July 27, 2002
The Culture of Fascism Comes HomeAn extremely sordid sign of the times appeared today in an Associated Press story called "Military Wife Slayings Spur Review".
Four soldiers murdered their wives at Fort Bragg, N.C., over the last six weeks. Two killed themselves as well as their wives. Three were members of the Army's Special Operations who had just returned from Afghanistan. The other was part of an airborne unit and had not yet been sent into action.
What is going on here? If we put aside some of the more extreme possibilities that come to mind (Is this some sort of "Stepford Wives" scenario? Did the wives know something that caused them to have to be eliminated to maintain secrecy for "national security"?), we have at best an extremely disturbing situation that represents the continuing degeneration of our society under the fascist plutocracy of the Bushes.
In my opinion, what we are seeing is just the spread of the culture of fascism. Our country during the post-World War II period, and with increasing intensity since the Reagan-Bush years, has become ever more a military state in the fascist model carrying out savagery in third world countries. Now the savagery is increasingly bleeding back to our own homeland.
Many people close their minds when they hear the word "fascism" applied to the United States. Someone recently put it to me like this: "We don't have Auschwitz and Dachau here. We don't run extermination factories. We don't do that here."
That may be true. The Nazi regime carried a certain kind of techologically enhanced barbarism to an unparalleled extreme. But do we have to get to the extreme of the Nazis before we take action to keep our country from becoming a fascist style, militaristic empire?
Can modern fascists avoid our notice just because they don't fly swastika flags?
In Gore Vidal's new book Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace he lays out a 20-page chart of 200 U.S. overseas military adventures since the end of World War II. He says, "It is a law of physics (still on the books when last I looked) that in nature there is no action without reaction. The same appears to be true in human nature -- that is, history." (see LA Weekly for a Vidal interview that gets into this.)
According to Vidal, what we are seeing now with the WTC attacks and the homegrown terrorism of Timothy McVeigh is the inevitable reaction of a half century of military conquest overseas finally coming into our own formerly safe haven at home. With the WTC attacks, it could be a good deal more sinister and complex than that. But it is at least that.
Again, if the word "fascism" bothers you, let's use Mussolini's word, "corporatism". [According to Encyclopedia Italiana, (edited by Giovanni Gentile), Mussolini said "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." See Angelfire.com, or "Fascism, capitalism and corporatism", or Wikipedia]
We are seeing now that the greed of the corporations is insatiable. It does not optimize itself. It does not moderate itself. When the corporate state gets more, it only wants even more. The actions of our military overseas to ensure the enrichment of the corporate elite will not stop at our borders. What is happening now, as Noam Chomsky put it, the corporate rulers are "bringing the third world model home" (see "Bringing the Third World Home" on this site.)
Recall Winston Churchill's description of a world overrun by Fascism: "... if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the light of perverted science."
Look around you. Look at the signs. If you are ready to face the fact that we are on a track toward a very dangerous brand of modern techologically-enabled fascism -- as more and more people are -- then the next step is, what to do?
Americans are in the habit of accepting helplessness as our lot. When it comes to the government, "There is nothing we can do," people say. But when your survival and that of your children and grandchildren are at stake, that answer is no longer good enough. Something must be done. It is time to move to the next step.
Noam Chomsky has something to say regarding our helplessness (see Interview with Noam Chomsky 1997):
It just isn’t true. Even without any big changes, the mechanisms that exist allow these things to be controlled. So for example, you talk about globalization, it’s happening, but is it out of control? The transnational corporations almost without exception rely on their own home state, for subsidy, for protection, for markets, which means they are under political control in their own state, if it’s more or less democratic. Where are they? Overwhelmingly in Europe, Japan and the United States, that is in countries where there isn’t going to be a military coup. And there are formal mechanisms that control what they do. Furthermore their interactions are mostly in these three areas. Seveny- five percent of their interactions are in these three areas and they rely very heavily on the home government to save them. Newt Gingrich, who’s actually the biggest welfare freak in the country if anyone wants to tell the truth, gets more federal subsidies for his rich constituents than anyone. The biggest employer in his district is Lockheed. They never made a dollar on the market in their lives. They are publicly subsidized. That means the public can determine what they do, or for that matter whether they exist.
Going back a little ways, the very right of the corporations to carry big command economies is perfectly tyrannical and totalitarian. They didn’t have this right a century ago. It’s not like they’re graven in stone. It was given to them by courts and lawyers and changes in the legal structure. And people can change it back.
Go back to the 1870s, the New York Times was denouncing wage labor. The standard of the Republican Party around 1870 was “We’re the party who opposes slavery and who opposes wage slavery.” The Republican Party, you know, we’re not talking about wild radicals. It doesn’t take much to go back to those days.
Helplessness is no longer an excuse for apathy. The democratic mechanisms still exist, but they must be exercised or they just remain latent. So let's get cracking.
-- By David Cogswell