THE CHOICE: SOCIALISM OR FASCISM
The means of production now evolving will inevitably outstrip our ability to sustain an environment that can support us. Economic collapse follows ecological collapse. At the same time, current means of production will also fail to provide sufficient work to sustain incomes and employment. Increased productivity and reduced resources will mean fewer jobs, and particularly living wage jobs.
Insofar as means of production and distribution largely define societies, one of two means of organizing society will follow the shortfall in resources and viable labor: socialism or fascism. This conclusion follows from the apparent failure to meet the problem with more sharing and efficiency, both of which enjoy little status in a culture that endorses "making it big" in the money games.
I use the terms, socialism and fascism, in the broadest sense, as the poles between which social ideologies fall. Those ideologies have been mortal enemies for over 100 years, which explains the hostility now evident in American politics. While both sides claim freedom and equality as their goal, that deception only conceals the consequences of the on-the-ground policies being advanced by warring ideologies.
Socialism looks at the proper relationship between individuals and between individuals and government as a cooperative effort to provide for all. Individual responsibility includes the general welfare. The means of supporting safety nets requires a sustainable economy and broad public support. The question of who pays for what takes a leading role in politics. Fascism leans more to "winner take all." The corollary is that losers deserve no support, regardless of their circumstances.
Fascism looks at the proper relationship between individuals and between individuals and government as a Darwinian struggle for supremacy, usually for money, first between individuals and then between tribes. Since even fascists cannot make it alone, belonging to the most powerful tribe provides the magnet for politics. Insofar as virtual wealth (money) has gained control of real wealth (resources), the money tribe enjoys an increasingly powerful magnet. Membership is highly coveted and very expensive.
Conditions for the rise of fascism in America have never been better. The ground was laid by decades of multimillion dollar programs, facilitated by technology, to suppress empathy and intellectual honesty.
Fascism cannot develop when people regard each other as equals, when people feel the pain of others, and when people help rather than take advantage of others' misfortunes. Well-financed think tanks, talk radio, and managed news reporting blames the victims and never discusses collective solutions. Even without the animus of those who believe that God despises those without money, digital production and distribution isolate people from the kind of contacts that develop empathy. Shared experience of the workplace revolves around computer programs. If you do not understand those algorithms, you are just not keeping up. Instead of sharing the effect of poor weather on crops, we share a war of all against all for money. If you cannot play that game, you are negligent. The kind of youth protests that made civil rights happen in the sixties have succumbed to self-interest and internet gossip. Facebook does not generate change.
The other shoe that is falling on America's greatness is the ever expanding grip of propaganda that technology makes possible, along with concentrations of power. In the search for truth, two diametrically opposed forces compete. One is curiosity that leads to strategies like the scientific method, an effort to determine facts and understand relationships. The other is the sanctity of agendas. What serves the agenda determines the facts and relationships, irregardless of observable incongruities. Science, ostensibly, avoids agendas. Tribalism lives by them.
Fascism cannot survive reality. It can only live on propaganda. Hence, the critical role of intellectual honesty. Without it, we have no means of unmasking propaganda or designing sustainable means of production and functioning institutions. Intellectual honesty requires that everyone and every program be judged on the same bases and employs objective means of verification. There is no truth absent a system of logic that can describe reality in the context of its origins--natural selection--and its consequences.
Millions are spent on a project to eliminate objective facts from consideration in order to enthrone agendas. Rant, trivia, and deception prevail on the airways. News provides more distraction than inspiration to think. The facts take a back seat to entertainment values. The fraud called "balanced news" makes no distinctions, as if all ideas were equal. Every issue does not have two sides. Some ideas are lousy and some are worthy of our closest attention. Pretending that everything has a justifiable basis serves to mask agendas.
The socialist/fascist dichotomy has its counterpart in the DNA of civilization. Individuals may engage in cooperative endeavors where divisions of labor are determined on merit and everyone shares in the product or people may employ force or class stigma to exploit other people's labor. Abraham Lincoln viewed the distinction as the never ending struggle between good and evil. The Civil War tested, for the moment, whether class distinctions as gross as slavery would continue. Slavery was defeated, not evil. Countless ways of exploiting other people's labor remain. Herein lies the major building block for fascism. The Civil War merely went underground, as the backlash from electing a black president reveals.
The Religion of Money provides another building block. Darwinian Calvinism sanctions whatever it takes to prove God's love by the simple expedient of conflating the discipline it takes to love God with the discipline it takes to succeed. The syllogism goes like this: Making money is the measure of a man; the fittest will acquire the most; God must love them. Under the Religion of Money, legitimate proof of God's love requires unrelenting competition. One must succeed by her own devises without any help from government. Therefore, government must not interfere with the process of converting anything that can be converted into money. Institutions like the Environmental Protection Agency defy the proper order of things. Exploiting the environment goes along with exploiting labor. Both lie at the heart of capitalism and, as a matter of fact, government does more for the rich than for the poor.
Fascism embodies a kind of feudal slavery. A master race, the lords and ladies, hold life and fortunes at their pleasure. The sanctioning of the Outlaw Gene (exploiting other people's labor) and the Religion of Money (money as the supreme value and the proof of God's love) reduces government to the support of an elite class and its corporate profits. I define elite as those with the power to make the rules or ignore them. Racism, limiting advanced education to a an elite, justice at the service of power, huge differences in income, privatization that reduces most people's access to public services, control of the media by propaganda, taxes that favor the rich, and a system of logic that turns empathy on its head (pity the billionaire and his struggle to avoid regulations and taxes), accelerate as resources dwindle. One morning we wake up and wonder how democracy evolved a virulent strain of fascism that places democratic institutions at the service of money and produces an economy that goes from bubble to bubble with no regulation of fraudulent schemes that cheat most people.
This backdoor approach to fascism is exactly the program conservative republicans hope to advance. The core beliefs of the form of conservatism described here resembles the nineteenth century misapplication of natural selection referenced as social Darwinism, if not a continuation of that perversion of "survival of the fittest.'
The accusation usually leveled against socialism argues that it saps initiative, makes people lazy, and robs the producers of their just profits. If one sees life as a Darwinian struggle for a place at the top, the accusation appears logical. The flaw in the argument ignores the fact that "initiative" silently refers to the initiative to make money. Getting rich does not produce things of value, although making things of value can make one rich.