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

MP3 One Seg­ment
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.


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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