I was invited and I accepted to join the blog discussion group Further Left Forum. I have enjoyed the discussions, and the diversity of the team members. My first day as a member, I became involved in a discussion about whether the USA is fascist. I'm writing this post, because I've had the discussion about what is fascism several times.
This document has been appearing at several left/liberal sites.
14 Points of Fascism
The author of this article compared the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet and identified 14 characteristics common to those fascist regimes. Below each of these points is a collection of news articles dating from the start of the Bush presidency divided into topics relating to each of these 14 points of fascism.
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 the 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.
The hatred towards George Bush43 is visceral. From A for Abu Ghraib to Z for zealotry, there are legitimate reasons not to like Bush and company. The conservatives who post here, are often more critical of him, than liberals. All this doesn't mean the US is fascist.
The reason it is so important to me, is because it's a serious question of strategy and tactics. If I believe Bush is a politician I personally dislike and disagree with, is different than how I would relate to him in a fascist society.
Leon Trotsky wrote a pamphlet calledFASCISM
What It Is and How To Fight It. It was written in 1944, in response to what is called "third period Stalinism". It was Stalin's ultra-left period, where social-democrats were labeled social-fascist and the enemy. That policy curtailed communists uniting with social-democrats to stop Hitler. By mislabeling social-democrats as fascist, it allowed Hitler to gain power. By mislabeling Bush fascist, you will not win your political program under a bourgeois democracy.
I think when liberals today call Bush fascist, they are actually supporting the Democratic Party, with extreme rhetoric. If you believe the US is a fascist country, I have to ask some questions. Are you armed and underground? Is your blog shut down? Do you leave your house at night? If Bush is a fascist, what is Bill Clinton? Do you expect to be arrested for your views?
Back to Trotsky, "When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini -- the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role -- but it means first of all for the most part that the workers' organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism...."RENEGADE EYE