Fascism Comes To America
Comes? Hell, it’s already here. It snuck in the side door while we were watching “Jersey Shore” and Monday Night Football, or while we had our noses stuck into smartphones. It’s been coming for 40 years, since the Powell memo. Lewis Powell was an attorney for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 1971 he sent a memo to the chamber, saying that if Republicans wanted to attain a permanent majority, they were going to have to control every aspect of society; education, church, business, the courts, everything. President Nixon rewarded his efforts by nominating him to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Right has hated the New Deal since its beginning, and has tried to destroy every social program that gives working people any security or power over their own lives. I refuse to call these people Republicans or even conservatives; they are fascists, pure and simple. They believe the most stable society is a form of neo-feudalism, with a few elites on top and everyone else as serfs and peons. They hate America and they despise democracy. The Citizens United decision of January 2010 affirmed that corporations are people, and money equals speech. This opened the door to unlimited money for the fascists to sweep into power.
What is fascism? The classic definition is attributed to Mussolini, though it was coined by one of his lieutenants, Giovanni Gentile. It is the merger of business and government. There are other characteristics that define fascism as well, one of them being a severely authoritarian government, usually under a dictator. Now we don’t have a dictator in America, do we? Well, consider a President who now has the power to indefinitely detain, without charges or due process, anyone he chooses, including U.S. citizens. He can order the assassination of anyone anywhere in the world, including U.S. citizens (and has already done so, three times that we know of). Is that dictatorish enough for you?
Typically under fascist rule there is forcible suppression of opposition, which we have seen in the police brutality of peaceful Occupy protests across the nation. Why do you think police forces have been arming up like combat soldiers, while they add tanks, drones, sound cannons, and a microwave weapon called Active Denial, that uses a microwave beam that makes you feel like your skin is on fire. Did you think they were getting ready for a parade or costume party? No, they’re getting ready for something bigger.
Your father’s Republican Party has been purged of moderates, or anyone else who — this is their own phrase — lacks ideological purity. The religious aspect cannot be ignored, either. The Judeo-Christian tradition is the template for fascism; rigidly authoritarian, patriarchal, and hey! It’s led by a dictator in the form of — well, whaddya know — an old, white male. AND HE IS A JEALOUS GOD! He isn’t going to stand for this collective bargaining nonsense, either. As Stephen Colbert says, it’s Yahweh or no way! And this is where the anti-women thing comes from. In all three Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, women rank just below dogs and cattle. They must be controlled, silenced, and beaten if necessary.
What’s the other main characteristic of fascism? It exalts nation and race. Ever hear of American Exceptionalism? We’re the new flippin’ Master Race! Well, white people, anyway. White males, really. Rich, old, white males, if you want the truth. No one else need apply. It’s a private club, and you and I aren’t invited.
What’s the first thing on any totalitarian shopping list? You have to get rid of the trade unions, because they are the source of power for ordinary workers. It is impossible to have a robust middle class without strong unionization. That purge began thirty years ago, under Reagan, and is now nearly complete. Once unions are gone, say goodbye to the minimum wage, child labor laws, and workplace safety.
I’ll give you a few examples of how fascism works in America now. You have one political party with no ideas, whose only chance to win an election is to steal it. So you have voter suppression tactics like voter ID laws, voter caging, purges, and hacking the electronic voting machines. These machines are privately owned, with proprietary software that can’t be monitored by election officials. They are so easily hackable that someone with an 8th Grade education can flip votes, with equipment purchased from Radio Shack for a few bucks.
Have you heard of ALEC? That’s the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s made up of corporate lobbyists and state legislators (nearly all Republicans). They draft “business friendly legislation” ready to introduce in state legislatures. That’s the very definition of fascism. They’re behind all the anti-women, stand your ground (shoot first!) and voter suppression laws you’ve been hearing about.
Every phone call, email, text or tweet you send is being intercepted, filtered for content, and stored, by your friendly National Security Agency (for your protection, of course). They’re building a huge new complex in Bluffdale, Utah, that will be able to store the equivalent of 200 quadrillion pages of text.
A school district in San Antonio, TX, has the Student Locator Project. Students must wear a badge containing an RFID chip, which will track their every move. Any student not wearing a badge is denied access to lunchrooms, libraries, and sporting events, and faces transfer or suspension.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has appointed several “Emergency Managers” to take over Benton Harbor, Ecourse, Pontiac, and other cities. The ER has absolute authority to ignore or even dissolve city government, including the mayoral offices. He’s like some Stalinist Commissar. If you live in one of these cities, you have no power whatsoever over your local politics, and your votes don’t mean squat.
In certain parts of the country, Americans of certain ethnic descent may be asked for “Your papers, please.” Failure to produce them will result in incarceration until the necessary documentation can be provided. No, this isn’t some old nazi movie. This is a brand new nazi movie.
Eleanor Fairchild, an 89-year-old Texas great-grandmother, was arrested a few weeks ago for trespassing on her own land! It’s along the Southern portion of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and she refused to accept the “fair market value” offered. When bulldozers showed up to take out the trees standing in the way, she stood in front of them. The land has been seized under the eminent domain law, which says that land can be stolen from its owners for the public good. WHAT public good? You have a pipeline owned by a foreign corporation, carrying the dirtiest, most corrosive oil on the planet, going to refineries for export to Asia. Where’s the public good in that?
Maybe corporate fascism is the correct term to use. The corporate state now owns the Congress, the elections, the courts, police and the military. What do you think you’re gonna do, make a protest sign and sing “We Shall Overcome?” Good luck with that. So what can we do? Well, it’s a little late for that question. What should we have done is the better one. The first time police told people they had to have a permit to protest (the First Amendment IS your permit!), that was the time to do something The first time protestors were directed to a designated “free speech zone” was the time to do something. On Dec. 12th, 2000, when the Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush to the Presidency, that was the time to do something. We can and must resist in whatever way we choose, that’s a start. Please understand that any action you take, or decline to take, will have consequences, one way or the other. It’s up to you.
Tomorrow is the Presidential election. You will decide between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (presuming you’re allowed to vote, and that your vote is counted properly, or at all). That’s the difference between slow-motion tyranny and kicking it into hyperdrive. If Romney is allowed to steal the election, you can say goodbye to the EPA, FDA, OSHA, the Department of Education, public schools, libraries, and every other public institution. It will all be privatized, including the roads and highways. Don’t worry, though, you won’t be able to afford those luxuries anyway. It’s been said that a people get the kind of government they deserve. Well, we deserve it, alright. By letting all this happen, we are complicit in the crime. And once these people have complete power, we will never get it back again.
The good news is that totalitarian regimes are inherently unstable, and this one is saturated by greed and corruption on a scale never seen before; soon enough it will collapse of its own weight. We should be planning right now for what kind of society we want to build from the ruins. By the way, did I tell you this is Guy Fawkes Day?
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
— Sinclair Lewis.