Sunday, March 27, 2005

Canadian Politics and Fascism..

Well, Sunday morning, and hung into a discussion last night. Politics. Yuk! Why do people think politics is somehow a matter of opinion? Political science is clearly can't just go and play with the definitions to support some half baked idea you have. And if you live your life by half baked ideas, you have bigger problems than I can fix over a half dozen beers!
Last night the discussion devolved, as it usually does, into a statment very like this one....."Bill, your conservative views are just fascist". At least I didn't respond with the usual line (cause I know better...grin!) that "Your liberal views are Marxist". Both statements are so wrong, yet I have seen people that I generally admire make just such statments. Admittedly, taking a conservative view might put you on a slippery slope to fascism, and admittedly, Marx might be considered the ultimate liberal...but not by me, and there isn't enough beer in the bar fridge to make these connections work!
So, I did a little googling to find some definitions. I discovered that "fascism" is a catch phrase which most people really don't understand. Even military members such as I was for so many years don't really understand exactly what a fascist government is all about. ("isn't that when the military is the ruling party?" is one of the usual questions I get.) One of my uncles died fighting fascism...but probably didn't understand it either. As a political system, it is no more evil than most, but seems to be easily corrupted, and even more easily created. The name of course comes from "Fascia", a bundle of sticks tied tightly around a central core which is an axe. The imagery is stunning....the sticks can all be broken separately, but together, they are strong, and they support and surround the "axe"...the axe being the central power. Doctor Lawrence Britt studied the Nazi and italiam Fascist regimes and came up with 14 defining characteristics. Admittedly, he picked defining characteristics which show that it is a bad system...he conveniently leaves out things like "safety in the streets", "crushing of organized crime", "national security", and "separation of church and state". And then of course, there is the way that a fascist governement can drag a population into the 21st century by the scruff of the neck (so to speak) against the opposition of interests who have a vested interest in the status quo. A casual perusal of Ataturk and his "devil take the hindmost" way he dragged Turkey from its medieval past into moderninity needs to be examined, as well as Peter the Great's ride roughshod over his Boyars is also instructive of this point.

Anyway, I'll just do a cut and paste from Mr. Britt's site.....I am sure he won't mind as long as I credit can read it all right here>>>
It seems instructive to examine Canadian politics in the light of these points. (Or for my beloved American you suppose any of the US policies seem to be well on the slippery slope? Personally, I don't think so, but I am sure there might be some warning signs.)

Fourteen Defining
Characteristics Of Fascism
By Dr. Lawrence Britt
Source Free

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

From Liberty Forum

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