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December 26, 2007, Volume 15 Nr. 5, Issue 236

Under the Guise of Freedom: 
Fascism's Ultimate Destination

Without the people's ability to acquire the basic necessities life would be difficult and often impossible.  People continually purchase the goods and services they need.  Neo-liberalism and global capitalism have, however, moved the world far beyond the exchange of money for the necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter, access to work and health services.  It instituted shopping as a virtue.  Instead of shopping for what we need, we shop for the sake of shopping itself.  The necessity to go shopping is created by the illusion that we need to acquire stuff and to acquire it often.  "Let's go shopping" is a normal way of life in the United States and has become the major communitarian activity.  

Capitalism could not survive if people stopped buying the goods and services they are told are needed.  So, the buying and selling of everything must continue.  Everything within the capitalist system must provoke, cajole, otherwise, manipulate and compel spending.  People become consumers instead of citizens, and shopping becomes a civic and patriotic duty.  After the 911 tragedy, George W. Bush said, "If some economists and business leaders are to be believed, the terrorists will have won if Americans don’t go shopping."  New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani said, "Show your confidence...Show you're not afraid. Go to restaurants.  Go shopping."

The consumer operates as if all is well, that things are normal even if numerous credit cards have been maxed out spurring the opening of yet another new account.  The shopping and the buying continue even though there may be no reasonable possibility of paying off the credit cards' debt.  The consumer is of course "free" in the land of the free to continue shopping and buying or not.  Our internal programming maintains the illusion that all is well.  In reality, the consumer is not so free to halt the money-commodity-money exchange no more than is a computer program able to alter its instruction set, that is, until it crashes.  With the consumer crash comes the inevitable system crash.  
In the United States, shopping is an addiction which benefits the seller giving short-lived satisfaction to the buyer. The consumer, like the drug addict  ultimately responsible for their condition, requires a fix to satisfy their urges.   

Fascism and capitalism both punish those not adhering to its principles.  They make life miserable or impossible for those with contrary behavior.  In the United States a common jab at those who are frugal is that they are "un-American".  Nick Woomer, daily editorial page editor for the Michigan Daily writing in the Three un-American ideas for a failing economy states that,

...the reason the poor are poor is that they lack proper discipline...This excuse for tolerating poverty fails to appreciate that the nature of being poor often makes it prudent to spend one's money as fast as possible. Poor people are less likely to live as long as others and they often live in high crime areas where nice things get stolen. Given this situation, it isn't dumb or negligent to spend your money quickly, this is wise because there is a good chance you might not be around in a few years to enjoy the benefits of your frugality.

Capitalism's Catch-22 works wonders for the rich but penalizes the working poor no matter what they do.  

Both fascism and capitalism will kill in order to continue.  World history is replete with examples: native Americans killed during the establishment of the USA, colonies with slaves owned by British imperial corporations, Japanese imperialism into China, Soviet expansionism, etc.  Witness the slaves who died in the pursuit of profit on tobacco and cotton plantations, on cocoa fields in Africa, and the world's gold and diamond mines, the sweat shops of China.  And now, there are Iraq and Afghanistan.  The destruction is not just red, white, and blue.  It is multi-national and exists wherever profit comes before people, where the welfare of the system supersedes that of the citizenry, where there is huge disparity between the ruling and the working classes, between the rich and the workers who make them so.

The ultimate destination of fascism is the total domination over and control of everything that happens to people while operating under the guise that people are free.  The terminus operandi is a breed of wetware automatons that question not, while being convinced that have chosen not to question.  The goal is a society that behaves as planned while its members believe they have chosen their behavior.  The world sees such wetware in anti-Semitic societies, where woman wear burqas, where those not born again are heathen and damned.  In 1986, rock musician and freedom of speech spokesperson, Frank Zappa, in an interview on CNN's show Crossfire, stated,

The biggest threat to America today is not communism. It's moving America toward a fascist theocracy, and everything that's happened during the Reagan administration is steering us right down that pipe ... When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view, and if that code happens to be very, very right wing, almost toward Attila the Hun.

If Zappa seemed ahead of the times on the threat posed by fascism in the USA, writer Sinclair Lewis about 70 years ago, back in the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Father Coughlin, wrote much about it in his book, "It Can't Happen Here".  Lewis sums up his feeling with this, "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross."  And Maureen Farrell in When Fascism Comes To America (BuzzFlash September 21, 2004) points out that,

Benito Mussolini said that "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power," the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary extended the definition to include the kind of snarling seething "patriotism" we've experienced since Sept. 11, 2001.

And so, post-911 we marched in lock-step, perhaps even goose-step, to war, even though millions of U.S. folk knew the premises for war were lies.  As Sinclair Lewis asked 70 years ago, we must again ask today, "Where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours."

Many of the operative constructs that guide any society, i.e., people's attitudes and behaviors, are instilled and reinforced through the dominant institutions created for precisely such purpose.  The fables told, the myths espoused, the children's rhymes, the patriotic symbols and fervor, the righteousness of the larger national identity, a connection to God and vice versa, these are fixed within the psyche from the moment of birth onward.  Consider the rituals we practice today in the USA.  Are our normal daily actions those of a people with free will?  Do we in the United States of America, actually choose to stand up and say the Pledge of Allegiance in public when so led?  Do we actually choose to gulp when the flag goes by?  Do we choose to support the commander-in-chief when he sends our loved ones off to war?  Do we automatically trust him?  Do we actually choose to say "God bless you"?  Do we, even non-believers, say "Jesus Christ"?  Do churchgoers actually choose to stand, sit, genuflect, wave their hands in the air or give "praise to God"?  Do fundamentalists choose their fundamentalism?  Do we U.S. consumers actually choose the products that we buy?  Do we choose to be compliant consumers?  David Beddgood  writes in Situations Vacant,

Antonio Gramsci provided us with a critical analysis of why ‘traditional intellectuals’ who support the capitalist order are so successful in co-opting the left and frustrating the rise of revolutionary ‘organic intellectuals’ (Prison Notebooks).  Capitalism can pass itself off as naturally just and equitable provided everyone accepts the rules of the game. When the rules are broken by some power hungry elite, or power hungry mass, then everyone, workers included, must try to restore peace and prosperity. The traditional intellectuals are therefore cast as the priests of common sense, while the organic intellectuals are cast in the unfavourable light of having to justify overthrowing society itself. 

Gramsci was an Italian writer imprisoned by Mussolini for being a Marxist.  

In his book, "Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantalize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole", author Benjamin R. Barber warns us about the "ethos of induced childishness" that contributes to infantile and narcissistic brand loyalties.  I suggest that such brand loyalties include loyalty to the flag, the military, the SUV, Nike, Pepsi, and Mom.   Barber makes the case that capitalism succeeded when it's focus was on making goods that people needed, but now it produces new needs for the people such that consumption has become the ultimate need.  And this consumption is not a choice we make.  It is more of the same, the consumer playing by capitalism's rules while the capitalist breaks those rules whenever it is deemed necessary. In his review of Barber's book, Barry Schwartz, in Buyer Beware, concludes that, "the commercialization of everything -- has prevailed, that liberty is losing and that the market machine is turning our innocent kids into shallow, egoistic 'kidults' right in front of our eyes".  And the kids will grow up to be good consumers.  They will also grow up to be good patriotic, God-fearing Christians.  
Christopher Hedges in an article entitled, "The Christian Right and the Rise of American Fascism", which no one will publish, writes,
This movement will not stop until we are ruled by Biblical Law, an authoritarian church intrudes in every aspect of our life, women stay at home and rear children, gays agree to be cured, abortion is considered murder, the press and the schools promote "positive" Christian values, the federal government is gutted, war becomes our primary form of communication with the rest of the world and recalcitrant non-believers see their flesh eviscerated at the sound of the Messiah's voice.
And so it comes down to whether everyone accepts the rules of the game.  Frank Zappa, Sinclair Lewis, Mark Twain, Benjamin R. Barber, and others, warn us about unconsciously accepting the rules.  Whether fascism's ultimate destination is reached depends upon whether we choose to accept the rules or not.  And choose we must.
No truly sophisticated proponent of repression would be stupid enough to shatter the facade of democratic institutions.

-- Murray B. Levin
The content and forms of American communications - the myths and the means of transmitting them - are devoted to manipulation. When successfully employed, as they invariably are, the result is individual passivity, a state of inertia that precludes action. 

-- Herbert Schiller

©2007 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD
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