Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #285 The Dawn of Fascism in America

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NB: This RealAudio stream contains FTRs 284 and 285 in sequence. Each is a 30-minute broadcast.

1. Comparing the Bush administration and the Republican right to the fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, this program features an editorial by Aldo Vidali. A native of Italy who grew up under the Mussolini regime, Vidali immigrated to the United States. “I came to America in 1949 and wept when I saw the Statue of Liberty.” (“Fascism and America Today” by Aldo Vidali; 3/12/2001; p. 1.)

2. Although Vidali’s account does not factor in many aspects of the rise of fascism in the world and in the United States, the impassioned discussion is both valuable and necessary. (Compare Vidali’s analysis with the discussion in FTR-268 concerning the book They Thought they Were Free.) Vidali places particular emphasis on the Florida Coup of 2000. “Fascism came to power first in Italy in 1922 and soon Hitler, in great admiration of Mussolini, established Nazism in Germany. The Republican Florida coup used methods remarkably similar to both, including the corruption of the highest authorities in our nation.” (Idem.)

3. Vidali also highlights the anti-democratic value underlying the Republican rhetoric about the evils of “big government.” “The new ‘compassionate-conservatives,’ i.e., the extreme right-wing Republicans, promote greater state autonomy and fewer federal law. They want us to forget that WE THE PEOPLE established a Constitution to protect our lives from foreign and internal enemies. Behind republican anti-federalism–so staunchly upheld by George W—is a shrewd ‘divide and conquer’ ploy that would allow giant corporations to control the much weaker power of any single state. . . . Promises of trillion dollar tax cuts and the ranting of the pseudo-Christian Coalition have exerted enough influence to cause many to vote for a return to the disaster of a Republican economy where only the rich prosper.” (Idem.)

4. Vidali underscores the Republicans’ scapegoating of the relatively powerless for the country’s problems. “Historically, these incipient fascist forces first opposed voting rights. Now they propose the abolition of one man-one vote, the institution of second-class citizenship, the persecution of women, people of color, those professing other belief systems (or none at all), and homosexuals.” (Idem.)

5. Much of Vidali’s article addresses the Christian right-wing and their dominant role in the Republican party. Vidali correctly notes that these “Christians” are at variance with the fundamental teachings of Christ. “Most Neo-Christians in this post-Christian era are Christianoids, who use the pulpits of various disguised branches of old Calvinism to promote an elitism that they hope will eventually replace democracy with a plutocratic oligarchy of the rich and Christianoid leadership. Their mission statement is a mixed blend of early Gnosticism, the anti-Gnostic Medieval Church, anti-Catholic Puritan ideology, anti-Luther/Calvinist Counter-Reformation, and a fascist view of the state as the ultimate expression of Christian faith. Rarely do we find among them devotion to the real teachings of Christ beyond the most superficial lip service. The Christian Coalition resembles Christianity as much as the Spanish Inquisition represented Christ’s love and compassion.” (Ibid.; p. 2.)

6. Vidali compares Mussolini’s adoption of the Catholic faith through the Lateran treaty with the Christian Right’s vision for America. (For more about the Lateran Treaty, see also: RFA-17.) “Aware of the power of religious faith, Mussolini made his first act ‘The Lateran Pacts,’ an historical agreement between the Church and the Italian fascist government which secured the Vatican State and perpetuated medieval pre-scientific concepts of unquestioning obedience to the party elite and church authority. . . . David Barton, a right wing Christianoid of the first order, spoke at the 1993 Concerned Women for America convention about the Christian Reconstructionist creed. He says that the basis for American laws should be ‘whatever is Christian is legal. Whatever isn’t Christian is illegal.'” (Idem.)

7. Another major point of Vidali’s argument concerns the explicit Republican rhetoric about nostalgia for the past. “As Alvin Toffler noted in Future Shock, a ‘reversion to pre-scientific attitudes is accompanied, not surprisingly, by a tremendous wave of nostalgia.’ Right wing Republican campaign rhetoric suggests turning the clock back to an idealized version of 1950 America, forgetting that after half a century the world has irrevocably changed–partially due to technological advances and progress on human rights.” (Idem.)

8. Vidali also compares Hitler’s analysis of the corrupting influence of Jewish culture with the viewpoint of the Christian Right. “At the Nuremberg rally, Hitler claimed that ‘alien life and ideas forced on nations by Jewish intellectualism, which is racially without a basis, led to an alien, rootless state and internationally to complete cultural chaos.’ . . . Christian lecturer and reactionary Wilma Leftwich said that the One World Government plot is led by ‘secular humanists.’ She says that ‘they’ want to impose marriage and child taxes, a sweeping two-child family policy, offer economic incentives for birth control, put fertility control drugs in the water supply, restructure the family through the ‘feminist/socialist movement,’ and actively encourage increased homosexuality.'” (Ibid.; pp. 2-4.)

9. A central socio-economic element of Vidali’s argument concerns fascism’s appeal to the increasingly-beset middle class. “One of the most typical features of fascism has been what Umberto Eco calls an ‘appeal to a frustrated middle class.’ Supporters of the extreme right wing are people worried about their jobs, especially those who haven’t updated their skills or those stigmatized by some as ‘the Great Unwired’ because they are not computer literate.” (Ibid.; p. 3.)

10. Vidali then goes on to make an interesting point about the geographical distribution of the Gore and Bush votes in the 2000 election. “The geographic distribution of Republican majority states supports this contention, for in the 2000 election they took the states with less Internet traffic and lost where people have daily access to online media.” (Idem.)

11. Vidali also points out the parallels between the eugenic attitudes of the Third Reich and those of George W’s Republican Party. “Today, there is a parallel between the economic and social milieu of the US and Nazi Germany, especially in the debate over health care. Then–as now–the central issue was who should receive what kind of care, and for how long. In Nazi Germany, medicine was considered a national resource reserved only for people who showed the greatest prospect of recovery and future productivity. Adherents of eugenics–from Nazis to promoters of the National Institute of Health’s Violence Initiative–claim that everything from criminal/violent behavior and alcoholism to rampant unemployment and labor unrest can be blamed on ‘faulty genes.’ Adherents to this social/political movement also believe in inferiority of some races and superiority of others–a view that extends to various ethnic groups and social classes as well. Nazis had their forced sterilization and euthanasia laws; courts decided a person’s ‘value’ to society. . . . Today, the ‘compassionate conservatives’ consider legislation that limits welfare recipients to five years’ worth of benefits in a lifetime. They are uneasy about aid to the elderly or to AIDS victims.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)

12. Lastly, Vidali compares fascist attitudes toward women’s rights with those of the Republican right. “Fascism involves ‘a system of sexual dictatorship devised to impose arbitrary moralistic values in the individual in the interest of state approved authoritarian marriage and family where the male will is absolute.’ Hitler said that ‘the emancipation of women is an invention of Jewish minds.’ Today, the extreme right wing frets that ‘secular humanists’ are restructuring families through the ‘feminist movement,’ and actively encourage increased homosexuality. The fear of ‘sexual freedom,’ viewed as sexual chaos and sexual dissipation by pseudo-Christian reactionaries like Ashcroft, works hand in hand with a fear of economic freedom for ordinary citizens.” (Ibid.; pp. 4-5.)

13. After a reading of the Vidali article, the article sets forth the views of the Forza Nuova on reproductive rights. (“Italy: FN Calls for Women to Procreate” from a Rome correspondent; The Searchlight; March/2001, # 309; p. 27.)

14. “Abortion is to be made illegal on moral grounds and because ‘Italy needs sons.’ Noting Austria’s example in increasing family allowances, the manifesto says that Italian families should be encouraged to have ‘three children or more.’ Women should stay at home and procreate. Too many women have moved into the workplace and bought their own homes. This has caused scarcity of jobs for the men and a ‘soaring in house prices. . . . As for Italian identity, this must remain firmly rooted in Catholicism. Other religions are an ‘attack on the Italian fabric of life.’ the document states that FN intends to affirm the validity of fascism in at least three aspects: the creation of very advanced social legislation held as an example to the rest of the world; the ‘marriage of Italy to Catholicism’; and the creation of a national spirit drawn from the Great Roman Civilisation as expressed through the centuries. This portrait of Italy as a theocratic white state with no room for diversity and women as childbearing instruments could hardly work other than as a dictatorship. FN’s ambition is to improve on Mussolini’s record.” (Idem.) Like deja vu all over again.

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #285 The Dawn of Fascism in America”

  1. Divide and conquer on display.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 27, 2012, 10:34 pm

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