ABSTRACT: Republican Fascists.
PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times.
At recent town halls, angry protestors are yelling, “This is America!” to drown out public debate, and threatening democratic members of Congress with lynching for daring to speak the truth about health care. Some commentators want us to believe that this is just good old civil disobedience. It is not.
Experts on right-wing culture and politics say we are finally becoming a fascist state. A fascist American future looms in the very near future if these people are allowed to win — or even hold their ground.
Published on Friday, August 7, 2009 by The New York Times
THE TOWN HALL MOB by Paul Krugman
William L. Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon & Schuster.
“…Hitler organized a bunch of roughneck war veterans into ‘strong-arm’ squads…These uniformed rowdies… soon took to breaking up [meetings] of other parties. Hitler told an audience, ‘The National Socialist Movement will in the future ruthlessly prevent – if necessary by force – all meetings or lectures that are likely to distract the minds of our fellow countrymen.’”
Frank Schaeffer, AlterNet: writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.
Here’s the emerging American version of the fascist’s formula: combine millions of dollars of lobbyists’ money with embittered troublemakers who have a small army of not terribly bright white angry people (collected over decades through pro-life mass mailing networks) at their beck and call, ever ready to believe any myth or lie circulated by the semi literate and completely and routinely misinformed right wing Evangelical religious underground. Then put his little mob together with the insurance companies’ big bucks. That’s how it works — American Brown Shirts at the ready. Republican leaders taking insurance industry money and organizing what amounts to roving bands of thugs not only need to be exposed but should also become absolute pariahs.
The Lobbyist-run Groups “Americans for Prosperity ” and “FreedomWorks” Dick Armey-Orchestrated Memo:
Here is a leaked excerpt from the folks organizing the intimidation campaign:
- Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
- Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
- Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
THE “SCORCHED EARTH POLICY”
Dick Armey and company have been driven mad by their reversal, not just of political fortunes but of seeing that they’ve wasted their lives. They now know they were wrong: about the country, the free market, war for fun and profit, and what the American people really want. They made their best case and were rejected by the American people — and by history. Bush was their man and he turned out to be a fool. So now all the Republican gurus have left is what the defeated Germans of World War Two had: a scorched earth policy. If they can’t win then everyone must go down. Obama must fail! The country must fail!
No, I don’t believe that these people are about to take over the country. No, the sky is not falling. But the Republican Party is. It is now profoundly anti-American.
Sara Robinson, AlterNet: Fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future, and a consulting partner with the Cognitive Policy Works in Seattle. One of the few trained social futurists in North America, she has blogged on authoritarian and extremist movements at Orcinus since 2006, and is a founding member of Group News Blog.
What is fascism?
Pre-eminent historian Robert Paxton defines the term as: “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”
Fascism unfolds in five stages.
In the first stage, a rural movement emerges to effect some kind of nationalist renewal. They come together to restore a broken social order, always drawing on themes of unity, order, and purity. Reason is rejected in favor of passionate emotion, rooted in the promise of restoring lost national pride by resurrecting the culture’s traditional myths and values, and purging society of the toxic influence of outsiders and intellectuals blamed for current misery.
Modern American conservatism was built on these themes. From “Morning in America” to the Rapture-ready religious right to the white nationalism promoted by the GOP through various racist groups, American proto-fascism offers redemption by promising to restore the innocence of a traditional, white, Christian, male-dominated America. The entire Republican party now openly defines itself along these lines. It is blatantly racist, sexist, repressed, exclusionary, and permanently addicted to the politics of fear and rage. It has no shame, no apologies. These same threads weave through every fascist movement in history.
In the second stage, fascist movements take root, turn into real political parties, and seize their seat at the table of power. The political base comes from rural, less-educated parts of the country; and offers themselves as informal goon squads organized to intimidate farmworkers on behalf of large landowners. The KKK persecuted black sharecroppers and enforced Jim Crow. The Italian Squadristi and the German Brownshirts broke up farmers’ strikes. These days, GOP-sanctioned anti-immigrant groups make life hell for Hispanic agricultural workers in the US. GOP right-wing goon squads are getting basic training that they may eventually use to intimidate the rest of us.
The second stage also depends on a weak liberal state, whose inadequacies create disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right – heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone – refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner.” Hitler and Mussolini both took power under these same circumstances: “deadlock of constitutional government (produced in part by the polarization that the fascists abetted); conservative leaders who felt threatened by loss of capacity to keep the population under control at a moment of massive popular mobilization; an advancing Left; and conservative leaders who refused to work with that Left and who felt unable to continue to govern against the Left without further reinforcement.”
Sounds eerily like the dire straits Republicans are now in. Though the GOP has been humiliated, rejected, and reduced to rump status by a series of epic national catastrophes mostly of its own making, its leadership can’t even imagine governing cooperatively with the newly mobilized and ascendant Democrats. Lacking legitimate routes back to power, their last hope is to invest the hardcore remainder of their base with an undeserved legitimacy, recruit them as shock troops, and overthrow American democracy by force. If they can’t win elections or policy fights, they’re more than willing to take it to the streets, and seize power by bullying Americans into silence and complicity.
When that unholy alliance is made, the third stage — the transition to full-fledged government fascism — begins.
The third stage: being there
A deliberate, committed institutional partnership is forming between America’s conservative elites and its emerging homegrown brownshirt horde.
The “Teabag Movement” was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips’ Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. The nonsense-issue Birther fracas is openly ratified by congressional Republicans. Armey professionally-produced a field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauds and promotes a video of the disruptions and looks forward to “a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress.”
This is the sign we were waiting for — the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America’s conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country’s legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America’s streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won’t do their political or economic bidding.
This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It’s also our very last chance to stop it.
The Road Ahead
We’ve arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we’re slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return.
How do we pull back? That’s my next post.
Published on Sunday, August 9, 2009 by OurFuture.org
FASCIST AMERICA: ARE WE THERE YET? by Sara Robinson
READ THE FULL ARTICLES AT THE LINKS PROVIDED
HOW TO FIGHT REPUBLICAN INSURANCE NAZIS:
7 Ways We Can Fight Back Against the Rising Fascist Threat
By Sara Robinson, Campaign for America’s Future
Writing about fascism for Americans is a fraught business. A third of the readers dismiss the topic (and the blogger’s sanity); they’ve got their own definition, or anyone who invokes the F-word is a de facto alarmist of questionable credibility.
Another third dismiss it because America has been fascist since (choose one:) 1) 9/11; 2) Reagan; 3) McCarthy; 4) the Civil War; 5) July 4, 1776. For them, careful analysis and worried warnings are dangerously naive.
The final third engage in thoughtful discussion, including what must be done.
The most insidious part of fascism is that when it’s obvious to everyone that these people are dangerously out of control, it’s too late to do anything about it. Early warnings are the business of futurists. We can still change our minds, and spend our future elsewhere, but we are now actively choosing, whether aware of it or not. Things are happening now that set a course we may be unable to alter.
How do we turn back? A few basic principles:
First: Teabaggers must not win. When a bully learns that intimidation and threats work, he does more of it. The longer he goes without penalty, the worse he gets and the harder it is to stop him. Do nothing, and he takes over.
It only takes a handful of thugs to terrorize people into giving up civil rights, abandoning democracy and doing what they’re told. The main imperative becomes staying off the goons’ radar. All enforcers need do is make a horrific example out of “troublemakers” now and then to keep everybody else in line.
With a colossal conservative investment in organizing and directing teabaggers, we’d be stupid to believe that this will go away when Congress returns in September. Having had a taste of power and publicity, these newly empowered mobs are likely to stick around and see what else they can muck up.
Our choice is stark: knock them back while they’re new, small and not yet entrenched; or later when they have real power to fight, and the cost is higher.
Second: Think nationally, fight locally. Conservatives run this fight as a national campaign, but the terror that fuels fascism is always intensely, intimately local. Fascist goon squads recruit from the neighborhood, built on people we know. Since that’s where they start, that’s where they have to be stopped. This is why all the best tactics involve community-level action. Anybody who sits this one out because they assume that folks in D.C. will handle it shouldn’t be surprised when they get “special treatment” from longtime neighbors, or discover their car vandalized.
That’s the next baby step from where we are now; and in some places, it’s already happening. Winning means getting out and defending community standards and boundaries while they’re still there to be defended.
Third: Use nonviolent resistance — leave heavy lifting and rough enforcement to police. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up to them, but that doesn’t involve eye-for-an-eye. If we meet thuggery with thuggery, we lose, because they’re better at, and enjoy it. The right wing is looking hard to make a case that they’re innocent victims of the “left”. The Nazis used this kind of victim-blaming to tremendous effect as they built up their party. We must not give our proto-brownshirts any basis to make the same kind of argument.
It’s about the moral high ground. Our choices must be consistent with our values. Standing up for health care reform is important; but before that, we need to stand up for civil discourse and free speech. We’re defending the rule of law; our best tactic is to use the law. When people from either side cross the line, it’s time for police and prosecutors to assert that bullying people in a public meeting (or anywhere else) is illegal and will not be tolerated.
Fourth: Make sure media gets the story right. Teabaggers run out of power if the media turns off their cameras, but this nefariously incited drama is a real ratings-booster. Left alone, the media (local news in particular) turn these hate and fear mongers into cultural heroes. The best cure for bad speech is good speech: documented, on YouTube, blogged, spread widely; a coordinated rapid-response letterwriting to local papers; and keeping local reporters well-fed with news of concerned nonpartisan citizens working to keep control of democratic discourse in the face of organized thugs trying to suppress it. Since the media are watching, make sure they see it all.
Fifth: Support legislators who don’t show fear. The Democratic leadership knows that these noisy, scary people don’t represent the 73 percent of Americans who support health care reform. The GOP runs the risk of being marginalized as the Party of No, and the Party of Moonbat Crazy. If you’ve never attended a public meeting, August 2009 is the month to start. Your congressperson’s Web site probably lists his or her schedule, or a number to call to inquire.
That’s a first step. Do more. Write. Call. Find out where your local congressional office is, and drop by. Tell staff how you feel about health care reform, teabaggers, your legislator’s courage. If they’re stressed, encourage them. A constituent in the office counts. One visit or call is good. More is better. Contact your representatives at least once a week to support their public service.
Sixth: Shut down the hate talkers. Teabaggers come straight out of right-wing talk-radio audiences, mainlining raw emotion and toxic misinformation: “death panels!” “kill your granny!” “Join the “resistance!” Cut off this endless torrent of lies and fearmongering to power down the whole movement. Basic recipe:
- Record their shows.
- Note anything intimidating, threatening, or aimed at inciting violence against a named target.
- Note every advertiser.
- Write a polite letter to the CEOs of sponsors, toss in choice quotes and ask if they want their product identified with them. This works extremely well — and quickly — at local and national levels.
Finally: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Conservatives invest a lot of money and effort to build a mass movement aimed at destroying democratic government — and they’re not going to let up as long as Democrats are in control. This is our new reality — and it comes straight out of Chapter 6 of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. They intend to keep the outrage junkies high with never-ending, made-up reasons to act out. Which means that even if we win this round, we must push back against the bullies, over and over, for the next three to seven years.
There are only two outcomes: get very good at spotting and stopping these attempts at a brownshirt takeover the minute they crop up; or they get very good at public intimidation and keep ratcheting it up toward violence and goon rule.
That’s how it’s going to be for the rest of this administration. The sooner we resign ourselves to the zero-sum nature of this fight, the sooner we can get on with getting good at it.
Sara Robinson is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a consulting partner with the Cognitive Policy Works in Seattle. One of the few trained social futurists in North America, she has blogged on authoritarian and extremist movements at Orcinus since 2006, and is a founding member of Group News Blog.
Read the full story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/141929/
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