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The U.S. Ruling Class and the Republo-fascist Party

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

John_D._Rockefeller_1917_painting  [Www.Etoile.App] At one time known as the .most hated man in America,. he did then represent the Ruling Class of the time.
John_D._Rockefeller_1917_painting [Www.Etoile.App] At one time known as the .most hated man in America,. he did then represent the Ruling Class of the time.
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I have written on the Republican Party and its increasingly fascistic nature for some years now. In the liberal media (to say nothing of the left-wing media) that term is being applied to that Party with increasing frequency. As it happens, it is often used without being given a specific definition, under the assumption that readers/listeners will have a general idea of how the term is being used by the particular writer/speaker. As my regular readers know, I like definitions. In this case, I use a broad definition of the term, based on the characteristics of the well-known 20th-century states which had instituted it, e.g., Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Japan --- to wit:

"There is a single, all-powerful executive branch of government, in service of a capitalist ruling class that controls, for the most part, the functions of production, distribution, finance, and exchange. There is no separation of the principal governmental powers: executive, legislative, and judicial. There are no independent media. There is a single national ideology, based on some combination of racism, misogyny, religious bigotry and authoritarianism, homophobia, and xenophobia. There is a political party supporting the movement. There is a state propaganda machine using the big and little lie techniques. There may be a full-blown dictatorship, a charismatic leader, engagement in foreign wars, and the use of the mob/private armies to enforce governmental control."

As regular readers of mine also know, in 1996 I published a "future history novel" originally entitled The 15% Solution: A Pollical History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. (The third version [from 2013], entitled "The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S. 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel," is available at Amazon.) It describes a then-developing Republican Party which would have many features with which the Party is now characterrized in real life.

But that character is nothing new. It's just worse than ever. Indeed, the current version of the U.S. Republican Party has been in development since Reconstruction, when, among others, in 1867 former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest founded the Ku Klux Klan. (Yes, the Right-wing in those days was the Democratic Party.) The primary focus of the original KKK was on preventing the recently freed slaves from voting. (Sound familiar?)

While the post-Reconstruction Republican Party has not always focused on voter suppression per se, it certainly has not been, shall we say, a promoter of broadening the overall franchise (e.g., see the opposition to Female Suffrage, and the Immigration Act of 1924). While xenophobia and racism (believe it or not) actually go back to the origins of the Party in the 1850s (one of its founding elements was the "American Party" of the time), the modern Party's aversion to broad-based voting began with Goldwater's attempts in his own state to suppress Latino voting in the 1964 general election, and then more broadly Nixon's adoption of the "Southern Strategy" in 1969.

As it happens, several recent books have traced both the long-term and shorter-term history of what has become what I term "Republo-fascism." In The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism Matthew Continetti points out that "MAGA preceded Donald Trump. It created him at least as much as the other way around. My own first glimpse of it came at a Tea Party convention in downtown Phoenix in February 2011."

In "The Destructionists: The Twenty-five Year Crack-up of the Republican Party," Dana Milbank traces the recent history of the events. He summarized it thusly:

"In 1994, more than 300 Republican under the command of the obstructionist and rabble-rouser New Gingrich stood outside the U.S. Capitol to sign the Contract with [some of us termed it "on"] America and put bipartisanship on notice. Twenty-five years later, and January 6,2021, a bloodthirsty mob incited by Precedent Trump invaded the Capitol."

(One fascinating point on Newt's "10 Points:" eight them were process, not substantive points. They did not detail new programs, rather they just referred to bringing forward matters that were already on the Republicans' Congressional agenda. Newt, of course, did not bother to point that out.)

In American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy, David Corn, appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," noted that for over 70 years, the GOP has been exploiting and encouraging far-right extremism. That is, it didn't start with Donald Trump. David also noted he was particularly interested in the response of host Joe Scarborough, a recovering Republican, to the book's account of the dark side of the GOP. "It was never this bad. How did it get this bad?" asked Scarborough.

In the October, 2022 issue of The Atlantic, Kim Phillips-Fein reviewed "three new books that attempt to trace the GOP's break with reality," in "The Roots of Republican Extremism." (Of course, I don't think that it is a break with reality at all. It is rather the new reality for the U.S. which the Republo-fascists are attempting to create. More on that below.) In addition to Matthew Continetti's and Dana Milbank's books, Ms. Phillips-Fein also reviewed Nicole Hemmers' Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s.

For a shorter version of the history, see Johnathan Chait's excellent and detailed column in the October 10-23, 2022, issue of New York (magazine), entitled "How to Make a (Semi-) Fascist Party." The text is great, and so are the illustrated marching fascist-saluting elephants.

Now let us turn to why this is all happening, and has been happening for the past 50 years or so. Political systems do not appear in a vacuum. They do not spring full-blown from the brow of Zeus. They are the product of the foci, policies, and desired-outcomes of the particular "ruling class" that is running the economic system of a given nation at a given time.

As I have said previously: "Under capitalism, briefly, the 'ruling class' is the grouping of economically dominant individual and corporate owners of the means of production, distribution, finance, and exchange, that are the primary engine of any economy. Under capitalism their primary function is the production of 'profit,' that is excess-revenue/surplus-value above the costs of production, both for personal use and for further investment in productive resources.

"In the industrialized countries in which fascism appeared in the 20th century, the dominant sector of the ruling class was the owners of industry. (This held true to a lesser extent in Hungary and Spain, which were less industrialized than Germany, Italy and Japan.) Of course, in the 21st United States, the ruling class is much more complex than it was in any of the 20th century fascist nations. Just some of its elements are: manufacturing (to be sure), finance (as a means of profit-making, not just supplying capital to the manufacturing sector, as it was in the 20th century), mass media (of an increasing number of varieties), advertising, publishing, computer-based electronic communications, transportation (of goods and people), mass-retail (as in Amazon/Walmart), data-management, fossil fuels/petro-chemicals, and so on and so forth."

Again, as I have also said previously:

"Now, the way a ruling class exerts its control of a nation is by gaining and maintaining control over State Power, that is the elements of government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, and the forces of repression/control as necessary. And so, when looking at 20th-century, fascism in the three major industrialized countries in which it occurred, Germany, Italy, and Japan, understanding the ruling classes and their support/installation of that system leading to control of State Power is pretty straight forward. (In Spain, a powerful Catholic Church played a major role in its instigation, and in Hungary [actually the first fascist-type of state in history, under Admiral Miklos Horthy] the old landed-aristocracy as well as the rising industrial class led the way.)

"But in the 21st century United States, the situation is much more complex. In exerting its ownership and control of the economic system since the founding of the Republic, so-called 'liberal democracy,' with 'separation of powers' and regular elections has worked very well for the U.S. ruling class. Control of the political system has shifted back-and-forth between two major political parties over time (each changing their identities to some extent over time), as is well-known." And so on and so forth."

But now things are changing, and that is precisely why the Republican Party is well on its way to becoming the Republo-fascist Party. Major elements of its elected and non-elected leadership (see, e.g., Charles Koch and the American Legislative Exchange Council, the highly secretive National Council for Policy) have for quite some time seen the future for themselves and their class, should the coming demographic changes be ignored and traditional bourgeois democracy allowed to be continued as the political-system-in-place, gradually but significantly diminish their power. (VERY simply, "bourgeois democracy" is that political system which makes sure, even with voting, that capitalism stays in place.) Capitalism would not be replaced, of course, but the New Deal on a much grander scale and a significantly strengthened regulatory state might well be instituted. Major elements of the ruling class would not like that at all. And so, how to prevent that from happening?

First came simple voter suppression, going back the "The 15% Solution," first developed by an organization called "The Christian Coalition" in 1989. (See the previous reference for a detailed description of it.) As is well-known, the process has continued and been greatly expanded since that time, from making it ever-increasingly difficult for certain elements of the population to vote, to the Trumpian-tactic of denying the legitimacy of counted outcomes of elections, even in advance of the election (as he did in both 2016 and 2020), to his on-going current campaign to deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election which has led to, among other things, "Jan.6th" and now the attack on Paul Pelosi. And on the non-violent side, as is very well-known by now, it has led to a Republican candidate for governor in Arizona making it clear, repeatedly, that she is prepared to accept the official result of the upcoming election only if she wins, a clear future-denial of the democratic process. And so on and so forth.

But, none of all of the above can guarantee the continued control of the state apparatus by the dominant section of the ruling class, which is increasingly lining up behind the Republicans (see "Meet the mega-donors pumping millions into the 2022 midterms" by Luis Melgar, et al). If, as the population profile changes, a) further limitations on fair and free voting are not undertaken, and then, b) even more seriously, further steps towards instituting a form of 21st century fascism are not implemented, the interests of the majority of the U.S. ruling class will be significantly undermined.

What might those steps be? Of course, down the line I will be dealing with them in some more detail. But for now, consider: 1. the increasing use of political violence (like the attack on Mr. Pelosi, to which not one "regular" Republican has responded with outright condemnation [except for the Senate Minority Leader and no Republican listens to him anyway] and in fact increasing numbers of Republicans like Tucker Carlson-conspiracy-theorist-extrordinaire, Lake in AZ, and Trump, Jr. in [wherever he lives at the moment] are turning the incident against the Democrats); 2. Increasing un-Constitutional attempts to bring the control of elections under state legislatures (in Republican states, to be sure); 3. Increasing pressure and threats of violence exerted on neutral election workers; 4. The use to an ever-increasing extent of the Supreme Court as an in-essence 2nd (Republican-controlled) legislative branch (especially when it comes to, for example, ignoring precedents the right-wing majority just doesn't like, as in gun-control, abortion rights, and attempts to improve racial equality in, e.g., voting and educational access).

And then there is the most recent ex-President, who a) according to the "Jan.6th Committee" encouraged the use of force in an attempt to overturn the 2020 electoral count, and b) has on occasion expressed interest in being, shall we say, "President for Life." All of this, of course, would reinforce the controlling position of the present ruling class and make it even less-subject than it already is to what it hates the most: regulation, taxation, an expansion any kind of programming designed to help the population as a whole, gun control, the expansion of civil rights and civil liberties, and so and so forth.

There will be more to come on this topic. But again, given what the Republican Party was telling us in the 1990s it would do if got the kind of political power it has now, what we are seeing now should come as no surprise. And make no mistake about it. What we are seeing now is not some random agenda made up by the rather dull Sen. Rick Scott. It is an agenda that is purposely and purposefully designed by the leading elements of the U.S. ruling class, for their benefit, and no one else's.

(Article changed on Nov 01, 2022 at 10:29 PM EDT)

(Article changed on Nov 02, 2022 at 9:15 AM EDT)

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY). As well as having been a regular political columnist on several national websites for over 20 years, he is the author/co-author/editor/co-editor of 37 books Currently, on the columns side, in addition to his position on OpEdNews as a Trusted Author, he is a regular contributor to From The G-Man.  In the past he has been a contributor to, among other publications, The Greanville PostThe Planetary Movement, and Buzzflash.com.  He was also a triathlete for 37 seasons, doing over 250 multi-sport races.  Among his 37 books (from the late 1970s, mainly in the health, sports, and health care organization fields) are, on politics: The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022; A Futuristic Novel (originally published 1996; the 3rd version was published by Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY, sadly beginning to come true, advertised on OpEdNews and available on  (more...)
 

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