Writing in the magazine, Free Inquiry, Spring, 2003, social scientist, Dr. Lawrence Britt described fourteen characteristics of fascism. His article was titled, “Fascism, anyone?” These characteristics are now quite famous, having been accepted and co-opted by many authors, among them, John Pilger, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, and Naomi Wolf. In her Guardian article, Wolf wrote about ten steps. Dr. Britt studied the regimes of Pinochet, Franco, Mussolini, Suharto, and Hitler. He discovered the following commonalities:
Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .
Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even fore go civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
How can anyone deny a powerful, continuing nationalism in our current state of unending war? Can the American Gulag, Guantanamo, be considered anything else but emblematic of disdain for the recognition of human rights? The declaration of “illegal alien” must be acknowledged as an identification of enemies and scapegoats, fomenting unification in the general population, against the others. “The Others” is a concept identified by Italian scholar, Umberto Eco, as another symptom of fascism. It plays well with the doctrine formulated by George Orwell, of fear and loathing being necessary to galvanise public opinion. In World War II, American servicemen were just that, service-men, citizen-soldiers. Now, since the all volunteer army of Richard Nixon, we have a new caste in America, that of ‘the Military’, a class set apart, elevated and admired. Veterans no longer speak of being “in the service”. Instead, they say, “When I was in the Military”. Military involvement is no longer seen as a service. It is seen as privileged. It is admired as a sacrifice, and those who make it are noble. Supremacy of the military is not merely limited to the armed forces. The paramilitary quality of American police agencies, with citizens referred to as “civilians”, discounts the old notion of “To Protect and to Serve”, replacing it with a mentality of citizen subordination to their public servants. Rampant sexism is the origin of military rape; so is the oft described ‘war on women’, seen, most poignantly, in the fight to deny women the right to determination of their own health. Current and constant attacks on Planned Parenthood speaks volumes. Will anyone deny American Media is controlled? The obsession with national security, as seen in the persecution of Pvt. Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange, and the mysterious death of Michael Hastings demonstrate, if nothing else, government has something to hide. The term, crypto-fascism, fits well, here. Julian Assange is not a U.S. citizen, yet California Senator Dianne Feinstein has declared her desire for him to be tried for treason. How can a foreign national be a traitor to the United States? Efforts by Dominionist legislators and their cohorts, to intertwine government with fundamentalist Protestantism, as well as certain fundamentalist Catholic views expressed by the U.S. Supreme court, are chillingly alarming, as is the Dominionist takeover of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. Dominionism is especially acute in special ops. Corporate power is protected, and Labor is assaulted. Labor union membership is at an all time low, while Corporations hide under the umbrella of Citizens United, and bank offshore. Intellectualism is denigrated. Arts are ignored, and left to fend for themselves. American Idol replaced Evening at Symphony. Shallow thinking is encouraged. Critical thinking is denied. Along with the prevalence of paramilitary policing, crime and punishment are an obsession in this society. Rampant cronyism and corruption were the rule in the George W. Bush regime. More cognizant of his image, Obama has changed this. His administration is not so rampant, but the cronyism and corruption continue. It is public knowledge that Al Gore won the presidency against George W. Bush, and that fraud abounded in certain electorates, especially among those which used Diebold machines. The elephant in the room is the question of how far the corruption went. Why did Gore just give up? Why did he not fight this blatant, overt handing over of the presidency? Could the US Supreme Court have been part of an enormous conspiracy in a corrupt election? There, again, why was Clinton so eager to enact Reagan’s NAFTA, and destroy Glass-Stiegel, not to mention further empowering Corporate America by continuing the assault on labor unions and the Sherman Anti-trust Act? The lumbering of the Beast has been long in coming, starting with assaults on American Liberty by Nixon, then Reagan, the Bushes, and yes, even through the allegedly Democratic administrations of Clinton and Obama. Now, the United States Supreme Court has joined in, again, by attacking the Voting Rights Act.
To those of you, who would deny the rapid transformation of American society into a fascist state, I say, “Good for you! I hope your state of denial works for you.” I wish you well. To those of you, who choose to merely ignore it, I sadly shake my head. Although I routinely don’t tolerate fools, I can still pity them. You are the embodiment of the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss”.
- Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden Heroes for sure (larryjben.wordpress.com)
- 14 indicators of fascism fit us politics (1jdadam.wordpress.com)
- Prominent member of National Alliance openly praises fascism and Mussolini (lvfascists.wordpress.com)
- Fascism Has Come to Roost in America (opednews.com)
- Fight against Fascists ruling the EU government (ivarfjeld.com)
- When fascism comes to America, it will be cloaked in patriotism (sott.net)
- Are you a Fascist? (ivoter.net)
- PRISM and the Rise of a New Fascism (counterpunch.org)