Tuesday, September 14, 2004

If the Jackboot Fits

Jackboot size chartFrom NewsMax report, via Polis:
"Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government."

If you are curious about the plausibility of this scenario...

Sinclair Lewis wrote an amazingly prescient novel in 1935, It Can't Happen Here, outlining the rise of a fascist military dictatorship in America. The book is out of print and hard to find but you can read the ebook here. I highly recommend it.

Thom Hartmann looks at Lewis's novel, Vice President Henry Wallace's 1944 concerns about how fascism could indeed arise in America, and the neo-feudal/fascistic patterns in the Bush Administration.

Paul Krugman narrowly avoids the 4-letter N-word and alludes to Lewis's novel to explain the fascist dynamics behind GOP astroturf campaigns.

Maureen Dowd draws more parallels between Lewis's prognostications and the Bush Administration, in her essay Can it Happen Here?

Martin Dyckman looks at American history and answers, It has happened here.

All of these articles are excellent, and I encourage you to read them in full.

The common themes are:
  • We have witnessed fascism in living memory, perhaps most notably in Germany and Italy. (That is not to say these two countries were "more" fascist," but rather they are examples that resonate emotionally with an American audience.)

    Thom Dyckman gives the following examples from American history:
    John Adams, an original American patriot, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts that put people in prison for what they said or wrote.

    Abraham Lincoln, one of our three greatest presidents, suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

    Woodrow Wilson, a scholar by profession, jailed and deported people for opposing a war that, nearly a century later, still raises the question of what American interests compelled our participation.

    Franklin D. Roosevelt put 110,000 men, women and children in concentration camps because of their race.

    In December 2000, the Florida House of Representatives, in broad daylight, voted 79 to 41 to steal the 2000 presidential election by formally appointing the Republican slate of electors regardless of what a recount might show.
  • From these experiences and the study of history, we can recognize certain patterns of fascism:
1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.

5. Rampant sexism (including homophobia and anti reproductive freedom)

6. A controlled mass media

7. Obsession with national security.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.

9. Power of corporations protected.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

12. Obsession with crime and punishment.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.

14. Fraudulent elections.
  • The actions of the Bush administration increasingly correspond to these patterns.
  • Dyckman and Lewis both point out that danger is consistently the "pretext for suspending democracy and decency."

Back to General Tommy Franks.

In the discussion of Barry Rihtholz's article Post 9/11's Hobson's Choice, BOP reader selise pointed out that the Bush administration has been highly secretive about their agenda, and the public doesn't know what their policies are.

My reply is that the Bush Administration's actions speak much louder than their words (or their stage-managed photo ops): events show us that the Bush administration is working very hard, very competently, and increasingly overtly to effect the kind of neo-feudal fascism that Thom Hartmann describes. (If anyone can offer a better explanation for the goals of the neo-con agenda, please share.)

This suggests that Frank's assertion that the US Constitution will not survive another terror attack is true...because his colleagues intend to make it true. Danger as pretext for seizing power.

I do not write this to be alarmist, and I hope to god I'm wrong. In the meantime, let us proceed on two assumptions:

  1. This is, indeed, the most important election of our lifetimes--lest it be the last for America.
  2. The NeoCons intend to hang on to power at any cost. (They have repeatedly demonstrated that they'd rather cheat to win today and take the slap tomorrow than risk fighting on a level playing field.)
What, then, can regular citizens do?
  • Plan ahead, and front-load election work as much as possible, in case of a "surprise" turn of events.
  • Vote by absentee ballot.
  • Volunteer to preserve and protect the vote
  • Recruit people you know to help, especially lawyers, law students, and Spanish-speakers
  • Book November 2 off work today.
  • Plan ahead to mobilize on November 3 for recounts in battleground states.
  • Fight hard for reform, starting with election reform, at every level of government.
Historically, Facist regimes have not survived. This tells us that by looking to history, we can also learn how other countries have resisted and overthrown previous authoritarian dictatorships.

Let's hope we can learn from history.

Crossposted to BOP.


Thanks to readers D MASON and thoughtcriminal for recommending The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012, Charles J. Dunlap, Jr.'s 1992 essay on developments in the armed forces that could contribute to a military coup.

More further reading suggested by BOP readers:

America's Mortal Danger
Germany in the 1930's and America Today from The Leiter Report; interesting discussion in the ensuing comments as well
Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis, by David Neiwert/Orcinus.

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, on the rise of theocracy.
We, by Yevgeni Zamyatin