Friday, June 10, 2005

Hey, It's Freakin' Fascism Friday @ A Better Nation

It was recently suggested that being "liberal" is a mental disorder. More on that fallacious fooey soon, but in the meantime (and I do mean MEANtime), we sane but non-pussyfooting liberals may have to counter that bullying nonsense. Sure it seems like the Democrats need some Viagra these days, but the Republicans are getting ready to drive their dildos home with as little foreplay as possible.

Speaking of which, I relayed to you a call to action by a salon associate Douglas (see below). His questions set me down the road to some answers today, Freakin' Fascist Friday here at A Better Nation. And so, to begin, we ask:

Are the Republicans really Fascists Lite?

And no, I don't bandy the word about or use it "litely" myself. It's time to get the heavy hitters out of left field, back to pitching the ball and causing a shut out.

Know much about the "f" word? Test your fammiliarity with fascism at this article,"What is Fascism?", by Laura Dawn Lewis. It includes the now notorious "14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism" by Dr. Laurence Britt, oft quoted since it first appeared in Free Inquiry, Spring 2003. (Britt and Lewis argue that the United States has met all 14 criteria - see if you agree or give them creedance.)

Ohhhh, yeah, some of us just cringe and think that "f" word's a little too creepy. We roll our eyes, saying or thinking or hoping, "hey, but that couldn't happen here." No, not all at once, it couldn't. But with this much power and prestige and money on the line, we're not immune.

It does seem some strong elements of fascism (I'll go lower case for now) are in power in America, if we call it fascism by another name, Mussolini's name:`Corporatism. Corporatism certainly has arrived. It's just that it has not yet taken over completely. But it HAS taken over our public officials and institutions and safeguards enough to be a direct detriment and danger to the citizens of this country and to life on Earth.

If naive, we might think that the next wave of 21st Century fascists would appear about as obvious as the old fascists. I say no; they will appear (and are appearing) as the captains of industry, the captains of capitalism, better groomed and better connected than anyone else you're likely to meet or see in the news. They are media moguls, shareholders, board members, investors, commodities gamblers, venture capitalists, developers, affluent retirees living on mutual funds - pretty much all capitalists are implicated in this voracious sucking up to consumption, growth and the "untapped wealth" (natural or human resources) on this planet.

So fascism, under the label/guise of corporatism, is now in our midst, but it is a much more sophisticated fascism than we saw rise to power 70 years ago.

It won't be sporting swastikas. It won't be Nazi-esque in any way. It will wear a good suit and work on Wall Street or Madison Avenue or in Detroit or Houston. And it will retire in Florida and Arizona, Sun City, Aspen or some strip mall and white bread community near you.

To some extent, it is anyone who works or worked for large unvirtuous corporations whether that person was directly involved in the dirty work or not. It is anyone who is now spending the money they made at those corporations to live any semblance of a status quo American consumer lifestyle.

The dressed up, secret society Nazi geeks in the ANP are a marginalized and pathetic bunch of losers in this country. They may fire off a few shots, but the Big Boys Behind Bush and Cheney and the Fortune 500 are CALLING the shots, not only for this country but for the control and plunder of other countries and supposedly adversarial cultures around the world. Making enemies makes money, but it's got to be done now with the savvy of smart advertising, the look of legitimacy, the power of pervasive propaganda.

The only reason we may not see how close we are to the Corporatist brand of fascism is that companies still compete. The conspiracy is not in the hands of just a very few yet. There are trillions of dollars involved, scattered in companies all around the globe. And they're not all on the same page, at least not yet. Well, they don't have to be on the same page to take us down that road.

Some of us - really a few - work to tread lightly on the planet. Corporatism works to tread largely and heavily on the planet, thus to reap more profits faster. Corporatism is really just aggressive capitalism in cahoots with government scams and protections, not much more. Well, we've got more than that now. We are there.

Abuses of American power, public and private, which really abuse us, all of us, are occurring now. Rich or poor, we are the victims of this short-sighted capitalist charade. It is greed made to look fiscally sound. It is a slick, marbled floor legitimacy. It isn't just backrooms, it's boardrooms. It is the essence of the American empire, and yes, it needs to be knocked down some big notches now and made more humble and humane.

WEEKEND UPDATE: In a related op-ed piece for The New York Times, Paul Krugman says we are "Loosing Our Country." Other words, same theme: as Krugman says, "the politics of greed."


At 6/13/2005 8:09 AM, Blogger Rhesus Pieces said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6/13/2005 9:08 AM, Blogger Rhesus Pieces said...

Ok, name calling aside. What are you going to do? What are liberals going to do? Eveyone tries to make the world one in which they want to live. Organize and quit worrying about what those fascists are doing. Worry isn't action.

At 6/13/2005 12:41 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Name calling, Rhesus?

As to your second comment, sort of true, but only sort of - this is not exactly "worry" here (or mere "name calling"). This is a response to Douglas' eloquent call for action (again, see Thursday's post below). Getting an informed and enlightened view out there to folks like you is action. It's not the only action, but it is an essential step. And as for worry, we NEED the moderates and the conservatives to worry - they've got to go through that essential step too to get to the time and place and perspective from which to act.

At 6/14/2005 5:33 AM, Anonymous Raining on my Lily said...

Perhaps another adjective for today's corporatism modus operandi is "insidious" (strangely listed above insight in my Webster's) "operating in a slow or not easily apparent manner; more dangerous than seems evident." Yow - i recently cringed during a program on advertising: a conference dedicated to how to take aim (literally) for the brains of children to recognize and align with product identification (don't let go of my logo). Just get behind some mom in the grocery aisle and listen to the incessant wailing of a child for "its" brand of cereal (serial?). First the corporates take over each other, not to come up with a better product, better working conditions for workers, provide better customer service. Just to take over (Trump's New Deal) the whole market; consumer choices are collateral damage. Money is the thing - and yes we're all implicated because we can't really do our homework like before. Read a label and you may get "distribured by" but not the country of orgin, or the big umbrella corporation that owns that brand. So buy locally grown/produced. Know your makers and get free of THEM. Check out "And the Cradle Will Rock" for a feel of fascism.

At 6/14/2005 2:15 PM, Blogger heidi said...

I'm with monkey boy on this one.

Yapyapyap, but How then shall we live?

At 6/14/2005 2:23 PM, Blogger heidi said...


Whoops! Forgot the ubiquitous and ever obnoxious emoticons. No name calling here!

;) :))

At 6/14/2005 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: your response to rhesus pieces on "needing the moderates and conservatives to worry too." The real conservatives (not the Bush worshippers) are the most awake people in the country today. They're certainly way ahead of liberals, who are basically facillitating the Bush/Neo-Con agenda and are in bed with the Corporates every bit as much as the Republicans ... they just want to sleep with the "working man" too. They want to make everyone happy ... that's why they're called liberal! I would say denial is a big problem with the liberals. So you've got your work cut out for you ... that is, if you're really serious about changing things.

At 6/15/2005 9:20 PM, Anonymous Jay said...

Lawrence, I don’t think that one gets very far looking for signs of fascism by using Mussolini’s definition in terms of a merger of state and corporations. The essence of all totalitarian systems has been to absorb all organizations into the state – religious, economic, labor, youth, political, etc. We confront not a merger of corporations with the state but a freeing up of corporations and a shrinking of state power with respect to corporations (but not with respect to citizens, other nations, and non-economic organizations). To the extent that corporations are exercising more power over people, that is in spite of the state, not acting in behalf of the state. Power over people, whether by the state or by corporations or other organizations threatens our liberty, our economic survival as individuals and our sustainable environment. These are all problems on which we should work and resist (peacefully), but I don’t think it serves our cause to conjure up the images and emotions associated with the term “fascism”. The problems are bad enough without using labels that most reasonable people would dismiss as totally inapplicable. Let’s talk about liberty, sustainability, livable wages, honest elections, fairness, and other values that had wide approval in our society.


At 6/15/2005 9:33 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

You make a very good point, Jay. I agree that fascism is one of the strongest labels around and quite an insult. I use the word, along with many others these days, as a warning that the right might be so wrong - and that we must expect and work for much better things for our country and for humankind and life on this planet.

I am wondering if indeed we need a new word altogether to define the thrust of the current incarnation of the American empire.

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