Sunday, January 22, 2006

Defining Fascism

It is not easy to define exactly what fascism is. Check out Wikipedia for a very broad explanation. I will begin here with the definition from the Oxford Dictionary of English.

an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organisation. (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices.

The term Fascism was first used of the totalitarian right-wing nationalist regime of Mussolini in Italy (1922-1943); the regimes of the Nazis in Germany and Franco in Spain were also Fascist. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach.

Given this definition, I would not say that The America has yet descended into full-fledged fascism, but I would say that we are headed dangerously towards it.

An approach to defining fascism that is currently popular, and especially ubiquitous on blogs, is an outline of the “12 warning signs”. I have borrowed the 12 warning signs from other sources, but I have come up with my own explanations and supporting evidence to demonstrate that, at the very least, the warning signs are there.

1. Exuberant nationalism

We have the flags, we have the yellow ribbons, we know we are a great nation. When the national anthem is played at sporting events, we sing along with great passion and tears come to our eyes. We do what we have to do when it comes to fighting terrorists – it is our burden and we must bear it. No one else can tell us how to fight our war. The America is, after all, the greatest country in the world.

2. Enemies Identified

You are either with us or you are with the terrorists.

3. Rights Disappear

By now we all understand that we have to make sacrifices for this great effort. What is the importance of the right to privacy or the right to travel freely when compared with this great struggle to maintain our security? Of course the government has to listen to our phone calls – you and I may be sharing only a recipe for apple pie, but our neighbours, especially the darker-skinned ones, might be sharing recipes for bombs.

4. Secrecy Demanded

For reasons of national security we can no longer demand explanations from our leaders. Any kind of democratic transparency is a security risk. The terrorists might use the information. We must trust our government to know what is best for us and to act on that knowledge. There can no longer be any accountability.

5. Military Glorified

“Support our troops, they are defending our freedom.” And the military is taking all of our money, but it does not matter how much the war against terror is costing us. No, it does not, because we are on a mission from God.

6. Corporations Shielded

Halliburton, Carlyle Group, the military-industrial complex. I am not going to rant about it yet again.

7. Corruption Unchecked

Again, the military-industrial complex, and the old boys’ network. Have a look at where the contracts for rebuilding Iraq have gone, and believe that the tenders have not all been legitimate.

8. Media Controlled

This is another argument I have made before. I believe that our press is not as free as it should be. And while journalists and even bloggers are free to write what we want, our ideas and opinions that do not agree with the “official” version of events are called “crack-pot conspiracy theories”, and the general public are encouraged to dismiss them as such.

9. Rampant Sexism

This is not just good old-fashioned male chauvinism. Sexism also means limiting a woman’s right to control her own body as well as homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

10. Intellectual Bullying

This has already happened on our school boards and at some universities. Tow the party line or be reported as un-patriotic and/or get beaten up.

11. Militarised Police

This includes so-called security surveillance. And I wrote a couple of months ago about the Department of Fatherland Security infiltrating our metropolitan police forces. Not to mention the new US Secret Service Uniformed Division.

12. Elections Stolen

I continue to maintain that neither of the two most recent presidential elections was truly free and fair.

These are simplistic arguments, but I could also write whole essays on any of the twelve points. As I said above, I am not claiming that The America is Mussolini’s Italy or Nazi Germany. All I am saying is that we have been going in a dangerous direction for some time and we need to take note of the situation we are in as a country. We need to demand transparency and we need to hold the government to account. We no longer have a true democracy. If that is because democracy does not actually work anymore, fine. But then we need to go forward to something better, not backwards into the last century and totalitarianism.


Audie said...

Bravo. Nice work, MM.

Riggs is Crazy said...

Do they have HBO over there? If so, check out Dennis Miller's latest comedy special. It's on target.

Monkey's Max said...

Thanks, Audie. I like praise.

Riggs - They have an HBO channel over here, but I doubt very much that they would show Dennis Miller. Would you care to explain to poor Max who lives in the abroad and doesn't get to watch American tv what she is missing?