Brian Holmes on Sat, 31 May 2003 13:24:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Fascism in the USA?

What does it mean for the average citizen to be a fascist?

I do not have a certain answer to this question. Anyone with a more
precise understanding should help here. It seems clear that, at least in
the early phases, the average citizen carries out no directly repressive
or murderous actions. Rather, it would seem that in a fascist society,
s/he watches others do so without protesting, participates in collective
national rituals without asking about the repressive and murderous actions
being fulfilled by police or soldiers in the nation's name.

At what point would one then have to conclude that the United States - and
not just its current government - has become effectively fascist?

The conditions may be gathering right now for that question to be
answered. Three pieces of news have appeared at roughly the same time.
They are:

a. Rumsfeld's careless admission that Iraq may have destroyed its weapons
of mass destruction before the war. Meaning that the war was unnecessary.

b. Wolfowitz's even more shocking declaration, in a recent Vanity Fair
interview (quoted today in Le Monde), that the issue of weapons of mass
destruction was chosen "for bureaucratic reasons," i.e. as the only issue
that could generate sufficient consensus in Washington to go ahead with
the attack.

c. The revelation, by the BBC's investigative reporters (relayed in The
Nation), that the heroic media spectacle provided by US Army reporters of
the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch was entirely staged, having taken place
in reality after the hospital in which she was being held had been
abandoned by Iraqi forces.

The first and and above all the second items strongly suggest that
distorted intelligence was deliberately used to justify the war and
thereby make it possible. The third item baldly shows the extent to which
the US Army is ready to fabricate propaganda for domestic consumption, and
the news networks such as Fox and CNN, to relay that propaganda.

In Great Britain, a former member of Blair's cabinet, Robin Cook, who left
the government in protest over the war, is now part of a move to demand
investigation of similar falsifications, particularly the statement
concerning Iraq's capacity to strike at Britain within "forty-five
minutes," which was attributed to British intelligence services.

If in the United States no serious and deep public questioning arises
concerning the use of false intelligence and reporting to justify the
declaration and pursuit of war, if such questioning is not accompanied by
formal political and legal investigation, then I think we would have to
face the disastrous reality that significant sectors of the world's
wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation are willing to be lied
to by their leaders.

I'm not saying this is necessarily the case. I'm saying this looks like a
real test. If a majority, or even a preponderant minority of American
citizens are collectively willing to go through all the rituals of
bellicosity and superpatriotism, but unwilling to demand investigation
into the facts which are supposed to have made those rituals necessary,
then one would have to very seriously ask the question whether a fascist
society is not emerging in the USA.

And given the interlinked nature of power in the world today, one would
have to look around, not only in Britain but everywhere in the developed
countries, and assess the level of functional agreement with this American
fascism. Not to do so, and not to argue publically against these trends,
would be to participate in their development.  It would become extremely
unwise, for instance, to wait for a more convincing test: Bush's
reelection. My opinion is that if Bush is reelected, the US will have
become, without any more doubt, a predominantly fascist society.

While nervously awaiting that moment of truth, I'd appreciate it if people
currently inside the US could give their observations on the way this
first test unfolds.

Brian Holmes

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