25 February 2009

Fascism, Primera Parte

Not that I'm an alarmist, but I'm just sayin'...
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist ideology focused on solving economic, political, and social problems that its supporters see as causing national decline or decadence. Fascists aim to create a single-party state in which the government is led by a dictator who seeks unity by requiring individuals to subordinate self-interest to the collective interest of the nation or a race...Fascist governments permanently forbid and suppress all criticism and opposition to the government and the fascist movement.
There are a couple of core tenets of Fascism:

Nationalism: This sounds harmless enough, right? A nationalist is simply someone that has deep national pride. But nationalism as an ideology maintains that "the people" in the doctrine of popular sovereignty is the nation, not the individual. So you know that little phrase "We the People" in the preamble to the Constitution? Nationalism defines "the people" as a collective, referring to them not as a collection of individuals, but as a singular nation. Do you see how this is dangerous? By limiting the definition of "people" to the nation, we are now not concerned with individual liberties and rights, but instead are concerned ONLY with the collective good (think of it kind of like a law of averages...individual felicity is inconsequential so long as collective felicity is maintained). Subsequently, only nation-states founded on the principle of national (not individual) self-determination are considered legitimate. This runs in direct opposition to our unalienable rights as stated in the Declaration of Independence. In addition, the Declaration states that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," in order to secure these individual rights. This government was instituted to ENSURE our individual rights and liberties, not take them away and give them to someone else in the name of "equality." Individual self-determination becomes inconsequential. Eoin O'Duffy, an Irish Nationalist, said,
We must lead the people always; nationally, socially and economically. We must clear up the economic mess and right the glaring social injustices of to-day by the corporative organization of Irish life; but before everything we must give a national lead to our people...The first essential is national unity. We can only have that when the Corporative system is accepted.
That sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it?

Authoritarianism: This one seems a little more obvious, doesn't it? An authoritarian government is one that centralizes all authority with the nation-state. But before you lightly brush this system aside as an impossible actuality in the United States, consider Theodore M Vestal's characterization of authoritarianism. An authoritarian regime has a highly concentrated and centralized power structures, in which political power is generated and maintained by a "repressive system that excludes potential challengers" and uses political parties and mass organizations to "mobilize people around the goals of the government." It is also based on the following principles: rule of men, not rule of law (I won't even begin to list all the violations of the Constitution...that's another rant for another day); rigged or unfair/biased elections (an excellent article, btw); all important political decisions are made by officials behind closed doors; a bureaucracy operated quite independently of rules, the supervision of elected officials, or concerns of the constituencies they purportedly serve; the informal and unregulated exercise of political power. There is no guarantee of civil liberties or tolerance for meaningful opposition. There is a weakening of civil society, with "no freedom to create a broad range of groups, organizations, and political parties to compete for power or question the decisions of rulers," with instead an "attempt to impose controls on virtually all elements of society. Political stability is maintained by, among other things, "a pervasive bureaucracy staffed by the regime, control of internal opposition and dissent, and creation of allegiance through various means of socialization." (Read: dependency).

In the Segunda Parte, we'll look at several traditionally fascist policies and compare them to policies that the current administration is proposing.

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