Citing my alarming experience of circulating a petition defending Ed Snowden's right to political asylum on supposedly "progressive" Facebook pages, I point out precisely how close Obama's government is to the monarchical tyranny OPPOSED by our Founders. Or, based on its more modern tools of tyranny, to fascism. And I above all point out the sheer scariness of Obama's turning Democrat "progressives" to model fascist citizens.
I went looking for progressives, and found only Democrats. And proto-fascist Democrats at that.
With only mild exaggeration, those statements represents my recent, frustrating experience of visiting self-styled "progressive" Facebook pages to promote progressive initiatives, for example, RootsAction's timely petition to Obama to keep the government's hands off Ed Snowden and let him find political asylum. To my horror--and the word is NO exaggeration--one of the first responses I received is that Ed Snowden is a traitor for betraying "our nation's secrets." These three words speak volumes about how far our nation has traveled down the road toward fascism, and I intend to give them the closest scrutiny. An apt message for Obama .progressives. by Lydia TremontAn apt message for Obama .progressives. by Lydia Tremont
Now, bear in mind, this atrocious comment, which instantly provoked a comment strongly supporting it, was posted on a PROGRESSIVE site. With the word "liberal" already successfully poisoned as "the L-word," it's hard to find a word for the genuine, democracy-supporting left that doesn't scare away the mainstream. Granted, in the right moods and with the right audiences, I like to consider myself a radical, but just try selling THAT term to the frightened-little-bird mainstream--whose support, sadly, the left needs to win. But many people style themselves progressives simply for not being Republicans, and--what's far worse--for being Obama supporters. As a supposedly progressive Democrat holding the nation's highest office, Obama has successfully pimped out the term "progressive" and made it consistent with the worst authoritarian proto-fascist type of whoring.
And in the process, turned many Democrats into unwitting proto-fascist "johns."
The harshness of my wording may shock--especially as applied to Democrats--but as reflecting my real alarm, it does NOT strike me as excessive. As we're facing potential outright fascism, someone has to proactively take the lead in calling a spade a spade. The idea of Ed Snowden being a traitor for betraying "our nation's secrets" disturbed me deeply, reflecting a mentality--among supposed progressives, mind you--that's the most promising soil for fascism. For those three little words place "our nation" on a distant, idolized pedestal or altar, to be worshipped and defended at all costs, instead of carrying the ONLY realization worthy of our nation's Founders and proper to a democratic citizenry: that "our nation" means We the people--precisely you and me.
"Our nation's secrets" are your secrets and mine, and we should be angry as hell that OUR government--without our consent and, indeed, without our knowledge--is prying into them. I NEVER consented to this, just as I never consented to "our" government, on lying pretexts, attacking and slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis with whom I had no quarrel. Given how little this government already represents me (as opposed to billionaires and global corporations), it's hard to imagine ANY pretext on which I'd allow it to do the amount of unwarranted snooping--"unwarranted" in both senses of the word--it's doing. Ed Snowden is a hero of democracy for giving me the KNOWLEDGE (as opposed to mere suspicion) that allows me to protest.
As an avid reader of The Federalist Papers (and also the reactions of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay's anti-federalist opponents), I know just how fond our nation's Founders were of the term "responsibility" in its eighteenth-century meaning. Virtually everyone--both those for and those against the newly drafted Constitution--were concerned with keeping U.S. government "responsible," in other words, answerably directly to the people or at least to some counterbalancing body that provided a check on its arbitrary power. For it was precisely against the type of arbitrary power represented by a monarchy that they had just fought a revolution. And no one had more success in promoting the American Revolution than Thomas Paine, who had the novel, radical of making his pro-revolution pamphlet Common Sense a diatribe against the outworn, oppressive system of monarchy. Precisely for its lack of "responsibility."
Our Founders thought in terms of "tyranny" rather than fascism, and they probably would have lambasted the increasing amount of arbitrary power invested in the executive branch under both Bush and Obama as a slide into "irresponsible" monarchical tyranny. Just Congress's abdication of its Constitutional responsibility to declare war--to say nothing of the prerogatives granted the executive branch under the USA PATRIOT Act--would have horrified them. Indeed, it's a sick joke that Obama's a trained Constitutional lawyer--though deeply fitting that Glenn Greenwald is one--for Obama (unlike Greenwald) has almost zero sense of the mentality of our nation's Founders. Obama's reign is far closer to the arbitrary, "irresponsible" power of King George.
If I speak in terms of fascism rather than tyranny, it's because Obama's means of oppression require developments in technology, institutions, and ideology unavailable in the time of King George. For example, the "joint-stock company" (the infant corporation of its time) certainly profited greatly from a close relationship with government, but it had nothing like the global span, the overwhelming control of the press, and the incestuous revolving-door relationship with government it now possesses. Mussolini's purported working of corporations into the very definition of "fascism" is much more to the point. As is the overwhelming use of modern mainstream media as agents of propaganda and ideological control--whose successful use is starkly reflected in the number of DEMOCRATS, self-styled "progressives," willing to lend ardent support to Obama's authoritarian, regressive regime. And of course modern mass media and standardized products helped destroy local character and homogenize whole nations, thus paving the way for the jingoistic worship of the nation-state and its militarism essential to modern fascism. I found it quite telling that the same man who spoke of Snowden betraying "our nation's secrets" referred to himself as a "patriot."
How far removed this modern proto-fascist "patriotism" is from the mindset of our Founders, who viewed patriotism as the liberty-loving vigilance of independent-minded citizens deeply suspicious of government! For me, the closest thing we've seen to the spirit of our Founders is the Occupy movement, or the civil disobedience of activists standing up to pernicious, anti-democratic impositions of corporate will like the Keystone XL pipeline or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Or, for that matter, the whistleblowing on government malfeasance by real patriots like Bradley Manning and Ed Snowden. Obama's condoning of brutal crackdowns on these patriotic dissidents by his surveillance state, and his savage prosecution of these patriotic whistleblowers by his Justice Department, tells us everything we need to know about the real nature of his regime. You simply can't attack the common good for corporations' benefit without eventually cracking good citizens' skulls, or spying on their every move. And what's tragic is that self-styled progressives are fully supporting him--letting themselves be turned into "model fascist citizens."
For real progressives--and simple lovers of democracy of any party--I recommend continuing this conversation at the Time to Restore Democracy Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WhoseVoiceOurVoice?fref =ts.
Patrick Walker is co-founder of Revolt Against Plutocracy (RAP) and the Bernie or Bust movement it spawned. Before that, he cut his activist teeth with the anti-fracking and Occupy Scranton PA movements.
No longer with RAP, he wields his pen and his activist network to wage holy war for climate justice.
A happily married man for over 10 years, Patrick has lost his beloved wife Ginger to colon cancer. He resides with his clever stepdaughter and two ineffably charming Sheltie dogs in East Amherst, NY.