Fascism. That dirty, ugly word that keeps being tossed around like an epithet, spit out of our mouths in fury at those we believe don't represent American values. It is a Vile and Monstrous Thing, and thus must be reviled by all the people. But besides knowing what it does as far as its effects on basic liberties, does anyone know how Fascism actually works?
Those who think that "it can never happen here" should look at our own history. The Nazi Party had quite a following here until it became unfashionable when we went to war with Germany, but even then it continued to attract followers as an underground organization and is growing in strength here once again now that those few old geezers who were adults during its heyday are quickly dying off, and the rest of the people have no actual memory of the rise of Fascism. And would be surprised, and perhaps horrified, at how popular it was before Hitler turned it into a mechanism of destruction and hate. And why not? As a political theory, Fascism actually works pretty well if you ignore that pesky little bit about having many individual civil rights and avoid going to war too often (a good, modest but not all-consuming Great Cause kind of war is needed from time to time to keep the old "loyalty to the Homeland" [sound familiar?] fires burning) and keep the people sedated with entertainment and the illusion of freedom and prosperity. We must not forget fear; the people must always be kept transfixed upon some external threat that is trying to manifest itself insidiously within even People and Institutions You Thought You Knew, so that they are devotedly looking at the leaders... and Homeland Security...to keep them safe. If you were to be the creator of your own new country, call it BlankSlateLand, and you had to pick the best system of government to run the place, and the rights of the people was of minimal concern other than to keep them happy and healthy and (more or less) safe, which would YOU pick? Democracy with its constant bickering and economic ups and downs, or a nice stable Fascist form with the trains always running on time and a predictable economic growth pattern? So what if you need a Homeland Security to ensure internal and external peace, and a large and highly powerful military-industrial complex to ensure that your economic interests are protected? You and those you choose for your Cabinet will ensure everything is running smoothly for the oligarchy so their profits are stable. Politicians are groomed from upstart idealistic youngsters till they end up being the pragmatic Establishment. The oligarchy will ensure the populace is kept largely inured to the workings of the government and their security apparatus through Mass Media (which by the way is a term we did not employ in this country until the mid-1970's; before then it was simply "the Press" and information traveled through actual Intertubes called "mail boxes" - look it up) and Mass Entertainment. Even the news carried by the Mass Media is filtered in such a way as to give the illusion of freedom of information. All in all a pretty good system for everyone involved. Well, not everyone maybe. You've got the chance of an occasional upstart politician who doesn't hew the Party Line. This is dealt with through the use of ridicule and cutting off of funds, or for the ones who look like wild-eyed crazies you can simply let them be, perhaps even egging them on a bit by giving them a bit of airtime here and there to give those in the population who are of a radical or conspiratorial bent an outlet to blow off steam and have a "Voice" speaking for them in Government. Where Fascism breaks down is when it tries to meddle to much in local politics. National level is fine, but start to micromanage things at the state or city level and it gets shaky. You're getting too close to the actual people and cease to be able to hide behind the smokescreen. And you definitely, most assuredly approach with great fear and trepidation stepping into incidences where you directly and dramatically single out and affect the lives of any single group within your society. Terrorism in general or lazy welfare cheats in general, sure, but get into their bedrooms and boy, do you have a lot of backlash. One instance of this can easily be cleaned up but do it over and over again and the people will begin to start to get annoyed with the System. Once that happens, those wild-eyed misfits you allowed to rant will start to gain an audience. For you see, the people had been under the spell of capital "D" Democracy, an idealistic hall of mirrors given to the public to give them the illusion that they are the ones in charge. As long as the Government stays behind the scenes everything is going well. Once the Hands of Government are seemingly everywhere, people feel actual fear of it instead of a comforting presence. The mirrors shatter, the apparatus is laid bare, and suddenly those running the Government are now seen as The Problem, not the soylution. And thus that insidious thing, Fascism's one true enemy, has taken hold: real lower-case "d" democracy. Nothing the Government has to say, nothing it can do (other than clamp down into a totalitarian dictatorship) will regain the trust of the people. They will demand their individual rights, their freedoms and liberties, and the "return" of power vested in The People. That, my friends, is how a Revolution begins. How it progresses from there and ends up looking in the end depends on the victor. And just how bloody the transition is. 1930's Spain. Japan, Germany and Italy in the 1940's. Castro in Cuba in the 1950's. The 1960's through the 1990's in various "Banana Republic" counries. The fall of the Soviet Union, the Orange Revolution and Chechnya in the latter days of the 20th Century. The Arab Spring. Occupy Wall Street. The Green Revolution in Iran. Syria. So don't think "it can't happen here." It already is. Fascism is what we have been living under for DECADES. You and I have already been Fascists all of our adult lives. Give it up and get over it. If you want to stay a Fascist, that's fine, just keep believing the Government-sponsored Mass Media and comforted by the Mass Entertainment Reality-TV fantasies. But the smokescreen is clearing, the mirrors are shattering, and democracy is peeking through. The second American Revolution is happening as you read these words. It's up to us to either join in or get left behind. It's our turn now, Comrade.