Why Bush Will Win [?]: Americans Secretly Love Fascism
The most important election of our lifetime is coming down to who can best pacify the electorate's inner baby.
The Appeal of Fascism
By Richard Risemberg
Oct 19, 2004
"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises." - Abraham Lincoln
What afflicts the people of the United States in these days, that they have developed the capacity not only to tolerate, but even to cherish, the blatant lies and hypocrisies, the injustices, the evasions, and of course the invasions perpetrated by George W Bush and his neo-conservative cabal? How can even conservatives themselves stomach this internationalist, interventionist, activist-court-packing, states'-rights-suppressing cat's-paw of the transnational culture of control that is the only heartfelt homeland of the corporate elite?
Yes, there is opposition, an opposition that comprises most likely a small majority of the country's people - but the supposedly "liberal" media do their best to ignore and even marginalize it, and besides, that yet leaves hundreds of millions here who work themselves into ecstasies of adulation at the words, however fumbling, of this jug-eared cipher, and into equal ecstasies of joyous indignation at the sound of any word that controverts the image his handlers project to the loving masses huddled underneath the balcony ...
Let us not put too fine a point upon it: we are in danger of reverting to fascism.
Fascism is a disease endemic in our species, a periodic fever whose tremors induce a psychosocial orgasm in its sufferers, tantalizing them with physical delusions of both security and power. Far more than its structural and functional ramifications - well illustrated by Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism as "the melding of state and corporate power" and George Orwell's fictional synopsis of a tech-enabled fascist state in Nineteen Eighty-Four - it is fascism's capacity to make a nuanced oppression seem both nurturing and empowering that makes it so dangerous. It is this nuance of fascism - more than the Big Lie techniques and the brute force fascists also employ - that makes the Bush/Cheney administration and its police and propaganda mechanisms a true threat to humanity in general and to the United States - formerly respected as an icon of liberty - specifically.
The fundamental appeal of fascism to the everyday person is threefold. It consists of:
The promise of security. Fascists typically posit threats, external and internal, that are easily identified but difficult to fight, and then promise to protect you from them - if only you will give them absolute power to do so.
Relief from uncertainty. It is no accident that Orwell had his dictator characterize himself as Big Brother. The fascist relieves you of the responsibility to make difficult decisions. You simply follow orders - given, of course, by Big Brother.
A share of strength. Most insidious, Big Brother will let you exercise power over others - as long as you exercise Big Brother's power Big Brother's way.
This last is the stroke of genius. The fascist enlists the sufferers of fascism themselves as petty dictators over those who have been designated as "below" them. And we the people are all too often eager to enlist.
As we know, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the watered-down wine of authority is good enough for many - even the feeling that they are exercising power by proxy when they grant it to the fearless leader who leads them into endless fear.
The paradigm is nearly universal. From Josef Stalin's and Adolf Hitler's structured goonocracies to the serried pyramids of corporate middle managers, the pattern is similar: a Supreme Leader (dictator or chief executive officer); a Politburo, or General Staff, or Board of Directors, who, as cronies of the leader, pull the levers for him; a rubber-stamp parliament that always approves all proceedings set before it; a highly involved hierarchy with just enough upward mobility that you may strive a lifetime toward an ever-receding Valhalla without ultimately disturbing its present occupants; a rigid culture that prescribes behavior and in many cases (IBM, Albania) dress and appearance; and an intolerance for any deviation from the chosen definition of the Perfect Man, the Ubermensch, the Good Soldier, the Team Player. (Except, of course, by the leadership elite, who can get as wacky as they please.)
The fascist first makes us all afraid, then makes us all spies, then gives us an enemy, who has often (the Jew, the communist, the jihadi) been hiding right in our midst. And we are almost always ready to drop the dime, to swing the club.
And the definition of the "enemy" is ever-expanding. The US Justice Department, no longer living up to its name, now invokes the USA Patriot (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act against readers of dissident books, against environmental activists - though not, so far, against rich organizations with plenty of lawyers.
We know now that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism, and in fact has nurtured it. But terrorism has everything to do with justifying the arrogation of power by these most foully banal crypto-fascists in the name of protecting us against "terror" - a terror they help create by magnifying the injustices our neo-feudalist corporate culture has perpetrated on the world this century past. But we still "stand behind our president". Why?
Remember two things:
First, it is not who has power that's the problem. It's that someone has power.
Second, the founders of the United States designed inefficiency into the government precisely to prevent accumulations of power, having had immediate experience with imperial tyrants.
Beware those who would bring efficiency to government. A government that's run like a business is a dictatorship.
Richard Risemberg is editor/webmaster of The New Colonist and maintains the Living Room Urban Ecology Webzine and Forum. He lives in Los Angeles.
(Copyright 2004 Richard Risemberg.)
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