What’s coming is not your grandparents’ Fascism
If you’ve ever been part of a dysfunctional organization or family, you know how difficult it is to see and pinpoint the dysfunction from the inside. It takes an outsider’s perspective or a member to leave and return or a member to join another organization or family to see where the problems clearly are.
It’s much the same way with dysfunctional governments and countries. I’m sure that if you were to ask a North Korean, who is my age of 47, if what s/he experiences is normal, the answer would be yes. The person would never have left North Korea, would know nothing of the outside world except what the government and media told them, and would believe whatever narrative they were taught. The paranoia felt at the very top of the leadership in North Korea seems abnormal to everyone else in the world, but it’s completely commonplace for a North Korean.
In light of the 2016 Presidential election in the United States, it behooves us to step back and look at our own country with a gimlet-eyed lens. With the rise in prominence of the “alt-right”, which is a softer way of saying “white nationalism” which is a softer way of saying “Nazism”, the word “fascism” has come increasingly part of our daily conversations. Comparisons to Nazi Germany have been made since Donald Trump began his historic rise into the White House, and there have been three distinct camps: those who see it, those who say it’s not the same, and those who have no clue what the rest of us are saying.
We’ll forgive the category that includes “those who have no clue what the rest of us are saying” and hope that they get up to speed in a way that is helpful. We’ll define “fascism” as a mindset that requires a popular and/or powerful group to dominate over everyone else by using tools of coercion, violence, economic threat, misinformation, and general intimidation.
First, let me say this: Under no circumstances should we view the historical United States of America with any rosy glow. There is no point in our history where we were great. We maybe did a good thing in helping the Allies in World War II, but quite frankly, we’ve been milking our role in that war to our benefit for seventy years. The rest of our history is based on genocide, slavery, white supremacy, patriarchy, and systemic oppression. If you don’t believe me, go read a book or ask an elder. I can’t get you up to speed in one essay. For the purposes of this discussion, we will assume that the United States has behaved in ways that could, from an outsider’s perspective, be considered verging on fascist.
If you think fascism is only about government control of industry and concentration camps, you’re wrong. Fascism is about creating an alternative reality, where truth means lies and where good means evil. It is then a vehicle to sell those beliefs to the masses in such a way that they are primed to accept what happens next. The following will be a ten point list of what our country already has done and what our country will do in the future, if we allow it. Make not mistake, we are already well prepared to accept fascism in more concrete forms and these are the reasons why:
General Attitude Toward Law and Order
The United States has had a “comply or die” mentality since its inception. Recent years have seen the increased militarization of police forces and use of surveillance by the state. Proposals like President-Elect Trump’s registry for Muslims will continue to gain ground. There will be “If You See Something, Say Something” type initiatives, plus neighborhood watches will become less about looking for interlopers with possible criminal intent and more about spying on the activities of one’s neighbor to report to authorities and curry favor.
Use of the Media
Over the past decade, main-stream media (MSM) has been purchased to be held in the hands of only six different conglomerates. With the thirty-year rise in a 24-7 news cycle and infotainment, we’ve already seen how especially with television broadcasts, the standards of journalism have fallen. The news is now big business, and the narrative is driven in part by advertisers/viewers. Les Moonves of CBS said that Donald Trump wasn’t a great person, but he was great for ratings. The responsibility toward shareholders was greater than the responsibility to the general public.
In addition, we have already seen media blackouts of news. The events in Standing Rock, ND are known primarily because of a group of dedicated activists and alternative/independent media outlets. When the MSM did report on Standing Rock, they used language of equivocation and made the peaceful water protectors appear to be the threat, instead of the local police and the DAPL security forces.
Language of Intent
Orwellian double-speak is already a cultural mainstay, but the language of intent will further soften. When they say “alt-right”, we say “Neo-Nazis”. When they say “privatization”, we say “crony-capitalism”. When they say “War on Drugs”, we say “War on Poor People.”
Expect this trend to continue. The government will use softer language to increasingly mask intent. Many things that the government wants us to believe will be wrapped up in patriotism, God, and country. The framing of every discussion from women’s reproductive rights to war with foreign countries will occur in a way to distract us from the reality of the action. In short, the words will not line up with the actions.
Our government has used eminent domain as an excuse to negate property rights. They have also used forfeiture of property, as seen with drug busts. As we saw in Standing Rock, they have no interest in sovereign territory of an Indian reservation.
The future projects as a continuation of these practices, though the concept of “enemies of the state” will be used as the excuse for violating property rights. Expect the Constitution to be used against us, along with agencies such as Homeland Security and laws such as the NDAA.
Free Speech Rights
The erosion of free speech rights gathered steam after September 11th. In the ten years prior, I had been able to successfully protest in front of the White House, but post-9/11 the Federal government clamped down on protests that take place on or around government property. Witness the use of “free speech zones” as a way to “protect” protesters at political events. Witness the NSA and everything that Edward Snowden and Barrett Brown revealed about government surveillance.
Free speech will continue to erode as individuals are increasingly called out for their protests against the government and as corporations either force employees to forfeit their free speech rights outside of work or as the government censures corporations that do not toe the political line. We’ve already seen the narrative shift that protesters are “agitators” and behave “aggressively”. We’ve seen Donald Trump chastise protesters at his events and encourage the crowd to behave badly toward them. Being outspoken will be frowned upon because one will never know who is listening or why.
Increasing Control of Women
There has never been a time in this country that was easy for women. One of the major gains in my lifetime was the passage of Roe v. Wade to allow reproductive freedom and choice for women. Nearly 45 years later, we’ve already witnessed an erosion of women’s reproductive rights from the “Pro-Life” Religious Right. The list of transgressions against women is too long to cite here, but it has gained momentum within the past decade.
The past history of fascism in Germany is prologue for the United States. As Völkisher Beobachter put it on October 14, 1931,”…The preservation of the form of the large family, is a matter of national, cultural and political necessity…. This view is also strictly opposed to the repeal of paragraph 218, and holds pregnancy to be inviolable. The termination of pregnancy is at variance with the meaning of the family, whose task is precisely the education of the coming generation—apart from the fact that the termination of pregnancy would mean the final destruction of the large family.”
This means that women’s access to reproductive health care will be increasingly limited. When men like Mike Pence and Paul Ryan claim that a condom is “too modern”, we can expect to see women denigrated for not having children. Our country has been at war for fourteen years. The war machine runs on human bodies and birthing cannon fodder (in the crudest possible of terms) will be patriotic.
Restrictions on Travel/Association
We’ve already seen with TSA and the “No Fly” list how the state can restrict and limit travel.
To extrapolate toward the future, it’s not difficult to imagine situations with curfews that require citizens to be off the roads at certain times. It’s not difficult to imagine travel banned to certain countries that are considered enemies of the state (we already had that with Cuba…). It’s not difficult to imagine travel ration cards for gasoline etc. It’s not difficult to imagine roadblocks and check points. It’s not difficult to imagine travel monitored through GPS systems.
The restrictions on association will most likely be “softer”. There may be some social shaming and inquiries in regard to membership of certain organizations.
The Image of the Good American
Propaganda abounds about who a “good” American is. Most of it centers on whiteness, cis-normative heterosexuality, and performative Christianity.
The future holds…more of that. There may be pledges or oaths that need to be sworn for the “good of the country.” Compliance will be mandatory. We’re already seeing the pushback from Colin Kaerpernick refusing to stand for the National Anthem. This will only continue.
The Post-Truth Reality
The prevalence of non-fact based narratives has increased dramatically over the past thirty years. It can be seen by people claiming that climate change is a hoax or that the earth is only 6000 years old or that the earth is flat. The entirety of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign was run on this premise.
In a “post-truth reality” lies will be celebrated. Lying will be normalized as ‘everyone does it” and demanding the truth will be considered tedious and unnecessary. Remember, fascism runs on feelings. Emotional truths that people want to believe will carry more weight than facts.
I’ve already posited that Fascism fuels emotion. One of the ways it does that is to play to people’s fears, real or perceived. Fear drives the narrative. Fascism came to power in Nazi Germany because of the economic crisis during the Weimar Republic, post World War I. There was a sense of economic uncertainty and scarcity. There was then a Great Depression. Good Germans wanted to provide for their families with honor. It was easy to look at the Jews and point a finger of blame.
It’s been said that fascism is the last dying breaths of capitalism, and that argument has merits. I would say that it arises between the false scarcity set up by the elite to control the masses. We live in a country of abundance, yet a large percentage don’t know where their next meal will come from, despite having a job. Let that sink in. People, who work forty hours or more a week, can’t feed and house their families in this country. It’s easy to scape-goat an “other” when you feel that you have done nothing wrong and don’t deserve what you’ve been handed.
The fear factor cuts the other way. Who wants the FBI to knock on their door and ask them about a friend’s activities? Who wonders if their actions online are being monitored? Who worries that associating with known “agitators” may cause them to lose their job? Who knows that if they are arrested on false accusations, they will have their life upended?
Do not doubt that ordinary “good” Americans will find it in their hearts to feel the necessity to hurt others in order to save themselves. Do not doubt that political fence-sitters will choose silence over action, if they feel it is in their best interests.
And thus, Fascism arrives in America with a red carpet laid before it…
All hope is not lost. There are always ways to counteract Fascism. There are ways to resist. There are ways to subvert. There are ways to protest and to revolt. Fascism has arisen and been defeated many times. We have the potential and the tools to fight what is coming. However, in order to fight it, we have to see it, acknowledge it, and be prepared for it. If we deny the direction that we are headed, if we think that because we’ve made so many advances we can’t possibly revert so far backward, if we wait for Fascism to send us an engraved invitation, it will already be too late.
Published By: Lessa Leigh