Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Privatized Fascism

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in his book "Crimes Against Nature," defines fascism as "a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership together with belligerent nationalism."
Any good political science teacher will tell you that a democractic society with a free market economy will gravitate towards fascism.
Ironic, because fascism itself is anti-democratic. Indeed, it's anti-capitalist too, altho that distinction is much more subtle.
It works like this: because democracy is a majority rule society, winner take all, power resides within the electorate until the electorate give that power over to someone to rule over them. In a vacuum, that makes sense. You don't want society to have to make every single decision, so you select representatives to make decisions for the people. It would be too cumbersome to ask the people to vote on, say, how often garbage should be collected, and so on.
The level of that republicanism depends on the society's agreement as to what it can be arsed to chime in on.
Some societies, like America, turn into full-blown republics. Some societies maintain a level of democratization where individuals can still make decisions that affect the common good. California's ballot initiatives are a decent example of this.
Similarly, capitalism makes a lot of sense in theory, if you follow Adam Smith's warnings. No business combinations, companies should not incorporate, which forces individual owners to accept the responsibilities for their products and services, and businesses should be taxed to compensate for the use of the natural resources that belong to all of us.
It's an extremely efficient system and when it's under society's control, most people will do well enough under it to live a good life without much want. They'll get by and a little more, if they're lucky.
In a vacuum, again, it makes sense.
Here's the thing: power attracts money. Money creates power. That vacuum no longer exists, and society must be vigilant, eternally so, against that slop-over. As we see, the combination of business and government is a most dangerous one. It creates fascism.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: a free society is a three-legged stool: government, the people, business. Any one of those legs gets chopped down, and the stool tips over. In fascism, the government and business carry axes. The people do not, precisely because of the regimentation and conformity that is imposed.
Naomi Wolf offers these ten signs of impending fascism. I've signaled those signs that have come to America:
  1. Create and/or wildly exaggerate an enemy of the people. (Islamists: check)
  2. Set up a secret extra judicial justice system. (sort of, with the military tribunals and the FISA court)
  3. Set up a paramilitary force, armed thugs if you will. (Blackwater/Xe, which not only "assists" the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also was involved in bringing "security" to New Orleans after Katrina, so: check)
  4. A surveillance apparatus set up to watch the people. (The Patriot Act: check)
  5. Harass citizens groups. (sort of, but this has been going on for a while now)
  6. Arbitrary detention and release. (Gitmo: check)
  7. Target key individuals. (sort of, again)
  8. Control the press. (Only five corporations own the media: check)
  9. Dissent = Treason. ("Why do you hate America so?" under Bush: semi-check)
  10. Martial law. (not yet...maybe)
Here's the downside of democracy: by allowing a majority voice to determine the policies and futre of a nation, you allow for the manipulation of public opinion to sway people from facts, analysis and truth. That means the majority opinion can be wildly wrong.
When this nation had true democracy, the majority expressed the opinion that women should not vote, blacks should be kept as slaves, and only the landed gentry should have any say in what goes on in this country. After all, they stood to lose the most.
Remember, if you define democracy as free people choosing their path, this was "freedom" at its most abstract and its most extreme. And it didn't work for everyone.
Even in Athens, the very model of "democracy," slavery existed. Hell, it thrived, since it seems likely that every free citizen had at least one slave!
In order to bring freedom to America, in order to expand democracy to all its citizens, the freedoms of those who most enjoyed the benefits of "old democracy" had to have their "rights" curtailed. Freedom had to be reapportioned amongst all people. Women had to secure the right to vote, slaves had to be freed and made full citizens.
I don't think any rational human being alive today would disagree this was a good thing for America. I don't think any rational human being alive today would argue that hogging rights is a good thing.
American society worked to extend freedom and rights to all its people for all its existence, the feeling that freedom was owed to everyone in the nation. This meant reinterpreting and amending our Constitution to reflect this enlightenment, to codify what we believed the Founders would have said if they could see the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries in a crystal ball.
Somewhere along the way, some idiot realized this was the perfect opportunity to secure "rights" for the corporatocracy. Rather than limit freedom to the people, the natural born citizenry who would fight and die for this nation's freedoms, some moron decided that if there was just SOMEway to make a corporation a person, business could really take off, because it would get a say in what goes on around it.
And there's a certain logic to this: business makes money which pays the people who pay taxes which support the government, so why not give corporations the right to shape the future? To do otherwise is to enslave business under society's rule.
Remember how money creates power and power attracts money? Here's where the line between business and government began to blur. Money flowed from businesses to politicians who held or could hold power, who in turn washed the backs of their corporate masters as much as possible.
After all, no business is going to make an unprofitable investment. If I am IBM, and I give you a million bucks, I expect a return for that money, or else I'm going to invest it where I can make a return. It's really that simple a decision. And that dangerous. It amounts to extortion.
"Nice office you got here, Congressman. Sure would be a shame if someone else took it from you."
None of this is in any way antithetical to human nature, which is the scary part. None of this is psychopathy. Sociopathic, perhaps, but our society is gamed such that the individual human natures will collectively "benefit" society at large. Sociopathy is us.
When fascism has been imposed in the past, in nations like Italy (where it was born) and Nazi Germany, it came from the government.
Here in America, it's been creeping in through the corporatocracy, aided and abetted by the government and the Brownshirt thugs who support the cause.
This is why the signs of fascism, as plain as day, are ignored by many people, who have been indoctrinated that free enterprise is their ally and government is the enemy, when in fact government is the sole bulwark against the encroaching fascist state.
Why? Because nominally it's still responsible to the voter. Nominally, and that erodes daily, especially as stories flow out of Wisconsin about voting fraud and rigged counts.
Getting back to the Quislings of America, it's people like Jonah Goldberg who are the tools of the corporatocracy and when fascism in America is recounted in history books, perhaps they'll devote a few paragraphs to Goldberg, who attempted to smear liberal thought as "fascist".
Fascism comes from power. Liberals most assuredly do not have that power in America. Fascism is the centralization of power. Liberals would prefer to liberate that power and return it to the people themselves, understanding that there must be a firewall between government and the corporate sector.
In tandem with this extension of rights to corporate America that has endangered the nation, we started to see the contraction of rights for the individual, but not to the benefit of groups of disenfranchised Americans (who ended up being scapegoated anyway) but a contraction of all our rights.
The first real notice I had of it was under the Clinton administration, when it was determined that the Fourth Amendment no longer mattered when it came to cases where a drug dealer was involved: his property could be seized and held as material evidence in any criminal case, then disposed of by the state as they saw fit.
But in truth, the contraction of rights occured earlier than this. One can point to Reagan disbanding PATCO, thus eliminating a right to form a more perfect union to protect individuals from bureaucracy and politicization. Or Nixon and his "enemies list," aided by both the FBI and CIA. Or McCarthy. Or...
You see, it blurs. The "good" contraction of rights for some blurred in with the bad contraction that affects and impacts us all.
And that's the scary part, because it requires intellect and insight to discern between the two.
It's inefficient. And inefficiencies are what capitalism exploits. The second the business sector was allowed to participate fully in the political process, America was doomed to fascism.
Again, not because the government is fascistic. Some administrations are more fascistic than others, to be sure, but all administrations now have to use the tools of fascism to run the country. This is what the corporatocracy has extorted from government.
If the government was imposing fascism, if it was American troops sitting on the border of Mexico instead of Blackwater/Xe, we'd all be shouting in unison "posse comitatus" and the troops would disappear. But Xe doesn't have to abide by that law.
If it was the federal government who owned NBC/Universal and all its myriad subnetworks, or Fox and those outlets, or Viacom or ABC/Disney, we'd all be screaming about state-run radio. But it's not.
If it was the Federal government who was on our TVs day and night hyperventilating about this threat or that, we'd all be looking around for someone else to take the reins. But it's not.
And it is. None of this is going on without some tacit assistance from the government, which is being extorted and exhorted to participate. Why else the bailouts of banks that turned almost immediately wildly profitable again?
We live in a fascist state and history will write us as a lesson for the future.
And the lesson will not be learned.
(ed note: all this was generated from watching fifteen minutes of "The Warning" on LinkTV this morning. Go read up on it, and then donate to Link. They've earned your assistance.)