1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins,
the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself
and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans,
pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing
this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that
often bordered on xenophobia.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to
realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda,
the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing,
even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was
to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying
The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of
scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems,
to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled
directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and
disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite
“spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists,
socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national
enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and
“terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as
terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial
infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources
was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military
was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to
assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and
prestige of the ruling elite.
5. Rampant sexism
Beyond the simple fact that the
political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes
inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly
anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in
Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the
country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
6. A controlled mass media
Under some of the
regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied
upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle
power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and
access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied
threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with
the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public
unaware of the regimes’ excesses.
7. Obsession with national security
national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was
usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any
constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting
“national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as
unpatriotic or even treasonous.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as
godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to
the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as
militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior
was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the
rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of
the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that
opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
9. Power of corporations protected
personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of
large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The
ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military
production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social
control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political
elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression
of “have-not” citizens.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the
political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was
inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with
suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered
akin to a vice.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the
Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression
associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic
freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal.
Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or
eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked,
silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the
national interest or they had no right to exist.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison
populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power,
leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged
into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents
of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often
promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to
enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would
receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would
gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a
position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by
stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control
and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well
understood by the general population.
14. Fraudulent elections
Elections in the form of
plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections
with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to
get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the
election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters,
destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a
judiciary beholden to the power elite.
NOTE: The above 14 Points was written in 2004 by Dr. Laurence Britt, a political scientist.
Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of: Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy),
Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).
Does any of this sound familiar? As America sinks deeper and deeper into
corporate greed will this country continue to be a democracy by the people
and for the people or will it be ruled by the few? Will the trinity
of money, power and greed over come one of the greatest countries in the world?
Only we, the people, can keep it free. SPEAK OUT AND LET YOUR THOUGHTS BE
KNOWN...ONLY BY SILENCE WILL WE BE DEFEATED!
"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . .and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. . .
Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.
You don't want to act, or even talk, alone. . . you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' . . .But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. . . .You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father. . . could never have imagined." :
From Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)
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