Monday, June 27, 2011

21st Century Fascism in America: The Components, the Players, and the Consequences + Bristol Palin on Good Morning America

Guest Post by Sunnyjane

If a Fascist regime comes to power in America, history will record that it was introduced by Sarah Palin, aided and abetted by the Republican Party, legitimized by the United States Supreme Court, and vigorously embraced by far-right-wingers who are so undereducated and ill informed that they won’t recognize it for what it is. After all, they are the ones who have recklessly hurled this label at the current administration, so it’s easy to accept that they don’t know what they’re talking about. And guess what? The Republicans NEED it that way.

In a different era in a land far, far away, Fascism was dominated by a male megalomaniac who incited the populace from his palace balcony. But with the ill-advised selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008, this fanatical form of government has taken on an entirely new identity: this modern megalomaniac incites the masses from any podium that comes with a big speaking fee.

It’s important to understand that megalomaniac is not a word to be bandied about in a frivolous manner. Briefly, megalomania a psycho-pathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence. The megalomaniac has an inflated sense of self-esteem and an overrated belief in his/her personal powers and values. Remind you of anyone?

Even a cursory search for the term “Fascism” on the Internet brings up definitions that are as numerous, and in many cases as muddled, as an overpriced Sarah Palin alphabet-soup-with-a-side-order-of-word-salad speaking engagement. (You may not have agreed with Benito Mussolini, but at least you could comprehend what he was saying.)

However, the most relevant piece of writing I found on contemporary Fascism was written by Laurence W. Britt in 2004. He begins his article with an ominous warning: Fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for.

Britt uses the regimes of early-to-mid-nineteen hundreds’ Fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Chile, and Indonesia (which all followed a comparable model to obtain, expand, and maintain power) to illustrate the characteristics of modern fascism.

Britt: Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

Is it inaccurate to suggest that Sarah Palin and the right wing parties have been instrumental in initiating Fascism in America? By considering only a few of the fourteen elements Britt has compiled, it becomes vividly clear that Sarah Palin, the Republicans, and the Tea Party are intent on establishing a Fascist form of government in the United States.

Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism: From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on racial intolerance.

The Stars and Stripes have been reduced to fashion accessory for Sarah Palin. She is the epitome of the flagrant and, in many cases, inappropriate display and use of the United States flag. American exceptionalism; “Real Americans”; and Second Amendment rights conferred by God are just a few examples of her “nationalism.”

She managed to plaster more iconic national images on her star-spangled tour bus than can be purchased from every vendor hawking cheap souvenirs in the nation’s capital on the Fourth of July. The not-so-subliminal message: “If you don’t believe in what I stand for, you are un-American!”

Disdain for the importance of human rights: The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

Far-right authoritarians view most social freedoms as self-indulgent and the breakdown of America’s “core values.” Of the civil liberties being attacked by the Republicans and the Tea Party (rights of unions, the right to affordable health care, the rights of the LGBT community), the most deliberate, intense, and offensive assault is those upon a woman’s right to manage her own body, her reproductive activity, and her own life.

In April of this year, ten states were named as those having the most shocking anti-woman legislation. These laws are appalling, destructive, and blatantly unjust. And while they would deny any other woman the right to choose, Bristol and Sarah had no problem being paid to appear on a magazine cover that exclaimed, “We’re Glad We Chose Life.” (Emphasis added.) It has to be the ultimate hypocrisy.

A controlled mass media: Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

The vast majority of news outlets are owned by right-leaning, large, for- profit corporations. Companies such as Comcast are being given the ability to control what is seen in viewers’ homes, as well as what is seen on the Internet.

Religion and ruling elite tied together: Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug.

Sarah Palin and the far-right Dominionists choose to ignore an inconvenient reality that is clearly spelled out in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…

Their contention that America was founded by Christians and is, therefore, a Christian nation, is not only wrong, it is absurd. In fact, many of the “founders” were followers of Deism, a form of religion that believes in man’s reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion of any kind.

Newt Gingrich, while hardly a shining example of far-right family and religious values, never misses an opportunity to warn his base (and anyone else who will listen) that “secular socialism” is the biggest threat to the United States of America.

Turning the United States into a theocracy is not an abstract concept. The religious right is on a specific mission to force their belief system on the rest of us. As Leah Burton points out so succinctly: Dominionists state, without shame, their absolute intent to gain political leadership and force biblical law across the land.

Power of corporations protected: Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

Most U.S. and foreign corporations operating in this country pay less in taxes than you and I do. Many of them pay NO taxes.

Further, in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations, trade associations, unions and nonprofit groups may now spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for or against politicians. Is it any wonder that Republicans are now intent on limiting the number, power, and scope of unions? By so doing, the corporations would be the mightier force in influencing elections.

In Benito Mussolini’s own words: Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power. Mussolini should know about these things.

Power of labor suppressed or eliminated: Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless.

After the 2010 elections, Republican governors in at least twelve states (Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana, Alaska, Michigan, Ohio, Maine, Arizona,Tennessee, Idaho, Iowa and Kansas) proposed legislation that would diminish the power of labor unions. Sarah Palin vigorously supported these efforts. This will continue, particularly in states with a Republican government, unless the citizens of those states fight against such abuse.

A humorous, but accurate, blog article by Keith Balmer: The Dark Prince of Satire talks about trying to select the worst governor in America.

To Summarize

Sarah Palin is responsible for making deceit, hate, divisiveness, and violence a badge of honor.

She has made it acceptable to misinterpret the U.S. Constitution to suit the far-right’s own agenda.

She has thrust theocracy into the political arena, ignited the gun advocacy and militia frenzy, and inflamed the immigration situation by blatantly advancing racism and broad-spectrum xenophobia to a degree that has not been seen in this country for fifty years.

She and the Republicans have provoked the fires of anti-women’s rights. They have advanced the dumbing-down of America’s youth by rewriting history, denying science, insisting that Creationism being taught in schools, and generally scorning the benefits of a well educated citizenry.

They have supported cuts in welfare, health care, and Medicare/Medicaid. Their “budget plan” proposes dramatic changes in Social Security while they hold tight to tax cuts for the richest one percent in America.

Whether or not she runs for president in 2012, Sarah Palin is responsible for a Fascist tsunami that threatens a radical and disastrous transformation of this nation. She has set a new and alarming anti-democracy standard that the Republican candidates are more than enthusiastic to follow in order to satisfy the expectations of their far-right base; not one of them can succeed without that support.

Let us be the Paul Reveres of this time and place: The Fascists are coming, the Fascists are coming!

And be very careful what you vote for, America – you might just get it.



Bristol Palin claims that she felt like Levi stole her virginity on Good Morning America. Says that they have discussed Sarah running and that she thinks she would make an awesome President.

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