Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Superbowl of Fascism

Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile described "fascism" in an entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana as such: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." (Although Gentile should be properly credited with this original definition of "fascism", Benito Mussolini would later strike Gentile's name and add his own). Bearing in mind this definition, what do the terrorists in Afghanistan have to do with "fascism"? They are neither a state nor corporation. On the other hand, what can be said about those fighting the terrorists? Is there a trend of the "merging of corporate and state power" in the U.S.?

Score after definition #1: American fascists-1, Islamofascists-0

According to Wikipedia, the definition of fascism should include other important distinctions: "Fascism is a radical political ideology that combines elements of corporatism, authoritarianism, nationalism, militarism, anti-anarchism, anti-communism, and anti-liberalism." Again, the question stands: what similarities are there between trends in this country and this definition of fascism? Does "militarism" apply? "Nationalism"? "Corporatism"? How about something as simple as "anti-liberalism"? Also included under this definition, we begin to see some the characteristics of fundamentalist Muslims as well.

Score after definition #2: American fascists-7, Islamofascists-6

Returning to history, in 1944, Vice President Henry A. Wallace, described a "fascist" as "one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intesity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends." In this case, perhaps many Americans leaders and CEOs could fall under this definition as easily as the terrorists they claim to hate. I remember hearing a therapist once say something about "
projection"... Could it be that American fascists (or Islamic Fundamentalists) are full of self-hatred for falling below their own basic standards of humanity and attributing their own unacceptable behavior to another? Here I am giving both groups the benefit of the doubt, granting them human status and wishing they could be extricated from their denial. Unfortuanately, the result of this denial is the incredibly inhumane treatment of oneself and others.

Score after definition #3: American fascists-17, Islamofascists-15

Wallace continues: "The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party." It's interesting that Wallace invoked a religious concept to describe a fascist's blind obedience, since in the case of both "American fascists" and "Islamic fascists" a central element of their ideologies of hate is a religion: Christianity and Islam. Tragically, neither group seems rational in their understanding of the central messages of their "messiahs": PEACE! A closer examination of this portion of Wallace's definition is instructive for an evaluation of current American fascists since his definition includes a dogmatic worship for institutions beyond religion, such as a "political party," or a "military," or a "culture."

Score after definition #4: American fascists-27, Islamofascists-23

(In the case of "culture", much more could be said, however, it is worth noting that neither fundamentalist Christians nor fundamentalist Muslims are reflecting the central tenets of their religions, but instead the distorted morality of their cultures. Too many Christians are unable to reconcile their capitalist lifestyles with the more benevolent message of Christ. Similarly, a harsh culture of theocratic rule that conveniently imposes a highly deterministic interpretation of the Koran on its followers in order to maintain power, have stifled a good deal of secular humanist growth in the Islamic world.)

Wallace also points out and gives distinction to a type of American fascist as someone who would not necessarily resort to violence, but instead: "[h]is method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power." Perhaps this portion of the definition is more easily located with the American fascists since they overwhelmingly control access to information, but a dearth of divergent viewpoints in the Muslim world lends itself to concept of controling "truth."

Final Score in the Superbowl of Fascism: American fascists-30, Islamofascists-25

Sadly, the toll of modern day "fascism", if that is what it should even be called, is obviously tragic. More important to me than the thought of who is being more fascist, is that as an American, I am obligated to prevent the crimes of my country--full stop--.

The Rise of American Fascism

Project for the Old American Century

Henry A. Wallace's The Danger of American Fascism