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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We Are All Fascists Now

The real original fascism of Benito Mussolini and his followers combined militarism and collectivist economics with the leadership principle. . . . No Hitler is rising in the American firmament, nor can we imagine genocide within our shores. But we have come dangerously close to the thuggery of original Italian fascism.

Let’s start with militarism. Thankfully, the current administration has taken a less bellicose posture than its predecessor. But we still have troops stationed in distant lands even though the Cold War ended twenty years ago, and they won’t be coming home soon.

The federal government still spends vast sums on “defense,” and those sums are not likely fall far or fast in the foreseeable future. Finally, we are still fighting a war of choice in Iraq, a nation that was no threat to our safety at the time of our attack. . . . Obama may be less foolish than Bush, but we have seen no clear signs that he will tear down the “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned us of.

Economic historians tell us that there was no “fascist model” of economics. Fascist economic writers mostly prattled on incoherently without proposing any clear plans for how the economic system would really work. Nevertheless, there is a kind of essence of fascist economics that distinguishes it from capitalism, communism, and traditional socialism. Fascist economist retains the form of private ownership while imposing state control on all aspects of economic life. The captains of industry are allowed to keep their lavish offices, but they take their orders from government officials.

In a fascist economy, private property and the right of contract are not attacked head on. They are covered over in a bramble of rules and regulations that render the distinction between “private sector” and “public sector” meaningless.

Long before George W. Bush or Barak Obama, the American economy had been covered over in a bramble of rules and regulations. Bush acted on the economic downturn of the end of his administration by bailing out Big Finance and forcing the nine largest banks to sell ownership shares to the federal government. The Obama administration has followed Bush’s example in the industrial sector by grabbing a majority share in GM stock. The combined efforts Bush and Obama to end the economic downturn have wiped out any meaningful distinction between the private and public sectors.

As our militarism has grown more entrenched, as our economic system has fallen more fully under state control, our personal lives have grown more dependent on the personal judgment of one named person, the President of the United States of America. Instead of pulling back from militarism and collective economics, however, we have chosen to place more and hope and more confidence in the specific individual who happens to be President or whom we would like to see become the President.

We worship the President or contender that we prefer and we vilify the Presidents and contenders we do not prefer. No one is neutral toward George W. Bush or Sarah Palin. Barak Obama is either a god or the End of America. We have grown increasingly convinced that our affairs will go well if – and only if – the right leader sits in the Oval Office. The President is no longer the servant of the people, but their holy savior. In other words, we have completed the move to fascism by adopting the leadership principle.

We have forgotten the foundations of liberty and we may not have long to save them from oblivion. The search to recover our lost heritage of liberty will begin when we question the leadership principle, when we begin to wonder what might keep our “leaders” from oppressing us. The search to recover our lost liberty will begin, in other words, when we remember to ask the question the ancient Roman satirical poet Juvenal asked: Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? “And who will guard the guardians themselves?” . . .

It is time to turn away from state power and the leadership principle. We are all fascists now. Let us remember, however, that we were once Americans and can be so again if we so choose.
--from "We Are All Fascists Now" by Roger Koppl

Also see "Naomi Wolf: Obama No Better. 'Has the right to lock any US citizen up forever without trial'" (Live Free Or Move!)

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