Ever since the United States was instrumental in defeating Fascism in 1945, if not before, various critics of the American government have accused it of behaving in a Fascist manner itself. The McCarthy hearings come to mind. Ever since Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President in 1981, the warnings have become more dire.
So I thought I, OhioGringo, would try to grade where America is today in its long march towards Fascism. For this, I used the 14 Points of Fascism, found all over the political blogosphere, and graded where I think we are on each one. Five asterisks(*****) means full Fascism, one means none. So, let’s have a bit of cynical fun:
Powerful and Continuing NationalismFascist 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.
**** The only reason I don’t give this a five is because it’s still OK not to fly the flag or even to burn it.
Disdain for the Recognition of Human RightsBecause 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.
**** There’s substantial opposition to this behavior, but Guantanamo’s still open, Bradley Manning’s still being tortured as far as we know, and President Obama has authorized assassination. Not five stars because people aren’t being disappeared domestically, yet.
Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying CauseThe 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.
**** Well, that’s obvious. Not a five because there is still public opposition.
Supremacy of the MilitaryEven 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.
***** No brainer.
Rampant SexismThe 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.
** We have Fascist bitches, too! This has been tried, but is failing due to public sentiment.
Controlled Mass MediaSometimes 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.
*** There is clearly domination by corporate media, but I am writing this, after all, and Democracy Now! is still broadcast. Overall, the Fascists have the edge.
Obsession with National SecurityFear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
***** The daily use of fear of whoever and whatever is unavoidable.
Religion and Government are IntertwinedGovernments 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.
*** Thank God for atheists, agnostics, Unitarians, Wiccans, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and sometimes Catholics and “mainstream” Protestant denominations. This could be much worse, but there is strong opposition. Still, when was the last time a President did not conclude a speech with “God Bless America?”
Corporate Power is ProtectedThe 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.
***** They have a lock. Citizens United v FEC have opened the floodgates. Look where our government officials come from and go to.
Labor Power is SuppressedBecause the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
**** Unions still exist, and sometimes fight, but they have been emasculated.
Disdain for Intellectuals and the ArtsFascist 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.
*** Anti-intellectualism holds the edge here, there are attacks on the arts, but they are often unsuccessful.
Obsession with Crime and PunishmentUnder 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.
***Leans that way, but there is still substantial opposition.
Rampant Cronyism and CorruptionFascist 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.
***** No brainer. The Greatest Theft Ever took place under TARP. Look where Obama’s Treasury Secretary and advisers came from. Look where politicians go when they “retire.”
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.**** Almost there!
And, by may calculations we are at 3.86. On a letter scale, America gets an overall C+ grade in Fascist achievement according to this little scale and myself. My political goal would be to get an “F”.