by Mike Pirsch
White Americans seldom see fascism in their behavior and political decisions, but that’s largely because they also don’t recognize racism, in themselves and fellow whites. The American brand of fascism is “fertilized” by racism, an evil ideology that is embedded in the national mythology. Americans are taught they are a nation of immigrants. “What is not mentioned is the genocide committed by the immigrants.” Black is the color of criminality, just as it was the color of slavery. “Criminal justice is as much a strategy of political neutralization as it is a channel of instinctive racism.”
America is a Fascist State Because it is Racist
by Mike Pirsch
“The fertilizers relied upon by the fascists are fear, hate, prejudice, military power and deceit.”
America is a fascist state. The roots of fascism are growing deeper and deeper. Only by recognizing the fertilizer which feeds fascism can we kill the roots and eradicate fascism.
John Hall, former member of Congress from upstate New York, defined fascism: “I learned when I was in social studies class in school that corporate ownership or corporate control of government is fascism…Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Beginning with the claim that corporations are people and carrying that forward to allow corporations to spend as much money as they wish to control their government constitutes but one of the roots of fascism we need to destroy.
The wealthy elite individually or through corporate contributions provide most if not all the funding for both the National Democratic Party and National Republican Party. This single ownership shatters the myth of a two-party system. The United States is alone amongst so-called democratic parliamentary systems whereby the party leaders are selected solely on their ability to raise campaign money for their colleagues. For example, Marian Currinder reveals in her book, “Money For the House,” the Democratic congressional campaign following the 2008 cycle asked members to contribute $125,000 in dues and to raise an additional $75,000 for the Party. Senior politicians with committee places were expected to raise more – in some cases $500,000. This money comes from the wealthy elite who, of course, expect something in return and they almost always get it. Thus corporations control the entire political apparatus from choosing who can and cannot run for President to selecting the House and Senate leaders and committee chairs.
One of our most respected political scientists, Sheldon Wolin, points out, “The traditional understanding of democracy is that it is a system by which citizenry delegates power to the government, and hence the latter only has such powers as are delegated to it…Can the citizen relearn the demands that democracy places on its highest most difficult office – not as commonly supposed , on the office of the presidency, but on that of the citizen.” When did we delegate to our government the authority to establish an empire with more than a thousand bases in over 85 countries? When did we delegate to our government the authority to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? We never have, in fact polls demonstrate a desire to cut military spending and to establish a single-payer health system. Neither is possible in our fascist country because the only voice that matters is that of the wealthy elite.
“When did we delegate to our government the authority to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?”
Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party candidate for President in 1948, wrote an article for the New York Times in 1944 called “Dangers of American Fascism.” He defined who the fascist is and what the fascist wants. “A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions, or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence toward his ends. The supreme god of a fascist to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a military clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion or a political party…But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power…They demand free enterprise but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, THEY MAY KEEP THE COMMON MAN IN ETERNAL SUBJECTION.”  (emphasis mine) Today they have nearly attained their final objective in America and will meet their objective if we don’t engage in the struggle to reverse fascism. The fertilizers relied upon by the fascists are fear, hate, prejudice, military power and deceit.
Dr. Lawrence Britt identified the 14 Defining Characteristics of Fascism in an article written May 28, 2003 They are: powerful and continuing nationalism; disdain for recognition of human rights; identifying enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause; supremacy of the military; rampant sexism; controlled mass media; obsession with national security; religion and government intertwined; corporate power is protected; labor power is suppressed; disdain for intellectuals and the Arts; obsession with crime and punishment; rampant cronyism and corruption; fraudulent elections with help from the judiciary.
“Always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.”
I can associate at least 10 of the defining characteristics of fascism with the rampant racism in our country. We have been fed the deceit that racism is a thing of the past. The media then informs us subtly which groups we must fear and hate. We have yet to learn one simple truth i.e. people are people. There are good people and not so good people. We must learn to respect people and not to prejudge people. When we prejudge people we harbor the insane idea of hating people we’ve never met.
We call ourselves a nation of immigrants. This is true but what is not mentioned is the genocide committed by the immigrants. This reality is ignored in our schools, thus it has been swept under the rug so everybody can ignore it. We not only stole the land Indigenous people lived on, today we continue to repeat the madness, especially in the mining and agriculture sectors. When we discovered the Indigenous people were not about to submit to a lifetime of slavery, we began to kidnap Africans and bring them to America to be sold like cattle and subjected to more than 300 years of slavery. How many generations is that – 10-15-20? As a nation we still refuse to acknowledge our wrong doings and have never thought of apologizing for our shameful offenses.
On the other side of the coin every immigrant group coming to America also experienced prejudice and discrimination. However, they usually lived in the same area, were able to help new arrivals with jobs, loans to start businesses, help with learning English. Essentially following the principle of each one help one. Every immigrant group has had this opportunity, except Indigenous and Blacks.
The Indigenous people were hunted mercilessly until they could no longer resist due to hunger, sickness and sheer exhaustion from facing the most modern weaponry of the time. Money was given to “settlers” for killing Indigenous people. Then the Indigenous people were placed in open air prisons; tortured for speaking their own languages; tortured for practicing their traditions; and their religious ceremonies were outlawed. It is no different today as we witness what is happening at San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff Arizona. The San Francisco Peaks are a sacred site, no different than the Vatican. Yet entrepreneurs have decided to build ski resorts on the sacred Peaks using recycled wastewater to make artificial snow. The courts have refused to recognize the Indigenous people’s claim of the spiritual significance of the Peaks. The United States government has broken each and every treaty negotiated with Indigenous nations. The Indigenous people have never had the same opportunity other immigrant groups were privileged to enjoy.
The kidnapped Africans, also, have never had the same privileges afforded to all other immigrant groups. I do not claim other immigrant groups had it easy, they didn’t. In comparison with Indigenous people and the kidnapped Africans their lives were a bed of roses with few thorns.
James Connolly (1868-1916), the great Irish revolutionary, wrote in his book, “The Reconquest of Ireland”, ”None so fitted to break the chains as they who wear them. None so well equipped to decide what is a fetter.”
“It was not by coincidence that the period of the IWW demise also marked a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the north as well as the south.”
I will say for the past 120 years Blacks have been the most important progressive political force in the nation. In the 1890’s during the development of the People’s Party, much of the organizing was done by Farmer’s Alliances. There were only a few integrated Farmer’s Alliances due to racism of White farmer’s. Racism again prevented unity and still the People’s Party was effective in electing candidates to the House of Representatives and state legislatures. During the teens (1910-1920) the greatest threat to fascism was the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Unlike the American Federation of Labor (AFL) the IWW organized along class lines regardless of color or nationality or gender. Appropriately their slogan was “An Injury To One Is An Injury To All.” The full force of the military and law enforcement were employed to crush the IWW. It was not by coincidence that the period of the IWW demise also marked a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the north as well as the south. The Klan committed unspeakable brutalities aimed mostly at Blacks and lynched at least 3256 Black Americans between 1885-1930. Then during the Depression Blacks were crucial in the formation of Unemployed Councils which fought evictions, agitated for food assistance, agitated for jobs, and most importantly were a vehicle for those about to give up to regain a semblance of dignity. The rise of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was due to its refusal to discriminate against Blacks, women, unskilled and semi-skilled workers and recent immigrants. The AFL was the opposite, still refusing to admit Blacks, women, unskilled and semi-skilled workers and recent immigrants. The AFL was always willing to fertilize the roots of fascism.
The period from the 1950’-1970’s is remembered as a period of great and dramatic dissent; of challenge to the existing order; of courageous organizing; and a period where we experienced democracy. The main impetus for this were young Black Americans. They were at the forefront in organizing against Jim Crow laws and attitudes. They engaged in very dangerous organizing risking their lives in order to make us all better people. They were the people that young Whites were influenced by. The Civil Rights Movement led by young Blacks made possible the anti-war movement; feminist movement; environmental movement; and even the counter culture. Without this courageous leadership none of these would have been possible. The absence of any movement today is due to the fascist backlash to their leadership. Remember, “none so fitted to break the chains as they who wear them.”
Thus beginning in the 1970’s it was necessary to wage war against young Blacks that continues even today. For example, the young founders of the Black Panther Party, students at Merritt Junior College in Oakland California, were well versed in the philosophy of democracy and revolutionary theory as expressed by the same French philosophers who influenced the likes of the American revolutionaries. In addition they studied and understood the philosophy of Marx and Engels and the preeminent analyst of colonial struggles, Franz Fanon. In other words it was only through public education that made possible the analytical foundations of the Black Panther Party. This ability to think; to analyze and to organize their community frightened those who are intent on bringing fascism to America. The only reason I am able to write these words is I received essentially the same education: an education that emphasizes critical thinking. The fascists began their efforts to destroy critical thinking as a fundamental part of education as a reaction to the leadership skills demonstrated so effectively by young Blacks in the period of the Civil Rights Movement.
“The Civil Rights Movement led by young Blacks made possible the anti-war movement; feminist movement; environmental movement; and even the counter culture.”
The FBI also did its part organizing assassinations of Black and American Indian Movement (AIM) leaders; framed leaders of both races resulting in long term imprisonment of the leaders (many are still in prison today); and nearly destroyed the Black Panther Party and AIM through COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program). COINTELPRO is still active today. This began the period whereby it is a crime to be young and Black. A crime which all Blacks are meant to suffer the consequences.
Our public education system is under attack. It is in the forefront of the merger of corporate power and state power. We have gone from teaching the youth how to think to teaching how to pass a test that deemphasizes thinking in favor of rote learning. The current administration is happily leading the fight to turn education into a profit driven enterprise leading the race to the bottom. Today’s students are mere commodities no different than wheat, rice, gold or cattle. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (Obama’s former chief of staff) along with Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan are leading the fight to destroy the Chicago Teachers Union and turn the schools into private for profit non union enterprises. The ultimate goal is to stifle intellectual curiosity and replace it with corporate friendly indoctrination. We will not produce young Black leaders or young Indigenous leaders through rote learning. Again, ”none so fitted to break the chains as they who were them.”
Mark Twain remarked at the height of the gilded age (late 1800’s marked by nearly identical levels of corruption as today), “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class, except Congress.” The deceit proffered by the corporate owned media and the corporate congressional criminal class is the lie that young Blacks and immigrants constitute a criminal class. This demonization satisfies the necessity of imposing fear and creating scapegoats to fertilize the roots of fascism. The weapon used by the fascists is drugs. Nixon started a war on drugs which was revived by Reagan and continues today. If lowering drug use was the goal, it has been a monumental expensive failure. If the reason was to hide the war on young Blacks it has been a success. The local nightly news features the war on young Blacks as we watch well-coiffed news anchors highlight Black crime, reinforcing the notion that all Blacks are criminals.
Sheldon Wolin unveils the reason behind this fallacy: “The significance of African American prison population is political. What is notable about the African American population is that it is highly sophisticated politically and by far the one group that throughout the 20th century kept alive a spirit of resistance and rebelliousness. In that context criminal justice is as much a strategy of political neutralization as it is a channel of instinctive racism.”
“The fascists began their efforts to destroy critical thinking as a fundamental part of education as a reaction to the leadership skills demonstrated so effectively by young Blacks in the period of the Civil Rights Movement.”
The United States government has used the import of “illegal” drugs for years to subjugate Black Americans. This tactic has been explained thoroughly in Alfred McCoy’s “The Politics of Heroin”(1972 and 1991) and Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras, and The Crack Cocaine Explosion” (2003). In the case of heroin a deal was struck between the Mafia and the government allowing the Mafia to bring in heroin as long as they confined their distribution to Black neighborhoods. This was in exchange for crucial Mafia support during WWII. In the case of crack cocaine the Reagan Administration encouraged and assisted the import of cocaine by the contras to fund their American sponsored war of terror in Nicaragua. Even the notorious Medellin Cartel “contributed over $10 million to the contra terrorist operation. What other country uses drugs to suppress its people? Today most of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan and most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia. Both Afghanistan and Colombia have a huge United States military presence and both receive billions of dollars to eradicate heroin and cocaine. Or is it the United States taxpayer subsidizes the production and distribution through our taxes? The efforts to eradicate the production of heroin and cocaine are massive failures or are they?
On May 4, 2008 Human Rights Watch published its study of drug use in the United States. This study demolishes the myths promoted by corporate media deceit and corrupt politicians that illegal drug use is confined mainly to Black neighborhoods. The reality is that substantially more Whites use drugs than Blacks. For example, according to the 2006 surveys conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) an estimated 111,774,000 people in the United States age 12 years or older have used illicit drugs in their lifetime, of whom 82,587,00 are White and only 12,477,000 are Black.
A further comprehensive study of incarceration was released in July of 2007. “Uneven Justice: States Rates of Incarceration by Race and Ethnicity,” by Marc Mauer and Ryan S. King of the Sentencing Project supports the role racism plays in demonizing those who should be leading the movement for reclaiming democracy and killing fascism. Since the 1970’s our prison population has increased by over 500%; we have over 2.2 million people in prison of whom over 900,000 are black. The United States is 5% of the world’s population and holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. This is another root of fascism that absolutely has to be destroyed. Most of the 500% increase is due to the war on Blacks or what the media calls the drug war. In fact most of Black prisoners have been convicted of simple marijuana possession. In 2003 there were 1.5 million arrests; 736,000 for marijuana of which 88% were for simple possession. In 2010 Whites comprised about 65% of the total population: Blacks comprised about 13% of the population.
Our corporate media deceivers along with the corrupt political class have combined to fertilize the strongest root of fascism which is racism. The congressional criminal class has enacted legislation creating disparate sentences for powder cocaine and crack cocaine. Most arrestees for powder cocaine are White; most arrestees for crack cocaine are Black and the penalties are doubled for crack by legislation. Additionally legislation bars those convicted of offenses from voting; from receiving food stamps (only for drug offenses-not murder or rape); from accessing public housing (only for drug offenses not murder or rape); from receiving Pell Grants (only for drug use not for murder or rape); and some states require all those convicted to repay all costs associated with court costs and incarceration costs. If a person released from prison can get a job, up to 100% can be garnished to repay these costs. Private for profit prisons now lobby state legislatures to toughen beyond sanity rules of parole, ensuring a return to prison for parole violations. This tactic guarantees a high “occupation rate” and higher profits. Remember the jobs people used to have? Check out which corporations now contract with prisons to perform jobs that you or your neighbor used to perform. No need to ship jobs overseas in search of lower and even lower wages when fascists can move the jobs inside prison walls and save even more money.
“Private for profit prisons now lobby state legislatures to toughen beyond sanity rules of parole, ensuring a return to prison for parole violations.”
Perhaps the best work on this subject is Professor Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness. She points out that today there are more Blacks in prison than were held in slavery in the mid 1800s. Her reference to “colorblindness” must be tongue in cheek.
Blacks are also suffering the effects of racism economically. Black unemployment is more than twice that of Whites. In some major urban areas the real unemployment rate of young Black Americans exceeds 50%. In 1986 the average wealth of Black families was $2,000, by 2009 it had increased to $5,000. In 1986 the average White wealth of White families was $22,000. By 2009 it had increased to $100,000. The wealthiest top 1% of all Americans held 65.4% of all wealth in 2007, in 1933 the same group held only 33.3% of all wealth in America. It makes me wonder why we recently saw headlines in the corporate media about more people living in poverty in America. A more appropriate and honest headline would have been, ”Wealthy Elite ‘Gain’ Larger of Wealth.”
We must never forget Henry Wallace’s statement cited earlier that “…Their (the fascists) final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously THEY MAY KEEP THE COMMON MAN IN ETERNAL SUBJECTION.” (emphasis mine) This is what we are now experiencing as more and more lose everything they have. What are we waiting for?
Already they have nearly accomplished their final goal with our Black and Indigenous brothers and sisters and now they are targeting the rest of us. As we know from experience when we fail to defend people slightly different than us when they come for us there is no one left to defend us. Our enemy is the wealthy elite but we have been conned into the dark abyss of racism which ultimately will destroy our lives as well as the lives of children of all the sacred colors.
An important and effective strategy employed by the wealthy elite was to select and fund the campaign of Barack Obama in 2008. His marketing efforts portrayed him as an agent of hope and change. People projected their own agenda on his persona. More importantly his selection neutralized the most powerful progressive political force of the 20th century—Black Americans. Two instances stand out early in his campaign of his loyalty to the wealthy elite. The first was his kicking to the curb of Pastor Wright, a true prophet in the sense of Martin Luther King, jr. The second was his famous Father’s Day speech wherein he criticized Black males for not spending enough time with their children, who were living with their mothers. I lived in a Black neighborhood and what I saw every day was not consistent with his accusations. Additionally, three days after his speech I attended a baseball game in Oakland which featured the special rate of $2 a seat. The $2 seats had sold out months before the game. I walked around the stadium in the area of the $2 seats and what I saw was almost all the seats occupied by Black American males with their children. In order to attract White voters he had to “beat” up on Blacks. He did not address the teen pregnancy rate amongst Latina teens which was higher than all other groups and merited more attention than the false narrative of irresponsible Black men. Once again we are faced with a focus group marketing campaign better suited to selling soap than the office of the presidency but just as effective.
“Our enemy is the wealthy elite but we have been conned into the dark abyss of racism.”
We live in a fascist state which has as another of its characteristics the merger of corporate power and state power. There can be no doubt that the pharmaceutical industry and the health insurance industry control our health care policies. There is no doubt the congressional-military-industrial complex controls our endless wars to preserve profits for a few. There is no doubt the criminals from the finance industry controls the entire United States economy. We can go down the list: energy; environment; justice; agriculture; immigration etc. They are all controlled by the corporate state following their merger with the state. We can no longer afford to live in denial.
If we are to poison the roots of fascism we must start with racism. It begins at the personal level not at the legislative level. Only I can eradicate my own racism and only you can eradicate your racism. Racism is a learned subject and it is a subject which can be unlearned. We can start by erasing forever our thoughts, deeds, and actions which are clouded by racism. Skin color only exists as a protection from the sun’s rays. Racism is fueled by the idiotic notion of White supremacy. History informs us there is no such thing. Learning how to respect on the personal level is important because each person is important. In order to reclaim democracy and eradicate fascism we must develop our own humanity. If we don’t eternal subjection is our future.
We must begin to take our responsibility as citizens seriously. We cannot afford to rely on the deceitful media to inform us, yet we continue to be stuck to the corporate media as a moth to a flame. The projections for the 2012 presidential campaign is over $2 billion in spending. About 80% will go to marketing and most of that will buy television ads. If we turn off our televisions, that money will have no effect at all. Is that asking too much in order to defeat fascism or is watching television more important than our future? Sheldon Wolin writes of our responsibility, “…democratization of politics remains merely formal without the democratization of the self. Democratization is not about being ‘left alone’, but about becoming a self that sees the values of common involvements and endeavors and finds in them a source of self-fulfillment.” Let us come together and destroy all those behaviors which fertilize the roots of fascism. Then we can destroy the tree of fascism so the tree of democracy can grow.
Mike Pirsch lives and works Bangkok, Thailand. He can be contacted at hihomikon(at)yahoo.com.
1. New York Observer, December 30,2010
2. Thomas Ferguson, “Best Buy Targets Are Shopping A Debt Deal”, The Financial Times of London, London England. July 26, 2011
4. Sheldon Wolin, “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism” Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey. 2008 page 43
5. Henry Wallace, “ The Dangers Of American Fascism” New York Times April 9, 1944 (reprint from Truthout.org; http://truthout.org/the-dangers-amereican-fascism68098)
6. Dr. Lawrence Britt “Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism” May 28, 2003 http://www.rense.comgeneral137/char.htm
7. Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais “Labor’s Untold Story” United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Pittsburg Pennsylvania page 282
8. Wolin Ibid page 58
9. Human Rights Watch “Targeting Blacks” http://www.hrw.org/en/node/62236/section/8
10. Marc Mauer and Ryan King “Uneven Justice: State Rates Of Incarceration By Race and Ethnicity” The Sentencing Project July 2007 http://www.sentencingproject.org
11. Randy Sheldon “Drug War Update: Nothing Succeeds Like Failure” March 19, 2004 http://www.zmag.org/content/print_articlecfm?itemID=5173§ionID=43
12. Julie Hollar “Wealth Gap Yawns and So Do Media: Little Interest In Study Of Massive Race/Gender Disparities” EXTRA! A publication of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) February 6, 2010
13. Wolin Ibid page 289.