Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fascism in America

           No matter the social circles we run in, and no matter what we choose to read, especially these days, we often hear the word "fascist" bandied about as though it were a term as simple in meaning as "toaster" or "E-mail." This is not the case, and for future warning, beware of people who use "fascist" often in serious conversation. It's one thing to say in jest, but those who often refer to people or groups as fascist are usually pseudo-intellectual charlatans who can scarcely tell shit from applebutter.

            Richard T. Griffiths, author of many books, including "The Economic Development of the European Economic Community" and "Europe's First Constitution," said several years ago that the term, fascism, is "the most misused and over-used word of our times." Indeed, it has become a word every idiot with a 50 cent vocabulary uses when describing something distasteful. The crime here is that it happens to be a serious matter--a proverbial sea of pungent dinosaur feces we're on our way to being mired in waist-deep.

            Confusion regarding the definition of fascism has been a problem at least since our conflict with it during WWII. In 1944, celebrated author George Orwell said this about fascism...

                        "It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else."

            The Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan could hardly be lumped into the same class. These are three distinctly different cultures who banded together to take over the world. While more successful than Pinky and the Brain, and poised in the late 1930s to make quite a run at it, they managed to fail nevertheless. We saw to that. But as George Carlin said on Bill Maher's HBO program, Real Time, "Germany lost the second world war, but fascism won it." That's a hell of a statement, and it ties in with warnings given to us by one of the greatest heroes in American history, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Before we get into that, let's look at some official definitions of fascism.

1.) Fas·cism [ fá shìzzəm ] dictatorial movement: any movement, ideology, or attitude that favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalism. (MSN Encarta Dictionary)

2.) Fascism, Philosophy of government that stresses the primacy and glory of the state, unquestioning obedience to its leader, subordination of the individual will to the state’s authority, and harsh suppression of dissent.

"Martial virtues are celebrated, while liberal and democratic values are disparaged. Fascism arose during the 1920s and ’30s partly out of fear of the rising power of the working classes; it differed from contemporary communism (as practiced under Joseph Stalin) by its protection of business and landowning elites and its preservation of class systems... (Encyclopedia Britannica)

            From these two examples, some disturbing things arise. Through the Patriot Act, aptly named so as to quell fears over diminished liberties, and through Bush's Expanded War Powers Act, the reach of our government has gone crazy. There seems to be no end to the Hell they can bring down on us, and with no consequence. Obama said he'd do away with Guantanamo, but why would the government willingly close a facility that comes in so handy? All they have to do is declare any one of us an enemy combatant or a terrorist (another word people and governments conveniently apply to almost anyone or anything), and we can be held indefinitely at Guantanamo with no trial. The privacy of Americans has been under attack for a long time, but the hard offensive has taken place since 9/11. People are afraid, and for good reason. The shame is that when good Americans point out that we exacerbate our problems abroad, and the threat at home, with failed, hopelessly misguided foreign policy, they're castigated and called anti-patriotic. People like Ron Paul have said this, and deep down, we know they're right.

            Now, back to Eisenhower. On more than one occasion, he warned against the rise of the military-industrial complex. The military-industrial complex is a very real thing. It's an integrated part of our governmental makeup and it's accepted by society at large. China is the second biggest military spender next to the USA, and we spend six times more. I'm not advocating for a weak military. I'm just toying with the crazy notion that we cut military spending to only twice that of China.
            Don't get me wrong. I like having bunker buster missiles that kill bad guys six stories underground. I like having nuclear powered aircraft carriers and massive naval battle groups. I like having 60 ton M1-A1 Abrams tanks, Super Hornets and F22 Raptors with vectored thrusting and all that other crazy shit that no one nation could hope to defeat. Anyone who says they enjoy being weak is either a liar or an idiot. The idea of a surgical strike that kills a piece of human trash like Osama bin Laden is something we're damned good at. But, what I'm asking folks to do is to think deeper when it comes to full-scale occupations of foreign nations. The only way invading Iraq helped us catch bin Laden was that it gave him one less country in which to hide, but can we invade every country in which a bastard like that could conceivably hide? We're going broke trying it with Iraq and Afghanistan.

            We don't have to give up our toys. We just need to amend the way we play with them. We've spent $1.5 trillion in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan (that we know of) over 10 years on senseless ignorance, and that's the spending that has to go. Of course, it's not cutting strictly for the sake of spending cuts, but because it's wrong in the first place. That's all we have to do! If we brought everyone home and stopped staking out the entire world, along with policing it on four real warfronts with three others looming on the horizon of possibility, we'd be talking about real budget cuts that wouldn't hurt anyone. Believe me, when the war comes that we must fight, with no other alternative because the world hangs in the balance, we're going to know it. In short, sometimes force is needed, and we need to be a lot more judicious with the use of it instead of going balls out and guns blazing whenever it feels good.  

            In that equation, it's the foreign occupation that presents an evil we don't need. The endless militarism and world-policing is the disposable part of the spending. That's what we're doing that fits neatly into the concept of fascism. We glorify the state, we believe in the concept of might-makes-right and we denounce anyone who speaks out against it. Thankfully we're not to the point of imprisoning or exterminating those people... yet.

            Aside from rampant militarism, we have the element of fascism from our definitions above that involve the suppression of working classes while allowing the elite to flourish. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

            In 1965, CEOs were making 24 times the salary of ground level employees. Today, that multiple has grown to more than 300, in some cases far more. I'm not advocating a socialist exercise of wealth-sharing, the very mention of which is enough to send old people into stroke-inducing apoplectic shock. I don't believe doctors and garbage collectors should make the same salary. I simply have a rational, logical belief that CEOs and other corporate executives shouldn't make enough money to own private islands and leer jets while forcing their employees to choose between food and healthcare. Politicians, mostly republicans, want to protect the interests of these rich people and corporations because it benefits their personal wealth through kickbacks and back-alley bonus deals. Everyone knows it's happening but no one seems to be able to do anything about it. It has reached the ridiculous point that republicans have brainwashed the dumber of their voting constituencies to believe these wealthy corporations and individuals shouldn't be taxed.

            We have a serious situation here with the power lobbyists wield in Washington. They're the bridge between corporations and the state. Benito Mussolini, the well-known fascist leader of Italy during WWII, said, "The first stage of fascism should more properly be called Corporatism, because it is the merger of State and corporate power." This is pretty damned insightful, considering what we have going on these days. One has to wonder how this shit could ever be rectified aside from bloody revolution. I'd rather not have to go down that road, but we have to end the stratification of classes, the endless militarism and the attack on the rights and privacy of Americans. Corporate slavery will seem like a trip to the day spa once we let it slip into state sponsored slavery. If we don't turn this shit around, we'll see the day when they grind up poor folks to feed the rich people's dogs.

            So, I suppose now would be the perfect time to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. If elected, my first act as president will be to make corporate lobbying punishable by a mandatory sentence of 50 years in a federal penitentiary. The rest of my crazy plan is a secret, but everyone is going to love it. Campaign contributions are welcome immediately.