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Fascism

2016-05-29

Over the past twenty years or so, a number of countries have fallen under the control of “strong men” governments that in some respects resemble the fascist and imperialist governments of the 1930’s.  For example, Vladimir Putin, a former executive in the Soviet Union’s Secret Service (an essential part of any fascist government for spying on and controlling its people) took charge of Russia and prevented its evolution into a democratic state.  Recep Erdogan has taken over Turkey and turned it from a secular, majority Muslim state into a proto-fascist semi-secular Muslim state.  Xi Jinping has taken power in China and prevented it from evolving from a Communist-totalitarian state.

From a NYT article on Donald Trump and the other countries in the world that have fascist-leaning governments:

The debate about terminology may ignore the seriousness of the conditions that gave rise to Mr. Trump and his European counterparts. The New York real estate developer has tapped into a deep discontent in a country where many feel left behind while Wall Street banks get bailouts, newcomers take jobs, terrorists threaten innocents and China rises economically at America’s expense.

“It seems to me in developed and semideveloped countries there is emerging a new kind of politics for which maybe the best taxonomic category would be right-wing populist nationalism,” said Stanley Payne, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We are seeing a new kind of phenomenon which is different from what you had” in the 20th century.

Roger Eatwell, a professor at the University of Bath, in England, calls it “illiberal democracy,” a form of government that keeps the trappings of democracy without the reality.

“Elections are seen as important to legitimizing regimes,” he said, but instead of imposing one-party rule, as in the past, today’s authoritarians “use a variety of devices to control and/or manipulate the media, intimidate opponents” and so on.

Either way, it has found pockets of support on both sides of the Atlantic. Lilia Shevtsova, a political analyst in Moscow, said neo-fascism in liberal societies in the West stems from crisis or dysfunction while in illiberal countries like Russia and Turkey it reflects an attempt to fill the void left by the failure of Western notions to catch on.

The problem, she added, is that “the Western political leadership at the moment is too weak to fight the tide.”

The root of the problem in the US is weakness of the federal government.  Since the election of 2000, there has been a widespread sense of disillusionment with American government.  If you recall, the election was a three-way race, between George W. Bush, Ralph Nader, and Al Gore.  Ralph Nader won 2.7% of the vote, enough to deny Al Gore a victory and throw the election to George W. Bush.  The popular vote totals showed Al Gore with 50,999,897 (103 less than 51 million) or 48.38%, George W. Bush with 50,456,002 or 47.87%, and Ralph Nader with 2,882,955.

The conclusion from the overall voting is that a majority of American voters preferred Al Gore or someone “more liberal” like Ralph Nader of the Association of State Green Parties (on the ballot in only 43 states.)  Allowing for the increased percentage of voters actually going to the polls and the likelihood that those who cannot vote for whatever reason are oriented more to the left than those who can and do vote, the majority of the American people in 2000 were in favor of more left-wing or liberal policies than those of George W. Bush.  Yet Bush was inaugurated and proceeded to take America far to the right with a side order of economic chaos.

The invasion of Iraq and the destabilization of the economy were the legacies of this fake “democratic” election.  Poor economic growth led to poor job growth and an increase in personal debt to unsustainable levels.  Personal bankruptcies increased despite the tightened bankruptcy laws passed by a confused Congress.  The crisis in 2007-8 led to a collapse in the net worth of many middle-class people who lost their jobs and the equity in their homes.

Congress acted to save the economy from collapse by shoring up the big banks; the number of banks has decreased from 32 to four.  Congress did not act to save the middle class consumer from the loss of equity in homes and as a result, many people have lost all their “savings” (their borrowing ability) as well as their jobs.  This action to save the banks and bankers but not the mortgagees became very public as a sign that Congress is in the hands of those who can afford to pay for their services, not those who have voted them into power.

The results of this travesty of democracy have been a complete loss of confidence for the American people in the political system.  Lacking confidence that the system will support them, they vote for the candidates who promise to “Make America Great Again.”  They don’t care about democracy and the protection of human rights as much as they care about government that works.

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