Is America Fascist? Part 6 – Racism in Another Context

There are other means of racism being played out in America.  The talk of illegal immigrants is an issue that has gotten a great deal of media attention and played a major role in the recent election.  I will choose to use the term, undocumented workers, instead of illegal immigrants.  The call to remove undocumented workers needs to be addressed for the racism that it is.

The hiring of undocumented workers is one that needs to be discussed as a form of racism.  It also needs to be discussed in the context of broken government and the government/corporate partnership.  People come to America to find work.  The reason they do so, is because there is work available for them there.  There are many jobs that are hard work and people from other countries are quite happy to have these jobs.

Many people are understandably upset that people from other countries will come in, work for less than the living wage and send money back their countries of origin.  Many people get upset that when they go to a fast food eatery, that many of the people speak broken English and blame them for taking American jobs.  Even though almost none of these people complaining have ever attempted to learn another language and have had theirs hopes pinned on the idea of working in fast food.  This is nothing short of racist thinking.

More troubling, however, is the ease at which people will blame undocumented workers for stealing American jobs.  It as though the people who employ them bear no responsibility in this.  Why aren’t they hiring Americans first?  Why are the people who have the best connections to government not being held accountable?  Why are they allowed to continue to hire undocumented workers and play their part in making their communities better places for the people who have lived there for decades?

Undocumented workers come with many benefits to employers.  First and foremost is that they are less expensive to employ.  They are willing to be exploited by these employers because they are afraid of being deported.  They are afraid to report their employer if they are being denied overtime, holiday pay, or medical attention.  They are extremely unwilling to report health and safety issues, all for the fear of being deported.  Thus, the employers end up paying much less in taxes, updating facilities for safety, or for benefits that documented workers would need to be paid.

Examples of this abound in the meat packing industry.  Once people from other countries find that they can work in one of these facilities, they tend to move in in large numbers.  The people of the local community find themselves out of work.  The newcomers work hard, don’t complain when they are asked to do things that are illegal or dangerous, or even excessive.  When they get injured, they get dismissed with no recourse and no consequence to the employer.  There are many undocumented workers who are no longer able to work because receptive stress syndrome and no way of having it taken care of properly.

Periodically, the immigration service will come through and fine the employers for hiring undocumented workers.  This usually an amount that isn’t overly excessive and can be paid easily.  A number of undocumented workers are rounded up and sent away.  In many cases, the undocumented workers who are sent away are those who have been injured on the job and can no longer work.

The government appears to be working in conjunction with these employers to make them more profitable.  If they stay in business, it is believed that they will pay more in taxes, which is good for the economy.  The government also looks like they are doing something about the ongoing concern of undocumented workers, which helps appease public opinion.  So they can look like they are being impartial, they will deport someone who is in good standing in the community, like a pastor who has been there for a good number of years.  This is a practice that is not exclusive to any particular administration in the last 30 years.

But, the undocumented workers remain a scapegoat and many politicians and business leaders will proclaim it loud and clear.  My speculation as to why this is, is that it gets people to look in a different direction, so they aren’t watching what is being done in the various state houses and congress.  As the government and corporations work to dismantle labour rights and employees recourse to working conditions, those things that make business “too costly”, they are getting people worked up about undocumented workers that are committing crimes.  Once they have dismantled these laws, they will be happy to employ whoever lives closest, as long as they are cheap labour who can dismissed easily and with little recourse.


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Is America Fascist? Part 6 – Racism and White Supremacy

The racism in America has some disturbing and frightening trends.  The depth of it may surprise many people.  It is a violent form of racism that has been growing in the last few decades.  While the violence of racists is often relegated to earlier parts of the 20th century, there are continued acts of violence carried out in more disturbing ways, people being dragged behind trucks until they die, attacks on places of worship, Sikh, Synagogues, etc.  The ideology of white supremacy has helped to maintain this.

The most prominent identifier of the violence of racism in America is the Black Lives Matter movement.  The African American community got to the point where they needed to speak up.  The intimidation by police had gone on too long and caused so much fear that they had to say something.  The decades of intimidation at the hands of the police after the civil rights movement has taken its toll.  Decades of people being pulled over by police for no other reason than they were the wrong colour.  An example of this from Minneapolis, a city council member, very well respected and known to the community, very competent was pulled over one evening while driving home.  She was quite aware that because she was driving an expensive car, not speeding, not drinking, and hadn’t violated any traffic laws that the reason she was pulled over was because of her colour.  I expect it wan’t the first time this happened to her.  It is extremely common for people to be pulled over for DWB, driving while black.

When unarmed African Americans are killed by police, repeatedly and with little or no consequence, there is a major problem,  When unarmed African Americans feel that they have a better chance by running away from police, and being shot in the back.  There are serious issues in the culture that need to be addressed.  When those same police officers are not punished by the law and very few have been, there is an even greater problem.  When the Blue Lives Matter campaign started in response to Back Lives Matter, it suggests that most police officers are killed by African Americans.

White supremacy is at the heart of many of these actions.  It is rampant in America and has grown in the last years under the former president.  One can very easily come in contact with open and vocal white supremacists.  Many of the places that they hang out in are readily known by the wider community.  White supremacists have their own newspapers, publishing houses and music labels in America.  It was not uncommon for me to have an encounter with someone who was openly racist in all kinds of bars or other public venues.  I wish I could say that someone saying to me “White power!” was a rare occurrence.  Maybe I just spent too much time in the wrong places.

An example of the reaches of white supremacy in America can be told from personal experience.  It was in the early 1990’s when the verdict for the police officers in the Rodney King beating was announced.  The African American community saw this as another act of injustice.  They were understandably angry.  Since I lived in a neighbourhood that was predominantly African American, I was ready for their expressions of anger.  When driving around the neighbourhood in my car, I would sometimes have this anger voiced at me when I was stopped at stop lights.  People would come over and hit my car and yell at me.

I was worried that when I rode my motorcycle through the neighbourhood that I could be at real risk of bodily harm.  However, when I rode around almost no one would look me in the eye. I was riding an older Harley.  In that neighbourhood there were a few motorcycle clubs who had their clubhouses there and they were known to have very strong white supremacist leanings.  There was fear in the community of these particular groups and anyone who may be associated with them.

White supremacy has a certain level of acceptability in American culture.  The rebel flag of the confederate states is one such symbol that can be found everywhere.  The fact that most people will just pass off racist and supremacist remarks as nothing remarkably wrong helps this ideology to remain and become acceptable.  One of the changes that has shown that it has become more acceptable has to do with the military.  Prior to the early 2000’s, people with white supremacist connections were excluded from the military.  That is no longer the case.  They are being accepted on many levels.  While the overt white supremacist talk during the lead up to the last election was quite shocking to people overseas, many people in America didn’t even recognise it as being racist.  They will even go so far as to say that they could find nothing racist in what Trump had said.

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Is America Fascist? Part 5 – Racism

Racism is deeply ingrained in American life and has been since its beginning.  There have been periods where it looked like there would be advances in creating a harmonious life that included all people from all backgrounds but, they were short lived and often subverted very quickly.  Many of the people that I know from other countries, particularly the UK, were unwilling to believe me when I told them this, until they say Trump running for president.  They were aghast at the racist statements he was able to say and not be soundly dismissed for.  They were completely stunned by what his followers were saying.  They had little or no capacity for the amount of white supremacist/nationalism that was on display as they watched the election.

Trump tried to point out during his campaign that he was for all people.  But, when he pointed that his audience was not purely white, he pointed to an African American and said. “…there is my African American.”  This is the kind of statement that harkens back to slavery, which should have been long gone from the American psyche and language more than 150 years after slavery was abolished.

An example of the racism that is present, a friend of mine had gone to America to do his PhD.  While he was there he worked to establish a multi-cultural church.  It was an attempt at multi-cultural mission and an opposition to racism.  He ultimately moved away from America because of the amount of racism that he encountered. He is of African descent and didn’t want his daughter to grow up with that kind of discrimination. I don’t blame him.

The disdain for political correctness in America has more to do with the ability to be openly racist than it is about free speech.  As Slavoj Zizek has suggested, political correctness makes it harder to identify the oppressor.  Racism is a form of oppression and those so vociferously opposed to this just want the ability to be openly racist without the effort it takes to carefully phrase what they want to say.  They don’t want to make the effort to try to continually come up with buzzwords or euphemisms that take time to catch on.  Trump has capitalised on this and given the freedom to many people to openly proclaim their racist ideology without shame.

The depth of racism is so systemic and deep that you begin to miss much of it in the American culture.  You can quite readily see it in memes all around Facebook.  The call for taking away welfare benefits from rioters always includes a picture of an African American.  The idea of the welfare queen that Reagan gave to America was always understood to be someone who is African American.  When politicians and other people feel free to call the former President and the former First Lady, monkeys or apes, racism is rampant on too many levels.

While I am on the topic of welfare and racism, they are deeply connected in American political and social structure.  When welfare was being expanded in the 1960’s some changes were made to it.  One of the changes was that single mothers would get more help.  The prevailing understanding at the time was that the man of the house was to have a job and provide for his family.  Since African America men, then as now, are the last hired and the first fired, they were often left in a position where they couldn’t provide for their children.  They soon learned that through divorce, their children would be provided for.  It was that paternal instinct. It didn’t take long for many in the poor parts of America to realise that if they skipped getting married they would have more ability to care for their children, especially as they realised the good jobs were less and less likely to come their way.

The simple policy implementation helped to create a culture within the welfare community that made it easy to mock and continue to write legislation that further marginalised and already oppressed community. It made it easy to stereotype and scapegoat the African American community as being a burden on society, because of their loose moral values and weak familial relationships that grew out of a response for their own survival.

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Is America Fascist? Part 4 – Nationalism

Nationalism as Racism

I would suggest that the nationalism that is so rampant in America and throughout the West is a “white nationalism”.  It is interesting to see that those people who support nationalism in their own countries quite readily respect and appreciate those same things happening in other countries.  Trump’s rise came decisively from a platform of racism with less than subtle overtures of white supremacy.  HIs most ardent supporters and most energetic are from the White Supremacist community.  This did not put off many other white voters who would not be classified as racist.

While European leaders with similar ideologies may not display the same forms of white supremacy they were quick to support Trump.  Le Pen in France, Wilders in the Netherlands, Orban in Hungary, Farage in the U.K. all work from a policy position of making their respective countries secure from immigrants, terrorists and those who would dilute the culture.  All of these are leaders of nationalist groups and all of them are very opposed to immigration, legal or otherwise, and quite readily proclaim the evils of Islam.   They all are quick to scapegoat minorities, especially Muslims as the reason that their country is not the best it can be.  People will say that these political parties are not “white nationalist” parties because they have members who are not white.  The reason they are, is because the political card they play and the base they appeal to is overwhelmingly white.  They skirt the issue by saying what they are doing is for economic benefit or control of their borders and security.

I believe that it was Foucault that had pointed to nationalism as being the most acceptable form of racism.  The ability to make a distinction is done quite easily by language, customs and man made boundaries.  Within in those boundaries, certain groups of people will decide what is considered to be the representations of that country.  It will be written in the history books and be prominent in their other representations, like television, film, art and music.  More importantly, it will come in how they describe what a “true” person of their nation looks like, talks like, does at religious holidays or during their celebrations of the nation.   It becomes very easy to to say that someone who doesn’t speak the right way or celebrate the right holidays or say the right things is not American enough, French enough, English enough, and so on.

The traditions of nations, the culture and national identity have been predominantly established by those who have been the most numerous or those in charge.  These are the people who have established which holidays everyone will have time off of work.  They establish the traditions, like turkey at Thanksgiving.  They put these things into the stories and legends of the country.  These are the kinds of things that make new comers stand out as being different when they don’t recognise them.  According to the nationalists, they must either fully participate in these, or get out.

In America, when they cheer Trump’s call to make America great again, they are looking for all the people in America to be like them, to look like them, to celebrate the same religious holidays, namely Christian, to hold the same values that they saw their parents and grandparents held.  When Trump’s base is predominantly white and “Christian” then making America great is about making it like they believe that past was, when white people were in charge of most everything, including what was acceptable in culture.

But, it isn’t just Trump’s supporters who have helped to make this possible.  There has been a history of segregation that is quite obvious in American culture.  There has been a history of racial stereotyping that runs deep.  The idea that the majority of welfare recipients are minorities, undocumented workers are drug carriers and rapists, Muslims want to destroy American freedoms are not new ideas and go back for decades.  The idea of white nationalist culture can even be heard from people who would classify themselves as liberals, like Bill Maher or others favoured by liberals, but not so easily defined politically, like Sam Harris, especially with their calls of the dangers of Islamism, or veiled references to genocide of Muslims.


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Is America Fascist – Part 3 Nationalism

Dr. Lawrence Britt, who studied fascism has pointed out 14 characteristics that are common to all fascist regimes.  I have already started to look at the government/corporate connection. There will more of this pointed out in other areas, as there has gotten to be so much mutual relationship between corporations and other aspects of life.   In the next posts, I will be looking at the other aspects the he has stated.  Dr. Britt’s list is a little longer than one will find in other writers, such as Robert Paxton.  But, there is plenty of common ground between Britt, Paxton, Arendt and others.

It may seem that nationalism does not need to have much discussion.  It is overwhelmingly obvious that nationalism is exceptionally popular in America.  Many visitors from other countries are quite surprised at the level at which it exists.  In America, if you don’t have a flag in front of your house, or a flag decal on you car/truck/motorcycle or numerous pieces of clothing with flags or representations of flags, you just aren’t American enough.

Nationalism in America is on steroids and it has been for many decades.  From the House un-American Activities committee, which functioned from 1938-1975 to the proliferation of American flags in the front of churches is disturbing.  Every aspect of American life is propagated with some form of nationalism.  There are churches that celebrate the 4th of July in greater fashion than they do Easter or Christmas is a sign of how far this nationalism has gone.  Hymnals with patriotic songs and a special Sunday, each year to proclaim their love for the nation and their national party are beyond the pale.  In many places, if a church does not put on some kind of display for the national holidays, it can count on losing members.

Popular culture takes nationalism even further.  The number of popular musicians that sing of how great America is, is beyond comprehension in any time in history and is not new to the 21st century.  I grew up hearing the songs of the patriots and their story telling of how exceptional America is.  What has become more prominent is the fear mongering of nationalism that has become present in the television dramas.  In many of these, some government agency needs to make sure that Americans are secure from terrorists from outside of the country. (They always succeed, by the way.) Even the ever popular super hero movies have a rather obvious element of American nationalism in them.  Some of them even have a less than subtle neofascism present in their themes.  I am not sure that it is intended, but films often relay wha they see in the culture they are created.

This is only the beginning of what can be seen in the nationalism in America.  I haven’t looked at the slogans that Trump and others have been making popular, again.  His slogan “America First” has its roots in the white nationalism of the early 20th century and is a call of nationalism at the expense of others.  The slogan from the campaign trail to “Make America Great Again” is so full of nationalism that it is easy to rally around without requiring any kind of definition of what it means or any kind of plan to make it happen.  It is, of itself, nothing more than a rallying cry to become more American, whatever that can mean.

One of the more insidious statements of nationalism is also the most totalitarian in nature.   It comes in a few different forms, but it comes down to the accusation that someone who disagrees with you is somehow, either not America enough, or at all. It is the labelling of someone as a “liberal”, “communist”, “socialist”, and so on.  All of these statements are made in the context that you are undermining the national interest and making America less than great.  These have been around in America for many, many years and are more acceptable today than they ever have been.


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Is America Fascist? Part 2

This idea of running government like a business has become exceptionally common in American culture, so much so, that much of the function of government is seen with contempt.  Government’s role as a body that functions on behalf of all of the people in America, to help educate, provide services that make life better, and protect people from those who would take advantage of, or harm them are now seen as creeping communism.  There is nothing that fascists hate more than communism.  The government’s way of generating revenue to fund the infrastructure and other services, taxation, is not seen as a part of its function, but is seen by many as an act of theft.

As the political/corporate alliance grew, especially in the 1980’s, the idea that government was too big became popular.  The counter to this question never seems to be asked, though: how small is too small.  This, I suggest, is an early step in the move toward authoritarianism.  Government needed to be efficient, like a business.  It needed to cut out those things that were not cost effective and limited profitability.  Since government isn’t in the business to make it profit, the profitability that needed to be maintained was that of corporations and businesses.  The government’s role steadily became one of making corporations profitable.

Because the government had programs in place that would protect people, but added expense to setting up and operating businesses, the idea of the government being broken became popular.  The idea that it was broken had to do with the belief that if it “limited” business’ ability to make a profit, then it was broken.  It’s not that it was actually broken.  When they said that government was broken, what we were told is what the politicians and corporations were going to do to the government.  They were going to break it.

The process of breaking government was a deliberate process, over time.  There were two main methods that this happened.  The first was to underfund and leave positions open in agencies like the EPA, USDA, OSHA, and other agencies that regulated business to protect the people.  These agencies require businesses to be more diligent in how they do things, like dispose of waste, what they put in food and what they sell.  It prevents them from doing things that do damage to people’s lives, through poisoning, or unfairly taking advantage of people for nothing other than profit.

The other method of breaking government comes from the corporations, themselves.  They decided that having their own people in key roles in the government would make them much more profitable and they were right.  The office of Secretary of the Treasury is often filled by people from Wall Street, namely Goldman Sachs, and have done a great deal to rewrite the laws that were put in place to prevent a recession like the one in the 1930’s.  People from corporations like Monsanto and Pfizer get roles in the USDA and are able to approve chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food additives much more quickly.  They can accept the testing that is presented by the company trying to get it to market without further government testing to see whether the information provided by the applicant is accurate.

As these things happen, the general population starts to feel that government is corrupt.  It isn’t something that they can state clearly because it isn’t something that appears to be definitive or easily identified.  What gives this sense of corruption most likely comes from the understanding that they have elected representatives to represent them in government and these people end up representing corporate interests, instead.  It has been shown in a recent study by Princeton and Northwestern universities that politicians represent corporations more than they represent the people who elect them.

It is at this point, when people believe that the government is broken and corrupt, that they become very easily persuaded by a populist and authoritarian.  This is someone who tells them that they will fix what is broken and make their lives better.  This is someone who promises to do this quickly and decisively.  An authoritarian, or dictator can make the changes to government and laws with quick action.  They appear to be strong. When they reach the point of frustration with government that promises to help them and doesn’t, they will make the decisive change. And to make decisive change, they will trust someone who they believe has the power to do it, decisively. An authoritarian becomes extremely appealing.

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Is America Fascist?

This is a multi-part series that will look at the 14 aspects of fascism that Dr. Lawrence Britt suggest are a part of all fascist regimes.

I believe that America has almost completed its move to becoming a fully fascist nation.  It has the hallmarks and ideology that are consistent with previous fascist regimes of the past.  When we think of fascism, we often assume that of Nazi Germany. But this was only one form fascism and the form that America is taking is different.  It shares many of the same beliefs and social structures that other fascist regimes have had such as Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy, Suharto in Indonesia and several Latin American regimes.

It was Mussolini who coined the term “fascism”, which he meant was a government/corporate partnership.  The government’s role was to support the corporate activity.  This kind of approach is not unique to fascism, however.  Fascism also included an extreme opposition to Communism, which has been one of its most defining ideologies.

While the United States has held an extreme opposition to Communism through most of the 20th century (take a look at McCarthyism and the Marshal Plan), it’s corporate ties have not necessarily coincided with its almost complete removal of communists within its borders.  Through a good part of the 20th century, anti-intellectualism was the tool that was used to rid the country of communists and communist ideology.  Intellectuals were often labeled as commie sympathisers when people didn’t want agree with what they had to say.  This has become the greatest attack on people to show they aren’t “American” enough.  It is also a very totalitarian way of attacking people and seen as perfectly acceptable in American culture.  The intellectual community had to go to great measures to prove that they were not communists in order to keep their positions and continue to work, even at universities.

Ronald Reagan’s call for Russia to tear down the Berlin wall was seen as a victory for freedom.  It was touted as the collapse of communism that would be the beginning for the people to make their own choices on where they could live and what kind of government they could have.  I suggest that this was the beginning of fascism in America.  I don’t believe that Reagan really cared that the people would be free to move and select the government they wanted. After all, Reagan was perfectly willing to support totalitarian regimes, even illegally, in order to support the corporations. I think he and his Republican cohorts were more interested in making it easier for corporations to expand into new areas and expand their sales and profitability.

Even Reagan’s understanding of government/corporate collaboration can be traced back to the 1960”s.  It was during the Kennedy presidency that the understanding that “government should be run like a business” became real practice.  Robert McNamara was the eighth Secretary of Defence and former president of Ford Motor Co. is just one example  One of his main approaches to the Viet Nam War was to work at it like it was a business, analysing and working with calculated loss.  The Viet Nam war was not exactly a success.  But, his legacy of running government agencies, or the government as whole like a business has lived on.  This is an idea that carried on through society and was often discussed at universities, particularly while I was attending there.

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