Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Recognizing Fascism

"And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day." I Samuel 8:18

It is fashionable to associate fascism with the political right. Like most popular conceptions, it is also erroneous to do so.

As a history teacher in the early 1990s, I began to be fascinated by Bill Clinton's seeming use of fascistic tactics and philosophy in first advancing, and then preserving, his administration. This led me to purchase and then read Stanley Payne's A History of Fascism, 1914-1945 (Payne is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hardly an outpost of conservatism). Payne surveyed the entire fascist landscape - there were fascist movements throughout both Europe and Asia (and to a lesser extent in the Americas) throughout the time period covered by his book - and arrived at a "definition" of fascism that was both striking and chilling.

The faux intelligentsia of liberal Western culture often pretends that fascism can be boiled down to two basic propositions: Nationalism and Racism. As with all of the left's conclusions, this conclusion is arrived at more out of an attempt to bolster their own self-conception than out of dealing fairly with history. Since, publicly (though on the race front, ONLY publicly), the modern left finds nationalism, racism, and the political right all objectionable, it makes sense to simply assign nationalism and racism to the political right and thereby conclude that fascism is an extreme movement emanating from the right wing.

Where evidence exists, it all points to the opposite conclusion. The first tip-off, which most eighth graders would recognize (but since the left's understanding of social sciences is mired in a kindergartner's view of the world, an eighth-grade understanding is far too advanced for the left), is that the word Nazi, the title of the most well-known of the fascist movements, is an anglicized shortening of the words "National Socialism," or in the original German Nationalsozialismus. While it is commonly held that Nazism was opposed in principle to communism, it is important to note that its opposition was national (i.e., a preference for Germany over the Soviets) and political (i.e., political power is viewed by fascists as a zero-sum game so that, even within Germany, the Nazis were compelled to destroy Germany's communists and socialists so that they themselves could wield power without restraint), not ideological. In fact, the full title of the Nazi party was the "National Socialists German Workers Party," a titular formula that has been mimicked time and again by both socialist and communist organizations worldwide.

Secondly, however, note that the goals of fascism have always been the same as those of communism and socialism: the concentration of political power in a party bureaucratic structure rather than in the hands of private citizens, the state control of capital with varying degrees of redistribution, the use of Keynesian spending strategies as a means of consolidating political power, attempts at mass mind control and brainwashing, and the transformation of the citizenry from a free people into subjects - wards of the state. For this reason, there has never been a fascist movement that did not have as its goal the founding of a socialist structure in which capital was controlled, to one extent or another, by government. Fascism, then, in its effect, is to always have economic aims that are more compatible with the left than the right.

Payne, in A History of Fascism, determined that attempts to define the ideology of fascism essentially missed the point - fascism is not so much an ideology as it is a methodology. In fact, he stated that one of the universal signs of fascism was the fact that it tended to exist within an ideological vacuum: other than the tendency toward a socialistic tyranny, the ideology of fascism tended to be different in every state in which it existed.

That fascism lacks a coherent and stable ideology makes sense when one understands Payne's definition of fascism, which has nothing to do with right-wing politics, nationalism, or racism. Rather, fascism, according to Payne, is an ideologically vacant grab for raw power at any cost with a consequent concentration of governmental power in a socialist bureaucracy and the subjugation of the people of a nation.

So fascism is not an attempt to support an ideological viewpoint, it is an attempt to seize power and subjugate nations minus any coherent ideology. Fascism is not about beliefs, but rather about the pure, naked exercise of raw power.

One can see that, in fact, strongly-held beliefs would tend to get in the way of the exercise of raw power. If one's goal is power, strongly-held beliefs merely complicates matters: what if the population I am trying to subjugate doesn't share my beliefs? So the defining element of fascism was its ability to adopt whatever belief system aids it in its pursuit of raw power.

The vagaries of history made Germans susceptible to a myth grounded in national expansion for economic purposes and in blaming national and economic troubles on Jews. But note that the same was NOT found in the Japanese form of fascism, where the cultural climate rather lent itself to a positive mythology of supernatural destiny without an accompanying negative mythology of blame (i.e., the Japanese did not hold the Koreans or Chinese accountable for any specific set of problems in Japan, they merely saw them as population groups that were destined to be conquered). In Italy, fascism was much more practical, restrained, and opportunistic, without a coherent metanarrative to match that of the Germans or Japanese. Three fascist regimes begat three types of ideology, but they were all the same in one way: their thirst to consolidate all power within a single political party and use such consolidation to subjugate the population to governmental control.

Bill Clinton was the first fascist president of the United States. That he was a master of using the big lie (and thousands of smaller ones) for the manipulation of the population, as were the Nazis, Italian Fascists, and Japanese under Tojo. He had a nebulous, undefined platform defined more by unjustified and unprovable complaints ("the worst economy in 50 years") and sloganeering ("the man from Hope") than by specific policy statements. Further, he was so unattached to any ideas at all that once the Republicans captured the Congress in 1994, he was able to contort himself from a social liberal par excellence to a Republican lite, championing hundreds of small, insignificant "initiatives" (which nevertheless had the effect of consolidating power, both economic and political, in a left-leaning bureaucracy) and "ending welfare as we know it" to the horror of his liberal base.

Clinton displayed fascistic tendencies in his lack of attachment to a coherent ideology, in his incremental consolidation of large chunks of political power in deceptively arcane or benevolent-sounding legislation (his changes to the Violence Against Women Act, which likely permanently destroyed the stable nuclear family as an institution, for example), and his willingness to gain, maintain, and increase power at any cost (including treason, as he sold forbidden technology secrets to the Chinese for campaign contributions, admitting as much in his "Republican Juggernaut" complaint).

Barack Obama, however, does not display fascistic tendencies. He is a full-bore, spot-on, absolute fascist. From the use of propaganda posters modeled on Soviet and Nazi propaganda to his scorched-earth policies regarding his political enemies, in many ways he out-Hitlers Hitler. While nobody who lived through the Clinton administration ever thought they would see a liar to match his output of lies (if not skill in lying), Barack Obama uses the lie in the very same way as the Nazis and Soviets did: by never telling the truth, he builds a cultural numbness to the fact that he is a liar and he also overwhelms, undermines, and exhausts all community morality by encouraging a culture in which the significance between lying and telling the truth is forgotten. It is important that the culture be morally exhausted, because it takes the strength of character and moral conviction to withstand tyranny.

He is, of course, like all fascists before him, ideologically vacuous, lacking a coherent ideology except for the obvious hatred of American ideals and his intent to destroy everything that has made the United States an exceptional country among the nations ("hope and change"). Barack Obama, like Clinton before him, and like Hitler and every other fascist, sees the written law of the land and the expressed will of the people only as obstacles to the fulfillment of his utopian plans, as the recent health care debacle has illustrated. He is a lawless gangster, in the same mold as Hitler. And while he is still perceived by the most intellectually vacant and politically ignorant of our populace as a savior, it is very obvious that his agenda has far more to do with concentrating power in government and subjugating the population than it does with "health care" or "saving the planet" or "rescuing the economy."

(The government takeover of health care, of course, gives no benefits until 2014, while demanding that payment begin immediately. Would you purchase a car under a similar plan? "Cap and Trade" has, by all admission, no chance of significantly reducing CO2 emissions because the nations who are the worst offenders will not adopt similar legislation - "Cap and Trade" is merely a way to apply a brake to the U.S. economy, removing entrepreneurship and investment as income options and causing millions to become dependent on government consequent to the loss of private sector jobs. And the woeful stimuli plans have had no positive effect on the economy whatsoever, but have incurred large debts that will result in the bankrupting of the nation when coupled with Obama's other expenditures, likely within the next ten years.)

Fascism is here. And its ravages are not complete. Following the government takeover of health care, Congress and its fascist leader, Barack Obama, are now turning their sights to schemes to naturalize millions of illegal aliens and to passing "Cap and Trade" prior to the 2010 elections. Again, their intent is to consolidate as much power as possible in an unaccountable, socialist bureaucracy in as little time as possible so that, even if there is an election reversal in 2010 and 2012, it would be impossible for the nation to ever recover. Given the superstructure of unconstitutional legislation that would need to be repealed, the bureaucracy that would need to be rooted out, and the debt that would need to be paid, the damage could well be done by the next presidential election.

If the United States does not resist, it will have been transformed into a fully fascist state by the time of Barack Obama's reelection, should there be one, in 2012.

It is now necessary to ask, "How did we get here?"