Know thine enemy. The ongoing threat of full-blown Fascism triumphing here on, or shortly after, January 20, 2025, Presidential Inaugural Day, should deeply, deeply concern every pro-democratic, patriotic, thinking American.
The parallels to January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler received appointment as Chancellor in a newly-formed Conservative-Fascist governing coalition, only to see the Weimar Republic dismantled in favor of Nazi dictatorship in a matter of weeks, is eerily similar to recent developments in the United States (not to mention Italy, Hungary, Poland, Russia, China, Brazil, Nicaragua, etc.).
The persistent attacks on fair elections and the peaceful transition of power, immigrants, BIPOC communities, Muslims, facts, science, separation of church and state, media and journalists, public institutions, teachers, unionists, women, LGBTQ+ folks, privacy, cultural diversity, intellectuals, artists, and Constitutional rights (by SCOTUS) are no accident. They are intentional, systematic, funded, and coordinated.
Connect the dots of our White Supremacist past and present, the capture of religious fundamentalists by the Billionaire class, and the power and wealth concentration in the hands of an ever-shrinking, insatiable ruling class (as well as the cynical, violent, and bigoted tools at their disposal) and you will know thine enemy. And to know thine enemy is a critical step in developing the strategy to destroy Fascism, and to restore and enhance Democracy.
The marriage of governmental and finance-industrial power, with historic roots in the birth of this nation.
Adam Smith’s Wealth of the Nations, published in 1776, fused with the Declaration’s 1776 promise of republic-style democracy in the hands of the founders. Our pro-capitalism and pro-slavery Constitution of 1787 (ratified in 1788, with the Bill of Rights added in 1791) morphed somewhat with “Civil War amendments” :
13th Amendment (abolition)
14th Amendment (due process and equality)
15th Amendment (voting rights for all adult males)
Fuller delivery of these promises for freed slaves would not come until the 1954-1965 Civil Rights revolution. (More on the rollback of civil and voting rights via Jim Crow 2.0, below.)
While the labor movement was bloodied by capital-financed militias and government troops from the 1850s through the 1930s, the Wagner Act of 1935 gave legal recognition to collective bargaining rights of labor unionists via the National Labor Relations Board. The high point for union membership was in 1965, when nearly one (1) in three (3) workers belonged labor union. Today that number is less than one (1) in ten (10), despite 71% public approval for organized labor (the biggest number since 1965).
Finally, the growth and expansion of neoliberalism since World War II, with the rise of the Cold War National Security State/Military-Industrial Complex, and the Political-Industrial/Finance-Industrial Complex of Wall Street/Silicon billionaires, bought politicians, enabling technocrats, and SCOTUS-majority corporatists, the fusion of state and corporate power, at the behest of the “captains of industry” billionaires, has created conditions of economic and political inequality that inspire many academics and researchers to call our time the Second Gilded Age.
2. White Supremacy
Dating back to 1492, including 90%-effective genocide for Native peoples, slavery for 11 million+ Black Africans and African-Americans, reservations, Jim Crow, lynchings, red-lining, profile-policing, drug wars, environmental degradation, school-to-prison pipeline “- profiting the same billionaire class that dominates Washington, D.C., Wall Street, Silicon Valley, state houses, mainstream media, cultural, and academic institutions.
Slavery formally ended with the 13th amendment (1865), but replacing it were racist Black Codes, economic peonage via sharecropping, incarcerated laborers made of freed slaves found guilty of “crimes,” and post-Reconstruction Jim Crow racial apartheid (which Hitler, of course, adopted to subjugate and segregate Jews). The Constitutional farce of “separate but equal” (Plessy, 1896) ended with the Brown decision of 1954, which helped ignite the Civil Rights revolution further emancipating Black, Brown, female, and 18 yo citizens.
Unfortunately, rollbacks of civil and voting rights gains “- sometimes called Jim Crow 2.0 “- have prevailed in recent SCOTUS decisions, extending to reproductive and privacy rights, environmental protection, and state gun control laws, with further rights rollbacks promised from a majority Federalist Society-trained, corporatist, 5-member majority. For Native Americans, immigrants, and Queer folks, in particular, at-risk conditions for health, housing, paths to citizenship, and same-sex marriage rights appear to be getting worse, not better.
3. Religious Nationalism
Funded, once again, by the billionaires who lavish mega-preachers with millions (a good investment) to espouse the gospel of prosperity-capitalism for the flock, iconic worship of plutocrats, and advocacy for the oligarchs anti-tax/deregulation agenda, condemnation of “unbiblical” social safety net programs (read: for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people), and the unconditional “evil” of abortion.
The ‘Christian nationalist movement,’ therefore, is a grass-tops, not a grassroots, campaign. While it is alluring to a broad swath of American voters who identify as Christian, it is directed by a handful of billionaire power-brokers who play on and manipulate the resentments and insecurities of this population to grow their own power and wealth. Or, as Katherine Stewart articulates in her newly-published The Power Worshippers, the cynical and self-serving billionaire class convert “citizens into congregants and congregants into voters.”
As is the case with the complementary Fascist phenomenons of State-Corporatism and White Supremacy, Religious Nationalism is a dagger aimed at the heart of our faltering and fragile republic. Add to this mix the following twenty-eight (28) sub-characteristics of Fascism, found also here (Click Here), and you will see American Fascism is all of its wicked dimensions, manifestations, and ideologies.
4. Imperialism: landed-cultural-financial-military global empire
5. Colonialism: the financial and political subjugation of vulnerable populations
6. Nationalism (not Patriotism): knee-jerk, unreflective obedience to the nation
7. Militarism: the idea that all social and political problems require a heavy-handed approach through militarized policing and incarceration
10. Xenophobia: fear of foreigners or “foreign-looking” people
11. Cronyism/Nepotism: family-and-friend corruption
12. Media control/manipulation: the dispensation of pro-fascist/anti-democratic narratives, both subtle and blatant, by greedy and cynical corporate interests
13. Scapegoating: projecting blame onto the “other,” and responsibility for alleged “crimes”
14. Anti-democracy: voter suppression, stolen elections, fraudulent
15. Victimology: claiming victim status for the leaders and followers, and criminal status for the victims
16. Othering: de-humanizing, devaluing, diminishing, demonizing the “foreigner,” “alien,” and “outsider” within the United States
17. Order above freedom, though claiming both are the same
18. Deep Cynicism: extreme negativity, propensity to embrace far-fetched conspiracy ideas
19. Contempt for human rights
20. Cult leader worship, savior figure, larger than life
21. Myth, distortion, false narratives, outright lies
22. Propaganda: play on people’s fears, anxieties, despair, grievances, sense of loss; longing for the glorious past (real or imagined), feelings of betrayal, institutional failures
23. Consumerism / materialism (e.g., Bread and Circuses): displaces critical thinking, instant gratification, medication for an assortment of pains
24. Toxic masculinity, patriarchy, warrior culture, churches (e.g., Bikers for Jesus)
25. Bullying: comes primarily out of insecurity
26. Anti-intellectualism: book banning/burning, anti-CRT, assault on school boards, educators
27. White privilege
28. Tokenizing People of Color as part of the ‘diversity-branding’ of the GOP
29. Outside enemies: perpetual cold/hot wars overseas
30. Inside enemies: Democrats, leftists, Marxists, Socialists, Communists, non-fascist Media
31. Use of targeted and expanded violence: tools of terror
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Chuck Pennacchio, Ph.D., is a five-decade issue, electoral, and union organizer; president of the One Payer States network (onepayerstates.org); senior advisor to Healthcare for All Pennsylvania; co-founder of Our Revolution PA; founder of the Justice for All Network (justiceforall.global); producer of the single-payer documentary “Fix It: Healthcare at the Tipping Point” (fixithealthcare.com)
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