“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression.
In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything
remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight
that we all must be aware of change in the air,
however slight, lest we become victims of the darkness.”
— Justice William O. Douglas
Fascism is popular again: Islamo-fascist, Judeo-fascist, Christo-fascist, crypto-fascist, neo-fascist. Everyone knows fascism was terrible, therefore the word creates a strong emotional reaction in the listener, but few still understand what fascism was, is, or why many recent name-callers are themselves fascists. As unsupported name-calling (ad hominem attack) is no more than naked propaganda, analyzing propaganda itself is the best place to start, and who better to start with than a past master of the form, Adolf Hitler himself.
“All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to.” Hitler, Mein Kampf, War Propaganda Par 25
“The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. Hitler, op. cit., Par 29
Don’t miss our blog series’:
The Nine Principles of Propaganda – begins with The Big Lie
The Nine Principles of Counterpropaganda – begins with Truth
Trump – Our Psychopathic President – Introduction
And our extensive examination of 25 years of propaganda war against Hillary Clinton – Death by Propaganda
“If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” G.W. Bush, 12/18/02
“I’m the commander — see, I don’t need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.” Quoted by Bob Woodward in “Bush at War”
“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.” Theodore Roosevelt
In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote “It Can’t Happen Here.” In this novel, he gave an imaginative description of a Christian Fascist takeover of America. These days, it seems frighteningly prescient.
When people hear the word fascism, they erroneously think back ninety years to the Fascist systems of Germany and Italy. Brown and black shirts. Stiff-armed salutes, perpetual repetitions of “Mein Fuehrer!,” swastikas, goose-stepping storm troopers. Every nation, if it became fascist, will express fascism in their own unique fashion. America may never have a “Kristallnacht.” No stadium torchlight parades. No “pounding of the blood.” No “master race.” No death camps filled with Jews, Gypsies, Communists, homosexuals, or Socialists. America will have its own expression, its own style, its own methods. Because our situation today differs significantly from those in Germany and Italy between the world wars, it is more accurate to use the term Neo-Fascism in order to highlight the fact that we are in a new and possibly more perilous time.
Webster’s Dictionary gives the following characteristics for fascism.
A system of government characterized by:
1. Rigid one-party dictatorship.
2. Forcible suppression of all opposition (unions, other-especially leftist-parties, minorities, etc.).
3. Private ownership of the means of production under centralized governmental control.
4. Belligerent nationalism and racism.
5. Glorification of war.
Our Republican government and American economy under George W. Bush contained all of these elements, and Donald Trump’s administration is quickly shaping up to be even worse, but none of the elements were exactly like they were 90 years ago. We are now heading into an even more repressive and governmentally-intrusive era. Here are a few of the symptoms. Again, I am sure you can list many more.
One-Party Dictatorship – Although many disagreed, in 2004 Ralph Nader argued at every opportunity that the Democratic and Republican parties are now two sides of the same coin, controlled by the same people, with no significant difference between them. Since then, many others have arrived at the same opinion. The same people – by and large – fund both parties. As ‘Deep Throat’ said (remember Watergate?), “Follow The Money”. But….the GOP now controls the White House, House of Representatives, the Senate, and about 75% of state governors and state legislative bodies. Our Supreme Court, the final law of our land, has a strong conservative bias, and Trump may be able to nominate as many as four new justices to the court. The Neo-Fascists’ control is not yet absolute, but close. During G.W. Bush’s era, Tom DeLay’s “little black book” of political donors institutionalized bribery and corruption. The Trump era promises more of the same.
Suppression of Opposition – Our freedoms are rapidly vanishing. Almost daily we learn of some new governmental domestic spying operation. Nothing is sacred anymore save our governmentally mandated responsibility to hate and fear the enemies the Neo-fascists appoint for us. The Bush Administration couldn’t be bothered to request warrants for domestic wiretaps, although only four out of over 5,200 applications – more than 99.9% – were immediately approved. Such approval was available by phone within a few hours, with backup documentation to follow at some later date. This was a clear violation of the constitution. Union power has been in significant retreat for decades. Although unions contribute significant money to Democrats, their membership often votes GOP despite the fact that they thereby slit their own economic throats. Our airwaves – notably Fox “News”, Clear Channel radio and Sinclair Broadcasting – are filled with hate, libel and jingoism. Hate and war-mongering has invaded our Sunday religious services, as churches – eager for free, no-need-to-account-for-this, money for “faith based initiatives” – pander to the Republican line. The Republicans worked hard for over 40 years to make the word “liberal” inspire the same knee-jerk, irrational and emotional fear and loathing that “Commie” did in the early 1950’s. On Jan. 10, 2005, an editorial by Neo-Fascist David Horowitz appeared in the Los Angeles Times which virtually branded all liberals as traitors who should be arrested and tried. “Whatever the outcome of the [Attorney Lynne E.] Stewart trial, the larger trial of the left – a trial that will one day pronounce a verdict on its loyalties and its integrity – will go on.” There is no Liberal Party, so its membership cannot be hauled off to hard labor camps. But “Liberal” no longer actually has a meaning. It means whatever disgusting, hateful, satanic thing the Neo-Fascists want it to mean. It probably means you.
Government & Industry Control – This situation now exists, but the nexus of power is different from that in Nazi Germany, where government control of industry was the rule. In the USA, it’s reversed, with the industrial magnates running the government to their own liking, rather than the other way around. In 1960, shortly before leaving office, President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex. That particular mutual relationship is now far more solidified. But the energy and media companies have now consolidated from many thousands into a very few companies. They deliver money and voters to the GOP, and the government gives back to them whatever they ask for, whenever they ask for it.
Nationalism & Racism – Our belligerent nationalism is so obvious that only the ethically blind cannot see it. Our racism is more subtle, unless of course you happen to be black; then it’s all-too-obvious. We have demonized Muslims, beginning with Bush’s Freudian slip “crusade”. Many Americans now believe that all Muslims want only to murder us all. Meanwhile Muslim-looking people such as Sikhs from India have been murdered here. Even Jews aren’t safe because, as Jerry Falwell, self-described Christian, stated, “God doesn’t hear the prayers of Jews.”
Glorification of War – As did Germany and Italy in the 1930’s, we glorify war. Soldiers are lionized (although benefits and medical care are slashed.) People cry “Support our Troops!”, yet such support consists of yellow ribbons on car bumpers, “going shopping,” and watching them die in pointless conflicts. We are told that to support our soldiers, we must support whatever the government says. Otherwise we’re anti-American. The great mass of Americans – as were the Germans and Italians under fascism – have been propagandized to believe: we can do no wrong, our wars are always justified, we have overwhelmingly superior military strength, and God is on our side. One dead American, is worth one hundred dead of anyone else (approximately the current ratio in Iraq). Trump’s first stab at a budget increases our military spending by over $50 billion with comparable cuts to any program smacking of benefit to any person not already a multimillionaire or to our environment.
It Can’t Happen Here?
“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become victims of the darkness.” Justice William O. Douglas
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
Hitler was a disorganized and rambling writer. He does not conveniently list the propaganda principles, but they are embedded in the text. The quotations given above are excerpted examples of such embedding. The nine principles given above are far more succinct and to the point. Read the chapter yourself. http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv1ch06.html
Click here for different yet complementary views on fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt and Milton Mayer.