Posts Tagged ‘Benito Mussolini’

Refuse Fascism

November 2, 2017

Be sure to mark November 4 on your calendar because that is the day the revolution begins. Massive street demonstrations all over the country will drive the Fascist Trump/Pence regime out of power. At least, that is what the good people at Refuse Fascism hope will happen.

In less than a week, it begins; in 19 cities across the country, we will unite with courage and conviction, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to put a stop to the grave danger that the Trump/Pence regime poses to the world. Only the people acting together in non-violent mass protest, raising the demand that this regime must step down from power, can end this nightmare.

We are right to do this. For the survival of millions of people around the world, we must do this. For the rights of women to determine the course of their own lives, we must do this. For a future on this planet for all of our children, we must do this. If we don’t want to see white supremacist mob rule, in the government or in the streets, we must do this. For every group that is demonized and targeted by this regime, for whom this regime is already a brutal nightmare, we must do this. Our actions reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want – in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

These days, whenever I see someone using the word “Fascism”, I cannot help but think of Inigo Montoya’s line from the Princess Bride. I do not think they have the slightest idea what Fascism actually is.

 


Fascism is not a general term of abuse to be hurled against Conservatives, or whoever you do not like. Fascism is a word that describes a particular social and political ideology. According to Dictionary.com, Fascism is:

a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

Politically, a Fascist state is a one party totalitarian state ruled by a charismatic dictator, in which the government claims total control over the lives of the citizen’s while those citizens have no rights the government is obliged to respect. Fascist economic policy is essentially anti-free market Socialism that while permitting private ownership of the economy controls it to such an extent that such ownership is largely nominal.

Is Trump a Fascist? Of course not. Trump has not suspended the constitution, abolished opposition parties, thrown dissidents in prison, or anything or the sort. Like it or not Donald Trump won the election and is the duly elected President of the United States.  Setting aside his often ill-conceived words, Trump’s actions as president have been entirely what one might expect of a slightly right of center president. If Donald Trump weren’t Trump, little of what he is doing would be controversial.

There are no mainstream figures in American politics who could even remotely be considered Fascists. There is no American Fascist Party. There are no politicians describing themselves as Fascists. The people who claiming to be fighting Fascism can go home. They have no one to fight.

I have to wonder what groups like Refuse Fascism hope to accomplish with these protests. The President’s term of office is set by the constitution at four years. Unless Donald Trump is impeached and convicted of a crime or resigns, he will be president in 2020 regardless of how many people are protesting against him. There is no constitutional provision for a do-over election. If both Donald Trump and Mike Pence resign or are removed from office, there is a clear line of succession  established by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. If the President and Vice-President are unable to serve, then the Speaker of the House Republican Paul Ryan becomes President. The Senate President Pro Tempore, Republican Orrin Hatch is next, followed by the Cabinet Secretaries, all appointed by Trump, in order of the creation of their department. There is no legal or constitutional means by which Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders gets to be president, even if both Trump and Pence are removed. At present every single person in the line of succession is a Republican, and presumably part of the Fascist regime. This will only change if the Democrats gain a majority in either House of Congress in the 2018 midterms.

Given that even impeaching Trump and Pence would only result in other members of the Fascist regime becoming president, there is no legal, constitutional way to remove the Fascist regime. How, precisely do they plan to go about it non-violently, and how are we supposed to select a new president, given that the constitution will have been discarded? Is it the plan to force a democratically elected president and his cabinet from power and replace him with a leader chosen by a mob?

Ironic is a word that is overused but there is something ironic going on here, since these people don’t seem to have studied history at all. Overthrowing an elected government by the threat of mob violence is precisely what Benito Mussolini did with his March on Rome in 1922 and Adolf Hitler tried to tried to do with his Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. When you consider the very real possibility of violence breaking out at some of these anti-Fascist protests, based on the past history of violence by the Antifa, it might seem that the real Fascists are the ones protesting Fascism.

There is the irony. Refuse Fascism will not be able to force Donald Trump from the Presidency, but if they manage to create an atmosphere of disorder and chaos by continuous, daily, possibly violent, demonstrations they will succeed in creating the atmosphere that a real dictator can take over. Again, if they had actually bothered to study history, they would know that Fascist dictators like Mussolini and Hitler were preceded by chaotic, lawless conditions in their respective countries. If regular, constitutional government cannot maintain the order people need to live their lives, they will turn to the strongman who can.

If the people planning to protest this Saturday really wanted to fight Fascism, they would protest Trump’s policies while acknowledging that he is the legitimate President and not a dictator. They would be putting their efforts into recruiting candidates for office in the upcoming elections and seeing to it that he is a one-term president. But, that would take knowledge and maturity, two characteristics not often associated with the Left. It’s easier just to have a giant temper tantrum.

 

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Obama is Not Mussolini

October 27, 2014

We really need to stop comparing American politicians to dictators. No one in contemporary American politics, including President Obama is anything like Hitler, Stalin, or Mussolini and making such comparisons is not only ridiculous, but a disgrace to the memory of those who have suffered under real dictators. What brings this on is a recent statement by Mark Levin that Obama will go “full Mussolini” after the upcoming election. I understand what Mark Levin means. Faced with a hostile Congress controlled by the Republicans, it is likely that Obama will make extensive use of executive orders to enact the policies he wants. He does not have to face another election so he need not concern himself with the political consequences of his actions. He could very well attempt to complete the fundamental transformation of this country in the last half of his second term.

 


A young Mussolini in his early years in power.

Not Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

But, taking all of that into consideration, Barack Obama will still not be Benito Mussolini. Mussolini gained control of Italy by force and he aspired to have total control over the country. He really was a dictator and there were no formal checks or balances on the power he could wield in Italy. Mussolini never really had the sort of control that Hitler had in Germany or the Communists in Russia or China, partly because the Italians are less given to marching in ranks than others and partly because he had to contend with the Roman Catholic Church and the Italian monarchy. Still, for eighteen years, Mussolini controlled the destiny of Italy. No matter how many executive orders he writes, Barack Obama will not have that kind of control over the United States. Italy was a one party state under Mussolini. We still have two opposing parties here, as well as a mostly free press and freedom of speech, for now. If anything, it is likely that the next two years will prove to be intensely frustrating for Obama. He will be a lame duck. After six years, the people will be tired of him and ready to move on. The 2016 election will attract more and more of the nation’s attention and of Obama’s popularity continues to drop, the candidates may prefer not to be seen with him. I predict he will be playing a lot more golf over the next two years.

 

English: Cropped version of File:Official port...

Not Benito Mussolini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

Conan the Fascist

July 23, 2013

One of my favorite movies is Conan the Barbarian, the 1982 release starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I like this movie more because of the magnificent score by Basil Poledouris than because of any merits the film possesses, although it is a good movie. Not too long ago, I was wasting time, looking up things on Wikipedia when I came across some interesting comments in its article of Conan the Barbarian.

Ebert was disturbed by the depiction of a “Nordic superman confronting a black”, in which the “muscular blond” slices off the black man’s head and “contemptuously [throws it] down the flight of stairs”. His sentiment was shared by Adam Roberts, an Arthurian scholar, who also said Conan was an exemplar of the sword and sorcery films of the early 1980s that were permeated in various degrees with fascist ideology. According to Roberts, the films were following the ideas and aesthetics laid down in Leni Riefenstahl‘s directorial efforts for Nazi Germany. Roberts cautioned that any political readings into these sword and sorcery films with regards to fascism is subjective.

Robin Wood, a film critic, suggests that in most cases, there is only a thin veneer between individualism and fascism; he also said that Conan is the only film in that era to dispense with the disguise, openly celebrating its fascist ideals in a manner that would delight Riefenstahl.

I am not a movie critic and I neither know nor care if there are Fascist or individualist themes in Conan the Barbarian. What I would like to know is, why in the world would anyone think that Fascism and individualism are in any way connected. Here is what Benito Mussolini had to say about individualism. Since Benito Mussolini is the man who created Fascism, I think he would know more than anyone else what it is all about.

 

Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State, which is the conscience and universal will of man in his historical existence. It is opposed to classical Liberalism, which arose form the necessity of reacting against absolutism, and which brought its historical purpose to an end when the State was transformed into the conscience and will of the people. Liberalism denied the State in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual. And if liberty is to be the attribute of the real man, and not of that abstract puppet envisaged by individualistic Liberalism, Fascism is for liberty. And for the only liberty which can be a real thing, the liberty of the State and of the individual within the State. Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value, outside the State. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops and gives strength to the whole life of the people.

In the Fascist State the individual is not suppressed, but rather multiplied, just as in a regiment a soldier is not weakened but multiplied by the number of his comrades. The Fascist State organizes the nation, but it leaves sufficient scope to individuals; it has limited useless or harmful liberties and has preserved those that are essential. It cannot be the individual who decides in this matter, but only the State.

Fascism, like Communism, Nazism, and many other “isms” is a collectivist totalitarian ideology. If there it any political ideology based on individualism, it would be classical liberalism, what most people think of as democracy. Under classical liberalism, the state exists for the purpose of protecting the rights of the individual. Persons are believed to have inalienable rights which no government may justly take away.  Under Fascism, and other forms of Socialism, the individual exists to serve the state, or the race, or the working class, etc. Individuals have, as Mussolini said, rights only insofar as these rights benefit the state. Fascism and individualism are not linked but are opposites.

I think I know where the mistake lies, though. Fascism, like Communism, was a revolutionary ideology. Fascists sought to do away with existing traditions and institutions and reorganize society on a more authoritarian and regimented basis. People generally seem to believe that revolutionaries of any sort seek to do away any restraints on the individual, despite the fact that Fascists and Communist made no secret of their plans for a post-revolutionary dictatorship and that their political parties tended to be organized along military lines even before they seized power. And, in fact, revolutionaries do often preach indulgence to weaken society and make it easier to overthrow. The Bolsheviks preached free love before the Revolution. Afterward, they turned into puritans. Thus we have idiots who wear Che Guevera shirts because he resisted the Batista dictatorship, never mind that the Castro dictatorship that followed made Batista look like Thomas Jefferson.

I might hope that someone reasonably well informed would know better. Perhaps film critics don’t know very much about political ideologies.

 


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