When fascism comes to America so many people will be arguing about the symptoms, they won’t even recognize the disease. That was the working title for this piece even though I knew it would be too long for the finished product. But it does make a pretty good statement of fact in regard to the situation in which we find ourselves today. At least I think it does, so much so that I made a Twitter post out of it, at least.
The main problem with trying to point out that Fascism is nibbling ever bigger chunks off the backside of America is that you can’t find two or more groups… hell it’s hard to find two or more individual PEOPLE… who can tell you what Fascism is and those that can recognize it for what it is generally don’t want the rest of us to know for reasons that will become obvious.
One thing we need to clear up before we go a step farther here though… Fascism is not an outgrowth of what most… especially those at the right end of the political spectrum… like to call “Liberal” or “leftist” thinking. It is… as practiced in various eras and parts of the world… almost the complete antithesis of Socialism and/or what we have generally come to regard as Communism. Fascism is a purely right wing or conservative ideology, totally separate from any of the established “isms” that have been used to stir and control people over the past couple of hundred years. If Socialism is the ultimate in leftist philosophy, then Fascism serves the same purpose for the right, in spite of the persistent efforts of some on the right… either through ignorance or willful intent… to convince us that they are one and the same.
The accepted definitions… as is the case with most “isms”… are imprecise and don’t really provide a starting point for sorting out the primary differences either since they offer a number of semi-related but different interpretations for each but in general, Mirriam Webster defines SOCIALISM thus:
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2: a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.
So basically, Socialism is a system of government based on collective ownership of assets either by cooperatives or collectives or by the government itself and each member of the collective is rewarded based on their level of contribution to the whole.
I’ve never lived under a Socialist system in the United States and neither has anyone else, no matter what you might hear to the contrary. The US has always… at least until now… functioned under a system of government based on Capitalism and to suggest we have otherwise at the present time is a lot of things ranging from disingenuous to an outright lie. This doesn’t mean that what we refer to as Capitalism hasn’t evolved into something markedly different than that which some of us who were around 40-50 years ago lived and worked under. Indeed that’s the subject of this series.
Before we start trying to define Fascism, we need to discuss one more thing it’s not. It is not Nazism. According to most essays or other writings, Nazism is a political party platform that was based on a military dictatorship coupled with Fascism and even certain aspects of Socialism. It is NOT a government structure as applies to Fascism.
The most notable characteristic of a fascist country is the separation and persecution or denial of equality to a specific segment of the population based upon superficial qualities or belief systems. As Laura Dawn Lewis puts it in her excellent essay, “What Is Fascism?” on the Couples Company Site, “ Simply stated, a fascist government always has one class of citizens that is considered superior (good) compared to another (bad) based upon race, creed or origin.
After that, it’s pretty much anything goes. You can have a political or military dictatorship as in 1930s Germany and Italy or you can have what amounts to an economic dictatorship. In fact, you don’t have to have a dictatorship in the accepted sense at all. It is possible to be both a republic and a fascist state at the same time. The preferred class gets to live in the republic while the oppressed class lives in a fascist state.
I’m sure that most educated people will agree that we have no shortage of people who have been shunted into the fascist state category given previous and current attacks on just about anyone not a rich, white, Christian male. Just as Adolph Hitler scapegoated the Jews, Gays, Communists and Slavic peoples, blaming every conceivable ill on them, so do the real powers that be in this country scapegoat Blacks, Hispanics, LGBT Community, Muslims, Women, the Elderly and Disabled… you name it. If you’re not part of the great white male Christian power structure then you are… if not directly responsible… then at least a symptom of everything they think is wrong in the world and that equates to anything or anyone who is not putting money directly into their off shore bank accounts.
NOTE: As Ms. Lewis points out, no one government is purely anything. Most have elements of several structures with one dominant structure. At his point in time attempts are ongoing to install Fascism as the dominant structure in the United States.
While Fascism has exhibited different minor aspects attached to the basic structure according to the country and the era in which it has become dominant there are certain basic elements that would appear to be readily recognizable warning signs that a country is right for a takeover by outwardly Fascist elements. We’ll talk about some of those in tomorrow’s post.