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On the Brink of Fascism in the U.S.: The Role of the Ruling Class, Part 1

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Steven Jonas       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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Introduction

As the legal and political walls close around him,Trump moves closer to establishing a 21st cent. version of fascism. But the political-economic system we know as fascism does not arrive out of history by itself. It is put in place by a capitalist ruling class that feels its political control slipping. This column is the first of a two-parter on how fascism might come to the U.S., courtesy of a wing of the U.S. ruling class.

On fascism

I have previously written much on fascism, especially the potential for its rise in the United States. My book , The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022, was originally published in 1996. In that "fictional history" the RRR used Constitutional means to eventually establish a very non-Constitutional apartheid state. It was overthrown only in what came to be known as the Second Civil War. I have been writing in particular on Trump and fascism since the fall of 2015 , most recently just a few weeks ago .

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From flickr.com: International Brigades Memorial. The Brigades fought against Spanish, Italian, and German fascists in Spain, 1936-39. For their sweat and sacrifices, in the U.S. they were labelled pre-mature anti-fascists and some were persecuted after World War II.  Who will be the premature anti-fascists, in the U.S., now? {MID-295262}
International Brigades Memorial. The Brigades fought against Spanish, Italian, and German fascists in Spain, 1936-39. For their sweat and sacrifices, in the U.S. they were labelled .pre-mature. anti-fascists and some were persecuted after World War II. W
(Image by ijclark)
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Unlike, I must say, most other writers on the subject, I always take care to define the term. In The 15% Solution, I devoted a ten-page appendix (No. II) to the subject. My most recent full version appeared here :

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"A politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of both the legislative and administrative powers of government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who control the government; no inherent personal rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; the massive and regular use of hate, fear, racial and religious prejudice, the Big Lie technique, mob psychology, mob actions and ultimately individual and collective violence, to achieve political and economic ends; a capitalist/corporate economy, with the economic ruling class' control of State power and thus, economic, fiscal, political, and regulatory policy and policies."

I am working on getting it shorter and thus more useful in discussions/debates. Most recently I came up with this one:

"A single, all powerful executive branch of government, in service of a capitalist ruling class. No independent judicial or legislative branches, at any level. No independent media. Single national ideology, based on some combination of racism, misogyny, religious bigotry and authoritarianism, homophobia, and xenophobia. A State propaganda machine, massively using the Big Lie Technique. May have: full- blown dictatorship, a charismatic leader, engagement in foreign wars, use of the mob/private armies. May have transitional forms."

Still a work in progress.

On the Capitalist Ruling Class and Fascism

The most important part of the definition is that fascism is a feature of capitalism. When Mussolini invented the term "fascism" to describe the authoritarian state that he established in 1922 at the behest of the Italian King, Vittorio Emanuele III, he made it very clear that its purpose was to defend corporate control of the political economy of Italy.) When a fascist state is installed (in one way or another) it is chosen by the nation's ruling class or the economically dominant sector of it as the means of maintaining control of the state apparatus when bourgeois democratic forms have failed to keep that control in their hands. Further, it is installed when the capitalist ruling class perceives the danger that they might lose control of that state apparatus because of rising militancy on the part of the middle and working classes against capitalist excesses that they are experiencing. Historically, fascism is not simply authoritarianism. In fact, until the 20thcentury, most of the world's nations were ruled by authoritarians (to one degree or another) otherwise known as monarchs. Fascism was the first form of fully non-monarchical authoritarianism.

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From flickr.com: Mussolini (Muse'e d'art moderne, Ce'ret). A wonderful rendition of a two-faced man whose father was a communist, was he himself a socialist, who then founded fascism. {MID-295264}
Mussolini (Muse'e d'art moderne, Ce'ret). A wonderful rendition of a two-faced man whose father was a communist, was he himself a socialist, who then founded fascism.
(Image by dalbera)
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Fascism can become the basis of capitalist state power directly, as happened in Italy (the King appointed Mussolini as Prime Minster), Spain (the fascist Franco engaged in a civil war that eventually overthrew the democratically elected government of the Spanish Republic), or Japan, where there was what might be called a "gradual military coup" in the 1930s, which eventually led to a fascist Japan. Or it can happen almost accidentally, as it did in Germany, when the major right-wing party, facing a severe economic crisis, caused the installation of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, thinking that they could "control" him, but use some of his more authoritarian tendencies to get things under control. And we know how that turned out.

The post- World War I Weimar Republic was a democracy, in which both the Communist (KPD) and Socialist (SPD) parties actively participated. The Nazi Party was a major force, but never got more than 37% of the vote in a free election. In early 1933, Germany was reeling from the results of the Great Depression. Hitler was demanding to be made Chancellor (Prime Minster). The leading rightwing party leaders, the "two vons," Schleicher and Papen, two echt representatives of the German ruling class, were having a hard time controlling the Reichstag (parliament) between themselves. They thought that they could control Hitler, and calm down the turmoil some.

And so, they proposed to the aging President, von Hindenburg, that Hitler be made Chancellor. The establishment of Italian-style fascism, which had already been in existence for 10 years, was not likely in their mind's eyes. But of course, as I said, I not what is not what they got. Von Schleicher in fact was an anti-Nazi representative of the ruling class in government. For his troubles, he was assassinated by Hitler's men on June 30, 1934, the "Night of the Long Knives," when at the same time any possible challengers to Hitler's leadership within the Nazi Party were murdered.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
 

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Geoffrey Skoll

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I think you are too punctilious about defining fascism. It includes many elements that would not apply to, for instance, Japan from 1920s to 1945. Norman Pollack has an instructive discussion in his most recent book, CAPITALISM, HEGEMONY, AND VIOLENCE IN THE AGE OF DRONES (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). The essentials of fascism, he argued, come down to complete intertwining between big business and government plus imperio-militarism. That is the sine qua non of fascism. The rest are historico-cultural particulars. By Pollack's standard, and mine, the US has been fascist for several decades, but increasingly so.

Submitted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 6:55:58 PM

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Shawn Hamilton

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Your points are acknowledged, and I appreciate the awareness you demonstrate in your piece. I suspect, however, that the expression "brink of Fascism" in the title may be a bit too timid.

The US has been falling headlong into fascism since WW2 ended. It didn't help that NAZI sympathizer Allen Dulles's "Office of Strategic Services" (OSS) transmogrified into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Or that Dulles himself sat on the Warren Commission. Or that known NAZI's were recruited to for work US aerospace and American universities. 1960s NASA was run under the leadership of Wehner von Braun, who had overseen the construction of V-2 rockets at Peenemunde, Germany).

Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Assassination of JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, the Hampton brothers etc, etc...all can be easily explained once one accepts the fact that NAZIS were directly installed into the military-industrial complex after WW2. This was the philosophical underpinning of post-war policy, and it led to the US pulling all the nefarious crap you grew up hearing about, including the assassination of American president JFK and his Attorney General brother Robert.

But we can't talk about this, can we? When I try to post this, I will get a flag warning me that I might not want to say "Nazi" because it's coarse, offensive, and accurate.

Submitted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 10:59:58 PM

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Shawn Hamilton

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Submitted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 11:19:37 PM

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Shawn Hamilton

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Think Twice "Time out"?

Apparently we're children needing to be scolded.

Submitted on Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 1:55:58 AM

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