If I pigheadedly insist on fascism as the best description of our current U.S. plight, it's because we need a single, readily recognized term that conveys the fittest diagnosis. As noted in my previous OpEdNews article (http://www.opednews.com/articles/Fascism-without-Totalitari-by-Patrick-Walker-Advertising_America-Freedom-To-Fascism_American-Civil-Liberties-Union_American-Foreign-Policy-140228-863.html, totalitarianism obviously goes too far, given the relative freedom we still have in our daily lives--though it's hardly excessive for depicting the ambitions of our ruling tyrants.
In that article (which I'm pleased was widely read, because overdue, justified alarmism needs an audience), I focused on the distinction between fascism and totalitarianism, because I wished to make the crucial case that a people can be deeply awash in dangerous fascism while scarcely sensing the suffocating constraints on daily life aptly termed totalitarian. Admitting my usage was revisionist--because I seek to preserve fascism as a penetratingly insightful term (won, moreover, at the cost of millions of lives) applying to our different, but deeply troubled times--I nonetheless supported my revision by pinpointing many features of historic fascist regimes now present in our nation.
Nonetheless, I suspect I didn't nail the issue, meaning I failed to unearth a single short phrase for depicting the quintessence of historic fascism as now seen in these United States. In short, I don't think my article featured the single, summary description to drive readers, as I would have liked, to a "Yep, we're clearly fascist" epiphany. My title here--especially the words "Crippling Dissent vs. Planned ATROCITIES"--aims to remedy that defect.
Focus deeply on those words and repeat them with attention as if they were your mantra. They're the take-home lesson of this article--and, in fact, of virtually everything I write. Everything else I say is just commentary.
For more businesslike, less lotus-loving minds, think of my purpose here as providing an executive summary. Or a sound bite--as if a journalist had asked me, "State in one sentence why you think today's U.S. is fascist." My answer: "Because we're crippling dissent against planned atrocities." That is the quintessence of our fascism, by far the most important trait we share with history's worst fascist regimes. It's why our Tea Parties are far better justified than they'll ever know in drawing a Hitler mustache on Obama. (Though of course they should have started by drawing one on "Dubya.")
See, it takes a certain lens for detecting how fascist our nation has gotten, and I'll readily admit most Americans don't have it. In fact, their lack of that lens scares the living crap out of me. Meanwhile, my critics--a deficiency they share with our politicians--always seem to worry how a certain thought or phrase will play with the general public instead of addressing the far more important prior question "Is it true?" Because basing policy--and activist strategy--on what will play with a complacent public largely brainwashed by propaganda and censorship is bound to have catastrophic consequences. Just as it did in Nazi Germany. If, in my previous article, I stressed propaganda and censorship as the very essence of fascism, it's because they're so crucial to building the framework for catastrophe. Or better yet, for atrocities, the term I groped toward, but dimwittedly failed to apply, in that prior article.
See, whatever one's rhetoric, all remedial activist effort begins with a correct diagnosis. If you don't take a desperately serious problem seriously enough, you have zero hope of solving it. And I find it demonstrably true that actual atrocities are being planned, and that simultaneous with their planning, our government and society (including media and academia) are daily taking measure after measure to cripple dissent. This crucial piece of common ground with historic fascist societies strikes me as vastly more important for diagnosing our present ills than any superficial dis-similarities we may have. And I don't care a whit here how overblown the term fascism may appear to a comatose general public. I'm not writing for the general public, but for fellow left-progressive and environmental activists in the interest of a correct diagnosis. And if you don't like the blanket term fascism, at least admit this: that as much as any historical fascist society, we're crippling dissent when it's needed most--in the face of planned atrocities.
But perhaps the term atrocities itself strikes you as overblown, adding rhetorical sin to rhetorical sin to justify my misuse of fascism. If you think so, you share a fatal malady with our general public--and dangerously, with BOTH of our major political parties--you don't believe what science is saying about our climate. Or if you do, you're simply failing to account for climate science's message in your judgment of human behavior. For if you did, you'd be fully ready to acknowledge that pursuit of an "all of the above" energy policy, conjoined with logical follow-ups like building the XL pipeline or approving the unconstrained export of U.S. oil, amount to planned atrocities. And not just atrocities in themselves (in their long-term consequences, which could include human extinction!), but simultaneously compounded in the short-term suffering they'll inflict by economic policies that impoverish ever more human beings. Thereby leaving them increasingly defenseless against more frequent weather-related disasters and rapidly worsening shortages of food and water.
This backdrop--energy policies that amount to planned atrocities and economic policies guaranteed to exacerbate the pain inflicted by those atrocities--is the only proper context for evaluating our nation's concerted effort to cripple dissent. Only dissent, permitted, encouraged, and amplified by media and courageous public officials, can reverse our society's planned commission of deeply painful atrocities--atrocities conceivably culminating in the not-too-distant extinction of the human race. Yet, whether it be Orwellian "free speech zones" for protesters, ruthless government vendettas against whistleblowers, attempts to criminalize mere journalism, mammoth media consolidations that limit our information options, attacks on Internet privacy (or privacy of any sort), militarized police, precarious careers for professors that deeply chill academic freedom, media blackout of important protests, or abusive misapplication of anti-terrorism laws to domestic dissent, we hear virtually every day of some new measure to criminalize or sideline dissent. When what's at stake--besides staving off immense suffering for billions-- is the very survival of the human race.
If fatally crippling dissent when it's crucial to stave off atrocities--a feature central to ALL historic fascist regimes--isn't a form of fascism, it's simply silly to think there is any current use for the word.