Saturday, August 14, 2021

Yes Virginia, America is Becoming Fascist: The Myth of a Socialist America

We all see it nearly every time we get onto social media. Some group or another is trying to promote the concept that America is on the fast track toward socialism, Nazism, Communism, or whatever. They produce a list of greatly distorted "statistics', coupled with a picture of Hitler, Marx, or one of the other nefarious "villains" from the authoritarian pantheon of recent history.

The object is, of course, to spoon feed you and the rest of the public something approaching Pablum which is suppose to pass for knowledge. In trust, that's not Pablum they're peddling.  If you bother to look who's behind these sponsored posts,, you'll usually find that they're some extremist group looking to build support for some issue or bill, and not uncommonly, looking for some of your money.

Of course, social media being what it is, people tend to simply forward along what they see on the surface without doing much (or any) research. It's objective is to use our first impression and what we want to believe (all facts aside) and to function as "click bait". We do their marketing for them.  We've been conditioned to associate certain images, phrases, and images with particular emotions. We see a hammer and sickle, we automatically think Stalin or gulags. We see a swastika, and it's Hitler and concentration camps.

Today's political marketers have learned to link those images. If you're conservative, an image of Obama almost automatically triggers an image of Hitler or Stalin, if not Satan incarnate. If you're liberal, the same image practically makes you think of the Second Coming.  

Nowadays, we're being conditioned (just like Pavlov's dog or lab rats) to react a certain way every time we see or hear the terms "socialism", "Communism", Nazism, or "Fascism". If you're someone who's inquisitive and not willing to accept things at face value (as I am), you want to know why. You want to know who is behind the piece and what they gain and who is on the losing end.

Of course, that requires some thinking for yourself, which, sadly, isn't as common as it once was. The key reason is that education has repeatedly been dumbed down. Students are no longer taught critical thinking skills. Instead, they are taught to memorize what's presented to them and then to regurgitate it back in the form of a "standardized" test. It's no wonder students "graduate" from high school functionally two or three grades below where they should be.

Many students with a high school diploma are reading at a 10th grade level. Their math skills aren't much better. When it comes to history, civics, the sciences, or literature it's worth. The United States repeatedly performs toward the bottom among industrialized nations when it comes to reading, math, and science.

The world academic benchmark, set by the Programme for International Student Assessment (or PISA), ranks 30 of the 64 other industrial nations over the U.S. academically, and this wasn't a one off. It's consistent.  "Why is this?" you might ask yourself.  With the amount of money we spend on education and teachers, we shouldn't be ranked alongside second tier countries, and you would be right.

An ignorant populace, is a populace easily led. We've often heard the old maxim that employers want employees just smart enough to the job but not smart enough to question their bosses. Well, imagine that from a political perspective--- creating voters just smart enough to follow along but not smart enough to question their leaders.

People are usually so preoccupied with a increasingly chaotic "life" , they have no time or interest in researching what's actually happening (even if they knew where to look), not to mention confused and frustrated by the constant partisan bickering and crisis "de jure".

Most just want to turn on some mindless "reality" or game show, or watch a mediocre sitcom, Sadly, they're so brain numb from merely surviving the daily grind to recognize all the subtle political messaging in the shows and commercials (it's called "programming" for a reason you know).   

America, as almost everyone knows, is no longer the "America" of their youth. It's changed, and not for the better. Corporations literally own both parties and their politicians. While both operate behind a self-constructed image that they are the one and only "true" protectors of all that's good and righteous, they serve many of the same corporate masters.

In case you haven't noticed, the mindset in Washington, as well as in state capitals and city halls has changed. They no longer see themselves as our employees "hired" to represent our interests. They view themselves as our superiors; ours "betters". They represent themselves and their friends (who are their "friends"? We'll get to that shortly), but it will suffice to say that at this point, the relationship between (s)elected officials and us is akin to that of master and a serf.

Their lobbyists openly write the legislation and shepherd it through committee after committee, until it finally becomes law. The only conflict, which is hidden behind partisan banners, is between competing corporate interests.

Corporations don't see nations. They see economic zones with governments serving as managers. It doesn't matter if they wear blue ties or red ones as long as they do as they're told. They dictate domestic and foreign policy, which includes the use of the military to force open access to markets or gain control over resources and assets; control is, after all, the name of the game.

Corporations are not democracies, nor are they intended to be democracies. They are, by their very nature, dictatorships. The workers don't get to vote on what they want to do, how much they get paid, or time off. You do the job or you either quit or get fired. Unions give you---the worker---a little more say in your job, but ultimately, it's do as you're told or leave.

The founder of modern Fascism, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, described Fascism as a integration between government and big business; a hand in glove arrangement (hand in mailed fist might be a better analogy).  Fascism borrows from both the Left and Right, depending on a country's history, traditions, laws, and values.

That's why the Fascism of Italy was different from that of Hungary or Romania, which were different from the Fascism of Germany (yes, Nazism is a form of Fascism), which in turn differed from that of Spain or Argentina (or later, in various post-WWII nations in South America which we installed after overthrowing their elected governments). It's also why it can be so confusing.

Fascism can have a centralized leadership, such as Germany did for instance, or it can have a broader committee style leadership like in Italy or Spain. Fascism allows for private business, though smaller shops tend to get forced out by the larger companies. Under Communism, there is literally no private anything---homes, businesses, banks, energy; nothing.  The state controls all.

With Fascism, there is private ownership. However, wages are regulated. Unions get eliminated, nationalized, or assimilated by the company as they are now. The social safety net, interestingly, is often typically enhanced. The government may outsource functions, including social services, to some anonymous corporation which doesn't always have to follow the rules. The police become militarized. There is also the development of a surveillance system, which can morph into a police state.

Additionally, the government/corporate partnership seek to weaken the opposition. They do this by acquiring control of the media and fomenting distention. They use the media to introduce "acceptable" behavior or thought while vilifying others. This includes political parties or ideologies. They also infiltrate various groups and work to either weaken or destroy them.

Along the same lines, they pit groups against each other through manufactured events. Using the media, they invent or play up stories to increase hostilities and suspension. The idea is to create a volatile social situation or crisis whereby the public will, at some point, demand martial law to restore order, which they will be more than willing to do. There is a sense of "empire", be it military, economic, or both. 

With Communism, private ownership of guns aren't permitted except by special permission. Under Fascism, there is a tendency to restrict gun ownership unless total elimination is possible. Despite urban myth to the contrary, the Nazis didn't strip guns from the population. In fact, it was the opposite.

The mainly socialist Weimar government, with pressure from the powerful Communist wing, greatly curtailed the private ownership of guns following WWI. The Nazis, however, restored private ownership of guns with the exception of criminals, Jews, Gypsies, and those deemed as "politically unreliable" such as Communists, anarchists, socialists, and pro-democracy individuals.

While I'm at it, to dispel another popular myth, the Nazis weren't anti-bible, anti-Christian or anti-religion. Religion functioned openly under the Nazis, though a faction had a "pagan" aspect to it, and some Nazis leaders regarded themselves as "neo-pagans".  They did try to introduce something called "Positive Christianity" which purged all Jewish references in the bible, but it wasn't very successful.

 They did, however, prohibit religions like Jehovah Witnesses, Quakers, Pentecostals because of their "anti-state" beliefs. However, the average German continued on as before, with some being Protestant (mainly Lutheran) and others Catholic.  Even the belt buckle of German soldiers had the motto "Gott Mit Uns" (God is With Us) on it.  Communism is officially atheist while democratic socialism is totally open.

Under democratic socialism, there is private property and capitalism, but it's not runaway or predatory capitalism. Certain key businesses, like energy, defense, utilities, national security consultants, banks and financial companies are regulated or nationalized. There is no such thing as "to big to fail" and  having bad business decisions bailed out by taxpayers.

There is usually a national healthcare system and a strong social safety net. Under socialism, there wouldn't be, for instance, a income inequality of 830 : 1 (that's $830 dollars to CEOs for every $1 an ordinary worker gets), or a loss of company benefits. There wouldn't be hungry kids or homeless vets. But, there's also high taxes and prices to cover the costs of all these government services.

It's interesting to note that those companies I mentioned above just so happen to be the big dogs in Washington. I wonder what they and their partisan party boy pals would think of that?  So, democratic socialism is blend of private and public control.  American capitalism historically put more emphasis on individuality and less government interference, allowing the marketplace to dictate who made it and who fails.

 Since the 1930's, there has been limited increases in regulation and a taxpayer sponsored public safety net like President Johnson's "War on Poverty" or the Clean Air and Water acts. Small businesses prospered and unions were strong. People mostly did for themselves. Union membership also declined from 35% of the workforce in 1954 to 12% in 2007 as many of issues unions campaigned for became federal law and more states (especially in the South) adopted "Right to Work" laws. As an aside, the United States is the only industrial nation which doesn't have a Labor party.

We all know the Republic is all but a shell of its former self; an illusion or PR construct. Most academics agree that we've become a Corporatocracy (a neo-fascist blending of state and big business), led by an elite group of very wealthy individuals and corporations. Some call them an oligarchy while others refer to them as a kleptocracy.  To those 99% of us on the bottom, it's all semantics.

The real question is what do you see? The strong vibrant America of your youth or an America becoming controlled more and more by an all powerful centralized state as it acquires private property and manner of businesses, including banks, brokerages firms, the media, oil companies, and the total collapse of Wall Street? If so, that could be Communism.  

Perhaps you see a growing unregulated corporate control over government; a revolving door between government officials and big business; distrust of the media and even elections; a weakening public impact on government? That could be Fascism or Corporatism if you prefer the more modern term.

If you see an increase in government regulation or nationalization of key strategic businesses, an expanding social safety net, growing unions, worker co-ops, and more public input, then maybe you're seeing democratic socialism. As for me,  I see an America in serious trouble and in need of patriots.


As Union membership has fallen, the top 10% have beengetting a larger share of income

Labor Unions in the United States


No comments: