Published on The Week /First Post, by ALEXANDER COCKBURN, May 3, 2012.
Americans worry about the rise of extremism in Europe, but they aren’t overly concerned by their own ‘proto-fascist’ country … //
… But there’s another aspect to this habit of flinging the charge of fascism at Europe, and that’s the simple matter of national hypocrisy. The mobs who flooded into the streets to revel in the execution of Osama bin Laden a year ago were not exulting in America, land of the free and of constitutional propriety.
They were lauding brute, lawless, lethal force. In this year of political conventions we’ll be hearing a lot of tub-thumping about American freedoms, but if there’s any nation in the world that is well on the way to meriting the admittedly vague label of ‘fascist’, surely it’s the United States.
Fascism, among other things, is a system of extreme, methodical state repression, violent in contour and threat, buttressed by ultra-nationalist mythology, a militarist culture and imperial ambition. In the 1980s America started locking up its poor people. Seven million adults were under correctional supervision in 2009. A fascist system uses constant harassment. Last year there were more than 600,000 stop-and-frisks in New York City, overwhelmingly of blacks and Hispanics. Historically, fascist regimes have been particularly cruel toward what is deemed to be sexual deviancy. US sex offender registries doom three-quarters of a million people – many of them convicted on trumpery charges – to pale simulacra of real life. Others endure castration and open-ended incarceration.
Fascist regimes, ultimately the expression of corporate power, repress labour in all efforts to organise. The onslaught here began with Taft-Hartley in 1947 and continued with methodical ferocity during the Reagan and Clinton years. Obama reneged on pledges to make organising easier, froze the wages of federal workers and advanced free trade across the globe. Attacks on collective bargaining are pervasive. Big money’s grip on both parties ensures corporate control no matter who’s nominally in charge. Fascist regimes show open contempt for democracy while deifying a leader who embodies the national spirit. We salute democracy while suppressing it.
A fascist regime is the sworn foe of the right to assembly, ‘unauthorised’ marches and encampments. We’re sure to see more signs of this around the Nato summit and the national conventions. America is a network of Swat teams and kindred state-employed thugs on permanent red alert.
A fascist regime spies obsessively on its citizens. Study US laws on secret surveillance since the Patriot Act and you will find procedures that would have been the envy of the East Germans.
Ultimately a fascist state claims the right to imprison its victims without term or hope of redress or legal representation. As the executive power, in the form of the president, it claims the right to kill its enemies, whether citizens (Awlaki) or others (Guantánamo), without judicial review. In other words, rule by decree – which is what Hitler’s Enabling Act won him in March 1933.
We live in a fascist country – ‘proto-fascist’ if you want to allay public disquiet, though there’s scant sign that most Americans are disturbed by the trends. So quit beating up on Europe. (full text).
The myth of the knowledge economy, on Morning Star, by Alexander Cockburn, April 23, 2012;
As the Mutiny Spreads, It’s Clear: Europeans Have Had Enough, on Counter Punch, by ALEXANDER COCKBURN, APRIL 27-29, 2012;
Alexander Cockburn on en.wikipedia;
Wer und was steckt hinter AVAAZ? 29. APRIL 2012;
Hartmut Barth-Engelbart auf de.wikipedia.