America is split many ways: the divide between rich and poor,(1) educated versus uneducated, the elite versus the common person. We’re beset by a self-perpetuating crime and poverty in the bottom economic class because those individuals justifiably feel hopeless. It’s the middle classes that should be hopeful, but they are moving the nation toward repressive authoritarian government. Concerned with polarization and political decline, most of us blame the “other” side for the problems. Blame is a political tool. It’s one thing to have repression enforced from the top leadership, as in China or Saudi Arabia. It’s something else when nominal democracies like Turkey or the U.S. move toward fascism.
Here are the characteristics of fascism as expressed 15 years ago.(2)
Powerful and continuing nationalism
Disdain for the recognition of human rights
Identification of enemies & scapegoats as a unifying cause
Supremacy of the military
Controlled mass media
Obsession with national security
Religion and government are intertwined
Corporate power is protected
Labor power is suppressed
Disdain for intellectuals and the arts (scorn or imprisonment aimed at those who ask questions)
Obsession with crime and punishment
Rampant cronyism and corruption
In America, the trend toward fascism is increasing in thirteen of the fourteen categories. Sexism seems to be decreasing.
The move toward fascism causes anxiety among the educated, but the less intellectual portions of society apparently welcome fascism as a put-down of elite snobbery, an insult aimed at those who are viewed as undeservedly winning. Instead of forcing a correction, the politics of resentment is encouraging a repression of its followers as well as of the presumed elite. Likewise, the political correctness emerging in the vocal left encourages repression of the right instead of social awareness.
In this age of media addiction, subversion of elections by money and corporations, interpersonal avoidance, and “echo chamber” news programmed to match your views,(3) there’s a yearning for integrity and interpersonal contact. The movement of the nation has become bigger than any one of us, driven by a complexity beyond the control of any single individual (although the 15 richest are said to have more influence than the lower 99% of the population).
Fear of massive immigration is pushing both America and Europe toward fascist governance because an incoming horde brings its culture—the good and the bad—with it. Yet, even the people with a rational fear of massive immigration, or the resentful laborers who inherited the disasters of 2008 brought by speculative banking, or the influential super rich—these people do not consciously choose to promote fascism. Each simply seeks to impose his own narrow belief on others. That belief is often the erroneous American myth that “freedom” means anyone can do as he pleases without interference. That’s the opposite of the actual fascist outcome toward which we’re moving. The political left and the right both cling to this belief, but in different ways.
When things become sufficiently chaotic, people look for simple solutions, adhere to doctrine despite the evidence, and welcome dictatorial control that promises simplicity.
As we shall see in Part 6, redirecting the evolution toward fascism will require cooperative action by a wide segment of society, not the my-identity-first attitude that polarizes society today.
Next: Part 5 will examine our social rules.
(1) Jonah Goldberg, Suicide of the West, Crown Publishing Group, 2018.
(2) Lawrence Britt The 14 Characteristics of Fascism, Free Inquiry Magazine, Spring 2003.
(3) Scientific American, April 2017, pp. 60-73