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14 defining characteristics of fascism: The U.S. in 2012

By       Message Gregory Patin     Permalink
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Americans have accepted such things as a color-coded threat index, secret warrantless wire-tapping, highway checkpoints and video surveillance in public areas as the new way of life since 9/11. The current administration has taken the obsession with national security to a new level with the National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order (EO) issued by President Obama on March 16. This EO allows the government to confiscate private property without due process under the direction of Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security in the event of a "potential threat to the security of the United States."

8. 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. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the "godless.' A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

There are many examples of America being considered a Christian nation, "one nation under God." Conservative darling Ann Coulter published a book entitled, Godless Liberals: The Church of Liberalism . Republicans refer to themselves as the "family values" party. Both parties embrace Christian values with their rhetoric, while behaving otherwise with sex scandals and passing legislation enabling Wall Street greed such as the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 .

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Kennedy's famous 1960 speech endorsing an "absolute" separation between church and state made him want to "throw up." Legislators are caving in to pressure from religious groups on issues such as abortion and same sex marriage.

In 1996 a school prayer amendment to the constitution was proposed by House Republicans. George W. Bush referred to the war on terrorism as a "crusade" in a speech in 2001. The separation of church and state implied in the constitution with the statement that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...." has been slowly eroding away. May God bless America.

9. 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.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission , in effect, gave corporations the same rights as people by saying that federal restrictions on corporate spending in elections constituted a violation of free speech. Never mind that 80% of Americans opposed the ruling . Corporations are now free to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections and buy politicians.

Wall Street banks crashed the economy in 2008, yet were bailed out with public funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). According to the Financial Times , the corporate tax rate in the U.S. reached a ten-year low in 2011. While corporate profits reached an all-time high since the end of World War II in the third quarter of 2011, real workers wages fell by about 2% . In the last three years, 78 corporations had at least one year where they paid no federal income tax at all, while 30 corporations paid not a dime over the entire three years.

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Huge corporations such as Lockheed Martin permeate all aspects of American life by performing functions for more than two dozen government agencies from the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency. Lockheed Martin is involved in surveillance and information processing for the CIA, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Pentagon, the Census Bureau, and the Postal Service.

10. 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. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

The movement to destroy labor unions and eliminate collective bargaining is something Wisconsinites have become very familiar with since Scott Walker became governor. That movement is taking place nationwide. Legislation similar to Walker's budget bill was passed in Indiana and Ohio, although in Ohio it was later overturned.

In a speech on August 9, 1960, JFK said, "Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor - those who would cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized - do a disservice to the cause of democracy." Frank Askin, a professor of law and director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers Law School-Newark, states that "the ultimate aim of the right-wing strategy is to allow employers to make a mockery of workers' right to organize, established by the National Labor Relations Act during the New Deal era."

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

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A 46-page report compiled by over 60 scientists in 2004 accused the Bush administration of censoring scientific reports for political purposes . The report accused the administration of "suppressing, distorting, or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies" on environmental, agricultural, health and energy issues.

Disdain for science is also evident in the push to give teaching creationism the same weight as teaching evolution in schools. In 2005, policymakers in 19 states were weighing proposals that question the science of evolution. Universities such as UW-Madison are pressured by state legislatures to remove faculty members with undesirable points of view, such as Kevin Barrett in 2006. Funding for NPR, PBS and education is now under attack.

Anyone calling for a new investigation of the events on 9/11 is labeled a "conspiracy theorist" and immediately disregarded - despite the fact that over 220 senior military, intelligence service, law enforcement, and government officials, over 1,500 engineers and architects, over 250 pilots and aviation professionals, over 400 professors, over 300 survivors and family members, over 200 artists, entertainers, and media professionals, and over 400 medical professionals have done so .

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Gregory Patin is a free-lance writer residing in Madison, WI. He earned a BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a MS in IT management from Colorado Tech. He is politically independent and not affiliated with either (more...)

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