Viewpoint: The stench of domestic fascism is rising

“When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag.”

— Huey Long

When the Kingfish (Long was known as the Kingfish for his dominance of Louisiana politics as governor) made the comment quoted above, he knew whereof he spoke.

Long lived in a time when America was seriously flirting with and admiring the philosophy of fascism. When you veer too far to the right, that’s where you end up.

Americans and Europeans in the 1930s saw fascism as the wave of the future. Sinclair Lewis, in his 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, relates the tale of a conservative Southern politician who is helped to the presidency by a national talk show host. The politician campaigns on a platform of family values, the flag and patriotism. Sound familiar?

The idea didn’t take hold in Long’s day, but today it is putting out roots and beginning to look robust while its hypnotized followers are unaware of what’s happening.

Writer Manuel Valenzuela puts it: “From all walks of life, diluted brains and weak-minded individuals are answering the call of the beacon of fascism shining bright, from Atlantic to Pacific, from north to south, embracing its dastardly tentacles with the warm acceptance of comfort and submission. Millions of Americans are falling prey to a virulent haze gripping the United States, furthered and pursued by a small cabal of corporatist evildoers perched at the upper echelons of governance and power that seek to transform the nation into a black widow’s nest of fascism spiked with the venom of a militarized citizenry acquiescent to imperial hegemony”(

Scott McConnell, the editor of The American Conservative magazine, has observed the war in Iraq has fostered what he called a “hunger for dictatorship” among disciples of the right that could mean the end of American democracy.

Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, made a study of the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and Pinochet. He identified 14 characteristics common to fascism. His findings were published as the article “Fascism anyone?” in Free Inquiry magazine.

These are the hallmarks of fascism as Dr. Britt sees them:

Powerful and continuing nationalism—Fascist regimes make intensive and constant use of patriotic slogans, songs, mottos and other trappings. Flags are everywhere, and flag symbols adorn clothing and public displays.

Disdain for human rights—Fear of enemies—real or imaginary–and the need for security, allows fascist regimes to convince their subjects that human rights may be ignored in some cases to ensure national security. People in such circumstances tend to ignore or approve torture, summary executions, assassinations, long terms of jail for prisoners, lack of due process and the like.

Using enemies or scapegoats as a unifying cause—The fascist regime’s members are whipped into a patriotic frenzy at the perceived need to eliminate a common threat such as: racial, ethnic or religious minorities, liberals, communists, socialists, and terrorists.

Supremacy of the military—The military gets a disproportionate share of government funds, even if severe domestic problems exist. The domestic agenda is short-changed, and soldiers and the armed services are glamorized.

Rampant sexism—Fascist governments tend to be male-dominated. Traditional gender roles become more rigid. There is strong opposition to abortion, and a high level of homophobia and anti-gay legislation as national policy.

Controlled mass media—In fascist regimes, the media sometimes are directly controlled by the government and other times by government regulation or corporations, spokesmen and executives sympathetic to the regime. Censorship is common.

Obsession with national security—Fear becomes a major motivational tool to control the populace.

Religion and government are intertwined—Fascist regimes tend to use the most common religion in their country as a means of manipulating public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology used by government figures is common, even when the teachings of the religion are fully opposed to government policies and actions.

Corporations are protected—The industrial and business leaders in a fascist nation often are those who put the leaders in power, thus creating a symbiotic government/business relationship and power elite.

Labor power is suppressed—Labor power is the only real threat to fascism, so labor unions must be eliminated or severely restricted.

Scorn for intellectuals and the arts—Fascist countries tend to promote open hostility to higher education and academia. Professors and other academics may be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is attacked, and governments often refuse financing them.

Obsession with crime and punishment—Police in fascist regimes are given nearly limitless power to enforce laws (such as the Patriot Act). The people are willing to overlook police abuses and even give up civil liberties on a pretext of patriotism. Many times, there is a national police force with almost unlimited power.

Rampant cronyism and corruption—Fascist regimes are nearly always composed of groups of friends or associates who appoint each other to government posts and use the power and authority of the government to protect their friends from accountability. Often national resources and treasures are seized or stolen by government leaders.

Fraudulent elections—Fascist elections often are complete shams. Sometimes elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against opponents, or even outright assassinations of opposition candidates. Other tools are use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist governments also use their judiciaries to control elections.

Anyone who is awake, I believe, will see a number of similarities between this list and America today.

Back in 1944, then Vice President Henry Wallace wrote the following about the fascist movement he saw rising in this country:

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection” (axisof

Some of today’s tools of subjection are: NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, union-busting, slashing worker benefits and boosting CEO pay, ending worker benefits, security and pensions, outrageous credit card interest, outsourcing jobs and the largest prison system in the world.

It is worth noting that all the fascist regimes studied in the listings above were overthrown.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!