The 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism
In my last post on this website I suggested that the Republican candidate, Donald Trump is taking his party and his followers down a very dangerous and dark path. Historian, Ken Burns was interviewed after the last presidential debate in which Donald Trump threatened not to recognize the legitimacy of the election process if he doesn’t win. He compared the rise of Trump to that of Hitler. Burns said this election is one of the most dangerous events in the History of America, including WWII and the Bay of Pigs invasion. He suggested that we as American citizens need to look at ourselves to try to understand how someone like Trump could have a base of support in our society. http://cnn.it/2epMZgq.
If we are to do a serious evaluation of the health or toxicity of our culture, we need to know what to look for and decide to what degree we experience these symptoms in America in 2016. Is the movement that Trump is leading just politics as usual or is it a symptom of the threat of the rise of an environment of support for a fascist leader in the United States?
Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each.
The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism:
1. ___ 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.
2. ___ 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.
3. ___ 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.
4. ___ 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. Solders and military service are glamorized.
5. ___ Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. ___ Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media are directed 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.
7. ___ Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. ___ 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 are common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government policies or actions.
9. ___ 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.
10. ___ 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.
11. ___ Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academics. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. ___ 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.
13. ___ 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.
14. ___ 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. (Source: Free Inquiry, 5 -11- 2003 )
I have inserted a space following the number for each trait as an invitation to you to rate our nation for the degree to which it appears to manifest the trait, in your opinion. You might use a scale of 0 to 10, whereby 10 indicates that the country manifests this trait to about the fullest extent possible, and 0 signifies that the country does not manifest even a slight degree of the trait. I suggest you use a pen and paper to list the numbers of the traits and their corresponding ratings. I welcome you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
America has had dark days in the past, and we have had the wisdom as a people to learn from our mistakes. Historically Americans have come together even after a bloody Civil War to end the horror of slavery even though it took another 100 years to pass the Civil Rights Bill and we still struggle to eliminate the stain of racism from our national conscience. We pulled the country out of the Great Depression and created prosperity for a large middle class made up of immigrants. We amended the constitution to allow women to vote recognizing that half of the nation had been disenfranchised as citizens. There are many more examples. Change is difficult but necessary if we are to evolve as a nation based on principles of a Just and Equal society.
We are being called on now to learn from this horrific time in our country’s political history and we must have the courage to make sweeping reforms in our political system. We must support political candidates who have demonstrated that they are qualified to lead and to model for us and the rest of the world what is best about America. We must pass campaign finance reform to get money out of our elections and show that our government offices are not for sale. We must respect religious freedom but also remember that our Constitution states that no religion may be designated as a national religion. We must respect the humanity of each person and agree to disagree without hatred and within the rule of law.
As a nation we must decide if we are going High or Low into our destiny.