Thursday, November 22, 2007
Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism
A political scientist named Laurence Britt wrote an article about fascism. He studied the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and Pinochet. He summarized his findings into fourteen points.
It appears to me that the United States has begun its journey down that long, dark path into fascism. The only question, to me, that remains to be answered is if we are going to continue to go down that path, or are we collectively going to come to our senses and pull back from the brink.
Britt’s 14 characteristics are:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -- Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -- Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need". The people tend to 'look the other way' or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -- The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military -- Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism -- The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media -- Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or through sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security -- Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -- Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected -- The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed -- Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -- Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -- Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties, in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -- Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions, and who use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections -- Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against (or even the assassination of) opposition candidates, the use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and the manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
I don't really know what kind of research was done to come up with this list. However, from what I know of most of those very nasty regimes, this list makes perfect sense. They all sound absolutely dead on. At the same time, I could also believe that this person could have come up with almost this exact same list just by looking at what has been going on in the United States since the beginning of the Bush adminstration, and actually, even longer, without even going back and looking through recent history. All the signs are there now.
These kinds of observations should stop most thinking people dead in their tracks and start to reevaluate their actions and the actions that the government has been taking in their names. However, I am sure that the overwhelming reaction of most on the extreme right would be, "How DARE you compare the U.S. to Hitler! You are a coward and a traitor!"
That rather fits in well with point number 3.