Monday, January 30, 2017

On Fascism, Conclusion

"Germany was having trouble what a sad, sad story! Needed a new leader to restore its former glory!"
Mel Brooks, Springtime for Hitler

"We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again!"
Donald J. Trump
We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.
Read more at:
We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.
Read more at:
We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.
Read more at:

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross" 
misattributed to Sinclair Lewis


To recap, a few weeks ago I began “translating” the original Nazi party platform, in order to see what a modern fascist platform might look like.  

You can read about my attempt here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
Of course, the events of the last few weeks have made that effort largely superfluous, as the public adoption of several of these positions by the current administration.

Suddenly, proving that America is on the fast track to Fascism got a whole lot more urgent, and a lot less difficult.

But without further delay, here is our compiled list, and our blueprint for American Fascism:

1.     We demand the American People’s right to self-determination.

2.     We demand equality of rights for the American People with respect to other nations.

3.      We recognize the necessity for the preservation of our Culture and the American way of life. Any person wishing to become a naturalized citizen of the United States must swear to uphold American Culture and put America first.

4.     Noncitizens may reside in America only as guests, and must remain under the authority of the laws of the United States.

5.      The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen. Therefore, we demand that every public office, of any sort whatsoever, be filled only by American citizens.

6.     We demand that the government of the United States of America ensure the American Way of life, and allow the pursuit of happiness for all citizens. If it is not possible to sustain all citizens, then members of foreign nations, resident aliens, and other non-citizens are to be deported.

7.      All new immigration to the United States of any persons unfriendly to the American way of life is to be suspended. All recent immigrants fitting this category, as well as all illegal immigrants, must therefore be immediately deported.

8.     All citizens must have equal rights and obligations.

9.     The primary civic obligation of the American citizen is to work both spiritually and physically, for the benefit of society. As such, we demand the abolition of unearned income, freeing American citizens from debt-slavery.

10.  Personal enrichment from war disrespects the sacrifice of American soldiers. Therefore, we demand that it be designated a crime against the American people, and all profits be seized.

11.  We demand American jobs. For the good of the middle class, American companies should be in America, ensuring profits and jobs go to American citizens.

12.  We demand the expansion and protection of Social Security and Medicare.

13.  We demand the government protect the middle class, and make supporting small businesses a top priority.

14.  We demand the abolition of property taxes, as well as the return of land to the middle class through seizure from foreign land speculation companies.

15.  We demand an emphasis on law and order, support for the death penalty, and a formal stance against those who would threaten the American way of life.

16.  We demand sovereignty, and reject all attempts of the United Nations to dictate the laws of the United States of America. Additionally, we demand that America’s interests and endeavors be free of interference by any foreign power.

17.  We demand a fundamental reconstruction of the education system, one that emphasizes practical skills, recognizes the importance of America and America’s place in the world, and enables students to become leaders and patriots.

18.   We recognize the right of the United States to establish a military capable of defending the rights, interests, and safety of the American People.

19.  We demand legal opposition to known lies and their propagation by the press. In order to combat this, we demand that:

a.     All writers and employees of American media be American citizens;
b.     Non-American newspapers must obtain government permission to be published;
c.     Non-Americans be forbidden by law to have any financial interest in American publications, or any influence on them, with violations punishable by the closing of the publication as well as their immediate deportation. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms, forbidding all publications which exert a destructive influence on the general good and the American way of life, as well as the closure of all organizations opposing the above demands.

20.  We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations, so long as they do not threaten the United States, or oppose the moral senses of the American people. As such, we advocate for a recognition of positive Christianity, without limit to any one denomination, to defend America against the corrupting spread of Sharia Law.

21.  To ensure the implementation of these demands, we demand a strong government, staffed by loyal patriots, that obeys the will of the American people.

Proud of my accomplishment, and eager to expose some fascists, I did a very non-scientific study, showing this to some people of varying political views, to ascertain possible reactions. In short, I posted it on Facebook.

The results were somewhat inconclusive, as it’s very difficult to break through the noise on Facebook, and even more difficult to do so with over a page of text. I considered trying some alternate, image-based approaches but to be honest, I didn’t have the stomach for it.

I posted the list several places, including the pages for Breitbart, Fox News, various Donald Trump groups, and my own personal feed (a regrettable plan, but I was getting desperate). The end result was a few dozen likes (on the pages), one share, and several comments. My favorite is a tie between a lady who asked “where did this come from?.Beautifully rendered!”, and an acquaintance on my feed who said “3 and 7 are uninformed, vague, and violent. bye”, before unfriending me. Hard to argue with that.

I did have two people message me privately after independently identifying it as actual re-skinned Nazi ideology, which was heartening, as it’s nice to know people are reading. 

One of them, though, accused me of selectively changing it to create a "partisan gotcha", which I sincerely promise was not my intent. However, I will readily admit bias in that regard, and sent followup questions with the intent of editing the list to be more impartial. I received no reply.

But overall, I would have to say this project was profoundly depressing, and not just because Trump moved faster than I thought he would.

Looking over the list (and the original, for that matter), I was struck by the sheer number of unremarkable positions. By that I mean, positions firmly within the Overton window, with many, if not most, appearing similar to broadly acceptable policies.

Of course, this is not to say that they are all agreeable policies (I take issue with most of them). The real problem appears to be that, by and large, these are not unthinkable policies. Instead, it looks like what it is: a typical set of nativist, populist, and nationalist right wing beliefs. Nor would this list have looked strange a decade ago. #20, for instance, has long been an article of faith (pun intended) of the religious right. By simply swapping Jews for Muslims, we’re left with a belief that a quarter of the country would likely support (never mind what the constitution says).

Jon McNaughton, "One Nation Under God"

It feels dirty, using stereotypes and broad strokes to make this argument. All of America’s right wing are not fascists. And if you don’t know a kind, decent person who agrees with the majority of points on this list, then you need to meet more people.

Because that’s the ugly truth about fascism. People like it. The policies are popular, people feel proud of their country, proud of their countrymen, and their tribal anger and resentment is focused on an exterior target.

After D-Day, my grandfather marched through Europe and Germany. Along the way, talking to the citizens, he didn’t find any Nazis. None anywhere. This was, of course, nonsense. But it’s illustrative nonsense. He found Germans. Most of whom were good, kind, decent people, just like most Americans (and for that matter, most people), are good, kind, and decent. It doesn’t take monsters to make Fascism, it just takes people. The behavior is baked into us on a deep level; everyone wants to feel right, and moral, and important. The American fascists sincerely believe, on a deep level, that they are doing things to help America, to help their friends and neighbors.

Any condemnation of Fascism that doesn’t understand this is only adding to the problem. The vast majority of fascists are motivated by love and fear, not hate. The Germans stopped being fascists when it was clear that fascism was no longer a good idea. I often wonder, how many America will have to kill, before they realize the same.

And we will kill, eventually. America is not an anomaly; people will proudly and happily kill, if they sincerely believe they’re doing the right thing. If Adolf Hitler proved one thing, it’s that one man’s mania and zeal can, with a little help, turn a country into an army of murderers.

As usual, I don’t have any answers. I don’t know the way to change the course of history, and I don’t know how to stop fascists. But I do know that very, very soon, we’re going to have to stop some of the most dangerous fanatics in the entire world:

Good people, who are trying to do the right thing.

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