What is a fascist?

The following definition comes from the website of King's College. The full text can be found here:

Fascism can be defined as a political attitude and mass movement that arose during time between the first and second World War. Fascism is the attitude of giving full interest in economic, social, and military power to a dominant race or state lead by a single dominant leader. Fascism basically rejected the idea of Socialism, Capitalism, and Democracy. Fascism’s are single-party dictatorships characterized by terrorism and police surveillance. It focuses on ethnicity and “our” race being better than “your” race. Fascism isn’t limited to one culture alone. Each culture can believe that it is better and each person can consider himself to be better than his fellow man. Fascism is used to categorize censorship and oppression. Ones who take away freedom from others can be considered fascist.

In this day and age of reactionary political correctness, it is often seen as going too far to label someone as a "fascist." This is, of course, discounting the fringe mania of the past few years wherein a compromising American President has been repeatedly called everything from a socialist to a Nazi to, yes, a fascist for the egregious crime of wanting people to have affordable access to private-run health care. Yet, for all of the furor and hatred on the far right of the current American political spectrum that has been given not only credence by right-wing leaders, but has been embraced by several prominent Republicans, there is little to none of the same boisterous opposition and loosely-reality-based hyperbole coming from the opposite direction.

It is not hyperbole or out of the question to label the current dangerous right-wing shift as a movement toward fascism in America. The last time fascism began gaining ground in the western world followed the Great Depression, a time of great uncertainty, fear, and anxiety after the collapse of the worldwide financial market. Here again we are faced with crisis, both foreign and domestic, and it is not unfair nor untruthful to say that regular, everyday Americans are afraid again. In all honesty, they have every right to be.
However, fear is irrational and will often lead to a suspension of disbelief when it comes to facts, truth, decency, decorum, and compassion. The very idea is "I need to worry about myself, and I need a leader who will take care of me and no one else." This selfishness is understandable, but at this time when our outlook is bleakest that we all should be banding together the most... but we won't while we still have leaders who want to stoke those fires of fear and ignorance for their own greed and personal gain.

Here are definitions from the link above:
Fascism is the attitude of giving full interest in economic, social, and military power to a dominant race or state lead by a single dominant leader.

This is today's Republican party, plain and simple. Mitt Romney said that he was not worried about the very poor. Weeks later, the hard-right governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, claimed that the current President, Barack Obama, was licking his wounds after a tough debate by hiding out in "one of the most liberal places in the nation." This would be a standard claim... if it was not referring to the capital city of Walker's own state, Madison. This statement is openly practicing divisive policy and statements, seeking only to give support to those who believe, think, and act like themselves. This Republican party is going out of its way to "other" anyone who doesn't join in lock step with their policies, as evidenced by the expulsion of formerly moderate Republicans like Dick Lugar in Indiana for favor of more "ideologically pure" candidates who are championing a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-woman agenda. This is policy and thought put in place to champion one group: America's new wealthy, landed aristocracy.
The plan is, in the words of Scott Walker, to "divide and conquer." If you turn the different groups of Americans against each other, and encourage such fanatical bonding inside those groups, the American population is weak and easy to exploit. Like dough improperly stretched on a pizza pan, you get pockets of half-baked mess and the rest of it gets burned. There was a small amount of fuss made over a comment made by Mr. Romney's campaign during a disastrous trip to England that the current President, a man of African-American descent, did not have the correct "Anglo-Saxon values." A Romney surrogate has been quoted as saying that "this President needs to learn how to be an American." Signs and t-shirts have shown up urging Americans to "put the white back in the White House," and directly preceding the last presidential debate a surrogate of Fox News claimed that the President would "throw spears" at the debate. This racially charged rhetoric against what should have been a landmark, America's first black president, further lends credence to the fact that today's Republicans are pursuing a fascist policy.

Fascism’s are single-party dictatorships characterized by terrorism and police surveillance. It focuses on ethnicity and “our” race being better than “your” race.

This current Republican party has been chastised for wire-tapping American citizens without warrants. Recently, the Republicans have taken aim at removing abortion rights for American women, citing faulty science and backwards doctrines in order to justify seemingly knowing what is best for the young women of this nation, even going so far as championing and passing legislation that requires women to undergo state-mandated, forced, and unwanted vaginal probings. Several Republican controlled legislatures are now trying to make it harder to vote for a disproportionately minority segment of their populations. A Republican senator was quoted as saying that the Republican party needed to excite within its base "angry white guys" in order to win the last Presidential election. Every policy choice and rhetorical movement in the Republican party, particularly since the year 2010, has been to marginalize and attempt to hold on to power for a group of Americans than are seeing their percentage of the population and their power within the American system wane as a new and increasingly racially mixed generation begins its rise. There is no other word to describe this drastic shift in the Republican party towards racist, sexist, and classist policies than Fascism.
This is not hyperbole. This is not propaganda. This is fact. The Republican party is going down the most dangerous road, following a tactic of preying on fear and using convenient scapegoats to shake loose an electorate at a time when it is made to seem like all is falling apart and people are willing to believe anything to make sure that someone will make everything better. This is a dangerous political movement that, left unchecked and unchallenged, can bring dark days for America.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

The Danger of American Fascism

The following was written by American Vice President Henry Wallace. The text was taken from this website:

An article in the New York Times, April 9, 1944.
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.

  1. On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:
    1. What is a fascist?
    2. How many fascists have we?
    3. How dangerous are they?
  2. A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
  3. The perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world. In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.
  4. The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.
  5. If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.
  6. American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
  7. The European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism. The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient from the standpoint of temporary power politics.
  8. Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.
  9. Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after "the present unpleasantness" ceases:
  10. The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler's game by retailing distrust of our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact.
  11. The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.
  12. Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.
  13. It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini's vaunted claim that he "made the trains run on time." In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler's claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany. Neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
  14. Democracy to crush fascism internally must demonstrate its capacity to "make the trains run on time." It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.
  15. The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does two things:
    1. Speeds up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and, especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific research, mechanical invention and management technique.
    2. Vivifies with the greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the very essence of democracy.
  16. The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.
  17. Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.
  18. It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and "with malice toward none and charity for all" go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail.

Marshalling the Troops

Warmongers, fearmongers, and modern day crusaders are already sharpening their blades in glorious anticipation of another Middle Eastern military quagmire. Big money stands to get even bigger with their rich Congressmen of choice pounding the drum for war they never fought in and will never have to fight. We have local American figures pledging to battle perceived "Muslim" invaders and, in the words of a Texas sheriff, "send them to hell." All of this overheated rhetoric speaks to a certain percentage of this nation hungry for war, while the heart of the country simply wishes for the fighting to end. We've listened to the fearmongers, and out of those warnings of Saddam's mushroom cloud we now see instead an American-caused instability that has given us ISIS... which the same fearmongers claim can be defeated by further destabilizing the region.
But it wasn't always this way.

There was a time where the preferred action to international trouble or instability wasn't simply to "hit them so hard and so often that every time they hear a propeller on a plane or a jet aircraft engine that they urinate down both legs." In fact, there was once a time where the sound of American propellers was actually greeted with joy and jubilation in countries we had only recently stopped bombing. From 1948-1949, American planes, formerly engines of war, were converted into support vessels to air-drop much needed supplies into a city that had fallen behind Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain. It was called the Berlin Airlift, and it was part of a larger idea known as the Marshall plan, named after then-Secretary of State George Marshall. Starting in 1948, the United States gave $13 billion dollars in order to help rebuild the Europe that had just barely survived a catastrophic conflict. To put that number in context, the USA's GDP in 1948 was $258 billion. We gave food, supplies, and money to help rebuild Europe after spending billions before to decimate it... but why?

Because people like George Marshall understood that if we do not support our newly vanquished foes, they will only grow to resent us, and take up arms against us in the future. It was a lesson learned by the awful agreements that ended the Great War, World War I, only 30 years prior, that had plunged Germany into a spiral of hatred that led to the rise of Hitler himself. The United States had the foresight to understand that not everyone in Germany was a Nazi, or a murderer, and that if we work to win their hearts and minds with building instead of bombs, with food instead of fire, we can prevent the next war and, in fact, bring Europe back from the brink instead of plunging it into chaos, as we saw in the dreadfully mismanaged and underfunded world behind Stalin's curtain.

The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole. The manufacturer and the farmer throughout wide areas must be able and willing to exchange their products for currencies the continuing value of which is not open to question.
~George Marshall, at Harvard, June 5 1947
Would that we had that same foresight now.

The doctrine now is the Bush Doctrine, now seemingly perplexingly adopted by Barack Obama. Bomb them first, bomb them second, and bomb them last. It's a swaggering sort of bravado only seen by those who have never seen the battle, and do not possess the empathy that tells of forgiving your enemies. The overwhelming military might championed by what Eisenhower warned as a military industrial complex following World War II has done nothing to improve relations or, arguably, to win us any engagement following 1945. We fought to a stalemate in Korea, we defoliated Vietnam, and we've blasted away at brushfire wars ever since with little to no success. We ruined Iraq by bombing it with no reason or forethought, and now our prescription to combat the festering wounds of our own mistakes is simply to tear the stitches open again. Perhaps, before another blunder commences in the Middle East, we should look to the past and understand that sometimes it is better not to bomb... or, at least, when the bombing is over, not to threaten to bomb again.

There is a terrific story out of the Berlin Airlift that is so perfect only History could have made it so: Gail Halvorsen, forever known as the Candy Bomber. Halvorsen, a C-54 pilot, chatted with some German youth behind a barbed wire fence after one of his humanitarian drops, and they asked him if he had gum or candy to give. Halvorsen then promised the children he would bring them gum and candy on his next flight in, and would "wiggle his wings" so they children would know which one was him. As the legend of "Uncle Wiggly Wings" grew, other pilots wanted to help, candy was donated, and handkerchiefs were even fashioned into tiny parachutes for the candy drops. When asked about whether or not he was essentially bribing the children, as Soviet officials behind the blockade had complained, Halvorsen's response was simple:

"Kids are kids everywhere."

In this time of war mania and blind hatred, I think America needs a few more candy bombers and a few more kind souls wishing to help rather than to hurt. Does it really take a horrible, nearly cataclysmic war for such kindness to grow out of the ashes? Do we really have to go farther in this madness to come back from the brink, or can't we simply learn from the lessons of History this time and, instead of marshaling the troops for combat, why don't we Marshall the troops for peace?

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

The Skills to Pay the Bills

You'll often hear folks bemoaning the lack of good technical skills and skilled labor workers to fill skilled labor jobs. This comes up every now and again, and always there's this romantic picture of the hardworking and dignified laborer with his lunch in a metal box and the punch clock and the good old American spirit, and gosh darn it to heck these new workers are just too lazy to understand that sometimes you have to do hard work to support your family and life. They just don't understand, as the new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan once quipped, the "Dignity of Work."

That's because there is very little dignity left in it. And it is not the fault of the workers.

While there is a wonderful feeling at the end of the day for a job well done, that feeling evaporates very quickly when your paycheck can't cover the basic costs of life. Far be it for executives to take a cut in pay to allow their workers a decent life (unless you work at Costco or a few others) and most corporations are too terrified of angering stockholders to attempt to help their workers. Working for eight or nine dollars an hour is a no-go for many people, unless they want to start running in the red permanently, which leads to more scorn from the maniacal conservative media saying they are responsible for getting themselves in this situation to begin with. Now, companies are starting to hire "financial consultants" for pennies on the dollar for what a wage hike would cost in order to properly school their workers on how to properly use their money.

Not only is it your fault I don't pay you enough, they say, it's also your fault for not handling the money properly.

But it is not the fault of the workers.

Today's laborers are widely overworked, underpaid, and underrepresented by unions. Before you go and call them lazy, please keep in mind that they are often working 3-4 jobs because one labor job, no matter how dignified, won't pay them enough to survive and will leave them too tired for other jobs they need to help them survive. Through starvation wages and outright contempt for their workers, business leaders have robbed whatever dignity was once in low-skill and even skilled-labor positions.

There's a lot of talk about a "skills gap," and one of the very, very strong lines coming out of this turgid recovery has been that we only need to train for the different jobs of the new economy and things will get back on track. We have to go back to school, go to tech school, and maybe find a scholarship to help us along the way. However, this places an unbelievable burden on people people who are already convinced that the larger world does not care about them, and that they will never have now-considered luxuries like their own home, or retirement. Even the conservative Wall Street Journal has recently admitted that simply gumption and bootstraps is not enough to pull many American workers out of their collective doldrums. What's to stop another crisis, again engineered by the golden parachute crowd, from suddenly crushing tomorrow what is a promising job today? How can you ask millions of Americans who went to school to be teachers, when it was said that job had the most growth potential pre-crisis, to go back to school and wager their own money all over again in a rigged career roulette game?

I understand what Mike Rowe is trying to do and, problems with funding aside, it is incredibly admirable, but it is only a band-aid on a gaping wound. It is mortgaging the future for today's survival, and we can do better. Simply telling someone to go and study or train for yet another job is like breaking the axle on your car and, instead of fixing it, grafting a fifth wheel onto it that works pretty well, but you still have that fourth wheel flopping uselessly as you go down the road. If this situation doesn't get fixed at the top, we might have entire generations with vestigial skills and talents going to waste, and your next Great American Thinkers might very well be stifled or outright throttled into intellectual death while they flip burgers and staple cardboard boxes together, just to make enough money to survive.

We can't keep living like this. This is not good enough. It has now been said that private donation alone is not enough to fix all of this. We need top-down reform of the financial systems, education systems, and labor systems to return this country to where it needs to be. What is being advocated in the small-batch private-run gumption and bootstraps approach is literally the same approach Herbert Hoover tried in the wake of the Great Depression. It is simply not enough. It didn't work then, and it won't work now. We need government action, we need serious reform, or else we're weakening the nation and twiddling our fingers until the next crisis hits.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup.