I haven't time to create anything new here, so I'll continue posting stored-up items. Here's one that is taken from Mark Anderson's Strategic News Service, a thought -provoking generalization that, like most generalizations, badly needs examination in the details.
Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each: (disclosure needed here: I could find no mention of his methodology, but the thoughts are interesting and tie back to Bush suppressing scientific work).
The 14 Characteristics of Fascism Are:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military -
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism -
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media -
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security -
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected -
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed -
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections -
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
-- Offered to SNS by David Obert [Hewlett-Packard]
David Brin responds: While this list is thought provoking - and of course chilling in our present context - I believe it is also ahistorical and misleading at several points.
#4. Supremacy of the Military - "Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized."
This one is highly problematic. Not only because it is deeply flawed, historically. But also because it leads us toward a generalized hostility toward the military, which is not only undeserved in our present situation, but deeply unjust and counterproductive.
Sure, the military chiefs were supreme under Franco's version of fascism, but the same cannot be said for several other sub-brands. Under Hitler, a top priority was to keep the regular military class cowed and intimidated. Yes, there was militarism and the military was vastly expanded - and, indeed, the Wehrmacht was highly culpable for a myriad crimes. Nevertheless, the professional officer corps was not in itself supreme. It contributed almost no members to the Nazi inner circle. Hitler strove to build parallel forces answerable only to the Nazi Party.
Stalin's version of fascism took this trend much farther, all the way to a near-total evisceration of the Soviet officer corps, at the very threshold of WWII. This latter example is, in fact, a far closer parallel to what the Bushites have been doing to our American military. (Example: under Bill Clinton, we had thirty brigades ready - with high morale and training - to do their duty in some major surprise conflict. Under George W. Bush, that number has declined to two brigades. Just two.) It is vital to recognize that the United States armed forces -- especially the apolitical and highly intellectual Marshallian U.S. Officer Corps -- have been the neocons foremost victims. They have suffered, in part, because the Bushites know that our nation's professional castes must be squelched, starting with the military.
Moreover, how can demonizing these folks be as helpful as embracing them? Enlisting them as allies, in resisting an attempted fascist putsch? Indeed, anyone paying close attention can see clear signs of a growing, behind-the-scenes resistance, in which quiet back-pressure has been applied by our nation's flag officers. First the forced resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, followed by appointment of a non-Bushite Republican as Sec/Def, Robert Gates. Followed by the new Joint Chiefs Chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen, and Centcom Chief Admiral Fallon. All are clear signs of a military that's squirming out of neocon control. (Fast enough to do real good? That could depend on how much support they get.)
Keep your eyes open. Any time you see the Navy rise in influence, it will be a clear signal that this resistance continues. That elements in the military are pushing back on our behalf.
#9. Corporate Power is Protected - "The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite."
True, but simplistic. Yes, the Junkers and major industrialists installed Hitler as a counter to the Communists. But they were delusional. They thought their privately-owned newspapers could keep him in check, in an era of new media (radio and loudspeakers) in which Hitler was the master-hypnotist. (See point #8.)
Also remember, that the Nazi Party was the National Socialist Party. The aristos were protected, but they also found themselves straitjacketed. (For example, purely Aryan-Nazi labor unions gained partial control over the means of production. A little-known historical quirk. (See point#10.))
As to our present situation, yes, the rise of monopoly and a gilded age support point #9. But there are complexities. Far too little is being made of the rift WITHIN the corporate aristocracy, with the smarter half growing aware how the Golden Goose of Enlightenment American capitalism is being killed before their eyes. Will the smarter and more honest/creative half of the aristocracy actually start taking action, to help the people throw off the dismal/stupid/corrupt half? Stay tuned.
#12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - "Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations."
This, too, oversimplifies. Yes, all these things come true under every fascist regime. But the Bushites face a steep climb before reaching such a plateau. In fact, during the interim, while a diversity of law enforcement agencies are still heavily stocked with skilled and honest professionals, the neocons' problem is quite the opposite... to squelch the effectiveness of law enforcement! The utterly central Bushite need, right now, is to distract and dissuade the professionals who are charged with uncovering crime, because so much outright crime has been perpetrated by the neocons themselves. Hence, should we be surprised that statistics show most crime rates on the rise? Especially drug-related, white collar, consumer fraud and street crime.
Yes, this kind of trend can serve the purpose of provoking citizens to want more police empowerment. But it is a dangerous game and we could organize our thoughts to helping it to backfire.
(A side irony. As I point out in The Ostrich Papers: How it will take all Decent Americans to Restore Decency to America, it is beginning to dawn on many old-style Republicans that nearly all of the basic tenets of old-style conservatism have been systematically reversed by the neocon proto-fascists. Prudence to recklessness. Cynical isolationism to faux-utopian imperialism. Punctilious lawfulness to flagrant illegality. A dedication to accountability has flipped to frantic secrecy and avoidance. Certainly the old GOP dedication to states rights has been trounced, thrashed and buried. That last item, of course, could be viewed as a precursor to the police state described by David Obert and by Lawrence Britt.)
In sum: I do not deny the relevance of the chilling list of Fascist traits offered by Lawrence Britt. But I believe it should be used with subtlety and care. If we are to avoid becoming the USSA (United Security States of America) we have to avoid cliches.
Especially those that might make us shun potential allies in this desperate fight.