Sunday, November 28, 2010

Breaking Our Addiction to War

Breaking Our Addiction to War
by Brian Willson article link article link
November 28, 2010 | S. Brian Willson | Global Research

I am sick of being anti-war. Are wars inevitable? War crimes? If we really don’t want wars, it behooves us to get serious about understanding their causes, and choose to radically address them. Otherwise, what’s the point? Feeling a “rush” with like-minded folks at political actions only perpetuates our addiction to anti-war rallies, which do nothing to stop wars from occurring.

The inarticulate presidency of George Bush II successfully unmasked the US empire for everyone to see in its gruesome glory – laying bare all the lies, sordid details, and egregious consequences of unfettered greed. Then the hopium associated with Obama’s election served as a soothing tranquilizer, quieting the movement, at least for a time. Yet, no matter who is in power, wars continue ad nauseum. To learn why we must examine the vertical/hierarchical, patriarchal political-economic system to which we humans have adapted over millennia.

First, let’s look at US history. The record reveals a chronic, depressing pattern of war making – 550 direct military interventions since 1799 in more than 100 countries. More than 300 of these have occurred since World War II, including bombing of 28 countries. In addition, the US has conducted thousands of covert interventions, mostly in “Third World” countries.

The longer view: Since the advent of “civilization” around 3500 BC (55 centuries ago), there have been 14,600 recorded “decisive wars,” not counting thousands of smaller, “indecisive” ones, according to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences. This coincides with development of writing and emergence of patriarchal, hierarchical kingdoms, most of which later became empires. The rulers of these kingdoms gained power by manipulating surplus that had grown out of the agricultural revolution. Another coincidence with the advent of civilization is a notable increase in findings of human remains for which the cause of death has been attributed to warfare injuries. Archaeologists have found little if any evidence of systemic warfare prior to this time.

Since 1500 AD, war scholar Quincy Wright documents 3,000 recorded “battles” which involved casualties of at least 1,000 in land battles, and 500 in naval ones, with an additional quarter million “hostile encounters.” The US Army alone has been engaged in over 9,000 “battles and skirmishes” between 1775-1900, most against Native Americans, with the US Navy engaged in over 1,100 encounters in addition.

Efforts to prevent wars are also well established. Historical sociologist Jacques Novicow documented more than 8,000 treaties for peace between 1,500 BC and 1860 AD.

Modern efforts to impose accountability for war behavior include the Hague and Geneva Conventions, the United Nations Charter, and the Nuremberg Principles. The 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact renounced war altogether. Since the 1950s, the US Army Field Manual adopted provisions of international law, absolutely prohibiting targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. It has done little, if anything, to retard murder of civilians.

Attempting to understand this chronic pattern of human carnage, scholars such as Lewis Mumford, Thomas Berry, Marija Gimbutus, Riane Eisler, and James Hillman chronicle the record of more than five millennia of the four patriarchal establishments – classical empires, ecclesiastical institutions, nation-states, and modern corporations. All four can be described as male-dominated, vertical hierarchies dependent for their functioning on strict obedience from their population base.

“Civilization” is marked by a dramatic shift from long-standing decentralized, horizontal, matriarchal societies, to centralized, vertical/class-oriented, patriarchal societies, in which obedience to a King was required, and slave labor utilized to construct massive projects like tombs, irrigation and grain storage systems. Class and stratification ripped people from their historical roots as autonomous beings living in small cooperative tribal groups. This separation of people from their intimate connections with the earth produced deep insecurity, anxiety and fear in the psyche, and ecopyschologists such as Chellis Glendinning and Theodore Roszak suggest that such fragmentation created a traumatic primordial breach. Being forced to live and work in a class system generally leads to a feeling of lack of self worth. People will avoid this shame at any cost, often by adopting “defense mechanism” such as projecting demonization onto others “below,” and/or deference of authentic autonomous freedoms to belief in authority structures and adoption of their accompanying mythologies and ideologies.

For 300 generations civilization has required obedience. This has become a cultural habit enabling each of us to successfully adapt to our non-Indigenous culture. Observers such as Etienne De La Boetie have discovered that virtually all vertical power quickly becomes ego-tyrannical, inherent in concentration of political, social and economic power, whether achieved through elections (such as the USA), force of arms, or inheritance. Method of rule is essentially the same – achieving mass consent through either fear or propaganda/myth. Barbara Tuchman describes the historical folly of ego-maniacs at war in her 1984 book, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam.

In essence, by being conditioned to obey the laws and mores of modern society dictated and shaped by vertical political-economic systems, we have been living contrary to our authentic nature as cooperative beings capable of self-governance in small communities without authority from above. In addition, in the West, with but 20 percent of the world’s population, we have materially benefited from 500 years of colonial exploitation at the expense of the remaining 80 percent. This is not only immoral, it is ecologically unsustainable. In the US, with but 4.6 percent of the world’s population, our insatiable consumption devours more than 30 percent of the globe’s resources. Habits of obedience to our system have historically been reinforced by our personal addiction to consumer goods, fed by the myth that our material well-being derives from our “exceptionalism” as US Americans. Our allegiance to this myth and our addiction to its benefits are what enable those dreadful wars – these are nothing more than imperial projects to assure, at gunpoint, continuation of our American Way Of Life, not to mention endless profits for the “emperor” and his entourage.

In summary, we are addicted to war because we are addicted to a materialist way of life, which requires obedience to an infrastructure of imperialism that enables business as usual. That it is totally unsustainable is only now being realized.

The prescription: Re-discover the eco-consciousness that already resides in our visceral genetic memory outside our brains. Choosing to live with less stuff in locally sufficient, food producing and simple tool making/artisan cultures can be joyful, and pockets of such revivalist cultures are cropping up in many places as people strive to re-establish their local autonomy. We are coming full circle – those we exterminated because we deemed them “savage,” were in fact authentic. We are the savages and now must turn to the authentics to help in our healing.

S. Brian Willson Articles Envisioning Nonviolent Revolutionary Alternatives
S. Brian Willson home page
Global Research Articles by Brian Willson
Global Research home page


The Militarization of North America

The Militarization Of The Arctic And Its Strategic Resources
The Role of Canada
by Prof Jules Dufour article link
November 28, 2010 | Global Research

Canada's Sovereignty in Jeopardy: The Militarization of North America
by Michel Chossudovsky article link
August 17, 2007 | Global Research

Canadian jurisdiction over its Northern territories was redefined, following an April 2002 military agreement between Ottawa and Washington. This agreement allows for the deployment of US troops anywhere in Canada, as well as the stationing of US warships in Canada's territorial waters. 

Following the creation of US Northern Command in April 2002, Washington announced unilaterally that NORTHCOM's territorial jurisdiction (land, sea, air) extended from the Caribbean basin to the Canadian arctic territories. 

"The new command was given responsibility for the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, portions of the Caribbean and the contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles off the North American coastline. NorthCom's mandate is to "provide a necessary focus for [continental] aerospace, land and sea defenses, and critical support for [the] nation’s civil authorities in times of national need."

(Canada-US Relations - Defense Partnership – July 2003, Canadian American Strategic Review (CASR)

NORTHCOM's stated mandate was to "provide a necessary focus for [continental] aerospace, land and sea defenses, and critical support for [the] nation’s [US] civil authorities in times of national need." 

(Canada-US Relations - Defense Partnership – July 2003, Canadian American Strategic Review (CASR)

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld boasted that "the NORTHCOM – with all of North America as its geographic command – 'is part of the greatest transformation of the Unified Command Plan [UCP] since its inception in 1947.'" (Ibid)

Canada and US Northern Command

In December 2002, following the refusal of (former) Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to join US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), an interim bi-national military authority entitled the Binational Planning Group (BPG) was established.  

Canadian membership in NORTHCOM would have implied the integration of Canada's military command structures with those of the US. That option had been temporarily deferred by the Chrétien government, through the creation of the Binational Planning Group (BPG).

The BPG's formal mandate in 2002 was to extend the jurisdiction of the US-Canada North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to cover sea, land and "civil forces",  

"to improve current Canada–United States arrangements to defend against primarily maritime threats to the continent and respond to land-based attacks, should they occur."

Although never acknowledged in official documents, the BPG was in fact established to prepare for the merger of NORAD and NORTHCOM,  thereby creating de facto conditions for Canada to join US Northern Command.

The "Group" described as an "independent" military authority was integrated from the outset in December 2002 into the command structures of  NORAD and NORTHCOM, both operating out the same headquarters at the Paterson Air Force base in Colorado. In practice, the "Group" functioned under the jurisdiction of US Northern Command, which is controlled by the US Department of Defense. 

In December 2004, in the context of President Bush's visit to Ottawa, it was agreed that the mandate of the BPG would be extended to May 2006. It was understood that this extension was intended to set the stage for Canada's membership in NORTHCOM. 

In March 2006, two months before the end of its mandate, the BPG published a task force document on North American security issues:  

"'A continental approach' to defense and security could facilitate binational maritime domain awareness and a combined response to potential threats, 'which transcends Canadian and U.S. borders, domains, defense and security departments and agencies,'  (quoted in Homeland Defense watch, 20 July 2006)

The BPG task force report called for the establishment of a "maritime mission" for NORAD including a maritime warning system. The report acted as a blueprint for the renegotiation of NORAD, which was implemented immediately following the release of the report.  

On April 28, 2006, an agreement negotiated behind closed doors was signed between the US and Canada. 

The renewed NORAD agreement was signed in Ottawa by the US ambassador and the Canadian Minister of Defense Gordon O'Connor, without prior debate in the Canadian Parliament. The House of Commons was allowed to rubberstamp a fait accompli, an agreement which had already been signed by the two governments. 

"'A continental approach  to defense and security could facilitate binational maritime domain awareness and a combined response to potential threats, "which transcends Canadian and U.S. borders, domains, defense and security departments and agencies,' the report says." (Homeland Defense Watch, May 8, 2006)

While NORAD still exists in name, its organizational structure coincides with that of NORTHCOM. Following the April 28, 2006 agreement, in practical terms, NORAD has been merged into USNORTHCOM.  

NORTHCOM Commander Gen. Gene Renuart, USAF happens to be Commander of NORAD, Maj. Gen. Paul J. Sullivan who is NORTHCOM Chief of Staff, is Chief of Staff of NORAD. 

With a exception of a token Canadian General, who occupies the position of  Deputy Commander of NORAD, the leadership of NORAD coincides with that of NORTHCOM. (See photo gallery below). 

These two military authorities are identical in structure, they occupy the same facilities at the Peterson Air Force base in Colorado.  

There was no official announcement of the renewed NORAD agreement, which hands over control of Canada's territorial waters to the US, nor was there media coverage of this far-reaching decision. 

The Deployment of US Troops on Canadian Soil

At the outset of US Northern Command in April 2002, Canada accepted the right of the US to deploy US troops on Canadian soil. 

"U.S. troops could be deployed to Canada and Canadian troops could cross the border into the United States if the continent was attacked by terrorists who do not respect borders, according to an agreement announced by U.S. and Canadian officials." (Edmunton Sun, 11 September 2002)

With the creation of the BPG in December 2002, a binational  "Civil Assistance Plan" was established. The latter described the precise "conditions for deploying U.S. troops in Canada, or vice versa, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack or natural disaster." (quoted in Inside the Army, 5 September 2005). 

Canadian Sovereignty 

In August 2006, the US State Department confirmed that a new NORAD Agreement had entered into force, while emphasizing that "the maritime domain awareness component was of 'indefinite duration,' albeit subject to periodic review." (US Federal News, 1 August 2006). In March 2007, the US Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed that the NORAD Agreement had been formally renewed, to include a maritime warning system. In Canada, in contrast, there has been a deafening silence. 

In Canada, the renewed NORAD agreement went virtually unnoticed. There was no official pronouncement by the Canadian government of Stephen Harper. There was no analysis or commentary of its significance and implications for Canadian territorial sovereignty. The agreement was barely reported by the Canadian media. 

Operating under a "North American" emblem (i.e. a North American Command), the US military would have jurisdiction over Canadian territory from coast to coast; extending from the St Laurence Valley to the Queen Elizabeth archipelago in the Canadian Arctic. The agreement would allow for the establishment of "North American" military bases on Canadian territory. From an economic standpoint, it would also integrate the Canadian North, with its vast resources in energy and raw materials, with Alaska. 

Ottawa's Military Facility in Resolute Bay

Ottawa's July 2007 decision to establish a military facility in Resolute Bay in the Northwest Passage was not intended to reassert "Canadian sovereignty. In fact quite the opposite. It was established in consultation with Washington. A deep-water port at Nanisivik, on the northern tip of Baffin Island is also envisaged. 

The US administration is firmly behind the Canadian government's decision. The latter does not "reassert Canadian sovereignty". Quite the opposite. It is a means to eventually establish US territorial control over Canada's entire Arctic region including its waterways. This territory would eventually fall under the jurisdiction of  US Northern Command (NORTHCOM).  

The Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement (SPP) 

The Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement (SPP) signed between the US, Canada and Mexico contemplates the formation of  a North American Union (NAU), a territorial dominion, extending from the Caribbean to the Canadian  arctic territories. 

The SPP is closely related to the Binational Planning Group initiative. An Independent Task Force sponsored by The Council on Foreign Relations calls for  the transformation of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) into a "multiservice Defense Command". The CFR document entitled "North American Community" drafted on behalf of the SPP endorses the BPG March 2006 recommendations:

"As recommended in a report of the Canadian-U.S. Joint Planning Group [BPG], NORAD should evolve into a multiservice Defense Command that would expand the principle of Canadian-U.S. joint command to land and naval as well as air forces engaged in defending the approaches to North America. In addition, Canada and the United States should reinforce other bilateral defense institutions, including the Permanent Joint Board on Defense and Joint Planning Group, and invite Mexico to send observers. 

(North American Community, Task Force documented sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) together with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales)

The accession of Canada to this Multiservice Defense Command, as recommended by the CFR, has already been established, signed and sealed, approved by the Canadian Parliament in May 2006, in the context of the renewal of the NORAD agreement. 

In all likelihood, the formal merging of  "the renewed NORAD" and US NORTHCOM will be on the agenda at the August Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement (SPP) Summit meeting of President Bush, Prime Minister Harper and President Calderon at Montebello, Quebec. This decision would lead to the formation of a US-Canada NORTHCOM, with a new name, but with substantially the same NORTHCOM rhetorical mandate of "defending the Northern  American Homeland" against terrorist attacks. The military of both the US and Canada would also be called to play an increasing role in civilian law enforcement activities.

The real objective underlying the SPP is to militarize civilian institutions and repeal democratic government.

"Integration" or the "Annexation" of Canada?

Canada is contiguous to "the center of the empire". Territorial control over Canada is part of the US geopolitical and military agenda. It is worth recalling in this regard, that throughout history, the "conquering nation" has expanded on its immediate borders, acquiring control over contiguous territories.

Military integration is intimately related to the ongoing process of integration in the spheres of trade, finance and investment. Needless to say, a large part of the Canadian economy is already in the hands of US corporate interests. In turn, the interests of big business in Canada tend to coincide with those of the US.

Canada is already a de facto economic protectorate of the USA. NAFTA has not only opened up new avenues for US corporate expansion, it has laid the groundwork under the existing North American umbrella for the post 9/11 integration of military command structures, public security, intelligence and law enforcement.

No doubt, Canada's entry into US Northern Command will be presented to public opinion as part of Canada-US "cooperation", as something which is "in the national interest", which "will create jobs for Canadians", and "will make Canada more secure".

Ultimately what is at stake is that beneath the rhetoric, Canada will cease to function as a Nation:

-Its borders will be controlled by US officials and confidential information on Canadians will be shared with Homeland Security.

-US troops and Special Forces will be able to enter Canada as a result of a binational arrangement.

-Canadian citizens can be arrested by US officials, acting on behalf of their Canadian counterparts and vice versa.

But there is something perhaps even more fundamental in defining and understanding where Canada and Canadians stand as nation.

By endorsing a Canada-US "integration" in the spheres of defense, homeland security, police and intelligence, Canada now remains a full fledged member of George W. Bush's "Coalition of the Willing", it will directly participate, through integrated military command structures, in the US war agenda in Central Asia and the Middle East, including the massacre of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of POWs, the establishment of concentration camps, etc.

Canada would no longer have an independent foreign policy. Under an integrated North American Command, a North American national security doctrine would be formulated. Canada would be obliged to embrace Washington's pre-emptive military doctrine, its bogus "war on terrorism which is used as a pretext for waging war in the Middle East. .

The Canadian judicial system would be affected. Moreover, binational integration in the areas of Homeland security, immigration, policing of the US-Canada border, not to mention the anti-terrorist legislation, would imply pari passu acceptance of the US sponsored police State, its racist policies, its "ethnic profiling" directed against Muslims, the arbitrary arrest of anti-war activists.

U.S. Northern Command web page US-Canada Civil Assistance Plan
Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research home page


Saturday, November 27, 2010

When America Went Fascist

When America Went Fascist 
By Chris Rowthorn article link
September 27, 2007 | Dandelion Salad

“Fascism: a system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator”
– The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000

It is a truism in the blogosphere that one more terrorist attack will turn America into a fascist state. People speculate about what fascism in America will look like, or how they might fight it. Others boast that they plan to flee the country ahead of the coming fascist takeover of the United States. One cannot read these posts without a sense of bitter irony, because one thing is clear to those who are watching carefully:

The United States of America is already a fascist state.

The United States turned fascist on December 11, 2000. On that day, the Supreme Court essentially appointed George W. Bush president of the United States, stopping the recount of Florida votes, and, hence, the democratic process. The justices of the court then slipped away by night, ashamed of their role in murdering America’s great experiment in democratic rule.

The Supreme Court decision of December 11, 2000 is the modern American equivalent to German President Hindenburg’s swearing in of Hitler as chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. By swearing in Hitler as chancellor, Hindenburg set in motion a process which led to the Nazi dictatorship and World War II. In the case of the Nazis, the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933 was the catalyst they needed to cement their grip on power. In the case of Bush and his backers, the tragedy of September 11, 2001 was the catalyst they needed to complete their full takeover of the American government.

When one looks at present-day America and reads plaintive musings about if and when America will turn fascist, it is useful to ask oneself the following question: When do you think the average German realized that he or she was living under a fascist dictatorship? How about the Japanese or Italians of the same period? Do you think that Hitler, Mussolini or Tojo made a public announcement to the effect of, “Dear Citizens: Please be advised that you no longer have any rights or political power. We have taken control of the government. Opposition and resistance are futile and will be punished.”

The fact is, most of the “good” citizens of these countries clung desperately to the notion that it was business as usual long after constitutional government was dead and buried. Sure, they knew that their governments were a little further to the right than normal, but as long as they kept earning money and eating well, they ignored the grim realities of fascism.

It’s easy to understand why: the “good” citizens weren’t members of officially scapegoated groups or political activists, and thus they never felt the iron first of fascism. It’s not like the government just suddenly started rounding up people at random and trucking them off to camps and executing them. No, it was only the “bad ones” who were carted off. It was the John Walker Lindhs, the Jose Padillas, the illegal immigrants and the Muslim Americans of their day who were carted off.

In fact, for the average citizen of Germany, Japan or Italy, it was only when the military adventures of their fascist governments started to go seriously awry did the reality dawn on them. Until then, if anything, they merely felt the stirrings of extreme patriotism and perhaps even satisfaction as their countries expanded outward. Indeed, for many, it was only when their countries lay in ashes did they fully understand what had happened. Only then could they see that a kind of cancer had run wild in their countries and come perilously close to destroying them.

In 2007, the average American is in exactly the same position as the typical German, Japanese or Italian citizen of the early to mid-1930s. Unless you happen to be a Muslim, a left-wing political activist, or a regular reader of left-wing political websites or journals, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s business as usual in the United States of America. You rise in the morning, read the morning paper, commute to work, get a paycheck, hit the ATM and watch the usual shows on television in the evening. Sure, we’re officially “at war” but other than a few news stories and the usual yellow ribbons and bumper stickers, this doesn’t really intrude into our realities.

But while all of us go about our lives like nothing has changed, the Constitution of the United States has been suspended, and with it, the democracy that it enshrines. Sure, Bush has never announced that he has suspended the Constitution. Rather, he has subjected it to a death by a thousand cuts. For, at last count, George W. Bush has appended 139 signing statements to laws passed by Congress, containing challenges to over 750 individual laws. These signing statements amount to 139 written declarations that George W. Bush and his allies consider themselves to be unconstrained by the law of the land and the will of the people. Or, to quote Mr. Bush: “(The Constitution) is just a goddamned piece of paper!”

On top of this, the Bush administration has repeatedly ignored subpoenas asking for information and directed aides not to comply with requests for information. And, more broadly, the Bush administration has made it clear that it will respond neither to the will of the people nor the will of Congress. Thus, in word and deed, the Bush administration is a dictatorship. And a country under the rule of a dictator is, at least by the definition at the start of this article, a fascist country.

Thus, in the last seven years, the United States has gone from a weak democracy, in which the people had weak but nominal control over their government, to a system where the government is under the control of “a unitary executive.” And, of course, “unitary executive” is how you say “fuhrer” in modern American English.

Of course, this is not news to those unfortunate Americans who are presently languishing in military prisons without access to lawyers or due process. But, for most Americans, it seems absurd or even hysterical to declare that we are living in a fascist state. Arguments about signing statements, unitary executive theory or past Supreme Court decisions are mere abstractions and gain little traction.

Perhaps this is because fascism is like pornography: it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Indeed, the best way to distinguish pornography from art is not logical but aesthetic. Similarly, I would suggest that the best way to determine if a country is fascist is not intellectual at all, but aesthetic.

Fascism has a style, a language and a mood all its own. When enough of these outward signs of fascism are present, you can reasonably conclude that the country in question is fascist. For this reason, I have put together this short guide to some of the more obvious distinguishing features of fascism.

A Brief Guide to the Aesthetics of Fascism:

–Hypnotized by symbols: Whether it be the swastika of the Nazis, the rising sun of imperial Japan or the fasces of the Italian National Fascist Party, simple, visually striking and endlessly repeated symbols are the “look” of a fascist government. Check out any Bush speaking engagement, from his “mission accomplished” speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to the Republican National Convention, and you will see him surrounded by the Stars and Stripes. And where Nazi leaders wore swastika armbands, American fascists wear American flag pins on their lapels. Sinclair Lewis observed that, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” The symbols may be different, but if it looks like fascism, it’s probably fascism.

–Impoverished language: Umberto Eco wrote that, “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.” George W. Bush’s tortured syntax is perfectly suited to speaking this language. In describing Newspeak, Orwell declared that words will be “not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be.” Bush’s speeches are peppered with words like freedom and democracy, when in fact, he means slavery and tyranny. Moreover, Bush is fond of accusing countries like Iran of illegally interfering in the affairs of other countries, much as Hitler accused other European countries of aggression as his armies overran the continent. The language may be different, but one fact is inescapable: if it sounds like fascism, it’s probably fascism.

–Mood of pervasive fear: In Bush’s America, people rightly believe that you may be subject to violence, harassment, arbitrary arrest or even torture if you challenge authority figures or speak out against the government. Since I started writing articles on political topics I have heard the comment repeated time and again: “You’re going to be put on a list.” Americans of all stripes live in fear of their government and few, if any, would dare question any authority figure, even if faced with the most blatant and unwarranted abuse of power. It is a sad fact that Americans are the only people in the developed world where citizens actively fear their own government. The tools of torture may have changed, but the essential fact remains: if it feels like fascism, it’s probably fascism.

–The nation as homeland: The exaltation of the nation state as a promised land is perhaps the most basic sign of a fascist state. Twenty years ago, it would have been unimaginable to refer to the United States as a “homeland.” The word would have stuck people as both antiquated and overtly totalitarian. Now, it is bandied about freely and we actually have a Department of Homeland Security. The strikingly fascist overtones of the word itself are troubling enough, but more troubling still is the thinking behind the word: America is an island in a hostile sea, surrounded by enemies who we must either vanquish or be vanquished by. Once again, if it sounds like fascism, it’s probably fascism.

At this point, it is clear that America is in the early stages of fascism; it hasn’t yet metastasized into the outright jackbooted fascism of Nazi Germany. But the country is poised like a boulder at the top of a slope, ready to roll into the abyss. In fact, it will take a miracle to keep this from happening. Consider the factors that could easily unleash outright fascism in the United States: the accelerating collapse of the US dollar; the follow-on effects from the subprime loan debacle; soaring energy prices (peak oil); catastrophic weather events caused by global warming; and, of course, the one thing that Bush’s entire foreign policy seems almost guaranteed to bring about: another large-scale terrorist attack on American soil. Any one of these by itself could trigger outright fascism. Combine two or more, and American fascism is 100% certain.

We must realize that the full machinery of outright fascism is already in place. Private security firms like Blackwater are ready and willing to serve as the new Blackshirts. Patriot Act II has been written and provides the full “legal” framework for completely revoking the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and establishing martial law. The Pentagon has established Northcom to organize military operations in the United States and Canada. The Posse Comitatus Act has been gutted to allow the National Guard to serve in police actions all across the country. And detention centers have been built across the land and plans have been laid to intern millions of Americans.

History teaches that there is a point of no return in the evolution of a fascist state. Once that line is crossed, there is no turning back until the country lies in ashes and millions lie dead both inside and outside the country. If you don’t think it could happen in the United States of America, then you don’t remember how easily Americans let themselves be robbed of their precious civil liberties in the aftermath of 9-11.

Thus, a presidential candidate who does not make restoration of constitutional government the centerpiece of his or her campaign should not even be considered. The first and most pressing order of business must be to repeal the Patriot Act in its entirety. Provisions that Democratic lawmakers deem essential to national security can be restored on a piece-by-piece basis as parts of other legislation. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which suspended habeas corpus, must be repealed. The Department of Homeland Security must be downsized and brought under full and transparent civilian control.

In the longer term, meaningful campaign finance reform and public funding for elections must be enacted in order to put political power back into the hands of the people and to take it out of the hands of the Pentagon and allied industries. Because ultimately, it is the military-industrial complex, working with the electoral support of right-wing religious fundamentalists, that is behind American fascism.

A final note:

The least discussed news story of recent history appeared in the New York Times on February 4, 2006:

“The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract worth up to $385 million for building temporary immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary…KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.”

Since it seems unlikely that cruise ships loaded with illegal immigrants are likely to wash up on American shores any time soon, one has to wonder what they mean by “new programs that require additional detention space”.

For the love of God, IS THIS AMERICA?

Chris Rowthorn is an American journalist based in Kyoto, Japan. He has written for the Japan Times and Kansai Time Out.

Dandelion Salad home page


Friday, November 26, 2010

Fascism: A False Revolution

Fascism: A False Revolution
by Michael Parenti (1996) article link
September 24, 2007 | Thomas Paine’s Corner | Dandelion Salad

[Thomas Paine's Corner Editor’s Note: Many liberals and people on the left have grown accustomed to invoking the word “Fascism” when defining just about any oppressive regime that restricts civil liberties, assaults workers’ organizations, or does the bidding for the rich. Unfortunately, there is a broad spectrum of rightwing authoritarian regimes that also do just that, without being, technically speaking, “Fascist.” In fact, both rightwing military dictatorships and fascism have similar class programs, the repression of labor being a top priority, and a number of other overlapping features, but the distinguishing trait of a genuine fascist regime is not just its reactionary, fiercely anti-communist character, but the fact that it rests on a one-party state with a mass base usually drawn from the petit bourgeoisie and the lower middle class. Fascism is therefore a type of rightwing mass movement feeding off of racism, fierce chauvinism, often malignant nativism (as manifested, for example, in anti-Semitism), and grandiose warmongering goals. The essay below, by renowned political analyst Michael Parenti, clarifies and expands many of these points. But before we go there, consider what Benito Mussolini himself had to say about the nature of fascism:

“…Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production…. Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied – the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society…

After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage….”

Well, so much for Il Duce’s patience with egalitarianism…..]

Fascism: A False Revolution

Fascism is a false revolution. It makes a revolutionary appeal without making an actual revolution. It propagates the widely proclaimed New Order while serving the same old moneyed interests.

Before World War I, Benito Mussolini was a socialist, but the minute the wealthy classes in Italy offered him financial support and power, he didn’t hesitate to switch sides. (We know about people who switch sides, don’t we?) And with the huge sums he got from wealthy interests, Mussolini was able to project himself onto the national scene as the leader of a movement that specialized in attacking unions, peasant farm cooperatives, socialists, communists, and anarchists. After World War I, to maintain profit levels, the large industrialists and big land owners had to slash wages and raise prices. The state, in turn, had to provide the big owners with massive subsidies and tax exemptions. To finance this corporate welfarism, the populists had to be taxed more heavily, and social welfare expenditures drastically cut. (Does all of this sound familiar?) But the government wasn’t completely free to apply harsh measures because many Italian workers and peasants had their own unions and fairly strong political organizations. With demonstrations, strikes, boycotts, factory takeovers, they won substantial concessions in wages and work conditions and the right to organize and were able to defend their standard of living. To roll back that standard of living and to get the economic changes that the plutocrats and tycoons wanted, the ruling interests had to abolish the democratic rights that helped workers and peasants defend that standard. The solution was to smash their organizations and their political liberties. The leaders of industry, along with top bankers and agribusiness associations, met with Mussolini to plan and finance the so-called “Fascist Revolution.” Within two years after seizing state power, Mussolini had shut down all opposition newspapers and crushed the socialist, liberal, Catholic, democratic, and republican parties, which together had commanded about 80% of the vote.

In Germany, there was a very similar pattern of complicity between fascists and capitalists. German workers and farm laborers had won the eight-hour day, unemployment insurance, the right to unionize. They had built very powerful political organizations, but heavy industry and big finance were in a state of near total collapse. Business wanted to cut wages and get tax-cuts and massive state subsidies to revive profit levels. The German tycoons greatly increased their subsidies to Hitler, and the Nazi party was propelled onto the national stage.

Who did Mussolini and Hitler support once they seized state power? In both countries a strikingly similar agenda was pursued. Labor unions and strikes were outlawed, union property and publications were confiscated, farm cooperatives were handed over to rich private owners, big agribusiness farming was heavily subsidized. In both Germany and Italy the already modest wages of the workers were cut drastically; in Germany, from 25-40%; in Italy, 50%. In both countries the minimum wage laws, overtime pay, and factory safety regulations were abolished or turned into dead letters. Taxes were increased for the general populace, but lowered or eliminated for the rich and big business. Inheritance taxes for the wealthy were greatly reduced or abolished. Both Mussolini and Hitler showed their gratitude to their business patrons by handing over to them publicly owned and perfectly solvent steel mills, power plants, banks, steamship companies (”privatization,” it’s called here). Both regimes dipped heavily into the public treasury to refloat or subsidize heavy industry (corporate welfarism). Both states guaranteed a return on the capital invested by giant corporations and assumed most of the risks and losses on investment. (Sounds like S&Ls, doesn’t it?)

As in all reactionary regimes, public capital was raided by private capital. As a result, in Italy during the 1930s the economy was gripped by recession, a staggering public debt, and widespread corruption, but industrial profits rose, and the armaments factories busily rolled out the weapons. In Germany, unemployment was eased somewhat because of the massive arms program and the arms spending. But generally, poverty increased. But from 1935-1943, the net income of German corporate leaders rose 46%. In both countries, the conditions of labor deteriorated greatly: speed-ups, dismissals, imprisonment for workers who complained about unsafe or inhumane work conditions, longer hours for less wages.

Much of politics is the rational manipulation of irrational symbols. In fascism, these irrational, atavistic appeals go back to the mythical roots of the people: for Mussolini, back to the grandeur that was Rome; for Hitler, the ancient volk. Then there’s the cult of the leader: Il Duce, the Führer. With leader worship and state worship came the glorification of militarism, war, and conquest-basically conservative symbols to get people distracted from their own immediate political/economic class-interests and get them galvanized into war, the conquest, militarism.

Fascist doctrines stress one people, one state, one leader. The people are no longer to be concerned with class divisions, but must see themselves as part of a harmonious, authoritarian whole, a view that supports the socioeconomic status quo. In contrast, a left agenda advocates a sharpened awareness of class injustice and class struggle, the articulation of popular demands and the self-generated participation of popular forces.

Fascism, especially the Nazi version, had an explicit commitment to racism. Human attributes are said to be inherited through blood. Genetics and biology are said to justify the existing class structure (just as our academic racists today are doing with their bell curve theories and their warmed over eugenics clap-trap.)

Fascism also supports sexual inequality and homophobia. The oppression of gays was criminal and homicidal; the oppression of women was traditionally patriarchal. “Women’s greatest calling is to tend to the needs of her husband and children, producing as many [children] as she can for the state.”

In Nazi Germany, racism and anti-Semitism were used to rechannel some legitimate grievances to irrelevant enemies (scapegoating). Many middle-class Germans knew they were victimized by powerful economic forces, but they were too bound up in the conventional social order to adopt a revolutionary course, so they went in a fascist direction and started voting for the Nazi parties.

Anti-Semitic propaganda was very emotive and irrational, but cleverly crafted to appeal to certain groups. Workers and peasants were told, “It’s the Jewish capitalists, the Jewish usurers, who are doing this.” The middle class was told, “It’s the Jewish trade union leaders and the Jewish communists who are doing this.” The superpatriots were told, “The Jew is the enemy alien, an internationalist.” This is the rational use of irrational symbols and arguments.

What distinguished fascism from ordinary right-wing autocracies was the way it attempted to cultivate a revolutionary aura and give the impression of being a mass movement. Fascism offers a beguiling mix of revolutionary sounding mass-appeals and reactionary class politics. The Nazi party’s full name was the National Socialist German Workers Party. Both the Italian fascists and the Nazis consciously tried to imitate the left: youth organizations, mass mobilizations, rallies, parades, banners, symbols, slogans, uniforms. And I think for this reason, too, many mainstream writers treat fascism and communism as totalitarian twins. But most workers and peasants could tell the difference. Industrialists and bankers could tell the difference. And certainly the communists and the fascists could tell the difference.

Western capitalist states have tolerated and cooperated with fascism. After World War II, the Western capitalist allies did little to eradicate fascism from Italy or Germany except for the Nuremburg trials, but the police, the courts, the military, security agencies, the bureaucracy have remained largely staffed by those who had served the former Nazi regimes, or their ideological recruits, and that remains true to this day. How do you murder six million Jews, a half million Gypsies, several million Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, and others, and thousands of homosexuals, and get away with it? The only way you get away with it is that the very people who are supposed to look into these crimes were themselves complicit.

What happened to the U.S. businesses that collaborated with fascism? Corporations like DuPont, Ford, General Motors, ITT, owned factories in these enemy countries that produced fuel, tanks, and planes that wreaked havoc on Allied forces during World War II. After the war, instead of being prosecuted for treason, ITT collected $27 million from the U.S. government for war damages inflicted on its German plants by Allied bombings. General Motors collected $33 million. Since the war, U.S. leaders have done their part in keeping Italian fascism alive, giving millions of dollars to right-wing organizations and neo-fascist organizations in Italy.

A coalition of neo-fascist and separatist groups headed by media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi won the 1994 elections in Italy. Their platform: a single tax rate for rich and poor alike, school vouchers, a stripping away of the welfare state, the introduction of private retirement accounts, and, of course, the privatization of just about everything. The Italian neo-fascists are learning from the American reactionaries how to achieve fascism’s goals under democratic forms with democratic facades-use an upbeat, Reaganesque optimism; convince people that government is the enemy (especially its social democracy aspects); strengthen the repressive capacities of the state; instigate resentments against the newly arrived immigrants; and preach the imaginary virtues of the free market.

The political center is always described as a kind of moderate place between the extremes of left and right. A closer reading of history should tell us that the center is more inclined to make common cause with the right against the left, because the center and the right share a commitment to corporate capitalism and the free market mythology. In the United States consider how gently, for generations, the murderous, lynching night riders, the Ku Klux Klan was treated by federal authorities in this country. Compare that to the way the Black Panthers were treated. Consider how the right is investigated, compared to the left. When the Center for Cuban Studies in New York was bombed by a right-wing Cuban group, which boasted, admitted, they did the act, the FBI didn’t have a clue, couldn’t find them.

Far from being moderates, as they’re always labeled, people in the political center are quite capable of the most immoderate and extremist acts imaginable. It was the Democratic Party who gave us the loyalty purges of the late 1940s. It was the Democratic Party that gave us Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Vietnam. It wasn’t the John Birch Society that tried to bomb Indochina into the Stone Age. It wasn’t the American Nazi Party that perfected napalm. Napalm was developed at Harvard. It wasn’t the Nazis who put thalidomide in the defoliants used throughout Indochina. And today, it’s not the skinheads or the Klan or the militia that maintains the death squads and other homicidal operations throughout so much of the Third World. It’s the best and the brightest of the political center, with plenty of help from the right wing. The way the mainstream shades off into the fascist right can be seen quite clearly in the Republican Party. The GOP agenda today is really not much different from the kind pushed by Mussolini and Hitler; it’s fascism without the swastika, it’s fascism in a pinstriped suit. First, break the labor unions, depress wages, and impose a rightist ideological monopoly over the media.

The rest of the GOP agenda is to eliminate cultural dissidents and the arts, attack the rights of women and gays, abolish taxes for the big corporations and the rich, eliminate government regulations designed for worker and consumer safety and environmental protection, privatize and plunder public lands and enterprises, wipe out public services-and cloak this whole reactionary agenda in a kind of a revolutionary sound. Newt Gingrich talks about the GOP “revolution.” Some revolution! It’s the same old reactionary class agenda. And today in the United States, some middle class Americans, like the middle class Germans of yore, beset by real economic difficulties, turn their anger toward irrelevant or imaginary foes: the immigrants, the Jews, the poor, the welfare mothers, people of color, feminists, gays, atheists, and others.

Growing numbers of us have lost our skepticism that “it could never happen here” because it is happening here. We are facing the Nazi-like Omnibus Counter-Terrorism Bill of 1995, which in effect suspends all Constitutional rights for anyone designated by the President as a terrorist, and anyone giving aid to those labeled terrorists. If you give money to an organization, it might go to their radical wing and you can be labeled a terrorist.

Something else explains the speed-up of reactionism in America today. For years the United States leaders and political and economic elites saw themselves in mortal combat with communism for the allegiance of peoples at home and abroad. They argued that U.S. workers enjoyed a higher standard of living than their counterparts who lived under communism. That was always a theme. “Our workers earn more, our workers live better than anybody under communism, so stick with capitalism.” Competition with an anti-capitalist system sets limits on how far to mistreat the working populace. Long before the collapse of communism they tried to break unions, they tried to depress wages, but now they’re dropping all pretenses at capitalism with a human face.

The potential threat of workers getting radicalized wasn’t the only restraining factor. It was also the working class’s ability to fight back, to win democratic victories, the eight-hour day, Social Security and various benefits. When the communist nations were overthrown in Eastern Europe, a very interesting querulous and irate note began to appear in some of the conservative publications. It went like this: “Eastern Europe is now moving toward a total free market, so why must we here in the United States still have to tolerate these collectivistic, liberal regulations and restraints that are put upon us? Now is the time to sock it to the public. There’s no reason why masses of people in this country should have a middle class living standard. It’s time these people lower their expectations, work harder, and be satisfied with less.

With the collapse of communism, there’s been a shift in policy toward the Third World too. “You’re not going to turn to Moscow now, Moscow’s in our pocket.” So they’re hitting them hard. The IMF, the World Bank, GATT, NAFTA, are undermining the sovereignty of Third World nations, plundering their markets, drastically cutting non-military foreign aid, and in some cases directly invading them and destroying the government that had any reformist tendencies or was maintaining economic development. U.S. leaders are making war against economic nationalism in countries like India, Brazil, Mexico, Iraq, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan and so forth.

A lot of people on the left still don’t get it- that these guys are playing for keeps, that they are going after you, that they are not going to leave any little bit for you. There’s only one thing that the ruling circles throughout history have ever wanted-all the wealth, the treasures, and the profitable returns; all the choice lands and forests and game and herds and harvests and mineral deposits and precious metals of the earth; all the productive facilities and gainful inventiveness and technologies; all the control positions of the state and other major institutions; all public supports and subsidies, privileges and immunities; all the protections of the law and none of its constraints; all of the services and comforts and luxuries and advantages of civil society with none of the taxes and none of the costs. Every ruling class in history has wanted only this-all the rewards and none of the burdens.

The danger of fascism comes not from skinheads or the militia or the Christian right fanatics. It comes from the ongoing practices of the National Security State and its various enforcement agencies; it comes from the boardrooms of corporate America. But before we pronounce ourselves doomed, keep in mind that at the present time, there are people who are demonstrating and getting arrested and raising hell to protect the environment and the forests; there are others who are doing the same at nuclear submarine bases; there are people who are demonstrating for justice and against racism in the judicial system as the national protests for Mumia Abul-Jamal show. There are people protesting against nuclear testing in the South Pacific, against Medicare cuts and family assistance cuts, against the suppression of the homeless, against the anti-immigration laws, and for affirmative action. There are large majorities in this country who even support welfare, if you don’t call it welfare, if you say “Should government help the poor, should government do more for the poor?”

We have to get a lot angrier and a lot more determined. They want everything, and everything is at stake. Many people are getting angry; our job is to see that they direct their anger at the real perpetrators of their misery, and not against the very people who want to make common cause with them.

When the power of capital is increasingly untrammeled, all of us are put at risk: the environment, the sacred forests, the beautiful and mysterious creatures of the sea, the ordinary people who, with their strength and brains and inventiveness create community and give to life so much that’s worthy of our respect. The real burden to society is not the poor, but the corporate rich. We simply can no longer afford them.

Conservatives complain whenever we fight back; they say we’re engaging in “class war.” Well, I believe it is class war, but I also have another name for it. When people unite against the abuses of wealth and privilege, when they activate themselves and militantly attack the hypocrisies and lies of the powers that be, when they fight back and become the active agents of their own destiny, when they withdraw their empowering responses and refuse to toe that line, I call that “democracy.” Their first loyalty is to the dollar; our first loyalty is to democracy and to the well- being of our society and our Mother Earth.

Michael Parenti (born 1933) is an American political scientist, historian, and media critic. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University and has taught at several universities, colleges, and other institutions. He is the author of twenty books and many more articles. His works have been translated into at least seventeen languages. Parenti lectures frequently throughout the United States and abroad. His book, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, was selected as Book of the Year (2004) by Online Review of Books. He is the father of author and The Nation magazine contributor Christian Parenti.

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