Thursday, April 28, 2011

Allen West, Heywood Broun And Another Resurgence Of American Fascism



It's ironic that one of America's more blatantly fascist congressmen, Allen West, was elected in one of the most Jewish districts in the South. His outburst about how women are "neutering men" made me go back to political scientist Lawrence Britt's classic delineation of the characteristics of fascism. The characteristic I was looking for was #5-- "Rampant Sexism"-- but as I started reading through them, I started thinking, uncomfortably, about slippery slopes:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

I also like this one: "Any action by a government that places the rights of a corporation or a group of elites above the rights of the people is a step toward fascism." This tweet about long-lost Tennessee made me think about it:

Needless to say, the legislation is sponsored by Republicans, Jamie Woodson of Knoxville in the state Senate and Glen Casada of Franklin in the House. It would allow corporations to make direct contributions to political candidates.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner noted that foreign-based corporations also would be allowed to contribute under the bill, though House sponsor Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, said they will have to have a Tennessee presence to do so.

...Woodson said the move is a logical response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that struck down a federal law barring corporations from making independent expenditures in political campaigns. The Tennessee Legislature last year approved a law allowing independent expenditures in state campaigns.

The new bill goes beyond that to authorize corporations to directly give money to candidates and political parties for the first time in Tennessee, which has had a longstanding ban on direct corporate contributions.

The bill also would raise the current maximum contribution that can be given to a candidate, which has remained unchanged since 1995, according to Woodson. The limits would be raised annually based on inflation.

...The bill also will repeal current law that limits the total amount an individual can donate to all candidates ($40,000) and PACs ($61,400).

Heywood Broun, founder of the Newspaper Guild, was a journalist who championed the cause of the underdog during the Roaring Twenties, when the plutocracy was nearly unchallenged in America. His definition of fascism-- which was a tangible threat at the time, included this: "I think that it is not unfair to say that any businessman in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions is laying the foundation for fascism. Hello Scott Walker. Hello Rick Scott. Hello Rick Snyder. Hello Paul LePage. Hello John Kasich. It's ugly but looking away doesn't make it go away; it just makes it uglier.

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At 10:18 AM, Blogger Steve Smith said...

Interesting, but problematic, since there is no such political scientist as "Lawrence Britt", much less a study by a "Prof. Britt" covering the common characteristics of "fascist" states. Looks like you got pwnned.

At 3:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, "Steve Smith", I doubt your existence, or at least your intelligence, but mainly doubt your sincerity. Wouldn't want to be you or know you. Goodbye.

- L.P.

At 3:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, another one.

Sorry, "SS" but secular humanism is well on its way to becoming the world's foremost belief system. The sooner the better.

- L.P.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Steve Smith said...

Not denying that there isn't an opinionated human being out there named "Lawrence Britt"; only that whoever he is, he isn't a "political scientist," nor does he have any sort of professional expertise on the subject of "fascism." Drawing up a list of things you hate or find undesirable and calling it "fascism" does not make it fascism, nor does it make one a "politcal scientist."


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