The 14 Points of Facism: remind you of anyone?

We really enjoy our debates with our friends on the right because it always seems to turn into some sort of history lesson whether its Chuck DeVore commenting on the decline of Greek city-states, or Matt Cunningham covering some nuance of the war in VietNam, or even being schooled on what happened in WWII by some commenters.  It’s all very educational and since social studies was my favorite high school class, its fun too.

I came across an article by Lawrence Britt in the publication Human Secularism; he outlines the 14 points of facism through an analysis of these regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia.

He writes: “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.”

The 14 points are listed below; and after reading it, I can but help to draw similarities between these chracteristics and the Bush administration (and their supporters). 

 

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

So, did you have a ScoobyDo moment after thereading this list?  After being called a defeatist, a defeatocrat, a socialist and a member of the America-hating left, I think this list is a nice volley over the net.  I’m curious whose blood pressure winds up going up as a result.

  26 comments for “The 14 Points of Facism: remind you of anyone?

  1. September 20, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Oh yes, Dan, the U.S. is just like Nazi Germany, good job for pointing that out.

    Oh, and never mind that knock at the door at 2 o’clock in the morning, that’s just me and my brown shirted buddies coming to have a talk with you…

    Dan, to even begin to conflate the U.S. in 2007 with a regime that methodically murdered over six million people devalues the enormity of what really happened in the 1940s while simultaneously reducing your credibility.

    As for U.S. nationalism and pride in our military, we’ve always been that way as a nation — that hardly made 1812, 1861, or 1917 America fascist, much less the America of today.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    September 20, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Chuck — I didn’t “conflate” the US with Nazi Germany, but instead the Bush Administration and Republicans with several regimes, so please don’t twist the post to suggest I said something I didn’t. And this isn’t my credibility, its Lawrence Britt’s as he did the analysis and derived the 14 points. I am noting “similarities” and leaving it to you to see or not see them for yourself. You read too much into these posts Chuck. But keep coming back, we love the hits.

    And as far as #1 goes, I’m all for waving the Flag and being proud of our military.  Democrats and Liberals love America; we don’t like what the Bush administration has done to it.

  3. September 20, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    I believe it was Sinclair Lewis who said “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

  4. DP Resident
    September 20, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Why don’t you identify which of the point you think pertain to the current administration.

    Kind of broad brush to paint ALL Republicans this way…. Doesn’t that represent the same kind of narrow minded thinking you are accusing them of?

  5. Dan Chmielewski
    September 20, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html#article_continue

    5, 8, 11, 13 and 14….where do you see it?

  6. Dan Chmielewski
    September 20, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    5, 8, 11, 13 and 14.

    Here’s another clip: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html#article_continue

  7. Dan Chmielewski
    September 20, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    By all means check out Chuck’s response to this post on Red County; talk about a case of “out of context”

  8. September 20, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Riiiight, Dan… You wrote:

    “I came across an article by Lawrence Britt in the publication Human Secularism; he outlines the 14 points of facism through an analysis of these regimes: Nazi Germany…” in a piece entitled “The 14 Points of Facism: remind you of anyone?”

    You then wrote:

    “The 14 points are listed below; and after reading it, I can but help to draw similarities between these chracteristics and the Bush administration (and their supporters).”

    That is pretty straightforward. You conflated Nazi Germany with the Bush Administration.

    It is exactly what you wrote — no straining on my part to understand what you meant at all.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District

  9. September 20, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I think Chuck is using an unfamiliar term that he hopes most readers will define as “compare.” So I looked at dictionary.com.
    conflate \kuhn-FLAYT\, transitive verb:
    1. To bring together; to fuse together; to join or meld.
    2. To combine (as two readings of a text) into one whole.
    I don’t think Dan did either of these. He simply quoted the 14 points and asked readers to draw their own conclusions.
    Clearly these conclusions are upsetting to Chuck.

  10. RHackett
    September 20, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    I believe it was Sinclair Lewis who said “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

    I like this one better.

    “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
    – Denis Diderot

  11. Dan Chmielewski
    September 20, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Chuck —
    I did no such thing; I placed an argument before the reader and suggested there are similarities between facism and the Bush administration. If the current Republican administration reminds you of the Nazis, well that’s your deal. I never said that.

    But ther is a new book out this month that expores this issue in much more detail.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html

    And if memory serves, you “conflated” Liberalism with Nazism dating back to the Woodrow Wilson administration. But that was OK because its OK if a Republican does it.

  12. Steven Greenhut
    September 20, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Dan:

    You are right in documenting the assault on freedoms and civil liberties that has taken place under this terrible, terrible, terrible (three times and you’ll know that I mean it!) administration, but you seem less cognizant that BOTH PARTIES embrace almost identical policies. Republicans expand the police state and all of its apparatus, and also the welfare state (but a little less so) and Democrats expand the social-welfare-nanny state and also the police state (but a little less so). A lot of the Patriot Act was first floated by Bill Clinton. Under both parties, government gets bigger and both parties wage war. (Democrats seem to wage war more than Republicans, although Republicans like it, and all the nationalistic glitz that goes along with war, better.) When President Clinton is in office, my guess — I am only guessing here; my apologies if I end up being wrong — is that I will still be decrying the awfulness of these government policies and you will be defending them because they come from a Democratic administration.

    Steven

  13. Dan Chmielewski
    September 20, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Steve —
    thanks for chiming in. I don’t think Republicans have ever considered the massive increase in executive power they’ve given President Bush in the hands of Hillary Clinton or any Democrat for that matter. And Steve, won’t it be more amusing to watch Republicans who defended Bush’s iron fist of executive power decry this in Hillary, should she be elected. But I expect to be critical of bad policies of any president, regardless of party.

  14. DP Resident
    September 20, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Here is a quote that applies to both parties…

    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys”

    P.J. O’Rourke

  15. Dan Chmielewski
    September 20, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Great quote from PJ; from “Parliment of Whores,” right?

  16. DP Resident
    September 21, 2007 at 12:35 am

    Dan,

    I was a little surprised by your choices. You picked less than 40% of the list. Especially # 13 and 14 – neither party has a monopoly on this behavior.

    Was you post edited? I thought it originally read “administration and Republicans” . Now it reads “administration (and their supporters). If one was a supporter of the Clinton Administration, does that mean they agreed with EVERYTHING that was done?

    Here is one more from P.J. –

    “When buying and selling are controlled by the legislature, the first thing to be bought and sold are the legislators.”

  17. Dan Chmielewski
    September 21, 2007 at 9:48 am

    I could make arguments for tying the Bush administration into each point, but the ones I listed I believe are the most obvious. The post was not edited, I cited the Bush administration and their supporters, because thety are quite a few Republicans sick of this president too. I never said I agreed with everything the Clinton’s did; I think Bill was in such a hurry to show Republicans he could compromise, that bad policy like “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” got passed.

    DP, we do agree on one thing; P.J. O’Rourke is brilliant.

  18. September 21, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Dan,

    What is missing here, any sense of proportion whatsoever.

    For instance, President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and other basic civil liberties in his struggle to maintain the Union. At the other end of the scale, Hitler and Stalin purposefully killed millions of people. (I was interested to note that Stalin’s Soviet Union was not listed under the list of guilty states, although I would argue that communism is a kind of religion when practiced by its followers.) In between these two extremes would be President Franklin Roosevelt’s wartime interning of U.S. citizens of Japanese-American heritage, as well as German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and a few thousand members of the American Bund, a U.S.-based branch of the Nazi Party. Of course, the Bush Administration hasn’t come even close to this latter action, not that one could tell by the hyperventilating on the Left.

    Has the current Administration increased government power at the expense of civil liberties? Yes. This always happens in times of war. Do I like it? No. Neither did I like the attacks of 9/11, but they happened and now we have to deal with the aftermath. Are some of the security measures needed? Yes. Interestingly, the ones that are Constitutionally suspect are being challenged and debated as they should be. This is hardly suggestive of some police state as you (Dan Chmielewski) intimated in his first post on this blog.

    As for the U.S. being patriotic and religious, we have always been thus; even Alexis de Tocqueville noted so in Democracy in America (points 1 and 8 in the original post).

    As a counter to this, I think you should be more concerned with the national Democrats proposal to resurrect the “Fairness Doctrine” – now that is a major infringement on our First Amendment rights, is it not? It also fits restrictions on the mass media (#6).

    Lastly, P.J. O’Rourke is great, I’ve read much of his work.

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    State Assemblyman, 70th District
    http://www.ChuckDeVore.com

  19. Dan Chmielewski
    September 21, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    “Of course, the Bush Administration hasn’t come even close to this latter action, not that one could tell by the hyperventilating on the Left.”

    Chuck — how do you know? The president can declare anyone an enemy combatant for any reason and lock them away without being charged, without a laywer and without telling anyone. Surely you’re aware of the rendition carried out by the Bush and Clinton administrations. Some of those held in Guantanamo have been there 5 years without being charged. Imagine an American citizen being held under similar circumstances?

    I will be curious to see how you feel about this expansion of presidenial power when Hillary Clinton takes the oath of office. ;)

    Yes, I have read all of PJ’s work including his many articles in National Lampoon. He is a thoughtful conservative. Might I suggest you read some of Molly Ivins work too, in particular, her coverage of the Texas State Legislature.

  20. Dan Chmielewski
    September 21, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Funny, I don’t recall hyperventilating over this post……

  21. September 22, 2007 at 2:16 am

    Assemblyman DeVore,

    You said:

    Has the current Administration increased government power at the expense of civil liberties? Yes. This always happens in times of war.

    Please point to the Congressional declaration of war that you are talking about. Last I checked the Congress, and only Congress, can declare war. There is no “Declaration of War” by the United States of America currently in place; therefore no state of war exists.

    Your claim that the increase in government power at the expense of civil liberties is justified because of a non-existent war is a direct example of tactic #7. Claiming to be at war is just another aspect of the propaganda used to support the unconstitutional actions of a fascist regime.

  22. September 22, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    But Chris, don’t you know, we’re in a de facto state of war. As such, Dubya, in the permanent role of Commander in Chief, can do anything, anytime, that is in defense of the country. And he gets to decide what is “in defense of the country”

  23. September 22, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    But Gary,

    That reality only exists in the small world of George W. Bush, and the 17% of Americans who live with him there.

    Small World Disneyland

    And it is a small world after all.

  24. October 20, 2007 at 9:32 am

    This is an interesting list! Yet I find the comparisons work equally well with the liberal left:

    2 Disdain for the importance of human rights. (abortion and euthanasia. )
    3 . Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. (Rush Limbaugh, Bush, Christians, etc)
    6. A controlled mass media. (CNN, PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, The AP)
    8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. (Secular humanism)
    11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. (should be changed to read Disdain and suppression of opposing views. read: fairness doctrine)
    13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. (William Jefferson, Pelosi’s husband and military contracts, Harry Reid – land deals, Clinton – Norman Hsu – the list goes on…)
    14. Fraudulent elections. (Registering dead and non-existent voters, eliminating absentee ballots from the military, physical attacks on opposing campaign headquarters…)

  25. matthew moore
    February 10, 2008 at 11:43 am

    All the little protofascists of America are coming out in support of the failed Neocon policies, and expressing their admiration for the BNP, Wolfowitz, Michael Ledeen and Michael Savage.

    Not one of these brownshirts can describe the origins of Neoconservatism, let alone the influences of Stauss and Trotsky on these fascist, elitist criminals.
    The profound ignorance of many Americans (and their representatives) may well facilitate our undoing as a proud and Just nation.

  26. RLG
    February 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Americans have indeed displayed their profound ignorance and continue to do so.

    I am more optimistic about our nation.

    Vote for HILLARY to ensure our success.

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