What is Fascism anyway?

April 25, 2005 00:00 by keithkaragan
The term fascist is tossed about often enough. Protesters will call the police fascists. Leftists might call those who disagree with  them fascists (ok, that might be a stereotype but can you say you haven't heard that said?). Generally it is used as a derogative statement to whom it is applied to, but in actuality fascism is a European political movement.
Chip Berlet's article from the NLG Civil Liberties Committee, “What is fascism?” states that fascism is:

"The reactionary movement following World War I was based on a rejection of the social theories that formed the basis of the 1789 French Revolution, and whose early formulations in this country had a major influence on our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights."

Chip further states:

Fascists particularly loathed the social theories of the French Revolution and its slogan: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."
*** Liberty from oppressive government intervention in the daily lives of its citizens, from illicit searches and seizures, from enforced religious values, from intimidation and arrest for dissenters; and liberty to cast a vote in a system in which the majority ruled but the minority retained certain inalienable rights.
*** Equality in the sense of civic equality, egalitarianism, the notion that while people differ, they all should stand equal in the eyes of the law.
*** Fraternity in the sense of the brotherhood of mankind. That all women and men, the old and the young, the infirm and the healthy, the rich and the poor, share a spark of humanity that must be cherished on a level above that of the law, and that binds us all together in a manner that continuously re-affirms and celebrates life

These are statements about idealogical fascism. The practical forms came in the forms of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and Generalissimo Franco - just to name a few. Mussolini is credited with the evolution of the base fascist state.
Dr. Lawrence Britt studied several fascist regimes and compiled 14 characteristics common to those regimes (This appeared in the humanist though journal Free Inquiry Spring 2003 (reference):
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections
Take a look at this list, and honestly consider the US political climate today and see how many apply - seriously ... you don't have to tell anyone your finding - put aside your allegiances and look at these objectively. Are we close to this, do we meet all the criteria? Even if you conclude that we don't meet them all it's likely that you'll find too many are met for it not to be disturbing. Take a look at other countries too, consider the EU as well - what is the fascist state of the world politic?
Fascism puts the interests of the State, as a corporate entity, before that of the individual giving the corporation rights that are in excess of those of the individual. In the US today we've seen corporate rights grow at rapid rates and are basically equivalent to those of the individual. With that we can extrapolate that since these corporate entities have far more resources than the individuals that they will continue to lobby for further expansion of corporate rights, since that is in their best interests. What will society look like if this continues unbridled?
Incidents of terrorism, wars, and other disasters tend to soften the public outcry over the government curtailing individual rights. Corporations on the other hand are unaffected by these same changes, and are also (since they are not human) unaffected by the tragedies that preempt the tactical legislation of these laws and policies. The humans that run the corporations are bound by their offices to look out for the corporation's best interest, since the corporation cannot do so autonomously. What is the excuse of the individual for not looking out for their best personal and collective interests?
I go into this detail to highlight that I am not simply tossing the 'F' word about freely, without regard to it's meaning. I say it purposefully to point to issues at hand. If your unfamiliar with this point of view, please take a few minutes and do some individual research about it - google fascism, read a book, listen to a few Dave Emory programs, or whatever your preferred method of information consumption happens to be. It will shed a new light on the history of the 20th century and the affairs of the beginning of the 21st.
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