Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?

Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?

By Sara Robinson     May 1, 2012      AlterNet

The author offers one of her periodic assessments of America’s potential to go fascist. And the news is better than it’s been in years.

Photo Credit: JoelInSouthernCA

America has never been without fascist wannabes. Research by Political Research Associates estimates that, at any given time in our history, roughly 10-12 percent of the country’s population has been bred-in-the-bone right-wing authoritarians — the people who are hard-wired to think in terms of fascist control and order.

Our latter-day Christian Dominionists, sexual fundamentalists and white nationalists are the descendants — sometimes, the literal blood descendants — of the same people who joined the KKK in the 1920s, followed Father Coughlin in the 1930s, backed Joe McCarthy in the early ’50s, joined the John Birch society in the ’60s, and signed up for the Moral Majority in the 1970s and the Christian Coalition in the 1990s.

Given its rather stunning durability, it’s probably time to acknowledge that this proto-fascist strain is a permanent feature of the American body politic. Like ugly feet or ears that stick out, it’s an unchanging piece of who we are. We are going to have to learn to live with it.

But it’s also true that this faction’s influence on the larger American culture ebbs and flows broadly over time. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with them much at all, because the far-right fringe was pushed back hard during the peak years of the New Deal. It broke out for just a few short years in the McCarthy era — long enough to see the rise of the Birchers — and then was firmly pushed back down into irrelevance again.

But the country’s overall conservative drift since the Reagan years and the rise of the Internet (which enabled the right’s network of regional and single-issue groups to crystallize into a single, unified, national right-wing culture over the course of the ’90s and ’00s) reenergized the extreme right as a political force. As a result, history may look back on George W. Bush’s eight years as the “Peak Wingnut” era — a high-water mark in radical right-wing influence and power in America.

Now, things are changing again. Every year or so for the past five years, I’ve written about the future prospects for America’s would-be fascists on the far right. And it’s time to take another look, because the political and cultural landscape they’re working in now isn’t at all the same one they were working in even three years ago.

Fascist America: We Were Very Nearly There

The last time I visited this subject in 2010, progressives were reaching a point of maximum despair. In 2008, the GOP had taken its most thorough drubbing since the FDR years. But, just two years on, the far right had not only regrouped; it had taken full control of the Republican Party under the resurgent Tea Party banner — and was getting set to elect some of the country’s most extreme political, social and economic Neanderthals. In the process, it was also about to retake Congress, along with control of over half of the state governorships and legislatures.

And take over it did. In the wake of this victory, the far right’s new electees shifted into overdrive, immediately introducing brutally aggressive legislation to bust unions, disenfranchise Democratic voters and roll back a century of progress on reproductive rights. The speed and power of the onslaught was breathtaking — but it was also driven by desperation. What most pundits missed was the fact that the far right had no time to waste, because both the mood of the country and its basic demographic realities were changing under their feet.

Polls over the past decade show that America is, at its core, a progressive nation in every way that matters, and that this trend is solidifying and expanding with time. As Nancy L. Cohen put it in Delirium: How The Sexual Counterrevolution Is Polarizing America:

Cultural progressivism is the new American way….A majority of all Americans now supports same-sex marriage. Americans strongly upholding Roe v. Wade, and strongly oppose the position of the Republican Party. Fully 62 percent think that abortion should be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, in which 89 percent of abortions occur; only 15 percent favor outlawing abortion in all circumstances.

Americans have become less religious and less culturally conservative over the past 40 years. Polling on birth control and sexual morality show that Americans unequivocally reject the sexual fundamentalists’ attempt to take us back to a time when sex was stigmatized and only legitimate when confined within the traditional heterosexual marriage. The majority of Americans believe in the basic values underpinning a culturally progressive approach to matters of sex, gender, family, and culture: privacy, personal freedom, equality, and pluralism.

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via Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner? | Visions | AlterNet.

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One comment

  1. I would agree with the obvious assessment, that there is much more push back against the right wing agenda and non-state violence now, but does this really bring us futher back from the brink of Fascism? My answer is a resounding “NO”. We are a Fascist state for all intents and purposes, right now – with an uneven, not totally totalitarian state, but working on it real fast.

    The right wing individuals, groups and militias which are allowed to continue to function, although they incite others to kill, threaten to kill, and do kill people, are mere tools of our “government” – just as the brown shirts were in Germany.

    And what or who is our government, but a wholely owned subsiderary of WALL STREET and the major multi-national corporations, except for a few of our elected representatives, who have held out against this corruption, as much as possible.

    Many of our state laws are now written by the lawyers for the major corporations and industries, or federal laws, by the lobbyists, for the corporations, at the national level, often right there in our halls of Congress.

    One way this is done is through an organization called A.L.E.C., which has been secretly operating since 1973, and involves members of both the Democratic and Republican parties (primarily Republicans), who take the anti-labor, anti-human rights etc., laws back home and pretend that the proposed legislation was their own handiwork. Their goal with these laws is to protect corporate interests, to undo our Constitution and destroy all Progressive change that has occurred in the USA, since the 1930s. If you look at what they have accomplished, just in the past two years, you will see that human rights in the form of women’s rights, gay rights, worker’s rights, poor people’s safety net and our right to a free and public education are all under attack – successfully so, from their standpoint. this has been a bi-partisan effort, especially at the national level, but also at the city and state levels.

    Then there is the Supreme Court decision that Corporations are people, and can give untold millions to canidates through SuperPacs, and money has become “speech”. It sure does talk though.

    And finally, and most terrifying is the passing of the NDAA amendment, giving the Executive Branch (the President), the supposed legal cover to have the military detain indefinitely, without charges or trial, anyone around the world, including those of us who reside in the USA, citizens or not. The evidence does not even have to be disclosed. Everything is or has to be SECRET, in order to “PROTECT” us.

    Add to this the fact that our CIA is operating in the USA, again, that drones are used to kill civilians and “suspected” terrorists around the world, in extrajudicial killings by the CIA, and can now also be used here in the USA by our police force and are already being used on our borders by border patrols.

    And now the icing on this rising Fascist cake is the complete monitoring of and storage of all human communication (beyond private unrecorded non electronic conversations), on the planet, including and especially US citizens, as we are now living in what Obama has stated is also part of the battlefield in the war on terror – our own country.

    None of this is getting any better, but rather the spying, restrictions of our freedom to assemble peaceably, our freedom of speech and our right to due process have been stripped to the bone, while the Supreme Court has declared that police can strip search anyone, whether they are suspected or charged with any crime or not.

    Does this sound like things are moving away or towards Fascism, to you? Fascism is the control of the state apparatus by corporate power, and this is what we have right now, and they are on a fast track to eliminate all vestiges of worker’s rights as their primary goal, using the other isms to divide and conqueror us, in the process.

    Does it seem like we are moving toward a more democratic state, and away from Fascism, when our spy/homeland security agencies have around 900,000 paid informants, busy infiltrating and spying on us? On average, that is 18,000 informants per state in the USA!! Doesn’t this sound like the USSR back in the day?

    In a number of states, the right to take over school districts, whole cities and towns, and dissolve the city councils and schools boards without recourse, if the governor so decries, is now standard practice.

    And they are using our tax dollars to suppress us, and instill fear, while they wage wars all over the world, to gain or retain the world’s resources, such as oil, lithium, uranium and on and on.

    Does it sound like we are pulling back from the brink of Fascism to you? Yes, the right wing groups are dangerous to our civil liberties and our lives, but the real danger and terror resides with the multi-national corporations, Wall Street, the Banks, with their own paramilitary inplaces around the globe, our own police force used for their benefit here at home, while our democratically elected representative government and our Constitution, lie
    torn to shreds and discarded, and lip service is paid to it, in hopes of keeping us ignorant and powerless.

    Is there hope for a better tomorrow? We can only continue to work peacefully and legally, while standing up and saying no to this continuing assault on all that is right and decent, and I trust, this we shall do.

    Like

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