This is one of my favourite rants, written in 2006, shortly before the Crash when Bush was still ‘in power’. It is instructive to read old rants if only to reassure oneself that nothing, truly nothing, has changed for the better since then. Obama notwithstanding.
No Sense of Humour
Laughter is verboten; Fascists have no sense of humour, especially when it comes to their own leaders or agendas. Everything is deadly serious. Satire and irony is regarded with deep suspicion. They hate being a laughing stock, which makes them perfect targets. This is a boon to standup comics and late night talk shows. All others lose.
The times are ripe for a generation of brilliant satirists. I’m looking for them.
Fascist regimes wrap themselves in the flag and love patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs and other paraphernalia. Flags are everywhere, on bikinis, clothing and public displays. They are not patriots though: patriots are lovely, old-fashioned types who actually love a specific landscape they want to preserve and cherish. Hitler was no patriot, but a committed Nationalist; he said so in Mein Kampf.
Environmentalists are Patriots: their perspective is both local and global, but not necessarily nationalistic.
Rampant cronyism and corruption in high places
Fascist regimes have their own interpretation of ‘family values’. They appoint friends, family members and associates, and they in turn appoint each other to government positions. Like Turkish tourist guides, they do business only with their family and friends, who may own Ad agencies. They abuse governmental authority to protect their friends from accountability.
This is a reference to an old, Liberal scandal that nobody remembers now.
Creeping Disrespect for Human Rights
Fear of ‘enemies’ becomes the handy baseball bat with which to beat entire populations into submission. Touting the need for ‘security’, people in fascist regimes are told that human rights can be ignored in certain cases. As a result, people tend to disbelieve evidence that their government is involved in torture, assassinations, and long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
This one has become more topical of late, as of yesterday.
Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are whipped into a unifying nationalist frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe. These are most often racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, and of course, terrorists. Racial profiling is a fact.
Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a way of controlling and directing the masses. Questionable programs are justified as necessary to ‘protect’ average citizens, or the country, even when they invade our privacy, ignore our basic freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution and hand over our national sovereignty to a foreign power.
Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems that need funding, the military is given a disproportionate percentage of available funds. Soldiers and the military life are glamorized. It’s fun to go to war!
To be fair, the Harper government has not been generous to the military, but that’s mainly because they bungled the fighter jet order.
The governing groups in fascist nations are almost always male-dominated. Only a few ‘token females’ can be found in these all-male power groups. This reflects a rigid adherence to traditional gender roles. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation.
Harper is too smart to get into this debate; he picks and chooses his fights with acumen.
Manipulated and Biased Mass Media
Sometimes the media is overtly controlled by the government, but in most cases the media is manipulated by government regulation, or biased media spokespeople and executives. Censorship can be subtle, but is overt in wartime. Support of “harmonizing” large media empires leads to fewer independent news sources and voices. Corporatism replaces Journalism.
Nothing has changed here, either, in fact, the media are now in fewer hands in Canada than ever.
Weak Dividing line between Religion and Government
Governments in fascist nations tend to use religion as a tool to manipulate public opinion. “Opiate for the masses”, an idea made famous by Marx, comes into its own with religious rhetoric and terminology even when the major tenets of the religion have nothing in common with the government’s policies. The pervasive ignorance of how much blood has been shed to disassociate religious from temporal power is exploited. Government itself becomes a kind of religion, to be taken on faith.
Canadians in Quebec knew they were being manipulated, and they dumped Pauline for it. Good for us!
Corporate power in government is paramount
The industrial and business leaders of a fascist nation are often the same people who put the government into power, creating a mutually supportive business/government power elite. This in turn leads to corruption and cronyism. In effect, the country is run to please and profit a few influential corporate groups.
Yep, that one holds up nicely.
Labor Unions are sidelined or vilified
Labour Unions are not welcome, and their organizing power is severely limited or entirely suppressed They are a real threat to fascism and are dealt with accordingly. The media are complicit in showing only the negative aspects of unions or simply ignore them altogether.
Especially true here, in beautiful British Columbia. Just look at the vicious fights with the Teacher’s Union.
Education and the Arts are underfunded
Fascist governments fear an informed and sophisticated population, so while they may mouth support, they actually promote open hostility to higher education and teachers while underfunding students 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 cut funding. The arts represent freedom of thought and individual creativity that expresses truths the ruling elite doesn’t want to see.
Remember when Harper insulted artists by identifying them as ‘people who go to cocktail parties’? All arts organizations not to mention individual artists are very hard up while the elites are swimming in filthy lucre.
Obsession with crime and punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are idealized and given almost limitless power to enforce laws. Crime shows, cop shows and ‘documentaries’ showing how crime affects populations are supported. Prison sentences become tougher and government money is spent on building prisons while cutting back on social programs that could prevent crime.
The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and sacrifice civil liberties in the name of nationalism and security. There is often a national police force or secret service with virtually unlimited power.
Fits what the Harper government has been doing.
Elections are never what they seem because the democratic process is hijacked by powerful interest groups that make sure they get the outcome they desire. Sometimes they are a complete fraud, at other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns. The fraudulent use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries is not unusual, and manipulation of the media to support a particular party or platform is common. The judiciary is often used as a tool to undermine elections.
Everyone should read Elizabeth May’s previous book on how Harper stole the last election:
Suppression of Opposing Viewpoints
As Bush said, ‘you’re either with us or against us’, possibly the most undemocratic statement ever made by any sitting president. Apparently nobody has bothered to tell him that the essence of Democracy lies in its ability to tolerate and work with dissent. If you can’t disagree without coming to harm, you’re living in a dictatorship which may be fascist if it meets the other criteria.
So. Even if you love the USA, it’s difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that we’re living next to an emerging fascist superpower. This is particularly unfortunate for us, as we have already given away much of our sovereignty with Nafta, which basically handed over control over our natural resources. The disease is well advanced in the USA, where a systematic and incessant media campaign spewing misinformation is deluding average American minds. The majority no longer seems to know the difference between truth, half truth, spin and outrageous lies. Apparently only a tiny minority read liberal magazines like Harpers’ or watch any other programs besides CNN or even worse, Fox ‘News’.
We still do. CBC regularly runs shows that show reality as it is instead of some Neocon nightmare concocted in Washington. Many Canadians are watching our closest neighbor and trading partner turn into the global bully with incredulity and in my case, terror. But the virus is here, too; eating away at all that we take for granted. It’s up to us to stop it.
In an ironic twist, the American obsession with border security is absolutely correct. Except that it is us who should fear and protect ourselves from what is coming across the border. If there is one lesson the last great war should have taught us it’s this: It can happen again, but it won’t look the same. All I know is that it already feels exactly the same.