Monday, August 23, 2004

Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

A while back, a friend of mine pointed me to this list and asked if it looked familiar: Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism. I told her it was interesting but a bit of a stretch. I recently revisited the list and no longer think it is too far off the mark.

Here are the fourteen characteristics. If you want the author's definition of what each means, follow the link. I'm going to give my take and how much I think they apply to the US at this moment in time.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections

So, let's break it down.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Let's see now. Any criticism of the government is considered unpatriotic. Everyone and anyone has a flag on their car, home, or otherwise. You're either with us or you're against us. Check.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Secret military tribunals. The Patriot Act. The 'detainees' at Guantanamo. FBI harrassment of pacifist groups due to potential terrorist threat. Free speech zones. Check.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - Well, we have two major scapegoats here. Liberals and Islam. Check.

4. Supremacy of the Military - The economy is in the toilet, yet we have spent 89 billion on our military campaigns and will be spending more. Support of our troops is pretty unanimous across the country. War supporters try to paint dissent about the war as lack of support for the troops, attaching a negative connotation to said feelings. Not as strong as the others thus far, but still. Check.

5. Rampant Sexism - You need to see the definition to really see this one. The attributes listed are such things as disdain for homosexuality, abortion, and divorce. Government portrays itself as the caretaker of the family institution. Famil values anyone? Big time. Check.

6. Controlled Mass Media - FOX News. Conservative talk radio. Reports coming out that dissent for the war movement was largely squelched by the major media outlets. Coordinated campaigns of lies being supported through multiple outlets giving them more credibility. Check.

7. Obsession with National Security - Department of Homeland Security. Vaguely defined alert levels. Detail free alerts coming out at politically expedient times. Constant unsubtantiated warnings. Threats that exercising our Constitutional right to choose our leaders will help terrorists. Fear mongering at every turn. Check.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - This one practically sells itself. Religious ideology trumps science at every turn. Global scientists condemning lack of science in government policy. Abstinence education pushed to the exclusion of other birth control methods. Crusades against Muslims. Declaration that God is on our side. Mega. Check.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - Enron. Worldcom. Halliburton. Energy policy set by a secret energy task force that is likely composed of energy industry insiders. Environmental standards relaxed to the benefit of corporations. Tax law changes that shift the burden from the wealthy to the middle class. Check.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - I don't have any evidence of this happening here. The unions in this country have been pretty powerful for a long time. Were there to be minor limits placed on unions, I'd just consider that the pendulum swinging back toward the center. Workers used to have no rights. Then came the unions. They made things far. Now they are as out of control as any political influence group. NO Check.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - The Democrats have been criticized by the party in power as being the "cultural elite". Gore is disdained for being too smart and stiff. Bush is adored because he is plainspoken. Check.

12.Obsession with Crime and Punishment - I wouldn't say the country is obsessed with crime and punishment. Tolerance of even slight steps out of line has gone way down. And people would like to see the terrorists punished. But we don't have a national police force per se and I wouldn't call the current mood an obsession. So. NO Check.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Top government officials are from the energy industry. Energy industry is given free reign. Contracts are steered to Cheney's old company without opening them to a bidding process. Check.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Lies and half-truths portrayed unchecked in mass media as fact. Voters omitted from the rolls. Votes not counted. The Supreme Court is used to decide the election. Wide-spread disenfranchisement. Check.

That's 12 of 14 indicators. The question is, do you need to have all 14 to be considered a Fascist Nation? I'm certain things could be worse. For example, while some civil liberties are trampled on, we still do have many. I don't think we are the second coming of the Third Reich, but we are certainly heading in that direction. After all, if they take a few freedoms and you don't complain, why not take a few more?