Recently John Mackley the president of a large food company, Whole Foods who is himself a vegan and is also a left-thinker called elements of today’s federal power system fascist. He is right.
Let’s be clear on this point: He did not say “Nazism,” but fascism. The Third Reich was fascist, but not all fascists belong to the Third Reich. Further, unlike what I was taught by my avowed Socialist high school civics teacher, Republicans are not fascists
The core of fascism is economic and that’s what often leads to the rise of the fascist political state. It is state control over private business – control, not ownership. We often forget that while the U.S. was going through the Great Depression, so was Europe. Germany was among the hardest hit. It was said that at the time that Hitler’s fascism rose to power, it took a wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread.
Test yourself and see if you detect any of these traits in 2013 America:
Similarity #1: Creating an “us-and-them” class system.
In most cases, the “us-and-them” class division falls along economic lines. Often a person or race is labeled as the source of the opposition. Blaming Bush, blaming “the rich,” blaming Wall Street creates an “us-and-them” mentality.
Hitler accused Jews of creating the financial problems of Germany. In fact, Jews had lived so frugally that when the depression hit Germany, their lifestyles were less affected than others. They lived as they always did, not showy, not pretentious. This made them suspect. Some in America today are doing this as they attempt to create or accentuate class conflict, defining or re-defining the economic enemy who must be regulated or taken over.
Similarity #2: Fascism centralizes power for the good of the people.
When Hitler came to power, Germany had been used to a more affluent lifestyle. When their economy collapsed Germans were upset and wanted something better. Hitler made promises that for the good of the nation, there would have to be sacrifices
Under a fascist economy, free market economies are seen as “bad” and must be reined in by the benevolent government. Today in America, “The Rich” have been targeted as the enemy who must pay their “fair share.”
Similarity #3: Take over some of the banking industry and some of the production economy.
One of the tenants of Fascism is to control property and income through agreements with the private sector. Hitler took control of the German banking industry, natural resources and private companies. Think “The People’s Car,” Volkswagen.
Is this beginning to sound familiar? Think “Chrysler,” “GM,” “green” industries, banks and investment houses.
Similarity #4: Revolutionary Change.
In the interest of the national good, sacrifices are made, hope is promised and revolutionary change is made. This is a consistent trait of all fascist regimes from Hussein to Hitler to Franco. It is not always a dictatorial change but usually a cooperative change, perhaps using two or three other bodies of government and their leaders. They work in unison without checks and balances; something America’s foundational document clearly defines, but in recent times has been ignored. Hitler made revolutionary changes in the nation’s school systems, banking system, production system. He had help from Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering.
Similarity #5: Usher in revolutionary charismatic leadership.
Being a charismatic leader in not being a fascist. But a charismatic leader is a transitional leader. Remember, it’s all about change, revolution. A transitional leader is necessary to facilitate the revolutionary change brought in by fascism. The leader’s charisma, narcissism and his elevated self-view make him the central figure of a fascist movement. Members of the National Socialist Party in Germany pledged allegiance not to a flag, but to the leader with shouts of “Heil Hitler.”
Among modern fascists are leaders of some Islamic sects, particularly the Ba-athists such as Saddam Hussein. Similar in his charisma and ability to usher in radical change was Spain’s Francisco Franco.
Similarity #6: Early childhood group-think and programming
Group-think is common in all cultures and sub cultures. The communication system of a fascist nation must be controlled. This includes both entertainment and news. You saw it in Iraq and may remember reading about it under Hitler.
It plays a particular dominant role in a fascist system by targeting young people. They are taught to extol the virtues of the charismatic leader, to have disdain for economic distinctions and to embrace radical change.
Schools often become the vehicle for this type of re-training or programming. This often is so subtle and thorough that it eventually replaces the family as the bedrock of beliefs.
To this point, I am reminded of a book that was released for elementary school about four years ago. It was called, Who is Barack Obama. Shortly after Mr. Obama was inaugurated, a video was circulating of school children who had memorized and were performing a song praising the virtues of Mr. Obama.
Nazi-similarity #7: Extermination of lesser-desirables
For Hitler, it was not only Jews who were to be exterminated; it was also Gypsies, Romanians and other fringe cultures of the German culture and society. They were hunted down and killed, no matter their age, nor their position in life, they were to be exterminated. For Hussein it was the opposing Islamic sects and “Demon America.”
In the United States a group that has been targeted for death is the pre-born. For Hitler, it was racial distinctions. For Hussein it was religious distinctions. In America, it is age distinctions.
Make no doubt about it, fascism is revolutionary. It attempts to usher in radical change in a quick time span. Sweeping national legislation is one means of making this radical change. The strongest political element resisting radical sweeping change is conservatives. As my socialist high school teacher drilled in to us, conservatizes are people who do not want to change, they want to keep things in “the old way.” That of course is false. The free market economy (a direct opposite of a fascist economy) some of the greatest changes in the world have occurred.
If I can sit in my kitchen and see these similarities, you can too — that is if you are a thinking person.