This is the beginning of a fourteen part series of essays about the Fourteen Characteristics of Fascism as described by Laurence Britt. The idea originated in the summer of 2005 after Mister Britt appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, an appearance which inspired some of us demonstrate the many and disturbing manners in which the Bush Regime's grab for power has resembled the Nazi grab for power in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of the pieces required updating. Some have been expanded. In other cases we have included multiple entries under the same category. That said, let us proceed to the Prologue and Part One of George W. Bush, The Republican Party, and the Fourteen Charatceristics of Fascism.
Imagine this: your country has installed a new government, by way of supposedly fair and legal elections. In this body politic, there emerges a bright star, a man who claims to be able to return said country to its roots, to make the country a driving moral, social and economic force, one so powerful that other countries have no choice but to fall on their knees and follow in the example your country has set. The ones that resist, it's decided, will be forced into submission by any means necessary, i.e., the military. There will be a purity of sorts in the country, seeing as how it's such a moral power, and the rest of the world, in following the set example, will also gain that purity. If not voluntarily, but rather, involuntarily. Everything will be just peachy, in other words.
At least, this is what George W. Bush thinks.
Then again, so did Hitler.
POWERFUL AND PERSISTENT NATIONALISM
"One cannot be disloyal to something that has given content, meaning, and purpose to one's whole life. All this would not be possible we it not directed by a great command. No human maker has given us this command, but the Lord who has created our nation. Therefore, let us take a vow this evening, namely, at every hour of each day to think only of Germany, the nation, the Reich, and our German people. To our German nation, Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!"
Adolf Hitler speaking at the September 1934 Nuremberg Rally.
After the opening credits and a series of establishment shots featuring images of clouds, an airplane, and aerial shots of Nuremberg, the plane finally descends. A crowd of ecstatic Germans, their right hands extended in the all too familiar Nazi salute, seem spellbound as the plane rolls in to a full stop and their beloved Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, makes what can only be described as a triumphant appearance in Nuremberg.
That is a thumbnail sketch of what you will see in Leni Riefenstahl's classic 1935-1936 propaganda film, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. As repulsive and barbaric as we find the Nazi regime today we are nevertheless compelled to give credit where credit is due. The Nazis, despite their hate-filled savagery, were masters of propaganda, turning the practice of government-sponsored advertisement into a psycho-social art form.In subsequent scenes Riefenstahl drives home intoxicating images of flags and banners, of hypnotized workers and children, of evening bonfires, parades and speeches, culminating in a forceful, strangely seductive speech by Hitler himself, as he rallies the party faithful and revels in his own success.
William Shrier describes the scenes as follows in Berlin Diary:
" September 7 Another great pageant tonight. Two hundred thousand party officials packed in the Zeppelin Wiese with their twenty-one thousand flags unfurled in the searchlights like a forest of weird trees. 'We are strong and will get stronger," Hitler shouted at them through the microphone, his words echoing across the hushed field from the loud-speakers. And there, in the flood-lit night, jammed together like sardines, in one mass formation, the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state of being the Germanic man knows: the shedding of their individual souls and minds--with the personal responsibilities and doubts and problems--until under the mystic lights and at the sound of the magic words of the Austrian they were merged completely in the Germanic herd. Later they recovered enough--fifteen thousand of them--to stage a torchlight parade through Nuremberg's ancient streets, Hitler taking the salute in front of the station across from the hotel.
That was September, 1934.
Now, please be so kind as to turn your calendars ahead to the year 2003. The Republican Party has learned its lessons well. Only they don't need a professional film maker to drive home their particular brand of nationalism. Today they have an obsequious, mass media which is either too biased or too obtuse to realize that it has become the Twenty-first Century equivalent of a Leni Riefenstahl.
We are of course referring to that God-awful landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln; to George Bush dressed for the occasion before a screaming banner emblazoned with the words which must haunt him to this very day: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. By the same token, we are referring to the almost desperate manner in which George W. Bush behaves whenever his job approval rating goes south: the almost desperate manner in which he wraps himself in a cloak of nationalism in the guise of patriotism: ; the manner in which the GOP-dominated Senate, at the behest of his brain, Mister Rove, takes up issues of "marriage and flag protection" to distract from truly important issues; the manner in which W. himself appears before captive audiences of young soldiers to heighten the aura of (some might say phony) patriotism that he opts to enhance whenever his political chestnuts appear to be in the fire. And to make the situation eve worse, in recent weeks, right wing hate mongers like Rush Limbaugh have gone so far as to suggest that the deaths of innocent Lebanese civilians are less important than the deaths of Americans and Israelis, as if there is some kind of biological or racial inferiority that makes the deaths of Lebanese women and children more acceptable than the deaths of White. Christian Westerners. Now where have we heard that kind of racist insanity before?
Love 'em or hate 'em, you just have to give the Republicans credit. Bush and his deceitful Propaganda Minister, Karl Rove, make Hitler and Goebbels look like rank amateurs. Are we the only ones who have noticed the nearly obsessive manner in which Bush and his party faithful tend to surround themselves with flags, soldiers, and banners? Has anyone out there noticed the fact that conservative "patriotism" has a decidedly negative tone to it these days? That it isn't so much "What's great about America?" as it is "We need to hate the French, or the gays, or the immigrants, or the atheists, or the human secularists, or the labor unions?"
Yeah. We've noticed this as well.
And the thing that concerns us is the fact that for all the flag waving and public displays of so-called patriotism, the Republican Party is decidedly more nationalistic than it is "patriotic."
"Patriotism is defensive, nationalism is aggressive," writes John Lukacs, author of DEMOCRACY AND POPULISM: FEAR AND HATRED. "Patriotism is the love of a particular land with its particular traditions; nationalism is the love of something less tangible, the myth of 'a people' justifying many things, a political and ideological substitute for religion. Patriotism is old-fashioned (and at times and in some places, aristocratic); nationalism is modern and populist."
And, Mister Lukacs might have added, both disingenuous and destructive. Like so many regimes in the past, the Bush Regime has mastered the fine art of nationalism as public deception to such a degree that dissent is automatically considered a form of treason.
Well, dear readers, the cast and crew at The Coalition For a Republican-Free America have news for their propagandists and nationalists in this country. Unless someone rewrote the Constitution, and the United States has indeed devolved into a fascist dictatorship, we still have the right and the duty to play our part as the loyal opposition.We're sorry, but this country was created by Eighteenth Century Liberals who practiced dissent as a virtue, and we should be damned if we fall silent for the Powers that Be in the Republican Party whose over-the-top nationalism would reduce the Constitution and its sacred liberties to the mere equivalent of used bathroom tissue.
The last we knew the First Amendment gives us the right to speak truth to power and that's what we intend to do in the following collection of articles and essays.We realize some of you will be offended by what we have to say. And that's all right. We openly invite your criticisms, we cherish your condemnations.
Not to coin a phrase, but while we may disagree with what you have to say we will defend to the death your right to say it. The feeling may or may not be mutual, but if you want the honest to God truth, we've reached the point where we don't care what anyone thinks of us. Nationalism be damned, we see some genuinely disturbing trends in this country, and we now consider it our duty to speak out before it's too late.To remain silent while your beloved country is under attack by both, murderous, right-wing Islamicists (who are only doing what Allah would do if Allah only knew what was going on down here), and by right-wing, American politicians (who are using the Islamicist threat to impose a regime which flies in the face of nearly everything the Founding Fathers held sacred), would be in and of itself, unpatriotic.
For some reason the words which are often attributed to concentration camp survivor, Pastor Martin Niemoller come to mind. They may sound quaint, and they may sound a tad cliche, but they are also appropriate to the occasion:
"First they came for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
In closing, we will only add that we hope hope you will enjoy or at least think about what we have to say here.
The Founders of
Foiling The Fascist Paradigm
GENERAL SOURCE MATERIAL
TRIUMPH OF THE WILL
Film by Leni Riefenstahl
Released 1935, 1936
1996 Timeless Videos
DEMOCRACY AND FASCISM: FEAR AND HATRED
by John Lukacs
2005 Yale Press
Entry for September 7, 1934
by William L. Shirer
1941 New York
INSIDE THE THIRD REICH
Memoirs by Albert Speer
1970 The McMillan Company
WHO WAS MARTIN NIEMOLLER