July 17, 2010
American Jeopardy: What is Fascism?
Over the years, words lose meaning and often take on new forms that in no way represent their original usage. This can be observed in the now taboo word "fascism." Fascism is now most closely associated with the system of government that effected the slaughter of over 6 million Jews and other political prisoners. But at its core, fascism is really no more than a system where government, through agreements with the private sector, controls virtually all property and income indirectly.
Prosperity and economic growth become the domain of government. The philosophical aim is to eliminate recessions by eliminating robust growth -- the underlying philosophy being that if there is no boom, there will be no bust. This system usually appeals to populations coming out of severe economic depressions and upheaval, as in pre-Nazi Germany during the period of the 1930s.
The problem with the system is obvious: property-owning democracy must take a back seat to the interests of the state. And, by blurring the distinction between the private sector and the public sector, individual liberty can often be conditioned on complicity with state aims, as manifested in the private sector sphere. Why else would German companies like Degesch be willing to supply the infamous Zyclon-B for use in the extermination of their fellow men if not conditioned upon the continued viability of the company and all employees concerned? Money talks, and when the state controls the powers of production directly or indirectly, it controls the livelihood of millions. Human beings are capable of such immense evil in exchange for clothing and a full pantry.
It is the go along to get along syndrome. With the right leverage, people will do anything. Think BP and Obama's radical energy agenda. If threatened with destruction, BP will likely comply with any and every request of the brazen Obama Administration. This type of interaction is essential to the success of fascism.
Fascism is, however, correctly associated with tyranny since nations that employ the tenets of fascism almost always transition from a republican or parliamentary form of government to some sort of personality cult usually centered on an economic "savior." Fascism requires extensive state control, and if this control is not centralized in a singular personality, the results will be muddied and plagued with excessive overlap. Many envisioned President Obama in this way prior to the election, and President Obama certainly did not hesitate to utilize workers' paradise imagery during his campaign.
During an early period of popular expectation -- for "hope and change," perhaps -- the savior can implement highly undemocratic and centralist policies simply by ignoring the existence of laws and constitutions that preclude this sort of behavior. Before citizens and their representatives have time to respond to these abuses, the savior has already opened new fronts and perpetrated new abuses. It is the finger in the wind method. If there are no outcries of public furor for the scrapping of, say, states' rights, the savior will know that even greater violations are possible. President Obama has done just this.
Shortly after he claimed the right to fire the head of a private company, Obama realized he could claim the power to set wages in companies receiving bailout funds. When these actions were successful, Obama realized he could then claim the power to set wages all across the economy, even venturing as far as attempting government mandates for company perks like private jets or club memberships.
Similarly, when it was clear Congress would not object to Obama claiming the power to declare martial law, in direct violation of historic statute, Obama then contended that, in the event Congress would not cooperate, he would merely rule by decree. This give-and-take approach has been wildly successful as a means of overcoming major constitutional obstacles to acquisitions of power.
All of Obama's actions have highly fascist overtones. The fusion of government and the private sector can be observed most clearly in the recent Chicago-style shakedown of BP, wherein Obama forced a private sector company to set up a $20 billion slush fund to be controlled by his team of czars, criminally exceeding his constitutional authority. Only days after it was clear that this action would not be met with legal challenge, Obama succeeded in passing a financial overhaul bill granting him the authority to seize healthy firms if he deemed them to be at risk, outside of normal bankruptcy procedures which exist expressly for that purpose.
For any fascist system to maintain control, "the rich" must be indebted to the state, and the poor must feel empowered by the state. Shortly after Obama was elected, he immediately targeted specific affluent persons with proposed 90 percent taxes. Although highly illegal, the effect was the same. Persons with wealth became aware that there was a man in power who would not hesitate to break the backs of the wealthy. The financial interests of the richest one percent became suddenly interwoven with Obama's success.
And what of the poor? The poor, having lost work due to the economically destructive policies of the Obama Administration, e.g. tax increases during a recession and the wholesale banning of lucrative industries, remain utterly dependent on President Obama. The "savior" assures the poor that he "feels their pain" and talks of hard times ahead. As a result, the poor naturally link their destiny to the success of the President. By discouraging investment through higher capital gains taxes, through the virtual prohibition of "risk" in hedge fund and derivatives trading, as well as through hidden taxes associated with mandatory health insurance and the financial overhaul, Obama has created an environment where businesses cannot hire. This leaves the poor in the cold and makes government the sole source of worker empowerment.
But for an economic "savior" to be truly successful, the banks must be under his or her total control. How can a savior engineer the needed stagnation to ensure the continued vitality of a morally bankrupt administration as long as banks are independent? The financial overhaul completed this transaction. Now the banks answer directly to the White House, and can be shut down under any pretense. America got a preview of this new relationship when President Obama early threatened bankers with "pitchforks," echoing Lenin.
America is being remade in an antiquated fascist image.