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Synthesis/Regeneration 36   (Winter 2005)


Forum on Green Politics

Fascism in the US?

Pete Dolack’s article in the fall edition of Synthesis/Regeneration questioning whether fascism could happen in the US is well written and deserves careful reading and reflection. The point where I would differ with Mr. Dolack is in the necessity of a political dictatorship in the traditional sense of one-person rule. That is the style of fascism that evolved during the 1930s, but I don’t see that as a necessary requirement for a fascist system. According to Webster, fascism is a political philosophy emphasizing extreme nationalism, cultural/racial purity (xenophobia), a capitalist economy either controlled or at least directed by a centralized government, suppression of dissent, and an authoritarian, monolithic political power structure, but not necessarily a dictatorship.

I suggest that, beginning with the Alien and Sedition Acts in the late 18th century, the US government has consistently attacked dissenters, sometimes in lesser degree, sometimes in greater degree, and often violently. The US government is perfectly willing to use everything in its power, including violence, against its citizens to maintain its control.

As for the need to have a one-person or at least one-party dictatorship, I believe that already exists. I submit that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats in any meaningful way and that they intend to keep it this way. Thus, we have a one-party dictatorship in fact, if not in name.

I agree with Mr. Dolack that we will not see a 1930s style of fascism with storm troopers and a one-person dictatorship. They aren’t necessary. The US already has enough military/police power to control a population that is taught to revere representatives of national authority and to be afraid of non-Americans (constant terror alerts and color codes that change with the wind direction). With sufficient police power to violently suppress the small number of dissenters who stand up to the government and the skillful use of propaganda and fear to control the rest of the population, there is no need to venture into territory that may cause large numbers of American citizens to begin questioning the government. Nor is there any one person or one party (in name) that could capture the loyalty of most American citizens. The US is too large and diverse a country.

Instead, what we have is a country in which economic power, the primary moving force of a capitalist country, buys, sells, and directs political power. Instead of a 1930s-style dictator we have a two-party system firmly entrenched in US politics with the two parties being merely “two sides of the same coin.” Instead of the indiscriminate use of violence to intimidate large numbers of people, we have the selective but high-profile use of violence when necessary and the media as a propaganda outlet to influence the thinking and activities of most people.

One political encyclopedia that I read defined this style as “corporate fascism.” In light of President Calvin Coolidge’s famous quote, “The business of the United States is business,” it seems an apt definition, especially in the Reagan-Clinton-Bush era. But it’s fascism nonetheless. And it needs to be resisted by those who value concepts like human rights, civil liberties, diversity, equality, and freedom.

Dale Fuller
Georgia Green Party

Imagining United Progressives

Imagine if, for the 2008 presidential election in the United States, all the progressive parties and organizations in the country set aside their sectarianism and nominated a common candidate. Imagine, for a moment, such a campaign on a United Progressive (UP) ticket. Instead of the Greens, the Socialists, the Communists, the Reformers, and every other party or group that espoused progressive ideas, each of them running their own candidate who would get less than 1%of the vote, imagine them pulling together to run someone capable of making a decent showing in the election. Perhaps someone famous, who had instant name recognition but belonged to none of these parties or groups.

Imagine if all the progressive magazines in the country, instead of urging that person not to run because it might hurt the Democratic candidate’s chance of beating the Republican that year, all got behind the UP campaign. Imagine if the parties and groups in the UP campaign were able to pool their fundraising activities enough that they could buy some time for spot television commercials, adding legitimacy to the campaign and winning new converts.

Imagine if the UP campaign kicked off a year before the election, and stressed issues that all progressives could agree upon, like ending wars against countries that have not attacked us or declared war on us. Getting off of imported oil and using more renewable sources such as alcohol, wind and solar power as well as conservation would be another issue we might all agree on, and opposition to nuclear power with its inherent dangers.

Maybe we could agree that there would be no more “development” in wildlife areas that ends up eliminating the native plants and animals. Perhaps we could agree that poverty could and should be abolished by means of basic income guarantee (BIG) via a negative income tax. Perhaps we all could back a new federal public works program to provide jobs for all those who want to work but cannot find employment in the private market. Maybe we could all agree on a program to make higher education free, as well as national health insurance. Imagine if all supported the passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and vigorous enforcement of existing civil rights laws. Imagine if we all got behind the right of gays and lesbians to get married if they want to.

Imagine also if we worked together to change the rules of the game that keep third parties off the ballot, such as abolishing the winner-take-all Electoral College system and single-member-district plurality elections. Imagine if we campaigned for a law establishing uniform ballot access in the United States instead of the hodgepodge of state laws, where some states have such high signature requirements it is nearly impossible to get on the ballot.

It would be difficult to ask all of us progressives to get our act together and run as a united front, but just imagine if we did for 2008.

Donald F. Busky
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Here We Go Again

I believe it is time we cease looking at our present political situation through the prism of one man’s (or woman’s) potential impact and more through the possibilities that exist currently on the street—that is, our reliance upon one person whether that be someone we do not support (like Bush or Kerry) or someone we may support (like Nader or Cobb) is part of our long-term problem. In the Green Party’s case, we remain too dependent upon our shining stars and when they flake out or disappoint us, we get depressed, lose our fighting spirit, and essentially surrender.

I believe that if every star personality were to leave the Greens, if all our big shots up and joined the Democrats or some other party, saying that they made a mistake or wanted to “go home” I would still be a Green.

Why? Because our parties’ values are right, our vision is right, and our positions are right. We cannot build the future on the backs of a few talented speakers, knee-jerk grandstanders, egomaniacal wanna-be “players” or wanna-be Democratic speechwriters. A future is built now, among the people and based on a vision of where we need to go and a consensus on how to achieve that.

Unfortunately, every time a consensus develops someone bolts with their own ideas and then everyone begins the endless self-examining that ends up splitting us into ever more fractious factions. This is no way to build a Party or a future. At some point we have to trust that those Ten Key Values we espouse are legitimate and work to convince others likewise.

Greens’ opposition to unlimited growth strategies with their consumer-addicted passion for oil and cheap foreign resources seems remarkably prescient when analyzing the current state of world affairs. We have sacrificed our Republic for an empire and we are hated for it and are rapidly becoming feared as a nation. Americans rarely inspire anymore and that is soon seen as the empty promises of politicians hungry for votes and beholden to the real power brokers—the vast corporate dominators of all our lives. We remain ensnared by the same militaristic “leaders,” the same moribund corporate ideology and the same short-sightedness that keep us living and dying like a bunch of global priest-kings, sacrificing our children to the Moloch-like gods of commercialism.

Such an enemy is not to be negotiated or reasoned with but to be destroyed.

We cannot fight the powerful forces that generate such Presidents unless we strengthen ourselves and our message by reaching out, gaining new members and uniting more tightly under one goal and one vision.

We have to break the grip the Democrats have on “people’s movements” by reminding everyone that the only real “people’s” movement today has to be one that begins with the macro-environment and works its way downward, issue by issue, and neighborhood by neighborhood. Otherwise none of us will survive.

The Democrats don’t have that perspective and the Republicans get their weak grip on the people by appealing to all our worst instincts and fears.

A muscular Green movement would not be afraid to challenge the grocery stores over their labor practices as well as their selection of natural and organic produce. A muscular Green movement would not be afraid to enter the lumber mills and listen, not just preach, to what the workers feel about their environment and their livelihoods. Yes, we might get clobbered over the head with some of our ideas and sentiments and, yes, some of them might have to be reconsidered, or retooled, but in essence our vision is pure, our vision is right. We know, and those lumber mill workers and those store clerks and those domestic workers and those office workers all know that our food is unclean, our cities near unlivable and our water and air all at severe risk if we don’t begin moving towards a new and more Green future. This is not a task we can afford to pass up.

Jose M. Tirado

The Importance of Running Candidates

Having the Bush administration has had some benefits in building an organized activism base to unite social justice and environmental efforts that would not ordinarily have come together. Globally, the event of Bush being in office has unmasked the face of Globalization and uncovered the motives of capitalism to the world.

This causes other countries to organize resistance, to turn into activist nations to stop destructive practices which ultimately will draw attention to policies, laws, and legislation we need to change to be fair to our citizens and the world community.

This process of nations standing up to the negative consequences of US world domination should lead to coalitions and eventually a world government. We may be in a civil war of the world and don’t realize it. A world government is needed to help balance world resources fairly and lead to a more effective means to maintain peace and control practices that will ensure a more sustainable environment.

Maintaining the usual status of the two-party system will lead to further erosion and ignoring important issues while further handing over government control to corporations which serve to perpetuate their agendas. As Ralph Nader drums into us, voting for the lesser of two evils still gives us evil. He points out that past issues such as achieving the right for woman to vote and abolishing slavery in the USA were brought foreword by third parties because raising issues creates change by drawing attention to them. Of course the Greens need to run a presidential candidate. We need third parties to act as a litmus test for the bigger parties to gauge when agendas move away from the bases’ majority, thus providing feedback to balance and adjust focus on party mission statements.

James Little
Endicott, New York

[27 dec 04]

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