From the Left: Fascism is becoming mainstream
Published: Friday, December 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 03:12
In a previous column, I opened with Sinclair Lewis’ quote that “when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” It is something that I think should be reiterated here because it is disturbingly true. We are sitting passively aside and allowing racist, nationalist, sexist and openly fascist rhetoric to be used in mainstream American discourse; our apathy has allowed truly dangerous rhetoric to become normative and conventional. We have allowed these sentiments to enter mainstream debates under the guise of “liberty” and “freedom” - terms, which serve in actuality only as overly romanticized illusions that try to legitimate the truly imperial beliefs that many people are conditioned into thinking.
Of course, no one can blame people for having a degree of internalized hetero-normative nationalism, especially when the corporate media is constantly bombarding us with waves of capitalist and patriarchal propaganda designed to induce manufactured consent amongst the masses.
Fundamentalist conservatism. Uncompromising traditionalism. “Free market” dogma. Reagan worship. Militant homophobia and systemic sexism. Never-ending war. Consolidation of corporate power. Secret money influencing politics. The erosion of the New Deal and slashing of the social safety net with the neoliberal machete.
Is American fascism so unrealistic a possibility? Or are there already undercurrents of it in mainstream, establishment politics?
It bothers me to think that there are people who think that war is justified. Are we going to continue to think that needlessly killing countless human souls is necessary because two parties can’t come to a resolution over a socially constructed ideological conflict? No, we should never think that war is an appropriate solution to anything. It only generates more animosity, more hate, more hostility. Bombing for peace, drone striking for democracy and imperially colonizing for liberty - these are all contradictions. War will never be able to be a means through which one can bring about lasting, genuine peace.
War is the most fundamental symptom of capitalism because material scarcity pits parties against one another and reduces all human relations to violent jealousy. It – and all the social constructs that attempt to justify it – strips humanity of any chance for productive cooperation and tells everyone that some other demographic is to blame. And then, when that group is an oppressed minority struggling to survive inside a structurally abusive system, the oppression will not even be noticed because it will have been phased in gradually over time. It will be normative, accepted and part of everyday culture.
Since the fascist experiments in Europe during World War II (and those outside Europe that tried to emulate them – Pinochet in Chile, etc.), mainstream American debates have been tainted with their hyper-patriotism. One is no longer allowed to critique the government; to do so makes one “un-American.” One can no longer oppose their country’s war (or, in the case of the U.S., “wars”) without being called a spineless traitor. And one certainly cannot propose even moderate economic reform without being called an anti-capitalist parasite.
We may not have a political system that is as openly totalitarian as the fascist police-states throughout the 1900s, but have do have something much worse: a strict, puritanical culture that does not tolerate open philosophic dissent. We have allowed the ruling political and financial elite to place a boundary around what is allowed to be said – anything that even questions the structural integrity of the system is thrown out the window. Fascist nations need war to feed and drive their military-industrial complex. War is the means through which fascists drum up a nationalist fervor via “rally around the flag” rhetoric – it only serves as a tool through which power can be increasingly removed from democratic, publicly-accountable institutions and centralized in inaccessible corporate boardrooms.
There has been a perverted marriage between corporate CEOs and politicians ever since the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court case; indeed, it bares a disturbing similarity to the famous Mussolini quote wherein he said, “fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” What is even more disturbing is how Mussolini’s views are part of the American mainstream – think of the 2012 DNC, wherein President Bill Clinton said that the country should “focus on the future, with business and government working together.” The spirit of fascism is alive and well in American politics, but it lies hidden just beneath the surface.
Or maybe it’s beginning to shift from being hidden - think of the establishment of Golden Dawn offices (the Greek nationalist and neo-Nazi party that arose in response to their crushing public debt) in New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. The fact that their far-right institutions explicitly stating their racist jingoism growing across our country worries me daily.
Open your eyes and realize that there are hegemonic power systems all around you. There are totalitarian cultural values that mentally enslave each and every one of us, all of which need to be resolutely cast off in order to create a political environment that is conducive for progressive growth and creative development. Do not be afraid to point out totalitarian power structures and call for the revolutionary abolition - we must do everything we can to crush the fascist embryo growing in our country before it’s too late and we wake up in a dystopian police-state.