Tag Archives: fascism

Chris Hedges on the Rise of American Fascism

This essay from Chris Hedges is searing. Nearly every sentence is a grenade.

“College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity—embodied in politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—succeeded for decades. These elites, many from East Coast Ivy League schools, spoke the language of values—civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class—while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters. This game has ended.

“These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate. … They want the freedom to ridicule and dismiss intellectuals, ideas, science and culture. They want the freedom to silence those who have been telling them how to behave. And they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the liberal state.

“The Democrats are playing a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate. She epitomizes the double-dealing of the college-educated elites, those who speak the feel-your-pain language of ordinary men and women, who hold up the bible of political correctness, while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power.”

Just read the whole thing: The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism

Christopher Nolan, Virtue, Interstellar, Fascism, and Batman

From a Reddit thread about Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy:

“Heroes have a special vision of what society could be, and it’s worth bending or breaking the rules, lying, secrecy, surveilling, or using violence — all to mold society, or keep society in line.

In all of Nolan’s superhero movies and Interstellar, it’s very uncertain if the people are even worth defending. The hero is the only source of virtue — he is needed to lead the people away from their own corruption and short-sightedness, or, failing that, to craft some sort of order that the people will accept.

The revolutionary, who justifies his actions because of oppression and income inequality, is a terrorist who all along was planning to destroy society. The wealthy liberal, who wanted to give technology to the people, turns out to be secretly allied with the terrorist. The rich, who were exposed as fools in a few key scenes, are dealt with, and everybody else is happy to wallow in mere anarchy as long as they can take rich people’s stuff.

[In Nolan-produced Man of Steel,] Superman’s purpose on Earth isn’t to protect people; it’s to inspire them to be better. … Superman is just better than the rest of us, and this is all he asks, the unchecked freedom to use his ability to surveil everyone in the world and to use violence when and where he chooses, because it will help us become better – whether we agree to it or not.

But in Nolan’s movies the hero is necessary because corruption is too pervasive, too insidious, too powerful, and the people are too weak. Paranoia about corruption and trust in strongmen — literal strong men, in superhero movies — is one of the hallmarks of fascism.”

Full discussion https://www.reddit.com/r/TrueFilm/comments/2t2u3j/russia_bans_films_posing_a_threat_to_national/cnvcn66?context=3

Why Hitler Was Worse Than Stalin

From another Reddit discussion:

“What would each leader have done, had they the unfettered means to do so? Stalin would have liked to simply rule unopposed. His actions were about the elimination of opposition to engender dominance and power over a homogeneous populus by any means necessary, and without targeting specific groups for persecution (arguably). Partly this was a deterrent; one the one hand, to prevent his people from opposing him, and on the other hand, to terrify other nations, by showing them how savagely he treated his own, and therefore inviting them to imagine how he’d treat his enemies. It was political, not racial.

“In the case of Hitler, it wasn’t a matter of opposition. While political dissidents didn’t have it easy, the major proportion of deaths were fuelled by the belief that Aryans were innately, inherently better than all the others, and that legitimised the systematic persecution, oppression torture and eventual destruction of others, be they handicapped, the gypsies, LGBT, or Jews. Therefore, had he had his druthers, it all would have ended with this world being utterly wiped clean of those people he regarded as “racial chaff”, irrespective of whether or not anyone opposed him. It was the calculated removal of an entire ethnic group or race, otherwise known as genocide. And while mass murder is obviously heinous and evil, there is something far more grievous and disgusting about attempting to obliterate an entire group of people purely because you think you’re better than all of them because blue eyes and blonde hair, and despite the fact that Jesse Owens ran faster than all your Aryan athletes at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

“Also, while Stalin killed lots of people, Hitler killed about 2/3 of the Jews living in Europe . And considering he never had a chance to obliterate the English Jewry, that’s an incredibly effective genocide of the Continental European Jewry.

“So, why do we react so badly to one and not the other? Because in order to decide to kill every Jew in Europe, or enslave every African in the US, you need to deny their humanity. You need to, somewhere in your mind, decide they are animals, vermin, insects, and that you have a right to treat them this way. Political murder is a means to an end, which is evil, but does not imply the same perversion of humanity. Whereas genocide is rooted in a fundamentally morally sick and evil belief that some imagined narrative actually gives you the right to obliterate others en masse, and is not the means, but the end.”

Full thread http://reddit.com/r/AskHistory/comments/2lj87n/why_is_hitler_always_regarded_as_the_worst/clvkn27

Image from http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/lloyd-billingsley/the-stalin-hitler-pact-turns-75/

This Is The Police State

A cop writes an op-ed in the Washington Post, saying:

“here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.

A commenter on Metafilter responds:

“No. Absolutely not. I refuse to recognize the legitimacy of any police force that says this. My rights aren’t niceties too delicate for the real world. The right of the citizens of Ferguson to assemble is not something the police or anyone else has the authority to revoke arbitrarily, either.

But this is the conventional wisdom right now, and it’s deeply, irreparably pathological. This is antithetical to a free society, it’s morally indefensible, and as we know, even complete, humiliating submission to a thug with a badge doesn’t guarantee a goddamn thing about my safety, or yours, or anyone’s.

The police in America have always brutalized Black people and non-Whites disproportionately, and they’ve always brutalized some White people. But since the federal military surplus program started in the 90’s, and especially after 9/11, they’ve become ever more paranoid, violent, lawless, and have replaced their imperative to serve and protect citizens with a mission to viciously stamp out any and all perceived disobedience, no matter how unthreatening or justified it may be, to state authority. This is the mentality of the authoritarian state. This is the police state. We can stop dreading its arrival because it’s here. Now let’s do something about it.”


Photo from an ABC News story on the Ferguson shooting http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-deploy-tear-gas-impose-ferguson-curfew-25011848

The Japanese Katana and WWII

“In order for the soldier carrying it to feel he was mightier than his foe, that his right to win was unquestionable, he was to be sold a story about his heritage, the nature of the country he fought for, and of those for whom he fought. He was lead to believe that his interests were in line with those who governed because they shared the same land to live on and looked the same. He was taught that regardless of his actual ancestry he was the inheritor of the samurai spirit, that he was required to expend his life to protect and expand the interests of his mother land. To this aim he was given this sword and told he was a warrior. It invokes a certain romanticism, steeling him in his belief that he fights with his ancestors at his side. It looks for all the world like a traditional sword, and it can certainly kill like one, but it is innately different. … It represents the nullifying nature of fascism, which reduces an individual to a vessel for ideology and unquestioning action – the blade incites to violence. Just like the fascist ideology, this sword attempts to imitate and utilise imagined glories from the past. Anyone with any sense would recognise that a sword is generally a very silly thing to have on a modern battlefield, considering how likely you are to be killed at range by rifles, or from artillery fire sometimes originating miles away. So then this item is not a weapon in the traditional sense, but rather an ideological tool. Just as the nazis carried banners resembling Roman standards, these swords were designed to instill an idea in its bearer.It is a wonderful example of the dangers that come with fetishising and utilising times gone by as examples of how to live your life, and a reminder of how those with power will use every tool at their disposal to instill their ideologies in the common people, the vast majority of whom have nothing in common with theirs rulers at all. The sword you possess is a powerful warning to all who gaze upon it. It says, “I tried to build a new world in the parlance of the old, and now I lie crumbling and dead”.”

How to Be a Totalitarian Dick

Note to self:

“So, let’s assume for a second you’re a totalitarian dick who has eight years to get something done that would make you a plausible dictator for life. This would mean solidifying your power and improving the US enough for populist support.

“First, you blackmail Congress. That goes without saying. Fuck Congress, you’re a totalitarian dick. Or fuck Congress, we saw the last 16 years. Whatever.

“Second, you use your awesome data to blackmail all the major banks and transaction processors into letting you PRISM up the financial sector. Or maybe the financial sector is already backdoored and you can skip this step. Raise your hand if you think you’re going to need step two. Nobody? Ok.

“Third, you go on a crusade for efficiency and equality. Empower the IRS with a supercomputer and access to all that data. Self-employed? We’ll figure out who your clients are and automatically skim the taxes. Hate filing taxes? That’s ok, we’re going to stop asking you how much to deduct and just figure it out ourselves daily. Annual property and auto taxes are broken out per day, so no more DMV trips just to renew plates. No more tax bills, no more tax evasion, no more tax refunds, no more waiting until the end of the year for getting credit for things that the government is going to give you a tax credit for. Perfect taxation, processed constantly. Also, much improved data for tuning the tax code to make sure everyone pays their fair share without removing government incentives entirely.

Fourth, you take all the above data and administer welfare and social programs through it. Entitled to benefits? Here you go. It’s automatically sent to you, and we’ll keep track of changes electronically. Student aid? Automatic.

Fifth, you automate the regulatory agencies. The FCC, SEC, and big parts of the ICE and ATF turn into computer-assisted desk jobs. Law enforcement all around becomes streamlined. Did you say you stole something? Did someone say the same something was stolen? Knock knock! Warrant? The mailman can pick you up. Illegal immigrant? You’re a lot easier to remove. So much easier that conditional amnesty becomes a possibility. Employed and law abiding? We’ll mail you your Social Security card. Paid less than minimum wage and working in terrible conditions? We’ll mail you a picture from your employer’s prison and give you a couple months to find new work. Running drugs and guns? We’ll mail your family about your new accommodations. Human trafficking? It might be better if your family doesn’t know where you go.

“Now you’re a god among men. The US has improved more in three years than in the previous thirty. Your re-election campaign is a formality, and you run against the leader of some Amish community for the Republicans. Oddly enough, there’s a decent third party candidate in the US’s newly influential Pirate Party saying something about how you’re using all that data to become a totalitarian dick, and we need a lot more transparency. Good thing we’re in the US and no one takes him seriously. And it’s too bad about that leak to the press about the time he tried to Google up some nude pictures of 16 year old girls.

“Now that you’re re-elected, you go totalitarian dick. You can’t win another election, so you need to win the country. Let’s start with moral panic. Do you know what sort of dirty shit people are doing on the internet? Kiddy porn is a good first step, since even that silly hippy was caught with a sticky hand in his pants. Terrorism, too. Can’t have that, and do you know how many people are searching for information on bomb making, airborne pathogens, and dangerous chemicals? We’ll need a new class of citizen – attempted felon. Attempted felons need to attend educational programs for correction, or they’ll lose access to government benefits and be subject to more invasive investigation.

“Release statistics that say the attempted felon program slashed violent and sexual crimes substantially, and look, no terrorism! (Or, look, if we had expanded the program, we could have caught that terrorist!) Expand the program. Implement a national firewall that filters out information that is contrary to public safety. Also, un-American sentiments. Criticism of the government. You know, the stuff that gets in the way of being a totalitarian dick.

“Now, the coup de grace. Totalitarian dick + populism. For life, yo. The income gap between rich and poor is growing too large. Nationalize everything, standardize incomes, and make the American dream possible for the bottom 50%. Don’t worry, the media says everyone approves, and no one can hear any complaining.

via AlexFromOmaha comments on What would you do with all that NSA data?.

When the Hammer Falls

“Here is what I would expect:

“1. You won’t recognize it as it’s happening, and most people will strive as much as possible to ‘normalize’ the process because it’s very scary. So everyone will start saying that if someone is arrested or beaten they must be an “agitator” or a “scrounger”. People will talk about how the police are needed, even though things were fine before. People will put a positive face on it and rationalize what the state is doing – “we need to stop protestors using Twitter for security reasons”, etc etc.

“2. You’ll see a very strong class/race narrative about scroungers, chavs, etc which will be used to justify sweeps of the streets, mass arrests, driving out the people made homeless by benefit cuts. Or possibly you’ll see work camps. But you won’t think “OMG, work camps! This is just like the USSR!” because they will be disguised under benign language. Unless you know people who are being kicked around, it will be very difficult for you to believe that it is happening. Everyone always thinks that they’ll recognize and resist fascism, but it seldom happens – I’ve been on both sides, the ‘everything is normal’ side and the “OMG, you have to believe me, they just arrested my friends by night and I don’t know where they were taken!” side.

“3. No one will say “ok, the UK is now under Martial Law! Please check your rights at the door!” It will be accomplished by a set of emergency measures that may, individually, seem harsh but fair. Some middle class people will be totally unaffected and not notice anything. This is how it was in Pinochet’s Chile, in terms of the middle class.

/;Mostly what I’m betting on in the UK is soft fascism. It will be disguised as an intensification of the attacks on scroungers, chavs, ‘lazy’ disabled people, ‘radical Islamists’ and unruly students that are already going on. People will be afraid and broke, so they won’t kick too much. It will be papered over with nonsense like the Royal Wedding. You won’t recognize it at first. It will not look like you think.

How does one prepare for martial law?  on Ask MetaFilter.