Monday, February 28, 2005

Fascism Anyone?

Fascism Anyone?
Laurence W. Britt

The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23,
Number 2.

Free Inquiry readers may pause to read the "Affirmations of Humanism:
A Statement of Principles" on the inside cover of the magazine. To a
secular humanist, these principles seem so logical, so right, so
crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is
anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And
fascism's principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously
masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for.
The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only
overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from
history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is
the norm.

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi
Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German
and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this
twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this
worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated
by protofascist(1) regimes at various times in the twentieth century.
Both the original German and Italian models and the later
protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics.
Although many scholars question any direct connection among these
regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and
protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of
their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the
informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the
interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing
shed needed light on current circumstances.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following
regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's
Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's
Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national
identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all
followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding,
and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been
overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic
characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that
link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of
power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in
some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level
of similarity.

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