Saturday, April 02, 2005

Scott Ritter: Neocons as Parasites

Editor's Note: This is the third of Raw Story's series of conversations with former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter. In the first installment, Ritter spoke about the situations as regards weapons in Iraq, Iran and Russia. In the second, Ritter enumerated what he saw as the failings of the US intelligence operation, calling the CIA 'terminally ill.'

In this final part of the three-part series, the former weapons inspector details his beliefs about the neoconservative movement, the American legislative process and his hopes for the future.


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Scott Ritter: Neocons as Parasites
By Larisa Alexandrovna
Raw Story

Friday 01 April 2005

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Congressional Catch-22.

Larisa Alexandrovna: Paul Wolfowitz stated prior to the Iraq invasion that Iraqi reconstruction would pay for itself. It seems that Mr. Wolfowitz, now charged with handling the World Bank, miscalculated. What is going on with the oil in Iraq?

Scott Ritter: Paul Wolfowitz was a salesman; his job was to sell a war. He acknowledged this in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, in which he acknowledged that WMDs and the threat they posed, was nothing more than a vehicle to sell this war to America. Now you [get] to the war itself and selling it to Congress and [the] questions: How long will this take? Or how much will this cost?

Paul Wolfowitz lied to Congress about the costs of war. There is not a responsible member of government who thought this would be quick and cheap. There was nobody who believed that Iraq oil would pay for itself, no one in the oil business thought so.

What about oil companies, were they for the war or against it?

No oil professional in their right mind would support what is happening in Iraq. This isn't part of a grand 'oil' strategy; it is simply pure unadulterated incompetence.

So they are concerned about their bottom lines, and chaos doesn't forward that goal.

Right. Oil company executives are businessmen and they are in a business that requires long-term stability. They love dictators because they bring with them long-term stability. They don't like new democracies because they are messy and unstable. I have not run into a major oil company that is willing to refurbish the Iraq oil fields and invest in oil field exploration and development. These are multi-billion dollar investments that, in order to be profitable, must be played out over decades. And in Iraq today you cannot speak out to projecting any stability in the near to mid-future.

OK, so now to Congress. They approved the war. I know we have discussed the post-9/11 reality and the pressure of not seeming unpatriotic.

Yes, but they also approved the war because Congress had been locked into a corner by the neocons in 1998. Our policy in Iraq since 1991 has been regime change.

How many times did G. H. W. Bush have to say 'we will not remove sanctions until Saddam is removed from power?' Bill Clinton inherited this policy of regime change, but the Bush policy was not an active policy, it was a passive policy to strangle, as it were, Saddam. It was not our policy to take him out through military strength. Saddam, however, was able to out-maneuver this policy, he did not get weaker he got stronger. The neocons played on the political implications of this, to box the Clinton administration and Congress into a corner.

When you declare Saddam to be a threat with WMDs and then do nothing, you have a political problem. The neocons played on this. In 1998, the Heritage Foundation, Paul Wolfowitz and the American Enterprise Institute basically drafted legislation [that] became the Iraq Liberation Act. This is public law. So when people ask why did Congress vote for the current war in Iraq, it is simply that they had already voted for it in 1998, they were trapped by their own vote.

So your implication is that in our current foreign policy the neocons have set the tone via thinktanks or supposed thinktanks?

Yes. Look at who funds the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, and I think you'll have your answer.

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The American Heritage Leninist

What do you think these institutions are trying to achieve? I know the public claim is conservative values, but there is a some speculation regarding what appears more like Leninist, even Trotskyite values, especially given the current domestic government involvement and control or attempt at control of almost every facet of society, economy, family, etc. Even the term 'Leninist' was used by the Heritage Foundation to describe their approach to Social Security during the 1980s.

A high-level source, a neocon at that, within the system has said to me directly that 'John Bolton's job is to destroy the UN, Rice's job is to destroy the State Department and replace it with a vehicle of facilitation for making the Pentagon's national security policy.'

And what of Karen Hughes' appointment?

Hughes - she is a salesperson; she will sell the policy. She is irrelevant. She is nothing. Her appointment means nothing. Rice has already capitulated to the Pentagon and the White House, and Hughes' appointment is but a manifestation of that larger reality.

The neocons are parasites. They build nothing. They bring nothing. They don't have a foundation. They don't stand for business. They don't stand for ideology. They use a host to facilitate and grow their own power. They are parasites that latch onto oil until it is no longer convenient. They latch on to democracy until it is no longer convenient.

Rice's appointment to the State Department is simply to reshape it into a neocon vehicle.

Why the State Department? Why Rice?

The State Department still has free thinkers in it. Rice is a dilettante. Anyone who was there during the Reagan era and her advising on Soviet policy knows how inept she is. She is not there because she is a brilliant secretary of state.

The media has bought into this, because the neocons cleverly put a woman, an African-American woman at that, into this position. So when Rice goes abroad, people do not look at the stupid things she says, they look at what she was wearing and such.

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'Godless people who want power, nothing more'

So you believe the neocons are elitist parasites?

Yes, elitism is the perfect term.

Do you consider it localized or global elitism?

The neocons believe in what they think is a noble truth, power of the few, the select few. These are godless people who want power, nothing more. They do not have a country or an allegiance, they have an agenda. These people might hold American passports, but they are not Americans because they do not believe in the Constitution. They believe in the power of the few, not a government for or by the people. They are a few and their agenda is global.

You suggest the Republican Party is simply an organizational host. Is there any vestige left of the host or has the entire party been devoured?

The Republicans have been neutered by the neocons.

Your concept of neocons seems confusing because, using your host/parasite paradigm, they cannot tell between the host and the parasite which invades it.

I know people who have worked for George H. W. Bush, both when he was vice president and president. Bush Sr. called the neocons the 'crazies in the basement.' I think it is dangerous to confuse the two, because there are Americans who love their country and are conservatives who do not support what is going on. Until the host rejects the parasite, it is difficult to separate the two. Brent Scowcroft for example is not a neocon, yet people call him one. Scowcroft worked hard to reign in the 'crazies in the basement,' as did Reagan.

Many have defined the neocon movement based on the highly intellectual, albeit warped, musings of Strauss and Bloom. Yet one could hardly call the current leadership intellectual or even capable of digesting this philosophy. Even neocon thinkers are jumping off the ship. Do you believe this is simply trickle-down Machiavellianism in much the same way that Communism trickled down as an aberration of its original intent?

No plan survives initial contact with the enemy. The neocon ideology was always hypothetical in its pure application until now. What we are seeing today is what happens when theory (bad theory at that) makes contact with reality. You get chaos, through which the neocons are now trying to navigate.

Is Karl Rove a neocon?

Karl Rove is not part of the neo-conservative master group; he is a host.

Then who is steering the ship?

An oligarchy of 'public servant' classes who are drawn from business, and serve naked economic interests. This is true whether you are Democrat or Republican.

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Patriot Enactment

Several insiders have expressed concern over possible oil shortage riots. Would the Patriot Act be put to use, in your opinion, to address such riots?

[The Patriot Act] is simply the neocons putting their judicial agenda in place by other means. It was a compilation of all of the conservative initiatives, not neocon initiatives, which the conservative Republicans have been pushing for, including a more conservative law enforcement element.

This is not unhealthy as long is it is done properly, through legislation, proper channels of debate and discourse. A lot of this had been submitted in the past, but was rejected. After 9/11 all of these initiatives were lumped together.

There are some things in the Patriot Act I agree with, but the Patriot Act requires a responsible society. The neocons have no interest in a responsible society; they simply used the conservatives as a vehicle to push an agenda to assault individual civil liberties.

As the Patriot Act is now, how it came about, is entirely un-American. It is extreme legislation that does nothing to address the issues it professes to, but moreover, it is, as an existing law, un-American. What makes it un-American is that no one read it before they voted for it. So the process was un-American, and the motivation behind it was un-American. We cannot have a nation that is governed by fear. The Patriot Act is un-American simply because it exists.

So how do citizens address this situation since the very means of addressing it via Congress seem to have been closed off?

Congress has ceased to function as a viable tool of government. What is needed is for leaders of honor to resign in protest.

I have had this conversation with some in Congress and have asked about their thoughts on shutting down Congress and cleaning house. Their counter is that they are afraid to 'leave the crazies in control.'

They are already in control. If the people want to heal this country, the people have to purge the failing of this country. Vote them out. It might take two or three cycles, but it will happen and it will take time.

Everyone who voted for the war in Iraq should be voted out of office because it violated article six of the Constitution. Everyone who voted for the Patriot Act needs to go because they did not represent the people by voting on legislation they did not read. They have to go, regardless of party. They have through their actions decided who stays and who goes.

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Hope, and worries, for the future

You suggest Americans vote out all who voted for these measures. If New Yorkers voted out Hillary, who voted for both the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq, and who is also leading the pack of the Democratic Party for the 2008 nomination, what then?

Hillary is the manifestation of all that ails the Democratic Party. She stands for nothing. She has been compromised by her voting record ... how can she stand for anything worth supporting? And yet she will be the Democratic nominee in 2008, thus guaranteeing another neocon/Republican victory. 'Dump Hillary Now' would be the smartest move Dean could make as the new Democratic National Committee Chair. ... Like I said, it might take two or three cycles, but it will happen.

What about Dean?

Dean has to be part of the process of rebuilding and that will take time. Dean cannot run for president, because Dean cannot run as a Democrat - the party is not set up to sustain someone like him. He is one of the exceptions in a corrupt party. He is also not corrupted by his voting record. He is someone who represents something, he did not vote for the war in Iraq, for example.

We talked about this current social crisis as a closed loop during the second installment. Have you ever seen a loop like this throughout the history of the US? What does this mean?

The American experiment is much too complex to be destroyed by the neocons. In the end, the neocons will lose. It may take ten to twelve more years, and the costs will be horrific, but America will survive. There will be one hell of a mess to clean up, though, after the fall of the neocons.

Where do you see America, should things continue as is, five years from now?

At war, bankrupt morally and fiscally, and in great pain ... and only half-way through the nightmare. Ten to twelve years is what we will have to get through, but we will get through it.

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SOURCE - http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/040105J.shtml

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Fury at 'shoot for fun' memo

Outburst by US security firm in Iraq is attacked by human rights groups

Mark Townsend
Sunday April 3, 2005
The Observer

One of the biggest private security firms in Iraq has created outrage after a memo to staff claimed it is 'fun' to shoot people. Emails seen by The Observer reveal that employees of Blackwater Security were recently sent a message stating that 'actually it is "fun" to shoot some people.'

Dated 7 March and bearing the name of Blackwater's president, Gary Jackson, the electronic newsletter adds that terrorists 'need to get creamed, and it's fun, meaning satisfying, to do the shooting of such folk.'

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SOURCE - http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1451137,00.html?gusrc=rss

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Yahoo! News - Middle East - AP

Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison Attacked; 32 Hurt

1 hour, 1 minute ago Middle East - AP

By MARIAM FAM, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents attacked the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, injuring 20 U.S. forces and 12 prisoners on Saturday while six people were killed elsewhere in Iraq following a period of declining attacks that had raised hopes the insurgency might be weakening.

At least 40 militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and set off two car bombs at the infamous prison as darkness fell, 1st Lt. Adam Rondeau said. Soldiers and Marines stationed at the detention facility responded, and the resulting clash and gunfight lasted about 40 minutes.

"This was obviously a very well-organized attack and a very big attack," Rondeau said.

Officials have said that overall attacks have been declining in Iraq, but they also have noted that insurgents seem to be focusing their efforts on bigger, better organized operations.

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SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050403/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

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Yahoo! News - Middle East - AP

Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison Attacked; 56 Hurt

1 hour, 16 minutes ago Middle East - AP

By MARIAM FAM, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents attacked the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, injuring 44 U.S. forces and 12 prisoners, the U.S. military said Sunday, while six people were killed elsewhere in Iraq following a period of declining attacks that had raised hopes the insurgency might be weakening.

At least 40 militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and set off two car bombs at the infamous prison as darkness fell Saturday night, 1st Lt. Adam Rondeau said. Soldiers and Marines stationed at the detention facility responded, and the resulting clash and gunfight lasted about 40 minutes. No one escaped.

"This was obviously a very well-organized attack and a very big attack," Rondeau said.

On Sunday, U.S. military officials raised the casualty toll from 20 to 44 U.S. service members, and said some of the injuries were serious.

Officials have said that overall attacks have been declining in Iraq, but they also have noted that insurgents seem to be focusing their efforts on bigger, better organized operations.

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SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050403/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

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Yahoo! News - Middle East - AP

50 Insurgents Hurt in Attack at Abu Ghraib

1 hour, 13 minutes ago Middle East - AP

By ANTONIO CASTANEDA, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - About 50 insurgents were wounded and at least one was killed during last week's attack on Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. military said Monday. It refused to say whether any militants were taken into custody.

On Sunday, lawmakers elected Sunni Arab Hajim al-Hassani, Iraq's industry minister, as their parliament speaker, cutting through ethnic and sectarian barriers that have held up selection of a new government for more than two months since the country's first free elections in 50 years.

"It's time for the patient Iraqi people to be treated with the dignity that God has given them," al-Hassani said, accepting his new post.

Sunni Arabs are believed to make up the backbone of the Iraqi insurgency, and the selection of al-Hassani was seen as a gesture toward the community that was dominant under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein. But some critics said al-Hassani has limited clout in the Sunni community.

Sunni Arabs, who largely boycotted the Jan. 30 elections or stayed home for fear of being attacked at the polls, only have 17 members in the 275-member National Assembly.

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SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050404/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

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Yahoo! News - U.S. National - AP

King Remembered 37 Years After His Slaying

Sat Apr 2, 5:40 PM ET U.S. National - AP

By ERRIN HAINES, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA - The voice of Martin Luther King Jr. boomed again from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Saturday as dozens of people gathered to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the civil rights leader's assassination.

Excerpts of several King speeches were played over a loudspeaker at the church where King preached from 1960 to 1968, including his "I've Been to the Mountain Top" speech, delivered in Memphis, Tenn., just hours before his death.

Among the crowd was U.S. Rep. John Lewis (news, bio, voting record), a lieutenant of King's during the civil rights movement who became a follower as a teenager after hearing King on the radio during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, remembered being a nervous college student when he met King for the first time. "He changed my life," Lewis recalled. "The most peaceful warrior of the 20th century lived and walked among us."

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SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050402/ap_on_re_us/king_anniversary

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BONUS REVIEW - CD of the week

Chump change

He can't rap, he can't write, he can't even insult people ... what use is 50 Cent? By Alexis Petridis
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Friday March 11, 2005
The Guardian

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's sixth album was heralded not by an extensive media campaign - pleading itchiness about internet piracy, his label sent The Massacre to journalists after the album's release date - but a hail of gunfire. The more waspish observer might suggest that, in Jackson's case, the two amount to the same thing. You would certainly be hard pushed to find another gangsta rapper who has traded so heavily on violence, who has turned a propensity for getting himself stabbed or shot - as a result of provoking pointless arguments with other rappers - into a career.

And what a career. Jackson's last album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', sold 11 million copies. Piggy Bank, its follow-up's key track, notes correctly that his achievements did not end there. Not even Eminem can interest the public in his Detroit "posse", D12, but - as Piggy Bank puts it with phrasing you could consider either deeply unfortunate or disarmingly honest - Jackson can currently make even his friends' "shit sell". Those friends included the Game, Young Buck and Lloyd Banks, whose name raises the hope that future 50 Cent proteges will be called things like Bark Layz, First Die Wrecked and Halle Faxx.

The hail of gunfire that preceded this album came outside New York radio station Hot 97 last month. Inside, Jackson was broadcasting another squabble, oddly with one of the chums whose success Piggy Bank lauds. In fact, Piggy Bank was the problem. When not gloating about the marketability of Jackson's ordure, the track picks fights with rappers including Fat Joe, Nas, Shyne and Jadakiss, who he claims have been sending him subliminal messages in their lyrics. The Game declined to back Jackson up, thus adding himself to a shitlist that by now must resemble the manuscript of a 19th-century Russian novel. Whether the Game was party to the Hot 97 violence is currently unknown. Either way, it provided good publicity for The Massacre, as 24-year-old Kevin Reed, who was shot in the leg, will doubtless be delighted to learn.

Then again, if he has heard The Massacre, Reed might well be furious: I took a bullet for this twaddle? While the album demonstrates Jackson's talent for causing trouble, it also takes a highlighter pen to his shortcomings, not all of which were previously apparent. Get Rich or Die Tryin' featured various thrilling Dr Dre productions. Here, however, the production is handled by lesser talents, proffering wan-sounding imitations of the Neptunes' sparse, breathy funk on Candy Shop, Timbaland's oriental motifs on Disco Inferno, and even Dre's old 1970s-soul-influenced "g-funk" on Ski Mask Way.

With nothing musically fresh, attention is focused on Jackson himself. Bad idea. When Eminem makes a guest appearance on Gatman and Robbin', you cringe on Jackson's behalf, so marked is the difference between his halting, monotonal mumble and his mentor's deft, livewire voice.

Jackson is no big shakes as a rapper, but as a lyricist he's a disaster. He can't do metaphors - at one juncture he claims to have the dancefloor "hot as a tea kettle" - and his idea of humour involves referring to fellatio as "licking the lollipop". He can't even insult people properly. For all the controversy, Piggy Bank's slurs are witless. He calls Fat Joe fat, which, given that he already calls himself fat, seems unlikely to sting the very core of his being. Fat Joe himself is hardly among hip-hop's rapier wits - his wildly varied oeuvre includes Shit Is Real, Dat Gangsta Shit, We Run This Shit and Shit Is Real Part 2 - but even he managed a better put down in response: "Them steroids is getting to him." Looking at The Massacre's unwittingly homoerotic cover - Jackson stripped to the waist, pectorals like barrage balloons - you can see his point.

The album is devoid of any of the factors that make the best gangsta rap disturbingly compelling: the nihilistic self-loathing of the Geto Boys, Snoop Dogg's sly humour, NWA's social anger. There's nothing except a string of cliches so limited that repetition is unavoidable, as evidenced by the opening trio of tracks. In My Hood, on which he threatens to beat someone's girlfriend up, is followed by This Is 50, on which he boasts about his arsenal of "clips" and "hollow tips"; this precedes I'm Supposed to Die Tonight, on which he throws caution to the wind and threatens to beat someone's girlfriend up, then boasts about his arsenal of "clips" and "hollow tips".

The Massacre sounds like the work of someone for whom music is merely a sideline, a distraction from the serious business of perpetuating a violent, ghoulish side-show. Depressingly, you suspect 50 Cent knows exactly what his audience wants.

SOURCE - http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/fridayreview/story/0,12102,1434418,00.html

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BONUS - SERMON

Living Under Fascism

Rev. Dr. Davidson Loehr
7 November 2004
First UU Church of Austin

March 7, 2005: This sermon by Rev. Dr. Davidson Loehr, originally delivered on November 7, 2004, has recently been the subject of discussion on Air America's "Morning Sedition" as well as in other media outlets.

SERMON: Living Under Fascism

You may wonder why anyone would try to use the word “fascism” in a serious discussion of where America is today. It sounds like cheap name-calling, or melodramatic allusion to a slew of old war movies. But I am serious. I don’t mean it as name-calling at all. I mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism, and that the necessary implications of this fact are rightly regarded as terrifying. That’s what I am about here. And even if I don’t persuade you, I hope to raise the level of your thinking about who and where we are now, to add some nuance and perhaps some useful insights.

The word comes from the Latin word “Fasces,” denoting a bundle of sticks tied together. The individual sticks represented citizens, and the bundle represented the state. The message of this metaphor was that it was the bundle that was significant, not the individual sticks. If it sounds un-American, it’s worth knowing that the Roman Fasces appear on the wall behind the Speaker’s podium in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.

Still, it’s an unlikely word. When most people hear the word "fascism" they may think of the racism and anti-Semitism of Mussolini and Hitler. It is true that the use of force and the scapegoating of fringe groups are part of every fascism. But there was also an economic dimension of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," which was an essential ingredient of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s tyrannies. So-called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a model by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (in “The Corporation Will Eat Your Soul”), Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mussolini in 1934, praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled the money rather than those who earned it.

Few Americans are aware of or can recall how so many Americans and Europeans viewed economic fascism as the wave of the future during the 1930s. Yet reviewing our past may help shed light on our present, and point the way to a better future. So I want to begin by looking back to the last time fascism posed a serious threat to America.

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy — those concerned with individual rights and freedoms — as anti-American. That was 69 years ago.

One of the most outspoken American fascists from the 1930s was economist Lawrence Dennis. In his 1936 book, The Coming American Fascism — a coming which he anticipated and cheered — Dennis declared that defenders of “18th-century Americanism” were sure to become "the laughing stock of their own countrymen." The big stumbling block to the development of economic fascism, Dennis bemoaned, was "liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees of private rights."

So it is important for us to recognize that, as an economic system, fascism was widely accepted in the 1920s and '30s, and nearly worshiped by some powerful American industrialists. And fascism has always, and explicitly, been opposed to liberalism of all kinds.

Mussolini, who helped create modern fascism, viewed liberal ideas as the enemy. "The Fascist conception of life," he wrote, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual." (In 1932 Mussolini wrote, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, an entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism. You can read the whole entry at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.html )

Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: The essence of fascism, he believed, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

Still, fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when we see it.

In an essay coyly titled “Fascism Anyone?,” Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 “identifying characteristics of fascism.”

(The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2. Read it at http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/britt_23_2.htm )

See how familiar they sound:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Rampant Sexism

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

This list will be familiar to students of political science. But it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.

But, again, this is not America’s first encounter with fascism.

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, “write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?”

Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. See how much you think his statements apply to our society today.

“The really dangerous American fascist,” Wallace wrote, “… 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.”

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism he saw rising in America, Wallace added, “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.” By these standards, a few of today’s weapons for keeping the common people in eternal subjection include NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, union-busting, cutting worker benefits while increasing CEO pay, elimination of worker benefits, security and pensions, rapacious credit card interest, and outsourcing of jobs — not to mention the largest prison system in the world.

The Perfect Storm

Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of “Perfect Storm,” a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive schools of thought.

The first stream of thought was the imperialistic dream of the Project for the New American Century. I don’t believe anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world, to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There was no clear interest in religion in this report, and no clear concern with local economic policies.

A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of Christianity which he has been preaching since the early 1980s is now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration. Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews from Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” shows in the 1980s, has shown how Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy is a terrible form of government unless it is run by his kind of Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich, against public education, social programs and welfare — and prefers Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus. He is clear that women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ. (The Yurica Report. Search under this name, or for “Despoiling America” by Katherine Yurica on the internet.)

The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the vast majority of American workers, the destruction of workers’ unions, and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals. It is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout American history. Seventy years ago, they tried to finance a military coup to replace Franlkin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, the picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused, reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it. As Canadian law professor Joel Bakan wrote in the book and movie “The Corporation,” they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot. Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America’s middle class after WWII.

Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton’s sleazy sex with a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident, and Clinton’s equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties of conservatives on the fact that “liberals” had neither moral compass nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may be hard to quantify, I think they were profound.

These “storm” components have no necessary connection, and come from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn’t even like one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web of command and control, which has finally gained control of America and, they hope, of the world.

What’s coming

When all fascisms exhibit the same social and political agendas (the 14 points listed by Britt), then it is not hard to predict where a new fascist uprising will lead. And it is not hard. The actions of fascists and the social and political effects of fascism and fundamentalism are clear and sobering.

Here is some of what’s coming, what will be happening in our country in the next few years:

The theft of all social security funds, to be transferred to those who control money, and the increasing destitution of all those dependent on social security and social welfare programs.

Rising numbers of uninsured people in this country that already has the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance in the developed world.

Increased loss of funding for public education combined with increased support for vouchers, urging Americans to entrust their children’s education to Christian schools.

More restrictions on civil liberties as America is turned into the police state necessary for fascism to work

Withdrawal of virtually all funding for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. At their best, these media sometimes encourage critical questioning, so they are correctly seen as enemies of the state’s official stories.

The reinstatement of a draft, from which the children of privileged parents will again be mostly exempt, leaving our poorest children to fight and die in wars of imperialism and greed that could never benefit them anyway. (That was my one-sentence Veterans’ Day sermon for this year.)

More imperialistic invasions: of Iran and others, and the construction of a huge permanent embassy in Iraq.

More restrictions on speech, under the flag of national security.

Control of the internet to remove or cripple it as an instrument of free communication that is exempt from government control. This will be presented as a necessary anti-terrorist measure.

Efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of churches like this one, and to characterize them as anti-American.

Tighter control of the editorial bias of almost all media, and demonization of the few media they are unable to control – the New York Times, for instance.

Continued outsourcing of jobs, including more white-collar jobs, to produce greater profits for those who control the money and direct the society, while simultaneously reducing America’s workers to a more desperate and powerless status.

Moves in the banking industry to make it impossible for an increasing number of Americans to own their homes. As they did in the 1930s, those who control the money know that it is to their advantage and profit to keep others renting rather than owning.

Criminalization of those who protest, as un-American, with arrests, detentions and harassment increasing. We already have a higher percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country in the world. That percentage will increase.

In the near future, it will be illegal or at least dangerous to say the things I have said here this morning. In the fascist story, these things are un-American. In the real history of a democratic America, they were seen as profoundly patriotic, as the kind of critical questions that kept the American spirit alive — the kind of questions, incidentally, that our media were supposed to be pressing.

Can these schemes work? I don’t think so. I think they are murderous, rapacious and insane. But I don’t know. Maybe they can. Similar schemes have worked in countries like Chile, where a democracy in which over 90% voted has been reduced to one in which only about 20% vote because they say, as Americans are learning to say, that it no longer matters who you vote for.

Hope

In the meantime, is there any hope, or do we just band together like lemmings and dive off a cliff? Yes, there is always hope, though at times it is more hidden, as it is now.

As some critics are now saying, and as I have been preaching and writing for almost twenty years, America’s liberals need to grow beyond political liberalism, with its often self-absorbed focus on individual rights to the exclusion of individual responsibilities to the larger society. Liberals will have to construct a more complete vision with moral and religious grounding. That does not mean confessional Christianity. It means the legitimate heir to Christianity. Such a legitimate heir need not be a religion, though it must have clear moral power, and be able to attract the minds and hearts of a voting majority of Americans.

And the new liberal vision must be larger than that of the conservative religious vision that will be appointing judges, writing laws and bending the cultural norms toward hatred and exclusion for the foreseeable future. The conservatives deserve a lot of admiration. They have spent the last thirty years studying American politics, forming their vision and learning how to gain control in the political system. And it worked; they have won. Even if liberals can develop a bigger vision, they still have all that time-consuming work to do. It won’t be fast. It isn’t even clear that liberals will be willing to do it; they may instead prefer to go down with the ship they’re used to.

One man who has been tireless in his investigations and critiques of America’s slide into fascism is Michael C. Ruppert, whose postings usually read as though he is wound way too tight. But he offers four pieces of advice about what we can do now, and they seem reality-based enough to pass on to you. This is America; they’re all about money:

First, he says you should get out of debt.

Second is to spend your money and time on things that give you energy and provide you with useful information.

Third is to stop spending a penny with major banks, news media and corporations that feed you lies and leave you angry and exhausted.

And fourth is to learn how money works and use it like a (political) weapon — as he predicts the rest of the world will be doing against us. (from http://fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/110504_snap_out.shtml )

That’s advice written this week. Another bit of advice comes from sixty years ago, from Roosevelt’s Vice President, Henry Wallace. Wallace said, “Democracy, to crush fascism internally, 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.”

Still another way to understand fascism is as a kind of colonization. A simple definition of “colonization” is that it takes people’s stories away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower others at their expense. When you are taxed to support a government that uses you as a means to serve the ends of others, you are — ironically — in a state of taxation without representation. That’s where this country started, and it’s where we are now.

I don’t know the next step. I’m not a political activist; I’m only a preacher. But whatever you do, whatever we do, I hope that we can remember some very basic things that I think of as eternally true. One is that the vast majority of people are good decent people who mean and do as well as they know how. Very few people are evil, though some are. But we all live in families where some of our blood relatives support things we hate. I believe they mean well, and the way to rebuild broken bridges is through greater understanding, compassion, and a reality-based story that is more inclusive and empowering for the vast majority of us.

Those who want to live in a reality-based story rather than as serfs in an ideology designed to transfer power, possibility and hope to a small ruling elite have much long and hard work to do, individually and collectively. It will not be either easy or quick.

But we will do it. We will go forward in hope and in courage. Let us seek that better path, and find the courage to take it — step, by step, by step.

SOURCE - http://www.uua.org/news/2004/voting/sermon_loehr.html

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