Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Other "F" Word

I'm no expert on such matters (or on any matters), but I don't equate fascism with totalitarianism. Maybe I'm mistaken. I see fascism as totalitarianism's younger brother, who comes up behind, with potential to overtake his sibling, given time. I have to thank Cannonfire, once again, for a link last wekend to this article by Patrick Walker (no, not the late Patrick Walker, astrologer!) It's a longish essay on fascism and totalitarianism, and comes to the conclusion that: "the political dysfunction Americans now face is really a form of fascism".

A few snips from Patrick Walker's essay at OpEd News.com:

I do not regard fascism and totalitarianism as synonyms. The proper way to view matters is that a very pernicious form of fascism (and of course, the word fascism implies it's pernicious) can exist without totalitarian control; if totalitarianism implies near-total government control over people's lives, it strikes me that government can do a particular sort of grievous harm to its subject population--harm that fully merits the term fascism-- while still falling short of totalitarian dominance.

The alarming part is that fascism can fool a nation's people and have them deeply in its grip before they've even noticed--largely because they've confused fascism with totalitarianism, and falsely conclude they're fascism-free because daily life isn't (yet) totally under their government's thumb. The hopeful part is that because fascism can exist for some time without totalitarianism, people can (if sufficiently awakened) still retain enough freedom to fight back and reverse their nation's fascist course. I think ALL these characteristics--except, scarily, the sufficient awakening--exist in today's United States.

So a key part of modernity is that the vast masses of humanity believe (at some level) in democracy, so even the most tyrannical governments must somehow fake it. So fascism is essentially a cancer on democracy, and would not exist without its modern democratic host. Which brings us to the quintessentially modern means by which the fascist spreads: mass propaganda, as enabled by modern communications media.

It's in its absolutely central reliance on mass propaganda that fascism proves its incestuously close relationship with democracy, for a weakened democratic body is the only kind fascism's cancer can grow in. (Not that there aren't truly awful regimes that were never in any sense democratic; my point is that they're simply not fascist.)

Our long brainwashing by electronic media advertising has in many ways been our grade school for graduation to fascism, and it's especially sobering to realize that Goebbels learned much of his satanic bag of tricks from American advertisers.

Quite simply, it's too potentially dangerous--and too disreputably messy--to control large modern populations (especially ones that believe in democracy) by force, so mind control through mass propaganda (and its Siamese twin, censorship) has become the preferred modern means of tyranny.

So, based on my careful analysis, U.S. citizens presently live under a dangerous form of fascism, but not yet under totalitarianism. Let's use the precious freedoms still remaining to us to assure we don't get there, that our leaders don't continue to overreach. We must, for example, drastically cut back on government spying, and we must protect the precious right of all citizens to vote. But for now, we must above all stop Obama from approving the XL pipeline, for its construction will require a savage crackdown on civil disobedience from which our Constitutional freedoms may never recover.

It's a very good essay, well worth a read in full. Exactly what those individuals who agree with Mr Walker's view can do isn't set out though. It sounds, kind of, do-able to "assure that... our leaders don't continue to overreach. We must, for example, drastically cut back on government spying, and we must protect the precious right of all citizens to vote. But for now, we must above all stop Obama from approving the XL pipeline...."

I hope that there will be an essay to follow, with information on exactly how these things are still within reach of "we", the ordinary people in the USA.

We've been over similar ground before on this blog, last June: -
New Fashion Fascism. I guess it does no harm to keep it at the forefront of our minds.


mike said...

Hhmmmmm...I still stand by my comments in your previous post:

We are in a new era where self-governance by individual countries is much less than several decades ago. I called it multi-nationalism in the previous post, but I think that terminology does a disservice. There seems to be a consortium of power that has penetrated various nations in the pursuit of dominion and it appears to be monetarily linked, of course. The UK is now the global financial center, specifically "The City of London Corporation", an entity upon itself that appears to control-regulate all global financial concerns.

There has been a tacit partnership formed by various nations, particularly UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. These nations are formidably denigrating individualism and liberties in unison. The G8 and G20 nations are unifying, too. So, it appears there is a globalization of authoritarianism and fascism, but in a collective, distributive sense, no longer attributed to an individual nation. Within the umbrella of this, the USA has become more centric toward the goals of a league of nations, which has dramatically shifted our congressional legislation and politics in the USA.

I definitely agree with the specific notion of the Patrick Walker essay, where he believes it's important to retain the right to vote. However, I believe it's become urgent to have citizens recognize their necessity to vote...the majority do not and this was before the recent voting-law changes. Americans have become quite lax in exercising their voting power. And I believe that most Americans are not informed voters even when they do vote...it's too much effort to exert, when superficial TV commercials will suffice.

His statement to encourage the POTUS to veto the Keystone pipeline is interesting. Obama has been hesitant to approve this project over his environmental concerns and has received a tremendous backlash from the GOP. I would encourage the citizenry to petition the GOP gang-bangers and to protest in general. This pipeline would have been approved several years prior had it not been for the POTUS and various environmental groups stressing their disapproval.

I'm currently reading "The Shadow of the Wind", by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The novel takes place in post-war, fascist Barcelona, Spain. Many good quotes in the book. "The most efficient way of rendering the poor harmless is to teach them to want to imitate the rich." We Americans are too busy with our accoutrements and acquiring newer ones to replace last year's to acquiesce to knowledgeable decision practices. I couldn't help but observe the hoop-la over the Oscar ceremonies Sunday evening...if only we all put that iota of interest and zeal into political comparisons and campaign choices.

Twilight said...

mike ~ What you describe is possibly one layer of this kind of creeping fascism, a growing global "over-layer". But we're still separate nations, each with its own national "flavour" and method of doing things.

USA has always prided itself (and has done so very loudly) on being the Land of the Free, so in its case the new-fangled version of fascism ought to be standing out very clearly to its citizens.

Re the right to vote: it would be valuable, if voting ever changed anything. It doesn't, not any more, not in the USA. All but a tiny minority of politicians are now bought and paid for with corporate money. This is where fascism has its basic strangle-hold. Once in power they dance to the tune of the ones who "brung 'em", not to the tune of the people's wishes.

I know you still retain a certain warmth towards President Obama, a warmth which I quickly lost. I see his attitude to the XL pipeline as procrastination and an attempt to save face, giving the impression that he is trying to avoid agreement. He will approve it eventually - just watch! There's be a reason given...not sure what it'll be yet, but it'll sound good, at the time.

Agreed, Americans, a shade more keenly than citizens of other western countries, did soon become fascinated with shiny objects after WW2, a habit that has now become ingrained and has mushroomed. This was all part and parcel of the early slide towards what we now have - new-fangled fascism. Whether it was a dastardly long-term plan of distraction, or whether it just happened this way naturally, doesn't matter much now.

Yes, the annual Oscar bash has become a pain in the ass - but we still watched TV coverage. I'm a film fan, always have been. Film production, in my view, has been the USA's gold star, the area where it led and has always shone brightly. I guess its "workers" the actors and behind-scene people deserve to get together sometimes. The media make it into the silly circus it should never have agreed to become; but the industry loves the spotlight, just as the people love their shiny objects.

mike (again) said...

Voting probably doesn't change circumstances much, because many people don't vote! It's a circular argument, at best. Apathy is its own pathology.

Michael McDonald's analysis of voter turnout rates for presidential elections for the past two decades indicates between 52 and 62 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. He states that there's a marked decline for the midterm elections:

"...turnout rates drop-off to a higher degree in midterm elections. According to the Census Bureau, White turnout rates decreased 21 percentage points from 2008 to 2010, while African-Americans decreased 25 percentage points and Latinos decreased 23 percentage points. In the short term, the drop-off of minorities -- and young people, too -- in midterm elections poses a challenge to Democrats who wish to control congressional majorities and to win the many state offices that are more frequently elected on the midterm calendar."

"...only hardcore voters participate in local elections, primaries, and midterm elections. The registration rates of young people are only slightly lower in midterm election years. By and large, these individuals choose not to vote in these elections. Here, the proscription is different. Civic education is needed to inform young people the importance of these elections to their quality of representation, and ultimately the policies governments enact."

It's dismal that slightly more than half of eligible voters cast ballots for the presidential elections, but criminal that this number drops dramatically during midterm elections. Younger voters are far less likely to vote in either election cycle, which will always favor the 60+ age group and that group's agenda, which has the highest voter turnout (view the "Citizen Turnout Rates by Age" graph in second link).

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ As long as the two-party system remains, mike, with various ploys afoot to exclude third, fourth and other parties in national elections, it wouldn't matter even if a 100% of eligible citizens were to vote - the people they voted for would still all have been bought off and following the agenda of their buyers, rather than the voters who put them in office.

The only thing I can imagine that might help, and help a lot, would be to have the Citizens United ruling overturned in the Supreme Court, limiting severely the amount of money corporations can contribute to candidates in elections. How is that ever going to happen though? By getting a more left-wing SCOTUS?
Highly improbable, and too long-winded - waiting for Justices to die off, even if there were a possibility of some President being brave enough, and Congress being enlightened enough, to allow such a thing.

LB said...

mike ~ As far as voting goes, I'm in agreement with Twilight on this one. I don't think things would be any better (or substantially different) if everyone voted, though I do think it's important for people to remain informed and actively supportive of issues they care about.

ex-Chomp said...

These are topics never to forget, and always to remind of and ponder.

But beware, Fascism is not what may appear along the ages.

Like an old actor it can act in disguise.

So beware: Its new customs, though old in reality, always have changelings.

So be clever, be intelligent.
And watch beyond the appearences.

Twilight said...

ex-Chomp ~ So true! This is no conspiracy theory, this is fact, it's there for all with willing eyes to see. There's little we can do about it now, other than simply being aware.