Wednesday January 19, 2005 at 4:49 PM
Tilting Towards Fascism
Appearing in Politics
- def. Fascism — A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
- American Heritage Dictionary
There was a time, not so long ago, when an informed individual could feel relatively content in the knowledge that fascism had been safely discarded in the dust bin of history. Like the malignant virus it is however, such a sense turns out to have been unfortunately optimistic. A vial of the pestilent germ having been preserved in some cold and dangerous place only to be reanimated at a time and place where it was most likely to do the greatest harm — the public having grown complacent, the vaccines decayed and impotent.
In his article “Fascism Anyone?”, Laurence Britt analyzes seven modern fascist regimes to arrive at a rather startling list of fourteen “common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power.” Sitting here at the beginning of President George W. Bush’s final four years in office, it is a list worth reviewing.
- Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
- Disdain for the importance of human rights
- Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
- The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
- Rampant sexism
- A controlled mass media
- Obsession with national security
- Religion and ruling elite tied together
- Power of corporations protected
- Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
- Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
- Obsession with crime and punishment
- Rampant cronyism and corruption
- Fraudulent elections
Now the question of whether our nation has utterly and inescapably given itself over to fascism is hardly certain. It is not however, a question that is as far beyond debate as we might all like. Where our government’s loyalties lie is a question that is none too easily dismissed or resolved.
In the particular case of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party by which it rules, the preference for the protection of investment and corporate power over the welfare of the electorate and the long-term stability of society, is readily apparent. Whether in their arrogant dismantling of America’s moral standing in the world, their systematic destruction of our environmental protections, or their fleecing of the nation’s Treasury, it is awfully hard to ascribe to this President any desire to further the causes of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” among the citizenry.
As he begins his second term, I can only hope that the last four years have left him a better a man, a stronger leader. I can only hope that they have tempered his arrogance, increased his understanding, and humbled his certitude. But I doubt it.
Buckle your seat belts. He’s got 1,461 days left.