THE FOURTEEN CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM
SUPREMACY OF THE MILITARY
During the course of a 2005 NPR "On Point" interview, Major General Michael Rochelle suggested that the United States should further militarize American culture to help the Armed Forces meet its quota in the area of new recruits. As the program dragged on and mercilessly on, with Rochelle all but begging young people to line up and get shot in Iraq, one of the hosts suggested (perhaps sarcastically) that we might begin shaming young people into joining the military as had been done during the days of World War I. Sadly,the good general did not fully understand that the host was joking.
In a way you can't blame General Rochelle for trying to further militarize the culture even more than it has already been militarized. This is both, an unpopular war and an unnecessary war, which has essentially treated young soldiers as if they were disposable cogs in the Bush Administration's war machine. But on another level you really need to ask yourself just how more militarized this society can become?
It seems to me that American Society has already been over-militarized. What, exactly does General Rochelle propose? Armed soldiers on every street corner in the United States? Giving the United States Military the right to kidnap and raise our children to be blindly obedient soldiers? The way things are going I wouldn't be surprised, because it seems to me, that as we progress down the road of Republican-inspired fascism, we already have the military sticking its nose into areas of our lives which simply are of no concern to anyone except families and individuals.
Buried deep within the increasingly controversial "No Child Left Behind" Act, is a provision which grants the pentagon access to directories with high school students' names, addresses and phone numbers. Prior to No Child Left Behind (read No Child Left Un-Recruited) high schools were not required to provide this information, the privacy of students and families coming first. Indeed, a third of all American High Schools simply refused to do so. But now, as a result of "No Child Left Behind," high schools are required by law to provide this information and, to make matters even worse, could lose their federal funding if they refuse to comply. This ironically, comes at a time when the reigning Republican regime in Washington talks about the dangers of big government and peppers the public dialogue with hollow rhetoric about giving more power back to the states and individuals. And yet these "pro family" hypocrites are perfectly willing to divulge personal information about our sons and daughters without so much as a jot of concern as to what parents and guardians may think about their children signing up for military service.
Unfortunately the nationwide effort to further militarize our society does not end with the Draconian measures in the Orwellian-named "No Child Left Behind Act." The very corporate culture in which we live and breathe has been permeated, often to the point of psychological toxicity, with graphic images of death and destruction. You really need to wonder if the over-glorification of wanton violence on TV, in video games, and on movie screens is an accident or if someone at a higher level has made a deliberate attempt to create a society which is more willing to accept the kind of horrific death and destruction such as we find in war situations. Yes, yes, Liberals always get the blame because society is going to hell in a hand car, but it seems to me that the violence we see every night on our TV screens is the result of a very conservative, free market strategy which is openly and shamelessly directed at America's youth. Countless studies have proven time and time again that violent programming leads to violent behavior, and yet corporate America saturates the marketplace with violent programming, and worse yet, with advertising that is specifically designed to lure young people to violent programming. Granted, profit is a powerful motive, but it seems to me that there is more at work here than mere desire for profit.
We may well be preparing our children at very early ages for the needs of the United States military. And it may or may not be accidental.
Human beings are not by nature homicidal creatures, but when we desensitize children at early ages to the effects of corporate-promoted violence we are in effect making it easier for them to commit crimes of violence--including the types of behavior that we would expect from young soldiers in a wartime situation. It is no accident that the United States Military wants young recruits. Young people are more impressionable than adults; their brains are still relatively plastic. The military's practice of tearing them down and rebuilding them into whatever it desires works a lot more effectively on a young man in has late teens or early twenties than it does on an older individual who has a more extensive repertoire of life experiences from which to make sound, rational judgments. In other words, corporate America is already assisting the military by desensitizing kids to violent behavior.
And it doesn't end there. Beyond the effects of video games we have the equally contentious issue of funding cuts for higher education. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that funding cuts for higher education will make it more difficult for American youth to enter colleges or technical schools. At a first glance any sane individual would think: "That's terrible, denying poor kids a college education is only going to hurt society at as a whole--especially when we're in a global competition which requires a highly educated work force." But the opportune word here is the word "sane."
Any sane person would see that higher education benefits everybody--everybody that is except the neocns who have come to dominate the military. Can you think of a better way to guarantee an influx of young men and women into the United States military than by making higher education unaffordable so that they will be sitting ducks when military recruiters show up at their schools promising educational opportunities and rewarding careers? Why, if you didn't know better you'd think that the Neocon Empire Builders in Washington and in the Republican-led State Legislatures were deliberately trying to make college unaffordable so as to create a permanent underclass which could be channeled directly into the military.
As if they needed to try. The stagnation of class mobility coupled with low wages and tax cuts for the super wealthy may well be deliberate as well--and not only to repay the rich and powerful for their financial backing of the Republican Party.
Indeed, our present economic policy of slashing programs for the poor and keeping wages low may well be another manner by which the Republicans and their corporate allies are attempting to channel more financially desperate individuals into the United States military.
I don't believe in conspiracy theories, I really don't. But I don't believe in the coincidence theories either, and there is too much going on around here for all of it to be written off as a mere coincidence. The politicians--both Democratic and Republican--who voted for this war, and who continue to support this war, recognize correctly that young people are not going to put their lives on a line when the president's war of choice was just that--a war of choice. Our wonderful politicians also understand that the best way to commit political suicide is to bring back the draft which will have every parent with a child of draftable age lining up at the voting booth to vote them out of office. They're too gutless to end the war, they don't want to bring back the draft, so they seem hell bent on creating social, psychological, economic, and educational conditions which will force young Americans into the military. In other words, a virtual draft which our gutless leaders will never have to really vote for.
Luckily it hasn't worked. At least not to date Young people recognize that this war, and the corrupt, would be empire builders who launched it in the first place, are bogus. To their credit they are staying away in droves. But you still have to wonder. If the Neo-Fascists in Washington and in the various state capitols have been willing to destroy education, social mobility, and the mental health of our youth, then just how far will they be willing to go in the future?
Update (Editor's Note)
Since this article was written in the summer of 2005 we have learned that the United States military, in an attempt to meet quotas, has lowered the bar and has been recruiting--of all things--skinheads and Nazis.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center the United States Military has now been infested with NeoNazis and skinheads who hope to use their military training here at home. How bad is it? The following quote comes from a right wing hate blog:
"Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war," he wrote. "It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed."
Ask yourselves this: Can this be a coincidence? When you look at the Bush Administration's attitude towards civil liberties, at the Administration's almost obsessive desire to know what every American is doing at almost any time, and it's basic contempt for the Constitution, is it really too hard to believe that the Administration secretly approves of goons like the one who I quoted above? Granted, the Administration isn't as flamboyant as the Skin Heads or the Aryan Nation, but when you look at some of their policies the similarities are indeed stunning.
*Nazis hate both,nonwhites and representative government. Bush and his cronies are doing everything in their power to legalize discrimination against nonwhite voters.
*Nazis typically believe in a strong central government, in dictatorship. George W. Bush hasn't only made off the cuff remarks about how his job would be so much easier if he were a dictator, he has done everything in his power to centralize the power of the three branches of government in the presidency.
*Nazis are obsessed with flags and symbols. George W. Bush and the Republican Party are also obsessed with symbolism, and wrap themselves in the flag whenever they want to score points with v *Aryans and skinheads are virulently homophobic--so of course we have the Bush
Administration and the Rabid Christian Reich trying to impose bans on everything from gay marriage and civil unions to gay adoptions and equal employment opportunities for gays and lesbians.
*Nazis typically single out specific groups for scapegoating (persecution). The rhetoric against gays and immigrants in this country sounds as if it were written by Heinrich Himmler.
*During the 1920s and 1930s the Hitler regime clamped down on the free press. Today George W. Bush and authoritarian followers bark treason against the so called liberal media whenever the government is caught spying on the personal affairs of the American people (a topic that will be dealt with in a subsequent essay).
At a first glance you would think that this is the last thing that the Bush Administration would want. But when you think about it a little more deeply you realize that it actually plays right into their hands. This Administration has thrived on the fear of the American people since Bush was lucky enough to have 911 occur on his very neglectful watch. Since September 2001, the Bush Administration has done everything in its power to promote fear and terror of its own. The game plan could not be more clear. The American people tend to become more aggressive and more conservative when they are fearful, and this Administration isn't about to do anything that will alleviate that fear. Instead, it will propose policies that sound tough and defiant to the Republican base and which will deliberately provoke the terrorists, virtually guaranteeing a climate of fear and suspicion in which the Administration can continue its usurpation of our Constitutional rights. Nothing sounds more frightening than an angry terrorist threatening vengeance on the evening news, and this Administration has become quite adept at tweaking the noses of terrorists and in so doing extracting the kind of rabid, verbal remarks that inflict terror and paranoia. Which of course does little to win public opinion in the Middle East, but if your ultimate objective is perpetual warfare (think Orwell's 1984), perpetual fear, and perpetual totalitarianism at home, then you really don't need to worry about winning the propaganda war, because doing so will only create a climate of safety and comfort in which the American people will want to reclaim their civil rights.
And as we all know by now security and ultimate victory are only empty words that the President and his handlers use when they want to sound patriotic. The last thing they want is a definitive victory and they certainly don't want to put the American people at ease.
Not when their unique brand of domestic fear-mongering has worked so well for them in the past.
Out of School and Into the Military
by Soffia Jarrin-Thomas
Z Magazine online (February 2006)
No Child Left Behind by Military Recruiters
by Leah C, Wells
Published December 6, 2002 by commondreams.org
Military Recruiters Accessing Pupil Data
By Jennifer Mrozowski
Published by The Cincinnati Enquirer (online edition)
January 6, 2003
"Some Things You Should Know About
Media Violence and Media Literacy"
Published by the American Academy of Pediatrics
June 6, 1995
Higher education funding cuts prompt public outcry
By Bradley Gwendolyn
Academe, May/June 2001
Published at Look Smart Find Articles
Compromising Our Future
(Sudden cuts in federal education spending demonstrate government priorities gone awry
By the Crimson Staff
June 6, 2006
Published at The Harvard Crimson
Globalization, Low Wages and U. S. Foreign Policy
By John F. Cowan
July 22, 1996
By Michelle Conlin and Aaron Bernstein
Business Week online
May 31, 2004
Manipulating the Faucet of Fear
by Ellen Goodman
From the online edition of the Seattle Times
April 14, 2006
Hate Groups are Infiltrating the Military
By John Kifner
Published: July 7, 2006
Online Edition of the New York Times
War on terrorism
Project for the Center for Media and Democracy
As of this writing, last modified September 5, 2006