Mar 132011
 
Vice President Henry Wallace.

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“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesman for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

Sound like anyone you know?

The quote is actually from FDR’s Vice President, Henry Wallace — in 1944. He was talking about the rising tide of fascism in America.

Fascism was defined most succinctly in the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary as: “a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”

It’s no accident that this all has the ring of vague familiarity. The parallels between recent events in the U.S. and the international rise of fascism that led to the Second World War are inescapable.

People will likely accuse me of stepping too far, as we Americans seem to abide by an unwritten law that forbids any analogy between the state of our politics and those of Nazi Germany. But while I wouldn’t equate for a nanosecond any comparison between the horrors of the Holocaust and anything occurring in 21st Century America, I am compelled to shine a light on the similarity of events and sound a warning about the threat of fascism in America today.

The fact of the matter is that Hitler came to power in Germany without winning the majority vote. He was appointed, not elected. Shortly after taking control, he used the burning of the German parliament building, allegedly by a Dutch communist, to declare a “war on terrorism.” Within two weeks of the terrorist attack, a prison for terrorists was constructed; within 4 weeks he pushed through legislation that, in the name of fighting terror, suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy and habeas corpus, and allowed police to access personal mail, wiretap, and imprison suspected terrorists without warrants.

Hitler then focused on a debt-financed military buildup that nearly sent the German economy into bankruptcy. He continued his buildup against stringent opposition but gained increased power by consistently casting all opponents as weak against the communist terrorists. He eventually managed to crush all opposition through aggressive attacks on trade unions, and then claimed for himself total power by disregarding the constitutional requirement to elect a new president when Hindenburg died and instead declaring himself Fuhrer.

As Fuhrer, Hitler became commander-in-chief of the military. He positioned himself as the protector of Germany and the German people’s savior from communism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and other undesirable minorities. He then launched an unrelenting campaign of German exceptionalism that would lead to a war that would drain the country’s economy and end in complete collapse.

I’ll leave it to you to decide what American president this may sound like, but regardless of that particular comparison, it’s impossible to dismiss the parallels between the march to fascist rule in Germany and what’s going on in America today.

As described in Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous statement, “First they came . . . ,” the rise to fascist power came by dividing the people and attacking them group-by-group. In Germany it was first the communists, and then the unions and finally the Jews. In the good old U.S., it’s Muslims, anyone who can possibly be cast as a socialist, and now —public employees. Henry Wallace warned of fascists, that “always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.”

Make no mistake about it, as Pastor Niemoller’s statement concluded, the rise of fascism will spare nobody. It’s public employees who are under attack today. They’ve been demonized as the cause of the current economic woes that were actually created by the thieves on Wall St. and the multinational corporations who shipped millions of jobs overseas. Teachers, police, nurses, janitors, firefighters — they’re all being cast as fat-cats, as the “haves,” the “others” with whom other working Americans should take issue.

But public employees are just a stepping stone for the neo-fascists. The wave of Republican governors elected to office in 2010 is engaged in a full frontal attack on working Americans of all stripes. From Rick Scott in Florida to John Kasich in Ohio, from Rick Snyder in Michigan to Scott Walker in Wisconsin, backed by newly elected right-wing legislatures, these wannabe tyrants are all talking about “shared sacrifice” while cutting taxes for the wealthy and then attempting to balance their budgets with spending cuts that impact everyone else.

Rick Scott’s attempts at unilateral action have been so drastic that he’s even run afoul of Florida Republicans. John Kasich’s battle against the working class has succeeded in crippling collective bargaining in Ohio. These men are fascists. They care not about America or Americans. They are the people of whom Henry Wallace spoke when warning that “another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.”

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin too is a fascist. He may not identify himself as such, but the record of his tactics and objectives leave him without defense. Aligned perfectly with Wallace’s description of American fascists, where they “are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” Walker claimed not to be a union buster and then presided over the corrupt action of Wisconsin Republicans to end collective bargaining. In order to side-step the requirement that Democrats be present to form a quorum on any legislation with fiscal impact, the Senate Republicans split off the portion of their “budget repair” bill that ended collective bargaining and passed it alone. It never had anything to do with balancing the budget and was always about the fascist drive to strike a death blow to unions.

Unions are anathema to fascists. Fascists believe in authoritarian rule and place the value of money and power far above the welfare of human beings. They are all corporatists who readily accept the illegitimate doctrine of corporate personhood, and resoundingly reject any and all egalitarian values. Fascism is dedicated to establishing a ruling class by devaluing that which all people have to contribute — their labor — and instead concentrating all wealth and power within a small economic elite.

Because American fascists must convince large numbers of Americans to vote against their own best interests, they all must follow a playbook of deceit. Again, writing about fascists in the 1940s, Wallace described them this way: “His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

Fascism is a disease that’s spreading with increased speed in America, and the only known antidote is public awareness. Fortunately, the symptoms are pretty easy to detect — if politicians complain of budget deficits but argue to cut taxes on the rich, if they fight to break unions, even after all economic concessions have been accepted, if they advocate for harsh penalties on crime but strive to protect fraudulent bankers from prosecution, if they argue that corporations should have the same rights as real people, if all of their arguments are heavy on hyperbole and devoid of substance, if they always seek to divide instead of unite the people — you have a very good bet that they’re also likely fascist.

There’s nothing really new here. We fought a World War to end the spread of fascism across the globe. And FDR, Henry Wallace and many other patriotic Americans struggled to ensure that fascism was snubbed out here at home. The fascist’s bag of tricks is the same as it was 70 years ago. All we have to do is learn from history, otherwise, as they say, we are doomed to repeat it.


 

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  25 Responses to “Fascism is Alive and Gaining Strength in America”

  1. Thanks, I needed that. For awhile there, I was thinking that I was the only one who was thinking this way. But it seems all too obvious to miss.

  2. Jews weren’t destroying Nazi Germany; many muslims ARE planning to do that. Synagogues were not a place of plotting to make Germany “Jewish” or wage “Jihad”; and you’re absolutely nuts if you think that the civil liberties process even closely resembles what was present in Nazi Germany. You fit right in your own mold, taking information (State governments trying to simply reign in public employees’ sweetheart retirement and wage packages in the midst of a recession) and making it sound like a concerted effort to “come after” them. Great prose, but not realistic. But it’s what you want to believe

    • Mosques are not gathering places for those who would “destroy America”.
      Those Muslim folks who have it in for “America” are residents of countries being torn apart by US foreign policy *right now*. It isn’t even about Islam – it’s about the US exerting its might over the peoples of the Middle East, and those peoples fighting back.

      As for Scott Walker, he did, in fact, manufacture a budget crisis to provide an excuse to go after public sector unions. Whether or not you think union members have bigger pension funds than they should (and they actually take in less than their private sector counterparts, based on education level), Wisconsin was doing much better before Walker.

    • Sorry Samuel Fullman, Maybe it did not fit exactly but the auther is right on. We have paid for all the wars with Social Security money in order to give further tax brakes for the wealthy and with idoits like fox news they even get unthinking voters to vote against themselves. It has been very easy to do. If you say it enough people will believe it. Just look at 0% interest, how many people think they got it? You could go on all day with such examples. The best way to combat Fascism is to buy American and bring the jobs back home. Then we can tax the wages instead of paying out unemployment.

    • The point isn’t a direct comparison to the act of the Nazis in WW2 Germany, and I stated that directly. The point is the steady erosion of rights achieved by attacking first one group and then another, always pointing the finger to new, fabricated enemies, and thereby gaining support from the ignorant masses who fail to understand that they may be next to be targeted.

      Your coloring of the public employee issue shows clearly that you’ve bought into the lie. It used to be that a growing share of ALL employees had such “sweetheart” packages — you know — healthcare benefits, dental, holidays, good pay. But corporate profits and executive compensation were threatened with fair deals for workers, so slowly the norm changed and the bulk of people found themselves with stagnant wage growth and declining benefits. But alas, the public workers who had managed to avoid being fucked are now the target.

      Way to go Samuel, instead of fighting against the guys who have squeezed us all so that they could buy longer yachts and bigger vacation homes, you’re taken the bait and support the attack on public employees. Bravo!

      The answer isn’t to bring public employees down to the new normal for private employees, but rather to get the entire nation back where it belongs, and I’m sorry to say, but you’re on the wrong side of that fight. Please, open your eyes and wake up! Just in case you’ve not yet heard it, I’ll share a little story that puts the issue into perspective: there was public employee, an average Joe and a Wall St. banker sitting at a table. On the table was a box with a dozen cookies. The Wall St. guy reached into the box, takes 11 cookies and turns to average Joe and says, “You better get hopping, that public employee there wants your cookie.”

      Please read about fascism and how its core is based on using rabid nationalism to bond corporatism and gain control of the federal government. It has nothing to do with what I want to believe — it’s rather an accurate portrait of the dynamics in 21st Century America.

  3. interesting.

  4. Just one more left-wing rant.

    • There you go, just use labels and point fingers. Why address the actual assertions and have a real conversation when you can just call names . . .

    • Liz –

      You aren’t really too aware of what is going on, are you? That dismissive “just one more left-wing rant” is emblematic of the exact thing discussed in the article. It’s a shame that they are able to stuff people like you full of their BS propaganda and that you fall for it. You don’t even realize that you are just a tool for them………..sad.

  5. Your observations are absolutely on the spot accurate. I have been also drawing these parallels and I am deeply concerned as I watch the USA citizens willingly throw away their liberties and follow the big business lords that are subverting the government. Unregulated big businesses had toppled our economy and the likes of the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch are consolidating wealth into the hands of the wealthiest one percent of the population. The corporate special interests are abusing the principles of free speech by using their paid speech with full time and well paid lobbyists who do nothing buy push their interests, while citizens must organize in their free time to make their voice heard and do not have equal levels of access.
    There is a definite parallel to Pre WWII conditions leading up to fascism in Europe, and we forget the strength of the fascist supporters in England and USA entering the war. We clean up the history to leave out that part.
    So now, we have forgotten the dangers and the past.
    Now, America is not sliding into the arms of fascism, it is running blindly into its deadly embrace.
    Richard@trombly.com

  6. You can add to the symptoms of fascism that the people have really no choice. In American now you have a two party system , but if you think really about it , they are the same party with different looks , but the core is the same, for example take President Obama everyone thought he would change everything but his policies are almost the same as his former Bush. The Wheel of Fascism has already turned and is gaining momentum!

    • You’re exactly right: the Democratic Party has become nothing but Republican-light. It’s all Kabuki theater — they pretend to fight the good fight, but in the end, the blade falls and the result is ALWAYS another step toward aggrandizement of the ruling class taken on the backs of working Americans.

      I’m afraid that this will remain the case until and unless we remove money from the political process. We need public financing of elections, a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United, and a move to preferential voting.

  7. Uh, I hate to interrupt your well intentioned monologue – I’m no fan of falling republics or petty tyrants either. However:

    “We fought a World War to end the spread of fascism across the globe.” is pretty much nonsense.
    It’s propaganda. Had GW’s grandpa had the kind of charisma, drive and ambition old dolphie had, we’d have beat them to the third reich by a long shot. We’d have done it differently, but the joy of running a facist dictatorship with complete control of the population is so great that it’s hard to avoid that no civilization in the history of the world has managed to avoid one for more than a few hundred years.

    We were simply making it possible for ourselves to avoid being checkmated by someone with a plan and serious commitment to winning the game. Luckily enough, the kind of people who try to play these games tend to be a little blind to long term strategic consequences, and so they usually muff it somewhere along the lines and give someone else their chance to play Caesar for a while.

    Like every war, it was part of a chess game that goes back to the time before humans could write. The chess game will continue until the last semi-sentient human dies of natural causes. Entire generations grow up thinking that their struggle is unique, and that their values are the correct ones. In truth, it’s just a collection of Brownian motion that makes for something to keep us busy.

    Read a little roman history, or peruse the collective literature of pre-history, and you’ll see the same games played over and over and over with a fresh generation of innocent newbies getting to experience the same old path of self-realization and understanding of the long game over and over. It’s always too late to do much but complain, but there it is.

    Each generation says “We must stop this injustice!” only to eventually realize that most of what we believe about society is fabrication and internalization of politically convenient stories told to us during childhood. Certain families raise their children with stories and skills that make it much easier to compete against the great unwashed masses and who pass on the importance of delayed gratification to their progeny early enough to instill a certain amount of ambition and advantage.

    Luck still deals out random hands. Not every child raised to dine on the fat of idiots gets to do so, and not every ignorant child accepts his fate, so we have some social wild cards to give us hope, even if we never got the memo about how to play the game.

    This is the evolution of our species at play – some will win, many will lose, and most won’t even realize they could make a difference if they tried. Most people have their hands full trying to figure out the difference between ego and ability, or trying to get laid, or making their stomachs settle down, or perhaps just finding a place where they can lay down and not be eaten by other life forms..

    The evil of “concentrating all wealth and power within a small economic elite” isn’t much different than hunting down and eating Neanderthals or out-competing the pimply faced kid who wants to apply for your job at Walmart or make a pass at your girlfriend. It just is.

    Having said that, I urge you to go ahead and “fight the power!” with as many like minded souls as you can inspire. It would be a shame if the whole point of being human was to spend a lot of time typing things into the computer and pretending that it somehow made a bigger difference than growing tomatoes in your garden and brushing your teeth.

    • I 100% agree that the US did not enter World War 2 for any kind of ideological reasons. Same with the Cold War – if communism wasn’t a threat to US capitalism, the US would not have cared at all.
      But, you know, visions of global domination and all that, the US ruling class simply must control the world’s wealth as much as it possibly can. That’s not because of some kind of character flaw; capitalism demands that individual capitalists constantly seek out new sources of profit, as old sources perpetually dwindle.

      • I’ll just reiterate what I said to J. Random: Governments never enter wars for idealogical reasons, but people do. The American people fought World War II to end the spread of fascism, and there’s no way to escape that reality.

    • You miss the point. Governments never enter wars for moral reasons, but PEOPLE DO. Make no mistake about it — we did enter and fight World War II to end fascism and the reign of evil propagated by Hitler and his allies.

      With regard to the rest of your fatalistic nonsense, it really has no more substance than your flimsy refutation of the fact that we fought to end fascism. The fact of the matter is that government are created by people, and people given the truth instead of the twisted garbage their presently fed in America, will gravitate to a just system — they will fight to “stop the injustice.”

      The evil of “concentrating all wealth and power within a small economic elite” is an avoidable situation that cannot stand in a duly informed electorate. It has NOTHING to do with hunting down Neanderthals or out-competing anyone — it’s all about devising a system that’s focused on the real strength of a nation — ITS PEOPLE, rather than rewarding the rich for being rich. It’s doesn’t have to be anymore than women in Afghanistan have to wear burkas.

  8. This is a fantastic article, I thank you for posting it.

    I feel that people keep themselves willfully ignorant of the reality in which we exist. The parallels are to blatant, so obvious and yet people bury their heads in the sad and cheer mindlessly for a fascist take-over of the country.

    You would think that people behave in rational self-interest, but you would be proven wrong time and time again.

    • Movement Conservatism is dedicated to manipulating people to act against their best interest. They’ve largely done that by distorting patriotism and feelings of American exceptionalism into a fabric of anti-everything except capitalism. They use social issues and distortion of economic issues to blind conservative voters to the reality of their sole focus of enriching the economic elite at the expense of everyone else. Heck, they actually got people to rail against Obamacare when they’re actually in support of almost all of the provisions contained in the legislation. They got people to support tax cuts for the wealthy by repeatedly stating that they hurt small business — when the truth is that more then 97% of small businesses don’t make more then $250K of taxable income.

      If only people would open their eyes and take a moment to learn from history . . .

  9. Please identify who wrote this article, name and short bio. I may want to reference it and use a real person’s name for credit. It is a good article.

    Thank you,

    Dr. Thomas Baldwin
    Biloxi, MS

  10. I think I just answered my question; I went to “about”. It would be best if you would place your name and an address (email) on your blogs so we could have direct contact. I’d like to share blogs with you!!

  11. Only the SCOTUS’ Roman Catholics cheated a homosexual psychopath into the White House to commit 9/11 and get banged by his $200/hr lover James Guckert/”Jeff Gannon.”

    E.Howard Hunt’s legally probative deathbed confession to the assassination of President Kennedy on behalf of GHWBush, Richard Nixon, and the Roman Catholic, Knight of Malta-led CIA sent 58,000 of us to die for the five percent Roman Catholic false elite of Vietnam which owned 95% of the wealth led by a man who bragged on BBC radio that Hitler was his “hero.”

    Adolph Hitler’s party was voted into office as soon as the Roman Catholic Council of Bishops at Fulda said German’s could vote for NSDAP without being excommunicated, at which time Knight of Malta Prescott Bush began funneling money to “the Rockefeller of Germany,” his fellow papal “knight” Fritz Thyssen, the author of “I Paid HItler,” from the coffers of the Vatican correspondent banker Rockefeller’s U.S. Roman Catholic Church collection plate funds held at their family bank, which is now the Iraqi State Bank.

    Roman Catholic Civil War veterans nailed the symbol of the power and authority of the Roman state, twin Fasces, to the front wall of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Roman Catholics now control both “parties” and houses of Congress.

    “They” know what “they” are doing…and gaslighting the rest of us. Thomas Jefferson, Our Nation’s Author, Founder, and Prophet of G-d, called “them” “the real Anti-Christ,” “an engine for enslaving mankind.” He was right.

    • Will,
      I don’t really buy the conspiracy theory idea, at least not beyond the tacit collusion engaged amongst the financial elite, but I do appreciate your leaving a comment and sharing your opinion.

      Cheers

  12. Excellent article, Dave. I just published a book that examines the history of fascism in my hometown of LaGrange, GA. Please see http://www.LegacyLaGrange.com. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on the book. Thank you!

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