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

By       Message Gregory Patin       (Page 2 of 9 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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The most readily identifiable scapegoats for Americans now are Muslims. Saddam Hussein was the ultimate scapegoat. It was easy for the Bush administration to rally the American people behind the invasion and occupation of Iraq by suggesting Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaida, which Bush later denied , and by repeatedly stating that Iraq had WMDs, which were never found .

There is a difference, however, between fascism today and the right-wing ideology that it embodied under Hitler and Mussolini. Modern fascism uses the left-right dialectic to maintain control over a divided populace. American politicians, citizens and media on both sides of the political spectrum continually use scapegoats to shift blame for failures and misdirect anger: liberals, conservatives, socialists, capitalists, bible-thumpers, atheists, blacks, welfare queens, tree-huggers, etc., etc. The list of labels used in name-calling and blaming goes on and on. Meanwhile, few if any real solutions are offered for problems such as unemployment, inflation, corruption on Wall Street and government spending.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

The U.S. government spends more on defense than anything else and more than the next 14 largest defense-spending nations combined. When the need for budget cuts are debated, politicians usually take aim at "entitlement" programs and social programs, while expressing concern that " military spending cuts are a risk to our national security ."

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The U.S. government has allocated $851 billion for defense spending in fiscal year 2013 . Defense spending accounts for more than two-thirds of all discretionary spending and accounts for about 22.4% of all federal spending - more than the allotments for Medicare or Social Security. Military manufacturing increased by 123% between 2000 and 2009 while the rest of the manufacturing sector decreased.

While Americans pay for the military to invade and occupy sovereign nations, millions of Americans lack access to affordable healthcare. The U.S. is the only country in the "developed" world that does not have a tax-payer funded healthcare system. Infrastructure is literally crumbling. Students in other industrial nations are outperforming U.S. students in math, science and reading. Yet all other departments, including Health and Human Services ($71.7 billion), the Department of Education ($69.8 billion), and Housing and Urban Development ($35.3 billion), must operate with the remaining $410 billion of discretionary spending .

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

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For years it has been common knowledge that women in the U.S. earn less than their male counterparts in identical positions. Rampant sexism and misogyny, however, has recently received more media attention than ever. Planned Parenthood was labeled an "abortion provider" and defunded by congress in February , despite the fact that only 3% of its patient care expenditures go towards abortion services .

After a female Georgetown law student, Sandra Fluke, testified in a Democratic congressional hearing regarding whether or not private health care insurance companies should be federally mandated to cover female contraceptives, Rush Limbaugh infamously called her a "prostitute" and a "slut" on national public airwaves. Fluke was earlier denied the right to speak at a larger congressional hearing on the same topic by Rep. Darrell Issa. Ironically, many insurance plans cover erectile dysfunction treatments for men.

Roe v. Wade has yet to be overturned and abortion is still legal, but "Draconian" anti-abortion legislation has chipped away at it due to pressure from fundamentalist Christian and other religious organizations. In 2007 the Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003, which bans a medical procedure technically known as "intact dilation and extraction."

In states such as Virginia, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, legislation that forces women to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound performed before being able to legally obtain an abortion was recently passed. While there is a push to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 that defines marriage as "between a man and a woman," the Respect for Marriage Act of 2011 that would do is under intense scrutiny and has not yet passed . Currently, 41 states do not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples .

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes' excesses.

Back in 1983, approximately 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the United States. By 2004, ownership of the news media had been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations.  Today, these six corporate behemoths - Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal, control 90% of what we watch, hear and read every single day .

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These gigantic media corporations do not exist to objectively tell the truth to the American people. Rather, the primary purpose of their existence is to make money. One cannot reasonably expect these corporations to provide information to the American people that would threaten their relationships with their biggest advertisers in industries such as finance, health insurance, banking, pharmaceuticals or defense.

Furthermore, many of these corporations have direct ties to other industries. NBC's parent corporation, for example, is GE, which not only is one of the largest defense contractors, but also paid no taxes in 2010 . That undoubtedly explains the omission of the no tax story from NBC news outlets.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting "national security,' and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

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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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