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Are We There Yet?

Fascism in America

by STEW ALBERT

Is America going fascist? Or has the cursed event already happened? It depends on your definition of fascism. What usually occurs in a fascist scenario?

* Labor unions are weak and the right to strike is denied by law. In Bush’s America, the unions and their solidarity are extremely weak. The right to strike is still permitted by law, but strikes seldom happen and when they do, as in the current case of Northwest Airlines, scabs are brought in and management and the White House collude about how best to crush the workers. A merging of giant corporations and the State is well along.

* Civil liberties are declining in number and the right to assert them grows increasingly chancy. When the Patriot Act is combined with a variety of authoritarian laws passed during the Clinton administration and fanatics are placed in charge of the secret police, those who do speak out against the government must carefully watch their words. Much of what was once permitted to rebels is now against the law. Indeed, with secret trials, undisclosed prisons and torture, one may question to what extent the law actually still exists.

* The increasingly Draconian regime faces a weak, dispirited and divided opposition. America is almost a de facto one party state where the Democrats pay Bush the highest compliment by trying to imitate him. And many in the radical left and progressive movements (Cindy excepted) aren’t able to go beyond silly sectarianism or tactical and organizational incompetence. — The rise and glorification of irrational philosophy. The current government assault on scientific thought in the name of Christian extremism and phobic nationalism easily fills that requirement. Additionally, a cultural war rages where authoritarian religious values deride and delegitimize their opponents as practitioners of decadence and treason.

* Fascism tends to be warlike and criminally aggressive. The invasion of Iraq combined with the flag waving, ultraviolence and official big lies does the trick. And the ongoing threats to Syria and Iran strengthens the case.

* We usually find a "Duce" in charge. A character created by image manipulation and propaganda. Every attempt has been made to put Bush over as a triumph of the will cowboy hero who flies big airplanes and struts on flight decks in his special uniform. The effort to create a sneering superman hasn’t completely worked because Dubya comes across as a little too dumb for the task.

* Racism is usually part of the fascist mix. The post 9/11 antidemocratic assault on Arabs and certain Muslim Asians combined with the panic and minute man vigilantism taking place on the Mexican border satisfies this similarity.

* Free elections no longer take place although fascism may permit some stage managed electoral activity. George Bush was not elected President in 2000. The Presidential election was fixed in Florida. Doubts continue about the integrity of the 2004 election. There is authentic concern about the introduction of non paper trail computer voting. And Republicans are redistricting to assure their Congressional power.

The leaders of this fascist construction have been following a successful right wing version of Gramscian analysis. They have gradually been building an authoritarian culture within the framework of ordinary civil society and have now reached a point of power where they have begun reconstructing the State.

When making judgments about fascism’s presence we should not just look at the final totalitarian model that developed in Europe during the 1930s. Fascism passed through various stages and wasn’t born overnight in its final horrible form. And it’s possible that America will never go the full route. It may even develop am Americo-fascism with a human face. But there is a difficulty with this speculation. The fascisms of Europe evolved in opposition to the rise of the proletariat and the challenge of socialism. Hence it included and corrupted certain aspects of socialism in its practice. It always contained an element of welfare state in its structure and defined itself as a middle way between liberal capitalism and socialism.

American fascism is flowering in a post socialist era in which global capitalists feels fully free to bury the welfare state. Because of this historical circumstance, American fascism has within itself the potential for an unearthly collective barbarism.

STEW ALBERT runs the Yippie Reading Room. His memoir, Who the Hell is STEW ALBERT?, is just out from Red Hen Press. He can be reached at: stewa@aol.com

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