by Philip Greenspan
(Swans - November 6, 2006) Bush has dug up a label more sinister than "terrorists" to portray the Middle East enemies. The word? "Fascists"! He and those who might agree with that designation are ignorant of what fascism is, what it stands for, who are its most important backers, and who are its primary benefactors.
Fascism arose in the chaos following World War I. The major powers of Europe, after more than four years of unprecedented murder, mayhem, and destruction, were completely devastated. Not only were armies slaughtered and lands physically destroyed but pre-war political structures -- the empires and rulers of Germany, Russia, the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire -- were wiped out. New, inexperienced nations were created upon the dazed and ethnically diversified survivors in eastern and central Europe. The victorious allies, England and France, were traumatized as well. They lost the promising next generation, the youth of their countries; and they were confronted with a crushing debt to pay for the astronomical costs of the war.
Radical elements were gaining influence throughout the continent -- communism had already taken over in Russia -- and the prospects for the aristocrats, the large landowners, the industrialists, and the church were bleak. The elite of Europe were fearful of what lay ahead. A savior, Benito Mussolini, came to the rescue with fascism, a form of government he imposed upon Italy in 1922. The essence of fascism is summarized in a quotation attributed to Mussolini: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." Major corporations, realizing the truth of that definition, readily supported emerging fascist political parties.
Mussolini was given a most favorable press. Over the next few years fascist regimes were ruling Germany, Spain, and Portugal; and fascist organizations and parties arose not only in Europe but throughout the world -- in Asia, Africa, the Americas, in the north, in the south, in the near east, and in the far east. Fascism even arose in countries that were soon at war with the fascist axis nations: England, France, and the United States.
Right-wing veterans were usually the founders and bulwarks of the upstart parties. A fascist takeover was often accomplished by conning the middle and lower classes into believing that the party would represent them. Example: Many Germans thought that Nazis were socialists since their official name was the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Early on, there was actually a left-wing element in the party headed by Gregor Strasser, a socialist and an organizational leader who substantially increased membership among the workers and lower classes. The key to Hitler's success, however, was the industrialists' financial support that kept the party viable. Accordingly, Strasser's ideology and his objections to the Fuehrer's close ties to the industrialists doomed him along with other potential rivals who were eliminated during the Night of the Long Knives.
Elites willingly financed fascist parties. Well, why not? Once the fascists took over a government they enacted favorable legislation to fulfill the desires of the wealthy and the industrialists. The authority of the state and its laws deregulated industries, privatized public properties, suppressed labor and small business, eliminated onerous business and inheritance taxes, etc. In essence, fascism established an economic environment suitable for its benefactors to reap enormous returns on their political investments.
Unemployment and disillusionment in the U.S. during the Depression created a fertile environment for the growth of fascist organizations such as the German-American Bund, the Silver Shirts, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Camelia, and others. But the most insidious was a discrete organization of the elite, the Liberty League -- an organization with millions of dollars available to undo FDR's New Deal via a coup d'état. The plan, relying on the tactics of successful European fascists, envisioned a charismatic leader who could command a veterans group to accomplish their goal. Retired Marine General Smedley Butler was their choice for leader. His voice was respected not only among veterans but by many others as well. Unfortunately for the Liberty League he was a patriot, and after gaining enough information about their nefarious plans, he reported the plot.
This sensational story hit the headlines for a day and then the media forgot it. A Senate investigating committee probed it but nothing resulted. Why? These traitors were just too powerful. Not only were they the wealthiest men in the country and the top executives of blue chip American corporations but prominent political leaders as well. Two, John W. Davis and Al Smith were the Democratic presidential candidates in 1924 and 1928, respectively, and John Jacob Raskob was a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a former executive at DuPont and General Motors. Many of these men were appointed to important positions in Washington during WWII as supposedly patriotic dollar-a-year executives for Uncle Sam. All the while assisting industry and the enemy so long as it brought big bucks to the blue chips.
US industrialists took advantage of distress sale investment opportunities in a prostrate Germany at the end of World War I. When Hitler came to power they formed close ties with the Nazi regime, the most notorious of the fascist governments. The continuing flow of profits they obtained on this lucrative foreign investment overrode their loyalty to the United States, even during WWII. A Senate investigating committee uncovered treasonous activities of blue chip American corporations. A couple of the most flagrant were the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), providing the Germans with unlimited amounts of aluminum while the U.S. could not obtain what it needed for aircraft production; and secret patent agreements between the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and I.G. Farben, giving the Germans a tremendous wartime advantage over the U.S.
The foregoing offers some clarification of what fascism is and who are its most effective promoters and it primary beneficiaries. Other factors may help to define the fascist state, but the above quotation with those key words -- "Fascism . . . corporatism . . . the merger of state and corporate power" -- reveal its basic foundation. The hostility that exists between corporate fascist interests and the enemy terrorists and vice versa shows the absurdity of Bush's fascist characterizations.
Opponents of Bush have also been uttering the "fascist" word. They insist that it's the US of A that merits that title! And they might be right. Ample evidence bolsters their contention that, politically, corporate America is firmly in the driver's seat. But although a linkage of state and corporation is a necessary element, many governments not regarded as fascist are closely tied to corporations. Therefore other characteristics should also be present. "Fascism Anyone?" -- an article in Free Inquiry magazine (Volume 23, Number 2) by Laurence W. Britt -- lists fourteen characteristics of a fascist state. To develop the list the author carefully analyzed seven well-known fascist states for common patterns of actions. (For details as to the states analyzed and explanatory remarks for each listed item read the full article.)
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
5. Rampant sexism
6. A controlled mass media
7. Obsession with national security
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
9. Power of corporations protected
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
14. Fraudulent elections.
Since 9/11 more and more evidence is accumulating to fit the U.S. into each category, more or less. Read the list again and again, thinking about each item and how the administration and the country at large measures up. What is your verdict? Is the United States of America a fascist state today?
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