Understanding the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion
a book by David McGowan
(our site's book review)
The author's position is that the United States is, in fact, a fascist state, which is defined by him as corporate control, nationalism, racism, militarism, no real differentiation between political parties, etc. McGowan is a self admitted liberal who did his own research and he found out that there is no such thing as a Democrat or a Republican. There are only the power elite of secret societies (The Shadow Government). This author is years ahead of most authors in understanding what's really going on in America. The X Files may know that the truth is out there, but McGowan's book is a case in which the truth is in here (the book).
Like thousands of other writers, McGowan detected the tentacles of the Shadow Government pulling the strings behind the scene in the U.S.
McGowan's thesis is that the United States has been a fascist country for decades, and that democracy in America is a carefully manufactured delusion crafted by media, government, academia, etc. (See Democracy—an American Delusion.) He is of course correct that the U.S. is not a democracy and that it has been drifting slowly toward fascism ever since WWII. It got worse when the rightwingers overreacted to the hippies in the 1960s—the young hopping on the antiwar bandwagon scared the conservative extremists so they moved things in a fascistic direction (e.g., the Democratic National Convention). The 9/11 attack again pushed those in control (the neocons, by 2001) to extreme paranoia and security measures with unrealistic degrees of surveillance (by the NSA) and unwarranted and unneeded reduction of citizens' rights (the misnamed "Patriot Act"), once again moving things in a fascistic direction. Experts say we are 3/4 of the way towards fascism in 2017. Trump has many people worried. Others say he just likes making people nervous—it gets him more attention which he craves.
The situation in the U.S. got worse when the rightwingers overreacted to the hippies in the 1960s—the young hopping on the antiwar bandwagon scared the conservative extremists so they moved things in a fascistic direction
If the Corporate State attains power by demonizing various ethnic groups, pushing virulent jingoism, and militarizing the population, it is called fascism. If it gets its power by selling dreams of equality and demonizing capitalists, and then proceeds to do the exact same things the fascists do when in power, it's called Communism. McGowan will hopefully eventually realize that Socialism ultimately is just as much about the politics of illusion, truthiness, and false fronts as are Fascism or American "Democracy." The issue of the awesome power of America's neo-fascist neocons is handled aptly by Janine Wedel in Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market.
"Actual control [of the U.S.] has finally passed to the oligarchic elite [shadow government] controlling the government behind the scenes.— John W. Whitehead (Source: Fascism, American Style)
In WWII, the U.S. allowed the fascist Nazis to invade a dozen European countries and then kill around 10 million Russians and they did absolutely nothing. But is extreme tolerance of fascism the worst the US can be accused of, or is America fascist itself? McGowan has few doubts about the matter. "The current political system in place in the United States at the dawn of the twenty-first century is fascism," he writes in Understanding the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion. "Of course, we don't call it that. We like to call it 'democracy.' Nonetheless," MacGowan adds, "it looks an awful lot like fascism."
MacGowan sees the U.S. as fascist—to him if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it damn sure must be a duck
The dictionary says that:
ONE: Fascism is a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition OR
TWO: Fascism is a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.
If you read Democracy—an American Delusion, linked to above, you already realize that the U.S. is not a Democracy—it is an oligarchy. (See Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy.) But does the U.S. fit either definition of fascism, above? The patriot in you and in us hollers NO, of course not! We love this country. How could anyone love a fascist state?! We like cats, dogs, parakeets, and monkeys, but cannot bring ourselves to like spiders or slugs. Hitler turned the word fascism into a horrid spider-slug—forever loathable. But the first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before it spread to other European countries. It was simply another political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation when it was popular in Europe long before Hitler. But it went from a mean bossy European monkey to a horrid genocidal murdering spider-slug once Hitler got ahold of it. The word is forever tainted.
Fascism went from a mean bossy European monkey to a horrid genocidal murdering spider-slug once Hitler got ahold of it—the word is forever tainted
Fascism became a horrid genocidal murdering spider-slug once Hitler got ahold of it—the word is forever tainted
Comparing the definitions to the United States, we see that the U.S. exalts nation above the individual in many ways. We use our poorest and dumbest as soldiers who get used as cannon fodder in the U.S.'s infamous wars started by warmongering, empire-building neocons. We slap the rich who do bad with small fines or slaps on the wrist, while the same offence gets the poor slapped into an 8 by 6 cell. We have a Constitution that is slowly being eroded away into nothing by such insults to liberty as the Patriot Act. We keep passing tax breaks for the rich and for the corporations while the debts are shouldered by a combination of the middle class and future generations. We pretend to give females rights over their own bodies but then pass laws that either force birth control clinics to close or restrict what they do so that the effect is that women are prevented from exercising their rights to choose what happens to their own bodies. We pretend to allow opposition to government policies and rules but in truth we forcibly suppress or marginalize opposition and criticism in many ways (one of fascism's defining characteristics). (See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion.)
The U.S. exalts nation above the individual in many ways—using our poorest and dumbest as soldiers who get used as cannon fodder in the U.S.'s infamous wars started by warmongering, empire-building neocons
We have a Constitution that is slowly being eroded away into nothing by such insults to liberty as the Patriot Act—the NSA may as well burn it
We do not have fascism's "centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader." But we have something much worse: de facto control of the country by a shadow government that is peopled by fanatic neocons that run the U.S. like a puppet government. For many years, millions of Americans have been complaining that it doesn't matter who we elect to office, we end up with the same corrupt Corporatocracy and the same wars we don't want get started by the same warmongering, empire building neocons, totally regardless of the will of the people, the wishes of the people, and totally against the best interests of the citizens. The powers-that-be use the cover story of a War on Terror to rationalize their imperialism, but it is a very weak cover story indeed. (See The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals.)
For every terrorist we kill, we create ten more, as their relatives and friends swear eternal vengeance on the U.S., many going off to join ISIS. The U.S. is making everything much worse in the world, and yet the neocons in power will not cease all the killing. They're running a terrorist factory: kill one, create ten more. Trump is cutting social programs and regulations and increasing military spending by 64 billion dollars in 2017. Dubya, OBomb'em and Trump were and are all being run by the same warmongering fanatics who seem not to care that our war efforts keep making things worse and worse. And we citizens have no one to vote for that will express the will of the people to stop the madness and become a force for peace in the world. So the bloodshed continues . . .
The U.S. is making everything much worse in the world, and yet the neocons in power will not cease all the killing—they're running a terrorist factory: kill one, create ten more
We have something much worse than fascism: de facto control of the country by a shadow government that is peopled by fanatic neocons that run the U.S. like a puppet government
Another fascism characteristic is having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens. Like the NSA and the spying on citizens happening via phones, emails, and online activities such as searches and social networking. Another fascism characteristic is mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict. As McGowan notes, the fundamental values about the Corporatocracy and curtailed rights and support for the nation's warmongering empire building are the same in both parties. The progressive and regressive (Democrats and Republicans) versions of these neocon values running things are identical. We are stuck in a fascistic oligarchy that wears a democracy mask in public. We are patriots (and hope you are too) that want our country to be run like the Founders intended. Right now, they are turning over in their graves!
We are stuck in a fascistic oligarchy that wears a democracy mask in public. We are patriots (and hope you are too) that want our country to be run like the Founders intended. Right now, they are turning over in their graves!
The NSA is monitoring everyone everywhere like Big Brother—good-bye privacy!
Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!
Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation. (Source: Fascism) Compare this revealing statement to U.S. actions since the 1980s.
Fascism is hated because it is tyranny. Fascism is deliberately and entirely non-democratic and anti-democratic. It includes principled opportunism and ideological dishonesty which commonly utilizes rhetorical ideological hyperbole to justify its actions (like Bush saying our invasion of the Middle East was about "democratization"!). The racist scapegoating and apocalyptic fearmongering Trump has utilized are fascistic tactics. So are targeting Muslims, women, and sexual minorities.
"We have created one hell of a hammer, and for the rest of our generation this force will be continually searching for a nail"
"Naomi Wolf has for many years now been claiming that a fascist coup in America is imminent. Most recently in The Guardian she alleged, with no substantiation, that the U.S. government and big American banks are conspiring to impose a 'totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent.'" (Source: No, Naomi Wolf, America Is Not Becoming a Fascist State, Mark Nuckols, The Atlantic).
Like author Nuckols, we see no evidence that feminist Wolf's "totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent" is real. We see, instead, that dissent will not be repressed but marginalized. It will be mostly absent from the mainstream media reports and, when present, it will be painted with the brush of "fake news." Dissent will be all over the alternative media in several forms, truth from competent investigative reporting, fake news dissent from many sources, and planted CIA stories that smear everything they don't like, and that make everything in alternative media look like fake news and conspiracy theory. Far from being stamped out—like Wolf says—dissent will be manipulated to play into the hands of mainstream media, the shadow government, our leaders, the neocons in charge, and the Corporatocracy. "Fake democracy" fascism will be much easier to manage if the pretense of democracy is kept up—to keep the sheep pacified. Wolf is wrong about a fascist coup—it will be more like the frog-citizens slowly heated in water, not noticing or protesting until our country is in really hot water. Fascist hot.
"Fake democracy" fascism will be much easier to manage if the pretense of democracy is kept up—to keep the sheep pacified
Bombard citizens enough with misinformation, fake news and distracting political sniping and caterwauling and—far from dissenting—they'll just tune out, putting their heads in the sand of blissful ignorance
"Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism. I'm afraid, based on my own long experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."—Sen. Huey Long
"If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land."—Franklin D. Roosevelt
"The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."—Henry A. Wallace, a brilliant visionary and patriot in 1944
Henry A. Wallace, a brilliant visionary and patriot in 1944
"The American people have suffered a coup d'état, but they are reluctant to acknowledge it."—Paul Craig Roberts (who wrote How America Was Lost: From 9/11 to the Police/Welfare State)
"A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police State Dictatorship it's going to get."—Ian Willams Goddard
"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."—William Casey, CIA Director
American citizens are choking on misinformation—their government and their media routinely lie to them
"By means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms — elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest — will remain. The underlying substance will be a new kind of non-violent totalitarianism. All the traditional names, all the hallowed slogans will remain exactly what they were in the good old days. Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial. Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit."—Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, 1958 (Note how Huxley predicted the propaganda, the lies, the control by a shadow government, the slide into fascism, and the hiding everything behind a democratic false front almost 60 years ago!)
By late January 2017, there were 8 Republican states introducing legislation to criminalize peaceful protests despite the First Amendment’s guarantee that all Americans have the right to “peaceably assemble to express their grievances.” Not only are those kinds of laws unconstitutional, they are fascist: the exact same laws were enacted in Nazi Germany when you-know-who did you-know-what. All this does not mean you need to find a storm cellar to hide in, waiting for the dreaded sound of goosestepping jackboots. But it does mean that we all need to join in the protests so the powers-that-be can see that mainstreet America is not in lockstep with their fascist proclivities. If just a few express the grievances MOST of us are feeling, the authorities might decide to harrass them and single them out for oppression as radicals or even nonpatriots. And if that shuts EVERYONE up out of fear, then you won't like what comes next. The good news is that it won't be gas chambers. The bad news? It won't be freedom or democracy or abiding by the constitution or respecting our rights or our privacy, and it will walk like fascism and quack like fascism and . . . it will not be a frigging duck! So, regarding the right to protest peacefully, we say use it or lose it.
8 Republican states introducing legislation to criminalize peaceful protests—not only are those kinds of laws unconstitutional, they are fascist: the exact same laws were enacted in Nazi Germany when Hitler assumed power
Crucial to both the fascist ethos and its past success is the non-voluntary silencing of dissent to the regime. The logic of those (paranoids?) who are concerned about Trump actualizing a strong push toward fascism would be that Trump stands for Make America Great Again, and anyone against Trump is against America and is not a patriot. People against America are traitors and to make sure they are not also terrorists, we must round them up, put them in detention camps, and take away their cell phones . . . etc. (Which "non-Fascist" America already did to innocent Japanese in WWII and innocent native Americans in the 1800s and 1900s.) The criminalization of dissent would be the frosting on the fascism cake. But it's a frosting they will not need. Bombard citizens enough with misinformation, fake news and distracting political sniping and caterwauling and—far from dissenting—they'll just tune out, putting their heads in the sand of blissful ignorance.
The NSA is also developing another tool that Orwell’s Thought Police might have found useful—an artificial intelligence system designed to know what people are thinking
"Donald Trump isn’t a fascist. . . . while Trump isn’t actually a fascist [even though half the country already thinks he is as do thousands of online articles and blogs] , he’s got a lot in common with them, and there’s plenty to worry about. . . . calling him a 'fascist' distorts the history of the last century. If you’re looking for real fascists in the modern world, you’ll do better looking at the jihadis, who believe they’ve been tricked into previous defeats, unleash slaughter on those who oppose them, seek to dominate the world, and destroy free societies. Trump’s not one of those." (Source: Who's A Fascist? Not Donald Trump, Forbes, Michael Ledeen)
According to Chris Hedges, "The ruling elites, terrified by the mobilization of the left in the 1960s, . . . delegitimized and marginalized critics of corporate capitalism and imperialism in a . . . creeping corporate coup d’état that in the 21st century is complete. This coup also destroyed the credibility of liberal democracy. Self-identified liberals such as the Clintons and Barack Obama mouthed the words of liberal democratic values while making war on these values in the service of corporate power. The revolt we see rippling across the country [in 2017] is a revolt not only against a corporate system that has betrayed workers, but also, for many, liberal democracy itself. This is very dangerous. It will allow the radical right under a Trump administration to cement into place an Americanized fascism [disguised as democracy]. . . . What comes next, history has shown, will not be pleasant. A corrupt and inept ruling elite, backed by the organs of state security and law enforcement, will unleash a naked kleptocracy. Workers will become serfs. The most benign dissent will be criminalized. . . . Our only hope now is an unwavering noncooperation with the systems of corporate control. We must rebuild democratic institutions from the ground up." (Source: Revolt Is the Only Barrier to a Fascist America, Chris Hedges, Common Dreams, TruthDig) As mentioned above, criminalizing dissent will be counterproductive, therefore it won't happen. It will be too easy for leaders to exploit it for their own purposes.
Corrupt and inept ruling elite fascists, backed by the organs of state security and law enforcement, will unleash a naked kleptocracy—workers will become serfs
Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post. According to Kagan, "This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac 'tapping into' popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him." (Source: This is how fascism comes to America, Washington Post, Robert Kagan)
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” goes the aphorism commonly attributed to Sinclair Lewis.
Refering to Trump, Henry Giroux compares the Trump regime with the Nazis: "The current onslaught of revenge and destruction produced by this updated version of authoritarianism is glaringly visible and deeply brutal, and points to a dark future in the most immediate sense. But the arrogant and unchecked presence of this neo-fascist regime has also ignited the great collective power of resistance. Hope and sanity are in the air and the relevance of mass action has a renewed urgency. Some mayors are refusing to allow their cities to be Nazified, demonstrations are taking place every day and women are marching to protect their rights. This resistance will continue to grow until it becomes a movement whose power will be on the side of justice not injustice, bridges not walls, dignity not disrespect, compassion not hate. Let’s hope they dispel Orwell’s nightmarish vision of the future in our own time." (Source: Revisiting Orwell’s ‘1984’ in Trump’s America, Henry Giroux, Moyers and Company)
In our opinion, the critical issue with the danger that Trump poses to our country and to the world is not just how much it resembles George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984 or Nazi Germany, but exactly how far into this dystopia we allow Trump to push our country before we stop him (nonviolently via boycotts, protesting, and demonstrations—and don't forget letters to Congresspeople, blogs, letters to editors, and social media posts and comments—dissent is the highest form of patriotism). Of course, there's always the possibility that he finds all this fascism talk flattering and he likes both the attention and the fact that it strokes his ego to see his authoritarianism get people quaking in their boots. Narcisists and demogogues LOVE power. Perhaps the attention will be enough. Maybe he won't actualize everyone's worst fears and push a stronger version of fascism on us. Right now he's Fascism Lite. Perhaps that will satisfy him. In the meantime, we are in agreement with that new slogan: Resist!.