, that world will survive in liberty only through a concerted struggle involving rugged disobedience to the whims of the elites.

    4. The Yoke of B'nai B'rith Says:

      The Kikeycons are jewish, that adds classic problems to the fascism charge. How could a jew be fascist?

      What I don’t understand is charges of “anti-semitism” being leveled at these Israel loving Christians by fearful “progressives”; the Christian position is “I support Israel, but they’re still going to hell when they die”, this position still supports Israel. And they still mean catholics and other undesiarbles will be going to hell, maybe even at a hotter level then the saintly but “Christ-dening” jew.

      The reality of the situation is that modern Christians are religious reformer jews, they absolutely worship modern jewry, and when any jew says jump, they say how high. This war in Iraq is a war for jews, this is an absolute fact. Civil Liberties are being undermined by the Federally funded Police training courses offered by the B’nai B’rith: Southern Poverty Law Center and the B’nai B’rith: Anti-Defemation leauge who tell police to be on alert for “terrorists” and “haters”. There is no seperation between Synogogue and state. Disgraced govenor McGreevy gave his Israeli Boy Toy lover a paid government position as “liason to the jewish community”. Our government at the behest of the ADL must prepare “The Report on Global Anti-Semitism” every year. The government is full of unconstitutional jew to jew contracts such as Chertoff giving $236 million to Carnival Cruise lines Micky Arison that went unused while New Orleans starved. Jews and Government is unseperable to the point that it is anti-semitic to question your government. Exactly as it was during Trotsky’s NKVD reign in early communist Russia. Christians would love to do their duty and turn in a “terrorist” problem is thought is not yet a crime in this country.

      So don’t tell me as I see in many so called “progressive” blogs, Bush is bad for jews. Don’t tell me Bush, Robertson, Haggard are anti-semites just because they get scetchy on where they’re favorite “Chosen people” may go when they die (of all stupid things you supposed “Cursaders for the little guy” point your finger at). The average jew is not the “little guy” he makes twice the income of the average goy. Don’t tell me they’re persecuted. Don’t tell me the “anti-semites” in the GOP did not ogasmically rejoyce when jewish israel dropped white phospherous on Lebanon against it’s biblical enemies. The GOP is the most philo-semitic not-denying but holocaust-affirming organization; George W Bush is our “first jewish president”. It comes with being a modern day MegaChruch christian.

      The war in Iraq is a war against “anti-semites”. Those monsetous arabs such that “20,000 of them aren’t worth a single jewish fingernail” (talmud). We are bombing “bigots” and “haters”; “the next hitler” of brown men women and innocent children. My position of anti-war is a position of self-defense against my enemy, the United States Government: ZOG; if Iraqis are first, I’m next.

      There is a struggle against the Redstones and Murdochs, Chertoffs and Perles, for our very biological survival under a false peace of SUVs and Walmarts.

    5. Edward Champion’s Return of the Reluctant » Roundup (1 of 2) Says:

      [...] ities. Kakuro: sudoku for smarter people? (via Word Munger) RU Sirius asks various people if America has reached a fascist state yet. A response to Michael Bérubé’s What [...]

    6. Coolfoolwho Says:

      Given the emphasis that so many of these responses place on the increasing linkage between the state and the vast economic power of multinationals, I think that a more appropriate label has already been coined. It comes from a computer game called Civilisation: Call to Power. I concede that this might seem quite a trivial source to draw any politcal points from but hear me out. Better yet, try the game. In this game the political system which develops most naturally out of democracy is the Corporate Republic. I think that this title describes the current political system quite well. It certainly addresses many of the point raised by respondents in this article.
      Sorry if this seems daft, but really, have a look at the game, and the options it offers.

    7. RexRhino Says:

      Well, the U.S. is not truly facist yet… If it was, an article like this would get you disappeared by the secret police.

      However, ideologically the U.S. (as well as other Western nations) are becoming facist, or at least totalitarian an authoritarian (facism in the original sense died in WWII). I would even venture to say most of the comentators are likely facist, although their facist ideology is probably has superficial estetic differences from the neocon brand of facist ideology.

      The important thing to remember is that facism is the means, not the end. Facism isn’t a goal, but the way people want to achieve the goal. Neocons want the state to regulate speech, in order to supress dissent about foreign policy, and that is facism of course. However, leftists who opposed that sort of censorship have no problem supporting speech codes (to stop “hateful” speech, of course), or the banning of political advertisments, or whatever. The left often try to justify it, but essentially there are types of speech that they want to elminate, and they are more than willing to give the state power to regulate speech as long as the power is exercised with leftist sensabilities.

      Virtually all mainstream politics in America want the U.S. government to have a broad and vast increase of powers, they simply disagree on how the powers should be used. The right wants vast government powers to observe and search private property in order to fight terrorism… the left wants vast government powers to observe and search private property to fight enviornmental crimes. The right wants to ban pornography because it is sinful, the left wants to ban pornography because it exploits women. The right wants the public schools to push prayer and patriotism, the left wants public schools to push diversity and sensitivity, but both fully agree the role of the public schools is to indoctrinate youth.

      The left and the right are really the same ideology. Both have the same vision for the amount of control the government should have on society (total control). The disagreements between the left and the right are not pro-authority or anti-authority, as both are in love with authority. There are simply some superficial disagreements about what sort of estetics should guide totalitarian power in America. Some people want Castro, some people want Pinochet, but everyone wants the big papa to spank them and tell them they are bad.

    8. Knemon Says:

      “These infernal regions also need to be seen within the context of the explosion of heterosexual and homosexual BD/SM pornography all over the world, but mostly emanating from the USA.”

      Watch out, the libertarians won’t like that.

      “Maybe, as Byrne once sang, “it’s same as it ever was,” and I’ve just finally reached the age where I can’t take it anymore. Or maybe it’s because I WAS a child of the 60s and saw such a remarkable, progressive renaissance. This nation has always been about violence and prejudice and hypocrisy. What was unusual was the moments when it was SOMETHING ELSE, when peace, love, and compassion were celebrated and practiced.”

      Maybe it’s that you’re displacing your fear of death?

    9. Clever Says:

      I just wish Ben Marble, MD, wouldn’t refer to GW as Dubya Gump. It’s an insult to Forest Gump’s character. The Gump character isn’t menacing or malicious. He is just a simple man. GW goes waaaaaaaay beyond simple, and that is the problem. Perot was simple to the point of near genius. We need a little more of that…less evil, more sincere.

    10. ryan brown Says:

      Hiya Ru
      Great article on American Fascism.
      I have a new website called http://www.fascistamerica.net
      which is a twice weekly comic strip which you might like.
      thanks again
      Ryan

      p.s Il put a link to your website on my links page anyhow

    11. Postmodern Angst » Is It Fascism Yet? Says:

      [...] l Godot « Read This Now Is It Fascism Yet? Do we live in a fascist state? Why, or why not? R.U. Sirius asks the quest [...]

    12. Stanley Lieber Says:

      >>I always wonder when I see some protester carrying one of those (relatively rare, actually) “Bush = Hitler” protest signs: How do they think that’s helping? Do they think somebody walking down the street who is sort of neutral is going to see this sign and say, “Oh, Bush equals Hitler! Why didn’t you say so? I’m going to revolt now.”

      It is possible that in some cases people are simply trying to create a historical record of the dissent that exists in this time period. It’s all too easy for history to write these people out and create a picture of national unity. See WWII.

    13. The American Street » Blog Archive » Is it Fascism? Says:

      [...] Several credible people, including longtime blogger Ken Layne, provide the answers. What do you think? [...]

    14. The Yoke of B'nai B'rith Says:

      But those people against intervension in WWII were french-frying appeasers or nazi sympathizers. Or a case of the “banality of evil”.

      My loyalty is to my tribe (my kin and kith), not to some historical ideal, not to some higher calling, not to a secure police-state democracy, not to any nationalism, nation or border, and this puts me in the camp with the Mohammed Al-Sadr’s of the world.

      The “new world order” conspiracy theorists are right, but it it’s not “new”.

    15. auto-assembly » Blog Archive » Is it fascism yet? Says:

      [...] d we live in a permanent state of emergency. From the UK it make sense that someone had to ask the question. Tags – December 7, 2006 at 10:38 pm by auto-assemble In ca [...]

    16. Fitz Says:

      I discovered this article from listen to the recent podcast earlier today. What sprung to mind immediately was Thurman W. Arnold’s _The Folklore of Capitalism_.

      Arnold, one of the founders of the law firm Arnold & Porter as well as a close associate of H. L. Menchen, outlines in the book how since the Second World War any attempt to change the status quo in American becomes labled either “Fascist” or “Communist.” The seemingly confusing interchange on Left Fascism and Right Fascism as well as Islamofascism reminded me that in a post-Cold War time the actgory of “Communist” as Arnold outlined its use in social maintaince has evaporated from public discourse. In the abscence of any alternate now the default descriptor of anyone engage in changing the world in any substantial fashion, or even simply interested in doing so, has become a “Fascist.”

    17. Greg Schaffer Says:

      About ten years ago I read this short essay by Umberto Eco regarding fascism.

      http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

    18. DS Says:

      Here’s a great fascism definition and how it relates to America.

    19. Eric Stewart Says:

      Fascism, in this day and age, seems a rather nebulous concept. I can’t count how many times I have asked someone to define fascism only to draw a blank stare or an amibiguous collection of rants against the Anglo-American power structure that, while often true, do little to define fascism.

      A few minutes ago I decided to browse some search engines for an adequate definition of fascism and what I found was a piece that did much more. Leave it to Third World Traveller to carry an essay of this quality, I say. I hope you find this illuminating:

      Fascism Defined
      http://justanotherblowback.blogspot.com/2006/12/fascism-defined.html

    20. Jill Bains Says:

      The more and more that there are tedious, disputatious arguments proferred over the existence of American fascism, the deeper one is already in its thrall.

    21. The Invisible Library » Blog Archive » Return of the King Says:

      [...] David, a regular reader, sent me this link to an R.U. Sirius article asking, “Is it fascism yet?” I agree with some of the writers, not with others but they are all worth reading, simply because it’s one of those questions that is interesting and much needed, if a really loaded one. [...]

    22. Messilenni Says:

      The corporatism that Mussolini was alluding to in his famous ‘Fascism should more properly be called corporatism …’ statement is a species of syndicalism (corporativismo).

      He was promoting a form of National Syndicalism. Such a system is effectively socialist.

      Look it up.

    23. D Says:

      Of course we don’t live in a fascist state.

      My evidence for this? All you dumbasses posting that “yes, we live in a fascist state” are still alive.

      If this was a fascist state you’d be dead and this page would be gone. You’d have been arrested, interrogated leading to your confession of crimes against the state, tried, sentenced to death and executed. End of story.

      Has this happened? No. Therefore no fascist state exists.

    24. truth machine Says:

      Humorless liberals yell “Fascist!” at anything they don’t like: NASCAR, Wal-Mart, or especially somebody enjoying a nice hamburger.

      Why would anyone ask someone from “Wonkette” for an opinion on a serious topic?

    25. truth machine Says:

      He was promoting a form of National Syndicalism. Such a system is effectively socialist.

      And I bet you think all dogs are poodles, moron.

    26. Henry Kisshisass Says:

      Are we living in a fascist state?

      No, but…we ARE living under the yoke of an administration that has and is preparing the legal, propaganda, economic, political, military, and coercive foundation for a fascist state.

      In framing the question thus, “Are we living in a fascist state?”, the issue of intent, dictatorial aspiration, rigged elections, and the cumulative results of oppressive and unconstitutional legislation, are bypassed.

      If the question is framed thus: “Are we living in a semi-fascist state?”, the answer is more sinister.

      The answer is that, whether or not we are living in a fascist state, the Federal Government has taken the United States as far along the road to state repression as could possibly be done to date, and intends to go further in future. Consider the extent, and scope, and range, and remit of the laws this administration and the former Republican Congress has enacted.

      The question itself is an irrelevance to the culture of the United States. The true question is how far have the liberties and freedoms of the free-est people in history been been removed from both the clauses and ideals of the Constitution?

      Of course we are not living in a fascist state. But we are living in a nation whose leaders have signaled a clear resolve to restrict both our liberties and our ability to counter and oppose their policy of restructuring all of our internal social, political, and economic institutions, until they are in accord with their external agenda of enforced world integration.

      We are living in what a former British Attorney General (Lord Chancellor) called an “elective dictatorship.” – We get to elect who dictates to us.

    27. Always tired Says:

      A very serious article, on a very serious topic. The twin powers of authoritarianism, fascism and communism, are always knocking at the door of free societies everywhere. A slide into Big Daddyism can only be prevented by the hyper-vigilance of the citizenry. If you doubt the above statements, take note of the miserable state of freedom of the U.K., and reflect upon this cogent truth: what occurs in the U.K. will, in a mutated form, occur here after a short lag of time. A kind of “soft” fascism is settling across the Anglo-Saxon world, and in the finest tradition of those peoples, that world will survive in liberty only through a concerted struggle involving rugged disobedience to the whims of the elites.

    28. karen patrick Says:

      No such paradigm exists in the US. The traditional elites comfortably control both parties here, and there is no viable external political threat to their material interests. The tea party might qualify as a nihilistic threat, though not a fascist one, if it were a larger, and independent political force, however, it lacks viability as an independent threat. If the Kochs (who in the end are plutocrats), etc. quit funding it, it will collapse.

    Leave a Reply