January 28, 2011 (originally published)
by Jill Dalton
Recently, I was boarding the C train in New York City where I encountered a woman who looked to be in her late 70’s sitting on the subway wearing a t-shirt which read: IS IT FASCISM YET? That really got me to thinking.
Okay, granted maybe I’m hyper sensitive because I’m an Army brat who went to high school in Germany. Or maybe it’s because my father was a highly decorated Colonel in the United States Army who fought in Patton’s Third Army in WWII, Korea and Vietnam to protect our democracy. Or perhaps it’s my interest in history. I’m currently reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” Whatever the reason, let me assure you this is very difficult for me to say, but I’m beginning to think America’s starting to look more and more like a (gulp) fascist state.
But before we freak out and jump to any conclusions, let’s take a deeper look, shall we? Fascism is defined as “a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy.” Sound familiar? In early 2010, the Supreme Court passed by a vote of 5 to 4 the “Citizens United” case, which gave corporations (including those with foreign interests) the same rights as individuals (personhood). This ruling allows corporations to contribute unlimited money to political campaigns without having to disclose anything. Or how about the Wall Street bailouts where our taxpayer dollars were given away to the very people who gambled, lost billions and sunk the global economy. “Corporate Socialism” anyone? And now we have more tax cuts for the rich, while millions of ordinary citizens lose their homes, their jobs and their futures. America’s income/wealth inequities are at the greatest level in our history and comparable to those in many Third World nations. It was recently shown that it is worse than Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen as evaluated by our own CIA! Let’s keep going, shall we?
Fascism is normally described as being on the far right but there is a scholarly consensus that fascism was also influenced by the far left but with a “focus” on solutions from the right. Sorry folks but that sounds exactly like what is going on in our country today. I voted for candidate Obama because he said he was anti war and appeared to believe in many of the same American principles I do. These include a safety net for those who are less fortunate than ourselves, healthcare as a basic human right, good jobs, education as the key to creating a better life, clean energy, etc. You get the gist and, yet, at every turn President Obama has capitulated to the right and the corporations, appearing to drop his original ideals before there is so much as one real negotiation. During healthcare reform considerations, the public option was taken off the table early and without that option there is no way to curtail our out of control insurance costs. And the private meetings with big Pharma made sure we could not negotiate for better drug prices. We lost the battle for cost effective universal healthcare almost before it began. Should I panic yet?
To be fair, there was “Wall Street Reform” which contained a significant provision for consumer protection. And in order to avoid a Senate confirmation, the President appointed in the interim, Elizabeth Warren, a champion for consumer affairs and of the Middle Class. Unfortunately, no one has seen or heard hide nor hair from her since. My suspicion is she’s been relegated to a broom closet somewhere in the White House. There is clearly not a “Too Big to Fail” provision enforceable in the bill either. In fact the recent findings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission shows the concentration of financial assets in the largest commercial and investment banks is significantly higher today than it was in the run-up to the crisis. But no matter, the banks go fiddle de de as they continue doling out huge bonuses to their insatiable, reckless, self-serving executives. So I ask you who is in charge here? Certainly not “we the people.”
We the people did not ask for these bank bailouts and certainly not our foreign wars. We the people wanted peace, the public option and accountability but nobody is listening to us. No one has been prosecuted for starting these unjust wars or stealing all of our money. Why? Because our elected officials don’t have to answer to us anymore. We have a government which is “the best money can buy.” The politicians now get the bulk of their campaign money from Wall Street, billionaires like the Koch brothers and big corporations so if our politicians don’t play by their rules they don’t get their money, and the person who has the most money or the greatest access to money wins. Capish?
Fascist governments also forbid and suppress opposition to the fascist state and any movement which opposes it, i.e. Bradley Manning, Julian Assange. Fascist governments identify violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality. They create lies, which are repeated endlessly and call their opponents uncivil. Endless wars are promoted and supported and they manufacture and use terms like “exceptionalism” or superiority to other nations or groups of individuals. They pretend to have a license on truth. America has the largest military budget in the world, larger than all the other countries in the world combined. One of America’s largest exports is war and weapons. We glorify violence on television and film and our daily lives and we allow any nut job with ready cash to purchase a semi automatic gun with extra large clips of ammo, by screaming Second Amendment rights and are shocked and appalled when these guns are used to perpetuate violence. This is utter madness, folks, stark raving insanity.
Now all good fascist regimes need enemies: blacks, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, Christians, Jews, almost anyone will do. Bush and Cheney claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (particularly nuclear and biological) and when that turned out to be a big fat lie, no problem, they just repackaged it like the next new and improved laundry detergent. And when the Bush brand finally collapsed under their lies and deceit they were merely replaced and repackaged into Obama’s Just War or the “real war” in Afghanistan. Or is that now Pakistan? How about Yemen or Somalia? And the corporate media gleefully jumps on the bandwagon and doles out the necessary fear and misinformation–falling in goosestep behind the latest corporate spin.
Remember how the Bush Administration so skillfully used yellow, orange and red alerts to keep us all upset and fearful so they could have their way with us like some sexual predator grooming us to come in for the kill? Well, they learned that tactic from the Russians. In the 50’s the Russians successfully used their alert system to keep their citizens in line and compliant with their wishes so why not use it here in America? They did and it worked. If you can keep people afraid they will do almost anything. Fear is a powerful motivator especially when it is not understood. Our brains do not function properly when we are afraid.
For the most part our media is corporately owned and operated. The News Corp headed by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who created Fox News, undoubtedly the best example, has become a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. This network spews out their corporate driven ideology based on white male supremacist rhetoric, laced with vile hatred of the other, (Muslim now equals terrorist) filled with racism and fear mongering from death panels to the Ground Zero Mosque, topped with out and out stupidity. Their head cheerleaders (propagandists) pose as news people: Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity and Palin, et al shovel lies and misinformation with their poisonous personalities for their corporate puppet masters, all the while shuckin’ and jivin’ for the almighty dollar. And then there is that illiterate “big fat idiot” (Re: Al Franken’s book), Rush Limbaugh regurgitating his version of hatred from right wing radio land.
With the growth of the Internet, a few media outlets have maintained some independence and have resisted corporate control: Democracy Now!, Thom Hartmann, Media Matters, Truth Dig, Truth-out, Huffington Post, rsn, Common Dreams, and AlterNet to name a few. Some in our government have also maintained a contrary opinion to the corporate control such as Senator Sanders, Kucinich, Feingold and Grayson (both were not reelected), Nadler and a few others.
So is it fascism yet?
Recently I was sitting on the subway and that belligerent announcement, directly from the pages of “1984,” came barreling over the loud speaker informing me, “We have the right to search your bags at any time and blah, blah, blah.” I stood up, as it was my stop anyway, and said in a loud voice, ”F-you and your fascist bulls&*t!” or something to that effect and the two, middle aged, white business guys sitting across from me just stared at me blankly like I was the crazy one; at that moment I probably was.
Is this what our democratic Republic has become? Why are we Americans so willing to give our rights away by not protesting against things like the Patriot Act or torture of every one declared an “enemy combatant?” Our surveillance systems have now proliferated faster than bunny rabbits before Easter. Our corporate state can now spy on us anytime/ anywhere. They can search your bags, pat you down, arrest you, and detain you without legal recourse. They can tap your phones and inspect your internet email. Are you kidding me? My father who fought in three wars must be turning over in his grave.
And here’s the worst part. It’s our fault. We the people have allowed this to happen. We have been living in a fools’ paradise, living in denial, keeping our noses stuck in our iPhones, iPads, iPods or whatever the latest electronic gadget is. We’re pretending nothing is going on, secretly hoping someone will save us.
Well, guess what? That ain’t happening. No one is going to save us. We must save ourselves. Jefferson said, “If you do not fight for your freedoms they will be taken from you.” And guess what? They have and are. Our constitution is being systematically dismantled, our money squandered on endless wars, Wall Street thieves and tax breaks for millionaires. Call me crazy. Call me Cassandra but it is up to us. It is our choice. Will we continue to collude with the dark forces of the elites and corporate power for our demise or will we realign with our higher selves and remember who we are? We must choose love over fear and we must awaken and rise up against the forces of darkness. We must stand for the good of humankind and with mother earth. We must stand in our truth and we must act. Denial and dysfunction do not work. We have given our power away and it is time to take it back. We are here to make the world a better place for others. This is our mission should we decide to accept it.
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”– Martin Luther King Jr.