Sunday, November 20, 2016


With Donald Trump throwing yet another child-like Twitter tantrum over an SNL skit about him, we're watching the dawn of a new era in American politics. A weak thin-skinned man is about to occupy the White House. And he doesn't like it when people mock or disagree with him. It hurts his feelings. His temperament tells us there will come a time when he lashes out, especially after he takes the oath of office.

With the powers of state at his disposal, we need to be better informed about what's coming down the pike. This TED presentation "How did Hitler rise of power" is good place to start ...

Just in case you have some friends who don't get it, the 14 identifying characteristics of fascism below, from Lawerence Britt, is something of a classic now, and a nice place to start. I'm listing the primary points below without commentary because, as you probably recognize by now, the script is writing itself.

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
  4. Supremacy of the Military
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
  5. Rampant Sexism
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
  6. Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
  7. Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
  9. Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
  10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

With reference to #8 "Religion and Government Intertwined" keep in mind that while Italy's Benito Mussolini began as a militant atheist he took the Catholics under his wing once "the bishops ... blessed the fascist Pennants."

We also need to recognize that while Donald Trump seems to have no problem quoting fascists like Mussolini, the fascist trends we are seeing now didn't start with Donald Trump. The 14 characteristics listed above have been evolving for some time now, albeit with softer overtones. Crony capitalism under the guise of deregulation, the militarization of nationalism, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, voter ID laws, and fewer voting places didn't happen overnight.

I don't like being the bearer of bad news, but what's left is the coming economic collapse (and it's coming), which will turn all of this into something really ugly.

If we don't stand up and call Trump on his tantrums and choices now, make that "really really" ugly.

- Mark

No comments: