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Proto-fascist groups in America (who are always fearful that that “f” word will be understood) have managed to assassinate, silence, or otherwise disappear most of America’s significant left-liberal political heroes that briefly gave hope to the common man. A few of the scores of examples would include assassinated anti-fascist heroes like Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Paul Wellstone.
One must ask, how can poor, information-overloaded voters (who wouldn’t want to be seen supporting or voting for fascist-leaning candidates) cut through all the right-wing propaganda they hear on TV and accurately determine just how fascist is the political persuasion of any given candidate or political party, whether the entity is Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Libertarian? And then, with a relatively clear conscience, how confidently can they cast their votes without helping to put a closet fascist into a position of power?
The following list of 14 right-wing political traits can be used to rate individual candidates and their parties (or, for that matter, their corporate employer or religious preference) to assess just how dangerously right-wing is their belief system. (Hint: the farther right-wing they are, the more fascist-leaning they are.)
How fascist-leaning politicians are can usually be assessed by examining past voting records, public statements, speeches, gaffes, religious affiliations, wealth level, their political party’s platforms, the politics of their financial backers, and even by figuring out how racist, punitive, demanding, abandoning, ignorant, historically illiterate, theologically illiterate, or excessively wealthy were their families of origin.
“Fascism should rightly be called corporatism as it is a merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini, right-wing dictator of Italy whose fascist movement inspired Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party
Sometimes the political or theological beliefs of stealth candidacy (the tactic of many Christian fundamentalist politicians over the recent decades) may be relatively hidden from view, but eventually the truth comes out about how fascist they and/or their supporters are (see the list of fascist traits below). I believe that if this voting guide is widely used, future elections could result in a more democratic, more transparent, more secure, fairer, kinder, less discriminatory, less militarized, less punitive, and a more compassionate society, all qualities feared and hated by all of the famous fascists from history.
Many historically literate people have considered the disastrous fate of all of the right-wing, militarized empires over the past 3 millennia. They all became bankrupt—morally and financially—and are now dead or dying, either killed off by outside forces that rose up against them or by internal rot.
There are many lessons yet to be learned from history, especially concerning the right-wing extremism of Adolf Hitler’s brutal fascist empire, the “Deutschland Uber Alles” nationalism of the average German voter who facilitated his rise to power, the death of the democratic Weimar Republic, the immense power of the ruthless, pro-war, multinational corporations that financed Hitler and Germany’s two aggressive world wars, and the anti-Semitic German Protestantism and Catholicism that epitomized German religiosity since the time of Martin Luther.
People who have studied fascism are legitimately concerned about the punitive right-wing trends in American politics and religion since the stolen election in 2000 that put the Cheney/Bush pro-Big Business, pro-war, anti-worker regime in power. I agree with these concerns. The same thing happened during Hitler’s infamous attempt at a world empire, well documented in William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” and nicely summarized in Bertram Gross’s “Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America,” only two important books among hundreds of other historical accounts of fascism.
Our American empire has been under the nefarious right-wing extremist conservative influences of popular hate propaganda media giants like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others at FoxNews for a couple of decades now. Many Republican politicians in positions of power in America now have benefitted from the putrid fruits of the hate speech, and that vile negativity and outright lying has contributed mightily to the disintegration of American democracy, just like it did in the 1920s and early 1930s in Germany, when the fascist-orchestrated propaganda led to political disruption, war-related economic chaos, hyperinflation, hunger, depression, corrupt capitalist influences, supremacy of the military, and a cruel, racist police state reality.
I believe that America needs a practical guide for concerned voters who don’t want America to descend any farther into a national security/police state reality, but who want more democracy, freedom, equality, peace, diversity, and human and worker rights rather than a world dictated by the endless wars that only enrich the powerful, ruthless, greedy, shameless, ruling elite—the sociopathic One Percenters who are the unelected, obscenely wealthy, and the multinational corporate powers that have, with the help of the five conservative activist judges on the U.S. Supreme Court (particularly with its Citizen’s United decision in 2010) have bald-facedly taken over the election process and the government with its ill-gotten economic power, therefore nicely qualifying for Mussolini’s definition of fascism.
So I publish here the first draft of a potentially useful guideline for concerned voters that I have been hinting at fashioning from time to time in this column over the past months and years. Please read the summary below and then consider applying this to your favorite or least favorite politicians and political parties, both current and past. Give 0 to 10 points for each of the 14 categories.
Approaching 140 points would be totalitarian dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, and Somoza, and fascist henchmen like Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler.
Any number of extremist right-wing politicians in American history have benefitted from pro-slavery and racial segregation movements like the KKK and Aryan Nations. Many have been associated with and supported by the anti-labor, socialism-fearing movements like the John Birch Society (note that the infamous Koch Brothers’ father was a founding member of the Birchers) and the lamentable right-wing Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, who embarrassed himself and Wisconsin with his blatant lying during his shameful anti-communist witch hunts in the early 1950s.
On the left of the equation are the most altruistic pro-democracy candidates like those in the American Green Party and the Socialist Party, and other alternative anti-fascist party candidates who would have scores approaching zero.
Here is the list of fascist political traits, which I gleaned from an article entitled “Fascism Anyone?” It was written by Lawrence W. Britt, PhD, and was first published in Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2. It can be accessed at http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/britt_23_2.htm.
1. To what degree does the candidate or party express a fervent, blind nationalism? (Do they prominently display flags and wear flag lapel pins [or swastikas], display patriotic fervor or spout jingoistic slogans [“Deutschland Uber Alles” or “America First”], express blind pride in the nation’s military [whether the missions or the actions of soldiers are right or wrong, legal or criminal], or express fear or suspicion of foreigners and people of color?)
2. To what degree is the candidate or party disdainful of human rights? (Do they disregard the human rights of others, especially foreigners and racial and ethnic minorities? Do they tend to not object to human rights abuses, torture, extra-judicial assassinations, and the marginalization or the demonization of targeted group?)
3. To what degree does the candidate or party use enemies as scapegoats or as a unifying cause to gain votes? (Are they willing to use propagandistic disinformation to incite “spontaneous” acts against targeted scapegoats, such as communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, ethnic and racial minorities, members of non-orthodox religions, secular humanists, homosexuals, and “terrorists”?)
4. To what degree is the candidate or party subservient to, or supported by, its nation’s military/industrial complex? (Do they identify closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supports the military? Are they OK with a disproportionate share of national resources being given to the military, even when domestic needs are left unmet?)
5. To what degree is the candidate or party overtly or covertly sexist, racist, homophobic, or xenophobic? (Do they treat women and non-whites as second-class citizens? Are they fearful of foreigners? Do they support the criminalization of abortion and homosexuality?)
6. To what degree is the candidate or party beholden to the controlled mass media to dis-inform or mis-inform the public (propaganda)? (Are they suspicious of the power of the mass media and the dis-/mis-information that is often articulated there?)
7. How obsessed is the candidate or party about issues of national security? (Are they heavily supported by the police, military, FBI, and CIA to maintain power and suppress dissent?)
8. To what degree does the candidate or party profess punitive, compassionless, or pro-violent religious or theological beliefs? (If Christian, are their political policies incompatible with the nonviolent, compassionate, merciful, and unconditionally loving teachings of Jesus?)
9. To what degree is the candidate or party supported or subsidized by corporate power and wealth? (Do they uncritically accept money, gifts, or political support from ruthless corporations and the moneyed elite? Are they disdainful of the under-privileged or those made poor by the capitalist system that impoverished them?)
10. To what degree does the candidate or party’s policies suppress the rights of the working class by trying to weaken the power of trade unions? (Are they subservient to the political and economic power of the ruling elite and their corporate allies, who regard labor unions as a threat to maximum corporate profitability and therefore deserving of elimination?)
11. To what degree does the candidate or party suppress free speech or disparage intellectuals, science, and the arts? (Are they afraid of the freedom of ideas, freedom of expression, and academic freedom, all of which are considered subversive to national security by the right-wing? Are they OK with McCarthyism on campus? Do they fear dissent and therefore attack free speech? Do they disregard scientific evidence, such as the facts on climate change, to promote their political aspirations?)
12. Is the candidate or party obsessed with crime and punishment? (Do they, because of the fear of being characterized as “soft on crime,” support punitive judicial systems that maintain large prison populations, lobby for long prison terms for victimless “crimes,” or glorify police power?)
13. To what degree has the candidate or party participated in cronyism or corruption? (Have they enriched themselves with the largesse of the power elite in exchange for government policy favoritism or the theft of national resources?)
14. To what degree has the candidate or party benefitted from fraudulent elections? (Have they or their supporters stooped so low as to resort to fraud to win elections? Have they benefitted from fraudulent computerized election machinery, intimidation at the polls, the disenfranchisement of opposition voters (voter ID legislation?), destroyed or disallowed legal votes, or benefitted from a judiciary beholden to the corporate ruling elite?)
Judging from some of the early ratings of some of the candidates that I know, a lot of Democratic Party candidates get fairly high Fascism Quotient scores, but all of their Republican opponents are worse. So we left-wing, anti-fascists are again forced to vote for the least bad candidates in our compromised one-party system (the War Party), that seems to have a right-wing and a center-right wing. No wonder it can’t fly very well.
If Jesus was a politician,
he would probably be a
Green Party candidate
The Green Party, Socialist Party, or Social Democratic Party (if such political parties still exist) candidates are the most anti-fascist parties in the USA. They score the lowest FQs in this capitalism-drenched, wealth-obsessed, militarism-dominated, white male-supremacist, xenophobic, homophobic, fearful society. They land on the non-punitive, far left side of the right-left political spectrum, where Jesus and the earliest Christians, who trusted and practiced the non-violent ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, would be.
Unfortunately, we anti-fascist lefties who have been barely holding on (as members of our once-beloved democratic wing of the Democratic Party) have been essentially purged from the conservative-leaning parent party. Each election we are faced with the dilemma of having to decide which center-right or right-wing War Party candidate to vote for.
And the Democratic Party knows it. They know that most of us conflicted Greens will be again forced to vote for the least bad candidate in order to retard the nation’s slide toward fascism. One of these times those of us who are fed up with the right-wing-leaning, spineless Democratic Party will do the right thing and vote our Green consciences rather than holding our noses and voting for the party that used to embrace its most altruistic members.
Perhaps the disgruntled anti-war Ron Paul Libertarian Party, who was again “dissed” at the Republican National Convention, is also thinking of crossing over at the polls. Perhaps there is enough middle ground there to form a viable third party of anti-fascist voters.
So the issue of Wellstonian election reform must be addressed before it’s too late, but first we must vote. But we must refrain from voting for the One Percenters in the anti-union, corporate elite ruling class, for there are certainly contingency plans for an illegal fascist coup d’état if the legal electoral process doesn’t go their way. Read up on the history of fascism if you don’t believe me.
Dr. Kohls writes about war, peace, theology, mental health, and fascism in his weekly columns. Many of his essays appear in international websites.