National Sovereignty is a problem !! It was substantially the cause of two world wars in Europe in the 20th century. The EU was formed to reduce the chances of that ever happening again. It is appalling to see the rise of this primeval and destructive force again. Fascism is not the solution! It is a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and race above the individual and stands for a centralised autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition – or a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control. “Populism” is an ideology which represents “the people” as a morally good force and contrasts them against “the elite”, who are portrayed as corrupt and self-serving. Populists differ in how “the people” are defined, but it is frequently based along class, ethnic, or nationalistic lines. In this sense the two terms “fascism” and “populism” have a strong degree of overlap.
The 14 points of fascism – how many points on this list do you recognise? Better still, for any country you choose, give a score to each option, say 0 as not relevant to 5 highly relevant, and if the total is above 35 then you are definitely heading in the fascist totalitarian direction.
Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, climate activists, the EU, terrorists, etc.
Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorised.
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, foreign media owners who have assets they want to promote, or supine, sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is common.
Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. Religion and Government are Intertwined. Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organising power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
Origins of fascism – does this ring any bells today? Can you see this as part of our global future? Fascism originated in Italy, and Mussolini claims to have invented the word itself. It was actually his ghostwriter, Giovanni Gentile, who invented it and defined it in the Italian Encyclopaedia in this way: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
In other words, fascism is corporate government – a Libertarian’s wet dream. It’s a government in which the captains of industry are given free rein to control the economy, just how they’re regulated, how much they pay in taxes, how much they pay their workers.
Mussolini had a passion for large building projects, and in 1935 he envisioned a whole new modern city centre that would stretch all the way to Ostia. This expansion of Rome was meant to rival the old city centre built by the Roman emperors and popes. EUR, or “Esposizione Universale di Roma”, was meant to become the monumental gateway to this new city. Planned by Marcello Piacentini building started in 1938 and over a span of just three years, whole city blocks with monumental marble palaces rose from the ground, complete with statues and colonnades. It was supposed to be complete by the World Exhibition in 1942, but the second World War got in the way. Perhaps this is a warning from history.
In 1938, Mussolini finally got his chance to bring fascism to fruition. He dissolved Parliament and replaced it with the “Chamber of the Fascist Corporations”. Members of the Chamber were not selected to represent particular regional constituencies, but instead to represent various aspects of Italian industry and trade. They were the corporate leaders of Italy.
A warning from the vice president Henry Wallace of the USA at the end of the second World War (1939-1945) in the New York Times warning Americans about the creeping dangers of fascism – or corporate government.
He defined a fascist as, “those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.” Wallace continues, “They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
How would you characterise the annual meeting at Davos in Switzerland?
To paraphrase the Guardian report: In 2020 despite much talk about stakeholder capitalism, there was no discussion of reducing CEO and managerial pay to ameliorate growing pay disparities, or of the first element of corporate social responsibility: paying your fair share of taxes by curbing multinational tax avoidance, and ensuring that developing countries get a fair share of tax revenues. Some of the business leaders at Davos this year, especially those from Europe, seemed to have grasped the urgency of responding to climate change and the scope of what is needed. And some have actually taken giant strides. There might still be some “greenwashing” – banks that talk about energy-efficient light bulbs as they lend money to coal-fired power plants – but the tide has turned. In short, unfettered capitalism has played a central role in creating the multiple crises confronting our societies today. If capitalism is to work – if it is to address these crises and serve society – it can’t do so in its current form. There must be a new kind of capitalism – what I have elsewhere called progressive capitalism, entailing a better balance of government, markets, and civil society.
Davos is the annual conference for the major corporate powers and the fact it includes many of the world’s political leaders is surely unhealthy. It is the global litmus paper which indicates the level that corporatism and fascism has overtaken the world community.