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The road to fascism ?

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  • Michael Moorcock
    Site Host
    • Dec 2003
    • 14278

    The road to fascism ?

    Fascist America, in 10 easy steps



    From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

    Tuesday April 24, 2007
    The Guardian


    Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.
    Article continues
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    They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.
    As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.
    Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.
    It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.
    Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.
    1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
    After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."
    Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.
    It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.
    2. Create a gulag
    Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guant&#225;namo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.
    At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.
    This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.
    With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guant&#225;namo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.
    Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.
    But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niem&#246;ller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guant&#225;namo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.
    By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.
    3. Develop a thug caste
    When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.
    The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution
    Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.
    Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".
    4. Set up an internal surveillance system
    In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.
    In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.
    In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.
    5. Harass citizens' groups
    The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.
    Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.
    6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
    This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.
    In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.
    Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".
    "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.
    "I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."
    "That'll do it," the man said.
    Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.
    James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guant&#225;namo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.
    Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.
    It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.
    7. Target key individuals
    Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.
    Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.
    Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.
    Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.
    Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.
    8. Control the press
    Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.
    The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.
    Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.
    Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.
    Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.
    You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.
    9. Dissent equals treason
    Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.
    Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.
    In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".
    And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.
    Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guant&#225;namo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guant&#225;namo, is all isolation cells.)
    We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.
    Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.
    10. Suspend the rule of law
    The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.
    Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."
    Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.
    Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.
    Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.
    It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."
    As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.
    That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".
    What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.
    What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.
    Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.
    We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now. "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry. &#183; Naomi Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot will be published by Chelsea Green in September.





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  • Governor of Rowe Island
    Orgone Accumulator
    • Aug 2004
    • 5266

    #2
    The parallels are certainly striking. I object to it being referred to as f*cism, though. It shares too many processes with communism to be refferred to as that. What it really resembles is gangsterism on a massive scale.

    The arrogance of such regimes is generally striking, too. The current US administration is apparently routinely denying any combat footage to coroners courts and inquests in the UK (often dealing with "friendly fire" incidents.) Sometimes going so far as to deny the existence of said footage. Which, of course, is subsequently revealed. Mistrust and suspicion would seem to be characteristics, too.

    Worrying.
    Last edited by Governor of Rowe Island; 06-22-2007, 01:45 PM. Reason: Syntax
    You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

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    "I am an observer of life, a non-participant who takes no sides. I am in the regimented society, but not of it." Moondog, 1964

    Comment

    • Morgan Kane
      Lost in the multiverse
      • Jun 2006
      • 1428

      #3
      France is also on a bad slope ......

      Comment

      • Pietro_Mercurios
        Only Slightly Unbalanced
        • Oct 2004
        • 5879

        #4
        Originally posted by Governor of Rowe Island View Post
        The parallels are certainly striking. I object it being referred to as f*cism, though, it shares too many processes with communism to be refferred to as that. What it really resembles is gangsterism on a massive scale.

        ...
        Let's just compromise and call it 'Tot*lit*ri*nism,' then.

        A lot of people use the word 'F*cism' when they mean 'Tot*lit*ri*nism,' these days. I know 'F*cism' was really an Italian political ideology, but common usage, 'parole', seems to have commandeered the word to mean, brut*l, *uthorit*ri*n, Tot*lit*ri*nism, in general.

        And who has more right to define the use of the word? It's adherents, or its victims?

        Yes, I read the article, the other day. Wolfe may be exaggerating slightly, but certainly, a lot of the machinery of Tot*lit*ri*nism has been put in place, in a surprisingly short space of time.

        My old grandfather used to say that the Cold W*r had the side effect of forcing C*pit*lism to at least present the appearance of democr*tic decency, f*irness, due process, workers rights and etc. Woe betide the citizens of the West if the West and Capitalism ever, eventually, won the Cold W*r. As the veneer of Democr*cy starts to fade...

        My guess is, that the Powers That Be know a lot more about the near future, climate change, food and water shortages and a World population set to hit 9 billion, on, or before, 2050.

        Comment

        • Talisant
          Champion of the Balance
          • Dec 2003
          • 1299

          #5
          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock View Post
          ...Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.
          Seems that maybe those darn Tha1 military coup planners and I frequent similar yard sales and second hand book stores.

          "A man is no man who cannot have a fried mackerel when he has set his mind on it; and more especially when he has money in his pocket to pay for it." - E.A. Poe's NICHOLAS DUNKS; OR, FRIED MACKEREL FOR DINNER

          Comment

          • Groakes
            badseed
            • Jan 2005
            • 2512

            #6
            I have posted this before but I can't find the link. Anyway, I think, given the context of the thread, that I will repeat here.

            Piers Brendon in "The Dark Valley", where he tracks the rise of fascism in the thirties describes the motivations for "Mussolini's Abyssinian Adventure"

            "(Mussolini) had every incentive to divert the attention of Italians from
            the parlous state of their own country by reviving their long-felt
            fascination for the "lure of Africa". He appreciated the possibilities of
            channelling internal frustration into external violence. He saw the chance
            of mobilising patriots behind the regime an he reckoned that militant
            nationalism could invigorate moribund Fascism."

            now let's change a few words....

            George W. Bush had every incentive to divert the attention of Americans from the parlous state of their own country by reviving their long-felt fear of "militant Islam". He appreciated the possibilities of channelling internal
            frustration into external violence. He saw the chance of mobilising patriots
            behind the government and he reckoned that militant nationalism could
            invigorate moribund Capitalism.
            Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
            Bakunin

            Comment

            • WhiteWolf359
              Multiversal Airship Pilot
              • Nov 2003
              • 1056

              #7
              Road, shmoad! We're on the Superhighway to Facism!

              The only thing we can do, collectively, to derail this superspeed train to Fascistland is to ensure that Bush and his cronies are voted out of office in 2008 and someone sensible is elected who will

              1) End this ridiculous quagmire in Iraq;'
              2) Nuke the Patriot Act;
              3) Stop scaring Americans into thinking there are radical Islamists behind every lamppost; and
              4) Stop spending ridiculous amounts of money on foreign idiocy and put it back into the U.S. economy, where it's needed.

              Right now, all ten of those tenets are not only being enforced, they're being exaggerated. NASA scientists can't use the term "global warming." They have to say "climate change!" Give me a friggin' break!


              Lord Warshaw the Unknown

              "Except in dreams, you're never really free." Warren Zevon, Desperados Under the Eaves.

              Comment

              • Mespheber
                Guardian of the Grail
                • Jun 2006
                • 411

                #8
                Originally posted by Morgan Kane View Post
                France is also on a bad slope ......
                I'm reading a report from Serge Portelli which provides alarming conclusions for those who cares. He made a comparaison with the Roman Empire in his introduction, which loose democracy while unfair laws were applied in the empire and finally had an influence on the citizens.

                Mostly, we can observe in France (and other country of Europe like Poland, where purification laws are now taken) that the controll of informations is the first step in people opinions manipulation. In 2002, present governement were elected with security argument. Violence has objectively increased (as it never stopped to since 1996) but is no longer into the debate while politicians can't admit they failed on this matter...
                Free the West Memphis Three

                Comment

                • Grey Mouser
                  Champion of the Balance
                  • Dec 2003
                  • 1433

                  #9
                  A very cogent article. Deserves to reach a far broader audience than it probably will. Shame there's no feedback facility on the Guardian website with which to judge peoples reactions and responses. I very much doubt if the Democrats will do much if anything to undo the damage done by the Neo-cons, so the real work will have to be done by the genuinely patriotic groups mentioned in the article and their supporters. Restoring Habeus Corpus would be a good start, as would scrapping the Guantanamo gulag and anulling the 'Patriot' Acts and pretty much every executive order since Bush got into office. Indeed, the whole list of Executive Orders probably needs to be examined and revised. The Democrats have already declared that they will make no moves to impeach anyone in the Bush junta.

                  Comment

                  • Grey Mouser
                    Champion of the Balance
                    • Dec 2003
                    • 1433

                    #10
                    Seems I was wrong about the Democrats not calling for impeachment:

                    http://www.boston.com/news/local/ver...resident_bush/

                    Comment

                    • Demiurge
                      Nomad of the Time Streams
                      • Jan 2007
                      • 26

                      #11
                      Hmmmm... after reading that article Lincoln, FDR, and Churchill all came closer to fascism than Bush did. And I have absolutely no idea what supporting a democratically elected government in Iraq has to do with being a fascist nation - even if you were extraordinarilly cynical the worst thing you could say is that it was imperialism and they were a puppet regime. Imperalism doesn't equal fascism.

                      As a United States citizen, I'd be far more concerned with CCTV popping up on every street corner so the government could monitor my actions than I am about the Patriot Act.

                      Bush no doubt overstepped his bounds in terms of executive authority after 911 - many think it was in an attempt to create his own police state to ensure his power, but I think those ridiculous assertions will be put aside after we once again have a peaceful transition of power after the 2008 elections.

                      I think he was doing it to try to save lives - color me naive. And when he has overstepped his bounds, it's often been overturned by the court system, as some sections of the Patriot Act have been challenged, as well as his tribunal and detention system for the Guatanomo detainees on several occassions.

                      Every country goes a little nuts when it's attacked. We certainly did. But things revert as time goes on.

                      Comment

                      • Grey Mouser
                        Champion of the Balance
                        • Dec 2003
                        • 1433

                        #12
                        I'd argue that Lincoln, FDR and Churchill were genuine war leaders, whereas Bush is not.

                        In order to identify anything then you need to know it's defining characteristics. What do you think of the following article Demiurge that defines the 14 chief characteristics of fascism:

                        Source - http://www.informationclearinghouse....rticle4113.htm

                        Fascism Anyone?

                        Fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for.
                        By Laurence W. Britt

                        The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm. We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist1 regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.
                        Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.
                        For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.
                        Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.
                        1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
                        2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
                        3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame forfailures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and“terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
                        4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
                        5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
                        6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
                        7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
                        8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
                        9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.
                        10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
                        11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
                        12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
                        13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
                        14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating an disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.
                        Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

                        "When facism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the American flag." - Huey Long
                        Notes:
                        1. Defined as a “political movement or regime tending toward or imitating Fascism”—Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
                        References Andrews, Kevin. Greece in the Dark. Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1980.
                        Chabod, Frederico. A History of Italian Fascism. London: Weidenfeld, 1963.
                        Cooper, Marc. Pinochet and Me. New York: Verso, 2001.
                        Cornwell, John. Hitler as Pope. New York: Viking, 1999.
                        de Figuerio, Antonio. Portugal—Fifty Years of Dictatorship.
                        New York:Holmes& Meier, 1976.
                        Eatwell, Roger. Fascism, A History. New York: Penguin, 1995.
                        Fest, Joachim C. The Face of the Third Reich. New York: Pantheon, 1970.
                        Gallo, Max. Mussolini’s Italy. New York: MacMillan, 1973.
                        Kershaw, Ian. Hitler (two volumes). New York: Norton, 1999.
                        Laqueur, Walter. Fascism, Past, Present, and Future. New York: Oxford, 1996.
                        Papandreau, Andreas. Democracy at Gunpoint. New York: Penguin Books, 1971.
                        Phillips, Peter. Censored 2001: 25 Years of Censored News. New York: Seven
                        Stories. 2001.
                        Sharp, M.E. Indonesia Beyond Suharto. Armonk, 1999.
                        Verdugo, Patricia. Chile, Pinochet, and the Caravan of Death. Coral Gables,
                        Florida: North-South Center Press, 2001.
                        Yglesias, Jose. The Franco Years. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977.

                        Comment

                        • Grey Mouser
                          Champion of the Balance
                          • Dec 2003
                          • 1433

                          #13
                          I hope this is not too much raw text all at one time. The following writer draws a comparison between corporatism and facism in this article:

                          Source - http://www.informationclearinghouse....rticle7260.htm

                          It's the Corporate State, Stupid

                          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - Ben1to Mussol1ni.

                          David G. Mills

                          11/10/04 "ICH"
                          -- The early twentieth century Italians, who invented the word fascism, also had a more descriptive term for the concept -- estato corporativo: the corporatist state. Unfortunately for Americans, we have come to equate fascism with its symptoms, not with its structure. The structure of fascism is corporatism, or the corporate state. The structure of fascism is the union, marriage, merger or fusion of corporate economic power with governmental power. Failing to understand fascism, as the consolidation of corporate economic and governmental power in the hands of a few, is to completely misunderstand what fascism is. It is the consolidation of this power that produces the demagogues and regimes we understand as fascist ones.

                          While we Americans have been trained to keenly identify the opposite of fascism, i.e., government intrusion into and usurpation of private enterprise, we have not been trained to identify the usurpation of government by private enterprise. Our European cousins, on the other hand, having lived with Fascism in several European countries during the last century, know it when they see it, and looking over here, they are ringing the alarm bells. We need to learn how to recognize Fascism now.

                          Dr. Lawrence Britt has written an excellent article entitled “The 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism.” An Internet search of the number 14 coupled with the word fascism will produce the original article as well as many annotations on each of the 14 characteristics of fascism that he describes. His article is a must read to help get a handle on the symptoms that corporatism produces.

                          But even Britt’s excellent article misses the importance of Mussolini’s point. The concept of corporatism is number nine on Britt’s list and unfortunately titled: “Corporate Power is Protected.” In the view of Mussolini, the concept of corporatism should have been number one on the list and should have been more aptly titled the “Merger of Corporate Power and State Power.” Even Britt failed to see the merger of corporate and state power as the primary cause of most of these other characteristics. It is only when one begins to view fascism as the merger of corporate power and state power that it is easy to see how most of the other thirteen characteristics Britt describes are produced. Seen this way, these other characteristics no longer become disjointed abstractions. Cause and effect is evident.

                          For example, number two on Britt’s list is titled: “Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights.” Individual rights and corporate rights, at the very least conflict, and often are in downright opposition to one another. In the court system, often individuals must sue corporations. In America, in order to protect corporations, we have seen a steady stream of rules, decisions and laws to protect corporations and to limit the rights of the individual by lawsuit and other redress. These rules, decisions, and laws have always been justified on the basis of the need for corporations to have profit in order to exist.

                          Number three on Britt’s list is the identification of scapegoats or enemies as a unifying cause. Often the government itself becomes the scapegoat when the government is the regulator of the corporations. Often it is lawyers or administrators who take on the corporations. Often it is liberals who champion the rights of individuals, or terrorists who might threaten state stability or corporate profit. Any or all may become scapegoats for the state’s problems because they pose problems for corporations.

                          Other notable characteristics of fascism described by Britt which are directly produced by corporatism are:

                          < The suppression of organized labor (organized labor is the bane of corporations and the only real check on corporate power other than government or the legal system);

                          < Supremacy of the military (it is necessary to produce and protect corporate profits abroad and threats from abroad);

                          < Cronyism and governmental corruption (it is very beneficial to have ex-corporate employees run the agencies or make the laws that are supposed to regulate or check corporations);

                          < Fraudulent elections (especially those where corporations run the machinery of elections and count the votes or where judges decide their outcomes);

                          < Nationalism (disdain for other countries that might promote individual rights);

                          < Obsession with national security (anti-corporatists are a security risk to the corporate status quo);

                          < Control of the media (propaganda works);

                          < Obsession with crime and punishment (anti-corporatists belong in jail); and

                          < Disdain for intellectuals and the arts (these people see corporatism for what it is and are highly individualistic).

                          All of these characteristics have a fairly obvious corporate component to them or produce a fairly obvious corporate benefit. Even Britt’s last two characteristics, the merger of state with the dominant religion and rampant suppression of divorce, abortion and homosexuality produce at least some indirect corporate benefit.

                          In sum, it’s the corporate state, stupid.

                          As I have pondered what could be done about America’s steady march toward the fascist state, I also have pondered what can be done internally to stop it. The Germans couldn’t seem to do it. The Italians couldn’t seem to do it. The only lesson from recent history where an indigenous people seemed to have uncoupled the merger of economic power with governmental power is the French Revolution. The soft underbelly of consolidated economic power is that the power resides in the hands of a few. Cut off the money supply of the few and the merger between economic power and government becomes unglued. The French systematically took out their aristocracy one by one. It was ugly; the French couldn’t seem to figure out when there had been enough bloodletting to solve the problem.

                          The thought of an American twenty-first century French Revolution is ugly. But the thought of an American twenty-first century fascist state is far uglier. It would be a supreme irony that the state most responsible for stopping worldwide fascism would become fascist 60 years later. But far worse than this irony is the reality that an American fascist state with America’s power could make Nazi Germany look like a tiny blip on the radar screen of history.

                          For some years now we have lived with the Faustian bargain of the corporation. Large corporations are necessary to achieve those governmental and social necessities that small enterprises are incapable of providing. The checks on corporate power have always been fragile. Left unchecked, the huge economic power of corporations corrupts absolutely. Most of the checks are badly eroded. Is there still time to get the checks back in balance? Or will we be left with two unthinkable options?

                          David G. Mills is an attorney who lives in Memphis, TN. Email - [email protected]
                          (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information Clearing House endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

                          Comment

                          • zilch
                            Hisashiburi
                            • Aug 2006
                            • 649

                            #14
                            I think Billy's Boot Camp is all the proof you need that the US is sliding into facism, only Mr Chavez can save them.

                            I sometimes wonder what would have to the very powerful and wealthy if they were stripped of their credit cards, mobile phones, ID, cash etc and dumped up a dirt track in the middle of a forest. This isn't a suggestion.
                            http://final-frame-final.blogspot.com/

                            Comment

                            • L'Etranger
                              Veteran Moorcockista
                              • Dec 2003
                              • 4772

                              #15
                              Sorry, but I do not see Chavez as any hope. He's on the way to his own brand of Caudillismo-Fascism.
                              But maybe you were joking.
                              Google ergo sum

                              Comment

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