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'Night and fog: Disturbing resonances between regime and reich'

Chris Floyd: 'Night and fog: Disturbing resonances between regime and reich'
Posted on Friday, September 10 @ 10:00:02 EDT
By Chris Floyd
You think it's not true, you think it's not coming, you think "it can't happen here." But it can, and it is, right before your eyes.

George Bush's United States is clearly in a proto-fascist condition. Of course, there's no such thing as direct equivalence between historical events. The same dangers never come around again -- not in the same form nor with precisely identical content. At every point in time, a new set of elements and circumstances coalesce to create the unique reality of that particular historical moment.

But if you take the general definition of fascism provided by its founder, Benito Mussolini -- "the merger of corporate and state power" -- and apply it to the elements that are coalescing in America at this historical moment, you could hardly find a more apt description of the Bush Regime. Couple that with the Bushists' radical transformation of party politics into a quasi-religious cult of militarism and leader worship, and you have not an equivalence but certainly an ever-deepening resonance with the malevolent spirit that swept Germany and Italy during the first half of the 20th century.

The Bushist convention in New York -- an unprecedented belching forth of bile, mendacity and bootlicking -- gave ample proof that Republicans now "claim to be far more than a political party; they [are] a movement, sweeping up the ... people and carrying them unstoppably to a better future," as historian Richard Evans described a similar ugly metamorphosis in his excellent new book, "The Coming of the Third Reich." "The vagueness of the [party's] program, its symbolic mixture of old and new, its eclectic, often inconsistent character, to a large extent allowed people to read into it what they wanted and edit out anything they might have found disturbing," he wrote of the Nazis. Evans also notes: "What the [party] did not offer, however, were concrete solutions to [the nation's] problems, least of all where they were most needed, in economy and society."

Again, the resonances are striking. Like the Nazis, the Bushists are not interested in actual policies, actual governance. They are not even interested in politics as such, i.e. the pursuit of effective government through open debate and honorable compromise with fellow citizens of opposing views. No, what drives their "movement" is a lust for raw power: the power to impose their brutal vision of unbridled state corporatism -- which Bush calls "the single sustainable model of national success." Policies, programs, grand ideological crusades ("family values," "national security," "war on terror," "defense of marriage," "ownership society") are all just empty blather to the Bushists, false fronts to be shuffled, twisted or dropped as necessary to mask the rapacious (and unpopular) nature of their ultimate goal.

Bush's state corporatism entails the destruction of government as an instrument for social good and civic life; any possible fetters on the desires of the powerful for more money and more privilege must be removed. The only "legitimate" functions of government in such a system are dividing the spoils of power among favored interest groups (Bush's loyal cadre of Christian extremists, for example), and maintaining a gargantuan military machine to "project dominance," grab loot and provide fat contracts for arms dealers, servicing companies, mercenaries and other corporate war profiteers. Everything else can be privatized, outsourced, sold off to cronies -- or simply eliminated in "forced" cutbacks blamed on deliberately engineered budget deficits.

The Bushist movement also entails the destruction of ordinary politics. Any opposition to the "single sustainable model" -- even the timid deviations offered by the thoroughly corporatized Democrats -- must be crushed, and relentlessly demonized as an "attack on America from within," as the Bushists declared at their convention. Even the democratic process itself -- the Constitutionally mandated presidential election -- was scorned from the podium as nothing more than a "manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief." Thus the very idea of free, contested elections -- "the consent of the governed" -- is now openly dismissed as a dangerous notion, a sign of mental illness.

There are more sinister resonances between Reich and Regime, of course. One is the penchant for aggressive war based on false premises, in the name of protecting the sacred "Homeland" from imminent attack by godless evildoers. Another is the brazen use of the "Big Lie," such as Bush's repeated public assertions that he was "forced" to invade Iraq because "Saddam wouldn't allow the inspectors back in" -- an extraordinary perversion of reality on a par with any of Hitler's delusionary propaganda.

Finally, as in earlier fascist movements, the faith of Bush's adherents has been sealed in blood: a proven method of binding followers to a ruthless leader. With his illegal aggression, Hitlerian in principle if not yet in scale, Bush has made his followers -- and by extension, his nation -- complicit in mass murder. The terrorist horrors of Beslan have been replicated 70-fold across Iraq, where an estimated 35,000 noncombatants have been killed. As in Beslan, this slaughter of innocents was often deliberate. For example, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld personally approved every bombing raid likely to kill 30 or more civilians -- and there were more than 50 such willful mass terror killings in all, The New York Times reports. No wonder Bush's zealots swallow his lies so readily; otherwise they would have to acknowledge the blood dripping from their own hands.

You think it's not happening, because the crudities of yesteryear -- brownshirts, goose steps, shattered glass -- are absent, because the targets of wrath and fear are different. But the Bush Regime is the form that state corporatism -- fascism -- is taking in this particular historical moment. It is happening. The night and fog are coming.

Agree completely 10.Sep.2004 16:47


I agree with Mr. Floyd completely. We need to start thinking about what to do if this fascist continues to control the country over the next four years.

Truth 10.Sep.2004 17:45

deceived no more

The lemmings of fascism drink madly from the cup of deception. Ideology is using religion and fear as a tool to chip away at the cornerstones of a free democracy. The alcoholic has transferred his addiction to the lust for power and control and assasinate the character of any opposing views. The use of poverty to weaken the nation makes their God forsaken desire to destroy what was and put in place an image of something only they find attractive all that much easier. The symbol of what our dear soldiers in good faith thought they are fighting for is turning into this....
The new world order
The new world order

Corporatist plutocracy 11.Sep.2004 12:01


We need to remember that our situation is not just the result of one man and those around him. It is because of a certain kind of social-economic-cultural system that is accelerating out of control, simply by following its own logic, and no one seems able to rein it in.

I tend not to use the term "fascism", generally speaking, even though a lot of what we see today is genuinely fascistic. The reason for that choice is NOT because I think "it isn't that bad" or "it can't happen here;" I actually think it could be WORSE than fascism's first wave of 1922-1945. The reason is that there were elements present in the first wave that we don't see today, and things going on today that weren't then. For instance, the Nazi movement (itself a peculiar kind of fascism) was profoundly anti-Christian and anti-capitalist, even while it relied heavily on Christians and capitalists. Today, though, our leaders are consciously bourgeois anti True Believers in evangelism.

My distinction is basically a technicality, but it can help ordinary folks avoid having visceral reactions to our using the "f -word" and the confusion among them when we use it, since it is true that we don't have goose-stepping parades and most other rituals of the 30's. As an alternative, I suggest describing all these movements as corporatist, of which fascism (as usually thought of) as one particular kind of corporatism. And while we're talking about "corporatism", I don't mean the rule of "corporations" in the sense of GE, Fox, etc. Neither did Mussolini. Rather I mean the regimentatation of the ENTIRE society into a single "corpus", or body.

Whatever we're talking about or are going to call it, it CAN happen here and we should have a plan for revolution. Holding signs on the street corner is NOT revolutionary, since it's merely symbolic. It expresses our desire for change while still leaving the power to make those changes in the hands of the elites. Not that I don't enjoy a good protest, but true revolution consists of actually living differently. We should seriously work on the development of a dual power system of collectives, a system that is truly grassroots and decentralized. This way we can strike at the roots instead of always being confronted with the branches.

If not you, who? If not now, when?

*excellent* point about fascism, "Binyamin" - thanks! 11.Sep.2004 18:21

my thoughts and feelings exactly

I've been mulling along the same lines myself recently,

and your description crystallized it for me, in the historical / cultural differences between now and then, and in how the current societal-economic trend is possibly an even *greater* threat. (good point about 'corporatism', too)

besides its inadequacy for the horrific scope of current events, the word 'fascism' can indeed get over-used (especially as a "name-calling" device), and can even cliche- or constrain the possible interpretation of what is actually happening now, for those mainstream folks not fully aware of their surroundings yet.

as regards revolutionary living, alternatives and resistance, agree completely with your emphasis on decentralized, grassroots community - I would also add rural, agricultural self-sustaining base to that description.

long live Indymedia!

It CAN happen here... and it looks like it WILL! 11.Sep.2004 19:33

L.W.Lamlyne trypsys@yahoo.com

I've always been annoyed when American politicians have been compared to fascists, because it's generally a gross exaggeration. This time, it's justified.

I still think Kerry has a good chance of pulling it out, but if there's another close election these guys are going to try to find a way (whether it's fixing the unverifiable results of electronic voting machines... or just good old voter intimidation.) Of course, Bush may have an October Surprise of some kind planned to cement his current lead.

What is it people like... or even just can stand... about these people?

Symbols 12.Sep.2004 08:50

deceived no more

Fascism was epitomized by germany, but I fully agree that it can take any form that suits the purpose. Where government power has been trumped is through corporate trade agreements. Thus we get the same rhetoric that government can't do anything about corporate economic activity. The loopholes in tax legislation, breaking down of walls between accounting and investment banking leading the the tech bust, the inability to prosecute corporations for defrauding the public due to some other twist of corporate law legislation, are all products of powerful lobbies that essentially paid for those 'oversights' to become law.
The public trust is corrupted by corporate influence. They serve the "bottom line" and when law makes listen to them they too serve the "bottom line". The people law makers are supposed to represent are left to fend for themselves and they have no power to influence a corporation.

"President Andrew Jackson, in a speech to Congress, said, "In this point of the case the question is distinctly presented whether the people of the United States are to govern through representatives chosen by their unbiased suffrages [votes] or whether the money and power of a great corporation are to be secretly exerted to influence their judgment and control their decisions."

"Even Abraham Lincoln weighed in, writing, "We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end. It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. The best blood of the flower of American youth has been freely offered upon our country's altar that the nation might live. It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country.

"As a result of the war," Lincoln continued, "corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless." Lincoln held the largest corporations - the railroads - at bay until his assassination. "

Thom Hartmann is the author of "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights" - www.unequalprotection.com and www.thomhartmann.com. Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or web media, so long as this credit is attached.

Civilian casualties in Iraq 17.Sep.2004 05:42

Paula Bramante paula.bramante@mindspring.com

Mr. Floyd, I could not agree more with the spirit of your article. I am opposed to the Bush regime and am doing what I can to ensure that he is not re-elected. I read all I can about the policies of the present administration to keep myself informed on the facts for my discussions with Democrats and Republicans alike. In an email I sent to a Republican friend last night, I quoted your figure of 35,000 Iraqi casualties thus far in the war. This morning, I thought I'd double check that figure. On three different websites, I found the same statistics: the estimated minimum is 12,721; the maximum, 14,751. Please check your facts before publishing your work. Keeping ourselves informed is imperative, but we need to be able to rely on the authors we read to pass along accurate information. Thanks.