Many in the left are afraid to say plainly that the USA is fascist. Usually it is because they think the "F" word undercuts the position of criticism because in their minds to call the USA fascist would mean that the USA would look like fascist Germany or Italy at their worst. As I expected, a man did call in to the program to tell Naomi that fascism was what happened historically in Germany and Italy and that the USA is not there yet, so to call what we have fascism is not accurate. At best this is just a misunderstanding of what fascism is.
One historical expression of fascism is not the only and forever expression of fascism. That would be like saying lung cancer is not cancer because my uncle had cancer and it was in his prostate. Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy were expressions of the disease of fascism, but Bush's USA just as certainly also an expression of fascism, even if it looks different to the untrained eye as it attacks the body politic through different organs of manifestation. So how can we diagnose this social disease?
Wolf presents an analysis of 10-steps that America has taken to cross the threshold into fascism. I hadn't seen her list until Sunday. I created my 10-point list below based on the book The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, the 14-point list by Lawrence Britt, the 14-point list by Umberto Eco, and other sources on fascism. Britt's and Eco's lists are similar but different and I felt the need to provide a more generic, simple, and inclusive list. Each of the items on their lists fits within this list. Wolf's 10-steps are also identifiable within this 10-point diagnosis as particular expressions of the some of the symptoms. I first presented this 10-point list for diagnosing fascism in a public forum on November 6, 2004, at The Sixth Biannual Radical Philosophy Association's Conference titled PHILOSOPHY AGAINST EMPIRE, held on November 4-7, 2004, at Howard University, Washington D.C.
The 14 Points Linking Fascism from:
Dr. Lawrence Britt: “Fascism Anyone?”
Free Inquiry Magazine, Spring 2003 (5/11/03)
14 Ways of Looking at Fascism from:
Umberto Eco: “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt”
New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15.
Excerpted in Utne Reader, November-December 1995, pp. 57-59.
The Ten Factors of Fascism
Here are the ten primary symptoms of fascism by which any government and system of social control can be measured to determine is fascistic tendencies.
1. Authoritarian/Autocratic government and family style.
2. Patriarchal government, social, and family style to justify everything from religion to politics.
3. Plutocratic control of government and information
4. In-Group Supremacy of leadership as a social system
5. Anti-life and Anti-nature social attitude used to alienate citizens from each other and themselves.
6. Violence & war used as instruments of foreign policy and social control
7. Mass Appeal supports the government and is used to dumb down the sharing and transfer of information and to gain the demagogic support.
8. Deception as a regular means of social control.
9. Fear Mongering as a regular means of social control
10. Sanctimony as a social style and the use of religion( or religious substitute) is a regular means of social control.
If these ten symptoms can be identified as having substantial influence in the government and the decisions by the law makers, then the government is an expression of fascism. These symptoms are present in every fascist state to an identifiable degree of influence. If one or two are completely missing then it shouldn't be called fascism. For example, if there were no plutocracy and rule by corporations and instead a hereditary nobility ruled through a king then even with the other factors present it would be monarchy not fascism. Also, if there were no deception or fear mongering used as the primary means of propaganda for social control then it would not be fascism; totalitarian dictatorship perhaps, but not fascism.
Other factors of historical incidence, such as whether or not the state has a single dictatorial figure like a Hitler or a specific nation-wide "youth" movement such as the Nazi Youth, are secondary symptoms useful only to the extent that they are specific manifestations of the primary symptoms.
And it is important to understand as a baseline phenomenon for diagnosing the society and not just the government that what is found in the government is found in the family, because it is the family that is the primary building block of fascism and the primary source for the inculcation of fascist ideals and frames of thinking. George Lakoff of the Rockridge Institute has elucidated this connection between the family's fascist values becoming the family values of the fascist nation.
This is a fundamental point for understanding the functioning of fascism in a society. Fascism is not a dictatorship that is imposed on a society. Fascism is not an external influence from "outside" the nation. Fascism is a dictatorship that the society as a nation imposes upon itself and embraces in the name of its family values, because those family values are essentially fascistic. If the nation is fascistic and elects a fascistic father figure like George W. Bush, then the nation is fascist even if the father figure leaves office at the end of his term. In other words, fascism thrives in the context of a pseudo democracy like the USA where fascists can point to the external forms of democracy for the purpose of maintaining the curtain in front of the dictatorship of fascist values.
How Do the Symptoms Function?
Let's look at the ten factors a little more closely to see their characteristics and how they work to influence society and destabilize democracy. This is an outline highlighting the themes and characteristics that anyone should be able to follow and identify.
1. Authoritarian/Autocratic (follow the leader)
a. Cult of the leader.
b. Authoritarian hierarchy (rather than collaborative hierarchy) is reflected in all social institutions.
c. Leadership cult even in “democracies” (democratic dictatorship)
d. Domination and Dominionism
e. Externalization of Salvation from savior or messiah from the outside, belittling idea of heaven is within.
2. Patriarchal (father knows best, mother in her domain, children seen and not heard)
a. Sexism and sexualization
b. Mother sentimentalization verses nurturing
c. God the Father
d. Family values means obeying father: in the family father is boss, in the state Father of the nation (president, fuhrer) is boss, in religion the church Father (pope, rabbi, ayatollah) is boss, in the universe Father God is the boss.1
3. Plutocratic (wealth is good, poverty is deserved for the weak or lazy)
a. Corporatism is the fascist form of plutocracy: mass production w/o democratic decision making. amassing wealth with protectionism by govt.
b. Government controlled by business for purpose of supporting business while claiming government victimizes business.
c. Destruction of the commons: privatization of public resources and profits with socialization of private sector’s costs.
d. "We stand for the maintenance of private property... We shall protect free enterprise as the most expedient, or rather the sole possible economic order." Adolph Hitler
e. Exploitation and repression of labor in the name of ownership interests.
f. Wealth as an absolute good., wealth = capital, poverty = labor.
4. In-Group Supremacy (we/us are good, they/them are bad)
a. Race, the Biological Superstition
b. Tribalism to Cultural Chauvinism
c. Class and caste stratification, dehumanization of the subservient classes/castes.
e. Selfishness and egotism the ultimate “in-group”
f. Nationalism against international humanism, patriotism to suppress debate.
g. Cronyism as a paradigm
5. Anti-life and Anti-nature (this world is sin, the other world of heaven is freedom)
a. Mechanical View of Biology.
b. Biology is bad, nature is dirty, belittling notion that oneness with the earth and nature is redeeming.
c. Anti-sexual orientation, sex out of marriage is a sin, gay marriage is a sacrilege heterosexual marriage is a sacrament, but suggestions of sex are okay in the name of commerce.
d. Blood literalization and idolization (in racism and inheritance)
e. Cult of the Land and Nationalist-Patriotism of the Soil (false earth worship).
6. Violence & war (might makes right, weakness is a sign of wrongness)
a. Violence as legitimate and preferred problem solver.
b. Violence is brave and heroic, nonviolence is cowardly, pacifism is unpatriotic.
c. Militarism, war, and conquest are manifestly destined in this world therefore just another part of unavoidable sin.
d. Empire is peace: pax Romana. pax Regis, and the Iroquois “Great Peace”
7. Mass Appeal (group think & cultural conformity are primary values)
a. Mob Mentality used to prevent mass organizing.
b. Anti-individual and False Individualism: “one whole people”, ditto heads.
c. Ruling Caste and Underclass Mental Hegemony, denying distinctions
d. Propaganda, sloganeering, and branding. Form over substance or function.
e. False sense of community in mass communications
f. Patriotism is conformity not dissent.
8. Deception (truth is what we say it is, honesty is dangerous)
a. Lies in the name of national security.
b. Secrets in the name of national security.
c. Stating the opposite: reaction as revolution, 1984 Newspeak.
9. Fear Mongering (fear rules the roost)
a. Vulnerability is a constant reminder for supporting the leader/party.
b. Insecurity is a benchmark used to prevent critical thinking.
c. Pointing the finger at “responsible” scapegoats both within and outside society.
10. Sanctimony (good & bad are opposites not polarities, self-righteousness reigns)
a. War of Images creating hypocritical holiness. Clean and Pure Vs. Bad, Evil, Sick, and Polluting, e.g., evil empire, axis of evil, communist cancer, socialist plague, etc.
b. Religion used as the tool of the state for social enforcement, e.g., crusades, witch hunts, godless red scare, holy war, etc.
c. Schizopolarity: Primary polarity split that fixates the other polarity factors into a complex that concretizes consciousness.
How To Diagnose Fascism
Using the above characteristics and examples, one can ask the questions that elucidate whether the symptom is present or not. The questions are critical, because by asking the question the reader may apply the test to develop their own critical analysis for evaluation and diagnosis of their own government. This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions for each symptom. This list is sketchy and just an initial outline. The reader is encouraged to consider and add questions under each category of symptom.
Q: Is there an authoritarian leader?
"I'm the decider" pretty much sums it up.
This point is often misunderstood by those who say the USA can't be fascist because there is no "dictator" like a Hitler or Mussolini. The genius of USA fascism is that it has elevated the role of the presidency through the use of the two-party dictatorship into a serial dictatorship of the plutocracy revolving between the so-called "two" parties so that the embodiment of a single individual father figure head is not required. Bill Clinton bombed Baghdad on a regular basis and then George Bush could railroad and ramrod through an uncritical Congress an illegal invasion of a country that had never attacked the USA and never threatened to attack the USA. Between the two, Clinton and Bush, there was only a difference in tactics. The abdication of Congress and the media to provide any check and balance against Clinton's bombing of Iraq and Bush's war on Iraq (e.g., Dan Rather's comments about marching to the leader's orders) clearly demonstrated how electoral fascism works in the USA with the "allegiance" to the current leader's authority overriding all other concerns, such as the concern for facts and evidence to support allegations of threats against the USA.
Q: "Is the leader's view more important than the peoples' view?"
Mass demonstrations against the impending invasion of Iraq did not slow down the invasion by a step. Our "I'm the decider" president had decided and no discussion by the people was going to interfere. Congress abdicated to this variant of the strong leader's "will" regardless that the Constitution establishes that it is Congress that declares war, not the president. Such abdication is a clear sign of authoritarian influence on the checks and balances of democracy.
Q: Is the “character” of the leader more important in elections than the direction being led?
When the frame for selecting a "leader" is that the leader's character issues are more important than what the leader actually stands for as far as the direction the leader would lead, then fascism has influenced the election. This does not mean that "character" issues are irrelevant, but that they are used in such a way that they obfuscate the candidates actual agenda. For example, in the USA a person who admits to being an atheist is unelectable because the frame is that a person of good character goes to church. The actual character of the person as a liar, war monger, or corporate pirate becomes irrelevant to the public persona of character provided by the photo-op of the candidate on the steps of the church.
Q: Is surveillance of citizens justified in order to maintain the authority and security of the state?
Congress's recent approval of Bush's unwarranted wiretapping and other surveillance methods demonstrates the bipartisan fascism in the USA today.
Q: Is disagreement with the President/PM tantamount to treason?
The examples from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld clearly demonstrate this.
O: Is a strong Leader justified by weakness of the people?
This is more surreptitious but is also present. For example, who said,
“People need somebody to watch over them. . . . Ninety-five percent of the people in the world need to be told what to do and how to behave.”?
[Answer: Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger from a 1990 profile in U.S. News and World Report.]
Q: Does the Masculine principle dominate?
Clearly in the USA the patriarchal principle dominates. No woman president. Few women in Congress. Even the existence of Hillary Clinton in the political landscape does not speak otherwise because legitimacy as a candidate is derived entirely from her association with her husband, a previous patriarchal precedent.
Q: Is the Feminine principle sentimentally revered but actually considered second class?
Yes. From Eve to Hillary, the Feminine principle is second class. For example, that is why Hillary must wear pants suits, in order to send the subliminal message that she too can wear pants as much as any man. A woman must give up the signs of femininity if she is to compete in patriarchal politics.
Q: Are "Family values" used as a propaganda tool to reinforce absolute hierarchy within the society?
Q: Is there rampant sexism?
Pretty obvious in both government and the families that support the current administration.
Q: Is Machismo highly valued?
Again, the short phrase "I'm the decider" speaks volumes. And don't forget the flight suit photos on the aircraft carrier with the "Mission Accomplished" backdrop.
Q: Is sexuality transformed into playing with weapons of war?
This is a psychological nuance that is usually only appreciated in humor. Missiles and their use are definitely substitutes for sexual gratification. Rumsfeld's flippant comment "You go into war with the equipment you have" is another, though more subliminal, example. In order to appreciate the context of Rumsfeld's comment it must be remembered that in fact what he said is a lie. In WWII we declared war but did not "go into war" until after we had the equipment we needed, not the equipment we had. In fact the USA's delay in entering the war while it retooled factories and created the military equipment it needed was a great concern and worry to our allies. But the president on that occasion knew that you go into war when you are ready.
Q: Is government overly influenced by business, protective of corporations, and used against labor interests?
This is one of the traditional and historical benchmarks of fascism. When the private-interest influence is greater than the public's influence, then the dictatorial control is established, even if the private-interest is successful through propaganda means to convince the voters to vote against their interests. In the USA we have a two-party dictatorship where the plutocrats control both parties in what have essentially become two wings of the one Corporatism Party. A shell game is played between the so-called "two" parties creating the appearance that they differ in fundamentals when in fact they only differ in how the masses will be treated under plutocratic control, while the question of the existence of plutocratic control is not considered legitimate. It must be remembered that the small-business interests follow the big business interests in the name of stability. The middle classes support the plutocratic dictatorship as long as they perceive (1) stability for business interests, (2) a comfortable share of the wealth for themselves,(3) the plutocrats endorse the generally puritanical middle class values even if they don't share them, and (4) the plutocrats maintain the illusion that anyone may join their ranks if they strike it rich.
Q: Is the power of corporations protected by the state?
The plundering of the US Treasury by the contracts with the corporate cronies of Bush is obvious. Under Bush not even the phony illusion of bidding for contracts is maintained. See the many good references on the role of corporation in present day society such as the book When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten and the film The Corporation
by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott, and Joel Bakan.
From The Toronto Star:
Naomi Klein's new book a lightning rod
Her new book, The Shock Doctrine, details the rise of disaster capitalism with painstaking care, showing how big business often steps in after global misery
Sep 04, 2007 04:30 AM
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a painstakingly detailed analysis of how corporations manipulate natural and manmade disasters to line their pockets and further their privatizing agenda, is not a marginal, academic treatise by a lefty think tank targeted at a small, like-minded audience.
Q: Is the power of labor suppressed or eliminated by the state?
Again, yes. NAFTA is a perfect example where outsourcing to countries without protection of labor is encouraged. Also, here at home, labor is hamstrung and controlled by the Taft-Hartley Act (passed over Truman's veto and which he had described as a "slave-labor bill") and other such laws.
Q: Is wealth for oneself and one’s group a high value, while hatred of the "enemy" (domestic or foreign) who has wealth and its power, is justified?.
Thomas Franks' book What's the Matter With Kansas? portrayed the workings of this dynamic very well, describing how people who vote for the wealthy Republicans do so on the one hand with envy of the Republican wealthy and on the other hand with hate toward the Democratic "elites". All the while these populist voters ignore that it is the wealthy Republicans who are primarily draining and misusing the people's tax dollars for their own personal incomes.
4. In-Group Supremacy
Q: Is there a class or caste structure that dehumanizes the servant and subservient classes/castes and/or defines the ruling class as more deserving?
There is certainly in the USA. This is the flip side of the plutocracy and it's self-justification based on social Darwinism. Rest in peace, Leona Helmsley.
Q: Are there powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism?
Nationalism is the state equivalent of tribalism. Nationalism is used create a group-think that supersedes the facts and to divide humans from each other and their own humanity. Where patriotism is defined by nationalism itself, rather than by upholding the ideals and principles that define the better conscience of a nation, then fascism can take root. There are examples of this symptom too numerous to count in the speeches of President Bush.
Q: Is identification of enemies/scapegoats used as a unifying cause?
It was "communism" now it is "terrorists" and al Queda hiding everywhere and threatening to invade us against who we must be unified and not question our leader.
"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
- Hermann Goering, Luftwaffe Commander, From his cell at Nuremberg Trials 1946
- from Nuremberg Diary by G M Gilbert (Signet, New York, 1947)
Q: Is there rampant cronyism and corruption?
Halliburton, Bechtel, etc. ad nauseam.
Q: Is the "privilege" of being born in an especially favored country threatened by a plot of international conspiracy against the homeland and used for control?
Germany had its Fatherland Security Department and we have our Homeland Security Department. Germans in the 1930s in black leather coats said on the trains, "Your papers, please," and Americans today in blue blazers say it in the airports.
Q: Does society define itself using racist distinctions?
Many would put this question first under this category or, indeed, have racism as a separate category. However, to place racism as a separate category would overlook the essential function of "us-them" as the defining symptom. The elementary school exercise of Jane Elliot shows that the color of eyes or even clothes can become the matrix for expressing this symptom. I have heard it said that the USA can't be called fascist because Condoleezza Rice holds such a high office, because in a fascist state, which must by definition be racist, she could never get such a appointment. That mistaken attitude is exactly what I hope to overcome by presenting the type of analysis I am here. Racism is just the most pernicious and most handy frame of mind to exploit tribal prejudices by expanding them to the national level. Fascists rely on the confusion of being a "nation" with being a "race" so they can conveniently tap into the primitive prides and prejudices of perverted family-clan-tribe instincts. However, doing so in an overtly racist manner is not absolutely required. For example, the Tutsi-Hutu conflict in Rwanda did not rely on "race" per se, but on tribal distinctions that amounted to racism when the question of who would rule the nation became fused with the tribal distinctions.
By the long efforts of many people, even at the cost of their lives, overt racism is not acceptable in the USA. Therefore under the current conditions of public opinion anyone of any race can join the ruling in-crowd if they can sufficiently demonstrate their loyalty to the plutocrats. The presence of Condoleezza Rice or Alberto Gonzales in the administration had nothing at all to do with whether the current regime is fascist or not. At this moment in history the Arabs are the enemy race as far as the propaganda machine goes. However, that is not to say that racism does not exist in American fascism. The Berlin-style wall along the Mexican border is a perfect example of the nexus of in-group supremacy that combines nationalism with both homeland security propaganda and overt and covert racism. The current Supreme Court's step back from Brown vs. Board of Education is another example of the background of racism prevalent in the USA.
5. Anti-life and Anti-nature
Q: Is nature viewed as an enemy or commodity, and on the individual level is natural sexuality viewed as sinful?
An anti-life and anti-nature frame of reference permeates fascism and clearly this is found in the violence against nature upon which the plutocratic corporate structure is established. Natural functions of the body are viewed as sinful or representing an evil aspect of humanity. This self-loathing of one's own natural pleasures and sexuality becomes translated into homophobic reactions to those who are not in the sexually defined "in-group" supremacy because they are people whose natural sexuality is not submerged. This comes out when religious types say they don't hate the sinner just the sin. In fact what they hate is their own sexuality and sexual acts of others when they are engaged in as an expression of pleasure rather than as a duty of procreation.
Of special note is the manner in which the anti-abortion propagandists have usurped the phrase "pro-life" to represent their anti-life and pro-death world view. The anti-life aspect is amply demonstrated by how this faction abandons the child after it is born while they demand that all pregnancies completed.
Where nature is elevated as an ideal, it is a one-sided and uneducated parody of nature based on false assumptions, chief among them the false ideas of "race" and social Darwinism, used to justify the rulers position in society.
Q: Is the “national soil” an object of reverence with “farmers” idolized as the prototype of patriotism?
What we actually see in the USA is the hypocrisy of the great propaganda machine that "reveres," idolizes, and idealizes the "family farm" and then does nothing to protect it while the giant agribusiness corporations are given every kind of government support to thrive while they run the family farmers out of business.
Q: Is there disdain for the importance of human rights?
Corporate rights and the "right" to make profit generally have a higher priority in our government than human rights.
Q: Is there a social contempt for the weak or disabled?
One expression of this is the stem-cell debate.
Q: Does the society support the death penalty?
The USA is in the company of Communist China in supporting the death penalty.
Q: Is there an undercurrent of rejection of modern views on the nature of nature and life?
The rejection of the science and working theory of evolution and the embrace of the fantasy that life was created by a God-man as revealed in a book is essentially anti-life and anti-nature because it sees nature not as the direct expression of fundamental reality but as something alien to and opposed to reality.
6. Violence & war
Q: Is a military or a warrior class in top control in society with militarism used as a paradigm for problem-solving?
Currently in the USA there is the interesting phenomenon of a class of cowards and wanna-be warriors in control of the warrior class. Be that as it may, Bush has identified himself completely by his use of violence and war as the premier tools of foreign policy, far and above the use of diplomacy or the golden rule. The only candidates in the current presidential race who seem to understand this dynamic of fascism are Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul, who each in his own way has stated the current "war" is not only unconstitutional but not a good use of foreign policy. Kucinich has made this a central part of his campaign unequivocally stating that he does not support the use of violence and war as "an instrument of foreign policy." What does that mean? Does it mean he would never go to war? Of course not. What it means is that war should be a weapon of defense against actual attack, not a toll of foreign policy or regime change for other sovereign countries. All the other candidates strive to portray themselves as the strong leader who is not afraid to use war as a tool of foreign policy to achieve the national interests (e.g., to attain a world-wide hegemony of natural resources.)
Q: Is there social supremacy of the military/and militarism?
Yes, there is a social stigma against anyone who openly criticizes the soldier-class. Throughout the media and the churches "support the troops" is uncritically equated with support for the military mission of the president, even when that mission has nothing to do with defense against attack and is a blatant offensive attack upon another nation. If a person dares to say the troops have no business being deployed in an illegal criminal enterprise on foreign soil for the profit of American based corporations and therefore the troops should be brought home immediately, that person is accused of not "supporting the troops."
Q: Is torture sanctioned by the state?
Guantánamo in Cuba, Abu Ghraib, CIA "black" sites are some current examples of state sanctioned torture.
Q: Is the value of life derived from struggle?
A fundamental frame for fascism is that life itself is struggle and the value of life is in struggle. The primary struggle against our own nature is exteriorized as the struggle against "the enemy" de jour. We as a nation deserve our supremacy only through our struggle against the evils in the world. Political devils are created and maintained as evil incarnate in order for the nation to live in fear and derive pride and value in our struggle against them. As the cold war ended with communists embracing capitalism in one form or another, fascists needed a new enemy and conveniently the new Pearl Harbor of 9/11 occurred and now we are able to engage in the perpetual war on terrorism. Bush engages in his phoney war on terrorism, not as an uncomfortable necessity but, as a value defining struggle that elevates both himself and the nation for experiencing it. The complete bankruptcy of principle and values that are required to conduct the struggle are conveniently overlooked and ignored.
Q: Is there a culture of heroic death?
In the USA, yes. For example, the soldiers currently dying for a false criminal invasion and occupation are considered heros regardless of the real reason for their presence in a foreign land and the cynical cause of their death.
7. Mass Appeal
Q: Does "salvation" (the answers to ultimate questions) come from outside rather than from within, from the group rather than the individual?
With all the American propaganda about individualism, in fact the current government exists as an expression of group-think. Salvation, whether religions or political, is not to be left to the individual's ccnscience or insight, rather it is conceived as being derived from a reveled text that becomes the basis for conformity.
Q: Is form preferred over substance, slogan over content, symbol or sign over acts expressing the values the symbol represents?
The use of slogans in support of fascism is a tool that Hitler learned from American and British propagandists in WWI. Fundamentally, the entire structure of capitalism is based on advertising and advertising itself is the essence of fascist propaganda.
The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out.
~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter six.
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
~ George W Bush, 5/24/05
Q: Is there a controlled mass media?
In the USA, the corporate controlled mass media provide the propaganda platform for access to the masses, first and foremost through advertising, which is the most pernicious form of propaganda because it is so subtle and deceivingly subliminal.
What, for example, would we say about a poster that was supposed to advertise a new soap and that described other soaps as 'good'?
We would only shake our heads.
~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter six.
Q: Is there social disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts?
The disdain for intellectuals is highlighted in the fascist attempts to insert "creation theory" into the education curriculum.
The second really decisive question was this: To whom should propaganda be addressed? To the scientifically trained intelligentsia or to the less educated masses?
It must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses...
All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be exerted in this direction.
~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter six.
Q: Is seductive populism such as “anti-elite” rhetoric preached by politicians who are elites themselves?
This is the most fascinating effect of successful propaganda. By the effective use of sloganeering and playing to the emotions, people can be led to beleive that the propagandists are not in fact the very elites who the people are supposed to hate. Again, Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter With Kansas detailed this phenomenon with great clarity.
Q: Are government lies and secrecy “justified” by rationalization and used routinely to prevent public scrutiny?
Deception and the next symptom "fear mongering" go hand in hand as the most effective form of deception is used to create fear. The deception by Colin Powell at the UN is the perfect example of deception used for the purpose of creating fear. WMD lies, refusal to respond to subpoenas, please add to the list.
Q: Are there fraudulent elections?
Florida 2000, Ohio 2004. Read Greg Palast on vote caging.
Q: Is political language an impoverished vocabulary with the use of Newspeak?
Listen to any Bush speech and the answer is obvious. "Compassionate Conservatism,""Healthy Forests Initiative," "Peace Through Strength," and "War on Terrorism" are but a few examples of fascist Newspeak at work.
9. Fear Mongering
Q: Are patriotism and nationalism in the face of outside threats used to manufacture consent and suppress dissent especially within the lower classes subjected to that power?
“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
~ George W. Bush
Is there obsession with national security?
Q: Is there an obsession with crime and punishment?
Bush was a hang-em-high pro-death penalty governor and has supported the obsession, all the while actually doing nothing about the causes of crime nor anything to support the rehabilitation of people convicted of crimes. The obsession with punishment is pure hypocrisy when there is no acknowledgment of rehabilitation as a social response to crime.
Q: Does society show a fear of differences and of strangers?
Yes, that is why the term "illegal alien" is used so predominantly in media propaganda. The attacks Islam and the confusion about
Q: Do government leaders and media propagandists appeal to the frustrated middle class, the humiliated and frightened?
This is the stock in trade of the hate-jockeys like Rush Limbaugh. Again read What's the Matter With Kansas or visit the Rockridge Institute's website to see how framing is aimed at the middle classes.
Q: Are political discussions grounded in right-wrong, good-evil, us-them polarities?
From the "Evil Empire" to "Axis of Evil" the use of reducing everything to us-good verses them-evil is the hall mark of fascism. From the psychological perspective, this factor of sanctimony is the key symptom of the edifice of fascism. It is the chemical agent that fixates the whole mental structure. Everyone has moments where the need to control appears authoritarian, or where the normal desire to achieve can appear as a love of wealth. But such normal emotions do not become fascistic until they become fixated by the psychological process I call schizopolarity. In schizopolarity the polarities or oppositions that arise naturally as part of the development and function of consciousness become split (hence "schizo-") apart and seen as separate and warring entities. Their actual connection is concealed as if one could triumph over the other and vanquish it. This delusion of a split in the nature of polarities becomes fixated and affects the mind's ability to meet life's complexities in a flexible manner. Basically, the conceptual polarity of "good and bad" become split apart and the two poles of the split become aligned with perceptual polarities. When this happens, for example, patriarchy becomes identified with "what's good" and matriarchy is tinged with "what's bad." The list of the other nine symptoms are a list of one side of nine polarities that fascism identifies as good and which are used to support, rationalize, and maintain the fascist perspective and frame of mind.
Because of the connection between religion and the conception of good and evil, fascist regimes cannot exist without a sanctimonious religious (or religious-like) perspective that defines the rulers as inherently "good" and defines anyone who opposes their rule as "evil."
Q: Is religion (or a religion substitute) used as a tool of the State to homogenize the masses and control opposition?
Since the days of slavery when the Bible was used to justify the dehumanization of slaves, the image of God has played an important and essential role in the fascism of the USA. In communist countries the Communist Party line became and effective religous substitute as historical materialism supplied a more or less effective good vs. evil alternative. Again, among the list of attributes that is seen as making a political candidate unelectable in the USA is the label atheist. Bush called his Middle East adventurism a "crusade." Every time the name of God is evoked in a Bush speech supporting our attack and occupation of a foreign country we see religion used as a tool of the State.
Q: Are religion and the ruling elite tied together?
This is a variation on the previous point, but is important to appreciate as an item of fascism in the embodiment of leaders and elites. Where the leaders is portrayed to the masses by periodic and regular photo presentations of he and his wife attending church, participating in prayer breakfasts, making speeches to religious groups, etc., the media propaganda is tying the leader to religous values without questioning what those religious values are or whether or not the leader is actually living up to them.
Hillary Clinton's participation in the Senate's prayer group is another example that should raise significant bipartisan questions as it has with Steve Soto in The Left Coaster who reviewed a recent article in Mother Jones, "Hillary's Prayer," by Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet. Soto writes:
Ignorance cannot be an excuse here, because a Google search would tell you the Fellowship believes that Christian elites have a duty to rule the world, and serve Jesus Christ in a higher calling than their duties as leaders of nations. Plainly put, according to Sharlet, “the Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God’s plan.” The notion that Christian elites should rule the world for the rest of us, and should lead their countries not for the benefit of all, but to pursue God’s plan as defined by the Fellowship and founder Doug Coe runs contrary to what this country was founded upon, and is anything but progressive.
Are we to assume that Hillary endorses what the Fellowship stands for, given her 14-year association? Alternately, is it possible that she doesn’t literally accept what the Fellowship espouses, or that she associates with them out of a lack of egalitarian and progressive faith options for senators and representatives inside Washington?
[Soto also asks,] But there is another question that deserves an answer as well. Why is it acceptable for both the National Prayer Breakfast and the singular Senate prayer group to be sponsored by a group advocating Christian theocracy and elitism?
Is it acceptable because the citizens are kept in the dark by their mainstream education and information media about this aspect of American fascism. But isn't it reassuring to see such a strong bipartisan support for this type of fascist element in Congress?
Q: Are tradition and revelation treated with near worship status?
Whether it is from the recesses of history or the recesses of imagination, tradition and revelation are treated as sacred cows that support the notion that political authority is not to be questioned. George Bush, when asked if he consulted with his father the previous president said that he consults with a higher father. Rather than this being taken as a sure sign of intellectual weakness, it was accepted unquestioningly by the media.
Q: In the name of moral certainty is critical analysis suspect and irrationalism valued?
The whole "War on Terror" is an example of this. In the aftermath of Powell's performance of deception at the UN the mainstream media did not critically analyze the "evidence" he presented and instead simply regurgitated it while calling his performance masterful. Even when the deception became unavoidable after the domestic alternative media and foreign press exposed the fallacies, the mainstream news media such as CNN portrayed it as "the mistaken WMD intelligence that was presented to the public" (emphasis added) rather than as the lies and deception that it was.
Fascism is Alive and Well ... Actually, Rampant.
This has been a somewhat sketchy outline of how to diagnose fascism in your own home nation. The purpose is to provide the 10-point reference of symptoms so that every citizen can look at their own society and government to see for themselves how fascism is very much present as the dominant political force on the planet. I encourage people to work together on diagnostic lists such as this to create greater public awareness of the actual symptoms of fascism, that fascism has actual symptoms, and that the symptoms of fascism are not some arcane knowledge held only by academics and kooks.
It is only the mainstream propaganda machine that sells you the story that fascism was defeated and vanquished in WWII and that the great powers of Western Civilization are diligently protecting your precious freedom. In fact, the connection between freedom and financing is never analyzed by the mainstream media because to do so would expose the media's connection to advertising financing as the centerpiece of the today's system of fascist propaganda.