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Fascism in America

By Johnny Reb

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and wearing a cross." - attributed to Sinclair Lewis (1885 - 1951)

"When [modern man] is completely infantile ... he does not need and does not have an understanding of the outer world. It exists for him merely as gratification or denial." - Walter Lippmann (1889-1973)

Introduction and Background

Fascism is one of those words that sounds like it belongs in the past, conjuring up, as it does, marching jack boots in the streets, charismatic demagogues as in Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy's or Franco's Spain's with appeals to "law and order" followed by armed crackdowns on dissent and freedom of expression. Political Scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and several US supported Latin American regimes. He found 14 defining characteristics common to each and can be viewed here and elsewhere on the internet.

Consider a very tantalizing conjecture: "Germany may have been the loser in WW II, but the winner was fascism". It suggests that Nazi Germany was merely a foremost conduit for fascism, an ideology that represents the most extreme form of capitalism yet known in the modern era. Capitalism has proven itself to be the most politically adaptable socio-economic ideology in history. In contemporary China for example the Communist Party has shown itself to be most ruthless and proficient at orchestrating their own very successful version of hyper-capitalism, driving an economy that now has a growth rate eight times that of the United States. China is now deemed the driving force of the global markets with every economist and securities analyst focusing on every morsel of news out of that country.

Yes, capitalism is a very adaptable ideology. It flourished during the 500 year enslavement and genocide of indigenous people throughout the colonial world and the subsequent theft of their land and resources, primarily enriching a small elite. The theft of resources continues today under imperialism, the main perpetrator of which is the United States, which took over the hegemony when the British and Western European colonial empires collapsed after World War II. Nothing much changes with who suffers and who benefits under capitalism, does it? A devious form of neo-colonialism is now being applied within our own countries. Here is Chris Hedges in a recent article "Colonized by Corporations":

"We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability - keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits - ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game."

Fascism arose primarily in reaction to the birth of communism and other leftist movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The creation of the Soviet Union in 1917 following the Bolshevik revolution was the first-ever direct challenge to the capitalist order, and it sent a message of alarm and panic among the capitalists of the West, who reacted with alacrity.

Here's a bar room trivia question that, based on the propaganda fed to us in our high school history courses, I expect few can answer.

In what year did the US invade the Soviet Union?

The answer is 1918-20. Throughout history people's revolutions have been sabotaged by police and military power, agents of wealthy conservative elites, and eventually violently crushed by capitalist countries like the United States and Britain. These countries incited a civil war in Russia after the Bolshevik takeover, siding with the Romanov monarchy, one of the most vile, oppressive and cruel tyrannies in history. During the Spanish Civil War western capitalist countries also refused to support the forces of democracy on the side of the burgeoning Republic against the forces of theocracy and autocracy represented by Franco's fascists. And witness what the US has done to Cuba for the past 60 years, a shameful policy that continues unabated today?

Following the Revolution of 1917, the Russian Bolsheviks, while attempting to establish a people's democracy, fought a civil war for several years against the last vestiges of the Romanov monarchy. As mentioned above, this war was primarily due to the financial and military support provided to the monarchy by the United States, Britain, France and several other compliant capitalist countries. There was fear and trepidation within the conservative capitalist oligarchies of the West that the people's revolution in Russia may spread to their own countries. When Lenin died in 1923, combined with the effects of a protracted civil war, the agenda of a genuine people's democracy in Russia was lost. Stalin, who Lenin warned about, gained control and Trotsky was banished from the country. He was eventually assassinated in exile in Mexico in 1940 by the NKVD. Consequently Russia under Stalin descended into totalitarianism.

The powers that be in Italy and Germany lost their nerve after WWI and during the Great Depression despite the fact there existed a progressive revolution in Germany that was almost successful in the final months of WWI until the early 1920's. The Bolsheviks were waiting for the German Revolution to carry them forward and had to reorganize after it failed. Lenin relied so much on this revolution that he was accused of being a German agent. It took almost five years to unravel. Then there was hyperinflation, primarily the result the vindictive reparations written into the Treaty of Versailles that only served to radicalize the German people further.* The left was very powerful in Germany at the time and was threatening to take down the fragile conservative autocracy that had led Germany into the debacle of the Great War. One might speculate as to what may have developed if Germany did have a successful socialist revolution? History surely would have been totally different, not only in Germany, but particularly in Russia and other countries with strong socialist movements.

* Interestingly, there was an attempted socialist revolution in Germany immediately following its defeat in 1918, with the aim of duplicating the results in Russia. But while pre-revolutionary Russia was an extreme agrarian monarchical oligarchy controlling and enslaving a mass of serfs, Germany was an industrialized society, with a strong middle class and a long history of mercantilism leading to capitalism; the revolution failed because it was not consonant with the "bourgeois" values extant in German society. Only when the crushing wartime reparations inflicted upon Germany, followed by the global depression, followed by the ineffectiveness of the liberal Weimar Republic, exacerbated by its undermining by the Nazis, did an extreme shift occur in Germany: fascism in the form of Nazism; recall that fascism is an extreme phase of capitalism, which was already resident in Germany.

In Italy after WWI there was a phenomenon referred to as the two "red years" (1920-21), whereby worker factory councils sprung up and radical parties were emerging throughout the country. Italy too had strong socialist parties that didn't disappear even after Mussolini's rise to power, despite doing all he could to eradicate them. The Italian left, along with the Greek and French left, probably would have won the elections after WWII if it was not for the interventions of the CIA and US military. The conservative elites, big land owners and wealthy investor classes in Italy and Greece were the main supporters of the fascists. They financed the fascists to sabotage union halls and socialist gatherings, destroy or confiscate their literature and beat up and sometimes kill their members. These chaotic post war events and intrusions of the US into their affairs are a major contributing factor to the current dismal conditions of politics and economics in both of these countries today. Greece is in a total state of collapse and Italy and Spain are likely facing a similar fate.

In Germany during these social revolutionary movements, even the Social Democrats (a right of centre political faction) eliminated and often killed opponents on their left such as brilliant intellectuals like Rosa Luxemburg. The big industrialists in Germany also supported the Nazis policy of attacks on leftist political factions and trade unions to avoid any concessions to the working classes. In both countries the people with money didn't lose their political influence; they supported the fascists who represented, at the very least, the lesser of two evils. When the political climate changes, elites will always adapt, protecting their historical entitlements and wealth at any cost. Some capitalists might not have fully supported the fascist’s ruthless practices, but they feared the worker movements on the left far more than the right wing extremism of fascism. In Germany and Spain the left was essentially wiped out, so there was little or nothing to stop the fascist contagion in those countries. The first death camps in the Third Reich were reserved for Hitler's political enemies on the left, primarily freethinkers, trade unionists, communists and socialists.

American companies have a long history of support for fascism; and it wasn't restricted to the plot against Roosevelt. There was IBM's role in the building of the concentration camps and Ford Motor Company's presence in Germany with Henry Ford and many other captains of industry avid fans of Hitler. There was Coca Cola's Fanta Orange and Texaco's support for Franco; the list is long. The neutrality of the US, England, France and other Western capitalist countries during the Spanish Civil War speaks volumes about the political sentiments of their conservative elites in government and big business. The US and the West did not support the democratic revolutionaries that dominated the Republican side in Spain since it was dominated by a hodgepodge combination of liberals, socialists and anarchists. So the capitalist countries of the West declared neutrality and refused to support the Republicans. The primarily leftist revolutionary factions in Spain who had wide popular support were fighting not only fascism and Franco, but the Germans and Italians who sent troops and armaments in support of Franco. Even Canada's fundamentalist Christian Prime Minister during the Great Depression, Mackenzie King, was an admirer of Hitler. Many historians have argued that World War Two could have been averted had the Western Allies stopped Hitler and Mussolini in Spain. The Republican side would likely have prevailed in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, had not Franco* received the massive military support from fascist Germany and Italy.

* Franco's brutal dictatorship in Spain, fully supported by the United States, prevailed from 1939 until his death in 1976. The Spanish transition from dictatorship to democracy took place under the dominion of the conservative forces that controlled the apparatus of the fascist state from1939 – 1978. The leadership of the democratic forces had just come out of jail or returned to Spain from exile and could not match the enormous powers that the ultra-right had in the political and religious institutions and in the media where their control was almost absolute. The workers’ mobilization against the dictatorship had been instrumental in ending that dictatorship. From 1974 to 1976, Spain saw the largest number of strikes that existed in Europe, strikes aimed at ending the dictatorship. Franco died in bed but the dictatorship ended in the streets, with workers’ mobilizations. That popular pressure was able to modify but not break, however, the apparatus of the dictatorial state.

The great Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, famous for his brilliant rendering of the 1937 bombing of Guernica by the Lutwaffe, was a staunch defender of the Republican cause. On the other hand, his contemporary Salvador Dali became an avid defender of the Franco dictatorship. He also had, as did Spanish fascism, a cosy relationship with Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII. His loyalty to the fascist dictatorship continued to the very end, defending the state terrorist policies that included political assassinations, even in the last moments of the dictatorship. While on his deathbed Franco signed death warrants of five political prisoners, an act that created an international uproar of moral outrage and protest. Dali defended Franco’s execution orders, indicating that many more death sentences ought to have been signed by the generalissimo, to whom he referred as “the greatest hero of Spain”. Franco was directly responsible for the murder of more Spaniards in Spanish history. Over 120,000 of them are still missing with no knowledge of where they are buried.

The working classes, however, have a memory. Dali was despised by the forces of democracy, especially those who fought on the Republican side during the Civil War and the hundreds of thousands who died or were exiled by the hand of Franco both during and in the war's aftermath. When Franco died, Dali fled from Cadaques, fearing for his life. In1976, during the last years of the dictatorship, a bomb was discovered under his usual seat in a major restaurant in the Republican stronghold of Barcelona. He soon became aware that his life and patrimony could be endangered if the democratic forces were to win. But he underestimated the power of those ultra-conservative Catholic, monarchist and fascist forces that were loyal to him. The King, Juan Carlos I, appointed by General Franco, became the head of state and of the armed forces in the newly established democracy and extended his protection to all the major figures of the fascist establishment including Dali. A monument with his statue was raised in Cadaques.

If you want jackboots you don't need to watch a documentary of Nazis goose stepping past the Reichstag. Simply observe what happens when a successful protest takes place in our own country. Riot-police are now militarized and show ordinary people what happens if you dare challenge the State by trying to air grievances as occurs with regularity throughout the so-called democracies of the world. The state now refers to people trying to protect the environment as eco-terrorists while oil companies, supported by the full force of the law, gouge consumers while polluting the air, oceans and landscape.

The history of the labour movement has been one of violence on the part of police, military and hired corporate thugs who brutalized strikers, protesters and union leaders. Worker rights, decent workplace conditions and liveable wages were won by lengthy battles, never willingly conceded by either Liberal or Conservative administrations.* Isn't it odd that Right-Wing proto-fascist movements - like the Tea Party, which is being courted by the American Nazi Party - is lauded on corporate media such as Fox News while left-Leaning protests are confined to a "free speech zone" gulag, then harassed, beaten down and arrested? Canadians found out just how "free" they were in Toronto at the G-20 and at UBC with the RCMP Sgt. Pepper incident. Presently 175,000 university students, protesting in Quebec over high student tuition and debilitating debt, are feeling the impact a government propaganda campaign designed to demonize them. In addition, the full force of a legal edict against free speech and assembly by the province of Quebec that violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and International Law has been declared. Meanwhile, a fascist police state assault on their democratic right to free assembly and protest is in full swing.

*Last night on TCM they featured the inspirational academy award winning film Norma Rae (1979) one of the best movies on the struggles of working people against overwhelming odds. Fighting against grinding poverty, bellicose abusive management, oppressive police who, as usual, side with corporations against workers, corporate thugs and a state government indifferent to worker rights and congenial to big business the movie is based on a true story of workers efforts to unionize an oppressive textile factory in the American South. Other great movies on the plight of the working class well worth watching are The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Matewan (1987), Silkwood (1983), Bound for Glory (1976) and Harlan County USA (1977), Crooklyn (1994, Hidden in America (1996), North Country (2005).

In the US and Canada, especially the corrupt and inept RCMP, police have proven themselves to be a greater threat to public safety than common criminals. On a Google search on “police brutality” I came up with 183,000,000 entries.

In the past three or four decades, "liberals" and "socialists" have become the new "enemies of the state" - which is what happens when an all-pervasive  corporate right wing media propaganda campaign succeeds and the State serves corporations instead of people. If any "liberal" or left-leaning "socialist" ever acquired an effective platform to get their message out, you can bet they'd be co-opted or shut down forcibly. Anyone who thinks freedom of speech exists in our farcical democracies is deluded. The German people between the two great wars didn't realize what had happened in their country until it was too late to act, and some were in denial right up until 1945. At least those who listened to the propaganda religiously - and religion has always played a major role in maintaining coercive power - and closed their ears, eyes, and minds as books were burned, dissidents incarcerated and freedom of thought denied.

Who runs the justice system in the US and Canada today? I use the term "justice" facetiously because for the 99% who cannot afford high priced legal counsel, it's typically a charade. Now compare who our system of laws and police forces serve and think what happened in Germany in the 1930s. It took several years for the Nazis to gain total state control and started with the sort of subtle repression and denial of freedoms we see right now in our own countries. One might call it "creeping fascism". Hitler never did gain a majority in any election and was unable to capture complete control until conservative elites, leaders of business and industry, military and churches, both Catholic and Protestant, all conceded to his program and leadership. North American fascists, however, have been with us all along, slowly rebuilding their power since their failed overthrow of FDR following the introduction of the New Deal.

In Canada, especially during the Great Depression, fascism* was highly visible and not challenged at all by our right wing governments in the way the Communist Party was. Read Pierre Berton's most excellent book, The Great Depression, for all the gory details, especially Communist leader Tim Buck who was incarcerated for two years in the infamous Kingston Prison for speaking freely at a rally. Both Prime Ministers R B Bennett and Mackenzie King were anti-Semite Christian fundamentalists and rabid anti-communists who ordered police raids on any left wing group who they deemed might be "red", trashing their offices, confiscating their literature and beating up on its members. It's an appalling indictment of Canada as having any claim to being a democracy.

*The extreme right wing provincial governments in Ontario and Quebec, led by labour bashing Mitch Hepburn and crypto-fascist Maurice Duplessis respectively were clearly, by their legislation and actions, bordering on full-blown fascism.

There's probably very little the 99% can do about all this. The rule of law has been effectively suspended, and the merging of the military-corporation-government of which Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us is pretty much complete. The Conservative Corporate Welfare State has become institutionalized, the laws and judiciary exist to serve conservative elites, corruption is systemic and the prospects for real democracy unattainable. There is no apparent charismatic conservative leader on the far right at the present time, but that may have been a liability in many former fascist states. Instead power elites choose obtuse ignorant men like George W Bush for President who can be over-ruled and manipulated by a corporate cabal. And there's little doubt - if your read PNAC (Project for a New American Century) - that taking over the world by military force is the ultimate goal. They boldly boast that they will entertain no challenges from anyone and I do believe they would willingly vaporize the planet rather than retreat. It's that single-minded devotion to the cause - the determination of true believers - that unites like-minded people to their side, be they religious zealots, greedy capitalists or flag waving patriots. I think the eight year tenure of George W Bush vividly demonstrated just how ignorant, indoctrinated, docile, rabidly patriotic and nationalist most people in the United States are.

The political left - the real left and not frauds like the Liberals in Canada or Democrats in the USA - is small, fragmented and ineffectual, even with the collapse of the global capitalist economy. The center, which is where the NDP in Canada has moved, is as usual, weak, too accommodating to corporate power as against the aspirations of the majority and void of any appealing vision. The parties on the centre/left end up being co-opted by whoever holds the most power, usually those sell-out party members on the right. The power centers are certainly not on the left these days. It was trade unionism and their battles with big business that created social justice for workers, thus creating the vibrant middle class after the Second World War. But the unions have also sold out to their corporate masters, have become corrupt and are facing extinction in the private sector. And with conservative governments attacking public sector unions relentlessly with the objective of privatization of all public services and enterprises, their days are numbered as well.

This is a struggle ultimately between the ideas of private and public power. It's become profit above all else, the most insidious of which is profit over people. This means that the primary objective of any grass roots movement is to push back against private power and the massive gaps in wealth allocation. Our most urgent and biggest hurdle is getting the formal power of government to mitigateagainst private power. The subordination of state to corporate power though powerful lobbies and massive amounts of capital that elect and control politicians has all but destroyed any semblance of democracy we once had. The problem with government compliant to the will of corporate power is that the system we're expecting to use as the primary tool to rebalance our social scales is already corrupt and owned, and as a result, change must come from outside that system. It's unlikely it can be reformed because the corruption is systemic and fully entrenched within the political culture. In other words, to rely on working within a dysfunctional system that is an obvious corporate autocracy is futile for the 99% that have become nothing but helpless spectators. Your options have been reduced to going to the polls every four years and voting for a choice of proto-fascist political parties, none of which cares a whit about your interests.

In the 1920s, as Adolph Hitler and his ragtag Munich gang tried to infiltrate and co-opt a left-wing workers' political party, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party), Benito Mussolini and his fascists took total control of Italy in 1922. Curiously, the second country to go fascist was the tiny country of Lithuania, in 1926. Ironically, even as Winston Churchill warned the West about the rise of Hitler, he warmly supported Mussolini. When the Nazis did ascend to power in 1933, it was only possible with the support of German industrial, military and financial power, which saw the Nazis as a bulwark against unionism, socialism and communism and any force on the left. Subsequently, leftist intellectuals and scientists proceeded to leave Germany in en masse.

This belief spread throughout Western capitalist countries, as Charles Higham tried to show in his 1983 book "Trading with the Enemy", Western business interest comprised a "fraternity" that supported Nazi Germany. Ford, Standard Oil, Chase Bank, ITT, and other companies continued to maintain ties with their German operations and subsidiaries before and during World War Two the Paris branch of Chase operated and reported to its New York City headquarters every month throughout the Nazi occupation of France. Henry Ford was one of Hitler's earliest acolytes; Ford also wrote a book in 1927, an anti-Semitic tract called The International Jew. Not surprisingly, the book proved popular with Hitler and his Nazi cohorts. During the war, the US Congress tried unsuccessfully to investigate and halt Standard Oil's collaboration with Nazi Germany since Standard Oil was supplying oil to German U-boats that were sinking merchant ships off the American east coast. The pioneering journalist I.F. Stone wrote about this event during the war.

Higham's book initially sank without a trace, but more recent books such as Max Wallace's "The American Axis" pick up his thesis. Higham did write a follow-up, "American Swastika", which traced the influx of fascists into the US after the war along with home grown antecedents of fascism before the war. The point is, fascism is not an ideology that becomes prevalent in just any country, but rather reflects an ideology that is ubiquitous to highly industrialized ones. After the war, Operation Paperclip did indeed bring the German rocket scientists into the US, many of whom, like Werner Von Braun, had Nazi connections. The Soviets were also engaged in rounding up German scientists for their own space program, but the West proved much more attractive to the scientists both materially and ideologically. One needs to recall that fascism arose in opposition to communism and other left wing ideologies. Clarence Lasby's "Project Paperclip" and Tom Bower's "The Paperclip Conspiracy" both detail this fascinating program to bring the German scientists into the US and, where necessary, sanitize their Nazi connections. That didn't always work however, since in 1985 Arthur Rudolph, inventor of the Saturn V rocket that sent men to the moon, was deported to Germany for his wartime activities.

Even more notable was the drive to recruit German intelligence after the war to use against the Soviet Union; as Harry Rositzke, a CIA agent of the time put it, "It was a visceral business of using any bastard as long as he was anti-Communist." The top "bastard" was General Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's chief of intelligence on the Eastern Front. Gehlen's organization, Fremde Here Ost, was grafted onto the OSS, later the CIA, as the primary source of spying on the Soviet Union. Never mind that Gehlen not only had his own agenda (as a Wehrmacht officer, Gehlen couldn't join the Nazi Party, but he was a fellow traveler), his "Gehlen Org" was riddled with moles and defectors; nevertheless, Gehlen helped to shape Cold War paranoia for the first two decades after World War Two. (E.H. Cookridge's 1973 "Gehlen: Spy of the Century" was one of the first books to profile Gehlen.) Other Nazi intelligence operatives notable to postwar US intelligence include "Hitler's Commando," Otto Skorzeny, and Klaus Barbie, the "Butcher of Lyon," who was arrested and tried in the US in the early 1980s. Christopher Simpson's 1988 book "Blowback" is an excellent summary of US-Nazi collaboration including Project Paperclip. (It's not to be confused with Chalmers Johnson's 2000 book of the same title, although the two subjects are not unrelated.)

My point here is that there is a long history of intimate interaction with fascism in general and Nazism in particular at the highest levels of American business and governance. In fact, as the Henry Ford connection and eugenics movements in the US in the early 20th century make clear, some streams of American thought influenced Nazi principles. When the US did enter World War Two, organizations such as America First, started by aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, and the German-American Bund were actively opposed to the action because they supported the fascists. In an industrialized society, the potential for fascism can be strong particularly during times of economic stress, as we are in now. History shows that these fears are not exaggerated or unfounded.

The potential for fascism can be strong particularly during times of economic chaos and strife. Yes, but which is the cause and which the effect?

That may strike the reader as being a little glib, as if one is trying to force a facile answer. A society reacting to economic or political trauma will tend to choose the alternative that is presented as being the most compelling and that is consistent with its history and cultural norms. For example, as Frances Fitzgerald takes pains to point out in her history of the Vietnam conflict, "Fire in the Lake", communism appealed to the Vietnamese because it was presented, in part, as being consonant with Vietnamese traditional models of deference to the father-family-village. She also notes that American planners failed to even consider this at the time, with this oversight being perpetuated by conspirators of the Iraq war who, as Robert Fisk has pointed out, seemed not to be aware of the "easy" British victory in Iraq in 1919 - only to find themselves in a costly quagmire for years afterwards.

In 1980, Bertram Gross wrote "Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America", in which he felt that America was at a crossroads: Turn one way toward even greater democracy, or turn another way toward "friendly fascism." Gross of course was concerned that America would turn toward the latter, and not just America, but any industrialized country: "In any First World country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be coloured by national and cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political structure, and geopolitical environment. . . . In America, it would be super-modern and multi-ethnic - as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. . . . I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal."

Keep in mind that Gross wrote this before the Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush administrations quadrupled the national debt, transforming the US from a creditor nation to a debtor nation, before 9/11 forced a knee-jerk reaction that reinforced the ludicrous notion that they have to send a murderous military into the Middle East to "defend our freedoms" while dismantling those freedoms at home via the Patriot Act. This, in addition to handing out massive tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy while attacking trade unions, cutting social programs and spending wildly on the military. They began the destruction of the middle class and have brought the USA to the economic and social abyss it finds itself today.

The American Corporate Oligarchy

Nazi Germany was facilitated by a similar right wing conservative criminal cabal that currently rules the United States and much of the world. Without the support of conservative elites in Germany in the 1930s, Hitler would not have been able to gain power. Conservatives and business leaders feared liberals, unions and growing working class movements more than they did fascist totalitarianism. One of the early underlings of this conservative cabal in the US was Prescott Bush, the grandfather of George W Bush. Prescott Bush was a director of the Union Banking Corporation, which the U.S. government took over in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The U.S. Alien Property Custodian seized Union Banking Corporation stock shares, all of which were owned by E. Roland Harriman, Prescott Bush, three Nazi executives, and two other associates of Prescott Bush. President Franklin Roosevelt's Alien Property Custodian, Leo T. Crowley, signed Vesting Order Number 248 seizing the property of Prescott Bush under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The order, published in obscure government record books and kept out of the news, explained nothing about the Nazis involved; only that the Union Banking Corporation was run for the Thyssen family of Germany and/or Hungary, nationals of a designated enemy country

This act by the U.S. government made it clear that Prescott Bush and the other directors of the Union Banking Corporation were in essence front men for the Nazis. By keeping news of this seizure quiet, the American government avoided the more important issue: in what way were Hitler and his Nazi cohorts set up, armed, and supported by the New York and London cartel of which Prescott Bush was an executive manager?

On Oct. 28, 1942, the U.S. government issued orders seizing two Nazi front organizations run by the Bush-Harriman bank: the Holland-American Trading Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. Nazi interests in the Silesian-American Corporation, long managed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act on November 17, 1942. In this action, the government announced that it was seizing only the Nazi interests, leaving the Nazis' U.S. partners to carry on the business.

These were actions taken by the U.S. government during wartime, but Prescott Bush and his collaborators had already played a central role in financing and arming Adolf Hitler for his takeover of Germany. Harriman, Bush and the other corporate puppets had financed the build-up of Nazi war industries for the conquest of Europe and a potential war against the U.S. They had also helped in the development of Nazi genocide theories and racial propaganda, with the slave labour and extermination camps as the result.

Particularly since 9-11, the conservative corporate welfare state that controls America has moved as rapidly as possible to bring about the same conditions of dictatorship and fascism in the US as it did in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The first major thrust toward fascism began during the Reagan presidency and enhanced by George H W Bush who between the two of them managed to quadruple the national debt primarily through military build-up, imperialistic ventures and wars, tax cuts for the big corporations and the wealthy, vicious attacks on unions and working people, and huge cutbacks on social programs for the working class and the poor. This is not unlike the modus operandi of Hitler who by the late 1930s had crushed the unions and destroyed any residue of left wing groups that remained in Germany. In fact his first death camps were reserved for the aforementioned leftist dissidents. During the Reagan and Bush Senior presidencies they pulled off the Iran-Contra drugs-for-weapons crime, the savings-and-loan heist, the illegal use of U.S. military forces to protect their criminal collaboration with Manuel Noriega, their hit man in Panama, and many other crimes of state.

Beginning in 2000, the cabal paved the way for their chosen village idiot lackey into the U.S. presidency and put in place a mechanism for grand theft government - a system of driving governments at all levels into bankruptcy in order to facilitate the pillage and privatization of anything and everything within the public domain. As they did in Germany, they are now in the process of destroying any semblance of democracy and civil rights.  The 2008 election, in which the great con artist and faux-liberal Obama, bought and paid for by Wall Street and the super wealthy like all former US presidents, duped once again most of the U.S. public, revealing that most American citizens are as hopelessly credulous, unthinking, intellectually and morally debased as the Germans in the 1930s. As Hitler once remarked, "Isn't it fortunate for leaders that people do not think".

We've been conditioned to see Germany under Hitler as an unquestionably horrific example of dictatorial tyranny and inhuman barbarity - and to see the present American political culture as it's ideological opposite. And we like to think that if a tyranny such as that in Germany under the Nazi regime were present and growing in America we'd unquestionably be able to recognize it and act against it. Most do not, even deluding themselves into believing the insidious government propaganda about "weapons of mass destruction", "the national interest", "fighting for our freedoms" or "fighting terrorism" with the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are nothing more than fear mongering ("fear" and "ignorance" being the tried and true methods by our political masters for manipulation of the bewildered herd), mere smoke screens for rampant imperialism and exploitation. Keep the masses ignorant! The USA is now bankrupt, both financially and morally- and the dystopian abyss on the horizon.

The general intellectual ineptitude of Americans at present leads directly to a blindness to the current emerging catastrophic situation. Without the learned ability to make decisive distinctions and cut through the vague rhetoric, people cannot discriminate between, for example, "economic downturn" and "depression", or between "change of leaders through ostensibly democratic free elections" and coup d'etat through powerful financial interests buying and selling presidents, the senate and congress. Not only is there no critical thought, there is precious little thought at all. Witness the Tea Party movement, a faux populist movement that has co-opted any genuine semblance of a grass roots working class movement. Co-option of social movements of the oppressed masses has been a successful ploy throughout recorded history. The Tea Party is an egregious fraud - financed, managed and manipulated by huge corporate interests and conservative elites like the Koch Brothers. These neo-fascists with conservative masks have learned well the ploys of Mussolini and Hitler who managed to carry out the same nefarious con game and co-option on working people, duping them into believing they actually care about their interests. The Nazi Party was even given the Orwellian name "National Socialism". Conservatives wearing lefty masks ought not fool anyone with a functioning brain and a sound understanding of history, but they do. They don't give a rat's ass about working people and never have. And neither, with rare exception, have liberals cared, wearing the same costume. Every day is Halloween for these phoneys.

Edmund Burke, deemed the father of conservatism, referred to working people as the "swinish multitude", a hateful fascist epithet that speaks volumes about the mind-set of conservatives in general.

Burke's epithet is perhaps appropriate to describe the mobs who flooded into the American streets to revel in the execution of Osama bin Laden. They were surely not rejoicing in America, land of the free, justice and constitutional propriety. They were glorifying state power, thuggish lawlessness and lethal force - the same jackboot that rests on their collective necks. In this year of political conventions we’ll be hearing a lot of empty rhetoric about American freedoms, but if there’s any nation in the world that is well on the way to meriting the label of “fascist,” surely it’s the United States.

Fascism, among other things, is a system of extreme, systematic state repression, violent in comportment and threat, reinforced by ultra-nationalist mythology, a militarist culture and imperialist ambition. In the 1980s America started locking up its poor people with seven million adults under correctional supervision by 2009. On a per capita basis the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world, even the despotic People's Democratic Republic of North Korea.

The fascist state employs constant harassment of the powerless. Last year there were more than 600,000 stop-and-frisks in New York City, primarily blacks and Hispanics. Fascist regimes, typically the expression of corporate power*, repress labour in all efforts to organize. The support of big business and assault on labour has a long history with its most malicious occurring during economic downturns which was particularly vile during the Great Depression (required reading for every Canadian high school student ought to be Pierre Berton's edifying book on the Great Depression in Canada). But when the Second World War ended the assault on workers resumed in the US with the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 and continued with methodical ferocity during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton years. Obama reneged on pledges to make organizing easier, froze the wages of federal workers and advanced free trade across the globe. Attacks on collective bargaining are pervasive with big money’s grip on both parties ensuring corporate control no matter who’s nominally in charge. Fascist regimes show open contempt for democracy, socialism and social programs while deifying a leader who embodies the nationalist spirit. We wave the flag, mindlessly sing our war mongering national anthems, march off to war with the supplications of government and big business and salute democracy while suppressing it.

*"Corporatism" is an expression coined by Mussolini to define his fascist regime.

A fascist regime is the sworn foe of free speech, the right to assembly, “unauthorized” marches and sit-ins. We've seen manifestations of them in graphic detail, not only in the uprisings in the Middle East, but at the Toronto G-20 Summit and the recent repression of the student strikes in Quebec. And we'll be witnessing more of it as the economic depression deepens in Europe and anywhere world politicians representing the 1% elites carry out their strategy meetings. America has become a network of SWAT teams and mafia-type state-employed thugs on permanent red alert. All fascist regimes have spied compulsively on its citizens and if you examine US laws on secret surveillance since the Patriot Act and you will find a modus operandi that would have been the envy of the East German Stasi

The fascist state claims the right, currently under judicial sanction, to imprison its victims indefinitely without hope of redress or even legal counsel. As the executive power, in the form of the president, it claims the right to kill its enemies, whether citizens or others, without judicial review. In other words, law and order by decree, a measure that many conservatives endorse and whose support for his infamous Enabling Act in 1933, won for Hitler absolute power.

May 2012

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