Political scholars tend to disagree about what, exactly, defines fascism. Many go the “I know it when I see it” route, alluding to the nebulous definition of pornography, while others maintain that it doesn’t exist at all, believing instead that what we perceive as fascism is usually just a perversion of some other form of government. Largely due to Hitler’s would-be empire, the modern world views fascism as a mish-mash of bigotry, ultra-nationalism, totalitarianism, and censorship. However, if you dig beneath the “isms,” you’re left with is a single, simple truth. Most of the evils perpetrated by Hitler’s regime were trappings created to support an economy where private ownership of industry was coupled with a massive level of government control. Fascism is, and always was, about money.
Due to World War I and the stringent regulations placed on the country in the wake of defeat, Germany of the early 1930’s was in total economic ruin. Both it and Austria were seeing unprecedented unemployment, and both economies were mired in a deep depression. Hitler seized upon the crisis and through a savvy combination of populism, class warfare, and propaganda, managed to get elected. Once he was in power, he abandoned promises to rein in spending. Instead, the deficit ballooned as the Fuhrer created One Billion Marks worth of “road and bridge” jobs in an effort to “get people back to work.” Later, he would absorb the banking system, place Volkswagen under the control of the German Labor Front, and create a national health care system that was widely hailed as a major progressive breakthrough.
Fast-forward 70 years to find that many of the same plans are being implemented by the very nation that stepped forward to stop them in the 30’s.
2008 saw George W. Bush take the disastrous first step with the ill-conceived bank bailouts.
Then, in 2009, Barack Obama and Congressional Dems picked up the torch and ran a marathon with it. They circumvented the free market by taking control of two major car corporations. They expanded the bank loans and retroactively increased control over institutions that had accepted them. Those banks that wished to repay the loans were, at first, denied the opportunity, and it seemed that the sole reason for the refusal to allow repayment was the maintenance of federal power. When some banks finally did manage to pay back their bailouts, they found themselves faced with a swarm of politicians advocating pay controls, profit caps, and wide-reaching new regulations.
The billion-dollar stimulus package was passed, promising “shovel ready” jobs that would put America “back to work.” Instead, joblessness increased, far surpassing the President’s own projections of what would happen had he simply done nothing. Left-wing allies in the media trumpeted the “fact” that despite the numbers, the billion dollar money grab was, in fact, working. The maze into which the stimulus cash has vanished makes it difficult, if not impossible, to track, so it’s easy to fudge the numbers. In fact, the government’s own website, Recovery.org has been reporting blatantly false data allegedly collected in places that don’t exist. Meanwhile, the Obama administration, which campaigned on the promise of transparency, has become one of the most secretive in history. It’s tight control of the media prompted none other than Helen Thomas to compare it to the Nixon years.
No one bothered, at least in any legal sense, to question the constitutionality of the bailouts. After all, we were in an “economic crisis” and as White House Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Now, sadly, the precedent has been established. The Obama administration has seemingly embarked on a course whereby some sort of diminished ownership of industry is going to coexist with federal control. To put it simply: the economics of fascism.
Next year, it’s likely that the push toward modern fascism will continue in at least three major areas.
1. Health Care – Make no mistake. Whatever Congress has or hasn’t passed up to this point, it’s far from over. The final goal here is still single payer, government run care and the fight won’t end for years. In fact, federal health care is the single greatest stepping stone to the popular image of fascism, as it establishes nothing less than a way to regulate every single thing a person does. Each and every facet of the average American life, from where you live to what you wear, from your job to your hobbies, from who you marry to the size of your family, has some effect on your health. Single payer is the holy grail of federal power. It’s not going away any time soon.
2. Environmental Populism – In the 30’s it was “Beautify Germany.” Today, we have populist environmentalism. It’s the idea that concerns such as private ownership, oppressive taxation, state’s rights, and even U.S. sovereignty run a distant second to the religion of environment and climate change. “Fixes” are regularly proposed for problems that may not exist and, since often their dilatory effects will only be felt by rich fat-cats, the left is more than willing to give them a shot. Right now, 40% of U.S. land is owned by the U.S. Government and environmental law gives the EPA regulatory control over all navigable U.S. water. The “Clean Water Restoration Act,” which is currently making its way through Congress, removes the word “navigable.” If passed, language in the bill would allow the government to control
“all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sand flats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds and all impoundments of the foregoing”
It then adds that:
“Activities affecting these waters are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution.”
So, if you own property on virtually any type of water, right down to a seasonal pond, the government would oversee its use. No one knows when, or if, this measure will reach a vote, but it is on the way.
3. Free Speech – Taken for granted by most Americans, 2010 will likely see significant attempts at federal encroachment upon the 1st Amendment. If we learned anything from Obama’s ill-fated war with Fox News, it’s that the current crop of Democrats don’t take kindly to criticism. Going into an election year, expect that disdain to grow. It’s easy to imagine the “fairness” doctrine popping up during the first half of the year. Under it, government would have a say in the political content broadcast by private corporations. It probably won’t be implemented quickly enough to stifle criticism during the summer campaigns, but its effects could easily be in place for 2012.
Last April, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 was proposed by Democrat Senator John Rockefeller, but failed to gain traction. If passed, the bill would have given the President of the United States the ability to pull the plug on the internet during unspecified emergency situations. It would also allow him the discretion to shut off a privately owned network’s access to the net. Democrat proponents of the bill say it’s for the “safety” of the American people but the language was so incredibly vague that it would have basically given the President the ability to shut down the web with little or no explanation. Rockefeller has spent months rewriting the bill, so expect it to return.
Let’s be clear. No one is suggesting that the current administration is going to embrace the madness of the kind perpetrated during World War II. Hitler was a creature of unspeakable evil and it needs to be stated that there has been nothing to suggest the current administration is interested in traveling similar path. However, it’s important to remember that it was complacency in the early days that allowed that evil to take root and thrive. Economics set the stage upon which the horrors of World War II would play out, and right now Democrats are making similar mistakes.
Going into 2010, Americans are faced with some big decisions. Do they really want to ignore such clear cut historical lessons? Are these the kind of changes they were looking for during the 2008 elections, or has the pendulum swung too far the other way?
The answer seems clear, but November will tell.
Robert Laurie writes a daily political commentary blog, The Robalution. Robert holds a degree in English from Wayne State University, and has worked in advertising as a graphic designer and copy writer.