can’t see the forest

Ten Steps to a Fascist America

Posted in 9/11, activism, Fascism, government, Politics, Propaganda, Terrorism, USA, war by Curtis on 9/23/07

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The contemporary historian David Hackett Fischer cautions, in his infamous Historians’ Fallacies (1970), against something he calls the ‘didactic fallacy.’ Fischer says that it is generally unwise to consider historical circumstances from the past as a kind of instruction manual for the present. This is a caveat against the logic of Santayana’s well known admonition that those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

Whatever Fischer’s original intent, this caution is sometimes construed to downplay relationships between circumstances which are indeed quite pertinent to one another. While it is true that there is such a thing as reading too much between the lines, and while we are all guilty of drawing faulty inferences from time to time, Fischer should have known that the didactic fallacy could itself be used as a form of the ‘aesthetic fallacy’ which he delineates as a tendency to present facts selectively in support of a given viewpoint or cause. More often than not, there are inferences and instructions to be drawn from history which are directly applicable to contemporary issues. Author Naomi Wolf would like to bring to your attention a few of them now.

Courtesy of PG, here, from The Guardian, is Wolf’s ‘Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps.’ Please follow the links for more details.

1.) Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.

2.) Create a gulag (penal system outside the bounds of the constitutional judiciary).

3.) Develop a thug caste.

4.) Set up an internal surveillance system.

5.) Harass citizens’ groups.

6.) Engage in arbitrary detention and release.

7.) Target key individuals (academics, intellectuals, activists, artists).

8.) Control the press.

9.) Equate dissent with treason (or, at least, lack of patriotism).

10.) Suspend the rule of law (e.g., “national emergency”).

What Wolf is emphasizing is that, while not all of these events have unfolded or necessarily will unfold in the United States of today, the career of the Bush administration has definitely tended in this direction—and that these proceedings, as outlined by the author, are common to the construction and implementation of authoritarian governments in once-democratic societies.

There are many aspects of contemporary lifestyle and society that would present problems with the imposition of an authoritarian government with the enthusiastic, forceful pomp so characteristic of the regimes of yesterday. The traditional coup d’état is no longer fashionable, it seems—like hand-cranked ice cream makers. In considering these differences, perhaps we would be wise to keep Fischer in one ear. But while the rules of the game may have changed, the basic idea is still the same. There is little difference in the rhetoric; it is only the delivery which is à la mode.

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