The Creep of Fascism Feeds on Grievance-Infected Mindsets
Even before writing The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (2007), Naomi Wolf was calling on America to wake up to the signs of the creep of fascism into our ill-considered responses to the stunning attacks of 9/11. Our fears may have been legitimate there for a while. But many of the solutions reflexively aimed at increasing undue suspicions and suspending long held rights and liberties pushed neo-conservatives into accelerating the development of the obstructionist faction called the Tea Party.
This faction was perfectly poised to capitalize on grievance politics -- the notion that someone else is getting something that you're not and therefore you are somehow being deprived, cheated, overlooked, and left out. Psychologically speaking, grievance politics is the akin to the mindset of a 5 year old that reasons if he can't have a bike, then you shouldn't have one either. And if he does get a bike, you still shouldn't have one because only he deserves one and you don't.
In adults, this mindset reasons that no immigrant or ethnic group should be able to earn what he himself has been unable to earn -- or worse, has already earned.
This grievance mindset is inherently anti-equality, but tries to excuse its prejudice by claiming some irrelevant "deeply held belief" that typically relies on an unthinking interpretation of an anti-equality religion.
The embrace and exploitation of the grievance-oriented mindset, consequently, has led to the demise of the Republican ability to govern while simultaneously turning into an inevitable trumpian era goose-step march towards neo-fascism.
Wolf outlined 10 steps that ruling parties and officials in closing societies -- those that are turning their backs on democracy and moving towards fascism -- embrace in order to preserve their grip on political and social power over their people. Those steps, Wolf said, are to:
Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
Set up an internal surveillance system.
Harass citizens' groups.
Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
Target key individuals.
Control the press.
Cast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason.
Subvert the rule of law.
The Patriot Act -- rushed into law less than 2 months after Sept 11, 2001 -- was declared partly unconstitutional for its violations of protected rights of privacy and due process. Nonetheless, the law went into effect, enshrining and encouraging political and personal paranoia that has yet to abate. UPDATE -- thankfully the Act failed to gain reauthorization and thereby expired on June 1, 2015.
Seventeen years after the destruction of the twin towers, crash into the Pentagon, and foiled plan to crash a 4th plane into the White House, there is no doubt that the US has met all of those 10 criteria in full or in part. Since Wolf's list, and even prior to it, others have outlined similar warning signs, such as this one from Martin Longman, web editor and political consultant to former presidential candidate Howard Dean.
Early Warning Signs of Fascism
Powerful and continuing nationalism
Disdain for human rights
Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
Controlled mass media
Obsession with national security
Religion and government intertwined
Corporate power protected
Labor power suppressed
Disdain for intellectualism and the arts
Obsession with crime and punishment
Rampant cronyism and corruption
Folks, it is not my ambition to become a political hack. To be sure, I won't be writing or ranting all the time on political themes. It's just in my training as a once and future journalist and my DNA as a CapScorpLeo to present alternative viewpoints on public observances in hopes of sparking some new thoughts and possibly dialogue on Facebook.
May the celebrations of the 4th be yours!